Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is Self-Publishing For You? ... by Susan Gourley

The world of publishing is changing fast, and it takes a supernatural ability to see the future to predict what will come next. The options available for writers increase in number and variety every day.

Many authors are taking the path of hybrid author as their chosen way to build their career. A general description of hybrid author is a writer who does some self-publishing, sometimes called indie-publishing, and also receives contracts from traditional publishers. Those traditional publishers may be the ‘big boys’ based in New York or it could be a small press.

The choice of what path to seek is an individual choice with pros and cons for every direction. Self-publishing gives an author total control over the content of their works and the design of the cover. They can decide on release dates, sale price and earn a higher percentage on each sale of their book. They also don’t have to worry about their publisher going out of business or not giving their book its share of promotion.

Going with a traditional publisher means a lower percentage of earnings on each book, giving up editorial control and complete say on cover art. Considerations like release date, pricing, the title and even where your book will be available for purchase is the publisher’s domain.

Why take one publisher course, the other or both? I can only speak for my own reasons. I’ve never written a book with the express plan to self-publish it. When the publisher of my first fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles, changed focus and returned my rights, I sought out a publisher willing to reissue the books rather than self-publish. Why? Even as I write this, I've learned that two of the small presses I've been working with have made the difficult decision to close their doors. I now have two fantasy series without a publishing home again. I will search out other venues for them in the next few months. That will be a chore but I will still choose a small press over self-publishing. Again, why?

I don’t have to worry about hiring a competent editor or finding my own artwork. Both my small publishers sell my books from their own sites for higher earnings for me and also make the books available on all other retail vendors. Many small publishers, especially romance presses, have faithful customers who buy from them on a regular basis. Many publishers search out reviews for their authors and take that chore off the writer’s back. They may also have a promotions coordinator who takes care of setting up blog appearances and used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out there. All those things take time and that is why I don’t self-publish. By working with a publisher, I have more time to write that next book. And everyone agrees that the best promotion for your book is to write another one

Can you see some pros and cons that I may have missed? What is the biggest factor that directed your choice of the path you’re taken on your writing career? Has it worked out the way you thought?

Thanks so for having me, Patricia.


Thanks so much for being my guest today, Susan. The publishing world is changing so fast that we all need as much information as we can get before we make our own decisions....and then the situation changes again just when we thought we had it all figured out. It certainly pays to be flexible, doesn't it?

Susan Gourley is published in high fantasy. She is also multi-published in science fiction romance with the best-selling Recon Marines and Warrior of Gaviron series that she writes as Susan Kelley. Her latest release is The Warrior and the Governor. You can find her at Susan Says or on Twitter and Facebook.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Susan rocks!
I couldn't do it all on my own. I'm grateful my publisher does a lot of those things for me, including marketing. I still have to do a lot, but they more than match my efforts.

Unknown said...

Thanks for speaking from the other side of the fence Susan. I love hearing hybrids, traditional and indie published authors share their experiences and reasons why it works for them. Best of luck with your fantasy books. I'll be waiting for Cage's story as soon as it finds a new home :)

Anonymous said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Susan.

Susan - You outline very clearly the benefits and the drawbacks of self- vs traditional publishing. In today's world, I think the more informed an author is about what's involved in each choice, the better. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks so much for having me, Pat.
Alex, I know you do a ton and your small press does more marketing than many do.
Michelle, I know I can ask you for help should I decide to indie.
Thanks for stopping in Margot. It is so difficult to keep up with all the possibilities today.

Allan J. Emerson said...

Great article! Most articles on self-publishing vs traditional publishing seem to land heavily on one side or the other, so it's nice to see a more balanced approach. Thanks for outlining the benefits/drawbacks of both, Susan.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for stopping by Allan. It really comes down to personal choice but at least authors now have a choice.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the great pros and cons lists! I started out with the goal of being hybrid and I'm still working on it. My indie books have been tough to market, and I can see the benefits of going with a traditional press. At the same time, I'm glad I did what I did. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I can totally see going that angle with romance. It makes sense. With some other genres it might not be the best choice, but I suppose that's why we all have to make the decision about what direction to go, eh?

nashvillecats2 said...

Great post Susan and Patricia.
I self published on all my books, the last one however Amazon I had trouble with, the other two went very well.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Tyrean, Crystal and Yvonne, I agree that some genres might better work in the indie market. Whatever, the choice the author had a lot of marketing work to do.

Michelle Wallace said...

A great post, Susan!
Hybrid seems to be growing in popularity... almost like having the best of both worlds...?

~Sia McKye~ said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on this subject. Your choices make perfect sense to me. There's a lot of work in getting a book from first draft to final draft and then published.

Being very aware of my limitations and knowing my strengths, I know I can't do it all successfully. I'm too much of a perfectionist when it comes to a finished product. That's why having a traditonal publisher is attractive to me. I'm not saying I wouldn't go hybrid, because I've thought all that out and factored in the cost hiring a professional editor and art design editor for each book. It's high and then the whole time thing and having to do everything yourself. I have some stories I could self-publish but I'd prefer to go traditional first.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Michelle, I think you're right about how popular the hybrid path is.
Sia, your words really match how I feel.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic post, Susan. I'm a hybrid and I like it. I love the control I have over my indie work and the fact I can publish when I want. With a publisher, my main goal was to get help in exposing myself to a wider audience that I could not do on my own.