Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Independent Vs. Traditional Publishing

I am an independently published author. My company ARK Stories is run by my mother Ann Werner and me. Ann writes fiction and together we put out Reality Books.

Our decision to self publish with our first joint effort, The Virgin Diaries stemmed from a few things.
We had a difficult time finding a literary agent and we wanted full control. Ann published her book The People Next Door in 2000 with iUniverse. She had some sales but her experience with them was less than thrilling. The percentage of royalties is quite small, on par with traditional publishing and she still had to do all the heavy lifting with marketing.

With the new wave in the publishing world and more specifically with eBooks, the landscape has changed dramatically. When choosing to independently publish, the authors have all the control with content, formatting, covers and pricing. We have recently discounted our paperbacks for the holidays. Something you cannot do with a traditional publisher.

Recently, I received some interest from a good, mid-sized publisher for my blog; Here She Comes. A Tasteful and Titillation Exploration Of The Female Sexual Response. I researched the company on the Internet as well as contacting someone who currently has his book published with them. He reported that he is very happy with the look of his book, the cover and interior but he does all of the marketing. He also explained that if he sells 500 books, he sees $17 in profit. They also hold the rights to his eBook.

Now that I have two books on the market and the benefit of a much higher royalty, I started to wonder if I really wanted to go with a traditional publisher.

Pros: Placement of paperbacks in brick and mortar locations. Slightly more prestige as the mainstream media gives more merit traditional publishers and they often send ARC's (Advanced Reading Copy) to the bigger newspapers for review. In some cases authors receive a cash advance, though if their book doesn't do as well as hoped, they will either get a smaller advance for the next book or nothing at all.

Cons: Your percentage of royalties are significantly less, you still have to market like a demon and you don't have as much control.

I decided to put out the call to both kinds of authors to see what their experience has been. I have received more replies than I expected. Some indie, some traditional and some who have done both. I wanted to see for myself what others have to say and also share so that the other writers out there, especially the ones who don't know which way to go, can make a more informed decision based on other people's experience.

Some of the interviews surprised me and once I finish posting this series, I will let you in on which way I will proceed.

The Questions:

Indie Autors
Why did you decide to self publish?
When did you self publish and which company did you use
What has your experience been? Do you utilize social media? If so how?
Would you prefer to go with a small to mid-size publisher?
Have you been rejected by high profile media outlets who you've pitched because you are self published?
What is your advice to a new author investigating the choices out there?

Traditionally Published Authors:
- Who is your publisher and what kind of deal did you get? (If you got an advance, you don't have to disclose the amount unless you want to) but let the readers know if it was small or large. Please tell us if and how many books you were contracted to write at the time of signing.
- How long have you been published with them and what has your experience been?
- Do you utilize social media? If so how? How much does your publisher market your book for you and how?
-  Have you been featured in any high profile media publications or web sites as a result of your publisher or being published?
- When your contract is up, will you stay on or self publish and why?
- Have you sold enough books or gotten the recognition you've wanted enough to justify the smaller royalties?
- How much control did you have with the book cover and pricing?

To see more information about my books, please visit: arkstories.com 


  1. Hi Kimberly, I found you on Book Blogs. What a great discussion topic. I think your question gets right at the heart of things.

    I recently signed a deal with a traditional publisher--after 11 years of trying to break in. I am very, very happy with my publisher (Random House) and especially my editor. My book was acquired in May and will be out in Jan/Feb 2013. I think the long lag time is one of the biggest cons to trad pubbing. You could have one or maybe even two books out in the time it will take my debut to be released.

    I think that if your trad publisher is excited about your book--going to really get behind it--then this is a wonderful way to go. It has been, to be perfectly honest, a real thrill so far.

    But I also think there are definite advantages to the indie route--speed, and as you said, control.

    Basically I think it comes down to the right place for the right book at the right time.

  2. Timing is, by far, one of the main ingredients of success. To me, my biggest difficulty in actual "selling" of the finished product is the word-of-mouth aspect. I have had limited success with each promo effort I have tried, but if one satisfied reader doesn't tell someone about their experience, then the word just doesn't get spread. I know how to generate sixty blog hits, but not sixty book sales. My best day was 32 cash sales and I don't know what caused it or how to reproduce it.