Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reader's Poll: Traditional vs. Self-Published Novels

Jaime and I are doggedly working toward our goal of traditional publication.

with permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net
The big question for our readers is this: do you have a preference for traditionally published works vs. self-published works?

When I first dreamed of publication, I had my head in the clouds and literally thought it was still done like Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables did it. Write, mail it in, and wait for it to be published.
Duh. I know.

Many friends ask me if I've published yet. Many even commented recently on my Facebook page when I posted a picture of a friend's new release, that they thought it had been my own--uh, no. Sigh. People who know I've been writing for a while, including my loving, kind, supportive spouse, often ask--"so when are you going get published?" Yah, well it's not that simple. If I knew that--I'd start writing my acknowledgements--oh pinch me, did I say that?

I've been asked, "if it's going to take that long and that much work, why don't you just self-publish online?" Good question. So here's the answer. I don't just want to publish, I want to write something that is worth reading--something of great quality. Something that's stood the test of vetting. I didn't work this hard to write a great story, just to self-publish and sell it to 15 of my friends and family--okay, I'm hoping it would be more than that, but you get the idea. I have to ask myself how many self-published writers just get weary and cave. I don't mean that as criticism, and perhaps one day I'll eat crow, but right now I just can't see it.

So, when I see a novel that has been self-published, or e-published, I find myself less enthused about reading it. In fact, I can't say that I've read anything self-pubbed or e-pubbed. Have you?


with permission: freedigitalphotos.net

If you have read self-published works, what do you think? Or has the dawn of the e-reader blurred the lines so much that people don't even notice if the works they are reading are self-published or published by traditional publishing houses? 

I asked my daughter this question this summer: traditional vs. self-pubbed. Hands down, she voted traditional. That's my girl. Does that mean that most Gen-Xers still prefer traditional works?

Why? Because who has time to wade through thousands upon thousands of online self-pubbed works to find one that's worthy of a read? Because you know that a traditionally published work has already sifted it's way through the best of the best. Because while you might accidentally stumble upon one great e-pubbed author after many failed attempts, with traditional published works, you can have the cream of the crop for many authors without so much wasted energy. Is that lazy? If I'm missing out, give me reason to re-think my stance.

What about you? What is your ratio of reading, e-pubbed to traditional?  Example: for every FIVE traditionally published books, I've read ZERO e-pubbed or self-published works. Big surprise.

We'd love to hear from you and about your reasons for what you like to read. Not that it will change our direction, or heaven forbid, tempt us to weaken and self-publish. But don't worry, if you happen to be friend or family who asks innocently, "so when are you going to publish?", or "why not self-publish?"--I'll try to tame down my inner fire and answer with an educated, well-thought-out answer.

If you have read a great self-published work, please list it here today for everyone!

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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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7 comments:

  1. I read a mixture of self-pubbed and trad-pubbed. And I think there are a lot of amazing writers out there on both sides, and some who are doing both. It's a business, and those who are keeping up with the ever-changing business and doing their very best to put out an amazing story are doing just fine with whichever choice they make. I have a ton of respect for my friends who are waiting on traditional publishing and working their hearts out for that contract, but I also admire the writers who have the courage to forge their own path.

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    1. There is certainly a lot of room for thinking out of the box and forging a path Heather, and kudos to them if they can do it well. I just don't think I could. Do you have some favorite titles for self publishers?

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  2. Ah, the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing debate! ;)

    I totally appreciate your thoughts, and I think you make some great points. It *is* hard to wade through all the self-published books, trying to figure out which ones have been edited and which ones have been thrown up on Amazon before they were ready. I still read a lot more traditionally published books than self-published, partly due to the blogger review programs I'm part of, and partly due to the quality in cover design and stories. It does feel "safer" to read a traditionally published novel, knowing you're getting a book that's backed by a team of (generally) well-qualified professionals.

    But I hope you don't mind me bringing in the other side of the story! :) I recently self-published my debut novel, Bleeding Heart. I had a couple of reasons for this:

    1) I appreciated the control it gave me as an author. I got to work with a cover designer, editor, and proofreader of my choice. I got to orient the marketing to my own brand without worrying about a publisher's agenda and time table. It allowed me to tell the story of my heart and share it when I was ready. It takes a certain amount of investment and a willingness to to tackle all the behind-the-scenes stuff yourself (or a knowledge of whom to hire/barter with to do it for you). But it does have its benefits. :)

    2) The story - the way I had written it - would most likely not be readily accepted by traditional publishers. My editor, Elizabeth Ludwig, noted that I would probably have to make some big changes in order for a publisher to accept it because BH is sort of risky in the plot and not formulaic. I could have tried preparing a query and pitching the story as is - who's to say whether or not it might have had a chance that way? But I didn't want to make the big changes that a publisher might ask me to make, because it would no longer be the story I wanted to tell.

    I guess mostly, my thoughts are that both sides have pros and cons - and each story might require a different route than another. I don't have the same access to things that a traditional publisher might give me. I probably won't make as many sales as I would have if the story were traditionally published. But I don't regret going this route. :) I've been so blessed by the opportunities I've had, and by the friendships I've formed. And it's been a tremendous learning experience, one that's given me insight into the world of publishing and has helped me with my freelance editing/publicity business. Self-publishing is kind of exciting (and slightly addicting, LOL), and while it might not be for everyone, I do think it has its place. :)

    Hope you don't mind me sharing all that! You can read a little more of my thoughts on self-publishing and book marketing HERE.

    While the wait might be very difficult for traditional publishing, I'm sure it's very rewarding when you finally do land a contract! :) Best wishes on your writing endeavors!

    ~Amber

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    1. This is wonderful Amber. This is precisely the discussion I was hoping for! :) Thank you for being brave and sharing your experience. I can easily see why self-publishing works well for you. Your business of freelance editing/publicity fits very well with self-publishing. My day job, on the other hand, doesn't fit well at all with needing the time and skills to market my own self-published works if I were to chose that path. I have a sort of jealous awe for people who can forge such new paths and think out of the box, because--who knows, traditional publishing may be an archaic in another few decades. That would make me sad, but hey, overall--if more people read in general because of the ease of publishing, and access to good story--then I can roll with it.

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  3. While traditional is my go-to, I'm not against reading self-published works, especially if the cover looks professional. I think kindles and other e-book reading devices have really opened the floodgates for self-published in that way. But. If I can't easily open the e-book on my kindle and keep it at the place where I left off, I probably won't read it. And that's not even starting on the writing/story quality. :-)

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  4. Oh Gwen I'm a sucker for great looking covers! Perhaps my real problem is that I don't have a Kindle and I just downloaded Kindle for my Mac this week. So, I've really only scratched the surface. I wonder how many other readers are like me though and that's why I pushed the point.

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  5. I have read some self-published books, although I couldn't say what my ratio is. If I can get it easily on my Kindle and the cover is done well and catches my attention, I'll give it a look. As a reader, the most off-putting thing about self-published books is that I find that they could all use a good editor to catch the word usage and grammatical problems that even a good writer editing their own work is likely to miss. I don't know what standard practice is for editing something you are self-publishing though. It is frustrating to me to read an essentially good story that is riddled with incorrectly used or "made-up" words.

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