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For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way

21 March 2016

From The Guardian:

A few days ago, I wrote a piece on my blog exploding the myth of the rich writer, and laying out (in terms the Royal Literary Fund described as “ruthlessly mathematical”) what authors actually receive when you buy their books. The simple answer for many of us is nothing at all, after that heady advance in the case of my most recent novel, which was £5,000 for two years’ work.

The blog was widely shared on social media, and viewed by nearly 10,000 people in its first week. The shock, agreement and commiserations were followed swiftly by people telling me what I really need to do is self-publish.

Now, I understand that “indie publishing” is all the rage, but you might as well be telling Luke Skywalker to go to the dark side. Despite royalty rates of 70%, I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists (by which I mean, novelists who take writing seriously, and love to write). Here’s why.

You have to forget writing for a living

If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living. Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing. The self-published author who came to my blog to preach the virtues of his path, claiming to make five figures a month from Kindle sales of his 11 novels, puts his writing time percentage in single figures. If that sounds like fun to you, be my guest. But if your passion is creating worlds and characters, telling great stories, and/or revelling in language, you might want to aim for traditional publication.

Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool

Imagine we have just met. I invite you into my house and the first thing you do is show me the advertising blurb for your book and press me to check it out on Amazon. Then you read me the blurb for someone else whose book you’ve agreed to promote if they’ll do the same with yours. Then you tell me how many friends you’ve lost today, and that I can find out how many friends I’ve lost by using this app. Then you poke a reader review of your book under my nose. All within the first 10 minutes. Does this lead me to conclude you are a successful author, whose books I might like to buy? Or a desperate egomaniac with no thought for other people?

. . . .

You risk looking like an amateur

Good writers need even better editors. They need brilliant cover designers. They need imaginative marketers and well-connected publicists. All these things are provided by a traditional publisher, and what’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny. They pay you! If a self-published author wants to avoid looking like an amateur, they’d better be prepared to shell out some serious dosh to get professional help in all the areas where they don’t excel. And I mean serious. Paying some poor bugger in the Philippines a fiver, or bunging £50 to your PhotoShopping nephew will not result in a distinctive, professional-looking cover. And don’t get me started on the value of good editors, copy-editors and proof-readers, and how many times they have saved me from looking like a twonk. Providing these services to indie authors is a lucrative business. Indeed, many indie authors keep themselves afloat financially by offering these services to other indie authors: the new “authorpreneur” pyramid scheme. Which is all very well if what you’ve always wanted to do is start your own writing-related business. But if you’d rather be an author, why not practice your skill until you’ve written something a publisher will pay for? And enjoy the fact they’ll also foot the bill for everything else.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Gene for the tip.

Regarding looking like an amateur: £5,000 for two years’ work sounds more like a hobbyist than a professional author.

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Non-US, Self-Publishing

114 Comments to “For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way”

  1. “Regarding looking like an amateur: £5,000 for two years’ work sounds more like a hobbyist than a professional author.”

    He writes for The Guardian. Your point being?

    Take care

  2. This guy needs to read the PV article on James Patterson writing shorter works to increase productivity.

    And as for indies not loving writing or not taking it seriously…bite me.

    Dan

    I hope my vulgarity makes it through PG’s filter because the comment I left in my head certainly would have been bleeped.

  3. The simple answer for many of us is nothing at all, after that heady advance in the case of my most recent novel, which was £5,000 for two years’ work.

    I make more than than in a fortnight. What a joker.

    • But Mark, you’re not a serious writer! You can’t possibly love writing!

      What I really want to write won’t make it through the filter, either, D. C. It would look a lot like this: Xjow80jhgggp893j???! Ccm0934jalsmflvc;j9ejkf!!! Eof owiermvl wiri fhe!!!!!!!!

      And the OP’s ears would burn off.

      • Sheila, this is astoundingly paranormal.

        Xjow80jhgggp893j???! Ccm0934jalsmflvc;j9ejkf!!! Eof owiermvl wiri fhe is exactly what I had in mind. 🙂

        Dan

  4. What better person could there be to compare two approaches than someone who has experience with exactly one of the two?

    We could perhaps look at the words (nay, actions!) of someone who has been both trad and indie pubbed and draw our conclusions from that. Nah.

