This was a component for me. Part of my dream was to hear from an agent and a respected editor that my writing was good enough and that they believed it was worth paying money for. I found it enormously validating to know that Nelson Lit got 36,000 queries in 2010 and only signed 9 clients and I was one of them. Maybe that says something negative about my self-esteem, but that was part of my dream. Indie publishing would not have given me that.
However, if you don't need that kind of validation. If you only need to hear from readers who love your work, than that part of traditional publishing doesn't offer you any additional benefit, so maybe indie is the way to go.2. Deadlines - Do you find them motivating or restrictive?
Working on a deadline can be stressful. And working on someone else's time table is WAY different than your own self-imposed deadlines (like Nano or something). Self-imposed deadlines don't have true consequences beyond a little disappointment or guilt. But deadlines with traditional publishers are part of a legal contract. They are a big deal.
I do get stressed knowing I have a deadline, but I also find it very motivating. It's taught me to reaarange priorities and not to slack. But if your creativity shuts down under a deadline, then this is a con of traditional publishing. If you indie pub, you set your own schedule.3. Marketing - Can you balance this with writing?
Let's face it, even in traditional publishing, a lot of your marketing is up to you. I am fully responsible for building my online platform, for blogging, tweeting, getting the word out, blog tours, etc. But there's no denying that I get in some doors that would be much tougher if I were indie pubbed. My book automatically gets reviewed in RT Book Reviews magazine because they review all Berkley Heat books. I was in the Breaking In feature in Writer's Digest magazine this month because I have an agent who helped me with that. I get into the bookstores. I have a publicist through Penguin. My book was selected for Rhapsody's Book Club. I have someone working to sell my foreign rights. All of those things are possible for indie authors but there would have to be a lot more hustle and work for an indie author to get those things.
So I see this as a big pro for traditional publishing. I want to have time to write. I'm not an overly aggressive person, so trying to get my foot in the door for promotion doesn't jive with my personality.4. Genre - Do you know where you would be shelved in the bookstore?
I write erotic romance. It's a clearly defined subgenre that sells well. I know exactly where I would be shelved. And that's what a publisher wants. They want to know when they read your book exactly how they would market it and to which kind of readers they would sell it to. When I queried Sara, I said in my query "This story would appeal to readers of Shayla Black, Lauren Dane, and Maya Banks." (Note: I didn't say mine was just like theirs or better than or any such nonsense. I just told her who my market would be. Incidentally, I sold to Berkley Heat who publishes all three of those ladies and I now share an editor with Shayla.)
So if your book crosses a few genres or doesn't seem to fit in a specific spot in the bookstore (or is in a genre that has been declared "dead"), then indie might be the better option because you have a lot more leeway. You can be more experimental. I think this is one of the most exciting things about indie publishing. My own genre started in the small digital publishers before it went mainstream. I love the idea of having new genre options to read like romantic horror or m/m romance (which is now becoming mainstream because of experimental digital publishers.)5. Flexibility - Do you want to write in one genre or many?
In traditional publishing, at least when you're getting started, it behooves you to stick to one genre. You're trying to build a readership and your publisher wants to do the same. So, they don't want to sign you for a three book deal where one is horror, one a western, and one sci-fi. They want you to do one thing really well. Then, once you build up a fan base, you can get the flexibility to branch out. (Just ask those authors I mentioned above. They all do much more than erotic romance now.)
But writers often have ideas that genre hop. I know I do. I don't only get erotic romance ideas--I'm not a hussy ALL the time. ;) But I'm happy putting my energy into this right now because I love my series and want to build momentum. However, if that feels overly restrictive to you--indie affords you options. You can publish what you want. You can see which genres sell best for you.6. Speed - How prolific are you?
Indie publishing favors the fast writer. The more backlist you have, the better chance you have for making a good living. If you can bust out a quality novella in a month, then the thought of waiting 12-18 months (the normal publishing turnaround time for publication) may seem interminable.
I am a slow-ish writer--though I'm steadily improving. My deadlines are set up to have me finish a 90-100k book in 4-6 months. And that's a fast schedule because my books are going to be released every six months instead of once a year. If I was indie publishing, I wouldn't be getting anymore than two books out a year anyway, so the traditional publishing schedule doesn't hinder me any.7. Control - Are you a control freak?
In traditional publishing, you still have a lot of control--at least in my experience. They haven't made me change anything I didn't want to. I had input on the covers before their development and after. (In fact, they scrapped my second book's cover when I pointed out an issue and gave me a completely different one.) I had full permission to rewrite the back cover blurbs. I wrote my tag lines on the front. They didn't like my original title but I'm the one who came up with the new one. However, they didn't HAVE to give me all that control. And I'm sure with some publishers, they're a lot more restrictive. And there are definitely things I have absolutely no say in like pricing, print runs, etc.
So if you know you will have trouble not being in control of some of those things, indie may be the better route. However, remember with all that control comes LOTS of responsibility. My work on my cover involves sending an idea of what I want and photos of my character inspirations. That's it. Then the professionals take over and I don't see it again until they send it to me for final approval. So I've spent maybe 20 minutes working on my cover. If you indie pub, that is going to be a much more extensive process.So based on all those things, I chose to pursue traditional publishing. And I'm happy with that decision. But you may come out with a different conclusion when you ask yourself those questions.
Labels: Agent Sara Megibow, Anne R. Allen, Berkley Heat, Bob Mayer, Crash into You, Fiction Groupie, Rick Daley, Roni Loren, Why choose traditional publishing