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Kevin G Hare

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Writer Validation - Traditional of Independent Publishing?

October 13, 2017

Every aspiring writer out there wants the same thing in one form or another - to be recognized as a writer. For most of us, it's the motivation for why we write. We can craft stories, create worlds with amazing characters who can do amazing things but in the end, we want someone else to read them. We want to get validated for our work.

That means seeing our books being picked off the shelves, taken home and enjoyed. It's the process of how they get into readers' hands that stumps many of us because we don't know our options. Well, there are two at the top of the list most writers are aware of; traditional and independent.

Traditional publishing is seen as the go to for any author who feels this is how they will make a name for themselves. This is how we gain the credibility, the prestige, the validation proving we have officially qualified as a writer who is good enough to make the cut. I mean, it comes with so many perks, right? We write the book, 'sell' it to a publishing house and they take care of the rest - design, printing, marketing, distribution, all we need to do is wait for the money to start rolling in while we work on the next project.

I hate to burst your bubble but here's the reality most of us are unaware of. First off, there's a waiting time, a long one, before we see our book on the shelf. For most publishing houses, you have to find an agent. This can take a couple of years and that's realistic. Once found, our agent will act on our behalf to solicit our book to a reputable publisher which can take up to six months before they get around to reading it because most of them have a fairly large slush pile to go through already. Be prepared for a lot of rejections. It may take another several months for them to go through another round of edits before they deem it fit for public consumption. Factor in cover design, marketing, printing and shipping times, we can look at a full two years before the book is actually available.

Then, and only then, will we get our validation. We can tell the whole world as soon we are accepted by a publisher but two or three years later, most of our audience will have moved on.

But this may work for some writers. They just absolutely don't want to be bothered with the business end of authoring, they just want to write. That's awesome. It keeps publishing houses working and people employed. Nothing wrong with that at all.

But is self-publishing, or indie publishing the answer?

Indie publishing is not a new term to the writing world. The Joy of Cooking was independently printed in 1931 before being purchased by a publishing house. Other titles include Fifty Shades of Grey and The Martian. Look how well they did.

Taking the route to do it alone simple means we bypass the traditional publishing house by seeking out a printer (more or less) who is able to print single or multiple copies of our book and make them available for sale. This is termed print-on-demand. More options have sprouted up over the years with the rise in popularity for authors choosing to seek out this method of publishing because of unfair terms through the publisher. The largest being Amazon who purchased CreateSpace in 2005. Their process is about as simple as it gets. We write the book, format it to suit Amazon's requirements and upload the files. A bit of meta-data and information to fill out and zippity-bing, the book is ready for sale by the masses in hardcover, softcover or e-book. They even provide a page for the book to be viewed and purchased.

Unlike traditional publishing, we keep all rights to our work where the big houses want all rights whether they use them or not. We keep all creative control over the design and story, we keep a larger part of the profits on sales, the book is ready in as little as a few hours and if someone wants to make a major motion picture out of it, well, that's all us baby!

However, all of the background work falls on our shoulders as well. The story has to be up to par and the editing top notch. The cover design has to catch the attention of potential buyers and the synopsis has to make them want to read the book. All of this can be done professionally but it won't come cheap. You can save money and do it all yourself but you better know what you're doing. This is the reality of the business end.

Do we get the validation of being a writer? Sure, why not? If we put the effort into it and the book can competitively sit on the shelf beside mainstream authors, you bet we can get the validation. If we can market effectively and draw the attention, retain followers who will want more, absolutely we can grow a reputation. No one said it will be an easy road, though. You have to want it.

Put Together a Plan

There is a possible win-win scenario found in a hybrid solution. Use the best of both worlds by choosing which of our books we can afford to indie publish and those we can afford to wait for the traditional publishing process. I plan to have a few books available through Amazon which I will use to gain an audience and followers I can add to an email list. I will keep those great folks updated on what I'm doing and offer whatever advice I can to help them on their journey. This establishes my work. I have a trilogy in the works (info on all can be found on my website, kevinghare.ca, incidentally) where I will complete all three books and pitch to a traditional publishing house.

Why would I do this, it sounds crazy!

Logic, my friends, and two-fold at that. First, I need to build the following and prove I can craft a good story. This is like adding to my portfolio to include in my query submission. The publisher may see a greater potential if I already have an established sales background. I'm hoping it will streamline the process and I can barter on the publishing rights because they will need me more than I need them. Second, after achieving the validation in the mainstream market, new readers may be looking for anything else I have written, boosting sales on my past self-published work.

Win-win.

I fully understand it won't be an easy going but I can accept the responsibility because writing is all I want to do. I will put the work into my projects to make them the best I can. Success can only follow a well laid plan and the hard work that follows.

 

Always welcoming more insights and questions and join the mailing list on the website for updates and info every Friday!

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