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Anne R. Allen's Blog


My Photo

Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing? Which is the Right First Step for YOU? Win a Free Book to Help You Decide

The list of million-seller "indie" authors is growing every day. Self-publishing has not only become mainstream—it's edgy and cool. Persuasive blogs by self-publishing stars like Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, David Gaughran and Kris Rusch have inspired a staggering number of new writers to self-publish in the past two years.

Publishing your own work is a way to save yourself from the sometimes-horrific treatment of authors by "legacy" publishers (the indie term for the old guard) who have acted greedy and desperate as the e-publishing revolution shakes up their world.

Indie publishing has also become a successful road to traditional publishing superstardom and major Hollywood deals for authors like E.L. James and Hugh Howey.

And this week, an indie even made it into the august pages of the New York Times Book Review.

But self-publishing is not an easy road—and a number of factors are making it more difficult than it was a few years ago—as I wrote in last week's post—so I urge new writers to carefully weigh their options. There are alternatives that aren't making so many headlines, but may be better for you personally.

I often hear from new authors who are feeling pushed into self-publishing by "experts" who tell them they are being foolish to query agents and small publishers. Or even that all publishers "hate" writers.

Yes, some traditional publishers and agents have behaved very badly recently, especially ones who used to rely on the mass-market paperback and have seen their markets evaporate. The must-read Passive Voice blog is full of hair-raising stories about publisher/agent bad behavior.

Some self-publishers have behaved badly too. The review-buying scandal of last summer is still having repercussions.

But John Locke's scammy review schemes and Harlequin's rotten contracts shouldn't sour you on either route. Authors on both paths still have highly successful careers.

So you shouldn't be looking at the rotten apples when you make your publishing decisions. You should be looking at yourself. Your own personal goals--and skills--should matter more than following trends.

Some people dream of running a mom-and-pop business. Others thrive working at a big corporation. Still others prefer to work for a local small business with only a few employees. None of these paths is wrong. It's about what suits your personality, and only you know which path is right for you.

All publishing roads are going to take patience, hard work, and the ability to deal with setbacks.

In order to make an informed decision, it's important to educate yourself about all publishing routes. If you're a beginning writer, you should be reading Agent Rachelle Gardner and the Query Shark as well as Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith.  (And BTW, learning to write a great query and synopsis is just as important for indies, since you'll have to query reviewers and learn to write great blurbs)

Read The Passive Voice, but also subscribe to the free Publisher's Lunch newsletter. Another must-read is Being Human at Electric Speed, the blog of former Writers Digest publisher Jane Friedman (which includes a weekly state-of-the-industry post from Porter Anderson.)

Don't let fourth-hand information on writers' forums push you one way or another. Absolute Write tends to be the comfort zone for a lot of people going the trad. route and the Kindleboards are home to some enthusiastic self-publishers. They are both great resources, but take any advice from individuals there with several shakers of salt. (Especially if they're cranky. As a general rule, I think it's safe to assume people who are in a chronic state of rage probably don't have all the answers.)

When you publish a book, you're entering an industry, so you need to know all aspects of it. Whether you go the traditional or indie route, you're starting a business, and you need to be aware of the marketplace. Things have changed a lot since the Kindle was introduced five years ago and you don't want to make a decision based on out-of-date information.

As I said on the blog last week, new retailers like Kobo and the newly-improved Smashwords are opening up the market. It may be more difficult to get your book noticed than it was at the beginning of the indie revolution, but a lot of self-publishers are doing very well. Friend of the blog indie author Saffina Desforges recently had three of her books in the top three spots in thrillers in the UK, and Catherine Ryan Hyde, my collaborator on HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY has seen her career soar since she started self-publishing the books she had previously only been able to traditionally-publish in England.

And I should point out that the decision isn't really "either/or." An increasing number of top-tier authors like Saffi and Catherine are moving to the "hybrid" model, with an equal number of self-and traditionally published titles and a career aided by an agent/manager. The two "roads" are merging.

Consider the following:

1) Most self-publishing successes like Konrath, Eisler and Locke have agents.

2) The majority of self-publishing superstars started out traditionally published—with a strong platform built in partnership with their Big Six publishers.

3)  A lot of the biggest names in "self-publishing" sign with traditional publishers as soon as they get a good offer.

