Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do They Really Love You?

Maybe you've heard about traditional publishers with self-publishing arms. Lots of publishers are doing it now. That way the rejected authors have a place to go. They can self-publish and still, kinda, feel like they are in the family of a traditional publisher.

Harlequin => Dellarte Press (romance)
Berrett Koehler => Open  Book Editions (nonfiction)
Thomas Nelson => WestBow Press (Christian)
Hay House => Balboa Press (motivational and self-help)

Victoria Strauss, a voice behind Writers Beware blog, announced that Thomas Nelson just accepted one of its self-published writers into its traditional fold - after he sold 30,000 copies by himself.

Please do not fall into the false sense of comfort that self-publishing with an extension of a traditional press is going to give you a leg-up with that press. Presses of all kinds are notorious for making money first, helping writers second.

I'm not saying that they don't like writers. Presses love writers. Most of these people adore books. They wouldn't be in this business if they didn't. That said, however, they don't do it purely out of the goodness of their heart. They need to make money like you and I do. So when the economy tanked, some of these innovative presses created a self-publishing arm. The publishing world went postal, exclaiming that traditional presses were baiting overly-eager authors who can't get traditionally accepted, giving them the impression this was a better way to self-publish. The insult-slinging finally died down, and now it's another way to self-publish.

However . . .

As can be seen with the Thomas Nelson example, these self-publishing arms aren't a short cut to the traditional boys. Face it...if you sell 30,000 books out of the trunk of your car or off your website, traditional presses will knock on your door.

So . . .

If you self-publish, do it because you want to self-publish. Don't do it to "be discovered." Do it because you think you're good and you know you can sell thousands of copies. If you aren't sure about either of those two reasons, maybe you aren't ready to publish at all . . . at least not yet.


Karen Lange said...

Thanks, Hope, for this info. I didn't realzie that WestBow was part of Thomas Nelson. Learn lots of new things everyday. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

I know a person who has "published" several books, and they are quite aggressive..."How many copies would you like to buy?" they ask in mass emailings. They never bother to mention that they had self-published the books.

You are right. People should self-publish if they just want to see the book in print, or they are sure they can sell it out of their trunk and set up their own book signings. Perhaps you--Hope---have the percentage of books that are self-published and then get snapped by up one of the "big boys," but I'm sure it's very small.

Hope Clark said...

My bet is that it's easier to find an agent or land a publisher than to self-publish and get picked up by a traditional press as a result. The main difference, I think, is that when we self-publish, we can be proactive instead of waiting for someone else to decide our fate.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Thanks for the post Hope. I wasn't aware of this. I'm still holding out for the traditional path. Call me old-fashioned or something.