op-ed

Nonnie’s Insider View on Being Traditionally Published (reblog)

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/51219838/posts/16718 (rebogged)

You all are begging me to write this post, aren’t you? Yes, you really are! If I see one more bio or tweet that says #TraditionallyPublishedAuthor, I am literally going to scream!

Seriously? Is that what you fell for? Ha! Well, they fooled you, honey, so please wipe that silly look off your face; and close your mouth. What exactly does that mean anyway? What are you trying to tell us? Does that mean that your books are better than #IndiePublished books?

Here are the facts…

*They say that being traditionally published brings prestige.
Well, maybe 15-20 years ago it did. Listen, saying to me that you’re traditionally published, is going to get you the same reaction as one of those Sunday-only Christians telling me they live in church all week. (FYI, I watch my purse closer in church than I would if I frequented a smoke-filled bar 5 days a week.) In either scenario, I am equally unimpressed. I’m pretty sure there was a time when most of us believed that to be traditionally published you had to be a really good writer! I know it’s what I believed. That is, until I became an author myself and started reading some of those awesome Indie published books and wondering, “Hey, why aren’t they traditionally published?” – then comparing them to some of the traditionally published books I’d read, and wondering, “Hey, why are they traditionally published?” Well, I got real clear, real fast on this falsehood.

In 2010, I read an article about a self-published author in my hometown who became a NY Times Bestselling author almost overnight. I reached out to her, we had a phone conversation, and she basically told me how she did it. “My mom told her friends, my friends told their moms, my sister told the people on her job, the people on her job told their cousins, their cousins told friends and family, friends and family threw a block party barbecue…. and the rest is history!” She said that so many people were buying her book that she was soon picked up by a traditional publisher.

I was so excited for her, especially since she was local, that I hurried out to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of her book that very day. I typically flip through books before I purchase them, but when I sat down with my coffee and began looking through hers, unfortunately, it ended up back on the bookshelf instead of being purchased. To my chagrin, the book was riddled with so many typos, that when I walked out of the Barnes and Noble, my mouth was left behind on the floor of the Starbucks inside. Not only that, the beginning of the story was so muddled with confusion, I couldn’t imagine subjecting my mind to the rest of the read. To say that I was shocked by what I found between the covers of that NY Times bestselling book, is an understatement. Yet, it/she was traditionally published.

This is when I knew, without a shadow of any doubt, that I’d been fed a bunch of baloney. This is also when I stopped trusting the #NewYorkTimes Bestselling Author label unless it was a book I’d read myself. And because of this very incident, this was the reason that when I joined Twitter my bio read: “GOAL: To become a bestselling author based on the writing, not the numbers.” I didn’t (and still don’t) want to become a bestseller because ALL my family and friends are buying up my books. Absolutely NO! I want to become a bestseller because the general public (not all my mom’s friends and my cousins) think that the writing is phenomenal, and they are telling their friends, and those friends are telling their friends, and they’re all reading my books and feeling the very same way. (As a matter of habit, I don’t even share with my friends and family what I’m writing. I also don’t want them leaving reviews on my books because I know they’ll be extremely biased. Not one review left on any of my books is from anyone who knows me personally. Not one!)

*Traditionally published authors have extremely limited creative control over their work. Please tell me why someone would toil with the weight of carrying a baby for 9 months, only to give birth to it, then give it away for someone else to raise and enjoy? Now, we’re not talking adoption here, so let’s stay focused. Why would you pour your heart, your blood, sweat and tears into a project, only to have someone else dictate what you could and could not do with it?

You like this title for your book – nope, they like that one.
You like the cover you imagined – nope, you can’t use it.
You like the way you wrote that paragraph in your manuscript – nope, they don’t like it that way, so they’re going to edit it to their liking.
You want to run a promotion and reduce the cost of your book on Amazon – no can do… well, unless you “ask” someone else first; and even then, they still might say NO.

So, I ask again, why would anyone give away THEIR rights to THEIR work? Is it just so that they can say, “I have a publisher,” or, “I’m traditionally published?”

