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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why She Went Traditional...

Roni Loren had a guest post earlier this week on Anne R. Allen's blog entitled Why One Author Chose Traditional Publishing--And How to Decide if it's Right for You...

I've been sitting on this over the weekend debating my thoughts on the process. Self-publishing is gaining ground, and I find I approve of it much more than I did a year ago when it was still untested (at least in my mind). I now know several authors who have done very well with the self-publishing route. I know even more authors who have dazzling careers with the small presses. When I first looked into publishing e-queries were almost unheard of. Now? There are some agents who don't take an e-query but they aren't at the top of my list.

That's why I really appreciated Roni's take of traditional publishing.

Do I need validation? Maybe not. I've seen my name in print. I've writing awards* for non-fiction (that's my dark shadowy past with skeletons in the closet so let's not go there). As a writer, I'm confident in what I do. More to the point, I like what I write and I don't need someone to agree with me to feel that way. Call it a point for self-publishing.

Deadlines? I love deadlines. It's a holdover from my dark and shadowy past. I like the structure of deadlines. I like planning my life out months ahead. A point for traditional.

Marketing? We all do marketing regardeless of how we publish. I consider this a null.

Genre? I can write cross genre, but the bulk of my ideas are sci-fi. I'm happy there. A point for traditional.

Flexibility? I consider this a null. Contracts usually apply to one genre or one length. I haven't heard anything about traditional authors being restricted from publishing short stories or novellas in other genres away from their agents and editors. I've seen them do it, in fact. If all else fails... Name Change! It worked for Kim Harrison/Dawn Cook.

Speed? This is where Roni caught me.

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.
I am not a fast writer. I can write a 75,000 word draft in a month, but it takes me a year to edit. I spent five months writing and editing EVFIL. I've been working on JANE DOE for over a year. Waiting six months for a query response is a waste of time if I'm twiddling my thumbs. If I'm hustling to write and edit JANE'S SHADOW? All of a sudden six months isn't nearly long enough.

For me, this is a big point in favor of traditional publishing.

Control? A mother of four does not have time to be a control freak. At least I don't if I want to retain my sanity. I love the idea of delegation. Have you ever read the book THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK? The whole idea is that you delegate out to the experts rather than wasting your time (and thus losing money instead of earning it). You have to balance what you are worth in an hour against what it would cost to do something in that time. Designing my own cover art and being a control freak is not cost effective.

At the end of the day, writing is my job, it isn't my life. For me that's an important distinction. When I edit I have a team of beta-readers. Yes, they're my friends, but they're also people I can rely on to tell me what works and to do their job without my hovering over their shoulder. I'd rather have a competent team of experts to work with than try to DIY everything. Traditional publishing works for me.

Roni's article helped me settle my opinions. Where I'm at right now, both in my personal life and in my career, traditional publishing is the best route for my novels. Does that mean I'd rule out everything else? Of course not. I'm not here to burn bridges.

I'll spend 2012 trying to find a home for JANE DOE. If I get no interest by 2013 I'll look at why I can't get interest, and reevaluate. At that point I'll also have JANE'S SHADOW done and be working on the drafts of CHASING JANE, which will set me up nicely for self-publishing if that's what I need to do.

Nothing is set in stone in this industry, but now I feel confident with the choices I'm making. Thanks, Roni!

*Small writing awards from the local newspaper staff. *sigh* It turns out the skeleton in my closet is made of plastic. Isn't that heartbreaking?


  1. Knowing where your going and what you want to do is cool. I am learning my area is non-fiction. Have problems doing dialogue. Like the fact you are so self confident and do not care what people think as long as you are happy with it. That is a big hurdle many people never get over. They write to please others and not themselves. If I am not happy with it, it's not worth doing. Glad you are settled on your path..Your background looks different or is it just me?

  2. I haven't changed the background recently...

    I used to be very shy, and very worried about what other people thought. At some point I stopped caring, it was a very freeing experience. :o)

  3. My writing speed depends on how inspired I'm feeling - I've turned a 25K novella out in a month, but two years down the line I'm still working on a 60K novel. Meh.
    A trad deal with a small press is working out for me, but I've self-pubbed a short story and plan on doing another one next year. Self-publishing is still an option for works I can't find a home for but feel are good enough to sell. I've hesitated over self-publishing my longer works because I wanted a trad deal, I was worried that I'd be tempted to rush a title out before it was really ready or would spend too long prevaricating when it WAS ready, and also because I ended up pulling out my hair just trying to format a short on Smashwords the first time around. :-P

  4. Pippa- My twin did my formatting for REAL LIES. It's cheating, but she has a copy/paste template she uses for all her short stories.

    I really like self-pub for shorts. What I write doesn't fall into a genre easily, and finding a magazine is hard. Self-publishing lets me put a short story out there for under a dollar (or free when I Tweet coupons). People get to read my work, see my style, and I get to share a fun story. It works.

    For my longer stuff, I think I want traditional. Although, right now I really just want to hear that chapter 15 makes sense!