4) Indie publishing (small press or self-publishing) can be a dead-end in the traditional world if you don't have spectacular sales, so be wary of using self-publishing as a way of "getting noticed" by the trads.

There's a reason I put "FIRST STEP" in the title. Going from trad. to self-publishing is easier than going from self-publishing to trad., unless you have big sales. Like 20,000-book sales. Agent Janet Reid wrote a must-read post on the subject in October. She points out, "Publishers love debut authors, cause they're easier to pitch to retail accounts. It's easier to launch a career than revitalize one."

5) Other more "traditional" alternatives to the old Big Six paradigm are appearing all the time.
  • The new Amazon imprints are offering more lucrative contracts than the Big Six right now. 
  • There has been lots of innovative thinking from agents recently, in both the US and the UK, as Porter Anderson reported in this week's Writing on the EtherAgents are becoming managers who help authors self-publish and traditionally publish at the same time. 
  • New small digital publishers are springing up every day.  They usually offer at least a 50% royalty and also help with promotion to your target market. For a great list of some of the new digital publishers (with ratings!) check out Patricia de Hemricort's blog Publishing a Book is An Adventure. 
  • Big Publishing is opening its doors to unagented work for the first time in decades with new digital imprints from HarperCollins and Random House . (Not to be confused with  Simon and Schuster's new experiment in vanity publishing--which is something to avoid.) 

So what does all this mean to the new writer?

It means the most important thing is to keep your options open, because what's true today may not be true tomorrow.

And how do you do that?

1) I urge new writers who aren't schooled in business to consider querying agents and smaller publishers before taking the self-publishing plunge.

I know—I can hear the groaning from everybody who's read the stories that all agents have horns. But the horror stories you've heard are about agents have been desperately clinging to the old paradigm. Most of those won't be around much longer. The agents who are succeeding in the new digital world are learning to be managers of the hybrid career. Having somebody on your side who knows the ropes can make or break a career, especially if you're not a born negotiator.

Here's what Porter Anderson had to say after attending London's FutureBook conference this week:

"If anything, the digitally enabled rise of self-publishing is emblematic of the transformation that agents, like publishers, are having to contemplate. And if there’s a single term for what agents do up ahead, “manager” seems to be part of it."

(But check them out at Writer Beware and don't sign away any rights or "in perpetuity" contracts.)

Yes, some books in some genres can't get an agent's interest no matter how well written, but everything's cyclical. A few years ago, chick lit was poison to agents, but recently I've seen a lot of them asking for it. And lots of small romance publishers were eager for it the whole time.

2) Take a good long look at your own goals and talents.

Self-publishing is about becoming a small business owner. Were you born with the entrepreneurial spirit? Do you love playing with numbers and marketing statistics? Are you a self-starter who prefers working alone? Then you're a born indie. (And you might be interested in the post today at the Writers Guide to E-Publishing about how to set up your publishing business as an LLC.)

But if the thought of balance sheets, market analysis and accounting fill you with loathing, opening your own publishing business could be a nightmare.

A huge amount of a self-publisher's time is spent in promotions and marketing. Yes, traditional publishing involves putting in a lot of marketing time, too, but you'll usually have some guidance and help. If you're indie, you're on your own.

As Self-Publishing advocate Ruth Ann Nordin said last week at the Self-Pub Authors blog

"If you don’t feel like doing all the work that self-publishing requires, then you probably should pick another business to go into because it’s harder to do this than a lot of authors will tell you." 

She also says in one of the comments: "I hate the blogs that preach overnight success. It’s doing so many authors a disservice. Those blogs make it sound like all you need to do is publish a book and watch the sales come in. If it was that easy, we’d all be hitting the bestselling charts."

But she also adds: "...if you don’t mind doing all the work, then I think it’s one of the most worthwhile professions a person can have.  If you love it, it’ll be worth it."

Running a small business can be bliss for people who are bottom-line-savvy self-starters with a lot of patience. It also helps to have some capital saved up.

