Monday, February 4, 2013

Indie Vs. Traditional: Round 4



  • Pros:
    • They can get the word out and are featured prominently at chain bookstores and online. So you have a boost right away
    • People trust what they know
    • You have a better chance at hitting the best seller list and your book becoming big
  • Cons:
    • They may be trying so hard to mass market that they miss the real gem inside your book
    • If it flops, it usually happens right away and it's tougher to get a second book deal
  • Pros:
    • You can publish a book designed to fit the needs of a small or particular audience
    • You build your name as an author over time and by word of mouth, so if you don't "make it big" right off the bat, you're still doing just fine
  • Cons:
    • It's tough to get noticed
    • You have to work hard to get the book in the hands of the right people to spread the word 
What do you think? Did I get that right? It's tough to say, but that's what I've gleaned so far. Next time? The final round: Personal Satisfaction.


  1. Great series, Lisa. I think you've gotten this right. Another pro of traditional marketing is that you get the advice of their publicist and help in designing your marketing plan if you get a good one.

    Another pro of self-publishing is that you can get books out more frequently (you might have already said that) but need to watch not to publish too many too quickly.

  2. I think you're doing a great job of showcasing the ups and downs of both types of publishing! Looking forward to the next installment :)

  3. featured prominently at chain bookstores
    Since publishers pay for the "featured prominently" part, there's a pretty limited pool of authors that applies to. It could be you! You could get an endcap at B&N or a face-out placement on the bookshelf. But with shrinking space for books at each bricks-n-mortar store, and less stores overall (B&N says they're closing a third of their stores over the next 10 years), I'm thinking this pro has diminishing value.

    Indie Pro: You can price yourself so that people who DON'T know you will give you a shot, and not have to worry about spending $9.99 for an unknown author. And the truth is, no matter how many books you've sold, you're still an unknown author to almost everyone who read you for the first time. Getting to the point where your reputation proceeds you... that happens AFTER you've sold crazy-tons-of-books.

    You have a better chance at hitting the best seller list and your book becoming big
    This I would say is partially true, partly not. If your book is a hit, trad-pub can take you even further by putting you prominently in bookstores and investing mega-bucks in a coordinated national publicity campaign. They can make the hits bigger hits. But do they give you a better chance at hitting the best seller lists in the first place? I don't think so, because of the price disadvantage. It's much harder to sell 30,000 copies at $7.99 than at $2.99. MUCH harder. This is part of the reason that indies are a significant fraction of the books on the fiction bestseller lists on Amazon (and increasingly on the NYTimes and USA Today bestseller lists as well). When Colleen Hoover got her print-only deal with S&S (she's an indie author who hit the NYTimes bestseller list), I perused the top 100 on Amazon for Romance (and extremely competitive category, meaning you have to move a LOT of books to get on it). About half of the titles were indie titles. HALF. Price is a big advantage.

    You have to work hard to get the book in the hands of the right people to spread the word
    You list this as a con for indie, but I think this is a con for any book. You can't just sit back and let the publisher do all the marketing for you. Actually... you CAN do that, but I think it's a myth that publishers market the heck out of your book when you trad-pub and you can sit back and just write. At the same time, as an indie you don't HAVE to work hard at marketing your book, and I've seen some books take off with minimal marketing. In the end, no matter how it's published, it's really the book that sells itself.

  4. I have to agree that I see more traditional authors working their butts off in social media before and after their release, hoping/praying they'll sell through and get that second book deal, because they didn't get much from their publisher.

    And then this past fall, I saw a book receive a huge advance and significant marketing power from NY, and from what I could tell it totally flopped.

    It really is about the book. What I love is when a traditional book gets little or no marketing or money, and then skyrockets!

  5. Great points! I really am enjoying this series. :)

  6. I'm loving these posts. You do such a great job of sharing the pros and cons of both sides, which many don't do, since they tend to be biased to prefer one or the other. Can't wait to read the final round!

  7. Looks good to me, Lisa. I've been learning so much from your posts.

  8. Marketing is for sure the hardest part of being indie. It's nice if your book does well in a hot genre, b/c then it feels like the marketing just does itself. But that doesn't always happen. In fact, I think it's kind of rare.

    But like Sue said (and like I've heard from lots of traditionally pubbed authors), most times you're doing a lot of your own marketing w/those guys, too. Unless you're like one of the handful of superstars.

    GREAT posts, LG! :o) <3

  9. Again, well-stated with these pros/cons! Yeah, marketing can be tough...especially for introverts :)

  10. Yep! It's quite a toss up, isn't it? I take vitamins nowadays.

  11. Great points! I guess like with any book, it all comes down to story. If it's good, people will spread the word and others will read it. We can all hope for that!

  12. Ah, fickle audience what method shall please ye?

  13. Another con of indie is that you have to do all the leg work yourself to get your books to the right audience.
    great series!


  14. Great honest thoughts. Indie has wonderful flexibility, but it's more difficult to market. It works well for people who think creatively marketing-wise!