Monday, 24 December 2012

Indie vs Traditional Publishing - which is better?

Since I started writing this blog - approximately nine months ago (almost sounds like a pregnancy!) - my most popular post has been, My Self-Publishing Journey, or Do I Need a Traditional Publisher? Seems most of my readers are interested in this particular debate. And as yet, I haven't decided which side of the fence I'm on myself.
Writing a book is almost - mind, I said, 'almost' - easy compared with marketing and publicity and I've learnt to appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into it. An indie author has to do the work of an experienced publisher and know how to sell themselves and their book to an already saturated market. And if you're a genre writer, then it's like climbing Mt Everest without ropes!
But, who says it can't be done!

Now, here are the pros and cons. Let's start with the cons. I think it's always best to get the negatives out of the way; rather like eating your brussel sprouts first and leave the goodies for last.

1.  Marketing/Press Releases. Be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing and publicising yourself, especially on social media, although not to the detriment of neglecting your writing. That should always come first. After all, people are after a quality product. So, learn to organise your time. If you're not on twitter or Facebook, join now. It's amazing how many contacts you can make on there.

2. Networking. Get to know other writers - not necessarily in your genre - and book bloggers. They are the ones who carry weight with readers, and nowadays, even traditional publishers are checking out their sites. Find out who are the most popular and follow them; leave relevant comments on their latest reviews and strike up a relationship. Perhaps one day they'll review one of your books.

3. Create your own distinctive website. Statistics show readers are more inclined to visit a website that contains several attractive features and more information about yourself and your book, than a blog. That's one thing I still need to do for myself!

4.  Book Trailer. Know who your audience is and start preparing them. One way is to create your own book trailer. Most computers these days come with Publisher or imovies. I've got an Apple Mac and it's quite easy to make your own trailer using the apps provided, then upload it to youtube.

5. Professional Editing. Unless you have the skill, it's a better idea to get your book professionally edited. It's worth the investment. A professional editor can spot mistakes the author is often blind too. We're too close to our work.

6. Book Cover. As in No.5 above, it's worth paying a graphics artist to produce a professional cover which won't scream, 'home made'! No matter what they say, people do judge a book by its cover!

 1. Control. You've got sole rights over your own work and absolute control over its contents and if it doesn't work you only have yourself to blame.

2. No Deadlines. As your own publisher, you determine when to release your next book. There are no particular deadlines to adhere to. You are your own boss. But remember, nobody wants to wait two years between books in a series. They'll lose interest and move on.

3. Not boxed into a particular genre. You can create your own niche and write the book you want.

4. Royalties. A self-published author doesn't have to share royalties with their publisher. What you earn is what you keep. But, you need to complete a lot of complicated tax forms, especially if you're not a US citizen, before you see a cent.

Now, the above list is not exhaustive - it's merely a brief comparison between the two forms of publishing available to writers these days, and from what I can see, the cons outweigh the pros.

What do people think? Is it worth self-publishing?


Diane said...

I would definitely agree with most of the things you wrote, Tima. Marketing IS a big part of self-publishing, and, at times, it can be quite time consuming. However, once you get things into some kind of a 'routine', it's not too bad. I think that it is important to realise that the book is not going to be an overnight success and that it will take time for it to make an impact. Retain a positive attitude, and I'm sure that everything will work out really well. Good luck!

Tima Maria said...

Hi Diane,

Wouldn't it be nice to self-publish a book and overnight it becomes a best seller? Ah, the stuff dreams are made of! (with apologies to Raymond Chandler, I think). But, yes it is a lot of hard work and perseverance, as with anything else in life. Thanks for the best wishes. said...

This is a great summary of pluses and minuses of indie publishing. Now is a time of great change for writers and the publishing industry. And of course for readers, and the way they are buying online as well.
Social media is so huge now.
Even many writers traditionally published are getting their past releases, re-issuing with new covers and indie publishing.
Still, as Tima says, self-publishing is continued hard work. But, hey, with a longterm view and not expecting immediate success as Diane says, we can get there.

Tima Maria said...

Thanks, Peita. It is a lot of work, but as you said, it's a long term goal. Writers have to release not many of us will become that overnight sensation we all dream of. I'm in it for the long haul.