Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts

Should I Self-Publish?

 

By W. Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I could see the resolution in the eyes of this author across the table from me when she said, “I’m going to self-publish.” 


We were meeting at a conference (pre-pandemic) and talking about her manuscript. I liked the shape of her proposal, her title and the energy that she had put into her book idea. In just a few minutes, I could see the potential. I acquire or find books for one of the top independent publishers. We spent the next few minutes exploring why she wanted to self-publish. I’ve heard these words from other authors:


“Everyone is doing it.”


“Isn’t this the best way for any author to get started in publishing?”


“I want to get it out quickly while the market is hot for my topic.”


“I don’t want to give up my rights to a publisher (and the control).”


Without a doubt, no matter what direction you decide to publish, just entering the field is challenging. I’ve been working with books for decades and yes, every book is filled with unique challenges.


Before you take the leap into self-publishing, I encourage you to move forward armed with a bit of reality: “According to the latest Bowker data (Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2023), 2.3 million books were self-published in the US in 2021, which was the third year in a row that more than two million books were self-published. This is the number of new titles that received an ISBN from Bowker. Several years ago Bowker stopped releasing the numbers of new titles that were not self-published, but a recent industry estimate is that each year “between 500,000 to 1 million . . . new titles are published through traditional publishers” Here’s where I got this information with much more detail: The 10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing.


Anyone with a computer (and everyone has a computer) feels like they can get a book published.  I understand some of their motivations. I often tell authors that making books is easy. Now selling those books you make—that is a completely different story. Statistics have proven the average self-published book sells 100-250 copies during the lifetime of the book.


Many companies are happy to take your money and make books (and a number of those companies are scams). In fact a prominent large Christian publisher has a self-publishing imprint. I’ve seen some poorly created books from this publisher. While on the surface it looks like an “easy” way to get published. The reality is something quite different. You are not really working with that publisher (giving money to them for the referral yes). In the production, you will be working with people in the Philippines (part of why you speak with a different person each time). The books will not be sold inside any brick and mortar bookstores (poorly distribution—a key consideration). And, the parent company (something they will not tell you about) has many different imprints and produces over 20,000 books a year (anything from poetry to porn). Yes, these companies are a scam preying on uneducated writers. I’ve met several authors who have unnecessarily spent $20,000 with such companies which is tragic because they will never sell enough books to recover such an investment.


To be fair, every publisher has unhappy authors and complaints. It’s part of the publishing landscape. Yet some companies have many complaints which should be a red flag to potential authors. 


One of the best ways to learn about complaints is to use Google and type in “NAMEOFPUBLISHER + complaint” and see what you learn.  Ask questions about what you discover and listen to the answers. Occasionally I field complaints about Morgan James and have answers but authors have to take the initiative and ask questions (your responsibility).


From my experience, the best publishing involves working with a team and involves cooperation, give and take. To get this experience, you have to write a book proposal. I believe even if you self-publish, you should write a proposal because this document will become your business plan or blueprint for your book. To help writers, I wrote Book Proposals That $ell. Writers have used my book to get an agent, get an advance and much more.


Or you can write an excellent manuscript and skip the proposal if you send the book to me for possible publishing. For eleven years, I’ve been working with one of the top independent publishers (Christian owners but not all Christian books). Our books have been on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list over 100 times. This fact alone demonstrates broad distribution not just online but selling in brick and mortar bookstores.


On the surface, publishing looks simple but in reality is complex with many decisions and variables. I encourage you to watch this 36-minute video master class where New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins asked me a number of questions—including about publishing. Keep learning all you can from every possible source and reach out to me if I can help you.


Tweetable:

Everyone is self-publishing. Should you? This prolific writer and editor gives his insider’s perspective. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in
Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Should You Write for Magazines or Books?


By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin

Every writer faces this question: which do I write first—a magazine article or a book?  It’s almost like asking which comes first: the chicken or the egg? As a former magazine editor who has published in more than 50 magazines (gave up counting them a while back), the quick answer is to write both. As writers, our skill is not limited to one type of writing. In the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I detail the variety of writing possibilities (follow this link to get this chapter free). 

When editors and literary agents search for authors, they read magazines, blogs, books, and any other type of writing. There are many ways for you to make new connections to these gatekeepers and magazine writing can be a key entry point. Whether you write books or magazine articles, each type of writing has a set of challenges. 

The Challenges with Book Writing

Many writers begin with a book and write a manuscript. Often, they will write something tied to their reading habits. If they read nonfiction, then they will write a nonfiction manuscript. If they read novels, then they will write fiction. Somewhere along the process, they will learn editors and literary agents are looking for a book proposal. This mysterious document contains information that will never show in your manuscript, yet these professionals use this document to decide if they will publish your book.

Everyone can learn to write a book proposal or your business plan for your book. I’ve written two proposals which received six-figure advances and teach these details in my Book Proposals That $ell. I originally wrote this book as a frustrated editor looking for better submissions. My book has helped many writers land a literary agent and a book deal. Every type of book needs a proposal or business plan and this process can present a challenge to getting it published.

It may sound simple, but books are long—100,000 words for a novel and at least 50,000 words for a nonfiction book. Crafting these books take a great deal of time and energy. What people outside of publishing don’t understand is most book sales are modest. If your book sells 5,000 copies that can be a success (depending on the publisher). In addition, the competition for limited spots at traditional houses is intense. Publishers and literary agents are looking for authors with “platforms” or connections to readers who buy books. Each of these factors make publishing books a challenge.

Advantages to Magazine Writing

Magazine articles are much shorter (800 to 1500 words depending on the type of writing and publication). As you write for magazines, you will develop some important skills such as the ability to create an interesting title or a moving opening paragraph or how to write to a particular word count and for a particular audience. Print magazines are looking for quality writing and have a high standard of excellence (another skill you develop in the process). You learn to write a query or pitch to the editor, get assignments or submit complete articles on speculation (depends on the publication).

Here’s the real payoff for magazine writing: you can reach more people. It is a huge success if a book sells 5,000 copies and in the magazine world it is fairly easy for your article to appear in a publication with a circulation of over 100,000. 

As a writer, don’t get locked into a particular type of writing—books or magazine or online or whatever. There are a world of possibilities and opportunities if you are open to explore it, then write it and get it into the market.

Tweetable: 

Should you write books or magazine articles? This prolific writer and editor explains why you should be doing both. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

________________________________________

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Review wrote, If you only have time to read one how to guide to getting published, whether it be traditional publishing or self-publishing, Book Proposals That Sell  is that one DIY instructional book.  Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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