1. Thanks for the great, balanced interview, ladies. I was a little hesitant to click in over here, because while I have some self-pubbed books that are doing well enough to make me want to write more, they are in no way making as much money as my traditionally published books, and so I was glad to see this interview included a more balanced perspective, rather than the kind of “everyone should self-publish and get rich” talk about self-publishing that seems to make the rounds.

    Personally, I see self-publishing as the same as trad publishing in that way – you never know what book will be a success, which one won’t, if you will suddenly have a book that will “break out” or such. For me at the moment, I wouldn’t leave trad publishing because I enjoy it, but also because it’s where the main source of my income is. However, I too plan to put up more self-pubbed books — finding time for all of it, as you mention, is also the key.

    I wonder, what do you think makes any particular author “take off” in self-pub at any given point, and do you think those sales numbers can be maintained over the long haul, or is this more of a short-term thing? If you have met with particular success with a particular book, or at a particular point, why do you think that happened, and do you think your trad pubbing contributed?


  2. What an interesting discussion. Thanks for sharing your perspectives. And how great to “see” so many familiar faces!

    Like Sam, I like traditional publishing and intend to stick with it, but also have self-pubbed some backlist titles – Deborah Cooke remains in NY, while Claire Delacroix is self-pubbing! I do like the control over covers, but at this point, have no time to self-pub any new work. (And I still have backlist to get ready.) I’m really impressed by your success, though, and excited by the possibilities for every author.

    Also like Sam, I’m curious about the “spark” – but then, it might be as hard to identify as it is in traditional publishing. You never know what’s going to go big or resonate with people.

    also writing as Claire

  3. I don’t think we’ll ever figure out the “spark” any more than anyone’s done that in traditional publishing. The crap shoot factor is high! One difference is, though, that if you have an idea you really believe in but know that it colors outside the lines, you don’t have to wait years while shopping it around. If you have a financial situation that allows you to put time into writing it…then write it!

    I think sometimes it’s easier to figure out what prevents the spark–such as the factors I mentioned in my intro–but even then, there’s always someone in the same circumstances who will do just fine. *shrug*

  4. Good information. I’m back from Thrillerfest and one thing I’ve changed my tune on a little is going exclusively indie. I think being a hybrid author with a foot in both indie and trad publishing is the way to go. Publishers are changing and the ebook competition is going to heat up as they finally start dropping prices. We’re going to see ebooks from trad publishers under $5 soon, if they aren’t already out there. That’s going to diminish a big advantage for indie authors.

  5. Thanks, Lori, for putting this chat together, and thanks, ladies, for taking the time to offer your insight to changes taking place in publishing. It’s definitely a whole new ball game 🙂

  6. kathryn shay

    Sam–I don’t know what the spark is. In some ways, it’s like traditional publishing. First you have to write good books. You have to be persistent, keep at it, have faith. Luck enters into it. Good ideas for promotion. I guess I think there are a lot of sparks.

  7. Since RWA, I’m hearing from more and more authors who agree that a mixture of both indie and traditional publishing is a good path. Right now, all indie is still best for me, but I’m encouraged to hear some authors say that publishers seem to be coming around on a few issues. Like pricing. I’m still working on my first, full length straight-to-ebook contemporary romance, so who knows. By the time it’s finished, things may have changed enough for me to ask my agent to shop it.

  8. Sam,

    I think as with traditionally published books, ebooks have a sales trajectory as well. The difference is, they don’t necessarily pop when they’re first released. Sometimes it takes time for the book to find its audience. That’s the advantage when you self-publish. No one is pulling it from the shelf. You have time to find and build your audience.

    That said, it’s still the rare book that stays on the top of the bestsellers list forever. As with traditionally published books, self-published books rise, peak, and slowly decline. You can run promotions to give it a pop, but eventually it will return to its natural path. As with the traditional world, you must keep feeding the beast.

  9. I agree with Beth: it can take time for a book to find its audience. That’s been the case for my books.

    I’m thinking about this topic a lot. I’m an indie author, and I’m doing fairly well–not selling enough books to make a living, but close. (I live cheaply.) I was recently approached by a major agent–we’re talking on the phone tomorrow. I still believe (as Bob says) it would be great to have a foot in both worlds.

