Award Winning Author

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Karen Dales is the Award Winning Author of "The Chosen Chronicles" which include "Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen Chronicles," "Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen Chronicles," and "Shadow of Death: Book Two of the Chosen Chronicles." She is currently at work on "Thanatos: Book Three of the Chosen Chronicles" and a Historical Romance set in Edo Japan.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

First of all I want to state that I was going to post this as a response to ruthannnordin's post Self-publishing: What can you realistically expect for your money? I was going to write a response in her profile but thought to post in my profile since it's probably going to be a bit on the longish side.

When someone publishes, regardless of whether or not they do it with a mirco/small/large publishing house or self publishes, the success of the book is very much dependent upon the author's ability to get out there and do what is necessary to market and publicize their novel.

In large houses, they do some publicity and marketing in the hopes that what little they do will stimulate sales enough to clear out their initial print run of 5000 (for debut authors without a proven track record..which is most of us) within six weeks of launch. After six weeks whatever is left is either remaindered, sold to discount book stores, held in warehouses or just destroyed. After 6 weeks, the large houses will usually not continue their campaign unless success is evident within the first 6 weeks because they have other authors to try and see if they can hit the jackpot with them.

Most of these authors will never sell their first run and then the book will be remaindered. If one is lucky, it'll be put on the publisher's POD for possible individual sales later on. Oh...and that advance the author gets...that should go to marketing and publicity.

As for expecting similar marketing/publicity from a mirco/small publishing house is not realistic. They usually do not have the budget to do a proper marketing campaign or publicity run. Again, the advance they give you (if any) should go to getting your own marketing agent and/or publicist.

Most authors don't make it big until their 3rd or 4th novel (usually in a series). Very few, unless they are literary authors, will get large advances. The only exception to this is when Steven Erikson sold his 10 novel series...he got the largest advance in British history...L500,000.

Why do agents and publishers want to see a marketing plan from an author? Very simply, if the author isn't willing to go the distance, they won't put in their money. There can be clauses within the publishing contract that the author has to put up a certain percentage or amount of money and the publisher will match or offer a percentage for marketing and publicity. I've seen a couple of those.

Just because one is published by publishing house it does not guarantee you'll see your book on a bookshelf in a bookstore. Bookstore space is extremely limited. There are many authors who have been published with publishing houses where you'll never see their books on shelves.
And the publishing rights...gone to that publisher. Getting books into independent bookstores is usually the way to go in your city/local, but this means, regardless of how your book is published, the author has to go in and talk to the manger/purchaser.

Now, for self publishing, ruthannnordin posts some interesting links about POD, BUT it's not about the costs of the printing, but rather the costs of having them publicize/market your novel. An author, no matter where, will have to pay out of pocket for a publicist and marketing agent UNLESS they have friends who specialize in this. Oh...and the author should have a computer/internet genius on there payroll or as a friend, to set up viral marketing. So regardless of whether one self-publishes or goes the traditional route, the author still has to pay for these services.

If one wants to self publish and is looking at PODs like Lulu or iUniverse (Gods...stay away from Author House that set themselves up as a trad publishing house but are not) then one has to look at these places as only printers, just like if you go to any other printers.

No matter what, in either case, the author must view their novel and the need to sell it as a self-employed business. If not, then the book will fail to sell.

As for self published individuals getting on the NYTimes bestsellers list...well...the NYTimes list and others are generally manipulated by the author/publisher depending on how much money is put into it. In other words, these lists are complete fabrications and have no bearing on whether it's a good book but rather how many books were sold within a short period of time. Yes...these lists are completely manipulated.

No matter the case, whether one is self publishing, publishing with a micro/small/large publisher one needs to market/publicize one's books. Oh..and a good book for that.. 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer.

Oh...and today I have a meeting with my viral marketing genius and my marketing/publicity genius...both of them are friends. In exchange for their services, for him: getting him into the Cons I'm going to do:) as for her, shaitsu massages from me.:) The barter system is still alive and kicking!

Karen Dales
"Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen"
Release - Summer 2009


  1. You said: "stay away from Author House that set themselves up as a trad publishing house but are not"

    AuthorHouse is now promoting "SELF PUBLISHING SUCCESS." That's the opposite of a traditional publishing house, but they're still lying.

    Any writer who uses AuthorHouse is NOT a self publisher.

    A REAL self-publisher either does all of the work, or hires others such as illustators and editors when needed.

    A REAL self-publisher does NOT pay money to a publishing company.

    Michael N. Marcus

  2. Thanks for the mention of my book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. Much appreciated. Lots of useful tools for your readers as well at