24 January 2013 - 12:32 pm

Traditional publishing: why bother?

Which way to go? Picture by dumbledad

Which way to go?
Picture by dumbledad

I have been pondering this question for many months. As I grow closer to the end of Starwalker, what I do with it next nags at me more and more. Recent posts might give the impression that I have already made a choice (and I suspect that, in my heart, I have already decided to go indie again), but it’s still worth laying out the arguments: independent vs traditional publishing.

Starwalker is more marketable and, I believe, easier to sell to a publisher than The Apocalypse Blog would have been. Vampire Electric is similar; steampunk and paranormal romance are hot genres at the moment. I think I’d have a good chance at getting a traditional deal with either story (as much as you can ever know these things).

However, indie publishing isn’t the last resort of those who can’t get traditional deals any more. It’s on the rise, blazing right up next to the big publishing houses. The publishing world is changing.

But it’s also easy to get swept up in the hype and that’s not always a good choice. I won’t run with the crowd just because that’s the way the mob is going. I’d rather make my own choices.

The truth is there’s no simple way to go any more. What’s best for me, for my career, for my books and sales and readers? These are the real questions I’m asking and I’m struggling to find a definitive answer.

I started this post thinking it would be a simple job to lay it all out. But the more I got into it, the longer the post became until I had created a monstrosity. So I’m going to take a different approach. I’m making this a series of posts. I’ll be looking at the pros and cons of each approach, across as many areas as I can think of.

I’ll be discussing things like:

There might be more added to the list, depending on what crops up while I’m considering all of that. In the meantime, I aim to look at the publishing world with an open mind. I hope you’ll join me!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (1)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (2)
  • More pls (1)


  1. Francisco says:

    You may be interested in a recent episode of BBC World Service’s Business Daily.

    January 24th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

  2. Mel says:

    I’ll check that out, thanks! 🙂

    January 24th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

  3. Emma Pooka says:

    This sounds really interesting – I’ve been thinking about these questions, too, though I’ve not yet gone either way with my own work. I’m publishing for free on blogs for the first time, and finding it immensely rewarding – I love getting reader feedback, every “like” and “share” and “retweet” is a boost at the moment, and I’m tentatively taking steps towards publicising Bad Influences more widely, on webfic directory sites etc.
    Thing is, blogfic is very much designed to be read on blogs, and the real-time serialisation is such an important part of it, I’m not sure Bad Influences would even really work in another format. It’s interesting to see what you’ve done with the Apocalypse Blog, though.
    Really enjoying your work and your analysis. 🙂

    January 26th, 2013 at 10:38 pm

  4. Mel says:

    Thanks, Emma! And welcome to the blog. 🙂

    Yeah, the fictional blog format is a little odd when converting it to a book. The notion of ‘chapters’ doesn’t quite fit, which is why I ended up with posts and parts. It seems to work well enough, though, and there are many webfic readers who prefer to get their stories in a single hit (mostly so they know the story is finished), so I’m happy to provide it that way.

    There’s an interesting discussion going on about this on the Web Fiction Guide forums, if you haven’t seen it already!

    I’ll hopefully get the next in this series up soon.

    January 27th, 2013 at 10:30 am

  5. Emma Pooka says:

    Thanks – I’ve been meaning to get involved on that forum, just not sure where to start! 🙂

    It is annoying to get into a web serial that just stops halfway, but it becomes a very different form once the serialisation is taken out entirely. Even though mine is strictly real-time, my story was pre-written and edited before I started posting it, so it will definitely get to the end! That turned out to be a good move, because when I was about halfway through the first draft I realised a lot of the beginning and one of the characters just didn’t work, and made some big changes that improved it considerably. I still find I’m making small changes as I go along, partly to improve pacing as I discover how it works in real-time, partly to respond to reader/participant comments.

    January 28th, 2013 at 12:32 am

  6. Mel says:

    The web serial sounds like fun, Emma! Good luck with it. 🙂 I definitely enjoyed the real-time aspect of the Apocalypse Blog. But I was writing as I went, so no rewrites for me. Not until the ebooks, anyway!

    Just hop in on the WFG forums; I usually just browse the top threads every now and then, and go from there. Say hi, they’re a friendly bunch.

    January 29th, 2013 at 2:33 pm