Friday, February 10, 2012

THREE QUESTIONS You Really Want to Ask a Published Author But Are Afraid To

Award-winning author, Christie Craig, is my guest, today. She answers some good questions about self vs traditional publishing. 

You write for two different publishers and do self-publishing, which route do you recommend for new authors? 

A lot of writers find themselves trying to decide between self-publishing and the traditional publishing route.  Frankly, it’s a great time for writers because we do have options that weren’t available a few years ago. 
There is no right or wrong decision; it really is about what is right for that author and where they are in their career.  The self-publishing route offers the benefit of making your book available to readers, without facing possible rejection and revisions.  And that can be a wonderful thing, as long as your book is ready to be published.   That said, most traditionally published authors will tell you that they are glad their first books didn’t get published because they learned so much during the journey — even though at the time, they were certain the books were fabulous. 
A lot of authors who have written a book that just didn’t fit into a genre niche are finding success in self-publishing because readers aren’t nearly as picky about genre specifics as publishers have to be. 
A writer serious about her career and considering self publishing should attempt to make sure the end product is as close to perfect as possible.  This may or may not require the hiring of others to help you through the process.   So the overhead of getting a book ready to self-publish — including editing, line editing, formatting, and cover design, may vary. 
However, as many self-published authors are finding, having the book available doesn’t ensure readers will buy it.  Self-publishing means self-marketing, and that can take a lot of writing time away from an author. That said, today even traditionally published authors have to spend a lot of time marketing themselves as well.  Some authors simply are better at promoting their work than others.  And while there have been numerous success stories of authors who have built themselves a very lucrative career through self-publishing, others who followed this path are not finding the financial gains as they had hoped.   It bears mentioning, however, that many new authors who have gone the traditional path of publishing are equally unhappy about their financial gain.  Also, many of the traditionally published authors may find their contracts dropped if sales are really down — something a self-published author doesn’t have to worry about. 
In most instances, writers who have already made a name for themselves, and have a fan base, are finding the self-publishing route an easier path than do new writers.   However, the truth is that anything and everything is possible. 
If a friend came to me with a first book, and this friend simply wasn't a marketing whiz, I might suggest they attempt the traditional route first; but if that route didn't pan out and she felt her book was ready, then I would encourage them to take it the self-publishing route.   That said, if this person has a viable marketing plan to ensure that her book goes out big, I’d say her chances of earning more financial gain might be with the self-publishing route than the traditional route because of the smaller royalty rate earned through traditional publishing. 
Having a publisher behind you does NOT mean your book will be any more successful, but a publisher’s name still carries some weight to some readers and traditional bookstores.   Building a name with a publisher behind you is a little easier than building it on your own.   Another thing to take into consideration is, unless you are one of the talented writers who have the ability to do everything from designing a cover to a final editing, there is overhead in self-publishing.
 So as you can see, both routes can bring success and both come with some positives and negatives to consider. 

Thirteen things you’ll learn from reading Murder, Mayhem and Mama:
1)       Grief sucks.  Love heals.
2)       Believe it or not, sometimes mama does know best.  Even when    she’s dead.
3)       Painting your toenails is equivalent to a happy pill.
4)       Sometimes there’s a hell of lot more to our dreams than we think.
5)       When a tough guy resorts to sniffing a girl’s sweater that she left behind, he might as well give up the bachelor pad, he’s on the road to falling in love.
6)       A guy who offers you a shoulder during a meltdown and doesn’t try to cop a feel, just may be a keeper.
7)       When a guy says all he wants to do is sleep with you, he might not be talking sex, you might just be his answer to insomnia.  Then again, he’ll probably want sex when he’s had some sleep.
8)       When all else fails, try saying the magic words:  please and thank you.  It’s a manners thing.
9)       Be leery of opening your boyfriends medicine cabinet, it’s not just what you might find, but what might fall out and bounce right into the toilet.  Explaining how his 36 pack of condoms got wet could be embarrassing.
10)    While being a better bitch isn’t something we should aspire to, learning to stand up for oneself is definitely goal worthy.
11)    Sharing food off each other’s plate could lead to sharing a toothbrush.  And after that all bets, and possibly the clothes, are coming off.
12)    Bad habits die hard.  Then again, the sergeant general doesn’t say anything about smoking after you’re dead.  Just ask Mama.
13)   Take a man’s favorite leather jacket, and he might offer you his heart to get it back.
You can find out more about the book, learn how to win a copy, Christie's very cool contest, and read and excerpt. BUY: Amazon, Barnes and Noble.


