Friday, January 20, 2012

Choosing Your Path: Traditional or ePublishing

Tip of the Day: If you're a writer, join Pintrest. It's a great place to find inspiration for far-away settings.

(note: I wanted to originally make this post a quiz, but I couldn't find a good widget for that. If you know of one, let me know because I was quiz-obsessed as a teen. Like quizzes in magazines titled 'What Kind of a Kisser are You?' not math quizzes.)

Before I get too deep into posts about the technicalities of epublishing, I wanted to help you figure out where you belong first. It's not as simple of a decision as you might think. ePublishing is NOT about giving up on traditional publishing (many are still hoping to land an agent who can procure additional venues for their books). It's NOT about making gobs of money (most don't on both sides). It's NOT about  being a control freak (most of us hire out things like covers and editing).

The decision comes down to how to stay true to yourself and your goals. There isn't a right or wrong answer. What I'd really like to do is break down some of the barriers between traditional and epublishing. There's a lot of anger coming from both sides as they spout off about who is better. Guess what? Neither is better - they are just different. Different goals = different path to publishing.

Here are some things to ask yourself:

1.  Is my need to see my book on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble greater than my need to get my books in readers' hands?

In self-publishing, we can releases books our own schedules. Many traditionally published books take a year, or more, to get to the bookshelf.

2. Do I want to just write, leaving all the extras to the professionals or am I eager to stick my hands in the dirt and manage every aspect of the publication process?

This is really at the heart of self-publishing. There are many writers who just want to write and not be bothered with the minutae of publishing. That's a perfectly acceptable reason to go traditional. There's a ton of work on the business side of self-publishing. Not everyone wants to be bothered with it.

3. Do I need recognition from the establishment or am I content to letting my books speak for themselves?

This may be one of the largest obstacles to self-publishing: how we perceive the quality of our work. Many people think self-published = crap. It's not always true. Bottom line is: You will never please everyone. There will always be someone who doesn't like your book, even if you get the traditional publishing stamp of approval.

I know this isn't a huge amount of questions, but I think that these are really the three most important. There are obviously far more differences between epublishing and traditional publishing. If you're seriously considering coming over to epublishing, you have to be willing to dig in hard, especially where marketing and editing are concerned (not that those are a cakewalk in traditional publishing).

It's not an easy choice for many to make. It wasn't for me. It took me months to come around. Almost one year later, how do I feel about my decision? I wouldn't change one moment of it. I love epublishing!

This discussion always reminds me of the Kia Soul commercial. Who doesn't love rapping hamsters?!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber


Joe Harwell, Author/Publisher said...

I made the decision to self publish my first novel in 2009. Now with three self published novels in print and eBook format, I plan to release four more novels plus an online serial fiction this year. Most people in and out of the writing/publishing world did not agree with my choice, but I had my own agenda. I'm also able to donate hundreds of copies of my books to libraries, literacy programs and charity as I choose.

Megg Jensen said...

That's fantastic, Joe! Go! Go! Go!

Kate Fall said...

That's great, Joe! Megg, I think writers will be thinking very hard about the questions you posed this year.

Megg Jensen said...

I think, I hope, self-publishing is starting to lose some of its stigma as people see more & more success stories. People should seriously consider it. They might be surprised - I know I was.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

You can't go wrong with rapping hamsters. ;-)

(Count on me for really insightful, IN-DEPTH comments!)

Megg Jensen said...

Jennifer - I love your insightful in-depth comments. LOL!

I had a fairly serious blog post, but ended it with rapping hamsters. That's how I roll. :D

Amy D. said...

Gotta love rapping hamsters! The commercial Kia did this year, isn't nearly as cool but still funny.

Self-publishing is something I've been looking at for quite some time. For me, it fits.

DeenaML said...

Megg, thank you for posting these three questions. It is so true, and you distilled some of the biggies really well.

Joe, how cool! Sounds like you are a writing machine! Wishing you continued good luck with your ventures.

Amy, come back and post again if you go the self-e-pub route! We'd love to hear how it's going!

C. K. Kelly Martin said...

I've been wondering about epublishing alot lately. Specifically, I have a book with a main character who is told old for YA but too young (or so I've been told by the many publishers who've seen it) to be of interest to enough adult readers. I would love to release it myself (I really don't want to let it languish), but I worry if it would look like a step back, since I have traditionally published books already out there. Anyway, so far I'm caught in a loop of wondering...

Megg Jensen said...

Amy - that's great! If you ever have any questions, or anything you want me to address on A2A, don't hesitate to let me know.

C.K. - some people might look at it as a step back. You can't change how people perceive things. What you can do is pay attention to how you present it to others.

Don't say - this is my book which failed to get a deal. This book is a failure, so I guess I'll slap it up on the web.

Instead say - This book didn't fit into any niche offered by today's traditional publishing. Instead of waiting for the tides to turn and letting it languish in a drawer, I want to share it via epublishing.

Keep it positive. If you display it as a failure, that's exactly how people will think of it. Don't give anyone that chance. :D

Good luck!!!!!

DeenaML said...

Megg, I love your response to C. K. Thank you for that!

And C. K. -- I just read your latest YA as an ebook on my new Nook, which is the same way I'm reading Megg's SLEEPERS right now, and to my eyes there is no difference since they are both professionally edited and formatted. I think that is the COOL think about self-e-pubbing these days: the quality of the book -- if pro formatted/written/edited -- looks the SAME on an ereader no matter WHO published it. I'd love to see some college-aged MCs from you! Or in general!

C. K. Kelly Martin said...

Thanks, Megg! This is definitely the way I see it: "This book didn't fit into any niche offered by today's traditional publishing. Instead of waiting for the tides to turn and letting it languish in a drawer, I want to share it via epublishing."

And thanks for the vote of confidence, Deena! I, too, feel like there should be more books with college-age MCs out there (I checked Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan out of the library just yesterday). I guess my concern is whether self-publishing could make it more difficult to get future traditional publishing deals. Everything's changing so rapidly there's probably no definitive answer to that but it's cool that writers now have more options for themselves.

Megg Jensen said...

C.K. - There is a name for it - New Adult. You'll be seeing more in the next couple of years. I know other people who are releasing New Adult books this year, in fact.

If you're really concerned about how it will affect your trad deals, then use a pen name. I do. ;)

Kristina Springer said...

CK, did your publisher ask you to take it down in age? Espressologist started as a college book and then a number of people told me to bring it down to high school and it worked.

Anna Rose said...

Great article! I just self-published my first novel and I definitely understand the point about getting in there and taking care of everything yourself.

I like that self-publishing options are even greater now with both e-books and Print On Demand, so that my own financial outlay is kept to a minimum.

The odd part the other day was having to decide if I wanted to buy ONE ISBN when I had to get one for the print edition of my book, or to decide to buy 10 for double the price of one.

(I went for the 10 -- just made more sense to me)

Emily Marshall said...

Excellent questions to ask yourself. And I think depending on the book and situation both are applicable to any writer. That's why pen names are great!

C. K. Kelly Martin said...

Kristina, the way the whole book is structured - dependent on the fact that the main character is living with her boyfriend while thousands of miles away from home at university - the drop in age wouldn't work. But also, I guess I really want to let her be that in between-age, you know? And a big part of the book is the sexual relationship the MC develops with someone else after that and I want that to stay as sexual as it is too, so...

Megg, I've definitely been hearing things about 'new adult' in recent years but so far there doesn't seem to be much of a spot for it in traditional publishing, alas. I do hope that changes!