books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why One Author Chose Traditional Publishing--And How to Decide if it's Right for You

Roni Loren's blog Fiction Groupie has been one of my favorites since I first began reading blogs. I was so happy for her when she signed with her agent, Sara Megibow (who is with one of the classiest, most pro-author agencies around, the Kristin Nelson Agency.) Then I was even happier when she got her book deal. 


As most of you know, I turned down an offer of representation last fall and decided to go the small publisher route so I could keep more control. It's working very well for me and I'm about to launch book #5, THE BEST REVENGE--the prequel to my comic Camilla Randall mysteries.


Ruth Harris has happily gone from the Big 6 (as an editor as well as author) to self-publishing, and we've talked a lot about the indie Kindle revolution. We had a popular post from Rick Daley in October, "When Landing an Agent Lands You Nowhere" telling what it's like to be represented by an agent who can't sell your work.


But lest Ruth and I seem to give too much weight to the "Self-Aggrandizing Self-publishing Monarch-persons," I decided it was time to hear from an author who is comfortable with the traditional publishing process. There's a lot of snarky "us vs. them" talk that goes on in the blogosphere, so I wanted to offer a positive view of traditional "legacy" publishing for those of you who are still holding onto that dream. If you read Publisher's Lunch, you'll see that deals are still being made for debut authors every week, and New York publishing is still alive and well. Not everybody is cut out to be a "wrublisher" or deal with the seat-of-your-pants world of small presses. So here's Roni with a great "can't we all get along" message for the Holidays. She is so right: don't let anybody criticize your dream!

Why I Went Traditional and 
7 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn't)
by Roni Loren

First, I want to thank Anne for having me over here at her fantabulous blog. I always learn something new when I stop by, and I love her philosophy of slow-blogging (even though I have yet to take it up myself, lol.) And Anne and I are both traveling on similar journeys with our books coming out, yet we've gone about it different ways. So Anne asked me to talk a little about the journey to debut authorhood from the perspective of someone who chose the traditional route.

There is some polarizing going on in the writing world lately. People in general like to take sides on issues and writers are no exception. Plotter or Pantser? Fast Drafting or Edit-As-You-Go? Literary or Genre Fiction? Man, we love to debate.

And most recently the topic on the docket is Indie vs. Traditional publishing. Both "sides" are guilty of hocking loogies at the other. Traditional pub people complain about the lack of quality in self-pubbed stuff, they fuss about Amazon, they lament about ebooks and missing the smell of paper. (Dude, WHY is everyone smelling their books?)

Then indie pubbed people talk about how traditional authors are letting themselves get totally screwed, they refer to Big Publishing like they're evil overlords, and they talk about how so many horrible books get published traditionally every day. "Look a typo! In a Big 6 book! Gah, the crap that makes it out! Editors aren't editing anymore!"

I'm not going to go into the whole debate because that's already been done well by Bob Mayer--read his post Writers For Traditional Publishers=Slave? Indie authors=f**kwad. Come on!.

But here's the thing I want everyone to hear: WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM

Writers are writers. Day to day we do the same things. And unless you're one of the BIG TIME multi-million dollar deal writers, we're ALL underdogs. We all have an uphill battle trying to sell books in a crap economy to a public who is reading less and less every year and who would rather a new app than a new book.

And you know what? How we do that is just a detail. Yes, if you go indie, you're going to have different challenges than if you go traditional. But the reverse is also true. Each path has it's own pros and cons. And the beauty of this whole thing is...

Your dream doesn't have to be the same as my dream.

So stop wasting time with these debates on who's right, who's better. Worry about what is best for YOU and your career. What path is going to fit your needs best?


Not sure what path is better for you? 
~Some key things to consider~

1. Validation - How deep is your need for validation from professionals?
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.

Figure out what path suits you best and strive for your dream. Don't criticize anyone else's. And remember that dreams can shift. You may find yourself on the other side of the coin one day. In fact, I think the hybrid author who publishes both traditionally and indie is going to be the one best poised for success. So don't go poo-pooing the other side. You may be one of them one day. ;)

So what do you think? What does your dream look like? Are you as tired as I am of people making this a "taking sides" thing? What made you decide on your own path? Which of the issues above are big sticking points for you?


Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Her debut erotic romance CRASH INTO YOU will be released January 3, 2012 by Berkley Heat/Penguin. If you want to read more posts like this one or follow her journey to debut authorhood, you can visit her writing blog Fiction Groupie or her author blog. She also tweets way too much for her own good.


For this week's Indie Chicks' story--from Katherine Owen--click here


Next week, in preparation for your New Year's resolutions, Ruth Harris will blog about PROCRASTINATION. Yeah. That thing you're going to worry about tomorrow.

64 comments:

  1. Those are all good points. I know authors who have traveled both paths and met with success - and failure.
    I didn't need validation - I was just lucky enough to land a publisher. As for speed, fortunately my publisher is patient, because I can't even do one book a year!

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  2. I think as more people start to understand the various paths open to them for publishing, we'll see even more changes. But you make a great point about everyone selecting their own path.

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  3. I think that what you said makes so much sense. It all comes down to a personal decision. It's that same advice we heard in elementary school, we need to worry about ourselves and let other people decide what's best for them.

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  4. I'm on the verge of making the decision in 2012 which way will work for me. I have been pursuing traditional routes, but I'm also not closing the door on self-release. Roni makes several points I haven't read before. I am less and less inclined to see indy as the lower road. tnx, jmf

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  5. This is such a wonderful (and level-headed!) discussion of the pros and cons of trad vs. indie publishing. Roni, thanks so much for this great breakdown. Definitely gives me food for thought.

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  6. Great blog, Anne & wonderful post, Roni! All your points resonate with me and have helped me to make a personal decision regarding which publishing path to take. I too find myself motivated by deadlines and am not a big marketer...it's that interminable wait that's the most difficult part of the traditional publishing process for me:-). Excellent article!

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  7. Indie wasn't the big deal it is now when I sold to a big 6 publisher in 2009. I do want to point out that not all of the large traditional publishers are alike regarding promotion. For example, my publisher arranges the blog tours for their authors and provides other promotional opportunities.

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  8. Alex, I hear you on the speed thing. I thought one book a year was pretty standard--and it still is for most genres. But I'm hoping the every 6 month release schedule for the first 4 books will build readers for the series. Then maybe I can stretch the releases a little farther apart after that.

    Susan, thanks, yes I don't think it has to be an either/or. I think it's great that we now have so many choices.

    Emma, LOL, maybe that saying everything we need to know, we learned in kindergarten really does hold true. :)

    Jennifer, Yes, I don't see it as one being better than the other. It's definitely a personal decision. Good luck on figuring out what's best for you! :)

    Lena, Thanks! Glad you found it helpful! :)

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  9. I enjoyed this post. As someone who writes in a couple very different genres and has some work with publishers while I've self-published other titles...I get so tired of hearing authors rage against the other side. Many indies in particular like to talk about publishers as if they're all run by Satan himself, which is crap. It's also crap to think that all indie books are, well, crap (though some are). I wish all writers would recognize that traditional and indie publishing are both valid options and that it's a personal decision. As the self-publishing movement continues to evolve I think (hope, anyway) that more people will begin to recognize that it's a good thing that there are finally muliple options available to writers. That's the real beauty of all this - choice.

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  10. Very well thought out post, Roni. Your decision sounds just right for you. Which is how all publishing decision should ideally be made. Publishing is definitely not a one-size-fits-all deal.

    Please report back on your experiences and reactions as the process goes forward.

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  11. Again Anne, I am blown away by the sheer volume of information you share on your blog. I am so grateful. Roni, your comments were outstanding and tremendously helpful. As a 52 yr old "newbie" in this writing world I am struggling simultaneoulsy with the completetion of my first novel and the decision on how to have it published. Thanks you so much for the rational discussion.!

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  12. Roni so authors like yourself and Anne are stepping up to the plate and saying,its all about what you want as a writer personally. I prefer for myself, because I've gone the traditional route, and it just didn't work for me. So I'm indie, I'm in Anne's boat, I like the control. I have many friends who are traditional published. Some are both tradi and indie, and love both. That's the beauty of our publishing world, it is wide open to make either decision or go both. I do get tired of many indie authors who see nothing else but indie are really down right mean about tradi. At the end of the day its all about what the author happy. No debate there.

