Authors Circle Q and A
This month’s Q and A talks about the hard decisions when moving from hobby to business.
Our Q and A comes from feedback we’ve received, social media, and authors from our authors’ circle. The questions are also answered by authors at different stages in their writing careers.
1. Traditional Publisher or Self-Publish?
There is a third option we didn’t mention – hybrid publishing. A hybrid author is someone that uses both publishing options. This is becoming more common as writers explore various genres.
Reasons an author chooses this path;
- A publisher may not want other genres from that author.
- Testing the market
- Explore different story lengths and genres
- Build a backlist
- Control over branding and business decisions
- No agent fee
Here’s what our authors are saying;
Traditional publish if possible, if not will self-publish – Christine Colorado Author of cozy mysteries and a member of the Hamilton Mountain Writers Guild.
I believe that one of the first considerations to take into account, when considering publishing, is your audience. How big is it and how big is the niche you write for are good indicators to determine what the best publication option is for your work.
Nowadays, being a self-published author gives you the chance to not wait to be chosen by publishers, but just take that leap of faith and do it all yourself. Some see self-publishing as something one does as a hobby, you can publish a memoir that is of interest to you and your family members only, or you can self-publish your church ladies cook book. This way of going about publishing can be costly, it demands as much, if not more, time and dedication into polishing your work before publishing. The entire process lies on your hands alone. Anyone can self-publish anything, in the end it depends on their budget and what they want to get out of it.
There is still another definition that was not mentioned, and it is that of an independent or indie-author. An indie-author takes the same route as the self -publishing one, the difference lies in the fact that the end motives is to have complete control of the creative side of your work and so it’s possible to actually make your vision come through, as you conceived it and not as someone else perceives it. A very positive thing about this way of publishing is that it can add infinitely to your author platform, build a stronger readership and when done right it’s one way to get your foot in the door and get noticed immediately by traditional publishers. Just look at the impressive results of books like the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
Learning about the whole process makes you understand the industry and as one who has gone through it all you are better armed to negotiate terms of contract when you finally get offered a chance to publish traditionally.
On the other hand, traditional publishing undeniably gives you instant credibility, validation and prestige and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that? But this is definitely the harder way. It’s a slower process, painful as it will sure face you with more rejection than you probably ever known. It is also a mix between luck and talent and timing that you have to keep hoping to align perfectly whenever you send something in. The good part though is not having to worry about the publishing process in terms of budget, marketing strategy, etc. once you are signed in and that you have a complete professional team working behind and beside you. Traditional publishing also opens up other possibilities for you as a writer such as access to literary contests and prizes as well as grants not available for indie authors.
In the end, I believe the best approach is a hybrid one. Depending on the work you have at hand, what you think success means and the outcome you want to get either option can work. — Laurie Hazel
Hybrid publishing best suits my long-term publishing goals. I think this gives me more flexibility creatively. — Robecca Austin
Traditional Publisher would be nice. Or maybe I will learn more about Self-Publishing and go from there. – Lee Penbrooke Canadian writer of fiction and non-fiction. Author of the Butterfly Lullaby.
2. Agent or No Agent?
Agent – Lee Penbrooke
Because I see both, self-publishing and traditional publishing, as good options for my work, finding an agent is definitely something I’m going to look for when the time comes. For one thing, a literary agent would bring to me the knowledge I need to understand the publishing industry that I yet don’t have. The source of knowledge and networking wealth an agent has is key to helping me get out there and start my life as an author. Agents know what publishers look for, as well as how to pitch literary work they believe in, to publishers. I believe I need all the help I can get and I am ready to take it. —Laurie Hazel
Will search high and low for an agent until I find one – Christine Colorado
Am I allowed to be undecided? Because I am. There are advantages to both. In some cases, agents can help navigate and guide. Established agents may have experience and a creative eye to story and career development. That said, do agents and publishers offer writers those commitments – if they ever did?
As we continue to dive deep into the new world of publishing, writers are required to do more heavy lifting – why pay 20%? Does that mean I would never get an agent? Nope, it just means I must have a good reason. It also depends on the project I’m marketing. —Robecca Austin
3. Ebooks or Hard Copy?
When it comes to independent publishing, Ebooks can be a more economical way to test your market. It allows the author to invest funds into editing, cover design, back copy, and other elements needing a professional eye, freeing up printing cost and traditional overhead.
Print on demand services like CreateSpace is one option for both readers and authors wanting hard copies.
It is no trick that as independent publishing continues to rise, traditional publishers are also tapping into electronic publishing, and in some lines, offering solely Ebooks.
Definitely hard copy, don’t use e-books myself — Christine Colorado
Why choose when I can have both! I love the flexibility of reading and marketing digitally. I also enjoy my hard copies. Some of my favourite books spent months on my nightstand being reread. — Robecca Austin
Hard Copy – Something about a tangible copy that I love. – Lee Penbrooke
As a writer, a lifelong book lover and voracious reader, hard copy books are the go to for me. A physical book is definitely how one should read. I take notes, write, and mark favourite passages and ultimately make the books my own. So obviously that is the way I would like my work to get published. But, on the other hand, e-books have provided everyone with convenience and easy access. You can travel with an entire library in your pocket. Having lived in countries where access to English literature can be scarce, I have learned to appreciate the benefits of e-books. In situations that demand it, it’s better to have access to an e-book than not be able to read at all.
— Laurie Hazel Writer of romantic escapes and active member of the Hamilton Mountain Writers Guild. Connect with Laurie @ www.lauriehazel.comor Twitter: @Laurie_Hazel