Why You Want to be Traditionally Published

During my relatively short time in the publishing industry I have become friendly with quite a few writers. Self published, small press, digital only, and big 5/6 authors. Everybody has to decide what path is best for them. And I make no judgements on which path one chooses. Each path has it’s up and downs and it’s share of hard work, but recently I have seen some authors on social media bashing the hell out of the traditional model. I mean beating it with a big club until it’s bloody and crippled. They have nothing nice to say about it and in turn are convincing hordes of writers that the New York model of publishing is going to die and that they are only out to rip off new authors and take all their money.

That’s not true. New York publishing has gotten the rep that it’s a big soulless, faceless institution that’s only out for itself. Here’s some of the things I keep hearing about it lately.

Myth: You have no control over anything when you publish traditionally.

Fact: You do have control. More than most people think. In the end publishers would cease to exist without writers and they do not want unhappy writers.

Let’s talk about covers.For my very first cover for Dangerous Curves Ahead I thought my heroine was a little too slender. I wasn’t in love with the font for my title and I let them know that. They fixed it immediately. I got the original cover on Friday, but Monday I had a brand new one waiting for me. It’s like that for every step of the process.

Same goes with editing. If I disagree with what my editor says we have a discussion about it. I’ve never had anybody tell me what or how to write. They’ve asked me to do things. Like add a dog into my second book, which I did, but I didn’t have to. I never felt pressured to do it. I’ve worked with two editors so far and having a professional there to have thoughtful conversations about my writing has made me a better writer.

Myth: You have no control over release date.

In some cases that is true. In most actually. But I was contracted for a series. Going in I knew I was going to have a book come out every six months. I happen to write fairly quickly so that wasn’t going to be a problem for me. But I know other authors who have their releases scheduled nine months to a year apart because they need the time. Your publisher will work with you. Of course if you miss your mutually agreed upon deadlines there will be consequences just like any other job. No you won’t get to pick your exact release date but for most of us that isn’t a problem.

The only thing I really don’t have any control over is price point. But keep in mind just because you can price a book at $2.99 doesn’t mean it’s going to sell better than books priced at $7.99. Especially if it’s not a well written book. Readers are no longer going to excuse poorly edited books. I have found that if people really love an author they don’t care how much their newest release costs. If people really love a book they’ll tell their friends.

Myth: Most writers won’t make a lot of money with the traditional model.

Fact: That’s BS. You can make money. You can make buckets of money. And if you want to know the truth most writers aren’t making buckets of money no matter which way they choose to publish. For every Amanda Hocking there are two thousand Ms. Mary Nobodys out there. Yes, it takes a long long time for your advances to come in and most big publishers only pay royalties twice a year. And if that just doesn’t sit right with you then find another way to bring your books to the world.But the great thing about advances is that you get money up front! I got paid for books I hadn’t written yet.

But if you are going into writing solely for the money you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to have some kind of love for it or I believe you’ll never truly be successful at it.

Myth: Print books are going to die.

I highly doubt this. In my first five days of sales I sold TWICE as many print books as I did digital. And not on Amazon either. People are still buying books at bookstores and drugstores and supermarkets. A reader told me she found my book in an airport. Libraries buy books. Print is still powerful. There are soooo many ebooks out there. So many new authors that readers become inundated. I can spend hours on Amazon searching through books by new to me authors and not buy one because I simply don’t want to spend money (no matter how little it is) on a book that might disappoint me. Other readers are the same way, much more likely to try a new author if they see their book sitting on the shelf, if they get to hold in their hands and feel the pages beneath their fingers.

So let’s recap.


1. You have a team behind you. Editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, proofreading, publicity is all done for you. I don’t care how great of a marketer you think you are having a team behind you to help you is awesome. (Really, I’m not sure how self pubbers find time to get ALL that stuff done on their own and work. I have a hard time keeping up with a team.)

2. You can make money. Large stupid amounts of money. Ask Nora Roberts.

3. You do have control. I’m a control freak and I have never once felt stifled by my publishers.

3. You can see your book in the bookstore and at the airport and in CVS and Walmart and Stop and Shop. And that right there is better than all the ads and blog tours in the world.

4. Publisher parties. Harlequin throws a damn good party. And there’s free booze and dancing romance writers. And socks! I love my pink Harlequin socks.

So there are my reasons why being traditionally published is pretty cool. If it’s not for you then it’s not for you. Just don’t go around bashing it.

5 thoughts on “Why You Want to be Traditionally Published”

  1. Sugar, this is the best post ever for me. Thanks for lifting up the professional publishing community. Who Knew? But I sure wondered big time. I just know that being in your own business and not having a team around for external support is pretty darn hard.

  2. Fortunately, I haven’t run into too many authors who are publically shaking an angry finger at traditional publishing – but yes, I know they are out there. I think the real beauty of today’s publishing industry is that the author doesn’t have to choose or limit themselves to one distribution channel. Get one or two series with a digital first publisher, another with a traditional publisher (or two) and still another self-pub. Or stick with one. It’s the author’s choice what kind of career they want to pursue and that’s powerful. Okay, For me, after running my own marketing firm for so many years, I would like someone else to handle the business side of distributing my books, so I’m seeking a contract with a traditional publisher and/or digital first publisher. So wish me luck! (And you’ll hear from me this week regarding the water world mermaid blog:)!

  3. Hey Sugar, so glad the trad model is working out for you. With the crazy changes happening in the publishing industry there are bound to be complainers among the ranks on both sides. So true what you said that “most writers aren’t making buckets of money no matter which way they publish.” It’s such an overcrowded and competitive market these days that success is elusive at best.

    There are as many reasons to chase a traditional contract as there are to self publish, but the bottom line is that writers now have choices and that is a beautiful thing! We can do what makes the most sense for us and our books. No need for anyone to get snippy or take sides. There are plenty of readers to go around and more ways for writers to find success every day!

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