writers / writing

#IWSG — What publishing path and why

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question–What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

My publishing background is long and varied. I have queried agents, even publishers, with limited success. Even when they’re interested, the relationship ultimately fails. Maybe I’m hard to work with. Maybe my query outstrips the book in enthusiasm, excitement, or expertise. Maybe it collapses when theory meets reality. I sure don’t know what nails the coffin shut.

But I have no give-up in me so I move onward. I have tried way too many marketplaces that should have worked. Google Play–who knew that would be a bust? I do sell some books there every month but less than from my own website. Then I signed on to Houghton Mifflin’s Marketplace. If you’re not familiar with that name, Houghton Mifflin is a premier name in books for schools. I thought I’d won the jackpot when they invited me onboard. I put a ton of work into building my store and making it pretty, to have it close down about a year later. Another time-sucking waste of energy.

For my non-fiction education books, I set up a co-op publishing company with a group of like-minded teachers to publish all of our books. I mastermind it, keep the website going, address all the legal issues (like GDPR), serve as solver-of-all-tech-issues, and upload new books. It’s a micro-publisher with an LLC, DBA, trademarks, and lots of copyrights. It’s supported with as much marketing as I can muster, which isn’t much because that takes me away from my fiction writing. Grr… Mostly it gives me a home for my 100+teacher books (that I also promote in other places).

When I began looking for fiction agents a few years ago, I admit to being a bit shopworn from a decade of trying to write/sell/publish/market. I decided to publish my novels on Kindle as digital-only. I do ponder their print-on-demand option but have been influenced by Diane Tilbert’s excellent review of KDP vs. Createspace to hold off on that decision (no proof copy before publishing? Really, Kindle?).

So, here’s what I recommend:

Traditional or Indie, who the f*** cares. Just do it. Either one.

More IWSG articles:

Pitfalls to Publishing

Changing Goals as Writers

Will my new book be a bang or a whimper?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Timefirst in the Man vs. Nature collection. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

72 thoughts on “#IWSG — What publishing path and why

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  7. I am so far behind on my favourite blogs! I loved your parting words…they made me laugh out loud. I can’t imagine that you would be difficult to work with, in fact I find it really hard to believe. You found what works for you and got your teachings and the worlds you build out to your readership so I agree whole heartedly with those closing comments 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’ve certainly given things a good try Jacqui. I think the industry is ever- changing so we must keep our roller skates on. Incidentally, CS is closing and all author’s books are being moved to KDP, and yes,. there are author copies available now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In my country Amazon doesn’t deliver and e-books are not sought. Agents don’t exist either, the editor/ publisher (for us is the same thing, a publishing house being called Editura) and the author are doing everything that the agents were supposed to.

    Self-publishing also isn’t a thing, except for people who have one book only in them, or they have the distribution ensured in a company or by a EU-funded project (and those can deal directly with a printing house, to have it printed without ISBN, this is the equivalent of self-publishing here).

    Others have the following options:

    – vanity press, which publishes for a fee, gives you all the copies in your car and you can do whatever with them. No publicity, no other help, but you have control on your rights and earnings (and have to organise marketing and sales yourself).

    – independent, small press (which publishes for a fee, but has connections in the literary world and offers a launching event with the participation of reputed writers and literary critics, several other literary events, presentation at book fairs, chronicles by known writers and literary critics) – and this is the path I have taken for the 3 published novels and I will keep taking. Also you have control on the earnings and on the rights. They are small presses and in the present economic conditions, when bancrupcy is so current, they can’t bear the risk of funding the publishing, this is why they require the writer to pay for the publishing but offer their help). Even writers who have been published for 20+ years and are members of the National Writers’ Union have to publish at small presses.

    – big press – usually restricted to known writers only (certain members of the National Writers’ Union) and for translation of foreign best-sellers. You don’t pay for publishing, but you don’t keep your rights at all either. You receive 20 copies as author’s rights, and any other you want to offer to someone you have to buy it like a common reader. You receive royalties depending on sales. This means a little sum each 3-6 months.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Rowe-Delamagente series has enough geek tech, several in my critique group accused me of writing sci fi–or fantasy. That made me think. I guess if StarTrek science is fantasy, yeah, I’m guilty.


  10. Man, you certainly manage to keep yourself busy. How do you even find time to write?

    I think some of us just don’t have the temperament for traditional publishing. I’m not sure I do. I’d have to find just the right agent and editor, and I don’t know what the chances of that happening are. I’ll probably just stick with being indie. Good luck with all your future endeavors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, my day job is home-based. That helps a lot. all that travel time, colleague water-cooler time, I write. But, I didn’t start until my kids were launched. I know exactly what you’re going through, Ken, raising kids, working, and oh, BTW, writing!


  11. Fascinating post, Jacqui. I enjoyed it.
    As far as paper, I’ve used both Kindle and Create Space. I found Kindle’s format easier, but I always hit a glitch with my cover on the style I want and so I lean toward Create Space. They have several options for proofing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Being an indie author today takes courage and commitment. Amazon has changed its rules to the Marketplace where third-party sellers are stealing our work and royalties. As a whole, we are seen as hacks when in fact there are many writers who have talent and should be paid and recognized. If you have a number of books with ISBN numbers I recommend you set up your bookstore through Ingram Spark called Aerio. Its free and you can list any book that is available through Ingram including books from number one big sellers like James Patterson. Here is my bookstore link https://aerbook.com/store/ModernMysticMedia. Another idea is http://www.Bublish.com where you can list all your books on your personal platform the online book marketing company. When you publish a book bubble or chapter, Bublish will push out your book on Twitter with links back to the online bookstores where people can buy the book immediately. My new novel, “Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Novel” has been on Bublish for two years for pre-marketing. I have had over 100,000 people read my book bubbles. These are two examples of how to find new ways for indie authors to get your books known. The traditional publishing industry is pushing back with its rigid rules. Amazon once of a friend of authors is undermining our income and livelihood. There are a lot of changes in publishing and new ways to overcome the bullies and pirates.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Jacqui – well you’re a wealth of information with all the hardwork you’ve put in for your own books, sites and helping others … so please keep on for our sake! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You’ve run the gauntlet of publishing, Jacqui. I always look to you as one of my models and I suspect I’ll be even more ignored than you once I seriously start to query. Past query attempts have proved fruitless, I’m not expecting a miracle, but still want to try traditional publishing route first. Likely this route will block all entries for me. So, I’ll self publish and hope I don’t muck up the techie stuff too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jacqui,

    I think electing to be an Indie author is an excellent idea because the reality is that it’s hard to break into traditional publishing marketplace. It appears some self-published authors have moderate success going this route and I applaud all those including you for pursuing such a doable niche. I know if I ever get the itch again then I will probably go back down this road with my next book but hopefully, I put more effort into. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Jacqui, It was fascinating to read your publishing history, though I admit, a little daunting. I have considered querying agents and this makes me think that perhaps I ought to just continue down the path I am trodding. Besides, everyone wants you to have a big platform in place anyway. Well, that’s the part I can’t stand. If I have to do that, why share my royalties, too? You are doing an amazing job. Being a writer isn’t for sissies.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Indie or traditional, who the F**k cares. Exactly. Years ago, I asked several readers who published the last book they read. They didn’t know. Readers don’t care about who publishes books; they just want good books.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Indie opens up a whole new world for new writers. However, it is also important to understand from traditional publishers, if possible, why they would not like to take up your book. Remember, these are the guys who are in it as a business. Most of the time they have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not.


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