Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Selfpublishing

Our Blog Conversation Continues ~ Comparing Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing …


Traditional publishing vs self-publishing Monday’s post—Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers—compared the experiences of two writers (me and a friend) who both prefer self-publishing but have favorite authors who traditionally publish…

Before I share the comment on Monday’s post that kept this conversation going, I feel I need to mention that there are great writers who are published traditionally as well as great writers amongst the ranks of the self-published; and, contrary to some folk’s awareness, there are mediocre writers who self-publish and writers, just as mediocre, who are published by the traditional houses…

Now, the comment from Monday that continued the conversation and stopped me from starting a different one :-)

“I enjoyed your responses to Nicholas Sparks’ comments on traditional publishing and I have a few more excerpts from him I’ll share:

“’Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars. Keep that in mind. I say this because of the volume of mail I receive from unpublished writers who believe that “having a good story”, is enough to guarantee success. It’s not. I hate to say it, I wish it wasn’t true, but it’s not. Some of the best novels I’ve ever read never hit the best-seller list, then faded away before sadly going out of print. There are also some poorly written novels that do become best-sellers. Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success, but sometimes it’s not enough these days.’

“While he focuses on the need of a good story, at least, he warns that in the traditional realm one of three things must happen. I’ll share these but I don’t like that this particular writer, in his traditional world, works directly with agents and editors who require a certain flare in the art. He even tells his reader he has 3 unpublished books and Stephen King has 5 because they were rejected by the traditional folks for lacking that ‘flair’.

“’These days, it seems there are only three ways for an author to hit the best-seller list with a first novel:
(1) have the novel recommended by Oprah (most if not all of the books she’s chosen for Oprah’s Book Club have become best-sellers, first time author or not, like “Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacqueline Mitchard);
(2) have the novel receive wide and lavish critical acclaim, thereby triggering the interest of the major media, like “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier; or
(3) write a novel that has good word-of-mouth, i.e., a well-written book that people read and enjoy and feel compelled to recommend to others, like “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. This doesn’t mean you can’t become a success with a later novel. Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.’

“I believe this third category is where many of us self published devotees can excel. It seems he only clearly mentions self-publishing once:

“’If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.’”

I feels to me that our commenter has presented an understandable case for self-publishing; but, I need to reply to a few of Mr. Sparks statements:

“Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.”

Well… When All is said and done, why does publishing Have to come down to dollars? Is it never possible to imagine a writer self-publishing at low or no self-cost and then offering their work for free?

Are all writers Doomed to chase dollars?

“Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success…”

I realize Mr. Sparks has hit the Big-time with his books; however, I truly feel he should have used the phrase “make money” rather than the phrase “become a success”…

In my universe, writing a great novel is success enough…

Why does writing, in and of itself, not qualify as “success”?

Here is the word history of “Success”:

“1530s, ‘result, outcome’, from Latin successus ‘an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome’, noun use of past participle of succedere ‘come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of’, also ‘go from under, mount up, ascend’, hence ‘get on well, prosper, be victorious…'”

All of that can happen for a writer without them earning a cent…

And, “be victorious” is a wonderful description of the feeling so many writers have when all they’ve done is to finally edit their drafts into a good story…

Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.”

While Mr. Sparks is keeping that comment inside the realm of traditional publishing, it’s equally valid for self-published work; however, even in the traditional world, many “quality ” works have not found their readers fast enough to avoid being taken off the shelves…

Those same works, if self-published, would stay on the “shelves” as long as the author wanted them there…

And, finally, this remark by Mr. Sparks:

“If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.”

Again, self-published works stay on the “shelves” as long as the author desires—digital shelves as long as there’s an Internet and physical shelves as long as the author “works” the bookstores and libraries…

And, it’s a shame I have to say this in relation to a comment by a wildly “successful” traditionally published author; but, there are an increasingly large number of self-published authors who have ditched the day job………

Feel moved to make a comment?

If not, you could certainly express a desire to have another topic discussed… :-)
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Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers . . .


Readers as Gatekeepers For new folks—we’re having a continuing conversation on Mondays and Wednesdays; and, in about 11 weeks, it will also be on Fridays (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday will remain re-blogs from a select group of writers...)….