It leaves me scratching my head, asking “What… Does… The… Nanny… Do?” (I’m sorry, if you’re not a fan of #SisterWives you won’t get that last part, so let’s move on). My point is, YOU created and birthed that baby, so YOU should be the one to control and have the final say over what happens to it. Stop believing the hype that it’s better to be traditionally published than Indie published. Long gone are the days when people frowned upon self-publishing. Some of the absolute best, and most well-written stories I have ever read, were written and published by Indie authors.

*Traditionally published books are always edited better. Now this always, always, always, almost makes me pee my pants! Have you read any traditionally published books – I mean like, EVER? Don’t you, as long as you’re human, ever let anyone know that you’ve bought into that crap. And crap it is! Honestly, I’ve found more typos and other editing issues in more traditionally published books than I have in all the many Indie books I’ve read; and I read a LOT of books. But why do you think that is? It’s because Indie authors have heard all the jokes; they know what some of those in the traditionally published world think and are sometimes bold enough to say. So, while some of those in the traditionally published arena are mocking all things Indie, and sitting back allowing others (their publishers) to control their work, Indie authors are personally overseeing and ensuring that what is published with their names on the cover, is ONLY the very best… they’re ensuring that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted.

*Publishing contracts are a bit intimidating…
and they include a ton of jargon you might not even understand; and, they will most often favor the publisher, not you. If you don’t have a good legal beagle working with you to go through your contract with a fine toothed comb, stay away from these contracts. In the end, that document will control you and your work.

*Indie authors have to work hard to promote their own work,
and so do you, if you are traditionally published. This is the part that really fries my chicken. If I… well, no, we won’t even use me as an example here, because I’d never give anyone control of my work, so, let’s use Jane in this example. If traditionally published Jane has to work just as hard as proud, Indie published, Nonnie, why would Jane want to give someone else control of her work? Make it make sense, people. Please!

*Traditionally published authors get their books into bookstores.
So do Indie published authors. I’m speaking from a place of fact. One of my first books, an Indie published title, of course, sat on the (physical) shelves of several B&N stores. A publisher didn’t make that happen for me – Indie-author-me, made that happen for me – and if you work hard enough, Indie-author-you can make it happen for you, too. Also keep in mind, Barnes and Noble is not the only bookstore in the world.

*Traditionally published royalties are less than Indie published royalties.
Some may counter this is so because Indie published authors need to account for all that they must pay for on their own. But listen, if you don’t mind putting your learning cap back on, you can handle some of your own publishing tasks. If you don’t want to bother with it all, there are also reputable and cost effective literary services out there, as well. But isn’t the hard work worth it to not have to be told what you can and cannot do with your own creations? It is to me.

I said all this to say to those who are traditionally published and are walking around with “the big head,” let out some of that air, because your struggles are the same as ours, although when everything is laid out the way it is above, it looks as if Indie authors are getting the better deal anyway.

Unless you can snag a $500,000 advance on a deal, then Indie publishing is the way to go. And from what I hear, that’s only happening if you’re an athlete, actor, well-known/well-established author, or some other person with a modicum of fame. Let’s face it, without a huge advance from a “major” publisher, the advantages of being an Indie published author greatly outweigh any so-called disadvantages. And if you’re viewing this through my lenses, there are no disadvantages. When you self-publish, YOU get to make all the decisions regarding YOUR books, and only YOU will own the rights to YOUR work – not someone who didn’t even contribute one bead of sweat to it.

Isn’t that the way it should be anyway?

It’s time some of you stop touting that you’re traditionally published. For those of us who know better, that label doesn’t carry any more weight than the Indie published label does. I’m glad that I now know better. It’s time some of you accept the reality of it, too.

Seriously, all we need to know is that you’re a good writer. Telling us how you’re published, gives us absolutely no indication of that at all.

By the way, I’m Author, Nonnie Jules, and I don’t need to preface my introduction with a label. I’ll let my writing tell you all you need to know.

Read more of Nonnie’s opinions at RaveReviewsbyNJ https://nonniewrites.wordpress.com/