Traditional or Indie?
With the increasing popularity of Amazon Kindle and similar e book readers, it’s easier than ever to become a published author. But is it better to get into print first? Or should you go independent and publish your own work? There are advantages and disadvantages to both routes.
I sold three horror novels to Kensington’s Pinnacle imprint. Kensington treated me fairly, and validated my writing. Once I sold to Kensington, I knew I could sell to a professional market. Writing for them also taught me a great deal about editing my own work, an invaluable skill.
A traditional publishing contract gives you credibility. Your writing is deemed to be of professional quality. With a traditional publisher, the writer gets a fair amount of exposure and distribution to the big chains. However, unless the publisher is giving you a big push, most of the marketing and publicity falls on the writer. Being under contract with a publisher also means giving up a good portion of your rights to the book, possibly for years.
Control of your work is also an issue. The publisher has the right to change your title and request revisions as they see fit. The writer may also be bound to writing a certain type of book. Once a writer is labeled with a certain genre, that’s what the publisher is going to want.
Publishers also don’t like parting with their money very often. Contracts are structured so the writer gets paid every six months. This is assuming your book has earned out its advance at all.
Enter e-books. The biggest drawback to publishing independently is lack of editing, but this can be learned. There are hundreds of how-to books on writing fiction, but it’s tough to replace a professional editor.
The freedom of independent publishing is the biggest draw for most writers. Want to write that epic fantasy you’ve had in your head and follow it up with a historical romance? You can do it. It’s all on the table. The writer can have control over cover art (something you have no say in with a traditional publisher), distribution, and marketing of the work.
E-books are also flexible. Cover art can be changed, errors can be fixed, and the book can be re-published. With traditional publishing, once the book is in galley form (the way it will look when published), it’s pretty much carved in stone. And unlike print books, e-books have no shelf life and never go out of print.
If you want creative control of your work and are willing to handle editing, formatting, cover art, and marketing, e-books are for you. Make sure your work is polished and ready to go. Learn the craft and the basics, such as spelling and grammar. No one will buy a shoddy book, no matter how good your premise sounds.
Electronic publishing has changed the game. Publishers and agents will always have a role, but the balance of power has shifted to the writer. Writers are in control of their own work, and the royalty structure of e-book platforms allows the author to claim a larger percentage of the profits than ever before. If you’re willing to learn the craft and present a professional-looking product, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
Anthony Izzo’s latest book is NO ESCAPE, a supernatural thriller. It’s available through Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. Find him horrifying people on the web at www.anthonyizzo.com. You can also follow Tony on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AIzzo