Friday, May 18, 2012

Self-publishing, The Hunger Games, & Selling Out

Tip of the Day: We want to know if you have questions for us. If so, head over to Kristina's post from yesterday and comment! :D

What do self-publishing, The Hunger Games, and selling out have in common? A lot more than you might think.

I fully admit it - two years I ago I would have told you self-publishing was for failures (or small churches and historical groups looking to publish their own histories for a limited audience). I would have rolled my eyes and told you that I would never, ever consider self-publishing because traditional publishing was all that mattered.

2012 Megg would like to tell mid-2010 Megg, "You're a sheltered, close-minded idiot."

Self-publishing is a different beast than it was ten years ago. With costs at practically nothing, anyone can slap anything they want up on the web. But here's the kicker:

Those of us that want to succeed will work our asses off to make sure our product is the best we can make it. We will work hard to promote ourselves. We will recognize writing and publishing as two separate businesses, leaving the emotion for the first draft and implementing the business sense on the publishing side.

This is where I think The Hunger Games steps in as a great analogy. Katniss and Peeta taught us that even though we're forced to play a rough game (I think everyone would agree that traditional publishing isn't for the weak), we can find ways around the strict rules. We can find fans (in our case, readers) who will support us. We can win and change the entire game in doing so.

This is what self-publishing has done. The game isn't over, far from it. We're just rewriting the rules and gaining the respect of our readers at the same time.

But sometimes with winning comes change. I won't get into the plot lines of Catching Fire and Mockingjay because I know not everyone on the planet has read them (you should if you haven't). Sometimes an indie gets the notice of the big boys. If traditional publishing comes knocking, should a self-pub give them the finger and move on?


Now some self-pubs might call me a traitor for that. Too bad.

In my viewpoint, moving from self-publishing to traditional publishing isn't a crime. I also don't look at self-publishing as a stepping stone to traditional. I see a new model of publishing emerging.

Authors, like myself, can now weigh the pros and cons of deals and we can decide whether to accept or reject them.

It's not about who holds the power. Moving from self to trad is simply coming to a mutual decision about whether or not an author's work is something that will resonate with a wider audience.

That's it. It's not about who's better than anyone else. It's simply a matter of pure economics and the flavor of the day.

If I was offered the right traditional publishing deal, would I take it? Depends on the terms, really. I'm open to exploring any option. I'm also open to walking away from something that isn't worth it. It isn't my goal to tell people, "Ooooh, I got a trad deal." So what? If the deal isn't worth my time and money (because I'd be giving up a lot in royalties to take a trad deal), then I am okay with walking away.

Publishing is a business that provides people access to a form of entertainment. It is not here to fulfill an author's wildest dreams. The reading public does that. If a reader can escape through your book, then your wildest dreams have been fulfilled. If your only concern is seeing a copy of your book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, then you're not looking at writing the right way. Writing is a creative outlet for those of us with wild imaginations and good grammar. There simply isn't room for all of us on the shelf at your local bookstore.

And guess what? That's okay too.


H.S. Stone said...

Well said. If your 2012 self would call your mid-2010 self close-minded for disregarding self-publishing, then your 2012 self would also be close-minded to disregard traditional publishing just because it's traditional publishing. If a deal makes sense for an author, that author should consider it, whatever the source of the deal is.

Laura Pauling said...

This is such a great way to look at it. Sums up pretty much the way I feel toward it.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Such a wonderful post, Megg!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

yup I agree :)

Megg Jensen said...

@H.S. - I'm far more open-minded than I was before. That's a good thing, right? :D

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Laura, Sue, and Shelli!!!! :D

Kristina Springer said...

True-- I know indie pubbed authors who have walked away from trad deals because they make so much more selling themselves. It really depends on the deal. If you've got a big offer and promises of awesome marketing then trad might be a better way to go. If you've got a small trad offer (say 10k) w/ no marketing and you've already sold 50,000 copies indie pub (let's say on the safe side making $1 each. I know you make more than that) well then there you go. It's better in that case to keep on indie pubbing.

Philip Siegel said...

Your last paragraph rings very true. I know a lot of us would love to see his/her book on that can't be your only litmus test for being a success.

Megg Jensen said...

@Kristina - yeah, definitely making more than $1 per copy. ;) It's all about weighing options - and I find it remarkable that authors have options today. I'm so grateful.

@Phil - when I was a journalist, the excitement of seeing my byline or my name on the cover of a magazine wore off pretty quick. I figured that would transfer to books as well.

For me, the thrill is in being contacted by a reader and being told they loved my book. That is incredible and never gets old. :D

Tyrean Martinson said...

Nice post, and timely for me as I start to search out publishing options for my WIP (I'm in 4th revsion stage).

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

So true! In my view, "traditional or self-publish" is a question whose answer differs depending on the author, the book, the audience, and the terms of the deal in question-and the answer could change over time, too. I hope both paths remain viable in the long term.

Megg Jensen said...

@Tyrean - Good luck choosing your path!!! Neither is easy, that's for sure. :D

@Jennifer - I think your hopes are great! I see both paths evolving and changing, but neither will go away. What's the good in that? No one wins then. I like the scenario where everyone wins! lol :D

Unknown said...

Very well said. So, yeah. I agree :)

DeenaML said...

I also love that trad published authors who pubs won't pick up their next books now have the option to get them out there anyway for readers like me!

Bonnee Crawford said...

Self-pub and trad-pub are definitely both options for me. I'm happy to explore my options to see what will benefit me best, AND get my writing out to readers to hopefully enthrall them.

Thanks for this post.