But if you work better with enforced deadlines, moral support, and a team to urge you on, consider alternatives:
  • Consider a small digital press in your specific niche. I'm very happy with my boutique press. My editor works with me on every aspect of my writing and book marketing. And I'm not alone. A literary author I know has recently signed with JMS books, a LGBT press which does promos and helps with target advertising and has got him a great collection of reviews many Big 6-ers would envy. 
  • Join an authors' collective: Indie authors are banding together to hire editors and designers and do joint publicity. I was just followed on Twitter by an interesting one called Indie Visible
  • Start your own affinity group. Author Claude Nougat is actively working on starting a new genre, Baby Boomer Lit, and has formed a Goodreads group to promote it. This is the kind of innovative thinking that will drive the new publishing business.
  • Keep your eye on the new digital imprints from the bigger publishers.

But before you join any small press or collective, make sure you read some of their titles and contact their writers in order to make sure they are 100% legit and professional. And always check with Writer Beware.

Finally take the current market into account. Does your genre sell better in ebook or pbook format? Indies depend on ebooks for most of their sales.

  • Right now, mostly adult genre fiction (especially thrillers, romance and erotica) and nonfiction books with a specific niche sell best as ebooks.
  • People who buy pbooks (paper books) are more likely to buy literary (or literary women's) fiction and children's books.
  • Children's books are finally starting to sell as ebooks, (up 300% in the last year) because of the new tablet technology. The black and white Kindle of a couple of years ago was no place for a children's picture book. But on the iPad or KindleFire, it's fantastic. Still, children's books do best in hardcover.
  • Romance writers do best as self e-publishers. A survey last May said romance (especially erotic romance) did better than science-fiction, fantasy or literary fiction. 
  • Young Adult books are popular in both formats, and they are still the darling of agents and trad publishers. At the last writers' conference I attended, all the agents represented YA. Only one would even look at adult fiction. So if you write YA you've got a great array of choices.
Whatever path you take as you start to publish, it's important to keep in mind that you'll have a much better chance of making a career out of your writing if you do two things first:

1) Establish a strong online platform in your genre

This doesn't mean making a lot of writer friends you chat with. You do want to network with other writers, but don't count on them as your core readership. Your fellow authors are not your audience unless you write how-to-write books or novels about writers. Network with people who read your genre. That means it's much better to blog about films or review books in your genre than it is to blog about fighting writers block and how to write a query letter.

2) Build inventory

It's hard to start a business. And it's very, very hard to start a business when you have only one product to sell. There's a classic Saturday Night Live skit from the late 1970s about a pathetic mall store that sells nothing but Scotch tape. It's hilarious. Fred Willard's clueless, doomed optimism is pure comic genius.

But do you want to be that guy?

If you're just finishing up your first or second book and all of this feels overwhelming, let me remind you that Catherine Ryan Hyde and I have written a handbook for beginning writers called HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY.

Between us, we've got experience with Big Six publishers, small presses, boutique digital presses and self-publishing. We don't favor any one road and provide lots of advice for authors on all paths.

In honor of the holidays, Catherine and I are running a promotion this week of HOW TO BE A WRITER. We are giving away:



THREE FREE E-BOOKS OF HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE--for Kindle or Nook (and they come with free updates.)

Anybody who would like to be eligible for the free give-aways, just mention "free book" in the comments and your preference of pbook or ebook. If you go over to Catherine's blog and comment on the give-away post, you'll get your name in twice. The contest will go until 9 PM next Saturday, December 15th. Winners will be announced on this blog next Sunday.

Oh, yes, and I have a little bit of news of my own. NO PLACE LIKE HOME, the fourth Camilla Randall mystery, is now available for purchase ("Likes" always appreciated.) And the boxed set of the first three Camilla books is now at a special holiday reduced price of $2.99. (also available at the reduced price in the UK.)

It was suggested to me that I ask people to nominate this blog for WRITER'S DIGEST'S 101 BEST WEBSITES FOR WRITERS. If you felt like nominating us, Ruth and I would be ecstatic. Submit an email with the subject line "101 Websites" to writersdigest@fwmedia.com to nominate http://annerallen.blogspot.com/ .

So what say you, scriveners? Do you aspire to a hybrid career at some point, or are you aiming to be 100% indie or 100% traditional? Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Or would you rather work with a team? Don't forget to say "free book" in the comments if you don't have a copy yet and you'd like to win one.

NEXT WEEK: We'll have a guest post from romance novelist and uber-blogger Roni Loren with some solid advice on using social media to promote your work. 

