by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I’ve been asked by writers and others if I’d ever query traditional publishers again.
As a matter of fact, I’ve gotten queried by traditional publishers a couple of times in the past year. I’m not really sure why, since there now seem to be many cozy writers out there. I’ve politely rejected them.
It’s not that I had a bad trad-pub experience. It’s just that I’ve had a better self-pub experience.
Reasons I’ve decided to stick with self-publishing:
I make more money writing independently of a publisher. This is by far the top reason. I even made more self-publishing a few books than I did with more traditionally published books on the shelves.
I exploit all my rights and publish my book in a variety of formats or internationally. I can expand my reach to find more readers. Publishers frequently hold onto your international, audio book rights, etc.
I can make changes to my self-published books. Sometimes I’ll hear from readers about formatting or typos in my trad-published books…and it’s very frustrating knowing there’s nothing I can do.
I can make changes to my online profiles at the retailers and distributors I deal directly with. I had to deal with a lot of red tape to even get my photo up on Penguin Random House’s site last week. I was stunned to find it wasn’t up there. After all, I’ve written for the publisher since 2010 and my photo was available to them for the backs of the books.
The only reason I was able to jump through the hoops and get the picture uploaded was because an employee at Penguin for the Berkley imprint went above and beyond the call of duty as a conduit between me and the art department. My Memphis books aren’t listed or linked to on the page…they’re stranded in some sort of Nowhere Land without an author bio or picture, but at this point I don’t have the time to deal with it. Plus, my Riley Adams profile there has no bio or picture.
I can run promotions on books with lagging sales. I can make a book free. I can give a book away to gain newsletter subscribers (and then inform them of new releases for later sales gains). I can run quick weekend sales to make my books more visible on retail sites.
I can devote all my time and best ideas to the series that will pay me best. If I wrote an additional series for a trade publisher, I wouldn’t have as much time to devote to my other series. I felt at the end of my traditional publishing that I was saving my best ideas for my ‘own’ books.
I don’t feel the need to prove anything. Originally, it did feel good to be validated by a gatekeeper…I was a newer writer and I needed that. Now, I prefer reader validation. It’s ultimately more valuable.
I have price control. If I switched back to traditional publishing, my readers would experience higher prices for my new books and they’d be emailing me to ask me why.
I can choose my book covers. I got lucky with the covers I had from Penguin Random House. But going from complete creative control over the covers back to no control (they did always ask me what I thought of a cover before they signed off on it, but if I hadn’t liked it, I’m not sure they’d have pulled it/reworked it) would be challenging.
I can release books when I want. There could be large gaps between books: more than a year. Now I can release a couple of books in the same series in a year’s time, if I like.
There were also certain things about traditional publishing that I just didn’t like. For one, I didn’t like losing my editors to layoffs, etc. This meant I was an ‘orphaned’ writer whose series would likely not get renewed.
I didn’t like the contracts that I was seeing with non-compete clauses. I didn’t like being offered digital-only contracts later in the game.
What do you like about self-publishing? Or, to hear the other side, what draws you to traditional publishing?
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