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

    Beth, if something does evolve with the agent, I’d thought of contacting you for advice.


  10. I traditionally published in nonfiction and self-published in fiction. 10 and a half weeks ago, I self-published my two sweet historical Westerns, and have sold 6400 books. I wrote them ten years ago, and in spite of the first one being a Golden Heart winner, 2 agents couldn’t sell them because they weren’t sexy. I think they’re doing well (without much marketing on my part) is because there is a niche for traditional romances and a niche for Westerns. My agent wants me to write a contemporary “sweet” Western to shop to NY. I’m going to finish writing and self-publish the next historical Western and then see what I want to do. The best thing is that writers have CHOICES! YAY!

  11. Great interview!

    I’m with Debra. It’s great to see that writers have choices and are taking control of their careers again. Right now, I see traditional publishing as one heck of a promotional tool. However, it’s not my number one choice anymore. Indie works best for me and my hectic schedule. Just ask my 19-month old. 😉

  12. One thing that has always bothered me about my writing career is that I had so little info about/control over the decisions that were made (other than inside the covers of the book, of course). On the one hand, this is why writers want publishers. On the other, if something isn’t going right, there’s no real time way to intervene.

    The info I get from Kindle/Nook is immediate, allowing me to fine-tune things to optimize the PR (which most writers don’t like to do, let’s be honest).

    The second thing I like is not being dependent a publisher’s bottom line (like you say, publishers need to sell hundreds of thousands to consider an author an asset). If something happens (shrinking print run, dying booksellers, disappearing library budgets, etc.) it is the author who gets the blame and gets cut.

    I agree with Julie that I’d like to wait out the transition before I sign any new deal. I would also never consider agreeing to stop publishing my own work on Kindle/Nook. While I completely understand why an agent/editor/publisher may find some of my books too risky for their bottom line, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try them out on my readers…especially when it can be a year or two…or three…between releases!

  13. What a great post – I really love seeing more and more people realizing that there are choices out there. Both routes have positive and negative attributes but the good news is that the more the self-publsihers succeed the more traditional publishers will have to adjust to attract or retain top talent.

    Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

  14. Yay for all the authors doing so well with self-publishing! That’s so exciting to see. My own experience slef-pubbing my backlist has been pretty similar and it’s completely changed the way I view my writing career.

    I do want to say though, that a print book does not need to sell hundreds of thousands to be profitable — lots of midlist books. even ones that don’t earn out, still make a profit for the publisher and that’s with very very modest print runs.

    Likewise, an eBook doesn’t need to sell tens of thousands to be profitable to the author. At a 70% royalty an eBook that sells only a few thousand would still make the author a tidy sum.

  15. Stephanie Giancola

    Thanks for generously sharing your stories and all that great info. This is exactly what writers need to survive in this business–good information.

    I’m thrilled to hear that there’s a chance for writers to make a living after doing all the hard work of writing, promoting, etc.

    I’m also thrilled for the opportunity to make my own deadlines and set my own publishing dates! How cool is that?

  16. I loved this! We need to hear more from authors who have crossed over, so we can hear both sides of the story. I did a blog post about it referring back to here. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks so much for this wonderful post! It is so amazing that writers actually have choices now, and that stories that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason in New York can find an audience through self-pubbing. I just released my first e-book in October and am having a blast. Thanks again for sharing your stories!

  18. Nancy C. Shour

    I turned up this discussion when I searched “more Nell Sweeney books?” for 2 purposes — one, to see if the series was being continued, but also two, were they being republished. Fortunately, I came upon the series from the first book, and as it developed I was always confused & frustrated by how poorly this excellent series was promoted and (not) distributed. And when I wanted to purchase the entire set for several friends, even while Book 6 was on recently released, it was almost impossible to find the first book in print. I’m sure this was demoralizing for the author, as it showed so little faith by the publisher in a series its readers were almost rabid about. Seeing that the author is now e-publishing the series is good news for those who have made the move to e readers. But if you haven’t, and have no plans to, you are now excluded from new works by authors or about characters you have followed for years. It really is a conundrum for author & reader alike. I feel very strongly for Patricia Ryan, that such an exceptional narrative received so little sales support & certainly hope that e publishing will bring Nell & Will the audience they deserve.

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