Well it is another Monday and yes we all know what that means…no I am not talking about the start of another week at work but none other than CHIT CHAT AND ALL THAT!
This week we have the mysterious and erotic Elizabeth Black and the cheeky and sexy Sherry Tooker, tackling their take on Traditional Publishing v’s Indie Publishing v’s Self Publishing. Yes a serious one today but as all writer’s know it is a subject that can cause the utmost stress and heated debate.
So make yourself comfortable, grab that coffee or cold drink, and get ready to read this week’s Chit Chat and All That!
Elizabeth Black and Sherry Tooker are here today to discuss their experiences with various forms of publishing, namely traditional v. indie v. self-pub. All three have their pros and cons.
Elizabeth Black: I’m published by several indie publishers of erotic romance including Xcite Books, Circlet Press, Romance Divine, Ravenous Romance, and Naughty Nights Press. I’m also published by two more indie publishers – Stupefying Stories (horror) and Full Metal Orgasm (cyberpunk). A third is Kizuna: Fiction For Japan, a charity anthology to help out Japanese children orphaned by this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Stories range from horror to bizarro and my story is horror. An advantage of indie publishing is that it’s easier for me to publish my works in genres I enjoy that aren’t necessarily considered mainstream. I also get more hands-on treatment and attention from the editors and owners. I’m not lost in a sea of writers.
Other advantages of indie publishers are that I see a much quicker acceptance and rejection time. I also get more acceptances of, say, short stories that wouldn’t make it in the mainstream. The “calls for submissions” I see for short story anthologies – including award-winning ones – are for smaller publishers. I submit to those calls often and my stories are often accepted.
A huge benefit of indie publishing is something Sherry describes below: I get an editor, often a top-notch one. I see and learn from my mistakes. I also am provided with cover art. My cover for The Haunting Of The Sandpiper Inn was nominated for an award.
That said, I’d like to be published by a traditional publisher in conjunction with indie pubs because those publishing houses are larger, have more promotional money to work with, and are able to get my books reviewed by the likes of USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Times. I can’t get that with the smaller indie pubs. Disadvantages of indie pubs in addition to their small size are their lack of money for marketing and promotion and they are often so small they are unknown. Bookstores won’t carry their POD books because you can’t order them through a catalogue. And POD has its own problems, namely expensive books that must be ordered individually and then made rather than picked up already stocked in a bookstore. You can’t catch an impulse buyer when it come to POD.
Here are more downsides to working with indie publishers. Owners and editors of indie pubs often lack experience working with larger publishers and/or literary agencies. Some of these pubs are start-ups created by inexperienced people who mean well but operate their businesses in their kitchens when the kids are in school. They generally don’t last long. Then again, some fine indie pubs of my acquaintance are also small, at-home operations like I described. It’s hit or miss.
I have found that some indie pubs are really nothing more than vanity presses founded by a writer who uses the publishing house as a means of self-publishing their own work. Adding other writers to the mix only pads their bank accounts. Many of those types of indie pubs offer no marketing or promotion and they don’t send books to review sites. All of that is left up to the writer. Why bother with a publisher like that when the writer has to do all the work? In cases like that, a writer is better off self-publishing.
I have my own nightmare story of dealing with failed indie publishers. My very first publisher was Twilight Fantasies in 2007. For those who don’t know, 2007 was a notorious year for failed erotic romance publishers. Scads of them crashed and burned within a few months of each other, and I somehow had the good luck to be involved with three of them. TF accepted my paranormal erotic romance novel An Unexpected Guest. It was slated to be released late that year but the pub had been having some serious problems. The owner was sick and couldn’t keep up with the business. TF isn’t the first indie pub I’ve seen close because of the owner’s health problems. From now on, if I hear about “health problems” I avoid the pub like the plague. Emails were not being answered and books were not released properly nor promoted at all. Writers began requesting their rights returned to them because of shoddy business practices. Then, the email addresses of TF and the owners had disappeared so no one could reach owners to have rights returned. One owner was tracked down at her day job (she was a teacher) and contacted there about returning rights. By November, 2007, the company had officially folded. It took me a bit to get my rights reverted back to me.
