Last week I caught up with a friend from my magazine-publishing days. She moved overseas, married, and now her family has moved back. She works as an editor for a custom publishing company. I should have kept my mouth shut when she told me she’s written a novel and is shopping it around to literary agents.
Me and my big mouth. Like a fool, I asked: “Why don’t you self-publish it?”
She looked at me as if I’d poisoned her pet dog. “But it’s really good,” she said.
It went downhill from there, because I couldn’t resist: “All the more reason you need to self-publish. Why hand a bunch of middle men profits they haven’t earned?”
We got into a pointless discussion of the state of publishing…
So this morning, I had to laugh when I read the inimitable J.A. Konrath’s parable, Ug and Zug’s One Stop Wheel Shop:
KOR: .. You see, I just spent ninety moons working on this wheel. Working hard. It doesn’t seem fair to me that when you sell it, I only get 25% of the wholesale price. That only comes out to 12% or so of the selling price.
ZUG: But that’s what we’ve always given you, Kor.
KOR: I know. It’s just… well… I see some other wheelmakers, independent wheelmakers, who are selling wheels on their own. And they earn 70% of the selling price.
Why Self-Publish? Because You CAN.
That’s the point I was trying to make to my friend. (Probably ex-friend, now.)
Self-publishing gives you options. You make more money. If some publisher comes along, you can always take the deal they offer you.
Or, you can decide against it, as H.M. Ward did:
Over the past year I’ve been offered over 1.5 million bucks in advances offered by huge publishing houses. I told them to show me a marketing plan that knocks my socks off and I’d consider their offer. I had this notion that they knew what they were doing and could do it better than I could. They said they had all these ideas and they’re gonna blow my mind, which was a requirement for the deal, b/c the pay was too low.
Writers have NEVER in the history of the world, been able to sell directly to readers. Now we can. We can write, and hit the Publish button. That’s huge.
As for my friend, I hope she gets her wish: she gets a literary agent, and sells her novel for big bucks. I also sincerely hope she hangs onto at least some of her rights…
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