Friday, June 05, 2015

Writing: Changes In Publishing

As some of you know, I sort of backed into this business of writing. After the death of my first wife in 1999, I used journaling as a coping mechanism. Eventually, after a number of friends kept saying, "You should write a book," I attended a Christian writers conference. That put me firmly on the road to writing, and led to the publication by Kregel of my book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. That book was published ten years ago, and I'm happy to say it's still ministering to those experiencing grief.

At that time, "self-publishing" was often called "vanity publishing." It was a matter of paying to have your work published, and was universally looked down on by those with contracts from traditional publishers. But somewhere along the way, some pioneers in self-publishing showed that it wasn't necessary to have a big publisher behind you if you were willing to spend up-front money to have covers designed and professional editors help smooth out your manuscript. Then, of course, it was up to the author to do the marketing of the work. But the reward--the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak--was monetary. The self-publishing author got to keep more of the profits from book sales than came with royalties paid by traditional publishers. And the process didn't take a year or more. In a matter of weeks, the book went from manuscript to publication.

I've dipped my pen into the self-publishing waters with my novella, Rx Murder. Shortly after that, my eighth novel of medical suspense, Fatal Trauma, was published by a traditional publisher, Abingdon Press (who've been great, by the way). That same publisher will release two more of my novels, which are already written and edited. What's next for me? Who knows?

The decision to seek a traditional contract vs. self-publication is an individual one, and none of us knows what the future holds. But one thing is for certain--the face of publishing has changed over the past ten years. I can hardly wait to see what's next.

What is your opinion about ebooks vs. print books? Does it matter to you whether a book is self-published or comes from a traditional publisher? What do you think is coming next?

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NOTE: If you've not yet entered the giveaway my publisher, Abingdon Press, and LitFuse are running to celebrate the publication of Fatal Trauma, click here to learn more and enter.


Patricia Bradley said...

It doesn't matter to me whether a story is Indy published or traditionally published as long as the writing is good. Before I buy an ebook I read the first chapter or whatever is put up to preview. I know by the end of the preview and most of the time by the end of the first page whether it's something I'll like. Bad writing isn't limited to Indy published books just a good writing isn't limited to traditionally published ones. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, you make a good point. Good or bad writing isn't confined to books from one or another type of publishing. The perception used to be that having your work accepted by a traditional publisher indicated good writing that would be well edited. But sometimes things slip through. In my experience, that happens more often with indie-published work, most often in cases where people don't want to go to the expense of using a good editor (or taking their suggestions and acting on them). Like you, I check out the first few pages.

GrandaddyA said...

I enjoy reading and so does my wife. We both read too many books to be able to buy every book we want to read. Therefore, we borrow a lot of books at the local library. There's an added benefit that you can return books to the library without reading them if you start and find out you don't like the book. It appears to me that the self-published books are less likely to be found in our local library. That is not to say that all traditionally published books end up in the library either. When I buy a book, it does not matter to me if it is Indie or traditional. My primary concern is that it be of good quality. I get turned off when I start reading and a book is full of typos, incorrect words, etc. I still prefer paper over electronic but I do read some ebooks.

Richard Mabry said...

Edward, you've hit on one of the problems with self-published books, especially in the days before authors--at least, some of them--started using independent editors and making indie-published work look as good as that from traditional publishers. And, as always, content is king.
Thanks for your comment.

R Merr said...

I just want a great read that's clean...I will say that having a publisher behind you helps in that because most Christian publishers have rules on language etc. it does seem most people that go indie these days do have quality. Mary Lu Tyndall is a great writer and has chosen to go indie. It no longer means poor editing, etc and is more widely accepted. I really do want the print book, tho. I notice many are strictly going book.

R Merr said...

They should read " ebook."

Richard Mabry said...

When a writer has had a book released from a publishing house that's a member of the CBA, the odds are pretty good that subsequent e-books from this "hybrid" author will hew to the tenets of that prior publisher (or publishers). But it's not necessarily so, and sometimes authors "go indie" because they want to push the envelope a bit with their writing. So, as it always is, the motto remains, "Let the buyer beware."

As for wanting a print book, my novella, Rx Murder, which was my first foray into e-publishing, is available both as an e-book and a print book. I don't know what the sales are yet, and that breakdown will be interesting.

Thanks for your comment.