For the last several Thursdays, the blogs have been informative, and maybe have made you question a few things. This blog post will be the same, but there are a few things I NEED to say before I get into it.
I'm so TIRED of seeing authors sign to publishers for popularity and not really knowing what they're getting into. There are so many options, not just self-publishing. There are a number of things you can do to get your work out there, and you don't have to sign to do so.
Many authors sign with the fairytale that they're going to make a lot of money and they're going to have so much fame, etc. They sign to the company, become an insider, and then they learn that everything wasn't peaches and cream like they thought. From the outside looking in, it seemed like there would be some real potential, that this place was somewhere to thrive, but how can you thrive in an environment you know nothing about and don't fit into?
For example: Before you became an author, there's a huge possibility you admired a certain author or publisher's work before you became a writer yourself. You used this as a model, a base to shape your career. You see they have submissions open, you submit to the company, hoping you'll be accepted. Boom! Then you do. They take you on, you sign a contract, and everything seems great, till you realize you have nothing in common with this person. They see you as a number and not as asset. You have deadlines that you struggle to reach. You have "rules" of what you can and can't write. You get your royalties check and you're pissed and realize this wasn't the dream you thought it would be.
Here's the gag.
You didn't do any research about the company beforehand. perhaps you made money, perhaps you didn't. But, you didn't realize the way you'd have to get the money.
You and the publisher have absolutely no chemistry. Everything they say to you sounds like a slight, and every time you need something you feel like a burden.
You don't fit in. You're not like the people under the company that you signed to, and now you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb.
Social media appearances and keeping up with all of the releases becomes overwhelming, and you feel as though you're drowning in a sea of books.
You can't grow as a writer here because as much as you loved the books as a reader, you didn't realize there was a style and certain brand to follow, because you don't have your own brand.
Last but not least, the readers read your books because of YOUR PUBLISHER, not you, and you haven't taken the time to develop anything about yourself.
All I'm saying is birds of a feather flock together, or they at least have to have the same goals. Getting to know your publisher should be just like getting to know your mate. You need to know what they can offer you, but also, what can you offer them?
Here are questions you should ask yourself before you sign.
Am I ready to release a "set # of books" and how long will it take me to do so?
What genres do I plan to write in? Do the genres I plan to write in fit in with the company I want to sign with?
What type of brand do I have/am I trying to establish? How will it fit with the publisher I plan on signing with?
What type of marketing am I looking for? What type of promotion can I do/can I find?
What are my writing goals?
What are my career goals?
Will I be able to branch out on my own/write in different genres?
What type of publishing experience am I looking for?
Questions you should ask before self-publishing?
How much money do I have to put toward marketing, covers, editing, events, etc?
Do I plan to attend any events?
What type of brand am I building?/What can my readers expect?
How much time do I have to put toward my career?
What kind of books will I write?
What makes me special/stand out?
What platform do I want to publish on?
What type of editor do I need?
What type of marketing do I need?
E-books or paperbacks?
How much will I price my books for?
What do I have to offer the literary industry?
I ask my clients, "What do you have to offer the industry?" They typically say good reads. That's not enough. Anyone can write a good book, but will it be memorable? Will it leave an impact? Will it be the story that changes/starts your career?
Define what SPECIAL THING you have to offer the industry. You're better than just signing to make money. You're better than self publishing because you won't get out of your own way.
Both take a lot of work and push and pull on both ends. To understand more about what it takes to be self-published or signed or just a hobbyist, the dialog will be open in the comments. I'd love to hear from you all to see/hear about your experience.