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Blogger Bonnie R. Paulson said...

Im a hybrid leaning toward goong full indie. Love this post! Free book please. Pback or ebook... im easy. Thank u!!!

December 9, 2012 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Bonnie R. Paulson said...

Im a hybrid leaning toward goong full indie. Love this post! Free book please. Pback or ebook... im easy. Thank u!!!

December 9, 2012 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Stella Notte said...

Your blog is always so interesting and informative...a great help in navigating this world of writing. I'm a little old school, so pBook please. Grazie!

December 9, 2012 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Stella Notte said...

That was Free Book pBook! ;)

December 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—As always, informative, sensible & well balanced. I almost feel as if we're edging toward a world of custom publishing options & an à la carte menu of choices. You've laid out the considerations in a sane, comprehensive manner.

December 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm glad I signed with a small publisher because self-publishing was just beyond my scope at the time. I think it still is.

December 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger E.J. Wesley said...

Just a marvelous post, Anne!

THIS "All publishing roads are going to take patience, hard work, and the ability to deal with setbacks." was my favorite part.

You have to be willing to bleed a little to be published, regardless of the path. LOVE that there are so many options now. The playing field is evening, particularly for authors and readers. Thrilled to be a part of it all.

December 9, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Walt Socha said...

Thanks for your information and for your "free book" drawing. It's a hard decision: traditional or indie...and your information is invaluable.

December 9, 2012 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Shelley Munro said...

Thank you for such a well-balanced post. To date I've done the small press route, although I can see self-publishing might be in my future. The amount of work scares me a little since I drown under promo requirements as it is.

Free book - ebook. Thanks for the chance to win :)

December 9, 2012 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Charley Robson said...

Oooooh *cowers under the table* I have no idea what to do! Then again, I'm a newbie. And I do, at least, know I'm no good with facts and figures and am the kind of person who needs deadlines and bullying to function. Maybe I'll be a small-trad-pub girl. I don't know.

It's all so big and confusing - thanks for the post, though! Yours are always so helpful in showing options and pitfalls!

December 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Charley Robson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger queengeek said...

I'm at this junction at this very moment, coming out with an ebook published by myself and my agent in January. I could use the advice! Either format would be most welcome!

December 9, 2012 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Bonnie--Previously trad. pubbed writers do well as indies. You already know the ropes and you know what you *don't* want :-)

Stella--You're on the list! I've read that most people with ereaders still prefer paper for some things. A reference book is nice to have in paper.

Ruth--I love the idea of a la carte publishing. One from column "A" and one from column "B"!

E.J.--You're so right. We're incredibly lucky to have so many options--although they all involve a little blood :-)

Alex--Works for me too.

Walt--Glad if I helped a little!

Shelley--Small presses that don't keep with the times are one of the best sources of successful indies.:-) At least you know some of the work involved.

Charlie--I'm a happy trad-small-press girl myself. Works for me.

queen--Congrats on your upcoming launch! You have an agent and your self-pubbing. That's the cutting edge right now. Best of luck.

December 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

I'm very happy that I found my small niche digital press. I've been writing for years, publishing in small lit journals and anthologies but finding a publisher that meets ALL of my needs was one of the best things that has happened to me. And she does it all, including the PR, ISBN#, Cover art, help with editing, and is very open to working with me when I have questions or concerns. Very happy indeed. Great post, Anne. Everyone will have to find the right balance but this works great for me.

December 9, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger E.S. Ivy said...

I love the idea of control with being independent, but I wouldn't say no hybrid down the road.

Would love a free ebook as I continue to learn about this business!

December 9, 2012 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Vera Soroka said...

I'm getting ready in the new year to self publish and I'm looking forward to it!
It's a great time to be a writer as now we have choices!

December 9, 2012 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Anne, I caught up with both weeks at one time. I think my brain just turned to oatmeal :)

The amount of information out there is beginning to look like the long tables of food on a cruise ... just looking and smelling it all makes you gain weight.

The final decision rests with each individual and may the force be with each to make the right choice.

Although, if you don't ... this climate also lends itself to doing it differently the next time around.

A little bit of meat, a bit of vegies or do you hold off for the cakes and cookies :) Keep this going ... goodness knows we all need to eat !!

