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Going straight to Self Publishing

(22 Posts)
Spagetthi123 Wed 06-Jul-16 17:53:45

Anyone done this/considering doing this? I'm writing a book at the moment. I'd like it to be out by Christmas, and tbh I can't be faffed with all the 'send to agent/rejected from agent/send to more agents' malarkey.
Or am I mad? grin

Naicehamshop Wed 06-Jul-16 21:05:17

I don't know but I'd be very interested to hear the answers from people with experience of self publishing.

schmalex Thu 07-Jul-16 08:55:13

It depends why you want it to be published I suppose.
I've always gone for the traditional route, although I would consider self publishing if I had something I knew was up to scratch but couldn't get placed for commercial reasons.
If you self publish you will need to pay for an editor, a cover, etc and do all marketing with no support.
What is driving your Christmas deadline?

Spagetthi123 Thu 07-Jul-16 09:23:12

I have a significant birthday around the time, and would love to have a book out by then.
Also, I'm a control freak (understatement of the century), and love the idea of being able to see my own sales data, driving my own promotions etc.
Also happy to pay for an editor, cover art etc. It seems that you still end up paying for one if you traditionally publish, they just take the 'fee' out of your royalties, by giving you a much lower percentage.
I have this idea in my head that if I go down the traditional route, it'll take years to get placed with an agent, who will then convert my book into something unrecognizable, which wont sell, as it'll just be one in a pile. Whereas, if I go down the self publishing route, it may be crap and won't sell, but it'll still be my baby, to do with as I like....
Have you been traditionally published? What was the experience like?

Do I sound like an idiotic newbie, who has no idea about the process?
becuasethatwouldbeaccurate smile

Madhairday Thu 07-Jul-16 19:25:19

There's a self-publishing support thread somewhere on this board - you might find some useful info there, and also on the Kindle Direct Publishing forum.

I'm trying the traditional route atm but it is blummin long winded, I'll say that! I just think self-publishing is like placing a tiny needle in a huge haystack and then trying to tell everyone to find your needle among the other millions of needles also in there. The marketing sounds exhausting, but if you've got the time and motivation then it could be well worth it and some swear by it because they love having all the control, and you do get much higher royalties (though no advance and also tend to have to sell e-books at lower prices than trad published e-books)

If this comes to nothing I will self-publish as I think I have it almost up to scratch, but I will keep trying for now as I think that's worth doing if you possibly can - some may completely disagree!

All the best with it.

Helmetbymidnight Thu 07-Jul-16 21:41:04

I think if its a book with a natural market eg. Local interest, specific interest, etc, that you can reach, it can be a great thing. However, if its a general fiction/novel I think it is much harder.

You could of course proceed with both paths and see how you get on with agents while you move forward with designers/editors etc.

ImperialBlether Sun 10-Jul-16 18:23:15

Sorry, I do think you're sounding idiotic, yes!

I've self published a couple of books (now withdrawn) and now have an agent and a publishing deal for several countries.

For one thing, if you sell on Amazon Kindle it's ridiculously hard to get anyone to buy the book. It's easy to give them away, but don't forget people can get a free copy of something they wouldn't normally like and then leave you a scathing review. Once the reviews are up, there's nothing you can do about it (though that applies to traditional publishing too, of course.)

Marketing is incredibly difficult. Traditional publishers have whole teams of people whose job it is to market your work. They can get you into places you just can't reach yourself.

However, the real problem is that you think it would take a long time to find an agent. What's your reason for thinking this? What do you think they would say if they rejected you? It's far better to deal with those issues now.

Also, my agent's got me lots of foreign language deals and a TV deal. I couldn't do that on my own. None of the places where I have deals will accept submissions from people without agents. Some of these deals bring in the most money - far more than British deals. You're wiping out a potential income stream there.

There's a writer called Rachel Abbott who's made a name for herself as a self-published author. She now has an agent for foreign language rights. She is very, very unusual in achieving the success she has. There's a bit about how she did her own marketing (she owned a successful company and was used to writing marketing strategies.) She, too, likes to keep control of her work.

I think if you get the right agent and editor, they will help you make the book the best it can be. You shouldn't see them as the enemy, making you change your perfect piece of work. They're not. They are on your side, but seriously, if you are not prepared to alter a word, they won't take you on.