    The only people who can “write for a living” are those with enough wealth to afford to. Strangely enough one excellent way to accumulate such wealth seems to be to indie publish. Ssh. Don’t tell anyone.

    Also, I am not sure that wise trad pubs are looking to do major deals with authors who state out loud like that that they have no interest in the marketing side. Could this be related to the “heady” 5k advance of which the author complains? Or maybe from a publisher’s POV, such myopia is now a selling point in an author since anyone who *could* market would soon decide to do so, without the “help” from a publisher?

  5. The comments are a lot of fun though! Everyone seems to be telling him how stupid he sounds. With good reason.

  6. I’m pretty sure writing that article makes you look like much more like an amateur than self publishing.

  7. ” #238,976 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #12931 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction
    #16107 in Books > Fiction > Literary Fiction”

    But wait. What if she’s making oodles in print?

    “Buy directly from the author at full price: author gets £4.50* (minus any postage)
    Buy from an independent bookshop/Hive: author gets 67p
    Buy from large-chain bookshop: author gets somewhere between 40-67p
    Buy from Amazon: author gets 40p
    But second-hand from Amazon marketplace: author gets nothing.
    Buy from second-hand bookshop or charity shop: author gets nothing.
    Borrow from library: author gets 7.67p”

    Hang on. Her best profit margin is manually selling paperbacks via the post office? Hello system which sounds very much like the Vanity Press model circa 1990. I wish people would stop saying you don’t pay publishers. Of course you bloody do – via a profit share which is lopsidedly in their favour.

    If Ros wants money, Ros has to start by writing stuff people actually want to read.

  8. All these things are provided by a traditional publisher, and what’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny. They pay you!

    They pay you after they take a cut of the profits. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not free. They pay for all those things out of the revenue from the book. It’s not free. Then they pocket more than the author. It’s not free. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • And let’s not forget how some publishers have played hinky games with assigning rights to subsidiaries and cheating authors out of full royalties due.

      The guy who wrote that article is obviously delusional and pathetically uninformed about the truth of trad-pub versus indie-pub and self-pubbing.

    • No, they don’t pay you; you pay *them* for the next century. Over and over, every single day you toil in poverty.

      These people are seriously undervalueing their output.

      (Even titles running in the 200k range are worth more that op is getting.)

      • Reality Observer

        I figured out just now that if I wrote just 10% of the time – on a 9-5, five days a week schedule – I would easily have 250K words done in two years time.

        So, he is either a very dedicated and very slow writer – or he’s doing something else with the other 90% of his time (obviously not marketing that he hates).

        (Like many others on this one, I had to edit heavily between the brain and the keyboard. There are some speculations about just what he IS doing with that other time that would just make more work for PG.)

  9. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    *breathe*

    *gulp of tea*

    *giggle*

    On the plus side, PG is making me appreciate Taylor Swift.

    • She’s a brilliant businesswoman. And a fair amount of her music is good. Her contribution to The Hunger Games soundtrack–Safe and Sound–was superb.

  10. Another “I’ve never SP’d but can provide expert commentary on every aspect of SP and cite precisely how every single indie spends 10-50-90% of all their time” article.

    I think I’ve cracked the case on why this guy only makes 2500 a year; he’s a f$#%ing idiot.

  11. Let’s see…

    My earnings during my many traditionally pubbed years averaged $25,000/year.

    My earnings now that I’m indie? $60,000 – $80,000. A month.

    I’m happy to risk looking like an amateur for that kind of payday.

  12. “I haven’t done it, but I will tell you why it’s awful.”

    Wow………do we have a three letter code for this type of article?

  13. I wonder what % of his time is spent on earning a living vs. writing, which would be a fair comparison to the amount of time an indie spends marketing.

    Oh, no it isn’t. When an indie spends time marketing, that is an investment in one’s writing career; the gains continue to pay off in seling one’s books. When one works for a living for somebody else, the employer benefits from the work. when one works for a living outside of a writing career, that career benefits from the investment — but not one’s writing.

    Another author being abused by tradpubs because he doesn’t understand business or how to defend the value of his own work.

  14. PG, I can’t imagine why you didn’t link to this guy’s books like you do with others. You might make a few …

    *checks books*

    oh I see. Not worth the effort.

    (I was going to apologize for the snark, but then I looked at her books. Another “Marlowe wrote Shakespeare” novel? Tripped my wire for intelligence, I’m afraid.)

