May 22, 2011

The Post-Rapture Post

Glad to see everyone got through the Rapture (surely that close call will have been enough of a warning to put a stop to my writing procrastinations?).

Yesterday I spent the proposed last day at a YA Workshop hosted by Jeni Mawter (check out her website for her books and writing tips). I'll blog more about that and my trip to Sydney later, but one thing I wanted to raise was this continuous conversation amongst writers about the role of traditional publishing, the gatekeepers and the self-publising options. Perhaps it was just Rapture for those gatekeepers? 

Until yesterday, my position on traditional publishing vs self-publishing for my own situation was that:

It is possible to produce a quality ebook and publish it on Amazon and like sites, you can even have paperback copies produced. The big if, is if you are prepared to put in a LOT of work. Once your book is written, it needs to be edited professionally or at least screened by many readers, until it is as good as you could possibly get it. Then you need great cover art, this is where I find a lot of self-publishers let their book down. You need an online presence and you need your ebook formatted. And of course you have to promote your book with your target market in mind. At least there are no query letters or synopsis' needed.

BUT. Being accepted by a publishing house will lift your status as a writer. There are still many people who are wary of self-publishing. As Jeni Mawter said in her workshop, the problem is there is too much white noise on Amazon, there needs to be a way to sort through the masses to find quality self-published books. This is starting to sort itself out with reviews and blogs to recommend books. The consumer may become the new gatekeeper and you'll have to work even harder to win them over. A publisher will do all the work to produce your product, and it will be available in Bookstores. That was my biggie. I was leaning towards traditional publishing because I loved the idea of seeing my book in a bookstore.

Now my stand is a little shaky. Jeni pointed out that bookstores are in serious trouble. We already knew about the Borders situation (or you can read my blog on Books without Borders). With the ebook outselling paper books, and the introduction of the book apps on iTunes, bookstores may not be the best location for selling books (this hurts), especially for debut writers. I LOVE bookstores, I know most of you LOVE bookstores, but eventually, we might not be enough to keep them :(

So now I'm immersing myself into research and opinions on the traditional publishing vs self-publishing options. Here's what I've found so far - what are your thoughts, or are you as uncertain as me?

The New York Times:

Nathan Bransford:

The Literary Analyst:


  1. I've been following this "revolution" and realize that big changes in publishing are inevitable.
    Kind of exciting, really.

  2. Hi Charmaine - I just interviewed a friend via Skype last night - hopefully I will get the interview up on Wednesday - about the four non-fiction books she did through POD on Amazon. She did not have a lot of time to muck with them, and overall, is very happy with how things have come out.

    That said, she herself is a very GOOD teacher, and her last book went through 11 - count 'em, 11 friends who edited it, either English teachers plus one friend who's an English lit Phd. And... guess what, there are STILL typos and errors in it.

  3. It's tricky cos we're right on the cusp of change. Self-publishing sounds like it will be a lot of work.


  4. Jo - I'm excited too (a little nervous, but excited).

    Beverly - I am going to check out that interview! Even after a paid editor goes through your work there can be a few typos, but sounds like your friend's work will be pretty tight.

    Moody - The cusp might be a great place to be, you have a chance to build an audience before the world is flooded with self-published books.

  5. The changes coming in the publishing world will benefit writers, of that I am certain. The worried publishers are viewing e-books with more of an open mind. I can see more going Kindle first then print.

    I still want the dream of an agent, but if time starts running out, I will s/p. Not sure if I want the hassle, but I want to hold my book.

  6. I'm not sure if building my writing career during a massive publishing overhaul and change is a good thing or a bad thing yet. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

  7. Glynis - that's a very good prediction. Publishers will have to find new ways to work in the industry and starting out writers on ebooks would make a lot of financial sense - much less risk.

    Clarissa - it's hard to know, but I like to be optimistic and think writers are very adaptable people - we'll find a way to make the most of it :)

  8. It's a burgeoning phenomenon with inevitable attendant kinks but self-publishing is on the rise. If only because searching for representation has, of late, become such a soul-sucking enterprise.

  9. Charmaine,

    I'm studying up just as you are. I've been published with a small publisher with a third novel on the way this year. However, I haven't been impressed with the marketing of my books and realized that a lot of it would have to be done on my own. I've decided to self-publish two books, but I'm taking my time with those and shaping them to be the best work they can be before I take the leap. I figure that I'll have 100% say so on what happens to a small portion of my work.

  10. Great post and glad to have the articles. I'll be taking a look at them.

    Have a great day.


  11. It makes me sad to think bookstores may cease to exist. However, who can stop technology? And, who can stop change? I guess we must embrace it.

  12. Personally, I'm leaning toward self-publishing so I'm running my finished manuscript through my writer's group one more time and have an editor already for hire. Also, will be putting through three different local book clubs to get thier take on it.

    And yes, it's lots of work. I've been working on this for three years.

  13. I think books are evolving technologically like so many other parts of our lives. It's much better than standing still - which would leave them standing alone in the dust!

  14. We will always have story, but the format will vary over time as technology changes. I'm undecided about self-publishing. I don't want to have to put hours and hours into marketing, so I guess I'm still aiming for traditional publishing.

    Fantastic to finally meet you at the workshop! Brilliant :)

  15. It's the hot topic, that's for sure. Some days, I'm all for self-publishing. I've felt discouraged by all the rejections for myself and other writers I follow. How do we get our work out there unless we do it ourselves? And, yet, the big prize would be to be picked up by a publishing house.

  16. Great post. I am very sad at the thought that in a future time there may not be bookstores to browse, but we have brought that on ourselves with our addiction to online buying. Just so convenient and cheaper usually. However, even publishers are realising that digital is the future and some are running scared. I think ebook first, then print is an awesome way to go. Either way is a lot of hard work.

    So many books I read (and I read a LOT!) by best selling authors have the occasional typo so it is no wonder ebooks have some (er, or a lot.)

    Thanks again Charmaine for this post. I have some links in the Pages on my blog and N R Williams has a lot of info on her site about epubbing.


  17. Interesting post. I'm going to check out Nathan's too. I'm a little late to the party but I'm a new follower from the A-Z challenge. :) It took me longer than a month to visit everyone.

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