Thursday, April 5, 2012


In Wednesday’s posts on one of my favorite blogs, The Passive Voice, are two “must-read” articles.

The first is an interview with multi-published author Jodi Picoult from The Daily Beast. Among other interesting items of advice--especially why she doesn’t believe in writer’s block--is her comment: AND NEVER SELF-PUBLISH. I put that in capitals because it’s printed like that in the article, so apparently Ms. Picoult was adamant about it. However, she never explained why and the interviewer never asked her.

Scroll down a little to the article, “Submit, Quit or Self-Publish it.” Here Randy Henderson points out that, while some advice to writers includes the option to self-publish, too many writers go straight to that instead of first submitting to agents and/or editors, get rejected a few times and learn how to improve. Only when you’re convinced it’s publishable but was rejected for other reasons than quality, should you self-publish.

It’s no secret that the ease and low cost of self-publishing has brought out thousands of people who get a big ego-boost telling friends and family they’re now a published author. And statistics show that the average SP author sells fewer than 100 books.

Another article you can also find on The Passive Voice is about how children are getting their “books” published, thanks to--of course--Mom and Dad who pay for it. “What’s next?” asked novelist Tom Robbins, “Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, eleven-year-old rocket scientists? There are no prodigies in literature. Literature requires experience in a way that mathematics and music do not.”

I guess, in this era of boosting children’s “self-esteem,” that was bound to happen. I hope they have fun, and perhaps some of them will eventually turn out to be the next Randy Henderson or Jodi Picoult. In the meantime, we mature, even “over-the-hill” authors, must keep writing and improving whether we’re self- or traditionally published. And I have no quarrel with those who, because of advancing age, can’t wait years to go through the submitting process and then, if accepted, wait some more before their book is actually published, when Amazon can do it in weeks.

I did the “submit and get rejected” thing for years, and I know that each rejection--and especially comments about why it was rejected--made me work harder to provide a quality product. As I’ve always said, “I don’t write: I rewrite.” Thirteen books accepted by editors and published by traditional publishers (although not the Big Six) tell me the extra work paid off. My fourteenth, a mystery by Mainly Murder Press, is due in July.

However, I’m not against self-publishing. I’ve done that too. Because I started so long ago, I was forced to “submit and get rejected.” There was no Amazon in those days and self-publishing meant doing all the work yourself, hiring a printer to print your books, and then--in order to keep the per-volume price reasonable--ordering 3000 copies (for roughly $10,000) which lived in your garage. I had a few friends who did that.

I’ve put my older books, which are now called “back-list,” on Amazon and Smashwords, and I’m about to try Amazon Singles for the many short stories I wrote before switching to novels. If the three books currently out to “big” publishers, get rejected again I might self-publish those too.

Are you trying both traditional and self-publishing? Tell me how that’s working for you.

The Passive Voice
The Daily Beast
Jodi Picoult
Randy Henderson


  1. Hi Phyllis! I currently have a project being considered by an editor, but I think people need to follow their hearts and decide for themselves how they want to get their stories out there. Of course like you said, the big thing is to make sure the book is well-crafted and spotlessly edited. Readers are savvy. If a writer isn't doing her due-diligence, the reader won't be back for the second installment. :)

    1. Misty: Good luck with your current submission. I think there's still a desire to be published by a traditional publisher, but I see more and more writers - likee me -trying both. Hey, whatever works. Most of all, I think we just want readers to like our books. Thanks for the comment.

  2. I have 9 books published. Some are with a traditional, but small-press, publisher. Some were with e-first publishers. Some are original works that didn't fit within the narrower confines of print publishers. What I found is that when the publisher remaindered my book, rights reverted to me, so I re-published it myself. It did moderately well, so as I got the rights back to more of my books, I also re-published them. And for the ones that publishers said, "Good, but we don't know how to market this," I went straight to indie.

    I paid for professional editing on my original titles. I paid for a cover artist (getting rights back doesn't include the artwork.)

    Bottom line - as far as the money goes, I'm making one heck of a lot more than I ever saw in advances or royalties from my publishers. I'll probably take book #10 straight to indie.

    Would I have done it without having gone through the learning process of being published? Probably not. If you're trying to speed the process, you're probably not going to have a quality product to put out there. But if you've paid your dues and know the craft, self-publishing can work.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

    1. Terry: Thanks for your input. I'm so glad you're making more money than before. So far I'm not, but I haven't been doing this very long. I've finaled in some good contests (Golden Heart and St. Martin's Press) so I hope the quality is there.

  3. Hi Phyllis,

    I have 15 traditionally published novels, 3 POD by me that was edited by the same editor and I negotiated the rights back. I've also been putting up short stories, novellas and some of my back-lists. To be honest with the month I've just had in royalties I'm not sure if or when I'll go back to submitting.

    I respect all manners of publications. I believe in leaving your options open.

    1. Dyanne: Sounds like you're doing great on the Indie path. I'm just starting this way, but I hope royalties will improve. Thanks so much for your comment.


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