February 08, 2015

Play Favorites

Recently, Delilah Night asked me my opinion of self-publishing vs. the old-school model. I've been batting this concept around for awhile—and I believe one of the glittering pros for self-publishing is that sometimes publishers play favorites.

That's simply the truth.

I've seen this with every publishing company I've worked with. Sometimes to my benefit and sometimes not. I've been on the "We think you're wonderful!" side as well as the "Who the fuck are you again?" side. (One company that has hundreds of writers seems to only ever talk about five of them. Hello. You do have a backlist. Another company has actually given books of mine that they themselves published 2-star reviews. Because that's how adults should behave.)

But playing favorites may be the greatest thing about self-publishing. Now, you can play favorites, too. Not to sound too Stuart Smalley-esque, but you like yourself, right? As an indie author, you can toot your own horn (that always always reminds me of this album cover) to your heart's content.

Delilah said: "I'm ready to move on from publishing as part of an anthology to publishing solo projects. What are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing through a publishing house vs. a small press vs. self-publishing? Given the rapid shifts in publishing, how do I look out for my work and for myself?"

It's my personal belief that few people buy books based on the publishers. I've never gone into a store and looked at the spines to see if books were published by companies I respect—or even have heard of. I buy books for authors, covers, on friends' recommendations. But I don't care who the publisher is—well, unless I personally know the publisher.

Another pro for self-publishing is that you always are aware of who you work for. The trajectory of my career, goes something like this:

I went to bed one night writing for Masquerade and woke up to find that the company's doors had shut.

Went to sleep working for Black Lace/Virgin and awoke as a Random House author.

Hit the hay writing for Harlequin, and in the a.m., I was working for Rupert Murdoch.

But when I go to bed with a Pretty Things Press book in the works—guess what? In the morning, I'm only in bed with me. Well, I'm also in bed with Sam... but that's a different story...

As far as looking out for yourself... I'm still figuring that one out from the ground up. This year has been brutal—but I'll update when I untangle the knots.



delilahnight.com said...

So the one thing you didn't address is that if you work with a company, they'll promote your book and give you visibility versus shouting into the dark as a self-pub author.

What thoughts do you guys have about that side of things?


t'Sade said...

I'm in the same boat. I buy from people who are willing to talk to me, recommendations from friends, and generally authors I like. I'll admit, I am drawn to things like Mischief's Press side bar, but in the end, it's the name of the author that turns it into a "my list is too big" to "click that."

t'Sade said...

@delilahnight.com: As someone who is shouting out from the dark, it is really, really hard. And frustrating. And filled with despair.

I'm at the point where a sale a month is "high." A lot of it is that I don't write that fast and I'm not that good of a writer.

But I like writing and I find the process fun. So, I publish my books and try not to think about it. Sooner or later, something might hit, but... I'm not banking retirement on it.

Miz Angell said...

I've only ever published with you for your various houses. I haven't even considered self publishing, because I haven't written anything that's "together" enough to do so. But it's something I am looking forward to doing. It'll never pay the bills entirely, but at least I can write what I want.

Giselle Renarde said...

"So the one thing you didn't address is that if you work with a company, they'll promote your book and give you visibility"

...if you're lucky.

Oleander Plume said...

Self publishing is a lot of work, but, I have had a positive experience with it. However, I had a team of helpers.

I would also like to point out that there are some great small publishing houses that are fantastic to work with.

But as for big publishers? I'm out.

Su Tungpo said...

Self-publishing can really be a good odea especially if you can get someone or someones to edit first.
It also makes sense if you can sell your books directly and not have to go through Amazon. I personally HATE having to buy from Amazon, I'd spend a lot more if I could know that you are getting the money directly without Mr Bezo's cut coming off the top.

just a comment from a reader.