A lot of writers are now questioning if they need an agent in today’s publishing world.  What is your advice?

  • If you know upfront that you are going the traditional route, I think having an agent is as important today as it was in the past.  Maybe even more so.  With self-publishing, the answer depends on the circumstances.  Many of today’s agents are assisting their authors in the self-publishing route by handling everything from securing covers to copyediting duties, and the author/agent split can well exceed the traditional 15% agents normally charge.  While I think authors need to be careful about the deals they make with agents in the self-publishing arena, I personally can say that my agent is as much of an asset to me in my self-publishing ventures, as she is in traditional publishing.   She’s served as editor, assisted in the formatting process and uploading of books, and she’s obligated to listen to me whine.  That alone earns her that 15%.  LOL.  In all seriousness, though, most authors are going the self-published route without agents.  For those who are doing both — and traditionally publishing for two publishers, such as myself — having an agent is critical, in my opinion.

      We've all heard the horror stories about the dreaded revisions that editors can request.  Is it true, and how should an author deal with them?

  • Ah, revision hell.  We’ve all heard the stories about an editor coming back with a 50 page revision letter.  While nothing that severe has ever happened to me, it very well may have happened to other authors.   However, I don’t think that’s the norm.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten revisions, or that I have agreed with all the revisions my editors wanted. 

    I always take try to take time going over all the editor’s points.  I try to let some time pass before answering revision requests.  I also follow the same rule I did with raising my children:  Pick my battles.  If an editor wants something tweaked that I don’t feel is needed but won’t change the work, why not give in on that point and save the debates for things I don’t think are good ideas.  First, I consider the reasons the editors feels the changes are needed.  If I see her point, I may come up with my own solution to fix the issue rather than the one she might have suggested.  I’ve never had an editor disregard my suggestions.  With over thirteen books out, I have never felt an editor was unreasonable in their requests for revisions.  But I also have never changed something in a manuscript that I really didn’t want to change.  You can’t be afraid to stand up for your work, but neither can you refuse to listen to their ideas.  One solution is s to figure out a way to fix the problem the editor has with the scene/plot point with a way in which you feel comfortable.  But I will say this — more times than not, I was happier with the manuscript after the revisions than before. 

    Christie, thank you for stopping by and answering some tough questions. 

    Thanks Sia for having me here today.  And I’d also like to offer an e-copy of Murder, Mayhem and Mama to one lucky poster. 

    You can find Christie: Website, Facebook, Twitter   


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Christie .. I like the idea that authors can sort their own lives out - and don't have to wait to be accepted - at least they can get their book out there .. as you say "anything and everything is possible"

Interesting times with so many opportunities .. have good weekends .. cheers Hilary

Jo said...

The only problem with self publishing is there are some pretty ghastly efforts out there which would never have passed muster at a publishers. Plus with e publishing there are lots of typos (being kind) or just plain ol' grammatical errors. As a reader, it drives me up the wall and I have so often wanted to be able to correct what I am reading. Of course a regularly published book is not immune to such mistakes, but I think they are less likely.

There is a reason some books are constantly rejected.

Mason Canyon said...

Christie, you make some wonderful points here concerning established publishers versus self-publishing. These opportunities also make it a great time for readers. There are so many new authors and books available now because of it. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Sia, thanks for these great questions. Have a super weekend.

Thoughts in Progress

Christie Craig said...

Hi Guys,

I just wanted to pop in and say thanks to Sia for posting my guest blog and list. And yes, self-publishing offers writers a great advantage. And yes, Jo, self-publishing brings some extra issues to the table as well. A traditionally published book goes through so many channels of proofing and it's hard to do that with a self-published. But we have to try. I don't think I got it perfect, but the book went through six or seven edits.

Thanks again guys for stopping in.


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great post Sia and Christie! As small press published and indie-published, I'm enjoying the journey of both. Both are hard work.

Thanks for the great, and well thought-out advice.

Elsie said...

Thanks for the great info:) As a newbie, just finished my first manuscript, I'm eager to re read this many times as I weave my way through the publishing world.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The revisions my publisher requested weren't drastic, so that phase didn't bother me. I never queried agents though, and I'm happy with my small publisher. As you said, a different path for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Christie. We can always count on you for a straight answer and good advice.


~Sia McKye~ said...

What I've noticed is regardless of the path to publication, it's hard work. The story may be fun in the writing, but to make it fun for the reader takes good people helping and a dedicated author.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Christie, I did appreciate how you gave real thought to your answers, especially self pubbing with thought to the type of promotion abilities an author has.

Brandie said...