Spagetthi123 Sun 10-Jul-16 20:29:06

Thank you for your replies.
Imperial - Thank you for replying, that's exactly the kind of insider knowledge I was looking for! Can I ask, how do you feel about the financial side of traditional publishing? Do you feel you have been appropriately compensated for your work? Do you get to see detailed spreadsheets and things, or do you just get a cheque in the post?
The TV deals is a good point - I hadn't considered that. Also, I take you're point about the editing. I've heard a few horror stories from friends with agents/publishers, that have tried to make their work more 'commercial', making the authors feel very uncomfortable about the direction their work has been taken in. I suppose I have this in mind when I think of submitting my work to an agent - I am happy to make changes, but I'd be gutted if my work had a 'fifty shades of grey' makeover into something unrecognisable. But I suspect I am being unreasonable here, I'm going to have a think about that one....

Spagetthi123 Sun 10-Jul-16 20:36:52

Just noticed the typo - I take YOUR point about editing, not you're! blush
GAH! Maybe I'll forget about ever publishing anything, ever!
Time for some large servings of wine brew cake chocolate

ImperialBlether Sun 10-Jul-16 23:54:26

Regarding payments: you get paid in instalments unless you get a very small advance. There's a pretty standard percentage that you get per book sold. You get more for ebooks. So the instalments will be usually:

1/4 on signature
1/4 on the publisher's receipt of a final good copy
1/4 on publication of the e-book
1/4 on publication of the paperback

Of course, the e-book and the paperback might be out on the same date, in which case it's likely the advance would be in 1/3rds for signature, receipt and publication.

Then I believe you get a statement for every month for the first month, which tells you what your sales have been. After that it will be every six months.

If you out-earn your advance, then you'd be paid every six months. Also if you out-earn your advance, your agent will be fighting for a bigger advance next time.

I was asked by my agent whether I was open to change - it was clear that if the answer was 'no' then there wouldn't have been a contract. I don't blame her. Who am I, as a debut author, to tell her, a very, very experienced editor then agent, that my work was perfect?

I was also asked whether I intended to continue writing in that genre. Again it was clear that if I'd said no, there wouldn't have been a contract. A lot of time, effort and money is spent in marketing a writer; if I'd (say) written a sci-fi novel then wanted to write a romance, all that marketing would be wasted. And yes, some writers who are massive sellers and very, very experienced and well-known can decide to do something different, but for those of us hoping to get a first novel published, it would be laughable if we wanted the same conditions.

In every contract I've signed there's something in it to say that I have the right to inspect sales figures. I think you'd have to be with a very dodgy publisher or be very paranoid if you took them up on that.

It's interesting you know a few writers who've been in a similar position regarding agents wanting them to write more commercial work. I went to a talk by Janklow & Nesbit and they said that literary fiction hardly sells at all. Their lowest advance had been £1,000 and that was for literary fiction. I assume your friends would be horrified to receive that, particularly as they lose 15% (British sales) and 20% (foreign language rights) to their agent. It's pretty obvious that if you want to make a living out of your writing you have to write something a lot of people want to read. If you earn such a low figure, you're doomed to always having to have another job (or live with someone who does.) I think most writers' aim is to earn enough to support themselves and write full time.

Just5minswithDacre Sun 10-Jul-16 23:57:28

The editorial input you'll get from a well- picked agent is priceless (and commercially minded).

CantFeelMyFace Tue 12-Jul-16 13:35:51

Imp you are a fountain of knowledge smile Those posts were hugely helpful in explaining the mechanics of it all.

ImperialBlether Tue 12-Jul-16 16:28:04

Thanks! Of course I wrote them when I should have been doing other things...!

Sorry, I've just seen I've put:
Then I believe you get a statement for every month for the first month,

when it should be
Then I believe you get a statement for every month for the first six months,

MissBattleaxe Thu 14-Jul-16 16:24:58

I agree with imperial. Editors can offer invaluable insight- they're not going to turn your book into 50 Shades of Grey.

You have to weigh up the fact that self publishing may be a bigger percentage for you, but it will have to cheap and you may not sell many.

Traditional publishing- well, agents do keep a percentage, but they work hard for that percentage and have access to contacts and industry knowledge that a newbie writer could only dream of. Agents do a lot of editing before they even submit. My agent made some excellent suggestions that made the book better without losing the style at all. Also, traditionally published books cost a lot more so you make more money on a smaller percentage.

Also, my agent told me that her suggestions were exactly that- suggestions- and I didn't have to incorporate them if I didn't want to ( but I did). If you want to be a writer I think you have to be open to feedback, criticism and be willing to change stuff.

