To Traditionally or Self-Publish – THAT is the Question
Category : Publishing Advice
Let’s Get Real
Whether to self or traditionally publish is a personal decision each author eventually needs to make. And while this article isn’t meant to dash your dreams, we DO want to ensure that, if you do get offered a contract, you’re fully educated about what that means. The reality is, you’re gambling with your book when you submit it to a publisher, and not only that, you’re giving someone else the money and control to take the chances. Could you hit it big and make the NY Times Bestsellers List? Sure, it’s possible. Just like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse, you can’t win if you don’t play…but your odds of getting that $25,000 a month for life are every bit as high.
Regardless of which path you choose, the most important thing to remember is that success has NOTHING to do with talent. It’s got to do with discoverability. If your book gets in front of the right person, you could become a millionaire. Or it could collect virtual dust on Amazon if you don’t advertise the right way.
As two authors who have been in the publishing industry since the 1990s, all the above misconceptions were once our own. They were also the same ideas of many of our author friends, even those who landed Big 5 contracts with mass market paperback deals. The only traditionally published authors who have made a decent living off their books are the ones who were offered an advance—the bigger, the better. Because that means the publisher was just as invested in the success of the book as the author. They were taking just as big a risk and were going to do everything possible to recoup the money they initially paid out.
For those that weren’t offered an advance, the responsibility of success fell solely on their shoulders. And if they didn’t sell enough copies, their publishers eventually dropped them like a hot rock. Or worse yet, they didn’t drop them like a hot rock. Translation: We’re going to keep the series you wrote for us because you signed a lifetime contract. We’ll keep the majority of the royalties but, in the meantime, here’s your pennies. We don’t want any more books from you.
Ugh. How soul-crushing. And believe us, we’ve seen this happen more than a half-dozen times. If you do sign a contract, be sure to check the Reversion of Rights clause. *shudder* We would hate for anyone to get caught in that trap.
NEXT – What You Can Do…Revealed