Sunday, 22 May 2011

WIP Update: Beating The No-win Scenario

I don't believe in the no-win scenario. If Captain Kirk could beat the Kobayashi Maru test, I can write a book and be published. But you might ask, "Didn't Kirk beat the test by cheating; by re-programming the parameters of the test? And wasn't the Kobayashi Maru really a test of how a person reacts in the face of certain defeat?"

Traditionally, a writer would seek a publishing deal with a major publishing house. If they were fortunate enough to secure such a deal and their book was published, they were considered to be a proper writer. Those who self-published were seen as nothing more than vanity writers. You might say they cheated the system, and as such they were looked down upon by the writing world.

Times have changed. With the coming of computers, the Internet, websites, blogging, ebooks, Kindles, iPhones, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, a plethora of digital publication formats and new medias for self-promotion has arrived. With this has come the ability to submit your writing to markets that were just not there or unavailable to writers as little as 15 years ago. Writers can even choose to circumvent the traditional publishing route and take complete control of their work, and many writers are doing just that and making a good living from it.

But are they cheating? Do you still see a distinction between those who self-publish and those who have a traditional publishing contract, or is the line starting to blur?

In my opinion the line is blurring. Self-published books are accepted and do sell. Of course along with that acceptance sometimes comes a drop in quality. If you are going to self-publish, you must be able to write. You do need the services of critique partners, beta-readers, and a good editor. You will need to pay for a quality cover and ensure you use a reputable printing house. All these things should be ignored at your peril.

Personally, I still want a publishing contract. Not because I disapprove of self-publishing or that I'm unprepared to do the work to ensure my novel is fit for publication; I want the security of knowing my work was chosen by an editor and considered worthy of publication.

But what if I did decide to self-publish? Would I be avoiding facing up to failure just like Kirk? Would I be shielding myself from rejection?

These are tough questions but as writers we should all be answering them, because how we answer could determine the rest of our writing careers. Do you want a traditional publishing contract or are you brave enough to cross the line? If you have already been published, which route did you take?



Live long and publish.

29 comments:

  1. In my opinion the self-publishing industry has blossomed PARTLY because it is so hard to get published the ‘traditonal’ way…notice I covered my ass with capitals and quote marks?

    If it becomes easier and easier to self publish then eventually the market will become flooded with crappy books. At the moment ‘most’ of the people that self publish put in the same amount of effort and work as ‘traditionally’ published authors, but when it gets to the stage where self publishing is the new norm bookshops will be inundated with second rate novels…or more accurately – they won’t! No matter what’s ‘popular’ they won’t place badly written books on their shelves in the hope of selling them, nope they’ll start to hunt out the remaining few that publish through the ‘traditional’ route.

    So ‘traditional’ becomes to ‘hard’, self-publishing flourishes…too much crap in the system, ‘traditional’ crawls its way back. It’s just a big circle and neither route is the ‘right way’!

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  2. I self published three years ago and did quite well. enjoyed reading your post.

    Have a lovely Sunday.

    Yvonne.

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  3. I crave the traditional method of publishing not because of any negative feeling towards self publishing, but because for me, to be accepted by a long established pathway will confirm that my work has succeeded (something I have dreamed of since I was little)

    If I was ever to self-publish, it would only ever be after serious interest from the traditional publishing route.
    Lx

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  4. Oh I think in my heart I'd always plumb for the traditional route. I like the traditional route. I'll never make it that way, so I guess it becomes more seductive and tempting - it's like, I can't have it, so I want it badly!!! LOL!!

    Good luck with whatever route you take Ellie!!! Take care
    x

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  5. I still frown on the self-publishing route. I want an agent and publishing contract from a respected house. Also, I do not have the knowledge to self market my book without any help at all. I've heard that it takes the average writer ten years to get published. I have six more to go. . . but I did get into a magazine. Wahoo!

    Thanks for visiting my blog again. I am now follower 420. Wow! That's impressive.

    Joyce
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

    PS, I LOVE A Wrinkle in Time. It is one of my all time favorite books.

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  6. I think the answer is different for everyone. I prefer traditional as well, but since finding an agent is only half about the writing and the other half about timing, my stories do nothing but gather dust in the meantime.
    I don't think self-pubbing is breaking the rules--the rules are still there for a quality story to succeed. Self-pubbing is simply shifting who validates your story from agents and editors, to actual readers. There is no wrong way to pub a book anymore, unless of course you don't do your homework and pub an unready story.

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  7. I agree with Pk. And I think it depends on the writer's goals.

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  8. I want to do both! I want to be traditionally published first, because that is my first dream (and I want REAL books in REAL shops!), and I would like to have a publisher behind my name to... well, I guess to validate me. I know that not all traditionally published books are that well-written, but in general people are more likely to trust a house-published over a self-published author.
    But after that I want to try e-publishing. There is just so much freedom for creativity when you get to do everything yourself. And it look like fun!
    Anyway, we'll see :-)

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  9. my take: get your name/writing known, some publisher will contact you if they like what they see... that is NOT cheating... all part of what's called MARKETING... where nearly anything goes!

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  10. I don't know; I haven't gotten that far yet ... but I sure do appreciate your post about this. I think that maybe I'll self-publish some books of some of my photos and I don't think that is cheating (they will mostly just for Christmas gifts anyway).

    I hope that I get to the point of getting a book written someday. I do think that you are right about the lines being blurred and I also agree with what laughingwolf says ... if a person's work is good enough, they will be found eventually.

    Have a wonderful week, Ellie!

    Kathy M.

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  11. I think eventually the poor writing will be weeded out though not entirely. We tend to try to make it seem as if poor writing never makes it into print -- just ain't so.
    Goals and pride in your work are the best influence.

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  12. i long for the traditional route. i know i need professional help (no comments!)
    the biggest problem i see in those who jump the gun and self-publish is lack of professionalism. so many simple editing mistakes, not to mention the rookie writer mistakes (that i am still learning about). it is too easy to self publish. i think those that are successful arent cheating, they prob have some type of experience or help. the ones who just throw stuff out there with little effort are cheating themselves and making it harder for the rest of us.

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  13. I would prefer to be published--at least once--the traditional way, but I'm definitely not averse to self-publishing. Mainly because there seems to be a lot of room for writing what you really want to write, outside of the box, where publishers wouldn't be willing to take the risk.

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  14. Oh I agree with you Ellie, I'd want a publishing contract if only to know others agreed that my stuff was worthy of being read and printed. :O)

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  15. I agree with your first commenter Steven...to a point. There is a lot of crap out there already. But there's a lot of crap out in the paper books, too. Maybe once the writers who would never have been published in the traditional way get it out of their system things will settle down. We can always hope. But maybe what will come will be a healthy blending. There will be enough excellent writers who self-publish to make it a viable option.

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  16. Traditional for me. Partly for the confirmation that I'm good enough to break in, and partly because self-publishing the right way (hiring unbiased beta readers and professional editors to ensure quality) requires more $$ than I have to spend. If I can't do it 100%, I don't want to do it at all. And I do still believe that in most things the cream rises to the top. . .if I'm good enough, and if I persevere, I'll find a traditional publisher when the time comes. Maybe I'll change my mind as the industry continues to morph, but for right now, that's my preference.

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  17. I figure I'll tackle this question when I have something that is completed. I am truly excited to be a writer during this e-publishing boon. Making the right choice for yourself is the biggest question.

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  18. the trouble with self-publishing is that there are still too many who publish before their manuscripts have been edited enough. I'm going for traditional for now because I want to ensure that my novel is the best it can be before it hits the shelves.

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  19. Hello new here!

    Personally, despite the odds of the traditional mode of getting published, it is still very much will be my ultimate goal.

    Its more of a personal mark of being a successful writer. So I guess it really depends how aspiring authors defines success.

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  20. It's poissible I'll be crossing the line.

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  21. Let's hear it for the sub-pubbed author. Why not? Lots of stress and time either way.

    Denise<3

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  22. I want to start with a traditional contract. Once I've done it a few times, I might decide to go self, but I don't know. I still believe so much in the value of a good editor and a good marketing team on my side...

    but it's worth considering! It's not cheating~ <3

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  23. I think I'd still go traditional publishing because I don't want to spend AS MUCH time in the marketing as I'd have to if I went self-pub.

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  24. Hey again!

    We noticed you were interested in entering the Power of Tension Blogfest. Just a reminder that the linky tool is live now and once you've posted your entry on your blog you can enter the link on either Rachel Morgan Writes or Cally Jackson Writes. Looking forward to reading your entry!

    xx Rach and Cally

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  25. I think the line is blurring. Lots of mid-list authors are self-pubbing, and very successfully. I'd certainly consider it!

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  26. Thanks for the Spock-like blessing! I'll try the querying thing again soon as soon as I finish Opening. I'm forming the synopsis and such this week.

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  27. The cream will rise to the top. I decided to persue both. Is that cheating? I continue to query my novels and short stories the traditional way, but started a new project with epublishing in mind. We'll see how it turns out.

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  28. I'm still stuck in the mindset that self-publishing will be my last resort -- when I'm a retired senior citizen. Until then, I plan to pound my head into as many brick walls as possible and maybe snag an agent in the process.

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  29. Yes, the lines are blurring. And, as others have said, it seems to me we can damn well aim for both. Why do we need to choose? I've self-pubbed a few things, but mostly I submit in the conventional way, A writer's right to choose I say!

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