Author Topic: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!  (Read 3100 times)

EdmunddeWight

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #50 on: December 18, 2018, 02:11:32 PM »
I've been reading Dean's blog for a while and that combined with his wife's insights helped me decide I didn't want to hop on the Big 5 bandwagon.
It's really a personal choice for an author. For me it was control of my product, maintaining my vision and a bigger piece of any potential profits. Plus I don't have to worry that if I don't sell well enough in the first few months I will never get another book and  be consigned to the back shelf.
I see publishing as a long term game, I can take my time and work on building my fan base rather than hope that I will make it in a few months or disappear.

 

cmstafford

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #51 on: December 19, 2018, 02:21:22 AM »
I think there's room for both at the table, per se. Right now, I'm entirely self-published, but I started out with a small press, and later signed a contract with Kindle Press when a book I wrote won a Kindle Scout contest. I've gradually become indie when I bought out my rights from my publisher and requested my rights back from KP because of a lot of the reasons other posters mentioned: the long publication timeline, covers, editing, and control over the pricing/marketing being the biggest one. However, there are places I can't get into as an indie, and for that reason I've debated looking for an agent and signing on (eventually) with a trad publisher.  It wouldn't be with my new series that I'm releasing next spring, but with a future standalone that I can afford to sit and leave alone for the 1 1/2 -2 years it would take to publish.

Dean Wesley Smith has a lot of good points, but like a pp said, the fear mongering is there, too, and you have to look past that. Are there bad publishers/agents/contracts/etc out there? Yeah, but there are a few good ones, if you care to look. It all depends on your long term game.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #52 on: December 19, 2018, 05:09:27 AM »
Authors doing everything the traditional way frequently find that if their books do not sell as well as the publisher expected, the publisher is not interested in hearing new story ideas from them. At that point their agents try to interest other publishers, but if the next idea doesn't sell, the authors are back to almost square one, but in a worse situation because they now have a non-selling track record. Distributors pay attention to those track records and refuse to order in as many copies as they did of the first, failed books. And other publishers won't offer terms as good as the first.

An indie might consider the "failed" number a success because the indie author gets to keep most of the income from sales, and that skews the profit margin in the indie's favor.

But if you want to be able to tell your mother, your friends, and strangers that your book is on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, the trad pub route is the straight way to get there. Not the only way, but statistically more in your favor than with self-publishing. Problem is, it's more of an uphill battle to get traditionally published than ever before.
 

David VanDyke

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #53 on: December 20, 2018, 06:12:58 AM »
Taking a step back, this is a matter of once bitten, twice shy. DWS and KKR have been screwed by the trades, they are down on the trades, though KKR is a bit more balanced in her printed views. But, it's very much a caveat emptor situation. In fact, we do this every day in our personal lives, though it's often not PC to say so.

I know a guy who's been victimized by criminals several times, who always happen to be Hispanics (due to location and demographics, mostly). But now, he's unabashedly anti-Hispanic, not able to psychologically separate out the criminal element from the general population.

I only say this as an example, so please let's not get off track too much talking about social issues.

The point is, people often reason from the specific to the general, and there's some truth to it, though less truth than instinct indicates. If I always have a bad experience at (say) my local Burger King, I may avoid Burger Kings entirely, even in another city, and that may make sense. How much is the local issue, and how much is the franchise food itself?

If I was bullied by football jocks in high school, maybe I'll hate football, jocks, or both.

And, getting screwed by agents and tradpubbers might, unsurprisingly create an anti-trade blogger-author.

Same thing if people happen to read too many crappy indie books--they think all indie books are crappy. And, there's probably statistical truth there, if only because anyone can self-publish.

