As fiction writers, we live in an exciting era right now due to the new distribution opportunities available through Kindle, PubIt, and Smashwords. But to hear some writers talk, it’s Indie vs. Traditional, and one has to choose sides.
Well, a lot of neo-pros and old (20+ years) pros I’ve been talking to are excited about being able to do both indie publishing and traditional publishing at the same time. Having more revenue streams as a writer makes it easier to pay the bills each month. And as long as one is careful about reading and negotiating away any excessively broad non-compete clauses in a traditional publishing book contract, doing so should not be a big deal.
Short stories still need to go to traditional markets first if you want to sell them to a place like The New Yorker. But if you write a novelette or novella that can’t find a traditional home, it is now possible to indie publish it instead of just letting it sit around unpublished. And once the exclusive time frame on a traditionally published story expires (and if you didn’t sign an all rights contract), you can republish it as an indie reprint to generate more income.
But one thing I want to emphasize is the importance of thinking twice before giving away a royalty cut to an e-packager for an indie story. Dean Wesley Smith and J. A. Konrath and Barry Eisler debate the pros and cons at length in a post put up today.
We’re all in for a wild run over the next few years in publishing. Since I used to work in the software industry–which makes publishing look glacial by comparison–I confess I’ve welcomed the publishing technology breakthroughs that are bringing on a faster business pace.
Posted in Business of writing, Contracts, Markets, Publishers
Tagged Business of writing, Contracts, Dean Wesley Smith, e-publishing, e-readers, indie publishing, indie vs. traditional, Markets, Money, Publishers, self-publishing
Sooner or later it happens to every writer. The story that’s too weird in characters or plot to get past the sales force of a publisher, or has the wrong word count–too long for a short story sale (10,000 words or more), too short for a novel sale (less than 55,000 words).
It used to be when that happened all one could do was save those stories up for a collection of short stories or let them rot in a drawer.
And then after awhile, one reaches a point where one knows a story is going to be quirky after the first few pages, and an overwhelming urge would hit to just give up on it since there was virtually no market for it.
That’s why I’m so excited about the new distribution systems opening up through Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt. Writers’ quirky stories are going to be able to see the light of day. I’m looking forward to seeing what some of my favorite writers do in this new world.
And these days I no longer get the urge to stifle a story after the first few pages, because I know if it’s of publishable quality I can find a home for it, no matter what, down the road. No story I write need sit rotting in a drawer–unless (like the first novel I wrote) it ought to. Bad writing is still bad writing in this new world.
Writer Jim C. Hines has done a very helpful survey of 246 novelists to explore the following questions:
1) Do you have to sell short stories first to sell a novel?
2) Is self-publishing the way to go to sell a first novel to a publisher?
3) Are most first sales of a novel an overnight success story?
4) Do you have to have personal connections to the publishing industry to sell a first novel?
I’m not going to tell what the answers are, because I think it’s important to visit Jim’s website to read his detailed answers and analysis there.
Here’s what Jim says on his website about his survey:
For this study, I was looking for authors who had published at least one professional novel, where “professional” was defined as earning an advance of $2000 or more. This is an arbitrary amount based on SFWA’s criteria for professional publishers. No judgment is implied toward authors who self-publish or work with smaller presses, but for this study, I wanted data on breaking in with the larger publishers.
247 authors from a range of genres responded. One was eliminated because the book didn’t fit the criteria (it was for a nonfiction title). A random audit found no other problems.
The first part of the survey is Novel Survey Results, Part 1 (answers questions 1 & 2). Second part has just been posted today as Novel Survey Results, Part 2 (answering questions 3 & 4). There will be a third part next week.
Posted in Agents, Business of writing, Craft of writing, Editors, Interviews with Writers, Markets, Publishers, Writers on Writing Links
Tagged Breaking In, Business of writing, first sale, Jim C. Hines, Novel Survey Results, self-publishing, short stories versus novels