WorldCon 2018 Report: Day Four — The Paths to Publishing

19 Aug

The publishing market continues to evolve with new technology, new business models, and an ever-changing ecosystem of publishers, booksellers, and distributors. Professional writers looking to profit from their work have more choices than ever. How do you choose between pursuing an indie career or a traditional one? What are the benefits to working with a larger publisher? What are the opportunities available if you do it all yourself? Panelists will discuss the paths to publishing success, how to decide between the options, and the factors that go into making the decision.

Panel: SL Huang, Amanda Bridgeman, Scott H. Andrews, Wesley Chu, Linda Nagata

  • Self-Publishing
    • What do you like to read?
    • Reading short stories vs. novels: “Nibbling on a cracker vs. gorging on a steak.”
    • Be at the point where you’ve actually written something; there’s really no point in doing it sooner
    • How much time (patience) are you willing to invest to do traditional publishing?
    • short fiction is a great way to learn the craft; however, it’s a completely different muscle than writing a novel
    • it’s easier to go from traditional publishing to self-publishing than the reverse; it does happen, but those instances are actually quite rare
    • if you’re not patient, you probably shouldn’t be a writer (particularly if you want to go the traditional publishing route)
    • “There is no easy path.”
    • self-publishing takes a lot of time and mind-time
    • “You have it love it.” (all of the aspects of self-publishing)
    • “Even with traditional publishing, you will get stuck with a lot of the promotion.”
    • “At the end of the day, it’s your book and your career.”
    • It can get frustrating with traditional publishing to get the promotion that you want
    • “Being in control can be very satisfying.”
    • “We don’t see the back end of things with traditional publishing.”
    • “The path of a career in writing is littered with dead associates.” (I think he meant this metaphorically)
  • Agents
    • “An agent is like dating.”
    • at the end, it’s a business relationship
    • “You need to value yourself.” (Don’t stick with a bad agent.)
    • Some agents wear many hats
      • some are editors
      • some are contracts
      • some are sales people
  • “We are declining and depressed industry.”
  • audiobooks are harder to produce outside of the U.S. (because some countries don’t support the royalty-share model)
  • Misconceptions (about self-publishing and writing)
    • “It’s not a mean to print money.” (Sure, some writers get fantastically successful, but you probably won’t.)
    • “If you’re writing for the love of it, you’ll be far happier.”
    • “If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it.” (about writing)
    • “If you need alcohol to write, don’t write.”
    • need an inner drive
    • “When you’re contractually obligated to write, then you’re a writer.”
    • “Everybody in their life has one good book in them.”
  • Social networking
    • if you have no social network presence, then write more books
    • can be very valuable for making connections
    • use it as just another tool in your promotional toolbox
    • you do need to monitor your time on it (vs. actually writing)
  • Promotions
    • email newsletters are the best, but take a lot of time
    • BookBub is a great way to sell lots of copies at a low price
  • How to tell a bad agent
    • want money up front or a reading fee
    • they don’t treat you with respect
    • they ignore your messages
    • people keep bad agents because they believe they must have one

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