What's ironic is, we all tend to do it, and justify it, when we're the "discriminator," but we decry it when we're the target of the discrimination. It takes some self-examination and thought to step back and try to be fairminded in all situations.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 06:15:45 AM by David VanDyke »
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Joe Vasicek

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #54 on: December 20, 2018, 09:22:13 AM »
It's a good post, though I remember a time when Dean was telling would-be authors that all you need to create quality covers is Powerpoint. :lalala Good to see that he's graduated up to InDesign.  :hehe
 

dikim

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #55 on: January 31, 2019, 09:45:33 PM »
Non-competing works clauses are a nightmare. I once challenged one in a contract from a big children's publisher because I thought it would prevent me writing any other books for my target age group without their permission. Their answer was that I was right and that was what they intended. I walked away and have never regretted doing so.

The other issue that made me go indie is covers. You have no control with a traditional publisher and they don't always get it right. At least, when I mess up a design, it's my fault and I can change it.

That said, the cost of production for fully-illustrated children's books and the difficulty of marketing of them means that I'd still take the traditional route for younger children's books. But I'd prefer not to be published than to sign my career away with an overly restrictive non-compete clause.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, adults and other writers.
www.dianakimpton.co.uk
 

notthatamanda

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #56 on: January 31, 2019, 10:49:28 PM »
I'm so glad I self-published my novel. I've already earned back what it cost to produce it. However, I am finding it very, very difficult getting it into libraries. Maybe it won't matter if my readership continues to grow, but I've written so much for the school and library market, it's upsetting that this book, which is good, if not better than some of the other books I've written, is automatically dismissed. I've applied for an ALA award and I hope it wins because that's the only way I can see it getting into libraries. It'll be vetted by one of their own. But in the meantime, writing new stories!

Are you on overdrive? 

Amanda (Happy to self publish but I'm still not getting a smartphone)
 

Vijaya

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #57 on: February 01, 2019, 12:18:43 AM »

Are you on overdrive? 

Amanda (Happy to self publish but I'm still not getting a smartphone)

Yes, through Draft2Digital.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #58 on: February 01, 2019, 01:46:46 AM »
It's a good post, though I remember a time when Dean was telling would-be authors that all you need to create quality covers is Powerpoint. :lalala Good to see that he's graduated up to InDesign.  :hehe
How do you even make a cover in PowerPoint? :icon_eek:


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
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Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #59 on: February 01, 2019, 02:43:48 AM »
I'm so glad I self-published my novel. I've already earned back what it cost to produce it. However, I am finding it very, very difficult getting it into libraries. Maybe it won't matter if my readership continues to grow, but I've written so much for the school and library market, it's upsetting that this book, which is good, if not better than some of the other books I've written, is automatically dismissed. I've applied for an ALA award and I hope it wins because that's the only way I can see it getting into libraries. It'll be vetted by one of their own. But in the meantime, writing new stories!

I don't know how it applies to eBooks, but it's my understanding that you need a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) for your best print version before most libraries will consider shelving your book. The LCCN puts you in their national search database, and if you don't show up in the list there, they can't easily acquire your book. The LCCN has to be acquired prior to publication and is available only to US residents/imprints.
 

ilamont

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #60 on: February 01, 2019, 02:57:40 AM »
I don't know how it applies to eBooks, but it's my understanding that you need a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) for your best print version before most libraries will consider shelving your book. The LCCN puts you in their national search database, and if you don't show up in the list there, they can't easily acquire your book. The LCCN has to be acquired prior to publication and is available only to US residents/imprints.

There are several other things that will help:
  • Availability through wholesalers that serve libraries. Ingram works, but Baker & Taylor is important, too.
  • Having a CIP record in the front of the book, which helps librarians with shelving. The LoC can create them, but they are so hopelessly backlogged it will save you a ton of time using a private service (usually run by private librarians). It costs $60-$100 for a single title in my experience.
  • Being in the OCLC Database used by many librarians. This also helps with books that don't have a CIP block, because it tells the librarians where to shelve it and other cataloging info. Some books get in this database when a librarian somewhere manually adds it, others are created by the private PCIP-creation services mentioned in the previous bullet.
  • Reviews in the professional journals read by librarians - PW, LJ, Foreword, Kirkus, etc.

Good luck!
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.