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  13. Great post Roni, you are a sane voice in the debate! It also helped me firm up my decision to attempt going traditional...

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  14. Roni, this is so well said! I've chosen to go traditional because it's been a fourteen-year pursuit that I wasn't going to give up easily on.

    I'll be honest: the validation from the traditional community was a big deal to me. Having an agent to help direct my career, be the go between, and hold my hand when necessary (which, sometimes, is a lot) has been huge. I went through many, many rounds of edits with my agent, then editor #1, then editor #2. What all of us where able to create together is something I could have never done alone. My work is better because of those who've had a hand in shaping it.

    My debut comes out a week after yours (eep!), and I've worked really hard to think up creative ways to spread the word (at last count, I've sent 1,200 hand-written postcards to schools, libraries, and museums, have hosted a book club kit giveaway, and am joining with a local non-profit at my launch). Even with all this, I haven't been able to top my publisher's reach through organizations like ALA, IRA, NCTE. Then there are the sales reps who talk up my book to indie bookstores. It's all more than I could take on, even if I wanted to.

    Though the wait has been excruciating at times, I'm so glad this is the path I've chosen for myself.

    Best of luck to ALL authors in this crazy, fabulous world called writing.

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  15. I think I still might like to go traditional, but I'm scared to death of the submission process and all the rejections I hear about. I'm a little fragile when it comes to that, though I've gotten tougher over the years.

    Then when I consider the self-publishing way, it sounds like so much more work than I think I'll ever be able to do. Especially the marketing piece, given how shy I can be. (shy's not really the right word, chicken is probably what my hubby would call it, but that's not right either.)

    But before I even get so far as to choosing my route, I have one big question...

    How do you know when your ms is ready to go the next step (submission to an agent or editor)?

    :} Cathryn

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  16. All fantastic points on figuring out which path is right for an author. Thank you so much for writing this!

    Your last point is the most important, I think. We all need to choose what works, and do that. No bickering and loogie shooting. The more time we spend fighting, the less writing gets done, and that benefits no one.

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  17. I'm very sick of the indie vs. traditional thing. I don't understand why it's so divisive, really. We should all celebrate the fact that there are more options than ever for writers.

    Let's be grateful for it. It's a great time to be a writer!

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  18. Great post. For me it was about the timelines. I'm a fast writer so I couldn't see waiting 18 months or so to put out one book when I could give my readers 5 - 8 books in that timeline.
    And I write in multiple genres so I didn't think a traditional publisher would be the right path.
    I'm enjoying the indie path so far. But do find it challenging to find time to do everything - like my webpage that languishes in need of an update while I work on two first drafts.

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  19. Roni, this post was fantastic! I think I'll bookmark it to share the next time I come across someone debating the pros and cons of each. Thank you! :)

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  20. This post is so balanced and thoughtful. Thanks to you both. I haven't thrown myself into the waters yet but plan to give the traditional route all I've got first. I'd like the validation and the professional editing if I can get it. If not, it's incredible to know there is another path available, and I would give that all I've got, too.

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  21. Roni--I echo what Ruth says. I hope you can come back next year and report on the next leg of your writing journey.

    Cathryn--Roni may have more to say on the subject, but I want to remind writers not to see indie publishing as a way of avoiding rejection. The rejection you get from reviewers and readers can be ten times more hurtful (and more public) than any agent's form rejection. (See my post on "3 Questions to Ask..." in the sidebar.) I urge all first-time novelists to go agent-hunting before they make their decision. That's going to involve a lot of rejection, but it's part of the learning process. An agent can be helpful no matter what route you choose.

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  22. Thank you for this post! I'm about to publish independently, and have gotten so much flack (from both sides!) about it. We ARE on the same team.

    And I just have to say, the comment about smelling the books almost made me pee my pants. SO FUNNY.

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  23. Thank you for all the information you offered here, Roni.

    Reading all the pros and cons about Traditional -vs- Indie publishing is like following a soap opera. I don't have a television so the hype is a form of entertainment for me.

    My decision to self-publish, made after sending out many query letters, was based on wanting to place my first novel in the hands of readers before I died. Reality, not animosity.

