Years ago my answer to this would have been, "Quality." I was one of those people who thought those who self-published were those who couldn't make it in the traditional market. Go ahead and throw things, I deserve it. Hang on, let me wipe the rotten vegetables and fruit from my screen… Back then I would have never considered going that route, especially with a small publisher interested in my work. But I was naïve about the true differences between the two.
It's true, anyone can self-publish which means there is a lot of sub-par work out there. However, there is a lot of sub-par work in traditional publishing too. Out of all the traditionally published books I've read in the last two years there are only a handful of them that I really liked. Seriously. And you know what? I've read some outstanding self-published novels (Anne Riley's The Clearing, Kristie Cook's Promise, Purpose, Krissi Dallas's soon to be traditionally published Phantom Island: Wind). There is good work on both sides of the fence.
If you haven't heard about Abbott Press then you will soon. They are the self-publishing press I decided to go with instead of a small publisher who was interested in my novel. (By the way, I just wanted to reiterate that I love small presses and fully support them and their novels. It just wasn't the right choice for me and my book.) Your novel has to pass content evaluation for Abbott Press and then there is an editorial review in which you can potentially gain the Writer's Digest mark of quality if your novel is up to their quality standards.
The introduction of this mark of quality has the potential to change the answer to that question about the difference between traditional and self-publishing. In the near future the answer will no longer be "quality" but instead, "author royalties, author control, and retention of rights". The future looks brighter every day. For an in depth look at my process with Abbott Press so far check out my post on it here.
This is wonderful information, Heather, and I'm so impressed with how very professional and thoughtful it all is. The 'mark of quality' is a great way to distinguish good books by a name people trust. With Writers Digest behind the publishing, and Publishers Weekly now doing their list of reviewed self-pubbed books every once in a while, the field of self-publication seems to be on it's way up, fast. Time for us all to recalibrate our thinking to being open to many kinds of possibilities.ReplyDelete
Although I plan to buy Heather's book (because I know what it's taken for her to get to that point), I'm still leery about self-published books.ReplyDelete
I critted the opening two paragraphs for someone thinking of either querying again or self-publishing. But based on the beginning, I would say her book was ready for neither. Although the premise sounded intriguing, the writing was anything but ready. And this is what scares me about buying self-published books (unless the author had a similar situation to Heathers).
What Writers Digest is doing sounds great. If I know the quality is going to be to par, then I'll be more willing to buy a self-pub book.
Great post, Heather, and thank you so much for sharing details of your journey.ReplyDelete
One question I have for Abbott Books would be: if there is an editorial review so some books will get the "mark of quality" then what would keep potential authors from just backing out and going with another e-publisher? (does the editorial review happen AFTER the book is published?)
Abbott sounds like a great press and I'm going to read your other link now. :)
Ack, never mind. I got my answer from the website. I'm psyched to see your book someday soon!ReplyDelete
Linda, the industry really is changing and self-publishers are taking advantage of that!ReplyDelete
Stina, I know how you feel. With self-publishing comes an even greater responsibility. I feel that as authors we have to make sure it's worthy before putting our books out there. Unfortunately, not all feel that way. I love what Writer's Digest and Abbott are doing and I think because of it Abbott will be head and shoulders above others. Which is why I chose them!
Lydia, great question. I'll go ahead and answer it for anyone else who is curious. The editorial review happens before you go into production. If they feel your work needs editing they will recommend it, but not require it. However, if you're work isn't brought up to par, you won't get the Writer's Digest mark of quality. They are going to be particular about what books get it because it comes with a trip to the Writer's Digest conference and mention in Writer's Digest magazine.ReplyDelete
Heather, One of the best things, I think, is that editorial process. So important. I think that the writers need to take responsibility to make their work the best it can be. Abbott you spend money to get your work published, while other self-publishing arenas... okay, lets call them printing... that don't help with the process. If you publish poor writing, you won't sell books. Bottom line. I'm loving the process you're going through, and loving that you're sharing it with the rest of us. We all want to know our options. Thanks for paving the way.ReplyDelete
More and more, I'm encouraged by others who are using the self-publishing route. For me, the greatest advantage is having control over my work and how it is marketed. Wishing you success with your project.ReplyDelete
Karlene, it definitely is! Wait until your hear about the next stage in the process. I was so impressed, I can hardly wait to share it!ReplyDelete
J.L., thank you for your good wishes! I too love how much control I have over the process. It is amazing!
Things feel like they are in such turmoil right now. It will be interesting to see the outcome when the proverbial dust clears. Either way, a good book is a good book, and when you care about things like editing and such, it shows. And I know you do, so I can't wait to read your book. :DReplyDelete
Interesting article, I've recently been published by a small publisher and learning more each day. thanksReplyDelete
My WIP is almost finished, and while I've got a lot of work ahead of me, I've been paying a lot of attention to the this discussion. I used to think the same about self-publishing, and as others have said, there are still a lot of errors out there. But I love what Writer's Digest and Abbot are doing. It's a way to bring quality and good reputation to self-publishing.ReplyDelete
Lisa, thank you so much! That's so true, things are changing in the publishing industry so fast that no one can really keep up or predict the future. It's an exciting time!ReplyDelete
Olive, thank you. I wish you much success!
Stacy, it really is. I'm so impressed with Abbott. I don't think I would have gone with self-publishing if it weren't for them.
Heather ~ this is fantastic. I would love to do a series on the differences between traditional publishing, small publisher, and self publishing. The world is changing so fast. My husband keeps encouraging me to look at other avenues. I've had serious interest, just no bites. One of my writer friends just decided to take this self-publishing route. I'm watching carefully.(OOh, and I'm following now. Nice to meet you, Linda & Karlene, too.)ReplyDelete