  15. Writers with this attitude remind me of the character in the horror movie who says, “Oh, I’ll be fine here where all the gruesome murders are happening. You guys go ahead.”

  16. What I got out of the OP was a great deal of fear of ‘going it alone’ by publishing her own work.

    “You risk looking like an amateur

    “Good writers need even better editors. They need brilliant cover designers. They need imaginative marketers and well-connected publicists. All these things are provided by a traditional publisher, and what’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny.”

    Finding the “Right Editor” “Right Copy Editor” “Right Cover Artist” requires work and can be a terrifying prospect for someone who’s never done it. Shelling out cold hard cash for services, when you are the only person vetting this employee is pretty scary. It’s VERY hard to find and afford people who can do quality work.

    The prospect of seeking out and hiring such a person would be twice as terrifying for a perfectionist with social anxiety.

    Then there is the fear of failure with no one but yourself to blame, combined with all the years of conditioning that trade publishing is The Only True Way.

    There were over 5 million e-books on Amazon just a couple years ago, I’m sure there are more now.

    That’s a pretty big pond.

    Trade publishing has a much smaller pond. Little fish get to hide behind the big fish. Much more comfortable place for a perfectionist with social anxiety.

    So I understand why someone would be afraid while they peer out of their comfortable little pond, staring down an ocean of competitors.

    She might surprise herself and stick her toe in the ocean eventually.

    • Reality Observer

      As noted, all of that is not “free.”

      And with a 5,000 pound advance (sorry, too tired tonight to pull up another app) – most likely, her “good editor” is some high school dropout in the mail room, her “brilliant cover designer” is the eight-year-old “talented” child of a bigwig, and the copy editor – well, unlikely to be human, you could hope that at least a decent spell-checker program was used on it.

      The “well connected publicist” is the mailing list to bookstores – with luck, her book might actually get into the next catalog update.

      • I hear you.

        Still, it does take extra effort and a whole lot of courage to step out of the shadow of a Big Fish and go full DIY publishing.

        I bet you she dabbles in it eventually.

  17. Tolkien had it figured:

    ‘I would have things as they were in all the days of my life,’ answered Denethor, ‘and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil. But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught: neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honour abated.’

  18. The guy’s obviously a literary snob kind of writer who knows absolutely nothing about self-publishing.

    Therefore, I wouldn’t give him or his books any freaking attention at all. Even trad-pubbed authors need to “market” themselves. His writing to marketing ratios are completely out of whack, and he makes himself sound like an idiot.

    Yeah, and that was the nice version of the comment I wanted to leave.

    • I think you found another problem for OP, they’re sitting at home, worrying solely about their “art” while depending on the BPH to do all that mundane and soulless “business “stuff”. The lit-snob is indeed strong with this one.

      • Turning the “business stuff” entirely over to the agent and BPH is a perfect way to get screwed on the contract and other “business stuff.”

        • …thereby living in poverty.
          It’s rather like the medieval monks making vows of poverty as proof of their religious fervor.

  19. Also, let me add, who the F**K does that moron think he is saying that those of us who write for a living don’t take it seriously or love to write??

    How dare he!

    I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t take it seriously and love to write. It’d be a hobby, if that was the case. It’s not a hobby. It’s my career, because I always WANTED to be able to make a living as a writer. It was my dream job from when I was an early teenager. Am I making Stephen King money? No, but I’m doing better than a lot of writers and managing to get our bills paid mostly on time. So that’s a pretty big deal, in my mind. I’m the primary breadwinner in our household. I hope to increase those earnings, but I’m certainly not alone. There are self-pubbed and indie-pubbed authors out there making a lot more than I am who are writing because they take it seriously and love to do it.

    I’m SICK and TIRED of these “literary” writers who think trying to make money as a writer is some nasty thing to be scraped off the bottom of one’s shoe like dog poo.

    “Commercial” writers are every bit as valid as “literary” writers. Full stop.

    Any literary writer who doesn’t like the fact that people, oh, like to SPEND MONEY ON OUR BOOKS can go stuff themselves.

    PTTHHHPPP!

  20. “If genre fiction is chart music, literary fiction is opera: the audience is small”

    After reading this I had to barf before going on. If you want to write to a small audience, do so and quit bellyaching.

