If You Want To Traditionally Publish Your Novel, Don’t Self-Publish

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if-you-want-to-traditionally-publish-your-novel-dont-self-publishNote: I apologize in advance if I sound too direct in this post. I am on a 3-day juice fast because, I’m fat. Yes, 145 pounds at 5’2″ is fat. So, I’m hungry and a little grumpy.

Counter to my own beliefs on self-publishing versus traditional publishing, I found out the raw truth behind the challenges. A while back, I wrote a popular post on To Self-Publish or Not Self-Publish, as I was conflicted on the big debate. Traditional publishing is what most aspiring authors hope to achieve. I say aspiring authors because we’re all professional writers, but an author is published. I know this sounds very elementary but many writers get it wrong.

Anyway, from what I learned from nearly all the agents at the writing conference I attended is that they will not touch a self-published author. Period. They went on to, of course, bring up novels like 50 Shades of Grey and The Martian that, of course, every writer thinks will happen to them. They’ll self-publish or post their book on a blog for free, and millions of people will download it. They will become famous and an agent will hunt them down and beg them to sign with them. It’s every self-published author’s fantasy, but according to one very honest agent the scenario rarely happens.

One self-published author got the “gold package” with all the bells and whistles like I did (I will likely not be doing so in the future). He spent 3 years writing his book, grew impatient and self-published. Now he wanted to get traditionally published only to get disappointed when he found out that none of the agents would touch his work. Most agents will not rep self-published authors unless you can prove that you can sell. When the agents are telling you to your face on a panel that they will not take self-published authors, you should probably take their word for it.

It’s not, “Well, maybe I’ll dazzle them with my smile and my charm. They’ll love my book and I’ll be an exception.” Wrong. It’s a fantasy, and like one agent said, unless you sell more than 10,000 copies of your self-published book, then you might be a potential for crossing over from the self-publishing world to traditional.

The agent also went on to realistically throw out numbers that indicate most self-published authors only sell a few hundred copies, if that. In other words, you’ve done the market research on yourself for them. If you can’t sell at least 10,000 copies of your self-published novel, or more, you’ve demonstrated to them that your book is not marketable.


The Bottom Line:

You might be able to find a small publishing house willing to republish or reprint your work. So, at the end of the day you have to decide which direction you want to go. I personally don’t want to self-publish because I don’t want to take that chance. Once you self-publish it’s extremely hard trying to cross over into the traditional publishing world.



nicholas-sparks



 

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17 thoughts on “If You Want To Traditionally Publish Your Novel, Don’t Self-Publish

    Mike said:
    February 5, 2017 at 5:52 AM

    In this age of instant gratification, many don’t have the patience or discipline to heed editorial advice and keep revising until they get it right. It’s too tempting to bypass all that hassle and click that self-publish button. But as Admiral Ackbar warned, “It’s a trap!”

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      February 6, 2017 at 8:48 PM

      This is sooooo true. I didn’t realize this until I listened to the panel of agents. When all of them said they would never rep a self-published person, it was eye opening. I’d rather not click the “self-publishing” button, because once you do, it’s a very tough road towards traditional. Thanks for commenting and for reading! 🙂

      Like

    Maya Morrow said:
    February 13, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    I’ve done a lot of research on this and decided that I don’t want or need to cross over into the traditional publishing world. A lot of established authors are self-publishing, too. I don’t want anyone chopping up my work, cutting material, and telling me to re-write it to their specifications. Also, I want full ownership of my work and the copyright in my name.

    Anyway, now that we’re connected here, you’re certainly more than welcome to see how my self-publishing experience goes. I’m working with an established publisher and got the package with all the bells and whistles (including marketing and promotion)! I’m currently in the final editing stage of going back and forth with page proofs, layout, etc. and approving the finalized cover design. It’s hard to be patient while waiting for the final product. I’ve been working at this steadily for about 18 months now.

    Personally, I think you’re more than talented enough to find success without a traditional publisher.

    Here’s a good piece on the pros and cons by a successful, established, and well-known writer: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/self-publishing-vs-traditional/

    Liked by 2 people

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      February 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM

      This is good to know and that’s a great article you linked to. I read that one. 🙂 I think that anything can happen with traditional or self-publishing. You never know what can happen. Some people do much better self-publishing. There’s no one route, I think. 🙂

      Like

    Maya Morrow said:
    February 13, 2017 at 9:47 AM

    Your disclaimer about being grumpy is HILARIOUS!! I can so relate! I’m 5’4″ and will not be posting my weight here, but it’s definitely reached the point of needing an immediate intervention. I refuse to cross over into that territory. I will not be chubby. I simply cannot abide by it. Anyway, I like how it feels to be slender. It just suits me.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      February 13, 2017 at 9:49 AM

      I have a new word for it. It’s called “Volumpy” part voluptuous and part lumpy. LOL

      Like

    ruhenhoque said:
    February 20, 2017 at 5:03 AM

    Hi,
    Really nice and useful information.
    I have been thinking about self-publishing lately, however I do ideally want to be traditionally published.
    From
    Ru

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      February 20, 2017 at 11:24 AM

