Panning for Gold in the Publishing Industry

Moonday Madness

a blog about authors and author concerns

It’s tough to be an author today. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Don’t you all feel this way?

Traditional publishing is dying, self-publishing is the only way to go.

You’re crazy if you self-publish, too much work and the numbers don’t hold up. 

I go back and forth. Do I want an agent. Do I want to submit to this publisher or that publisher or stay with my current publisher. Every day I feel like I have to make a new decision, but do I really?

I’m in this for the long haul.

Donna B. McNicol

I chose my publisher for several reasons. One, they liked me. (Let’s face it. When someone wants to go out with you, its very flattering.) Two, I receive several rounds of edits from the staff. My editor, the line editor, the copy editor. And then (there is always the final copy if anything is drastically wrong) the formatting editor. And three, they paid for the cover, the editing, the formatting. All things I have little to no experience in. Overall a great small press experience.

So that leaves the big decisions. Should I send my next book to them? What about agents? What about self-publishing and striking it rich?

If you don’t hop on board the gold will be gone. But the truth of it is most miners didn’t make much more than survival money. A few made it big. Self-publishing is like that. Unless you are there for the long haul. Unless you have a back-list and continue to create a back-list.

Want to see someone in it for the long haul? Someone who is quietly panning in the stream and doing very well? Check out Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog. I think she actually goes by Kris, so it’s kind of confusing, but she is an up front honest and prolific self-publisher who will tell you like it is. And the best part is she has lots of experience in the traditional publishing industry. Lots.

The post that got me started today is:

Also check out her series on publishing

Baby ToesIt’s gold. All gold. When someone with her experience shares it with a tenderfoot, you should pull your seat up closer to the campfire and listen. She’s been in, she’s been out. She’s had multiple pen names. She’s never been the BIG name, but she is doing what I would love to do, living the life and making it as an author. More than making it, she is successful.

And she’s in it for the long haul.

Stop worrying about the tiny decisions. Come up with a plan and stick to it. Make it work. And above all, write (and make sure you keep your rights, and copyrights). Your stories, whether or not you have an agent, a big six publisher or a small publisher are your ticket to the LIFE. Think ahead and realize, this business has a long tail and you want to be there, on the front porch of that cabin, with your gold bars safe in the cellar. OR the bank.

Right now, I’m choosing traditional publishing. But every contract I make sure that if I decide to do what Ms. Rusch has done, I have that choice. I want to be panning for gold, not pan handling.

How do you make your career decisions? Do you have a business plan? How far out does it go? My goals go out at least five years, but every year I check to see if they are still valid. Staying in the gold rush means stretching out your supplies, and making sure you’ve planned ahead. Where are you in your life?

Thank you WANA COMMONS for the fab photos!


Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

11 responses to “Panning for Gold in the Publishing Industry

  1. I enjoyed your extended metaphor here, Jessica (It’s the former English teacher in me chirping up!) and the fact that this post is so well written. And then I checked out Kris’ blog post and learned a whole lot more. I love her idea about being in the writing game for the long term and looking beyond this year’s book or this month’s short story. Thank you for all of it!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, and the metaphor. 🙂
      Kris has a lot to say and I think she’s pretty balanced about her experiences in the wide world of publishing. She’s been up, she’s been down, and now she is very successfully self-publishing. Definitely someone to keep track of.

  2. A very well-written article, like you I’ve considered self-publishing but publishers do alot of the grunt work for us. I’m not sure at this point if I could handle doing all of that on my own. I’m just not that focused or tech savvy. I love to write and the traditional route allows me to focus a majority of my valuable writing time on that.

    • Thanks, Juliette. I’m with you, right now I want a publisher because they do so much of the work and I’m still learning my craft. But I want to keep my options open. My friends who self-publish are doing well. Some are doing very well. Maybe they aren’t selling the numbers of a NYT bestseller, but they are raking in the cash. It is not something I think anyone should forget about altogether.

  3. stlaurec

    Good post, Jessica. Long haul it is!

  4. Sometimes, when pitting the work of getting the synopsis just right, researching and query and waiting on agents and publishers, self-publishing doesn’t seem like that much more work, and I consider that route. And then I think, do I want to master the art of writing, or do I want to juggle formatting and cover and distribution and advertising on top of writing. No matter what, there is work to be done. Hard work, and no matter which way I go, I will have a network to rely on, it won’t only be me.

    • Too true Sherry!I sometimes think it has to do with what kind of book you want to publish too. Many of the people I know who are self-publishing are selling books they tried to sell to regular publishers, but they didn’t want them. That didn’t mean they weren’t great books. Not every book is right for a publisher and it’s one of the many exciting things about self-publishing that those books get to see the light and often times it’s word of mouth that sells them.

  5. I’m right behind you, Jessica, having the same conversations with myself and my fellow Crimson Romance authors. Like you, I’d like to make money at this, but I also appreciate what my publisher has done for me and continues to do. For now, I’m sticking with them, but it may be smart not to have our eggs all in one basket. I just have to write more eggs.

    • Wish I could hatch a story in a day, wouldn’t that be amazing! Instead it just seems to crawl sometimes. You are doing wonderful with Crimson Romance, I love how all the authors band together and promote each other. Terrific press! And I know you’ll have more eggs to sell soon.

  6. Excellent blog, Jessica. And thank you for the links!

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