Thursday, 24 October 2013

Does self-publishing kill you for traditional publishers?

Before we begin, I just have to bring to your attention a lovely crafty site that I have just discovered called Sew Sweet Violet and her beautiful giveaway she is doing - gorgeous advent Christmas bunting. The giveaway ends on Tuesday 29th October and she will post to ANYWHERE in the world so, quick, go and leave a comment on the appropriate post and come straight back here. I'll wait for you... 

Okay, entered the giveaway? Cool. Let's continue. 

So, next week I have a guest blogger, Marissa de Luna doing a post here on the importance of detail in your writing. Marissa has recently published her second book 'The Bittersweet Vine' with a traditional publisher, having self-published her first book 'Goa Traffic'. 

Marissa's story is really interesting, not least because she got herself an agent and a traditionally published second book after self publishing her first novel. It seems to be commonly accepted that if you have self published, traditional publishers won't touch you (unless, of course, you have phenomenal sales like E L James). But Marissa proves this wrong and I'm sure she isn't the only one as traditional publishers slowly become more accepting of Indie authors. 

Indie published authors haven't always been treated with disdain and scorn though and today's self publishers are in good company. Recognise these names?
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Charles Dickens
  • Mark Twain
  • Anais Nin
  • Virginia Wolff
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Alexandre Dumas
  • Beatrix Potter

They all self published at some point in their careers and some of them self-published their most famous books too. 


I can't deny that some Indie authors are, quite frankly, not up to scratch and it's easy to see why publishers would have rejected them. Novels full of cliches, clunky dialogue, meandering plots, under-developed characters. Yes, lots of Indie books are truly bad. But, then again, there are many bad traditionally published novels out there too.

So, is it sometimes luck and timing that can get you a publishing contract? Maybe your novel captures the zeitgeist of the moment? Or you just so happen to have a complete manuscript ready to go that can piggyback on the success of a similar 'latest big thing'. 


The originally self published 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has spawned a whole raft of erotica, not that it wasn't there before. It's just more mainstream now. Of course, e-readers have a lot to do with the rise of erotica sales. No longer is it confined to bedroom reading. It can be read anywhere you like - buses, trains, in the supermarket queue. Nobody has to know that the colour in your cheeks has nothing to do with the over heated coffee shop and everything to do with Stavros having his wicked way with prim and proper Phillipa al fresco under the stars. 

Both self-published first before being picked up by trad publishers
As a writer, it's really hard to decide which route to take but if Kathryn Stockett can weather 60 rejections before finally getting 'The Help' accepted by a publisher, then maybe I should have a little more patience and faith in myself. 

My personal feeling is that traditional publishing gives you more kudos as an author and the knowledge you acquire through working with editors and agents is really valuable. HOWEVER, the money is not exactly great for a debut author.
I suppose the real question is, do I want to go into a bookshop and see my book on a shelf or am I happy with just seeing the cover on Amazon?
Finally, here's a really interesting article with New York Times bestselling author C J Lyons and why she both traditionally and self publishes. What are your thoughts on Indie and traditional publishing? Have you made an absolute decision on which way you want to go? 

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