Is getting a traditional publishing deal better than going Indy?
As a member of many writing groups online I’ve seen more than a few authors brag about landing traditional publishing deals. I have debated and in some cases outright argued with some who claim that landing such deals means that they are superior to us Indy authors.
Sure, landing a deal with an internationally recognised or genre leading publisher is fantastic! Well done you, but in this post, I’m not going to be talking about the big players but rather the small presses of which there are hundreds. Now, some of these are fantastic at what they do and genuinely support their authors with marketing etc., but far too many don’t provide those they ‘sign’ with any support at all.
The thing I think that needs to be made clear is whether going the traditional publishing route will indeed prove more effective than self-publishing. I’ve seen many authors delighted to land a deal, but then their book disappears into oblivion as the publisher does not promote the book at all. I’ve been in arguments with some authors who look down on Indy publishing and believe that because they’ve landed a deal with some obscure publishing house, they are better than those going alone. A simple look at their books ranking on Amazon however soon proves that in reality, their book is doing terribly and that for example, my Indy book sells better than theirs. I get that there are some kudos for landing a deal but at the end of the day if we truly want to be true authors our writing has to make us some form of income.
There are countless scammers out there posing as publishers. (Read my blog about vanity publishers here.) Unlike vanity publishers who demand an author pay them to publish there are some that offer contracts and even pay the author for the rights to their work as well as promising to market the book. I’ve seen many authors fall for these small presses who often turn out to be one man shows or run by people who don’t really seem to know what they’re up to. The number of books ‘signed up’ to these publishers that then go onto to vanish without a trace is quite frankly shocking.
Publishing is a gamble either way
A good friend of mine in the USA wrote a fantastic Sci-fi novel that exploded in popularity on a writing forum. He was then approached by a ‘publisher’ who paid him an advance and promised him to support the book. This was over 8 years ago, and his book has still never seen the light of day, and he is now embroiled in a legal battle with the publisher to get the rights back from them. I know for a fact that if he’d taken the Indy route and published it himself, then that book would have done well, and no doubt would have made him more cash then he’d earn via the small press. In short, he took a gamble and lost.
With Indy publishing, everything is down to you. You control the rights, you control production, and you control your marketing. In my view, its better for your book to be out there then locked away gathering dust. By going Indy, there is always a chance that your book could take off, whereas if a small press is mismanaging it or refusing to publish it, then there is no chance at all and you could end up in a legal battle to get back control of your story.
What do you think? Have you had a bad experience with a small press? Have you achieved success going Indy? Let me know in the comments or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter