The traditional publishing model as represented by the term “New York publishing” has a lot to offer writers — professional editing, professional copyediting, professional cover art and design, monetary advances, professional layout design, print and digital releases, placement on the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores, and (if you’re lucky) a publicist who builds a marketing plan for your novel. Essentially, all the tools that render a quality final product.
But there are disadvantages to New York publishing. The advance for mid-list and first time authors is usually small, and if you don’t earn out you might never be offered another contract with that publisher. From the time the manuscript hits an editor’s desk, it could take three years before you see your book in stores — or see a check. Money moves to the author slowly. To get in the door of New York publishing, you really need an agent. Agents take a share of the profits. But the agent herself isn’t an impediment — she’s most likely a font of knowledge — the biggest impediment in this publishing scheme it is the time it takes to get that agent, that editor, that book on the shelf.
Of course, these are just averages and approximations. Each book is different and so is each writer’s experience with any particular publisher.
Not certain you should take my word for it? Want a second opinion? Check out some thoughts from Kristine Kathryn Rusch (whom we’re not at all affiliated with).
If all this seems like too much — namely too much time – you can shift gears and go to the other extreme and self-publish your novel today. Do your own editing, your own copyediting, make your own cover, try to figure out where to buy art, teach yourself design programs and coding languages, try to learn all the formatting for all the different e-reader platforms or tackle something attractively titled “the meatgrinder,” throw your book up on multiple storefronts, start researching printing for paper copies, publish a bound paper copy of your book in a holly-hobby manner that shows you’ve not studied publishing/printing. (As a side note: there is an amazing amount of education/thought that goes into printing words on the page in a professional manner; having a conversation with a professional printer is an eyeopening experience. When I first started learning about print production several years ago I was shocked. And awed. And admittedly a bit overwhelmed.) And then — cherry on top — you have to do your own publicity and marketing.
Yes, the “indie” author has eliminated the three to five years it takes to go from manuscript to bound book in a bookstore, but he or she has committed to three to five years of education (namely the trial and error kind of education) and effort to get that book to sell well.
If there’s any concerns about my math, let me layout a some of my assumptions: first that you’re working a full-time job while learning all this stuff; second that you want to learn to do it well, not just do it; and third, I’m counting ongoing publicity efforts, post-production.
Indie authors often run up against a tough decision — they have enough time in their already busy lives to promote the first novel or to write the second novel, but not enough time to do both. As a writer, I know how completely depressing it is to decide between letting a novel languishing because it’s published but no one knows about it, or letting an unwritten novel languishing because you don’t have time to work on it.
World Weaver Press, like many other small presses, was created to bridge the gap between the two extremes.
When self-published authors were first dubbed “indie authors” there was an innate comparison made to the uber-cool monicker of the “indie band” of the 90s and early 2000s. Except the comparison was amiss. Those super-cool indie bands of old weren’t groups of guys throwing tracks up on iTunes from their garages/home computers — those types were still being called “unsigned artists.” The “indie band” was signed with a label — an independent label, not Virgin or Capital Records or Sony. They’d signed with an independent record company. A small company with albeit limited resources when compared to Virgin Records, but a depth of experience and an unmatched passion for the artists they took on.
Now, this music industry model has changed in the past five years. But the fact remains that the cool-factor of the “indie” scene was attached to bands who teamed with small record companies for collaboration.
Consider World Weaver such an independent label.
Do you really want to produce, release, and distribute your own album? Or would you rather enter into a relationship with a company that can better your creative product and launch your career slowly and steadily, without forcing you to hurry up and wait for the business model pimped by the traditional business tycoons who only want what’s sure to sell.
Okay, that’s kind of a bleak picture.
But the staff at World Weaver Press want our authors to write what they love — whether that means main stream content, or between-genre niche content, at traditional novel lengths or super long or super short novels. We can work with anything because we’re not in the business of traditional publishing. We’re in the business of bridging the gap.
(Added March 12, 2012) Related opinion/blog post from author Christine Rose on what she calls the “NY Big Boys.”