Disclosure: I am a board member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
 
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DmGuay

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #61 on: February 01, 2019, 03:05:33 AM »
I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 03:52:31 AM by DmGuay »
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Tom Wood

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #62 on: February 01, 2019, 03:17:31 AM »
...
  • Having a CIP record in the front of the book, which helps librarians with shelving. The LoC can create them, but they are so hopelessly backlogged it will save you a ton of time using a private service (usually run by private librarians). It costs $60-$100 for a single title in my experience.
...

An alternative to going for the CIP block is to register a LCCN through the LoC PCN process:

http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/faqs/#cost

That at least gets you into the national search database - I think.

If I understand the process correctly, you can then submit the book for official inclusion in the LoC, which presumably acquires a CIP block(? - not sure)
 

Vijaya

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #63 on: February 01, 2019, 08:05:16 AM »
I just got my copyright registration in the mail!!! It only took 3 months so I hope this year BOUND gets into more libraries.

DM, I know so many writers who will not consider anything but traditional publishing and their stories are languishing. They don't realize that self-publishing quality books is within their realm.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #64 on: February 04, 2019, 07:48:48 AM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #65 on: February 05, 2019, 01:52:01 AM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
Via donation, or did the library actually purchase the book? If it was a purchase, how well do you know the librarian?

(I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I have just observed that sometimes librarians on tight budgets will take donated books that they might not otherwise have bought, and knowing the librarian makes the person more receptive. (Unsolicited communications from self-published authors, even including copies of books, are often ignored.)


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LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #66 on: February 05, 2019, 01:50:20 PM »
I've gotten a book in libraries without an LCCN
Via donation, or did the library actually purchase the book? If it was a purchase, how well do you know the librarian?

(I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I have just observed that sometimes librarians on tight budgets will take donated books that they might not otherwise have bought, and knowing the librarian makes the person more receptive. (Unsolicited communications from self-published authors, even including copies of books, are often ignored.)

That's true. I've participated in a local library book club for years. When I started self-publishing, the librarian who runs the book club kindly bought my first novel from Amazon. Since then, it has been a mixture of outright gifts by me and the library purchasing copies. We might be about even at the moment. 

I would not bother to attempt to donate my self-published books to a library where I wasn't a known quantity. I'm only marketing to the people who don't hold onto prejudice about self-published books. In the past, that negative opinion usually was valid. Today, indie books have to be considered book by book--and no librarian has time for that. Thus, getting into a trusted review source or otherwise navigating the established methods of gaining notice is crucial if you want to get into the library market as a whole.

Some scholars are taking to self-publishing, too, and interestingly enough, are getting cited in other scholarly works. That may snowball eventually, but for now, using a small press may be an easier way to gain entry to areas otherwise closed to self-published authors. 
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #67 on: February 06, 2019, 10:31:51 AM »
Bill:

I have had 3 libraries PURCHASE the book without the number.
One library bought 4 copies for their branch libraries.
The other 2 libraries ordered copies by using the ISBN.
The ISBN provides the info needed to purchase.
 
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Joe Vasicek

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #68 on: February 06, 2019, 01:23:27 PM »
Bill:

I have had 3 libraries PURCHASE the book without the number.
One library bought 4 copies for their branch libraries.
The other 2 libraries ordered copies by using the ISBN.
The ISBN provides the info needed to purchase.
Did you buy your own ISBNs?
 

The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #69 on: February 07, 2019, 06:42:54 AM »
Any decent trad publisher will negotiate the hell out of deal for an author or MS they feel is promising. With care and good advice, a good TP contract is more than possible when both parties want it bad enough. If they're not willing to negotiate, likely it's because the publisher feels there's an element of gambling on your MS and it's covering for losses.

A lot of mediocre books are published for a variety of reasons. Larger publishers will have "publishers" working within departments who will commission and push through pet projects. And plenty of TP books are actually funded by government grants, applied for by the publisher, which fulfil obligations to release all kinds of minority or niche genres. There isn't a kind of "overall" quality control that checks every book that goes to press.

