Making Money the Traditionally Published Way

I was chatting with some newer authors the other day, and one made the comment that she wanted to self-publish her first book only because that was the only way to make money from books.  A couple of other newer authors nodded at her comment, and I have to say, it surprised me a little bit.  To set the record straight, it’s entirely possible to make a good income, hell, a great well-into-the-six-figure-income, from traditionally published books.

Please note that I’m all for self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and traditional publishing…it’s all good and any avenue that gets books to readers is a win in my opinion.  I have friends following every path out there, and it’s extremely exciting.  So, this post is probably more for authors than fans, FYI.  The publishing industry, unbeknownst to most fans, has several different avenues available for authors to get books to readers.  I really don’t think readers care how a book gets published, or who publishes it…they just want good stories with dynamic characters.

So authors can do it themselves (often with a professional team they put together), go hybrid (have both traditional and self pubbed books), or go traditional with a publisher (which does everything but write the book.).  Even with traditional, an author does marketing and promotion, FYI.  Just not all of it.  I get excellent marketing and promotional support from Kensington and Grand Central.  Stuff I’ve never even thought of or heard about before.  On my part, I have a newsletter, a blog, a FB page, and twitter.  While I have help with those, I do post myself sometimes.

Last I heard, there were about 3500-4000 books uploaded to Amazon every day.  That’s a lot!  The idea of coming up with the marking to stand out in that crowd makes me nervous, to be honest.  Although, I know some very successful Indie authors who are doing just that.  Impresses the heck out of me.

The other thing I really like about traditional publishing is the editing.  My editors are phenomenal and see things in a book that I miss…and it’s always my decision on what to tweak or not to tweak.  Many Indies hire good editors, and that’s fantastic, but my editors are there and ready to dig in…and have a stake in the book since they acquired it. 

One thing that I’m a little concerned about, and this is across the board, no matter how somebody is published.  Many of the author conferences I’ve attended the last couple of years are focused much more on marketing and promotion (I totally admit this is crucially important these days), and not as focused on craft.  This makes me a little sad. 

Marketing and promotion might get a reader…but only craft and excellent writing will keep a reader.

Craft matters, and right now, if I have extra time, I want to work on craft and not on marketing.  But that’s just me. I’m on several author loops, and I can’t remember the last time anybody posted a question that didn’t have to do with marketing, key words, ads, etc.  I miss the days of talking about the hero’s journey, character arcs, motivations…etc.  I’m sure those days will come back, BTW.

shutterstock_122830036So any time I’m not writing…I’m not writing.  It would take time to learn how to market, promote, distribute, format, etc…and that takes time away from writing.  I know of some Indie authors who have the system down perfectly and only spend an hour a day doing all of that.  But…I can write about 1500 words in an hour.  So that’s 10,500 words a week, 42,000 words a month, or 504,000 words a year  (about 5 books).  That hour a day, for me, could be spent writing five more books a year.  (Okay, probably 4 books…I don’t write every day, and sometimes I have slow hours.  But you get the point).

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not think I’m knocking self-publishing.  I’m  not.  Do not think I’m against it or will never give it a shot – I probably will someday.  Yeah, in fact, I’m sure I will someday.  I do have a friend, one I really like, that somehow thinks if I say the sky is blue, I just insulted her and self-pubbing.  Yeah, that’s probably a ‘her’ problem and not a ‘me’ problem, but still, I never want to hurt anybody’s feelings. (Then she blogs about it…)

shutterstock_131894630Please don’t pick apart my little blog here…I’m just sayin…take a look at traditional publishing, new authors.  That’s the entire message here.

All three avenues of publishing are valid, exciting, and important to a healthy industry as a whole. I just wanted to set the record straight a little bit that it is possible to make money the traditional way, and that I think newer authors should look at going traditional as well as Indie.  That’s all.  Rebecca out.

(**The license to use the pictures in this blog was purchased from XO Rebecca signatureblue