Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Luck of the Draw

As there's more and more consolidation in the world of publishing, how do you view—generally, and for you personally—big publisher vs small publisher vs self-publishing now? Have your views changed since you were first published? 

by Dietrich

The ink was drying on my first novel when I sent a submission to ECW Press in Toronto. Jack David said he’d take a look, and a few weeks later he wrote back that he wanted to publish it, asking if I could do it two more times. After I stopped pinching myself I signed the contract, and then I did just that, I wrote two more. Then I kept on writing, and ECW kept on publishing, and it’s been a great relationship right from the post. ECW’s a medium Canadian house with an awesome staff who are professional, yet they’re like a family, and they always get the job done with a smile. And I couldn’t ask for more than that.

That’s been my only experience, so I can’t say much about big or small versus self-publishing. I’ve heard stories from other writers who’ve had mixed experiences, some sweet and some sour. And I know authors who self-publish and they’ve been happy going that way. 

There was a time when self-publishing may have been considered a poor choice. Some thought that going the way of the vanity press as exploitation and even saw it as a career killer. Of course, there are authors like Margaret Atwood who proved that self-publishing can work when she put out her award-winning book of poems, Double Persephone. And Lisa Genova originally self-published her novel Still Alice after many rejections from commercial publishing houses. And who hasn’t seen a copy of Irma S. Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking in somebody’s kitchen—another one that started out as self-published, going on to sell over eighteen million copies. These days whether a book is author or publisher subsidized, it’s generally accepted that it’s what’s between the covers that counts. 

Whichever way an author goes, the aim is getting their books in the hands of as many readers as possible. And that’s where we enter luck-of-the-draw territory, no matter who publishes the book. It’s tough to predict a best-seller. And no matter which course is taken—big house, little house, your own house—one thing is sure, a good editing team is needed, along with professional graphics, solid marketing, promotion, and solid sales efforts to make it happen. Oh, and luck, plenty of luck.


Frank Zafiro said...

Luck. While it is certainly true that you can make your own luck, I think this is the wild card for us all. And I think you're right to mention it because it may be the greatest single factor of them all. Ya gotta do everything else to make sure that something comes of that luck, if it strikes, but luck is still the big dog.

Wendy L Hawkin said...

I like being an Indie author/publisher because it provides me with a sense of control. I write cross-genre and traditional publishers don't seem to know how to sell that kind of book.

I've been reviewing for ECW the last couple of years and hear what you're saying about them. I'd love to publish with them. They are efficient and caring and get the books out. It's wonderful you've developed a solid relationship with them. I hear from other authors that big publishers are only interested in sales and will drop you flat if your numbers slip.

As you say, getting the books out to readers is the end goal. It's a challenge juggling all aspects of Indie publishing as a one-woman show. I've been blessed recently with a publicist who's working like mad to get my name and books out to readers and for that I am most grateful.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Frank and Wendy.

Brenda Chapman said...

Well said, Dietrich. I'm glad to hear ECW is such a good publishing house.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Brenda.

Susan C Shea said...

Commenting late, sorry. The old style vanity press was a scam - one paid (sometimes a great deal), got no support to make a manuscript better, and paid for books that went nowhere outside the basement. Today's hybrid, indie presses, and self-publishing are different, more genuinely interactive with a shared goal of actually getting books to market to be seen and purchased. And people who publish this way often buy individual services and become the producers, farming out design, editing, marketing, and p.r. as needed but keeping control of the process. Some very smart and talented authors have or are moving in this direction. We live in interesting times, don't we?

Dietrich Kalteis said...

We sure do. Thanks, Susan.