Sunday, 9 December 2012

Writer's Choice - Traditional or Indie?

Isn't it wonderful that writers nowadays have a choice of publishing routes? Now, anyone who has been following my blog will be familiar with my publishing journey - whether to go traditional or independent. To be honest, the jury is still out on that one, especially as I'm waiting to hear back from a UK publisher who has asked for my manuscript. And, if I was to go traditional, this publisher would be my choice. It's a pity I can't say the same for many other publishing houses, especially the one which handles my friend, Peter.

Pete writes children's literature and his illustrated books are delightful. I bought a couple for my cousin's little girls - aged three and five. They loved them. So far, he's sold over four thousand copies worldwide. Unfortunately, that doesn't translate into a viable profit, as his royalties amount to less than 5%! On a $24.95 hardcover book, Peter earns 0.9 cents!

Wow! Isn't that an inducement to becoming a professional writer! Obviously we do it for love, not for the profit. But still, it would be nice to earn enough to pay the electricity bill, at least for the amount of energy it took to power up the laptop!

Why are publishers so stingy? You'd think the individual who spent a year of his life writing a book, then another getting it edited and professionally polished, should be entitled to a larger share of the profits? After all, without us authors, they would be NO publishing industry.
Apart from the insulting royalties, this publisher has done absolutely nothing for him. There was no press release, no report in the local papers and as Peter doesn't have a social media presence, they didn't help him try create one - no website, no blog, no Facebook page and no twitter! And yet, they take ninety-six percent of the profit! For what???
When I went looking for Peter's book in Dymocks - the largest book seller in the country - the sales assistant and I had to go on a major hunt to find where they'd been stacked. But perseverance payed off. They were well hidden on the bottom shelf of a bookcase near the service entrance!

If ever there was a reason to go indie, that's it!

So, what do people think? I'd love to know.


Xander Buchan said...

I like the control of being an indie author, and the fact that the limitations of paper based books is lifted. In other words it's possible to sell a million books overnight! However, the work required to muster even a few sales is immense because we have no reach, no muscle and no reputation. It's not for the faint-hearted.

Tima Maria said...

Hi Xander, you're right about being in control of your manuscript, but the work involved in marketing, publicity, networking for reviews is indeed overwhelming. It's the only time I long to be in the arms of a publisher to whom I would happily sacrifice a significant slab of my royalties to do all that for me!
But, sometimes author's have no choice. It's either self-publish or hide your manuscript away for a future archaeologist to find!

shadow said...

I feel just the same. I love being in control of my book but then when it comes to marketing, I wish otherwise. There's just so much involved and it does become difficult particularly when I don't have a marketing background and have to basically learn from scratch. And then I think of Peter and I wonder if going Indie is a blessing in disguise...but then again...

Tima Maria said...

I'm the same, Shadow. I have no marketing background at all, so for me it's certainly a steep learning curve as well. But then, I see it as a good experience. These days, we authors have to be all things; writing no longer is enough. As for Peter, you may be right. Sometimes it's better to take matters into your own hands than be shortchanged by unscrupulous publishers.

Diane said...

I agree with Xander; however, in the long run, self-publishing is probably worth the effort. Marketing and publicity is an amazing amount of work, but, as you noted in your post, Tima, traditional publishers do not seem to over exert themselves in those areas, even though they take practically all of the profits and the copyright.

Tima Maria said...

It is a lot of work, Diane,but that's the sacrifice you make to maintain control of your work, although there are some excellent publishers out there who do a lot for their clients. Problem is, it's very difficult to be picked up by them. I'd go with a publisher who offered me at least 45% and did most of the marketing. Otherwise, forget it!