After the Predays (The After All Trilogy Book 2)
Finally you near completion of the tuned novel and work on a query letter…. The query letter itself is a beast, a word document you quickly learn to hate. You rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, then scour the internet for agents. Many of them reject you, but only after two or three weeks of silence. Some actually ask for your manuscript, then reject you after months of silence.
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As they say to witchers, best of luck on the Path. As an athlete, I see a lot of similarities between my path and that of a writer. My first published work was the 14th novel I wrote — and those benchmarks above are about right with regards to my work, which took over 10 years of active writing to develop.
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Your article was for beginners — but if we expand the discussion to people who have gone through those paces, and CAN write a book that is likely to find an audience, the decision on which path is best is MUCH more complicated. I can make a case for both. Self-publishing CAN be the easy path if all you do is slap something online and move on…these projects rarely gain any traction and fade into obscurity. Personally, I think that regardless of self or traditional two things should always be the same a the quality of the writing and b the professionalism of the packaging.
Yes, to all of this. You see all these rags-to-riches stories of people who had their books rejected a dozen times until they self-pubbed on Amazon and suddenly it sells well and oh yeah, NOW traditional publishing houses want a piece of that action. But those are rare.
And they usually involve way more work than the story suggests, such as what you mentioned with marketing, art, editing, all that stuff. It never is. I, like you, often approach self-published books with a bit of trepidation. Part of why I joined the SPFBO was to see what was out there, to push my boundaries, and to maybe break down those prejudices that I had. Takes a little bit of pressure off some of the authors who do have quality work out there because they may be awesome authors but not so good at marketing, and publicity is the biggest thing holding them back.
There are a few authors who have made it simply because their awesome writing was missed, but, again, you are playing with odds that are stacked massively against you and if you are playing with them at the cost of improving your writing you are robbing yourself of improving as an artist. I did find about books that I thought could be published with a little bit more work. But not a single book, even our champion, do I feel is of Traditional Publishing quality. A big part of my image that a few people complained about that was missed was that I drew the writer having sent a book to an agent before they decided to Self Publish.
If they went straight down the Self Publishing root then my point would be less valid. Your reasons are just like mine. I believe that there IS an author of Traditional Publishing quality out there… maybe one as good as Peter Brett, Trudi Canvan, etc… they were probably missed by the Agents.
I think it is rare, but I am sure it must have happened purely down to numbers. They are usually comparing apples to oranges. The real comparison should be between authors in both groups with similar sales levels.
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Many will find only marginal success — get a few hundred or a few thousand readers and negligible income. An extremely small number will be a success — get tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of readers and make a living wage. Only true outliers will be a phenomenal success — making the New York Times, selling more than 1,, copies of a given book and become a staple of the industry.
I think group 4 will have more self-published authors than traditional due to the ability to control price and the higher income self-publishers get , and Group 5 will be almost exclusively traditional.
I think there are more of them that you realize. In the pre days, publishing was very much a black box. Little was said about things like contracts, advances, actual sales, and the like. When self-publishing became viable, and people like myself saw both sides of the coin some of underbellly of publishing was exposed. Contracts are, and continue to be VERY slanted toward the publishers. Then there is the whole issue of control — control over pricing, ability to go DRM-free, control over covers.
I had offers of publication for my science fiction novel Hollow World, but I turned them down to self-publish. Death of Dulgath, my next Riyria book was never submitted to a publisher because none of them could get it out in the deadline required by a non-compete clause in my Del Rey contract for my next series.
So again I self-published. I could spend this entire post pointing out all the benefits about self publishing and why authors should move towards it. I used to run a blog that reviewed self published fantasy novels. To put it bluntly, a lot of them are really bad. I pre selected all the books I reviewed from the reviews they got from Amazon and tried picking well received self published fantasy novels that no one knew about yet. Even then so many books suffered from mistakes that could have easily been fixed with another revision or an editor.
Polish is the one thing that hinders self published books just as much as grammar does. There are a lot of good ideas and scenes that are marred by bad ones. An editor, or at least a couple of beta readers, would have filtered through these bad scenes and made them a lot better to sit through. And I got frustrated reading these books because I knew if they were more patient to have revised their book again or send it to an editor it could have been significantly better.
Despite that I tried lowering my standards for self published books and continued buying I never asked any of the authors for their copy of their books, I wanted to support too , reading, and reviewing, but even the best self published book I read, that I rated a 4, would be a 2. I kept on yearning for high quality fantasy novels and that itch grew more and more with every book it was hard reading a self published book to review, and another book because I tried to review a book a week, that was very challenging , and I just gave in.
Imagine all the other ones out there? Think like a movie producer, understand that appeal is more attractive than quality. Read books, review books, be hard on yourself.
No one is going to reward you at the end of the finish line for having the bravery to publicly submit your book online. They said that Self Published authors were putting in just as much work and doing all the same things as Authors who are combined with a Traditional Publisher. I clicked on her profile and tracked down her book on Amazon.
I read page one and it was quite evident to me it had not been edited by a third party. I know not all Self Published authors Self Edit, I know some track down some of the finest Editors to edit their work, but this is such a massive problem with Self Publishing. No author, not Brandon Sanderon, not George R.
Martin, not Robin Hobb can edit their own work. They will teach you a lot and ensure that what you put out is at least the best it can be at this moment in time. My 8 Orbit books were edited by their editor-in-chief Devi Pillali.
My next book is coming out from Del Rey and is being edited by Tricia Narwani. Did she improve the work, yes of course, but substantially? Not really. The stories remained pretty much the same and in a few cases I disagreed with a requested change and the feedback from readers proved I was right in doing so. I think this is because before my editor sees the books I have an extensive alpha and beta process — the same one I use for my self AND traditional works.
I pay premium dollars because a I can afford it and b I see value in their contributions. Interesting read. I think in some respects you are right too. The problem is I think the same amount of work and effort needs to go into a self-pubbed book as a trad-pubbed one. I do make a profit, despite paying for professional covers and editing. Next time I set out to write a fantasy series I will approach it differently. I have a few other writing projects on the back burners too, some of which I intend to submit to agents and some of which I intend to self-publish.
And this is the most important point when it comes to self-publishing. I do both and the quality of each has to be identical — or why bother self publishing? I am close to someone who decided to self publish. A book you rejected in your first round of spfbo. But I can tell you it has been quite a journey and learning experience. When I read the first draft of his book five years ago, I was blown away at the story. The ish words he self published last fall was built from the first five chapters of the original. Editing consisted of my reading out loud back to him.