Friday, February 3, 2012

What the Publishing Debate Means to Me

Traditional publishing. Self-publishing. E-publishing, Print publishing. A lot of sides have been taken, and I cringe at the continuing warfare. Don't get me wrong, I understand it, but I don't like it.

I've been writing full time for years. Four years, to be exact. I've had the dream of someday becoming a published author for many years before that. Basically, publishing has been on my mind a long, long time. I remember my first brush with the business side of books. Way back in 1996, a thick paperback, How to Write a Romance and Get It Published by Kathryn Falk caught my eye at the local bookstore. Article after article about the writing craft, how to submit, and the writer's life jammed the pages. I devoured it, and still have the poor, ripped, broken thing in my office.

Since then, computers and the Internet have changed aspiring writers' lives. We no longer have to find a copy of Writer's Market and search for agents or publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. We can e-mail a query, sample pages or a requested manuscript.

The competition seems to increase by the minute. More authors are trying to get published than ever before. It can feel impossible to land an agent or find a home with a traditional or e-publisher. So when self-publishing became a viable option, I understood why so many flocked to it and why they continue to publish their books themselves.

I've read many blogs and listened to writers debate the pros and cons of the publishing options. I'm a huge believer in self-awareness. Whatever decisions we make, we need to be honest with ourselves about exactly what motivates us, and we need to be willing to accept whatever consequences our actions bring.

Jamie Raab, publisher of Grand Central Publishing (a Hatchette division), shared an insightful look at what authors can expect from editors at GCP.  

Here's an excerpt from "So What Do You Do Jamie Raab, Publisher of Grand Central Publishing?" courtesy of MediaBistro (full article is linked, emphasis is mine).

"And I really do believe that we nurture talent by working hard, and we pay advances that offer writers the time and luxury they need to write the book they want to write. The truth is writing and putting a book out into the world is only a small part of it."

The article really is fantastic, and I hope you'll pop over and read the whole thing. One item Ms. Raab touched on is often overlooked in the big debate.
Traditional publishers--print or e-pub--offer advances. This means an author gets money before the book is published.

One item usually not overlooked in the big debate?

Do traditional publishers offer today's writer anything special? I believe they do. I've always had tremendous respect for the talented teams put together to make a book the best it can be.

Of course, many authors will argue that advances have dwindled. Self-published authors might say that they don't have to wait months or over a year to start making money on their books. Both would be accurate--for some writers. For other writers, these statements will prove completely untrue.

Maybe that's what all the fighting is about? We writers want a guarantee. We want to know if we do X, Y, and Z we will, with certainty, get A, B, and C.

If that's what we expect, then...we're in the wrong business.

If there's anything I've learned over the years, it's this. Every author's experience will be different. One might find blazing success with a traditionally published print book. Another might find scorching sales with a self-published e-book. One might be thrilled with a nurturing small-press publisher, while another might be happy with modest sales of their e-published book. And many, many authors will be disillusioned no matter what publishing path they take.

There are no guarantees in publishing. That's the bottom line.

I am willing to risk the lack of guarantee by staying true to my original dream. I want the traditional publisher still. I realize the climate and particulars are changing by the hour, but right now, I still believe in my dream and I'm not giving it up.

Another thing I will not give up? Supporting my fellow writers in the choices they make, whether they come to the same decision as I did or not. We have to find our own answers, and I hope we can nurture each other while we do.

How do make decisions about your career?

Have a fantastic weekend!


  1. Making those decisions are tough. Really, each writer has to come their own conclusion based on their career goals. I don't think there is a right or wrong path. Each writer just needs to make those decisions after research and understand the pros and cons of their decision.

    Nothing wrong with either route! I respect both.

  2. I love your heart here, Jill. You say a lot of wise things. You're right - I see so many authors disillusioned regardless of the path they choose. Ones not better than the other. They are just different. And we have to choose our own path and our own dreams. I admire you for sticking with yours.

  3. Jill, thanks for this smart, concise look at all the options. I've been wrestling with these options, like most who are chasing the dream and appreciate you weighing the facts.

  4. Good morning!

    Laura: I think everything about publishing is tough! Writing and revising are things I control, but ultimately, I can't control who buys my book--regardless of what path I take. Thanks for your insight.

