Saturday, July 5, 2014

ASK PZM - July 2014

Q. Do you have any new thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

I recently read on Wattpad an advice article for aspiring authors by Hugh Howey that I thought had a great deal of food for thought.

(Howey is the self-published author whose success with the dystopian WOOL via Amazon’s KDP led to a book deal with Simon & Schuster for the physical book rights while Howey kept the ebook rights.)

Howey said that you “are much better off with your 10th work exploding than your 1st work.”

I’ve provided the link below to Howey’s entire article so you can read this statement in context.  For me, this comment reminded me that success with self-published works can lead to other opportunities.
For example, the self-published novel of an author I know has won four different awards.  An agent is submitting this novel to traditional publishers even though before self-publication the novel had been passed over by publishers.  Now that there is social proof of how many readers love the book, publishers are more willing to consider the book.

As authors we need to be flexible: A publishing or marketing strategy that may be appropriate at one stage may not be the best strategy at another stage.

This is one reason for following the book publishing industry – keeping abreast of new trends and new opportunities for both traditional and self-published authors.

Whether we publish in different genres (Howey does this) or the same genre all the time, we need to keep an eye on the synergy of how one project could positively impact another project.

For example, I just completed a Cold War memoir – TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY – on Wattpad and I am now looking for an agent and publisher for this project.

Suddenly a project I unsuccessfully worked on in 2007 has resurfaced as a possible nonfiction book that could be a companion to TALES.   Thus I queried an agent for both projects together.

In conclusion, if we are committed to our book writing, we should periodically review our current strategy in light of industry trends and our own situations.  Then we should brainstorm whether a new direction might be appropriate.   




Q: What do you think of entering book and story contests?

Although I know authors who have had success with entering contests, I’m divided on the issue.
Actually, I’m all for free contests.  Why not submit if your already written content is appropriate for a contest? 

The contests requiring a submission fee are the ones that I question.

Your marketing budget (it is a marketing expenditure) and common sense are good measuring sticks for entering contests.

If your marketing budget is large, submitting to numerous contests may be worthwhile.  But if your marketing budget is not large, careful consideration of the perceived value of a particular contest is important.  After all, the prestige of each contest is not equal.

And what about time taken away from writing in order to enter a contest?

If it is simply a submission application, that is one thing.  But what if you have to write a new short story in order to submit?  Is it worth interrupting another writing project to do this?

The answer to these questions will be different for each of us, but these questions are important to consider.

P.S.  If you do write a short story specifically for a contest, check whether you can then publish the short story yourself.  You could sell this as a short story on Kindle, for example, or publish it for free on a site such as Wattpad.  In either case you can include information and links about your other written work.


Tweet #1. Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?   (click to tweet)
Tweet #2. Should writers enter book and story contests? (click to tweet)



Phyllis Zimbler Miller on Twitter is at http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller and she is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. Her fiction books on Amazon can be found atwww.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction books atwww.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller 

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics atwww.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/






37 comments :

  1. My publisher has entered a couple of my books in contests (two of them won!) but I've never paid to enter one.

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    1. Nor should you, Captain. Best of luck with the next ones.

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  2. Keep an eye on the trends because it's all in the timing.

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  3. I think success get happen at any time in a career. Some people are fortunate to have their first book take off but sometimes it happens later. My bestselling book was my 9th book and then it helped sales of my back list.

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    1. Good point. They say it's not good if your first book is a huge success. Too hard to overcome. Thanks, Susan.

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  4. Interesting article, thanks for the link. I am working on the inventory while still submitting. I keep a word count card beside me for encouragement and to remind me to keep at it.
    Just read a short story by Howey from Robot Uprisings. The name was fresh in my mind.

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    1. Good luck with your endeavours, DG. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Thank you, PZM. All that info and Howie's article are food for thought.

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  6. This is helpful and interesting, Joylene! Thank you for sharing it.

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  7. Hey Joylene,

    I most certainly wouldn't pay to enter a writing contest. I don't enter writing contests because it would be unfair to the rest of those competing. Maybe I should enter a writing contest, after all. I could do an article on being deluded!

