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Author Topic: Are you a Trad or Indie?  (Read 6420 times)

Offline NedMarcus

Are you a Trad or Indie?
« on: May 11, 2018, 02:30:59 AM »
I'm curious about how many writers here would choose to go the traditional publishing route, and how many would choose the indie route? I'm naturally independent, and for me the indie route is more attractive because of the artistic control I have, plus I just like it. And if I start selling lots of books I'll make more money, too.

I've never considered going the traditional route at all. That said, I never say never, but it would take a lot for me to consider going with a traditional publisher.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2018, 04:54:58 AM »
I'll take the other end of the scale: I am aiming for traditional all the way. I write because I want to write, so I want to minimise the amount of publisher-role jobs I have to also take on. Plus, I love the thrill of working with professionals to improve my work, and I don't feel quite as good about that relationship when I'm paying the professional.

That said, once I have established a trad-pub career, I would certainly not be averse to considering hybrid strategies with shorter/related/hard-sell works, a patreon model, etc etc. But landing that trad-pub career is my goal.

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2018, 06:20:04 AM »
I don't feel quite as good about that relationship when I'm paying the professional.

Paying can be quite painful  :'(

But I enjoy working with editors and proofreaders. So far, they don't seem to be holding back because I'm paying them, although it's a hard one to judge without experiencing both sides, and even then, much will depend on the individual editor. One thing I don't get is instructions to write to certain lengths or to try to fit closer into the genre they want. I guess that has advantages and disadvantages.

Finding the right freelance professionals can be difficult at times, though.

Offline dinogenetics

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 01:41:58 PM »
I agree with @NedMarcus... I've gone the indie route and, as long strings of emails and inside jokes would show, absolutely loved working with my editor and cover designer.

I've learned a lot this year, and I would say that going the indie path (and doing it well) is a lot like buying a house. Lots of research, too much money, detailed timing... dotting the i's and crossing the t's! It is certainly not for everyone and, as @cupiscent alluded to, it can keep a writer from writing. I probably lost two months of writing time this year in preparation of publication. However, I love the final product.

Offline Skip

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 05:12:04 PM »
The killer isn't the editor, proofreader, cartographer, cover designer, formatter ... it's the marketing. It's doing all those other things, producing a good product, and being utterly un-noticed in the the crowd of three thousand other books published *every day*.  It's making oneself heard in the din.

Now, going tradpub doesn't guarantee you'll be heard. Most likely you'll be heard only briefly and will disappear as thoroughly as going indie. This is not a business for the faint of heart.

Also, tradpub doesn't exactly get you off the hook with non-writing work. Finding an agent is as time-consuming and chancy as finding an editor, and their response time is worse. And even if you land a contract, it will be many months to a couple of years before your book is actually out.

Go with whatever feels comfortable. Writers will write, regardless of how or if they are published.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2018, 06:46:14 PM »
I'll take the other end of the scale: I am aiming for traditional all the way. I write because I want to write, so I want to minimise the amount of publisher-role jobs I have to also take on. Plus, I love the thrill of working with professionals to improve my work, and I don't feel quite as good about that relationship when I'm paying the professional.

That said, once I have established a trad-pub career, I would certainly not be averse to considering hybrid strategies with shorter/related/hard-sell works, a patreon model, etc etc. But landing that trad-pub career is my goal.

I think always exhausting your traditional options before going indie is definitely the way to go (I may have said that in a similar thread on this topic, actually). So 100% on this. I published my last sci-fi book indie, but only after it had been turned down by every agent/major publishing house to which I pitched it, and there was nowhere (through traditional press) it had left to go.

Since the feedback from my advance and beta readers on that book had been so uniformly positive (40+ people loved it, even the editors who rejected it said they thought it would sell, and reviews since I published it have been equally positive) I was comfortable doing it myself, but with the sequel, I again plan to exhaust all traditional publishing options before going indie again.

It's not like my most recent indie book is flying off the shelves, so there's no need to rush the next one...
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 06:48:13 PM by tebakutis »

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 02:04:52 AM »
The killer isn't the editor, proofreader, cartographer, cover designer, formatter ... it's the marketing. It's doing all those other things, producing a good product, and being utterly un-noticed in the the crowd of three thousand other books published *every day*.  It's making oneself heard in the din.

I don't think going trad helps at all with marketing. You are still expected to do everything. All the publisher will do is issue a press release and put you on their list of new releases. You'll get in some bookshops for a few months—but that's about it—and most sales are online.

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2018, 02:07:42 AM »

I think always exhausting your traditional options before going indie is definitely the way to go (I may have said that in a similar thread on this topic, actually). So 100% on this.

It seems the opposite to me. What advantage do you think you'll get through traditional publishing?

Offline Skip

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2018, 05:17:34 AM »
I'm with NedMarcus on this. Going the tradpub route means, for most of us, spending many months, even years, trying to snag an agent, who in turn tries to snag a publisher, who in turn hires an editor, who in turn rakes through your book until it's "marketable." Then wait still longer for the book to be worked into the publisher's schedule (often a year or more out). After which you find you still must carry much of the marketing burden and your mid-list title soon sinks without a trace. So, after ... oh, let's be generous and say five years ... you think hm maybe I should try indie.

I considered all of that. I ain't got that much time. I have to get on with it. But I'm fortunate; I'm retired and I'm not trying to make a livable income at this.  I only do the marketing part because I'd really like to have more than ten people read my stuff.


Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2018, 11:22:05 AM »
I'm clearly biased towards going with the trade/traditional publishers, but that's for a number of very good reasons:

1) You don't pay a single thing towards structural editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover artist, production or marketing. In fact, they pay you up front for your hard work writing and work with you on all of the above, because it is in their interest to push your book and have it do well. And you don't always have to sacrifice creative control to do it either (in my case anyway).