    Katie: I get worried when I hear a writer take a side and bash the other. Just because I like Coke doesn't mean Pepsi is bad, you know? ;)

    Connie: Thanks, and I know you're even more rational than I am about all this! That's why I love talking to you. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. I'm with you, Jill. My first goal is traditional publishing, but that doesn't mean I might never self publish. Just right now it's not the option I'm interested in. For some individuals, it's the perfect option for them.

  6. The publishing industry is in upheaval right now; who knows how it's all going to shake out in the end. I am nowhere near being ready to publish anything, but I like the idea of having options in case my manuscripts don't fit in with what traditional publishers think is selling. Whether we like it or not, epublishing and self-publishing are here to stay.

    But then. . . there's no reason to make a war out of it, as I see happening in the industry on some levels. I like to have an open mind.

  7. I live in such a bubble. I couldn't imagine passing judgement on someone because they chose a path that I'm not interested in, or don't know enough about pursuing. It's heartening that there are so many options for writers these days, and we should embrace them as well as each other.

    Thanks for this post, Jill.

  8. Excellent article Jill. My decisions were purely tactical. I am constantly evaluating what will be the best and making decisions based on that. There's a lot of give and take, a lot of balancing of the scales for each decision.

  9. I don't like all the in-fighting and contentiousness, either. One persons road shouldn't be the template for everyone who follows...appreciate you looking at both sides, Jill!

  10. I love your supportive spirit and I'm believing in the dream for you!

    Planning to read that article later in the afternoon when hopefully things slow down for me some (ha, like that'll happen).
    ~ Wendy

  11. Here, here! I feel the exact same way as you do. I'm not ready to give up my dream, but I do support others in whatever decision they make.

  12. Exactly, there's no right or wrong answer here because nothing is guaranteed no matter what avenue you choose. We still are all in this together. :)

  13. This is a great post, Jill.

    I've been writing, on and off, sometimes full time, sometimes part time, for nearly 10 years now. (I may have quit in there a few times too) - I don't waste anymore time with rash decisions. Once I started to really think about my career, I saw things that I had missed. I had to go back and study again.

    AND you are right - there are no guarantees.

  14. Stina: I like that--you have an open mind. Probably the most important thing we CAN have in this biz!

    Barbara: Exactly. It's good to have options!

    Ayda: Ha! You don't live in a bubble! I'm with you, though, supporting each other is key.

    PW: We have to be tactical. Great point!!

    Kristi: Maybe that's part of the problem? We want a template? :)

    Wendy: I know the feeling--ha! Thank you!

    Susan M: Yay! And I'm supporting you, too. :)

    Jennifer: That's right. We are in this together. :)

    Loree: I continually see things I missed. It keeps me on my toes and helps me improve. You're a very smart woman. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. Jill, great post. Proud of you for staying with your dream. And thanks for reminding us all that no matter the choices made, we need to support each other.

  16. Great blog post, Jill...

    I really thought and had every intention in the world to go the traditional publishing route. But after reading and reading about self-publishing, I decided that I wanted to take that giant leap and handle everything myself. Maybe it's because I'm a control freak? Or maybe because I'm impatient and didn't want to play the waiting game? I don't know, but it hit me in November that I was changing paths...

  17. What a timely post for me. I'm currently trying to decide between e-publishing and waiting for traditional, and the arguments from both sides are strong. I think, as others have said, we have to find what works for us. And that does involved a risk, no matter how much we prepare. Unless we have a crystal ball, at some point we have to jump in.

  18. Excellent post, Jill. I read so many pro and con posts about this, but really it's like you said - each writer is different and needs to take the path that's right for them. I don't know which route I'll take, but I'm happy that I have a choice. Ultimately, whatever route my book goes, it need to be the best it can be or any type of publishing is moot.

  19. Great post, Jill!!
    Yes, each writer's journey is different. :-) I know the publishing climate is changing and there are many decisions to be made.....

  20. Bravo, Jill! In the publishing industry, one size definitely does not fit all.

  21. Jenna: Thanks! And I don't know about you, but I just feel better when I'm supporting writers. :)

    Tiffany: How exciting!! You write a great genre for self-publishing, too! Let me know when you're getting ready to release it, okay?

    Stacy: I understand. At some point, I'm sure you'll "just know" what to do. That's usually how it hits me, at least! Good luck!

    Tameri: Take your time. There is no need to rush into any decision. I usually just have a gut feeling about something when I wait long enough. :)

    Paul: Like we needed more decisions, right? Ha! Actually, I like having choices. :)

    Susan: That's right! We should make T-shirts with that slogan. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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