Category Archives: traditional publishing

Buy local: Support independent authors

Studies show that buying local is important to local economies, right? More of the money you spend returns to your own local economy. Did you know buying from an independent local author has the same benefits?

Authors published by large publishing companies get much less of the profits from sales of their books. Therefore, the majority of the money you spend on a bestseller in the bookstore goes national, not local. However, if you buy a book that is independently published or published by a small press, the author gets much more of their proceeds. Therefore, more of that money returns to your local economy, growing local businesses and

True, you may only be able to find independently published books at online retailers, meaning part of your money goes to support those retailers. However, this pales in comparison to the portion of money that goes to traditional publishers. The average traditionally published authors makes, on average, a ten percent royalty, but this is on net profit, so any discounts or overhead are taken out of the proceeds before the author gets a check. So an eight dollar book does not make the author eighty cents per book sold.

By contrast, independently published authors (read self-published here), can make up to a seventy percent royalty on a book. Usually independently published books sold in ebook format online are priced much lower than traditionally published ebooks (mine range from free to $2.99). Paperbacks can be more expensive because, at the moment, they are print-on-demand, which means there are no warehouses full of my books anywhere. I keep a few on hand for promotional purposes, but basically, if you order a physical copy of my book, somewhere a press fires up and prints it off.

It’s kind of cool to think of that.

In truth, though, you as a consumer have the chance to change the way books are made. You can go into a bookstore and suggest that they carry my books. The bookstore could then contact me and we could haggle out a price, which would result in me shipping them a few copies of my books, which would then share brick-and-mortar shelf space with traditionally published books. In most cases, larger chains are less likely to do this than the independent book stores which are, sadly, becoming fewer in number.

Consumers can change that, too.

So, buy local. Chances are good that no matter what subject matter or genre interests you, there’s a local author who’s got it covered. Please feel free to list your favorite independent author’s website in the comments.

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Filed under Publishing, self-publishing, traditional publishing, Writing

Plastic fiction: What happens when writers give up on soul

Three years ago, Ursula K. Le Guin gave an impassioned speech in which she basically implored writers to write what they wanted to write and not what the publishing industry told them to write. She asked that literature in all forms return to being considered an art form. “Books aren’t just commodities,” she said.

I’ve often wondered if I would sell out if someone offered me the opportunity to sign with a big publisher that would basically guarantee my book would be a bestseller with an awesome marketing plan and everything all taken care of—but I had to write a book the publisher wanted with the plot all spelled out for me. Would I do it? Would I sell out? Would I turn out a plastic fiction book with no soul and no art just to gain readers?

I can’t answer that question. I fear I might. It’d probably be easy enough to write if I didn’t have to come up with the plot myself. And I have a respectable backlist now. Surely I should consider that in the equation. If I gained lots of readers with my plastic fiction—readers who enjoyed my style of writing and who would then consume my other books—wouldn’t it be worth it? But then, too, I’d be feeding the plastic fiction industry that has taken over the publishing world and made it more difficult for writers to be the artists they are meant to be.

Not sure you know what I mean by plastic fiction? Oh yes, you do. It’s especially prevalent in my chosen genre at the moment. For a while it was vampire romances (which has now morphed to include werewolves and shapeshifters and lots of other paranormals). I’m not saying these are all bad. I’ve even read a few that are exceptionally good. But those can be hard to find. And then there’s the fifty-shades phenomenon that is reflected in everything from content (way more explicit than just a few years ago) to covers (haven’t you noticed the trend to monochromatic still life since Christian Grey’s silk tie?).

I think the surge in independent publishing has been a reaction to writers trying to avoid the plastic fiction publishing industry. I’m proud to be a part of that surge. I love what I write, and I love publishing my little bits of art. They aren’t the highest quality—maybe they’re made of aluminum instead of gold or silver—but they aren’t plastic, either. I know this because they come from my heart and contain bits of my soul.

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Filed under Publishing, romance, self-publishing, traditional publishing, Writing

My Least Favorite Word

Yesterday I had to face facts. My work-in-progress was done. I had written it. I had rewritten it. I had rewritten it in third person. And then I had gone over it again with a fine tooth comb. If there’s a single typo in the whole thing, it’s a miracle.

So then I had to make a decision. I’m a pretty good hand at self-publishing now. I know how to make some covers myself and I know who to call for others. I could publish this story (which I’m really excited about) and have it out there for public consumption by the end of the year, including marketing. Or I could submit.

God, how I hate that word. Submit. Submit to the inevitable. Submit to the machine. Submit to your fate.

Submit to a publisher.

I’m not saying publishers are bad. In truth, the two or three I’ve been fortunate enough to work with have been awesome, actually. It’s fantastic having a professional editor go over my book and point out its weaknesses. I thrive on deadlines. I love what an editor can wring out of me that I didn’t even know was there. Like a washcloth you thought was dry until you really put the pressure on.

Still, I haven’t submitted to a publisher in more than a year, and yesterday, as my cursor hovered over the “Submit” button, I knew I was submitting to something else. Loss of freedom. I love this story. I could do a good job putting it out on my own. I could have a real hand in designing the cover. And since it’s the first of three books, if it’s accepted, I’m submitting those other two as well.

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But I know a publisher can offer this book much more visibility than I can do on my own. Not to mention that ever elusive validation that we as writers are always looking for. I mean, sure, I love the story. But if a publisher likes it enough to put their resources behind it, well, that’s validation.

So, I submitted. To my fate, to the inevitable, to whatever the future holds. And if this publisher doesn’t like it, I’ll make a decision then about what to do with my story. Another publisher? Self-publishing? Trunk novel?

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Filed under editors, publishers, self-publishing, traditional publishing, validation, work-in-progress, Writing