December 9, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Stacy McKitrick said...

Free book - pbook, please!

My goal (dream?) is to have an agent and a publisher, but I won't let it stop me from publishing. Self-publishing is the last resort, and I really hope I don't reach it!! :)

December 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger ** said...

Fun E Book, Reading, Count to 3 and Free (The) Book!!

Thank You Anne.

December 9, 2012 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger JMS Books LLC said...

Great post! Very informative, and I appreciate the shout-out and link!

December 9, 2012 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Anne,
Your posts are always jammed packed with terrific information.
This one is definitely going into my marketing file.
I'll be taking the traditional route.
Presently, I sell my own greeting cards and just keeping up with orders and ensuring my customers are happy is a huge job.
Also knowing an agent would have my best interest at heart would be a comfort.
Oh, yes please enter my comment to receive a free paperback copy.
I still like the smell and feel of a book.

December 9, 2012 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

I'm in for a freebie ... free book ... the print one thanks!

December 9, 2012 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Free book please. I bought an e copy when your wonderful book came out, but would love to have the paper copy so I can refer to it often.

December 9, 2012 at 10:06 PM  
OpenID findingtimetowrite said...

I am still not sure which route to go, and I think that is what is making me tinker and tinker and rewrite to death my first novel (a way of putting off the inevitable decision). So thank you for a very informative article, hope to read more about it.

December 10, 2012 at 12:54 AM  
Blogger Evelyn Puerto said...

What a great post! I haven't read one before with so much useful information. I'd love to have the paper version of the free book.

December 10, 2012 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger Nathan Perkins said...

You certainly convinced me that your "free book" is worth the read. I would read it in either format. Thanks for the great information. I drew some of the same conclusions on my own and did so becasue I needed to determine what path to go in writing and promoting my writing. But, the confirmation and educated advice certianly helps. And, I did learn several things I didn't know while I read your post.

December 10, 2012 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

So much information. So much to ponder. My goal after the new year is to become agented. I have no brain for business and little patience for detail. I think professional assistance would serve me well. Thank you so much for your most helpful advice...as always!

December 10, 2012 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

And, I must say, I have your book on how to be an e-writer and I strongly recommend it to any one who reads your blog. Informative and entertainingly written.

December 10, 2012 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul—It's always good to hear from an author who's happily publishing with a small press. The nimble, digital press is a great alternative these days.

E.S.—There sure is more control when you're an indie, and that's a big plus. But hybrid might be more lucrative. It depends on who you can get on your team.

Vera—You're so right that it's a great time to be a writer! Writers have more choices now than we ever have in history.

Fois—Your comment reminds me of the great line from Auntie Mame: "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" It may be a little overwhelming, but in the end, it's all good.

Stacy—I think if you keep at it you can find an agent, unless you're in one of those genres that have been declared taboo, the way chick lit was for a while. But these things are cyclical. Chick lit is back thanks to the super-popularity of indies in the genre. And even westerns are getting trad-published again. Indie publishing has shown the Big Six what the public really wants. So even if you don't go indie, indies have helped all authors.

** Trying to establish a career under the name ** may be a little tough, although nothing's impossible these days :-) If you win our book, you'll find out why "your name is your brand."

J.M. Snyder—It's an honor to have you here. You have a model niche press that I would recommend querying to all writers of LGBT lit. A press that fills the needs of a particular audience has built-in target marketing. A huge amount of the marketing job has been done already.

Tracy—As a small business owner already, you know what's involved. I think a lot of new writers don't really know the "indie" thing involves so much work. Agents can be your best friend if you connect with the right one. Getting to know them through their blogs is a great way to "sample before you buy."

Widdershins—You got it!

Phyllis—Thanks. You bet. I agree that for a reference book, paper is more convenient. You can flip through and browse the sections you need.

Findingtime—That's the most important part of all—learning to write well and produce a polished product.

Evelyn—Glad the post helped.
Nathan—The most important thing is to keep and open mind and look at what's best for your particular writing genre/style and personality. Glad I had some new stuff for you.

Christine—I think your goal makes sense for you—especially since you write YA. More agents are looking for YA, so you'll have a better chance of finding just the right one for your books and personality. Thanks for the endorsement of the book!