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  24. You're right, Roni, that it would be best if the trad vs indie squabbling didn't happen, and we could all co-exist. But the reality is rather different.

    I would imagine a good 99% of those who have gone indie did so after having been dismissed and disrespected time and again by the trad' publishing gatekeepers.

    For every good agent / editor / publisher out there it seems there are a dozen more that treat wannabe authors with contempt at best, and seem to have completely lost sight of the fact that it is we writers who provide them with the product they make a living from.

    It's a sad reflection on trad publishing and its gatekeepers in New York and London that we have turned down numerous offers of representation since the book they initially told us was unsellable went on to sell in substantial numbers.

    We're not anti trad publishers,and nor are most indies. Of course we'd all love to see our books in the bricks and mortar stores while they still exist.

    But the true value of any deal is not so much what you gain, as what you don't lose when you sign that contract.

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  25. Vaidation, to me - One reader reads what you have written and likes it. That's all.

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  26. This was great, Roni. It's so like the Mommy Wars, where working moms and stay-at-home moms feel the need to justify their positions. Admitting that the other person's path is right for them does not make your own different path wrong, stupid, or evil.

    And as you say, many of us may find our paths meandering back and forth between camps, especially while the whole business works out where it's going. It seems to me it would be wise to keep an open mind.

    Thanks Ann, for once again bringing us the best in balanced information.

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  27. Roni,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information on pros and cons of each side of the publishing world.

    I do believe traditional fits my dream at the moment, but you never know what's around the next corner.

    Merry Christmas,
    Cher

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  28. Roni,
    You never fail to make me take a moment and read your words, which are always honest and funny. What I have learned since I decided to pursue writing June 2009 (for real) is that there are many options for writers and the key to any decision is to research.

    As a Child Youth Worker by day I remembered a preofessor at college telling me if any student thinks they are going to get rich in this profession stand and leave the room, because its a profession in which you give so much in regards to the well-being of others and I sort of look at the publishing profession the same way when it's very rare to write one book and it does so well, dreams come true type of thing, we can all list a few authors that experienced that but I think most authors will hope that each book will do well enough they will be able to build a fan base and continue putting out great books, and also utilize the perks of their publishing company i.e e-publishing.

    Roni I remembered you had said you also wrote a novella, for me although I think I have a pretty strong self esteem I still want that validation from a agent and a publisher and to be quite honest I wouldn't at the present tinme be able to self publish I still have to learn a whole lot so I rather learn from an agent that is an expert of selling books etc.

    Like most professions not everyone is good at their jobs so again when sending queries I will work at choosing the right agent that I think will be a great fit. Thanks Roni.

    Happy Holidays.

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  29. Something I see over and over in the debate between traditional (or legacy) publishing versus self publishing is that you get to choose.

    Not really. Traditional publishers choose you ... based on your ability to write a damned good book they think they can sell.

    Most indie (self-pub'd) authors, if offered a chance at traditional publishing, would choose it. This may change in the future, but right now, that's the way it is.

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  30. Maggie--Careful there. That's the kind of talk that really gets people's hackles up. Ruth Harris has been at the top of the NYT bestseller list many times, but she now chooses to self-publish. Mark Williams, who commented above, has been at the top of the UK bestseller list for nearly a year and been approached by many agents, but turned them down because their contracts were predatory.

    You're operating with old information. Many agents now tell writers to self publish first and get sales numbers before they'll take you on. Janet Reid also says many great books can't get representation. If you don't write what's trending, or you write for an older demographic, Big 6 publishing will be extremely difficult for you, no matter how well you write.

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  31. Thanks, Anne. I really like Roni's blog too and read it as often as I can. Great info here!

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  32. Great post, and great comments. I'm a new follower. Glad I found the discussion!

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  34. Okay, I'll try this again. :-)
    This was a terrific blog post. There's one consideration that Roni didn't discuss in making the decision between traditional and indie publishing: Age. I'm older. I had an agent for two years I liked a lot and who liked what I wrote. But she couldn't sell my books. I really didn't want to go through the process again. Maybe if I were thirty, but I'm not. Two more years, waiting, etc. No, I don't think so. I wrote a couple of erotic romances, published them with a very good e-publisher under a pseudonym, then decided just recently to self-publish the half dozen books hiding in my computer. They need some updating--what's a pager? I created the covers--a benefit of years as an illustrator/designer--and put them on Amazon. For me, at this time in my life, it was the right decision. First and foremost, I applaud everyone for writing a book. It's damn hard. Whatever path you choose will be the right one because there are no wrong choices.

