Why To Avoid At All Costs…
I am going to make this post simple and very clear. This will hurt some of you who still believe in the 1980’s myth of traditional publishing being the best path. I am not sorry.
First, a short story. Ten years ago I met a writer at a conference that was all excited about finishing a novel and getting the novel to an agent. (I had known this beginning writer from a few years before. Very promising writer.) A name writer at the conference who was still lost in traditional publishing had provided an introduction to this baby writer to an agent. Make note, THIS WAS TEN YEARS AGO. 2011.
Writer was rejected by the agent, so spent the next year rewriting the book for the agent to get another try. Agent rejected it again, but said it was better.
Writer spent the next year rewriting the same book for the agent.
Four years into the process the agent said the agent would represent the writer on the book if the writer rewrote it to the agent specs once again. Writer did, taking two more years and a couple more complete drafts.
Book never got sent to a publisher. Six years in the writer and agent decided to shelve the book and do something new. (I learned at that point about this and was shocked to discover the writer was happy about that.) Writer spent a year writing a new novel, agent had the writer rewrite it twice, taking two more years, right up to the pandemic. Agent told the writer they would have to wait now with the pandemic before the book could be submitted.
I just heard from the writer. TEN YEARS, no publisher has seen either book, all because the writer wants to chase the idea of being traditionally published. And even more frightening, the writer is NOT yet discouraged.
Sadly, this is not unusual at all. The myth of traditional book publishing is very strong.
LOGICAL REASONS WHY TO AVOID TRADITIONAL BOOK PUBLISHERS AT ALL COSTS…
1… You could write and be making money from dozens of indie published novels in the time it takes to get through the traditional publisher route with one book.
2… You will sell all copyright to your work for the life of the copyright. If you don’t know what this means, basically the book will never be yours again to control in any way. For your lifetime plus 50-70 years after your death for your heirs.
3… You will sign a contract that obligates you to that publisher for a future book, or many future books, and will be unable to write for yourself or others.
4… You will make one sum of money called an advance, usually less than you can make in a few years selling the same book indie, and that sum will be divided by at least three and paid out over at least three years. And agent fees will be taken from it.
5… If lightening struck and someone wanted to make your book into a movie or a game, you would get pennies, if that. And no credit.
6… Your book will be considered like spoiled fruit after a month or so by the publisher. It will still be for sale in electronic, but other writer’s books will get all the promotion, or at least what little they do.
7.. You will have no chance of ever making a living in traditional book publishing and more than likely you will be dropped after one or two books. It is a lottery win if you last longer than five books, all with small advances. Except for a few of the top big names, only indie writers are making a living with fiction in 2021.
8… You will have no cover control and no control over what some idiot did to your words. None. Zero. Zip.
9… You will have an agent who has no license and will take your money and sometimes not pass it on to you. You won’t know and nothing you can do about it if they do since they will also have all the paperwork for that money as well. Your agent represents upwards of a hundred writers. They will not go to bat for you and risk those other hundred clients if something goes wrong with a publisher.
There are many, many more, but in general, very general, those nine should be enough.
EXCUSES NOT TO INDIE PUBLISH…
1… Indie publishing is too expensive. Reality, I can publish a novel indie for around $5.00. And that is for the art.
2… I don’t know how to do my own covers. Reality, you can learn in a very short amount of time.
3… I need my book to be perfect, so I need an editor. Reality, anyone touching your work will dumb it down. Try being an artist and standing up for your own work, Never let anyone tell you how to write.
4… I can’t afford a copyeditor to find typos. Reality, if you have a local library or college, you can find volunteers to read your book for typos by putting a note on a bulletin board of some sort or another.
There are many more excuses as well, and wow do I get tired of hearing them.
Anyone who wants to be published by a traditional book publisher (or a small press that someone else owns) in 2021 needs to clear the last century thinking and join the rest of us in a post-pandemic world.
This applies only to novels. Short story magazines and publishers have joined this century.
Sorry about this post. I just go so disgusted hearing from this writer, I had to say something. And I have no worry the writer will be insulted reading this because the delusion is strong and the writer is convinced I am wrong, simple as that.
After all, I wrote 106 books for traditional publishers and gone past another 100 books indie. What do I know?