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

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4 thoughts on “Making Money the Traditionally Published Way”

  1. Debbie says:

    I really don’t see how anyone could find fault with what you stated, unless they were just looking for something to fault. I found what you wrote very positive and informative. I’m going to forward it to my daughter as she is starting down this path and can take away from it what she wants. I have to tell you that it is your writing that keeps me coming back. While story lines, plots, characters, etc. are very important as well, a poorly written book is a let down. Yes, I am a little critical as my daughter is and English major and won’t let me forget it…haha. I have to admit that I’m surprised at the amount of poorly written books out there and ones that just have obvious errors. Then again, maybe it comes back to a few things that you mentioned here. At any rate, thank you for the information!

  2. SuziQ says:

    This is a good explanation of the various avenues for publishing. Very informative and interesting read.

  3. Honora Carmen says:

    Insightful article – as always – Rebecca. Your books are so popular because of your focus on the craft. Thank goodness, you will be sticking with that! We tune out from the incessant marketing we encounter each day, BUT get totally lost in a good story with characters we relate to. I read “Misery” by Stephen King many years ago and remember how the main character compared reading to falling off a cliff for a time. If an author takes me out of the daily grind into another space and time, I will follow them with loyalty. If they bombard me with meaningless marketing, I will unsubscribe. Thank you!

  4. M. Lee Scott says:

    What SuziQ says. And I’m with you on the neglect of craft lately. If any newsletter even hints at the subject of publishing, I quickly delete it. I am a beginning writer and am totally into the craft part of my journey. Of course, Rebecca, I always open your newsletter no matter what…