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  35. Thanks so much for the more-than-one-side-to-life take on this issue. It's a breath of fresh air.

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  36. Ursula, Thanks, glad the post resonated with you.:) And yes, the waiting it SO hard. I signed my deal for this book (which comes out in two weeks) in October 2010, so it's felt like forever, lol.

    Vicky, Great point. I'm sure it varies widely from publisher to publisher and even author to author. I do have a Berkley publicist who is setting me up with some blog stops, but the bulk of my tour was something I handled.

    Renae, Totally agree. Having all these choices is a great thing for writers. I'm going to be trad pubbed, but I have a story that I will probably go indie with as well. I like that it doesn't have to be an either/or.

    Ruth, thanks, and I'll definitely report back. :)

    Donna, thanks so much and good luck with your decision!

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  37. Lee, I totally agree. It's about what makes an author happy and what is the best business decision for their career. And sometimes that decision may change as circumstances change.

    Angela, thanks and good luck! :)

    Caroline, Amen on the value of a great agent. I rewrote CRASH twice with the help of my agent and editor and am so happy with the final result. It's a much better book for having had their input and not just mine. Good luck with your debut!!! We can celebrate together. :)

    Cathryn, Unfortunately (or fortunately since it does make us grow and get better) rejection is part of the process--regardless of which publishing path we choose. But it does get easier. I had two novels not get picked up before I wrote CRASH (I was even rejected by the agency I'm not with when I sent them my first novel, lol. And seriously, thank goodness, because that book was NOT ready.) As for knowing when it IS ready, I would say make sure you have quality critique partners or beta readers (who are not related to you or sleeping with you). That was paramount for me. I also got a lot of benefit from entering writing contests (like the ones RWA chapters have). That detailed feedback made me a much better writer. Good luck!

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  38. Sean, Amen. The fighting and arguing about it is such a waste of energy.

    Cynthia, Absolutely--a great time! :)

    PA, Oh how I envy you fast writers, lol. And yes, the waiting part is really tough. When I finish a story I'm so anxious to share it, but know it's going to be at least a year before I can. For instance, right now I'm writing a book that is slated for Jan. 2013 release.

    Carrie, Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

    Tricia, I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants that validation, lol. I was starting to feel like I was the only Sally Fields over here--they like me, they really like me! ;)

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  39. Megan, Good luck on your journey! And lol, I keep picturing all these writers walking into bookstores and huffing book pages. I can't say I've ever smelled my books. Petted, yes, but not sniffed.

    Gail, The debate can be entertaining, lol. And good luck with your book!

    Mark, I don't know if I agree with you on the 99% thing. Most indie authors I know had their specific reasons for choosing that route and usually it has nothing to do with feeling disrespected. Also, I don't see being rejected as being disrespected. Publishers are a business and they are going to make business decisions. So they may buy a book that they know they can market, but pass on one that may be a great book but that they don't know how to position. It's a risk/reward thing. I don't think that's disrespectful. I think it's simply companies running a for-profit business.

    Also, everyone has different experiences, but mine so far with publishing people (not just the ones I deal with for my books)--editors, agents, etc. has been very positive. They are people who are working hard, who love books, and who want their authors to be successful. They are not these ruthless people counting their pile of money and laughing at the authors slaving under their thumbs. It's just not my experience or that of my friends who are currently in trad publishing.

    And my point of this whole post is that we have a choice. I signed a contract with full knowledge of what was in it (after negotiating terms via my agent). I'm not dumb or oblivious. I haven't been "tricked" or strong-armed into anything. Especially with erotic romance, I know there's a market for it in e-books. And I do plan to publish some shorter works on my own. But I wanted a big publisher behind me for my novels. I wanted my books in all the major stores. I wanted to be a Berkley Heat author because I know they put out great books and have launched a number of successful authors. So that's what was right for me. I just don't see the point of painting one side or the other as a villain. *shrug*

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  40. Karen, that's awesome that only one reader fulfills that need for you. If that were the case for me, I could've stopped after my mom loved it! ;) I needed more. But I'm sure that's just a personality issue with me. I was the girl who graduated salutatorian and was still pissed about that one B sophomore year that kept me from first place. With my writing, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do what most people consider as likely as winning the lottery. Perhaps I should seek therapy, lol.

