Tuesday, September 20

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 15 comments
As little as I've been able to be online these days, I keep coming across stories that have clouded my sense of what publishing path would fit me best.

Like this one: He Beats Me, But He's My Publisher

And this: Author Polly Courtney Quits Big 6

And then there's the whole productivity issue, as explained here: How Fast Do You Have to Write to Build a Successful Career?

Suddenly I'm feeling my inner brakes squealing, my inner turn-signal clicking and my hand about to pull hard to the left.

After all, the Indie side has its proponents: Revenge of the Rejected

And proponents with many caveats: When NOT to Go Indie
And Why Self-Publishing is Better Than You Think
And somewhere in the middle: When you don't care - more Indie thoughts

Of course, there's always "the middle way"--small press publishing

Michelle's small publisher series at The Innocent Flower covers lots of the pros and cons.

When it comes down to it, there are a number of questions to ask yourself when trying to navigate through all this information.

1. What does success look like TO ME?
Quitting the day job to write full time might be your goal. Or having a loyal following. It might mean having a certain level of control. Producing work that you feel proud of. Reaching a particular target audience with something helpful and life-giving.

2. What are my no-go areas?
What sacrifices am I not willing to make in my career? This might involve decisions about genres and approaches, financial risk, public exposure, associations. Where are you unwilling to compromise?

3. What kind of writing lifestyle can I maintain?
This question is perhaps the toughest to answer. It has to do with your stamina, your level of self-motivation, your ability to deal with outside pressure and to some degree the strength of your ego.

What do you think? Have you chosen a particular path? Why? What went into that decision?
Image credit: morguefile.com


  1. Great post, Laurel. Publishing has become such a confusing thing these days: what to do, what NOT to do, and how to know the difference. Thanks for the links. :-)

  2. Shannon: Warning--the links might leave you even more confused, but I hope some folks might benefit from weighing various view out there. Or at least explain my own sense of ambivalence generally.

  3. What great links! I especially have to check out the "How fast do you have to write" linky. Nice to visit you and your blog here! :)

  4. Great post and thought provoking questions which I still struggle to answer.

  5. I've been reading most of the posts on publishing that I find. I think as writers we have to be informed in order to make the right decision. There is no wrong or right decision - just what's right for us.

  6. Carol: Thanks for visiting and the follow! The "how fast" post definitely shook me up.

    Bish: I think I would have had very different answers were I diving into writing earlier in life. Finding a path with the right level of balance and control...that's what I'm trying to figure out.

  7. Laura: Yes, absolutely. Each path has its pros and cons--it's a matter of finding the set that you feel you can live with. For example, the Big-6 adds outside pressure to sell well because others count on your sucesss for them to succeed. You don't have that same pressure self-publishing, but it comes with some financial risk.

  8. I decided to go the self-publishing route because the Big 6 is falling apart, agents are a mess, I didn't find a small press who would do marketing, and If I had to do it for them, then I could certainly do it for me.

    I'm happy with my decision and even if it doesn't sell, it will be a great learning experience.

  9. Hi, Laurel,

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I just finished my lasted novel and am faced with the same confusion.

    I plan to query a bit to see what happens, but I might do a small indy publisher or self publish. Not quite sure yet.

    Thanks for the links... I hope they don't confuse me more. LOL.

    Good luck with your decision and keep us posted.

  10. Anne: I hear you and am having very similar thoughts. I find myself very attracted to the "having a measure of control" aspect, and I while I love this book, I know it has niche appeal rather than mass appeal.

    Michael: I have a genre-bender for a more niche audience, so I don't think this will be my break-in-big book. What I haven't decided is whether self or small pub is the best path for me.

  11. I'm still looking at going the traditional route, but you never know. What's hold me back right now from going indie is that teens mostly prefer a real book over an ebook. On the other hand, most YA books by traditional publishers aren't available IN the stores. So even if your book is published, teens might not buy it because they can't pick it up and check it out. :P

  12. I read that article about productivity and was blown away. 8-10 books a year? What about sleep?

    OMG. Anyway, I have similar thoughts to Stina's about going traditional right now.

  13. Stina: I've also noticed that brick and mortar stores carry very few YA contemp stories, except by established authors. Among other things, I'm exploring doing BOTH an e-book and POD (print-on-demand) paperback. You can't price POD books as low as a mass-market paperback (printing costs run about $9-10 per book), but many debut YAs only have one printing--in hardback! So I think POD books can compete on price--sell for $13-15 versus an $18-25 hardback.

  14. Lydia: I think the assumption was if you wanted to work SOLELY as a writer and live well, you need to be very, very productive. But there are plenty who never quit the day job and instead slowly build an audience and a backlist (what you might call the "old fashioned way" of becoming a successful author).

  15. I've thought about indie publishing down the line. If nothing ever comes of trying the traditional route. To me, I'd be happy if I could do nothing but focus on my writing. It hasn't happened yet, but we can dream, yes? :o) <3