Dark Eden Publications accepted my short lesbian contemporary story Neighbors and shortly thereafter shut down, leaving Neighbors without a home. At least this time my rights promptly reverted back to me. I’m going by memory here, but I believe this pub also had an owner with health problems. Neighbors, like An Unexpected Guest, had never been published despite the acceptance. I sent my short sweet paranormal romance The Storm to Forbidden Publications was accepted but never saw the light of day because the publisher closed shop. I was also given the worst, most unprofessional cover I have ever seen. All of this happened within the span of a few months in 2007 and 2008. I finally found a publisher for An Unexpected Guest, which was published by Fanny Press in 2009. You may find information on this book here. I self-published The Storm. It’s for free and it’s on my web site. It also has a new cover, a watercolor painted by artist Gary Gabbard. It’s my favorite cover followed by the cover for The Haunting Of The Sandpiper Inn. Neighbors was accepted by Torquere Press for their Vamps anthology. You may find information about the book and my short story here. (scroll down until you get to Vamps.)
Because of these problems I experienced as well as some disappointments with other publishers I’ve been with, I really do wish to be published by either larger, better known, and well-respected indie publishers or a traditional publisher. I’ve been submitting short stories and novellas to Cleis Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Loose ID but so far no bites. I hope it’s only a matter of time before I’m successful. I’d like to self-publish my two free stories on Smashwords and Amazon, and Sherry Tooker is helping me with that.
Sherry Tooker:That I am Elizabeth, I’ve found that Smashwords is the easiest way to self publish. I personally am only a self published author at this present time with my two releases Naughty Secretary and The Photoshoot being free reads. I feel as though without an Indie publisher or a Traditional publisher that they shouldn’t be made to pay for. I don’t know if it’s just me but that’s the way that I see things.
I personally would love to get published by indie or traditional but it’s a lot harder then self publishing. To me, self publishing is a way to get your story out when you want it the way you want it but unless you have an editor or are amazingly awesome at editing then things can be missed. With indie publishing and traditional that step is usually taken care of for you so a few mistakes won’t lose you fans, Self publishing you can.
In indie publishing I have met some amazing authors who take this step. I have noticed that a lot of indie publishers are a lot like Traditional publishers in the way they accept and deny their books but their submission ways are different. For instance traditional publishing as some of my friends have found out they need a certain word count, no more no less and some even stop writers from finalizing titles until the books are approved. No matter how much I really want to get published traditionally and have my books in paper, sold worldwide in book stores. It’s a lot of hassle.
Indie publishers seem more down to earth and flexible which is definitely what the writing world needs. Just because one person at traditional publisher doesn’t like the way you write your book doesn’t see the light of day where as in indie publishing they think of the audience more than how the writer writes. We all have different styles and it’s nice to know that we have an outlet for it in indie publishing.
My goal is to get published by NNP, Naughty Nights Press. I hope that one day my dream will come true and it happens. Without NNP I wouldn’t be still writing to be honest. They help you so much, like a lot of other indie publishers. It feels more relaxed, more like a family then just pure business, yes, no, etc. It’s a nice environment, you may not get the bookstore exposure with it but you get word of mouth, friends of friends etc. I love how it’s more personal and more connected this way then traditional and even Self Publishing.
Elizabeth Black: So there you have it. There are many advantages and disadvantages to traditional publishing, indie publishing, and self-publishing. Why limit yourself to one? Gain experience in all three! And if you make it into the Big Six, more power to you.
Sherry Tooker: And if you don’t feel as though your story is long enough for a paperback book enter it to an indie publisher or get yourself an editor and release it yourself. Give it a go. You never know what may come of it!