The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing
by David Waid
I think there are rational and irrational ways of thinking about the pros and cons of traditional publishing. Here are my versions of both.
I feel like a sheep that yearns for the old days when I would have gone sedately tromping up the metal ramp into the slaughterhouse – because today’s wide open plain is too wide and too open. And if I am being honest, some of the ramp’s allure comes from the fact that not every sheep is invited into the blood-spattered abattoir.
As long as I am flogging this simile to death, I am also a red-eyed, bomb-throwing, pointy-hoofed, anarchist sheep that wants to go indie, even if it hurts me – just because I want to mess with anyone holding the nail gun and fleecing sheers. And, of course, my going indie will be both noticed by the mighty and deeply painful to them.
And now what passes for rational in my mind…
If you are published traditionally, you have access to a print market that you otherwise do not (libraries and vastly more bookstores) and you can potentially get reviewed in big-distribution forums. It seems like there is a real advantage to these things, even if it is hard to see, and you have to triangulate off of something highly visible to understand it, like when they discovered the existence of Neptune solely by its gravitational effect on Uranus.
50 Shades of Gray is an example of the lifting power of even bad reviews, and the potential of big distribution. The book sold 250,000 indie copies and, after going traditional, sold 10 million in six weeks. The point isn’t really that our books will set the publishing world on its ear; the point is that 50 Shades of Gray is like Uranus. Heh.
The disadvantages are painfully obvious: lower profit margins, loss of control and book rights, and having to live in a paranoid shell, constantly watching out for the evil, blood-sucking hijinks of traditional publishers and agents that we have all heard so much about.
There you have my own polluted thinking on the subject. What are your thoughts?
David Waid is author of the historical fantasy novel, Conjurers, for which he is sending out query letters. He has a compilation of short stories and a sequel novel currently in progress. You can reach him to ask questions or berate his musical taste at firstname.lastname@example.org.