What’s worth most?

When I started to write, I didn’t think much about whether people liked what I wrote or not. I had to get the stories out of my mind. But as soon as I reached the point where I decided to have a career not a hobby, I looked at published stories in my genres. Yes, there were moments when I thought ‘How could they publish this rubbish’ but more often I wondered why no publisher brought anything different from what was there.

Then, J.K. Rowling proved to publishers that readers do read stuff that’s different and filled with new ideas. I thought everything would change now — far from it. Again, publishers were chasing trends, this time in Fantasy. My (enthusiastic) agent has offered five different manuscripts to German publishers, and even when the editors liked it, we got a polite “No thanks, it’s too different/wrong time” (depending on the genre).

Frustrated, I began to hone my English and started writing my stories in my second language. Lo and behold, I got recognized. Readers of samples, flash and short stories told me they loved what I did. I even got shortlisted for two awards. So, when the eBook revolution opened a whole new set of opportunities, I took my chances. My first eBook “Urchin King” sells slowly but continually. I’m not earning millions, but I get feedback from readers who love my story. This pushes me to write faster, so I can publish another one soon.

Sometimes at night, I am wondering. I read an online article recently where an author’s contract was canceled because she self-published with amazon. Would it have been better to wait for “The Deal”?

I don’t think so. Sure, I’d have gotten a lump payment up front but what then? I’d have to start writing my stories the way my publishers want, and if readers need time to find me and connect with me, traditional publishers won’t give much time to me. They pulp books if they don’t sell fast enough. Where does that leave the midlist and the longseller?

What do you think? Are authors better off on their own? Or with a traditional publisher? Or is a mix of both the best option? I love the independence eBook publishing gives me, but I’m not fully set against tradition publishers. After all, money is tight in these times.

Tell me your opinion.

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About Cat-Gerlach

I am an author and a triple mum. I am living in Northern Germany with my family and my dog.

Posted on October 25, 2011, in about writing, Authors - Katharina Gerlach. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. After several years in this crazy business, I’ve decided I’m better off on my own. I went the agent route, and trying to write stories that she thought would sell nearly killed my desire to write.

    I may never get rich as an indie published writer, but I’m much happier. My work is selling steadily, and I’m writing the stories that are important to me. I figure I’m better off being happy in the indie world than frustrated and blocked in the traditional publishing arena.

    But then, that’s just me.

  2. I agree. One of my problems is that I love to write for kids and they are not (yet) able to buy online for themselves. So I’ve got to convince not only my target readers but their parents/guardians too that my stories are worth their money. I thought that the traditional publishing route will validate my non-traditional stories somewhat.

  3. I hear you. I’m in the same boat. I enjoy writing my Debbie Mumford stories, but I *LOVE* writing the Deb Logan stuff. Now, if I can just find my target audience and get past the parental gatekeepers…

    Ah well. No one said this was an easy business *lol*

  4. What a shocker, that folks like us would come in favor of self-pub! And I think we all made the right decision, with results appropriate to our separate levels.

    Cat, you did right not waiting for “the deal”. YOU are the deal, and the fact that publishers will one day recognize that is just the icing on the cake as we say. What Deb points out about the inner rewards of writing is something we’ve all felt. And having the access to put your work out there on your own creates beneficial pressure to get more writing done, which is surely the main thing.

    Selling to kids, I never thought about that particular problem. But they are getting more autonomous, especially with technology- and the price is right!

  5. I’m with Debbie. I also nearly lost the spark due to sending out submission after submission and hearing nothing at all, even after requesting and receiving guidelines and adhering meticulously to them. I was overjoyed to find out how much e-publishing is taking off and I’m liking what I’m seeing out there.

    • I’m there too. I get plenty of full requests but then only rejections. I’m so fed up. I know my books are not bad, so why not try a different route. It’s only my MG stuff I’m not sure about.

  6. Traditional publishers too often publish what sells in spite of the story. I’ve read smaller publishing houses for years now, so I much prefer indie authors.

    • I sometimes wonder WHY those stories sell. Are people who buy mainstream stories different from those who buy Indie?

      • Sometimes the name sells. I’ve put down in disgust books with big promotional budgets and crossed those authors off my list of books to buy.

        Why they do keep selling is a good question. Since I read both commercially published and indie fiction, I’m not a good example.

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