      Yeah, I think it’s a hard one because I’ve heard from self-publishing folks that swear by it. However, Lit Agents say something entirely different. I’d say try to go traditional and query agents first before deciding to self-publish. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        ruhenhoque said:
        February 20, 2017 at 11:45 AM

        Hi,
        Thanks for the advice, was thinking along similar lines. Will try to get traditionally published, but may re-consider further down the line.
        From
        Ru

        Liked by 1 person

        Sonyo Estavillo responded:
        February 20, 2017 at 12:10 PM

        That’s a good idea. I’m also wondering if it’s possible to self-publish under a different name? But, I think if agents caught on and find out, they won’t rep you. Who knows, the landscape of publishing is changing. It’s hard either way. The one thing I heard was that you have to promote yourself no matter what. It’s a tough business. Good luck to us both! Ha ha 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        ruhenhoque said:
        February 20, 2017 at 1:03 PM

        Hi,
        I think if you go under a pen-name then if you do sign up with a agent, they would request all other types of works that you have done. This means that if they find out you have self-published, they could drop you.
        The above is just speculation though, from comments I have read, hopefully an agent can look past a self-publishing history.
        From
        Ru

        Liked by 1 person

        Sonyo Estavillo responded:
        February 20, 2017 at 5:16 PM

        I think you’re correct. 🙂

        Like

    J. McSpadden said:
    February 23, 2017 at 6:45 PM

    So I am currently in the process of getting my cover art completed and on my way to wrapping up the final edits. I am so close I can smell the fresh paper of my printed book, all glossy and pretty…and I do think that self publishing will be my route. I have been working on this book now for five years, the first of a series! I am beyond impatient, I am just ready to be done, you know? However, I have two leads to getting a Lit Agent and if they don’t work out by the end of July I am apt to say … self publishing it is! I am not so much in this line of work to make the moo-lah (though of course we ALL dream!!) I more just want to get the story out there! I want people to enjoy the book, read and possibly slip it into one of my Director/Producer friends here in Los Angeles and turn it around into a movie 🙂

    Still all that said, of course traditional publishing sounds like the best option, the easiest in terms of marketing. I won’t have to do it all myself. However, I can completely understand the thinking of…I just want to do this my way and screw the Agents or Publishing houses that would change my perfect baby by removing one single word!

    Ha! Love your blog btw, very enjoyable to read 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      February 23, 2017 at 8:25 PM

      Gosh…I totally get it. I say you are going down the right path. Do try traditional and hunt down those leads. BUT…if they don’t work and I know how much dedication and time it takes to do this stuff. You have dedicated 5 years of your life and hard work. Follow those leads, but if they don’t pan out then self-publish. I mean, regardless if your book doesn’t sell even if you go traditional your agent can “drop you.” Know what I mean? It’s true. They can and do drop people for not selling or performing in the way that they’d hoped your book would. At the end of the day, it seems you still have to do your own marketing. So, I can understand why self-publishing might be your option.

      I get the Director/Producer bit in L.A…..it’s sort of my background. Even with contacts it can be hard to get something made into a movie. Many producers will buy the rights to a screenplay or a book, but it might not always see the light of day on the big screen. It’s not easy getting a book or film green-lit. BUT…it is easier getting a book made into a screenplay or a movie vs. starting your story off as a screenplay. Screenplays are way harder to sell vs. books, so you’re off in the right direction. Once upon a time, I used to work at a talent agency and it was my job to throw screenplays and manuscripts away. Yep. It’s a tough industry. And even working there for a short time,I found the Lit Agency world a hardcore, competitive industry.But, that was long ago and now I’m just like you working on my 2 novels trying to get them revised and hoping to pitch to an agent.

      If you believe in your work and believe your going in the right direction, nothing should stop you from following your gut instincts. I’m so glad you like my blog I always visit others and follow back. Thanks for commenting, I never take thoughtful comments for granted. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        J. McSpadden said:
        February 24, 2017 at 12:01 AM

        It’s wonderful finding people that are going through the same things. It’s a wonderful sense of companionship…or perhaps a shared sense of misery eh? Ha! Either way, it’s wonderful to have e-met you 🙂 I look forward to your additional writing!

        Liked by 1 person

        J. McSpadden said:
        February 24, 2017 at 1:01 PM

        So incredibly helpful and true. It comes down to what is wanted in the end and how hard/patient I am willing to be to get it. I think in the end, I will decide based on my efforts in this next year. Being so close I can smell the binding of my book, smell the fresh paper and printed ink; I think at one point I might say ENOUGH and just put it out there to get the heaping thing off my plate once and for all. No more edits, no more changes, just GO into the ether and I can move on with my life….to the next book. HA! However, I do want it to be read, I do want feedback, I want to share…and that is why traditional has such a strong calling. Because it can happen…
        I always appreciate responses to comments too. And comments in general! It’s amazing to see that we are not alone in this world eh?
        And now that I found another great blog to follow I will read it all! You have some great stuff in here, looking forward to the next post!

        Liked by 1 person

    D said:
    July 30, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Wow this has given me a heck of a lot to think about. I honestly have been hearing again and again this is becoming a thing of the past, and I’m more inclined to believe it, but I also think a lot of self-pubs who are really in the game to win the game have very little interest in trad publishing anyway. I need to ruminate but I may be back later to comment more specifically. Thank you for the information.

    Like

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