I said “continuing” because, even if no one comments on a post, I’ll keep the conversation going by myself :-)

So, the post last Wednesday—Continuing the Conversation ~ Shifting to Self-Publishing—looked into certain myths of Traditional publishing and measured those against certain truths of Self-publishing.

And, there was a comment on that post, by a good friend of mine—author and prison librarian; but, before I began writing this post we had a rousing discussion about the comment he made and it helped me clarify what he was aiming at.

That discussion happened in a virtual world (Kitely) that we both visit regularly…

Here’s his comment on Wednesday’s Conversation post:

“I admit I enjoy Nicholas Sparks and his clichés, heartstring pulling predictable formulas. I need it sometimes. He offers advice to writers on his webpage and explains:

“‘Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in “growing” an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away. If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner have fewer published novels combined than any number of contemporary novelists—Roberts, King, Koontz, Steel, etc.

“‘Why does this matter? Suppose a person reads about eight books a year. Odds are, the person also has a list of contemporary authors in their mind who are already favorites. Then there are the backup authors who they sometimes read. Then there are those authors whom they’ve heard of over the years who they might be willing to try out if the circumstances are right (at a rack in the airport, for instance). For most people, that’s coming up on eight books already. So why would they take a chance on someone new?’

“His solution was to write those easy tear jerking formulas. My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer. That being said I never miss a book or movie of his.”

So…

My friend likes a bestselling, traditionally-published author…

And, I made my friend’s Main Point go blue so it would stand out…

And, he’s given you many words from that author he likes…

I’ll comment on a few of the things Mr. Sparks said:

Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in ‘growing’ an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away.”

There are Self-publishing authors whose books sell big and right away—they work hard to make that happen; but, at least, they maintain control of the copyright and everything else that happens to their books…

“If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific.”

While Sparks commenting on authors being more prolific is, in essence, true, I think a more important reason Traditional publishers won’t take a chance on a book they think won’t sell is they’re totally profit-oriented…

Plus, when you dig a bit, you’ll find that the big publishers are quite often wrong about what books will sell—and, there are plenty of self-published authors who sell well and their books aren’t what trad. publishers think will sell…

And, the paragraph about folks reading 8 books a year so why would they take a chance on something new?

Well, the Self-publishing World is in the process of changing the “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing into Readers as Gatekeepers.

All the forums and book blogs and social media and other sites where readers can give their opinions are a “leveling effect”…

I feel that, eventually, most publishing will be by the individual authors; and, who sells most will be the ones who engage readers enough so they’ll give the authors a shout-out…

I’m a Self-published author—my all-time favorite fiction author is C. J. Cherryh; and, her 60+ novels are all Traditionally published…

And, my librarian/author friend loves a Traditionally published author; yet he can say:

