Traditionally Challenged: Today’s Publishing Options

Traditionally Challenged: Navigating the Publishing Labyrinth grit

by Greta Boris

In 2010, ebooks slammed into the publishing world and caused an earthquake of epic proportions. The dam the Big 5 had erected cracked in the upheaval and a flood of self-published books hit the marketplace. Whether this was a disaster or a blessing is still being sorted out. One thing is certain: the world of publishing has been forever altered.

The Ocean Liners:

Cruise Ship - Publishing OptionsAs an author, you now have a lot more options when planning your journey. You can still go the traditional route — pitch to agents, hope one accepts you, then pray he or she is able to book you passage on one of the giant ocean liners.

Publishing with the Big 5 has its advantages: potentially more exposure, distribution in bookstores and libraries, cover blurbs by recognized authors and, of course, prestige. On the negative side, advances are hard to get, and you have to share your 10% royalty with your agent.

If you are lucky and talented enough to get on board a big vessel, you may choose to do some self-publishing as well. Hybrid authors jump ship regularly depending upon which way the wind blows.

Life Boats:

Canoe - Publishing ChoicesIf you independently publish you’ll have to sink or swim on your own merits. Be prepared for a workout. Unfortunately, I see more sinking than swimming going on. I believe this is because many people are unprepared to treat their art as business.

Self-publishing requires you to find your own publishing team: editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. Once your book is ready for publication, you must do your own launch, find reviewers, plan your marketing, and the list goes on. Megan Haskell will be writing a travel log of sorts about this type of expedition for the blog. You can learn from her successes and failures.

Whether you self-publish or not, most successful authors will tell you marketing is a part of every writer’s life these days. The difference is whether you are in full control of the tiller, or sign on to a crew.

Small Craft:

Small Craft - Publishing OptionsAnother publishing option is attempting to board one of the myriad smaller craft cruising the waters. New York’s big publishers don’t take risks, move more slowly and often miss the boat when it comes to what readers want. Smaller publishers, on the other hand, can change direction quickly, if needed.

Entangled Publishing — a small publisher focused on romance authors — features many subgenres, some of which have gone out of favor with the NY houses. Liz Pelletier, the company’s founder, says she has a covenant with readers to value their time. It all started when she spent eight hours reading a book, set it down, and said, “meh.” The homogenous products coming out of New York didn’t always satisfy the wide variety of tastes.

Having a strong background in business, she assessed the industry’s landscape and launched Entangled in 2011. In Pelletier’s mind, overhead had to be kept low, staff needed incentives, and authors should keep a larger share of their books’ profits. By going digital-first and treating each title as a commodity to be divided among staff, she reduced risks and costs and was able to experiment with new subgenres.

Her business model worked. By 2012, the company had its first New York Times best seller. When I interviewed her in 2014 it had nine New York Times, 21 USA Today best sellers, and sold about 80,000 books a week.

Even small speedboats have big engines.

So, what does all this mean to you?

How can you best traverse the ever-deepening waters of the book world? Choices are great, but choices require you to do your research. Personally, I’m aiming to sign on to a small craft, and I’ll be sharing more about that voyage in future articles.

How about you? What floats your boat?

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Greta Boris, Director

Greta Boris Director

Greta Boris is the author of the Amazon Kindle bestsellerThe Wine and Chocolate Workout, a freelance writer, and aspiring novelist. She’s published articles on culture, health and entertainment for a variety of national magazines including Victorian Homes, Zombies, 50 Scariest Movies, Exodus, and Women of the Bible.

She’s currently at work on a domestic suspense series inspired by the seven deadly sins. She describes her work, and her life as a real housewife meets Dante’s Inferno.

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