I didn't know you self-published too :-)

I'm trying to jump into the self-publishing biz with my short stories, but I still want to go traditional with my full length novels. I feel like I still have a lot to learn and I really want to go through that process of editors, revisions, etc.

Well, thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences Christie!


Donna Marie Rogers said...

Great post, ladies! Christie, your advice has always been invaluable, so it's great to read your insight on anything. :-)

Sia, Stacey Joy Netzel and I have a couple of Great Danes in our Welcome To Redemption series, so if we ever have any questions, may we ask you? *grin*

Shawnna said...

Love the honest, open advice. As a newbie trying to break into the industry it can be so frustrating and I see the temptation to self-pub, but I have decided (for now) to try the agent and traditional route. I appreciate your candor -- and I LOVE your books!

bobbiwrites said...

Thanks, Christie - A lot of really good information here, written clearly and concisely. All the best!


Melissa said...

It truly is a wonderful time to be a writer! I think you're exactly right, Christie. Now more than ever, the author needs to take charge and decide what's best for them and how they want their career to go. Traditional or self-published. As long as they've done their homework and have a great product to sell, there really is no right or wrong answer here.

Love your books and can't wait to read this one! :)

Christie Craig said...

Hi Guys,

Thanks so much for all the comments. More than anything, writers want choices and with the changes happening in publishing, it really is offering us choices. It means we have to do our homework, but it's still a great time. And Sia is so right, it's still hard work.

Thanks to everyone stopping by.


Jenyfer Matthews said...

Hi Christie- Thanks for sharing your thoughts on self vs. traditional publishing. Very interesting times for writers!

Tonya Kappes said...

I'm self published and love it. I've had great success and very pleased. BUT the hardest is the editing. I've paid thousands to editors, editors that are with big six publishers, and my novels still have mistakes! Now I have an amazing editor, beta reader, and critique reader who read the finished product and I've had less mistakes in my last two novels.
But I'm also a BIG believer in going traditional too. I believe I'm going to do it all:))

Francine Infortunio said...

I'm so glad you have another book out. I just love your sense of humor and can't wait to read it.

And, thanks for the gerat advice too!

chey said...

Thanks for the info!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, no matter who does the line edits mistakes slip through. I think the hardest thing is Homonyms. They sound alike but have different spellings and meanings.

Tonya, glad you found a good editor. They're worth their weight in gold--both content and those that handle grammar and line edits. I enjoy reading your books. I now have a collection of them. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jennyfer! Oh, it's great to see you visiting!

Christie, you said it right. Choices. We like having them regardless of what we're doing, but especially as writers. No magic carpets in this business, is there? We gotta work for the magic, darn it! lolol!

Loretta said...

Hi, Christie:) I'm running through the comment door late again!

I enjoyed your post, and found all the advice excellent:)

I've gone both routes...had a few works published by a small press, and then indie pubbed when the pieces returned to me.

I think both sides have value, as you said. One of my difficulties with going the typical route of publishing, has been my work not falling into a specific category easily...but, other than that, I've found most responses by agents/editors, to be very good.

Like you, I believe each writer should take the path that suits them best:)


Anonymous said...
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Talli Roland said...

Hi Sia and Christie. Wonderful questions and very thoughtful answers. I think many authors assume that their self-published book will sell all on its own and sadly, that's not always the case - although it does happen in some rare instances!

Christie Craig said...


Man, I had a full day yesterday and Friday. My agent, Kim Lionetti, was down in Houston and she, and Laura Bradford, spoke and took questions at one of my RWA chapter meetings. And you can bet that the subject of self-publishing came up. They both agreed that self-publishing is new outlet for writers and creates exciting opportunities. They also both agreed that if given a choice, they would recommend a new writer go the traditional "print" publishing route to help build her name before going the self-published route. They also said the new e-book opportunities with the big publishers are growing. Yet when asked, they both agreed yhsy they still attempt to get print deals for the authors first.

While admitting that the market was tighter, I was happy to hear that both of them had good things to say about the "state of Industry" and said it wasn't all doom and gloom as some rumors have it. And both had recently signed and sold new writers.


~Sia McKye~ said...

@ Donna- Stacey mentioned that to me. :-) I'm glad to answer questions about Great Danes. They're wonderful dogs!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Christie, thanks for sharing the info from RWA meeting!

Glad you had a good time.

~Sia McKye~ said...


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Anonymous said...

I just came across and I want to say: "What a beautiful picture!" I will surely contact you if we need a professional photographer.

~Sia McKye~ said...

While photography is a passion of mine, I'm not a professional, by any means.

But thank you.