Sex. Feminism. Lesbian Werewolves.

Women are doing it for themselves – Self-Publishing vs. Traditional

Posted on Jun 9, 2010 in Publishing, Writing | 4 comments

Last night my LL and I got into a heated conversation about publishing Lunatic Fringe.  I’ve been querying agents and have gotten just a handful of replies.  Some are flat out rejections and one has requested a partial and synopsis, which I’m putting together today.

My mind until last night was to take a stab at traditional publishing for these reasons:

  • It establishes clout.  Anyone can self-publish- it takes a pro to get published by a house.
  • It gives me a support team.  I’m not so naive to think that I won’t have to work my tail off marketing the hell out of this book, but I do think being published will give me access to professionals who are working on my behalf. More sales equals more money for them.
  • It will allow me to keep writing more books.  That’s my goal, and the less time I have to spend writing my own press release, the more time I have to keep writing books.
  • Not having to deal with the tedium of shopping carts and shipping and distribution.
  • I’m working 3 jobs already, and I have no money.  I can’t afford self-publishing without a big loan.

LL has suggested that I self-publish.  I can see the benefits of it breaking down like this:

  • Complete creative freedom.
  • A bigger cut of the cash.  Instead of making 10 – 15% per sale, I’d make 60% – 70%.  If I have to sell fewer books to survive, I can keep writing books.
  • I won’t be a slave to an industry that has no f*cking clue what is going on and how to manage these weird-ass times.
  • I’m going to have to bust my ass to market the book anyway- I might as well do it on my own terms.
  • Self-publishing is no longer the mark of the loser it once was.  Lots of people are doing it as a way of cutting out the (middle)Man.
  • Quicker turn around.  I can hit the werewolf zeitgeist and make sure my book is the first and only one about lesbian werewolves.
  • I have an amazing community of entrepreneurs and info-marketing people, all of whom are ready to help and won’t take 10%.

What drives me nuts is that no one has the answers.  No one knows what will work best for this book, or any book anymore.   Even the few contacts I have in the industry are shrugging.  My book is readable for everyone, but my key demographic is queer women and feminists. Not a tiny market- but a niche one.  And one I have a shitton of contacts in already.  I don’t need a marketing agent to get me an interview on AfterEllen- I have friends there already.  Yet, not having to hustle my tail off to order boxes of books and wrestle with Amazon is a wonderful thing.  Having someone to help me negotiation translation rights and international distribution sounds DIVINE.

Let’s be real- if I get a call from an agent tomorrow who wants to read my ms, I’ll probably hear back from her in a month if she wants to rep me.  We’ll negotiate and then she’ll approach publishers and try to sell it.  If it moves at light-speed, that process will take at least 4 months.  When the publisher decides to publish the book, then we move into the graphic phase and the typesetting and all the technical jazz.  Now, again, moving super fast, we’re adding another 4 – 5 months.    By the time my book hits the stands, it’s been a year.  And that’s being so insanely generous.

The more realistic timeline if I move with a traditional publisher is 18 months at minimum, 2 years likely. Suddenly, I’m thirty and I haven’t sold one book.

If I self-publish, I’ll have to do market research, come up with a business plan, raise money, plan the launch, set up a pay site, and hustle hustle hustle.   While working 3 jobs.  I could maybe get this accomplished by working like a dog and launch the book in the spring of 2011.

I am not a patient person.  The process of writing the book has been a trying one, and I’m chomping at the bit to move this book ahead.  At the same time, I realize patience is a virtue, and I may very well shoot myself in the foot by moving too quickly on this and making a serious misstep.

I’m DYING to know what EVERYONE thinks.  There are no answers because the rules have changed.  I know I’m not seeing some big points, so feel free to illuminate me.    Are you on Team Traditional or Team Self?

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4 Comments

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  1. Punkmouse

    If the book publishing world works in any way like the film world (and I suspect there are some major parallels), then I highly recommend self-publishing – especially at this exact point in time. Your LL’s clearly a sharp woman. I’d listen to her.

    I’d also be happy to help talk you through some of your resistance if you want the help.

  2. The Caged Ginger

    If you self publish or go traditional, I’ll buy Lunatic Fringe either way. I found Tales of the Pack/ Lunatic Fringe from a retweet by Dylan Ryan or Jiz Lee and once I learned of the plot of Lunatic Fringe from the about section I knew I had to buy a copy once available. If you were to go traditional in publishing Lunatic Fringe, I would suggest Bold Strokes Books. Recently within the past year BSB has come out with a bunch of urban fantasy including the Garoul series, Everafter series, and the Midnight Hunters series. I have no experience in publishing but, I would imagine that publishing traditionally might be easier.

  3. Steve Berman

    Your frustration is understandable.

    Well, the synopsis you sent me sounds very cool. I want to read the first three chapters.

    Steve Berman
    Publisher
    Lethe Press

  4. Allison

    Punkmouse- I appreciate your perspective. It’s an interesting time, to be sure, and I think you might be right about the perfect timing. And yes my LL is one smart cookie.

    Caged Ginger- Thanks for your support! Please keep spreading the lesbian werewolf gospel on twitter and elsewhere! Hopefully soon you’ll be able to get your hands on a copy of the book.

    Steve- Consider it done! Thanks!

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