    D. August, That's a great analogy. Ugh, I remember that debate too. And yes, I agree, with all the changes, it's best not to rule out anything.

    Cher, thanks and good luck with whichever route you choose! :)

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  41. Keisha, lol, you and I keep picking careers that don't make a lot of money it seems since I was a social worker too. And yes, I agree, most of us are just trying to make a living to support our families. I don't need millions (though I'll take it if anyone wants to volunteer it!)

    Maggie, I think things are changing really quickly. I have a traditionally published friend who just walked away from her Big 6 pub to do it on her own. She wanted more control over her her story lines. So indie isn't always the second choice anymore. LIke I said in the post, there are reasons to go either way. But yes, there is definitely an element of a big publisher having to choose you back once you decide you want to go traditional.

    Becky, Thanks for reading! :)

    Margo, Thanks and you definitely won't be disappointed following Anne's blog!

    Polly, That's a great point. That time factor can be a huge thorn in a writer's side. I wish you luck with all your books!

    CS, Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

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  42. Anne and Roni, Thank you.

    Anne, I think you might be right. I may just be trying to hide from rejection. Seeing as I tend to write Fantasy (action/adventure with dashes of romance) and maybe Science Fiction, there possibly is a market for my books, so I ought to try the traditional route. I am in my early thirties, with a well paying day job. It won't kill me to try. :}

    Roni, I am beginning to look for beta readers. I know two writer friends who have volunteered, who are not related. However, I have to say, my hubby will be a beta reader. He has no qualms saying what he honestly thinks (even when I get flustered). Still I'm looking for others, perhpas not so close to me.

    In truth, I am looking for validation, beyond my mom, beyond the free collaborative website I joined. I'm not sure how many people saying they like my story it will take. (I'll probably still be in doubt that anyone other than myself can feel the story is awesome, even after I get the offer... lol)

    :} Cathryn

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  43. Hi Anne, I found your blog from Roni's link and followed you.
    Thank you Roni for writing about indie vs. traditional forms of publishing. I think we should focus more on the quality of the writing than the path it took to arrive.

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  44. Roni--Wow! Look at all these comments. Thanks so much for sending your followers over here, and for all your thoughtful responses. I think people are really hungry for some sensible, balanced advice.

    As I said in my intro, Roni, you are with one of the top agencies in the US in terms of author-centric attitude and all around integrity.

    When Mark talks about running into predatory agents and publishers--and he's met some doozies--he's talking about practices I first heard about from Kristin Nelson. The archives of her blog, Pub Rants is one of the best places to learn the nuts and bolts of the business--and find out what's considered ethical, and what isn't.

    Polly-You bring up an important point. Age is a factor. Being previously published is, too. New York wants new blood, not authors who have "failed" to live up to marketing departments' expectations (no matter how unrealistic.)

    Cathryn--as a newbie writing in a trending genre, you have every chance of getting picked up by a big publisher when you're ready.

    But it's different for an established writer who has been dropped for not meeting sales quotas. Self-publishing offers a very nice alternative to scrubbing toilets for a living. Also, certain genres--usually those that appeal to an older demographic--are "out" with Big Six. If you've written the next *Gone With the Wind*, or *The Thornbirds* you're going to have to self-publish. Sagas are over in New York, no matter how many of us Boomers would love to get lost in one on our next airport layover.

    Jennifer--You're right. Whatever path we choose, we have to take the time to learn the craft and produce the best possible product.

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  45. Why am I an indie Writer? I think I may have to do a blog poist on that.

    I personally don't need validation from editors/publishers, etc. I want the validation from the readers. That's my biggest reason.

    My husband has gone indie due to some MASSIVE problems with some now defunct e publishers. He's ready to get to the business of writing and selling. He and I together can take care of all the business ends that the publishers were doing. I've been researching and contiue to do so and will continue.

