November 16, 2009

To market, to market, to buy a fat book

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 7:17 pm

OK, it’s not like we writers have a choice about where we get published. Being published is a gift, and I for one will be grateful for the privilege–if I get it–all the days of my life.

Those naysayers who suspect that, when I’m a few years out from this purgatory of aspiration, I’ll forget what it was like (HELL) and behave as if I’ve always gotten to see my books on the shelf should know this: I still thank the Power That May Be every single day for my husband. The loneliness that came before our meeting is a searing memory.

But I digress. I still haven’t been offered that glorious contract yet, so I can play with possibilities. And one that I’m considering now is small or large. Major house or indie? There are some exciting new indies.

Here are a few.

Now it’s not like just anyone can walk her way into an indie. Publication is shockingly difficult no matter who grants the right. Major or minor may be the wrong distinction…perhaps the correct one is, which is right for me?

What variables differ between big house and small? Is there more communication and hands on participation with the latter? Better distribution and sales with the former? These seem the obvious ones, but I suspect there are more layers to it that I’m not seeing or privvy to.

I’d be thrilled to hear from authors, editors, or publishers, if you’d be willing to widen and inform this discussion.

I suspect that much as what happened in the music industry, there might be changes afoot in publishing, and that in the future so-called micro purveyors of content might play an ever more influential role.

But as always on this blog, please feel free to disagree!


  1. I want to be traditionally published. I would love to be picked up by a “major” because they simply can’t let me go someplace else. But “indies” have developed their reputation’s to the point they have the same respect, and often times more, than the big guys. While they biggies might be perceived as going for “safe”, the upstart small publishers are going for quality. That’s my take anyway.

    And we can no longer totally scoff at the ePublishing world. I admit that being published in eBook format is not my dream, but it’s a developing alternative that will continue to become refined and certain publishers will rise to the top. I’m watching.

    Comment by Peg Brantley — November 16, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  2. I can’t compare between the two–indy and major–as my debut is coming out from St. Martin’s Press–and I haven’t had indy experience–but I have found that the first thing folks ask, after hearing that I have a novel coming out, is “who is publishing it.”

    Perhaps this will change, but for now, the response has been an affirming nod. And St. Martin’s Press has treated me well–I don’t feel lost. My editor was superb, I love my cover and working with publicity & marketing has been excellent. So, a vote for SMP.

    Good topic, Jenny.

    Comment by Randy Susan Meyers — November 16, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

  3. Jenny — What you need is my how to book — Dead On Writing. I gaurantee it is like taking a PhD class in writing. It will save you years of naivete that I lived through! It can be had as an ebook or a book book from I would not suggest it if I didn’t strongly believe it is for you.

    rob Walker

    Comment by Robert W. Walker — November 16, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  4. I appreciate Randy’s perspective as a soon-to-be published author (and guys, I am reading an ARC of Randy’s THE MURDER’S DAUGHTERS now–literally now, about to go to sleep with it beside me–and it is FANTASTIC…but more on it here later) as well as Peg’s hopes and plans. Can’t wait till you’re doing this, Peg, but for now, polish and hone! And Rob, I love books on writing. I don’t read fiction while I’m writing so books on craft get me through. I will look for yours and post a link here once I’ve read it…

    As many of you know my novel is on sub and I’m hoping not to have a whole lot of say in how it gets published. (Just let it get published, just let it get published…) My agent is razor sharp and has a terrific vision, which I would love to see come true.

    For me the active part will hopefully begin once I have a book in hand…

    Comment by jenny — November 16, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  5. I’m exactly in Randy’s boat, right down to St. Martin’s Press, so my input is limited on indie vs. major. My guess is that you probably do get more attention from an indie press, since they have more riding on your book that a major house does. But that could also be a bad thing: higher expectations, more pressure, a bigger hit for the house if your book doesn’t sell as well as they hoped. So there a pros and cons to both, and envy the lucky writer who has that choice. As you said, Jenny, we really don’t have much of a choice. It all boils down to who chooses us.

    Comment by Todd — November 18, 2009 @ 12:40 am

  6. Good points, Todd. Thanks for weighing in. Todd’s book, by the way, gentle readers (to borrow the Master’s term–oh, how I long to have gentle readers) is another one I will be talking about here and am so excited for!

    Comment by jenny — November 18, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

  7. Jenny, this is such a good topic! I agree with Todd, in that we can’t always choose our own agent or pub house. We can “advertise” ourselves with query letters, etc. and wait for one of them to realize we would be a good fit, but that is all. In a perfect world, we could go online and choose our own editor, house, and advance. Unfortunately, the pub world is imperfect.


    Comment by Shelley — November 26, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

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