Thursday, 11 October 2012

My Self- Publishing Journey, or Do I Really Need a Traditional Publisher?

Those who have been following my blog, know that I've been shortlisted in a recent writing competition. But, before I entered, I'd already sent my manuscript to CS. My original intention was to self-publish since I wasn't keen on waiting several years for a traditional publisher/literary agent to show interest in my work. And, I believe that was the right decision for me.
Now, since the winner of the competition won't be announced till December, I thought to use the time between to thoroughly edit my manuscript, correct any typos, structural or plot problems. I figured that if I don't win, at least my book will be ready to launch by Christmas. Yet on the other hand, if I do win, at least I'll have a publisher.

So, here I am, playing the waiting game, and my next round of digital proofs have arrived from CS.
For anyone contemplating self-publishing, CS takes your original manuscript and reformats it into a double-page spread. This stage is quite exciting as it gives you an idea how the finished project will appear in book form. They even give you a choice of font types and spacing suitable for a professional finish. I actually checked a sample of each one to see whether it worked for me before making my choice.

CS allows you the first lot of corrections for free, as long as there are no more than eighty, otherwise you will have to resubmit the entire work. This costs extra.
If you want to save money, I suggest you make sure your 'baby' has gone through the editing process before the initial submission, so when you do spot errors, they're only minor and won't cost you a cent!

Once done, you're provided with a digital correction sheet. Fill it in and press 'Submit,' then wait ten working days for the completed manuscript to be sent back for your perusal. Hopefully, by this stage, it should be ready to go. Press 'Approve' and CS does the rest.
I haven't reached the 'Approve' stage yet. That's next.

All sounds good - so far. But, what if my manuscript is ready to go before I get word back from the publisher running the writing competition? Were I to win, then there's no problem and the wait would be worth it. But, if I don't, then I've lost the opportunity to release my book in time for Christmas.
So, as Shakespeare said, 'here's the rub.' Should I delay release on Amazon and possibly miss the chance of Christmas sales, OR (and this is a big or) contact the publisher and let them know my position? Or (here's another one) pull out of the comp and publish anyway?

Decisions, decisions... I hate them!

If anyone has any ideas, I'm happy to hear them. Please leave your comment below for me to gnaw over!

If anyone's interested in more information, here's a great link.


Riley Banks said...

I went the self-publishing route simply because I didn't have the time or energy to send out dozens of submissions and wait forever for them to come back only to say they like it but don't have room on their list. Plus I HATE writing synopses. Even if you do get a publishing deal the likelihood is you will do the majority of the promotions anyway.

So I asked myself why bother? Why not just publish myself and use my already established writer platform to market it? That way, instead of earning less than $1 a book I could retain the rights and earn around $3 or more per book sale.

However if you have been short listed you might have an obligation to at least discuss your situation with the organizer.

Be interested to see what you decide.

Riley Banks
Author of The William S Club

Tima Maria said...

Hi Riley,
I agree with you! It takes so much time and effort, often with little return. The publisher gets most of the royalties when it's the writer who does all the work, including promotion these days.
It's interesting that the submission form I completed when applying for the competition asked for my social media presence. It might even turn out to be the criteria they'll use to choose the winner. Who knows?
But, I'll definitely let them know if I choose to self-pub.

Jack Durish said...

No one "needs" to go the traditional publishing route, not any more, not these days. You don't need a vanity publisher either. They're pretty much a waste of money. A little research is all it takes to find free self publishing software and learn how to use it. However, a publisher does more than print books or, these days, convert manuscripts to ebook formats. They market books (well, the good ones market books). Unfortunately, the market for books has morphed so radically and rapidly that no one seems to really know how to market them effectively. And, like the secret formula for Coca Cola, Amazon guards its algorithms for promoting books jealously.

Bridget McKenna said...

I understand this must be a difficult decision. When I was publishing my mystery novels, a paper publisher was the only game in town, and self-publishing was expensive and signalled (supposedly) that you had given up, or perhaps weren't good enough. As you've seen with CreateSpace and various ebook distributors, we have it different now.

One way in which things are different is that self-publishing no longer shuts you out of establishment publishing, should you decide that's the right way for you. If you publish now you may lose your chance at winning this time, but if you won if would mean that any number of publishers might be interested in Bloodgifted.

It seems to me that the chances of winning the publishing lottery are so small and offer so little return for so much additional effort on the author's part, that in the vast majority of cases it's not worth it. Big publishing eats up midlist writers like salty snacks, throws away the bag, and grabs the next batch coming up. I'd advise you to read Kris Rusch's blogs on the business of writing today. She's experienced and smart as they come. A new one comes out every Thursday, so it should be waiting for you right now.

Wishing you success in your writing career!

Tima Maria said...

Thanks for the comment Jack. It's liberating that, as writers, we don't need to rely on traditional publishing anymore. But then, the self-pub world is pretty much becoming saturated as well. Still, it's important to have the choice.
I'm definitely leaning toward the latter. At least I'll be in control of my book - its content, marketing, promotion etc. I also still believe word-of-mouth is the best promo tool.

Tima Maria said...

Hi Bridget,
It's a lottery, all right. And, to be honest, were I to win I don't know if I'd accept the contract they'd offer. Do I really want to be locked in to an agreement that favoured the publisher?
I love your salty snacks analogy! From the research I've already done, that's exactly what I fear could happen.
Thanks for the letting me know about Kris Rusch's blog. I'll check it out.
And, thanks for the good wishes!

Diane said...

I do feel for you, Tima. Is there any way that you can find out, in advance, the details of the publishing contract you will have to sign if you win? At the same time, I do tend to agree with Riley, Jack and Bridget: it is all about retaining control - your control.

The downside of self-publishing is that there is now so much rubbish coming on to the market, and the onus for selecting good literature has been shifted from the publisher (traditional) to the reader. This need not be a problem; though some readers possibly dislike having to trawl through all the rubbish in order to find something worthwhile reading.

When will the result of the competition be published? I cannot imagine that it will be so close to Christmas that you would miss out on the Christmas sales should you, at the last minute, decide to go with CS. If I were you, I would have everything (including the marketing) ready to roll with CS, and, then, if you do not win the competition, you may still be able to pick up some of the Christmas sales.

Tima Maria said...

Hi Dianne,

The publishing company running the competition hasn't provided a date, which I think is quite odd. But, I'm assuming it has to be before Christmas. It's simply curiosity that's keeping me from releasing my book before then. And I agree with you about having everything ready- in case I don't win. There's only one more set of proofs to send back to CS and it's ready to go!