Or, The Circus Comes To Town
Into which ring will you throw your hat? Today seven bloggers discuss their decisions, on their blogs, and on twitter, #MyChoiceInPublishing. Follow along, or better yet, join in and discuss! (Links to other bloggers at end of post.)
Center ring? Traditional publishing. The big six, and their imprints.
When I first got involved with the on-line writing world, it was in order to research agents so that I could pursue publication with the big six.
Right now, I am not just researching agents, with hopes that an agent will procure a solid deal for me with a publishing house. I am researching publishers as well. Because some publishers have changed the language in their deals to reflect their concern with how easy it is for writers to e-publish. Language in contracts has become more controlling and restrictive.
See this blog post by Anne R. Allen and follow through the links if you want to read about one author's cautionary tale. If you aren't following Anne's blog, you should. It's incredibly interesting and informative! Remember, not all big publishers are giving out raw deals, but I believe that hiring a lawyer to protect ourselves from bad contracts IS A MUST in this climate.
Further evidence of this need is featured on Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog. Like this post about deal breakers. Or this post about surviving the transition. It's not light reading, but necessary food for thought.
Do I hope that I will have a kick butt agent, who will stand one handed on an elephant's back to get me a kick butt deal with a publisher? For sure. Am I hiring a kick butt lawyer to advise me on the finer print of the details of the balancing act in the center ring? Absolutely.
Now, tear your eyes away from the chaos in the center ring.
Side Ring Number One: Small Presses.
Small presses can be a great way to go. You may have an agent, but lots of small presses allow for unagented submissions. Small presses might be able to give your book more care and marketing.
However, I go forward in this ring with caution as well. Let's talk about the elephant in the room:
I have received emails from friends who have been published (or dropped right before their book was to be published) by small presses, and who had a very rough go of it. These writers could not go public with the issues they faced with small presses, because they didn't want to sabotage their career. Which is smart. This isn't limited to small presses--writers largely don't talk publicly about things that go wrong with interactions with big publishers either. Which again, is smart. But makes it tough for the rest of us to choose wisely.
I find that it is harder to find good information on small presses. Going to forums, and looking at threads where people post anonymously about their experiences is a good start.
I am researching small presses as best I can, and plan to have a lawyer (!!) go over any contracts.
Side Ring Number Two: Indie, or Self E-Pubbing.
To hear Joe Konrath talk about it, traditional publishing is in dire straits. Here's a link to a convincing conversation Joe has about e-pubbing. And, I think it is evident that the publishing world is in transition. Some small presses have gone under, and big publishers are changing how they do business. Do we really know where the balls are going to fall if the juggler stops frantically juggling? No.
I think it is a great idea to think of e-pubbing as a viable option. The author retains all control, and all profits. That being said, I think having a great team help with editing, cover art and marketing is always a plus. I would consider, quite strongly, having an agent assist me in e-pubbing. However, I don't think I would use an agent as an e-publisher.
I think we should also be thinking further than e-pubbing, however, and into the multimedia realm. E-books give us amazing versatility, especially since a lot of us are publishing for kids and young adults.
E-publishing is a fantastic avenue in and of itself, but it is also a great companion publishing technique. Agents at writeoncon.com talked about the benefit to publishing a companion e-book to a traditionally published book, both coming out at the same time.
So, the long and the short of it is that I am planning on trying to throw my hat into every ring. I don't want my career to suffer because I'm walking the tightrope without a net. My security will be in knowing that I have many avenues of revenue for my career. Like in this post.
Oh, and I'm hoping to have an agent as a ring master, and a lawyer lion tamer to help protect my interests.
Please check out the other bloggers sharing their point of view on their #MyChoiceInPublishing:
So, what ring (s) are you choosing? Does this conversation stress you out? Are you actively thinking about more than one type of publishing?