ThatllDoDonkey Fri 26-Aug-16 15:02:14

Here's my self-publishing story: I self-published two books (I write chick lit), after sending them to agents to no avail, and was really excited about being in control of my books' stats and destiny, and seeing where they ended up. Well, the answer was nowhere! For both books, and over a year, I totalled about 300 sales, translating at £300. The problem was no-one knew who the hell I was and my books were virtually invisible. The reviews I got were good, but that was about it. So when I wrote a third book I decided I would not self-publish, but go all out in finding an agent/publisher - I think with the first two books impatience had a lot to do with it, too: I had finished books! I wanted to get them out there!

I was really, really lucky and after only a couple of weeks and a whole host of rejections from agents I got offered a two book deal with a digital imprint of a big publisher and what a difference a publisher has made! I got a brilliant cover, absolutely invaluable editorial input (turkeys were turned into swans, quite frankly) and - most importantly - marketing. My first book somehow became a summer bestseller and has sold thousands!

I've been really lucky, but I never would have achieved anything like it had I self-published again, so my advice would be, having fully experimented with it, resist the temptation to go it alone and go down the traditional route as far as you can. Yes, the rejections and the waiting around are painful, but it is so worth it once you get that 'bite'.

ImperialBlether Sat 27-Aug-16 12:18:33

I agree with ThatllDoDonkey. It is really worth persevering and trying to get your novel into a state where it's accepted by an agent. I went down the self-publishing route for exactly the same reasons as ThatllDoDonkey - my sales reached about 8,000 over a year or so but that's nothing, really. You find that when you're doing well, you continue to do well, but when sales slip, you literally just disappear.

What I really wish though is that I hadn't self-published, because the numbers sold weren't enough to attract an agent, but they were enough that I couldn't use the books again.

I've been really lucky and book 3 was taken on by an agent and will be published soon. When I look back at my first two books, I can see I've learned a lot about writing. I think if an agent had taken me on with either of them, there would've been a lot of rewriting.

It's really tough but there's always a reason why an agent/editor doesn't take you on. That's really hard to face because when you send it out it's like your baby and you're furious at anyone who says it's ugly. You have to be able to stand back and think, "OK, these agents who I've hand picked because they like my genre have rejected it. Why did they? What can I do to make the next agent take it on?"

When I look at the editing that's taken place since I was taken on, I can see the difference between my self published books and the new one. First of all the agent edited it - not line by line as she was happy with the way I wrote, but she was ruthless - "This is slowing things down", "Why do we need to know that?", "You need to explain why this happened", "That ending isn't suitable for this kind of book", etc. Then when it was sold, the editors did their bit - again, "Why did that happen?", "Tell us more about this relationship", etc. Then the copy-editors went through it, checking punctuation, grammar, tense, accuracy. Then the proofreaders got hold of it and went through line by line.

The book is essentially the same, but it's so much better for having those professional eyes looking at it. I could have put it on Kindle months ago and yes, it probably would've sold a few copies, but those would be limited to the UK and I'm sure people would've been a bit dissatisfied by it, because they'd be asking themselves the same questions the agent/editors asked.

Sorry, didn't realise how long this would be!

ChequeredPasta Sat 27-Aug-16 18:18:49

Thanks for sharing - So interesting!
Out of interest Imperial & That'lldo, why do you think your third book managed to get an agent/published but your first two didn't?
Was it an evolution in your writing style, or a better idea? Or did you do something different in the way you approached agents?
Also, I'm still impressed with 8000 books sold in a year. That's like, £8000!

ThatllDoDonkey Sat 27-Aug-16 18:53:59

I think my first book was really waffly at the beginning and took bloomin' ages to get going, by which time the agent/publisher/reader had nodded off. The second was a bit better in that respect but didn't have a very good (or contemporary) 'hook'. Third book was really 'hooky' and got straight into the action!

ImperialBlether Sat 27-Aug-16 20:39:46

I think book 1 had a great hook and I've been told the new book has one, too. There were specific problems with the first book (it was sent out without being edited by the agent) and it was rejected as the editors realised they'd have to do all the work. I've talked about this on other threads on the CW section. Finding an agent who can really help you, rather than just collect money off you, is a massive help.

Having said that, when I read book 1 now, I cringe at the writing, so hopefully I've improved. I do think a good editor could've made me do that, but it didn't happen and you have to look forward, not back!

ImperialBlether Sat 27-Aug-16 20:41:10

But then again, I'd have to disagree about ThatllDoDonkey's first two books, which I got into immediately and absolutely loved.

Perseverance is key. You have to not take offence and just be able to keep on going (albeit with a hunted look on your face!)

ThatllDoDonkey Sat 27-Aug-16 20:52:46

I agree, you almost have to laugh about it as far as you can with your heart wrenched in two from rejection

ThatllDoDonkey Sat 27-Aug-16 20:53:20

And thank you, Imperial.

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