    I shall take the liberty of sharing this posting and tweeting away. Thanks for all the info.

    Have a good rest of your weekend, eh.

    Gary

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    1. Thanks for your continuing support, Gary. You rock, my good friend.

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  8. Hugh Howey is my hero. Seriously. Just had to say that. As for the topic, I think about my first novels and I'm glad they didn't sell. They were awful. If they had been successful, I might not have been driven to write better. That said, I wouldn't turn down the fame and money.

    I never enter book contests. Probably never will. I certainly wouldn't pay for one, but I also think my publications are already in a contest with every other book out there in the bookstores. I guess it would be nice to put "winner of" on my book, but I don't care that much

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    1. With every other book out there... good way to look at it, Nigel. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. I'm all for entering freebie writing contents if only for the thrill of it!! And if you do win, what a great boost to one's self-confidence! Or if you don't win, it's worth reading up on the winning stories to see why they won (they'd normally have reasons given by the competition judges)!

    All the best with Pinky Swear, PZM! Take care
    x

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    1. Thanks so much, Old Kitty. Which reminds me... it's not right me calling you old since I'm older than you are.

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  10. I never pay to enter a contest. I don't like the idea of it. I do like the idea that if the 10th book explodes your others will be noticed. I just finished re-reading Cannery Row. It wasn't a success until Grapes of Wrath was published, yet it's a great book. . .as good as, IMO, than G of W.

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    1. I love Cannery Row even more than GOW. I know, I'm weird. GOW was too sad for me. Thanks, Lee.

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  11. Thanks for all the info and link to the article...off to read all now.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly. Always great to see you.

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  12. Thanks for the link to the Hugh Howey article. My main thought on self-publishing is that it depends on the book--- if it is a standard Harlequin-type romance, one would wonder why the author didn't just submit to Harlequin. But if it doesn't quite fit into publishers' niches, it makes much more sense to self-publish and the reader won't assume you were just not good enough for the publishers.

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    1. Excellent way of looking at it, Annakindt. Some publishers just don't want to take a chance. Self-publishing makes it happen.

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  13. I don't pay for contests either. Hopefully my local group won't talk me into entering theirs this year. It's too expensive for not much in return.

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    1. I tried a few with my 2nd novel. You're right it was expensive. Thanks M.

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  14. I agree, we do have to be flexible. I've self and traditionally published and see the pros and cons to each. I'm thankful that we have so many options. Thanks, Phyllis, for your insight. It always speaks to and encourages me. Thanks, Joylene, for hosting! :)

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    1. And thank you, Karen, for your continual support. Means a lot.

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  15. I wouldn't pay to enter a contest either, however, having the chance to say you won a contest or runner-up or even placed does add credit to your author status. Looks good when subbing to an agent or publisher. So maybe the freebies would be okay to enter if I have something in my drawer? I'm signed up on wattpad, but haven't added anything to it because I didn't know if it would be worthwhile, but Phyllis sounds like it must be a good way to get your work known. Always pick up great information from PZM's posts. Thank you.

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    1. You have a great attitude, Janet. I think your hard work will pay off. Hopefully big time.

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  16. Hmm. Food for thought here - a lot of it. I've been considering some contests, so I need to spend some more time thinking and researching!

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    1. That's the attitude, Liz. We all need to research before jumping in with both feet. Thanks for visiting.

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  17. Good point about contests! Opportunity cost is always a factor. :)

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  18. I like the idea of free contests! I also agree that it is important to pay attention to industry trends. We live in a world that is constantly changing and it is important to keep up with the times. Who knows what opportunities we will find!

    Best of luck!
    ~Jess

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    1. I know I have to be consistent, otherwise, I find a new trend the day after it's expired. Thanks DMS.

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  19. Some food for thought here...
    ...and I'm the kind of person who believes that timing plays a crucial role in success... the right place, at the right time, with the right product... but you'll only discover all of this at that precise moment, so you have to be alert and ready to recognise and seize the opportunity when it arises... tricky!
    I'm off to read the Hugh Howey article.

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