“My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer.”

~~~~~~~~~

So…

Did this part of our conversation make you feel like you want to say something in the Comments?

If not, are there other topics you wish we’d discuss here…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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The Conversation Continues ~ More on Publishing . . .


We’ve been talking about publishing quite a bit recently—here, here, and, most recently, with, The Conversation Continues ~ the Issues with Traditional Publishing . . .Traditional publishers

If you took those links, you might have noticed they’re all on Mondays or Wednesdays…

For now, those are the days devoted to Conversations; but, in 13 weeks (when I’ve finished all 95 Tales of my Story Bazaar), the Conversations will also be on Fridays…

So, back to the Conversation about publishing…

The last post did explore a number of issues with Traditional Publishing and future posts may come back to discussing Self-Publishing…

However, the last reader comment in our Conversation (from a traditionally published author) was:

“‘Life of Copyright’ is an iniquitous contract term that, I believe, seeks to disadvantage the writer completely and gives the Traditional Publisher an unpaid advantage they should not have for the next generation or so. Some writers I know in Australia have taken a stand against this and refused to offer the publisher more than a ‘Licence to Publish’ for a fixed period of time, after which the book’s rights revert to them. This makes more sense to me. At the bottom of all this is FEAR. Many writers who are not wealthy or famous are just frightened that if they push back they will be dropped by the publisher. If EVERY writer in the world refused to sign contracts that were unfair they would have more power than the publishers. So PUSH back.”

There are many places in that comment that inspire me to begin my own comments; but, I’ll start with, “Many writers who are not wealthy or famous are just frightened that if they push back they will be dropped by the publisher.”

What first comes to my mind is, if a writer is afraid of what a traditional publisher can do, they might consider Self-Publishing; unless, they can afford a lawyer to fight the Trad. publisher into a rational submission…

However, the way most of the Big Trad. publishers operate, a writer could spend lots of money on a lawyer and have the result be a nonchalant door-slam from the publisher…

Another part of that author’s comment that draws me toward a comment of my own is, “If EVERY writer in the world refused to sign contracts that were unfair they would have more power than the publishers.”

This is something that may well materialize, though my best guess is that it could well take many decades…

Unless…

The economic bubble for Trad. publishers bursts and all their corporate might is broken down into many independent, smaller publishing houses—all of them more than willing to deal with writers as equals…

Although, there are a swiftly growing number of Self-publishing writers; and, if that trend continues, it might be what pops the Trad. publishers economic bubble…

If you need to refresh your knowledge of economic bubbles, try this NY Times article—Bernanke, Blower of Bubbles?

Here’s a definitional excerpt:

“What is a bubble, anyway? Surprisingly, there’s no standard definition. But I’d define it as a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent views about the future.”

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether “asset” in that excerpt means “book”; and, whether “implausible or inconsistent views about the future” can mean Trad. publishers’ lousy methods of deciding what readers really want to read…

Plus, from an article on Investopedia, which definitely indicates that economic bubbles can occur in various interesting places, here are five of the largest bubbles in history:

The Dutch Tulip Bubble in the 1600s

The South Sea Bubble in the 1700s

Japan’s Real Estate and Stock Market Bubble in the late 1900s and early 2000s

The Dot-Com Bubble in the late 1900s and early 2000s

The US Housing Bubble in the early 2000s

So, whether it’s a bubble-pop from shortsighted investment evaluations of unwanted books; or, the massive growth of profitable self-publishing; ( or, both ); it seems Traditional publishing might be a dinosaur that doesn’t know it’s going extinct…

~~~

Anything in today’s post that moves you to a response?

If not, are there topics you’d rather see discussed here?

I think I just gave you two reasons to leave a comment :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Back to Our Conversations ~ What the Heck Is Privishing?


Privishing vs Publishing The Monday/Wednesday Conversations idled for a bit; but last Wednesday’s post, The Conversation Is Still Fizzling . . ., got things going again.

My part of the Conversation was about the two most common ways to publish—Traditional and Self-Publishing.

A regular reader picked up on a particular term used in one of the excerpts; and, this particular reader is a traditionally published author:

“I am astonished to read the word ‘privishing’. I have never heard of it before but I do believe I have experienced it! Many traditional publishers I believe use freelance editors who work on contract now. I think many now famous books which were perhaps published in a quieter and slower age would have sunk without a trace if they had experienced today’s privishing.”

And, from the text-link in that reader’s comment, a working definition for Privishing could be:

“…when a publisher intentionally suppresses a book that might be embarrassing and that they may have published in the first place. They might do that by printing as few copies as possible, for instance, so that it is instantly out of print. Or the book may be made scarce by buying large quantities of it in the shops, once it has gone out to retail outlets…”

Just to clarify, privishing happens, primarily, in Traditional publishing.

So, since that reader/author focused on the practice of Privishing, I did a bit more research…

I found a forum topic, from 2004, called: “Privishing” books: how much the truth hurts, and costs.

And, even though it focuses on journalism, the ideas certainly apply to fictional works.

Excerpts:

“From Gerald Colby’s essay in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press:

“‘In the thirty years I have been a freelance investigative journalist, I’ve seen books suppressed in varying ways, sometimes by the subjects of books, sometimes by publishers, and sometimes by authors succumbing to self-censorship out of fear of repercussions for telling the truth. In the 1970s, a new term came into the vernacular of industry-wise writers: privishing.'”

