<![CDATA[Raven's Quill Publishing - Publishing]]>Mon, 13 May 2024 17:49:49 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Publishing: Step One, The Choice]]>Thu, 11 May 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/publishing/publishing-step-one-the-choicePicturePhoto by James Wheeler
If you’re here, I’m assuming you have written a kick ass story that hits all reader expectations and are wondering, now what? If that sounds like you, read on. If you’re not done with your story yet, you can also read on, but remember, the real first step is finishing and revising the manuscript.
So, what is Step one? Deciding how you want to publish. Indie or Trade. People have very strong feelings about this, but I urge you to think of it as a business decision. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it is.
Need help revising? 

In today’s world, publishing is both easier than ever before and more difficult. The barriers to entry have all but fallen with the invention of eReaders and digital books. Still, authors have to market their own work. They have to make sure their book is the best. Gone are the days you can publish any book with a clip art cover and a weak plot and make money. 
Don’t be discouraged though, there are so many ways to publish, you’re sure to find one that suits you and your book. The following is a step-by-step guide designed to help you make the most educated decisions possible. 
That being said, there will always be those who believe one way is the right way and all others are wrong. They won’t respond to queries and may even tell you-you aren’t a real author. But here’s the thing—and it’s possibly the most important thing I’ll say in this entire blog series—this is a business decision. YOUR business decision. So treat it that way. Weigh the options and think it through. You should not be making decisions based on emotions, but on facts.  
I’m an indie author but I also the co-founded an indie press before I founded Raven’s Quill Publishing LLC, so I have experience as an author and as a publisher of other people’s work. I’m also a book marketer and editor. What can I say? I love all that goes into making a book and bringing it into the world. 
Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Traditional Publishing

How you publish is a business decision. Figure out what is important to you and find the best deal. Your book has worth. 
Traditional: One of the biggest mistakes an author can make is to publish traditionally because they believe that is the only way to be a ‘real’ author. If you want to be traditionally published, there’s nothing wrong with that. BUT make the decision from a business perspective and make sure that you’re getting what your book is worth. Don’t sign a contract just because you’re happy to have been offered one. Read it, maybe get a lawyer to help you with the details, though your agent should be able to you here, but I’m wary of trusting anyone this early on. New authors are easy prey.
Traditional publishing is tough. You hear about Gatekeepers and how only a few are chosen-a good agent will get 1000-1500 queries per month and only take on about 6 new clients per year(literary-agents.com). But if you wrote a vampire book and they aren’t hot anymore then no one will ever pick it up. This is all true. But let’s be clear. Publishing is hard. No matter what. There is no easy way. There are steps you can take to make it easier. That’s why I’m writing this blog series. 
Pros of trade publishing:
  1. Cost: You don’t have to pay for all the editing (if you want to be picked up by a trade publisher you’ll want to do some before you query) and cover design. These are two large expenses you can dodge by going with a Trade Publisher. 
  2. Advances: An advance is the money offered to you before your book is even published. It can be anywhere from a couple hundred or thousand dollars to well into six figures. And it’s nice to get that money upfront. However, the pressure is on at that point because you wont make any money on royalties until the advance is paid back. (You sell enough copies to pay it back)
  3. You might get a small marketing budget: This is not the norm. Most authors who are traditionally published get no marketing support what-so-ever, but for a select few that’s not the case. If your advance is less than the mid six figures, don’t count on a marketing budget from the publisher. 
Cons of trade publishing:
  1. Loss of Control: Have you ever seen Mark Dawson’s first covers? He was published through a small publisher in the UK before deciding to go the Indie route and they made some huge packaging mistakes. And as the author, he had to sit back and watch the train that was his book crash. Hard. If you publish your own books, you have complete control. This also means if your book crashes and burns, it’s all on you. Like, you know, my first covers… Loved the artist, loved the design, completely missed the market. 
  2. Split Royalties: Something authors tend to forget is they have the power. Your book is worth money. And I think you should get to have that money. Most trade publishers offer between 8% and 17% of royalties to the author. Some Indie Presses are offering a bit more now, like 50% from quite a few, including my Pretty Gritty Love Stories Press. You need to make sure the publisher is earning their share of those royalties. Especially if they will not be helping with marketing. Placement is something that larger publishers have that small ones don’t or may not, so that is something to consider. If you can be on an end cap with Steven King (and you write horror) that’s huge. 
  3. From Signed Contract to Published: Trade publishers take a long time to get your book out into the world. Indie publishers and indie publishing reduces that time. That being said, if you decide to indie publish, you need to take your time and make sure your book is the best it can be before you hit that ever tempting publish button.
Photo by Antoni Shkraba

Indie Publishing

If you’re thinking of or have always planned to go the indie route, you need to know it’s not easier. Hitting publish is incredibly easy, but getting people to buy your book is not, which you will have to do regardless of how you choose to publish.
I’ve spent years learning to market, internet marketing, and what works for books. You have to be dedicated; you have to sign up for email lists, and monitor the top earners in your genre/niche, and you need to have an experimental mindset in order to be successful. 