    I know others who have chosen to go legacy publishing. I salute them, I encourage them to do so. It's what they want and need. I don't want it (not too much) and I don't need it.

    Choose the path that belongs to YOU. Not someone else's path. Much like their shoes, their path will not work for you.

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  46. I couldn't agree more! I'm published with a small press and self published, and I've found it very interesting to say the least how competitive authors are. Or it's the ego....I have to say that I've always asked both sides, "why can't we do both? Have it all?"
    I don't have an agent, and I'm not opposed to one. But I do want an agent who will embrace the way the industry is going. They can have one genre I write and I'll self pub the other genre:)) Congrats! I'm so happy you are following your dream and sticking to it:))

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  47. Great perspective-giving post, Anne--thanks for having Roni over. Like with any debate it's important to understand, like Roni says, "your dream doesn't have to be my dream", and especially when it comes to issues like this one, it's great to hear a reminder of "hey--it's your choice. Make it a good one, for YOU."

    Thanks for sharing!

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  48. As an "outsider' watching a lot of the squibble-squabble on the changing face of publishing, this was a really excellent post. Many paths, most of them changing as we walk, many options; stay flexible and know your direction may not be The Other Guy's. Excellent advice.

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  49. Roni, this was an excellent post. I really like your attitude that we all don't have to travel the same path. Though my publisher is traditional, it is small and I have found it is much more difficult to get the marketing and promotional push that you enjoy with a large publisher. That's been the only drawback to the path I've chosen. But it is a significant one. Thanks for such a great blog. I'm off to your site to join your blog now!

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  50. I usually find myself nodding in agreement when Roni has something to say.

    I hate that there seems to be sides. Yes, there are pros and cons on both sides. Everyone chooses what's best for them. I love that you put that first point in there - it's honest and I feel like that will be my reason for trying the traditional route first. :)

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  51. A lot to be said on both sides of the aisle (so to speak), and she lays her points very well. As veteran of both types of publishing, I'm still undecided because the industry is changing so much.

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  52. I've never quite figured out why so many get so heated about this. I'm not published by a big publisher nor did I publish myself--though I've been both at times.

    Right now I'm with two small publishers and I'm quite happy. They edit my books and publish them and do some promotion and I do a lot of promotion.

    I'm not jealous of people who are published by New York nor those who are doing themselves.

    What I'm doing works for me and that's good enough.

    Marilyn

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  53. There IS room for everybody, and just because something works for YOU, doesn't mean it's the right decision for ME. Thanks for a fabulous post with lots of great nuggets of info.

    The only wrong decision (perhaps) is self-pubbing because one is not willing to put in the work to write (and rewrite, and rewrite) to create a great book. I know some people who went that route, and besides the guilt copies they pressed their friends and families to buy, they probably won't sell as many as a couple dozen more. And don't understand why.

    I think it's great that we all have so many options, but if we dream of being a successful writer, whether traditional, small or indie or self-pubbed, we are going to have to invest a lot of work into it.

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  54. Great post, Roni! Definitely bookmarking this one for later.

    Definitely sad to see the debate. I can understand it on some level but alas. Makes it hard for a newbie to feel confident about going one way or the other. I keep wavering on which I'd go with. For a while I was convinced I'd go indie but now I've been researching traditional. The validation is an interesting point that definitely hit home for me.

    I also like the idea of the publishing turnaround taking 12-18 months, helps me emotionally prepare with the idea of people reading my novel. I am getting better and less shy about this through critique groups but the idea of it not being immediately available for people to read is a-okay with me haha. It lets me emotionally distance myself and not take criticism so personally.

    So in short, basically you've added wonderful things for me to consider :) Thanks!

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  55. angel--Nothing like having a bad publishing experience in the family to send you running in the other direction. So glad it's working for you.

    Tonya--You brought up a great point. All agents are not the same. Some are embracing the future; some are trying to shoehorn new writers in the the old paradigm, and others are keeping their options open. As writers we need to be able to tell them apart and figure who will be right for us.

    Guilie--You're so right. You can't be in somebody else's dream. It's gotta be YOURS.