“Serious research into America’s hidden history is not big business. Most big publishing houses, for one reason or another, will either reject a title altogether or privish the run. Hard truths are often left to the alternative presses, as with alternative media, which keeps them hidden from most Americans. And when they’re not, they’re often privished and priced out of reach.”

Another definition I found:

Small-scale or unadvertised publication of a book, so that it is not easily available to the public.

When it’s worded that way, privishing could be applied to a self-publishing author who’s afraid or incapable of getting the word out…

If you happen to be a “privishing” self-publisher, do, please, check out this article: Be the Gateway.

And, if you want to read an in-depth article on how Traditional Publishing can be manipulated into “banning” books, read, Behind the Forbidden Bookshelf: Du Pont Dynasty by Gerard Colby.

So, if you want to move this particular Conversation forward, feel free to leave any comments you care to share…

And, if you don’t see any reason to comment on this post, perhaps you could leave an idea (or, two) in the comments on what you’d like to see in our Conversations :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

The Conversation Is Still Fizzling . . .


Why Traditional Publishing Is Not for Serious Writers I have to consult myself, instead of the comments in the last Conversation post because there were no comments…

I’m going to say the reason for no comments is that folks are way too busy dealing with a world falling apart…

Or, they’re making so many efforts to work on reinforcing some part of the world…

It’s somewhat like seeing all the things wrong with Traditional publishing but, for some reason, not being able to Self-publish…

In case you’re new here and don’t know the difference between those two types of publishing, here’s a link to my past posts about Traditional Publishing and one for the posts about Self-publishing… However, if you go to those links, this post will be the first one, since I’m tagging it with those terms; but, all the other posts will be right there under it…

And, if you’re the type of person not inclined toward taking links in blog posts, here’s my simplified definitions of the two types of publishing:

Traditional Publishing = dealing with mega-corporations that have their focus almost completely on their bottom line…

Self-publishing = dealing with yourself and a possible very small set of other folks to produce a book…

You may have noticed that the phrase “produce a book” was only used in the self-publishing definition—strange fact, traditional publishers can actually accept a book for publication and never actually publish it… bottom line thing…

I’ll now share a few excerpts from a post I did back in November of 2017 called, Why Traditional Publishing Is Not for Serious Writers . . . (all excerpts attributable to Erica Verrillo)

“We think editors at publishing houses edit. The truth is they spend most of their time responding to memos, developing profit-and-loss statements, figuring out advances, supplementing publicity efforts, fielding calls from agents, attending meetings, and so on. They edit on weekends and evenings, and on the train as they are commuting.”

“Privishing (where the publisher quietly suppresses books, whether intentionally or not) has become the norm for publishers for various reasons, the first of which is that there are limitations on budgets. The second is that editors compete for those budgets.”

“The negative attitude that editors develop about manuscripts and proposals is in part because budgets are limited, and is in part driven by competition. But mindless rejection is also an inherent feature of publishing….Editors are not only competing for budgets, they are engaged in what may be described as a pissing contest in snark.”

“…publishers identify writers as ‘outsiders’, as ‘them’, even though their income depends on the people they publish. This, I believe, is a significant component of the attitude that is shared almost universally among publishers…”

And, an excerpt from a post back in April, 2011:

…I think both methods of publishing have their pros and cons.

~~~~~~~~~

Some Traditional Pros:

National or International marketing help.

Recognition by peers.

Acceptance in the marketplace.

Some Traditional Cons:

Huge effort to have book accepted.

Pressure from editors on book’s content.

No guarantees of ultimate success.

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Some Self-Publishing Pros:

No restrictions on content.

No editorial pressure.

No struggle to have book accepted for publishing.

Some Self-Publishing Cons:

Responsibility for every bit of promotion and marketing.

Less acceptance by peers (though this seems to be swiftly changing).

No guarantees of ultimate success.

~~~~~~~~~

It could seem like a lesser of two evils choice, but those were only Some of the differences.

For completeness sake, here’s a link to an article on Hybrid Publishing.

So…

I still have hopes for our Monday/Wednesday Conversation posts…

And, I’ll still hold up my end of the proposal, till some of you find your best reasons to add a comment………
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com