Cons of Indie Publishing
  1. No advance: Publishers offer an advance on royalties so you can “live” while you work on the book. This can be enough to live on, but it can also be quite small depending on how they choose to break it up. Advances are often delivered in thirds. A third upon signing, a third upon deliver and a third upon publication. From a mere ten thousand dollars to multi six figures. Depending on your genre and marketability for your novel. The thing is, not only are higher advances harder to obtain, but they are also an advance on royalties. It’s basically a no interest loan according to literary agent Chip MacGregor. You have to earn it back before you get paid anymore. So, this one could be a con or a pro depending on your view. 
  2. It’s all your fault: When you fail, it’s on you. If you get a critical review because of typos and poor grammar, even if you had an editor, it’s still your fault. Why? Because you chose the wrong editor. Cover doesn’t match the genre? Your fault again. So be ready to own your failures and learn from them. It’s the only way forward. 
  3. You have to work on yourself: You won’t have an agent or editor up your butt about getting it done. It’s all on you. Impose your own deadlines and get your butt in the chair. No one but you cares if you don’t show up to work.
  4. Figuring it out on your own: this can be daunting and is why I’m writing this series, but also why I offer book coaching. From Idea through one month post launch. 
Pros of Indie Publishing
  1. 70-80% of royalties go to you, the creator: Honestly, this is what sold me on being an indie. I didn’t understand why I would go through the hell of trying to get a book deal, sell my own books, and then get a tiny royalty when I could do it myself and make a living. 
  2. It’s all your fault: The best thing about something going horribly wrong and it being your fault is, if it’s your fault, YOU have the power to fix it. Just sit with that for a moment. You have the power to fix it. Feels good right? A little scary, but mostly exciting. 
  3. You have to work on yourself: This is part of being an entrepreneur. Learning your weaknesses and shortcomings and how to overcome them will force you out of your comfort zone and make you, not only a better author and publisher, but a better human. I never realized how much overlap there was between me, the mom, wife, and housekeeper, and me, the indie author, publisher, editor/marketer, until I hunkered down to truly make progress with my writing. The positive results have been amazing. 
  4. Cost: Editing and cover design as well as advertisement are all on you. Even if you’re Trade published, though, these things fall on you more often than not. Marketing budgets in Trade publishing are reserved for the heavy hitters like Stephen King and Nora Roberts. So, you might as well get the higher royalty, right?
  5. Freedom: This is the yin to figuring it out on your own’s yang. There’s so much freedom when you run your own show and when you’re successful, it’s all because of you. There’s no better feeling. I sat down with my friend Dani Talbot last night and we planned out the entire year. And I started thinking about next year frankly. I didn’t have to ask anyone; I could just do it. And if I don’t hit the goals we set (we went extreme, you know like shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars, kinda deal) we’ll still be well on our way to where we want to be. I love not depending on others for my publishing schedule. I have to keep editor’s and cover designer’s time in mind, but that’s it. 

So how do you choose?

Whether to publish traditionally or indie is an incredibly personal decision. No one else can make this decision for you, so don’t let them. Take time to yourself, listen to the experiences of others, and do your own research. Also, keep in mind this is a business decision. You’re a businessperson under that author hat, and this choice can affect you for the rest of your life. 
    Things to keep in mind:
  • Publishers buy comp manuscripts similar to the ones they already have in the works to bury them. I’ve seen too many Kickstarter and GoFundMe campaigns from authors desperately trying to buy their books back to disregard this. 
  • You need to spend money in the right places and in the right way to be successful as an Indie or in trade publishing.  
  • Your book is worth something. Don’t just give it away. 
  • Vanity Publishers: You may have heard of vanity presses in an author group, and it probably left you with a bad taste in your mouth. The truth is, they’re not all bad. As long as they’re honest with you. Vanity publishers do not help with marketing, and you pay them to do all the designing for your book. Covers, formatting and things like that and then they’ll publish your book to their catalog. This, in and of itself, isn’t a problem. It’s when an author thinks they got a book deal only to be handed a huge bill that it becomes an issue. A trade or indie publisher will never ask you to pay for cover or editing. Pay attention to watchdog sites like Writer Beware before using a vanity press. 

Have you decided which way you'll go? Let me know in the comments.