    Churadogs--You've got it: "stay flexible." It can all turn on a dime.

    p.m.--Even trad. published big name writers I know are having to do 90% of their own publicity. It's only debut writers and superstars who get the big promos, so if you like your small publisher otherwise, that may be the best of both worlds.

    woshushi--I always wonder why some people want everybody to think just what they think. Is it because they aren't quite sure what they think is right?

    Sue--As I said to Churadogs, it's best to stay flexible, because it all may change utterly with the next tech innovation.

    Marilyn--I think you may have found the happy medium.

    Beverly--I love the term "guilt copies." I've bought some of those myself. Publish no book before its time!

    Kate--There's something to that "waiting period". I've published four novels very fast and I find myself thinking--"I should change that scene in Ghostwriters..." and then I remember "it's published, girl: no going back now!"

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  56. SKFigler (aka Rrrandy Wurst)December 20, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    As Ranae suggested, it's a glorious time in this writing profession/business/dream/purgatory/etc. when we actually have two distinct and valid ways of getting our work seen and appreciated. I'm an old guy who has been writing for decades. I had three non-fiction books professionally published, then realized that, while satisfying, it wasn't my true dream, which was/is to tell stories rather than expound on theories and data.
    I tried the traditional route with a couple of novels, got an agent, and came extremely close to getting a contract. Now I believe I wouldn't accept one with a traditional publisher because of the time getting into print, the brief shelf-life in bookstores if it doesn't hit big and quickly (mere weeks!), having to deal with one agent/editor's desire for changes when another would disagree (after I've gone through many drafts), lack of control, and puny compensation (6% to 12%). I did all that with my non-fiction books.
    So, I'm sold---given my advanced age and orneriness---on the new indie/e-book form of publishing. If I could only figure out all that social networking platform stuff. And, honestly, the best of fortune to those who try the traditional path. We're all brothers and sisters in the same guild.

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  57. You know, I have read lots of articles about why to self-publish and very few about why to go traditional. I love this blog, the guest post, and am now following both. Thanks for the insight.

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  58. Rrrrandy--You bring up a very important point: the short shelf-life of a traditionally published book. The wonderful author Jean Brodie said "the shelf life of a book is somewhere between milk and yogurt." A good thing to keep in mind when making the decision.

    Tasha--Welcome! So glad you're following. We like to keep a balanced eye on things.

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  59. This was not only amazingly informative and logical, it was beautifully put. :D It's not us or them - both sides have pros and cons and now we have more choices as writers. That's a good thing!

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  60. Great post! Reading this confirmed my dream for traditional publishing, but I totally support both sides and see the pros and cons of each.

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  61. Lisa--Roni sure did a great job with this, didn't she?

    Ghenet--I think traditional publishing will always be with us in one form or another, and keeping on the tried and true path will work for lots of writers. We just need to keep our eyes open no matter which route we take.

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  62. Woh there is so much here. I'll come back after Christmas. I'm not supposed to be blogging, mwahahahaha...

    Happy Christmas Anne and may you go from strength to strength in 2012.

    Denise

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  63. I'm a slow writer. Traditional is probably for me. It takes me a year or more to write a book.

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  64. Last year I finally told myself it was time to stop waiting around and start making something of myself BY MYSELF. I went through a lot of self doubt and misery because of the negative stereotypes given self-publishing in the past. Posts like this helped to bolster my confidence. My work is not yet ready to self-publish, but after a year of working toward it, and getting to know the new forms of publishing, I feel more confident in having made the decision, and in my ability to sell myself to readers. That's really all the validation I want.

    Another big part of this decision is that I am a person with a disability, and I wanted to write stories about people with disabilities where that was not the whole point, and the message I get from the big publishers/writing instructors/other writers is that the reading world may not feel READY for my perspective. Certain types of books, certain types of characters and certain types of ideas are being picked up by the big publishers, but a lot of unique voices, stories and perspectives have been missing for a long time. One of the exciting things about self-publishing is the fact that I can see that changing, and being part of that change was a huge part of the decision to try to self publish. The speed thing is an issue. Part of me is still scared the old stereotypes will come back and bite me, and I want to take my time and tell my stories the right way, so they can reach the most readers. But overall, I'm happy to choose this path, at least right now. I'm glad to see someone writing about this in a real and balanced way. Thanks for the great post!

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