As for crap films, it's common for most of the creative contributors for movies to be paid on the first day of filming. A bad movie might hurt their reputation, but not their bank balance. It's been a blight on the Oz movie industry for decades.

As a midlist author I used to get 2 or 3 book deals with half the advance paid on starting, and the rest on completion (for each book). That was before the Great Midlist Cull of the Naughties. Ah ... those were the days.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #70 on: February 07, 2019, 01:18:08 PM »
Any decent trad publisher will negotiate the hell out of deal for an author or MS they feel is promising. With care and good advice, a good TP contract is more than possible when both parties want it bad enough. If they're not willing to negotiate, likely it's because the publisher feels there's an element of gambling on your MS and it's covering for losses.

A lot of mediocre books are published for a variety of reasons. Larger publishers will have "publishers" working within departments who will commission and push through pet projects. And plenty of TP books are actually funded by government grants, applied for by the publisher, which fulfil obligations to release all kinds of minority or niche genres. There isn't a kind of "overall" quality control that checks every book that goes to press.

As for crap films, it's common for most of the creative contributors for movies to be paid on the first day of filming. A bad movie might hurt their reputation, but not their bank balance. It's been a blight on the Oz movie industry for decades.

As a midlist author I used to get 2 or 3 book deals with half the advance paid on starting, and the rest on completion (for each book). That was before the Great Midlist Cull of the Naughties. Ah ... those were the days.

I can't think of a major U.S. publisher who gets grants to publish niche books, but it's possible that authors or small presses do apply for such grants. Or are you talking strictly about Australia? 
 

The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #71 on: February 07, 2019, 03:00:41 PM »
Quote

I can't think of a major U.S. publisher who gets grants to publish niche books, but it's possible that authors or small presses do apply for such grants. Or are you talking strictly about Australia?

Sorry, yes my experience is mostly Australia. And about ten years since I was bought lunch by a publisher, so everything could have changed... but back "in the days" publishers would do it, because of course the government arts department couldn't - or didn't - actually publish books. It was a means to put non-commercial or literary works into the market.
 

okey dokey

Re: Some more Dean Wesley Smith - Stay away from traditional book publishers!
« Reply #72 on: February 07, 2019, 06:47:20 PM »
Joe:

Bought my own ISBNs

 
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solo

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I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!

Thanks for the info. Didn't know about those figures. Are those amounts for the first year or the lifetime of the book? I am a newbie indie, by the way.
 

LilyBLily

I'm part of a pretty serious writers group. Some are trad pubbed. The rest only want to be trad published. Only two out of about 50 of us have gone the self-publishing route and everyone has tried to talk us out of it, even though we are perfectly happy!

The few who trad pubbed have never earned out their advances and have seven or more finished novels sitting in drawers rotting because no one in trad bought them. They're constantly shopping for new agents and new publishers. One even loved my novel so much she wanted me to keep submitting it because it was only a matter of time before it got noticed. She said I should be willing to wait years.

I don't have that kind of time. Literally.

You really only have to earn $3,000 to $5,000 per book to equal an advance for a new unknown author, and you get to keep the rights!

Thanks for the info. Didn't know about those figures. Are those amounts for the first year or the lifetime of the book? I am a newbie indie, by the way.

It used to be that the advance was followed by royalties, but in recent years, trad pubbed authors have reported that advances are where the significant money is; royalties have dried up drastically. The common wisdom--if you are in a position to follow it--is to get as big an advance as possible because that's probably the only money you'll see on that book.
 
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solo

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Thanks, LilyBLily. I was fortunate enough to have readers for my very first book (Sept-Oct 2017), the first of a series. I think I reached five figures for its first year. But I am trying out other genres/subgenres, taking advantage of the readership base, hoping that it would draw in readers for other stories. I still have a lot to learn and trying out other fields is one way. But I guess I'll stay indie. Not that any tradpub company had expressed any interest. LOL