December 10, 2012 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger ccarpinello said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've read the blogs from the best sellers and wondered where I have gone wrong. Thanks for the positive boost. I shied away from the review-buying scandal. There was also a writer out there promoting that you buy several copies of your own book to boost its ranking.
I would love the Free Book-paperback 1st choice-ebook 2nd choice.


December 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Anne,
"Agents can be your best friend if you connect with the right one." I caught the underlying message. LOL
Not all the agents I'm querying have blogs, but I do have a list of questions to ask.
I appreciate that you respond to your followers. :-D

December 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger PatriciaW said...

Many authors make it seem like a cut-and-dried decision but how to publish, trad vs. indie, is anything but. There are so many nuances to consider and half the battle is knowing what questions to ask (the ones that aren't being answered on blogs).

Your book sounds interesting, and your suggested path is food for thought.

December 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Cathryn Leigh said...

Well don't put me in the running for the free book (since I have both versions) unles I'm allowed to give it away to someone else *grins* If not I understand and just wipe my name from the list.

As to where I'm going? Hm... probably a hybrid. I suspect it will depend greatly on what books I end up writing, since I have a slight mix of genres piling up as drafts. I definatley want a support network. I work well in a team, and I'd rather be able to focus ont the writing rather than stressing out about the selling at the same time.

Now to actually polish something so I can start the Agent Query process. :}

December 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cheryl--You're right to be wary of some of the "bestseller" schemes. They might have worked once, but don't any more. Amazon now gives less weight in ranking to author-bought or gifted ebooks.

Tracy--It's definitely a querier-beware situation. But no matter how much you investigate, many agents don't reveal themselves much online. You're doing it just right to have those questions handy. Never sign anything where the agent gets a piece of the book or future books even if they don't sell it.

Patricia--It's definitely not either/or. And it's funny how the most vocal anti-trad publishing writers owe their success to a trad-pubbed career. Yes, new indie writers may catch up eventually, but they shouldn't be told they're not working hard enough if they don't have the same results.

Cathryn--Hybrid seems ideal if you can do it. Getting an agent who is savvy about the changes in publishing would be the best way to go about it.

December 10, 2012 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Ruth Ann Nordin said...

Thanks for the mention. :-)

I agree. There is no right or wrong path when it comes to publishing. It's a matter of what works best with the author's personality. I self-publish because I love controlling the whole process. I have a friend who would rather have a publisher handle the non-writing part of the job, and she's just as happy as I am.

I wish authors would be more accepting that different ways of doing things is okay. I'll check out the blogs you mentioned that I haven't visited yet, and I bought the book so no need to enter the contest. :D

December 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Clare London said...

Free book please, ebook is fine (I'm in the UK) and I'm re-posting the link to this excellent post everywhere I can find! :)

December 11, 2012 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger Kim Flowers said...

I love this post! I have recently signed with Queerteen Press, a division of JMS Books, and the experience has been fantastic so far. I might one day try to get an agent again just to say I tried, but for now GLBT Young Adult is not popular in mainstream...I do hope that changes soon, but at least there are still stories out there for the kids who need them! I am definitely sharing this post.

December 11, 2012 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Thank you for the additional tips! :-D

December 11, 2012 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth Ann--Thanks for stopping by. You have such sensible things to say about self-publishing. Your blog should be a must-read for anybody thinking of going indie. Either/or thinking is so annoying and counter-productive.

Clare--Thanks a bunch. I really appreciate you spreading the word!

Kim--Thanks for coming over from JMS. My good friend Paul Fahey is with them, and I've been so impressed with how professional and helpful JMS is. You're right that mainstream publishing has backed away from LGBT books recently. They don't seem to get that straight people are interested in people of other orientations, just the way people of one culture like to read about another. Lots of people read to learn, not just to hear about themselves.

Tracy--You bet. I wish you the best of luck in finding that agent!

December 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Kim Flowers said...

Oh, and btw I would like to enter for the free book too. . . Pbook!

December 11, 2012 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Very insightful post. There are so many things to consider when getting your manuscript published. I really would prefer to work with a team who is knowledgeable so that I'm not going at it alone.

Free book please, the ebook version. Thanks!

December 11, 2012 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kim and Melissa--I put you both on the list!

Melissa, I'm a "team player" like you, which is why I like my small press.

