This weekend I attended a workshop on “Paths to Publication” that focused on Traditional, Indie, and Self Publishing. The day-long workshop, put on by New England Sisters in Crime, featured panels on each of the publishing options, hybrid authors who use more than one type of publishing, and an author-editor connection between Hank Phillippi Ryan and her editor, Francesca Coltrera. The panel authors included Sheila Connolly, Jessie Crockett, Ray Daniel, Kate George, Rosemary Harris, Marian Lanouette, Edith Maxwell, P.M. Steffen, and Kevin Symmons. Moderators were Sharon Daynard, Michele Dorsey, Julie Hennrikus, Arlene Kay, and Liz Mugavero.
The following is what I gleaned from the authors’ discussion.
Pros: No fees, Many don’t require agents, realistic time frames for publication, small author groups who work with each other. You have more control.
Cons: Lack of promotion, Often no review with ARCs (advanced reader’s copy), Distribution not always with big distributers, May be no hard cover option. No cover art. Lots of work. Questions to ask: What are your credentials? (websites: Creditors and Editors, Writers Beware) How many authors published? Question authors who published with them. Ask about the length of contract and your digital rights (e-book and audio). You can always negotiate within reason (and should). Check out online sites for legal questions. I Googled “Author contract issues” and found a wealth of information.
Pros: Pay nothing, Highly selective, Exclusivity, Publisher shoulders risk, Physical bookstore, Advance, Publicity, Larger print runs, Editors.
Cons: Need Agent, Lack of flexibility, Early deadlines, Length of time to production.
Pros: Control over everything, Money (if well marketed), No worry about distribution, Immediate publication.
Cons: Control over everything (you have to get editing (good editing), Cover, Formatting to various platforms, Technical problems, Marketing (Yourself as well as your book).
Traditional: Liked distribution and experts, books getting out there, Bigger house editors help author grow.
Small Press: Liked the intimacy, ease of communication.
Find a reputable editor with whom you get along.
Beta Readers: They provide excellent feedback. Choose people interested in the genre who will give you an honest critique. Family and friends are too nice.
Cover Art: Check out the artists whose covers you like. Ask your publisher to use one of them. Tell the artist what you want to see and what you don’t want to see.
Marketing: Build Social Media community, Blog (90% for others, 10% for you), Update your presence, Tap into other networks, Pay it Forward.
Synopsis: Typically one page. If you have a series, give the series arc.
ARCs: Ask publisher where they send these books. You send to everyone else.
Reviews: Specifically ask for reviews at the end of your book.
Relationship with your readers: Keep it going on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, your blog and other blogs.
REMEMBER, you are a small business. Set up your marketing strategy, build a platform, and don’t take anything personally. Some people won’t like your book. Concentrate on those who do.
The information I’ve related is condensed and based on my understanding of the authors at the workshop. You may find that you have different experiences with the publishing business. If you have a different viewpoint, please send me a comment.
And keep on writing!