2) The doors they open...oh jeez, so, so many. They have an in-built market, fans, book bloggers, reviewers, press people... they do so much that most people will never see it all but people will see some of it.

3) Reviews, endorsements and interviews. They will arrange those for you prior to launch, so that your book starts off with a buzz and already has some good reviews (hopefully anyway). The publishers really do a lot behind the scenes.

4) Brick and mortar book shops and libraries will stock it. And that is just damn cool.

Of course your mileage will vary along with the publisher, with bigger publishers having much more reach, and getting your book noticed by more people. The quality and reach of smaller publishers may vary and you may be better off going indie rather than with a small publisher.

The problem going with the indie route - and it CAN go very well indeed - is that even if you produce an amazing book that has been professionally edited and has a cracking cover art, it will still be an uphill struggle to get noticed. Nobody will read it if they don't know about it, and it can be like screaming into the void trying to get it noticed in the first place. Things like SPFBO are excellent for highlighting the good ones from the dross that gets pumped out directly onto Amazon. The problem is that people don't tend to wade through and find the good ones, not when they have the quality control of trade/traditional publishers where they know a book will usually be of a certain quality - and likely one that they have heard of already.

Quite a few people are making a name for themselves in the trade/traditional publishers and then put out indie novels. Because people by then know who they are, and how they write and it bypasses the whole shouting into the void aspect of indie publishing.

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Offline abatch

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2018, 12:36:17 AM »
Indie!


Offline NedMarcus

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2018, 03:00:15 AM »
Thanks for the post, and for the mention of SPFBO. I'd never heard of them before.

 
I'm clearly biased towards going with the trade/traditional publishers

I'm clearly biased, too, in the other direction. We both have reasons, of course.

Quote
1) You don't pay a single thing towards structural editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover artist, production or marketing. In fact, they pay you up front for your hard work writing and work with you on all of the above, because it is in their interest to push your book and have it do well. And you don't always have to sacrifice creative control to do it either (in my case anyway).

Perhaps your points 2 and 3 are correct when working with a big publisher—I don't know enough about that. But point 1 is more complicated. Actually, you do pay, if you sell more than a few books, because your earnings per book will be much lower, and you'll very likely be granting the publisher other rights: audio (in its various forms), foreign language, film, TV, graphic comic, and others. So you pay later instead of sooner. The costs you mentioned are fixed costs, and if the book sells moderately well, then they become almost irrelevant. Of course, if the book doesn't sell, then you're better off with a trad deal.

Quote
4) Brick and mortar book shops and libraries will stock it. And that is just damn cool.

Agreed, but most sales are online.

Quote
The problem going with the indie route - and it CAN go very well indeed - is that even if you produce an amazing book that has been professionally edited and has a cracking cover art, it will still be an uphill struggle to get noticed. Nobody will read it if they don't know about it, and it can be like screaming into the void trying to get it noticed in the first place.

This is true, but it's also true for many traditionally published authors.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2018, 06:31:18 AM »
4) Brick and mortar book shops and libraries will stock it. And that is just damn cool.

Agreed, but most sales are online.

Can't argue with that; I don't know the numbers. But my personal experience is that I don't buy unless I know I will enjoy the book, either because I've read it already (library) or because I love the author's work already. Sooooometimes I will take a punt on buying a book cold because it just looks so good, but for a book to come to my attention like that it needs a lot of buzz (very hard for an indie to generate) or for me to have seen it when I'm browsing a bookshop.

Also, I don't buy electronic (unless there is no other format and I'm desperate to have access to the book). I buy hardcopy. I have heard about and had too many bad "electronic purchase is not ownership" experiences.

I know lots and lots of other readers do things differently. But that's my experience, so it's hard for me to conceptualise a sales model outside of that.

Offline Not Lu

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2018, 06:56:53 PM »
I think there's good and bad to both routes, but if you're willing to run a business then indie is the way to go. The reason is that there are so many resources for authors today that it's as easy to work with contractors to get the work done as it is to work with a publisher. The other huge benefit is that the author is in charge. The author gets to make the final decisions, not the publisher.

The way the publishing world is structured today, whoever pays the upfront costs gets the majority of the long term profit.

Going with a traditional publisher might get you a 3k advance plus the cost of editing, covers, and initial advertising, but you'll only make 15% of the profit after your advance is covered (if it ever gets covered).

An indie author has to put up about 3k upfront for editing, cover, etc., but only if they pay for services rather than use beta readers as editors and trade for copy and proof editing. The only big expenses are a professional cover and advertising/promotion. However, the indie author keeps 70% of the revenue so he can afford to advertise. It's easy to make advertising profitable with two or three books in a series (Facebook, Amazon ads, etc.).

Advertising also gives an unknown author the visibility that is crucial to being successful. There are a lot of readers out there who are browsing Amazon and buying books from people they don't know so AMS ads are a good way to get your book in front of them.

TLDR: If you're willing to run a business and have the money to buy a cover and advertise, indie is the way to go.




Offline Skip

Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2018, 08:03:20 PM »
I think there's more to self-publishing than just running a business. It's possible to publish and just see what happens. Likely, very little will, but a person can build a mailing list and have a modest number of fans, generate enough money just to cover production costs, maybe even cover the cost of attending a convention or two, all without having to go full-on business. It's also possible to publish and do nothing whatsoever, being content to have one's story be more than a manuscript in a drawer.

Traditional publishing doesn't really offer the range of options. Yes, there's the old vanity press racket, which keeps trying to revive itself in various garbs. Maybe one could call being content being a mid-lister as analogous to the cost recovery model in indie, but they're more like quantum jumps than a continuum.

Another benefit of being self-published is I get to call myself Indy. :)
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