December 12, 2012 at 11:52 AM  
OpenID jlmbewe said...

This is exactly where I am, trying to figure all this out. I would love to go traditional, I like the idea of a team, the "stamp of approval" that I would get with a traditional publisher, and to have an agent with their expertise to discuss career goals, etc would be so helpful. I'm not opposed to going indie or even a hybrid. Whatever it takes to do it right and readers love it.

December 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
OpenID jlmbewe said...

Oh, and a free book would be nice :-)

December 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Karen Woodward said...

Great post! A balanced treatment and informative. Thank you. :)

December 12, 2012 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Linda Gray said...

Thanks for an excellent post, Ann. I'm inclined toward the small publisher paradigm for all the reasons you mentioned, and have just changed WIP genres (yeesh). Lots of work ahead, but I see it as opportunity to build the platform and do the groundwork effectively. Plenty to think about. Would love to win the 'free book' in pbook format.

December 13, 2012 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

jlm--It sounds as if you're keeping your options open, and I think that's wise. Querying agents first is a way to find out if your book will have mass appeal or is a niche book. If you have a niche book, then you can query small presses or go indie.

Karen--Thanks for stopping by. You have a great post on this subject on your own blog. A must-read!

Linda--I changed genres a couple of times too. And I still rank best in "romantic suspense" even though I call my books "mysteries." But both genres are great for small niche presses.

December 13, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today and saying such nice things. When I get paid next, I will buy your HOW TO book. A workwoman is worthy of her hire, right?

Your post today laid out the paths and questions expertly. I decided to go the self-publishing route. I do not know if historical fantasy, Cowboy Haunted Jazz Club owner, and ghoul love are hot genres, but they are what interest me.

Best of success with your sales, Roland

December 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Roland--Your blog is a must-read this week. Thanks for the skinny on Amazon algos.

Actually, I think historical fantasy is trending. And haunted cowboy jazz should be :-). How very gentlemanly that you aren't going for the free book. We're all oddly eager to give our work away these days, aren't we?

December 14, 2012 at 11:16 AM  
OpenID pomadness said...

Fabulous post as always Anne : )
Free book, ebook!
I wish I could self publish, to be honest I find it really interesting. But I can't take the hit of leaving my job and reducing my income. And I cant self-publish while working 9hrs/day with something else entirely. So all I can do is read all these wonderful sources of information and keep my eyes open!

December 15, 2012 at 3:14 AM  
Blogger abida said...

Pbook please. Free book.I found this blog by accident and am very happy that i did. The best mistake that i have made in a while .

December 15, 2012 at 4:42 AM  
Blogger Alison Flower said...

Hello Anne, how kind of you and Catherine to offer a free book, and yes please, I'd love to win one. I'm really enjoying reading female American writers at the moment and have just seen your book 'No Place Like Home' - so I'm off to load it onto my Kindle!
Best wishes for a happy Christmas.
Alison Flower

December 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

pomadness--You bring up a very good point. The people who are telling authors they must self-publish are already working writers making enough income so they don't need a day job (or they beg for donations on their blogs, which I find seriously tacky.) Running a publishing business is a full-time job, so if you don't have time for two, a little help is awfully handy.

abida--I'm so glad you happened by! I love making "good mistakes."

Alison--Oh, you've made my day! Merry Christmas to you, too.

December 15, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Sanzida Yasmin said...

Many authors make it seem like a cut-and-dried decision but how to publish, trad vs. indie, is anything but. There are so many nuances to consider and half the battle is knowing what questions to ask (the ones that aren't being answered on blogs).

Your book sounds interesting, and your suggested path is food for thought.

Self Book Publishing

April 4, 2013 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sanzida--You're so right about asking the right questions. And you also have to know your audience. If your audience isn't online much, you need to factor that into the equation.

April 5, 2013 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Deb McLeod The Writing Coach said...

Free book, ebook!
Great blog and resources about traditional vs epub. I will forward this to my list! Thanks!

November 15, 2013 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deb--This post is a year old, so the competition is over. BUT, we'll be running another one in December 2013 when we debut a brand new edition of "How to Be a Writer"--with all new material. I will put your name in the hat for that competition and contact you when the new edition comes out. Thanks for spreading the word.

November 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM  

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