Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Expanding on My Three Dances Speech: Traditional Publishers and Hybrid Authoring

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Expanding on My Three Dances Speech: Traditional Publishers and Hybrid Authoring

Yesterday I posted a link to the first few minutes of the speech I gave at the launch party for Three Dances. In it, I talk about some of the ways in which traditional publishing and self-publishing aren't really that different.

It has occurred to me that this could be misconstrued as me saying that traditional publishing doesn't bring anything to the table. Being as I work in the industry, I want to be clear that I don't think that's the case. Three Dances was a great fit for self-publishing, because it was a project that was niche enough that it would hold little attraction to a traditional publisher no matter how good it was, and it was short and small enough that I could feasibly do all the work on my own. That's not going to be the case for all books or all authors (I have spent years of my life learning the editorial skills I put to work here).

And on top of the advance you might get through a traditional publisher, you get a pretty sweet basket of services thrown in as part of the deal. Top-notch editing, design, and production services for a novel-sized book can pretty quickly run into the thousands of dollars on the freelance market. Marketing and pr, even skimpy as it can be, adds to the cost of a book as well. I used to think thousands of dollars was too much to pay for that kind of work. Now that I make my living as a freelancer, I've realized that if you want skilled labor, you have to pay for it (indie authors may recognize this argument as one they've been making to publishers for years). As much as I owe my authors, I owe my family more.

I do think that indie writers, if they've written a good book, will make their money back over time. But not everybody has that kind of scratch to invest. I sure don't. More importantly, not everybody is a good judge of which projects to make that kind of investment on. I could have spent that money on Three Dances, but it would have taken years to make it back, even if I wildly exceeded my expectations for the sales of the book.

There are several reasons I'm pursuing a traditional deal for Nadya. One of the biggest is that the middle grade market is still very much dependent on bookstore, book club, and library placement, and those are very hard markets for an indie to break into. But the other big one is that I'm willing to sacrifice long-tail money on that book for the services I can get from a traditional publisher, and for the things I could learn from working with one.

I see more and more hybrid authors doing the same thing in my submissions pile at Carina, and I'm always happy to see them, both for their sake and for mine.

You can buy Three Dances as a print or e-book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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