    “You can put all of that effort in, do all that marketing, and still not make a living.”

    Sounds like what 99.9% of all writers come up with pursuing trade publishing.

  21. As my mother used to say, “Ignorance is bliss.”

    I see no reason to try to enlighten these people. Let them stay where they are – out of the way.

    • I second this. Don’t want to self-publish? Great! More room for those of us doing it right. 😉

    • This exactly. As long as she doesn’t spread misinformation to innocent newbies, I’m good with her insistence on keeping out of the way.

    • Good point. They’ll stay a “broke writer” because they never make an attempt to connect in any meaningful way with their readers.

      So us “less-than” writers can go out and sell books.

      Sucks to be them. Hope the hole they have their head stuck in is comfy.

  22. Oh, come on over to the Dark Side! We have cookies… and money to buy MOAR cookies! 😉

  23. Am I the only one who checked the date of the article after the first few sentences?

    I mean, we haven’t had this amount of…stupid, yes stupid is the best word I have for this, in a long time. The amount of willful ignorance one must have to not only write this but to pass it off as sound advice is just criminal.

    What is the writer trying to accomplish with this drivel? Is she trying to win favor with the trade-pub higher-ups? Did her agent tell her it was a good idea? I’m failing to see a plus side but then again I don’t have blinders full of sand over my eyes.

    For entertainment value I give it a 2. Beyond that its in negative numbers.

  24. What I love about these anti-self-publishing pieces is the author has generally never experienced success at it. Or they often don’t write in a genre that might sell well if it was Indie published. Perhaps if the author would spend 90% of her time writing the next book instead of marketing, she might actually be able to sustain a career as one of those real-world writers.

    Some things I have noticed about these sort of snobbish/condescending people are:
    1) They view traditional publishing as some sort of prestigious thing to be obtained by an elite few (this is somewhat true!)

    2) They think awards for books are important or make a book great (even though many amazing books have won no awards; Solaris, anyone?)

    3) They feel there is some sort of honor in making no money. (gag)

    And all of these characteristics somehow distinguish “real” writers from those awful “fake” writers (who are actually successful, and, god forbid, make money selling books). These are often the same kinds of people who look down upon genre fiction as not being “real” books, because only literary fiction is true and good.

    I can’t help but feel that Ros wrote this article knowing it’d get her a bunch of hits, because she know’s it’s absurd. Or perhaps it makes her feel good to condescend to self-published authors, since she’s doing “real writing” yet can’t make a living at it. I might feel rather bitter too if I thought that way.

    • I can believe it being basically click bait. Gets her name out there and look at that a boost in sales! And now she’s a little closer to earning out that advance… until people forget about her again.

      But I also think it could be your second though too. She’s a real writer and one day it will pay off unlike all those fakers making money now.

  25. I’m sorry… someone should “have saved [you] from looking like a twonk” with this article.

    On the plus side–cool new word! Twonk. Thanks for the example.

  26. “It is a poor, unwise, and very imbecile people who cannot take care of themselves.” Brigham Young.

  27. The next time her publisher offers her a glass of Kool-Aid, she might consider not drinking it.

  28. I’d love to do a blind study with this person where they read six books in a genre they enjoy, all by new authors. No publishing info given. Half are trad pub and the other half are self pub. Would they be able to point out which ones are which?

  29. What I love about these anti-self-publishing pieces is the author has generally never experienced success at it. Or they often don’t write in a genre that might sell well if it was Indie published. Perhaps if the author would spend 90% of her time writing the next book instead of marketing, she might actually be able to sustain a career as one of those real-world writers.

    Some things I have noticed about these sort of snobbish/condescending people are:
    1) They view traditional publishing as some sort of prestigious thing to be obtained by an elite few (this is somewhat true!)

    2) They think awards for books are important or make a book great (even though many amazing books have won no awards; Solaris, anyone?)

    3) They feel there is some sort of honor in making no money. (gag)

    And all of these characteristics somehow distinguish “real” writers from those awful “fake” writers (who are actually successful, and, god forbid, make money selling books). These are often the same kinds of people who look down upon genre fiction as not being “real” books, because only literary fiction is true and good.

    I can’t help but feel that Ros wrote this article knowing it’d get her a bunch of hits, because she know’s it’s absurd. Or perhaps it makes her feel good to condescend to self-published authors, since she’s doing “real writing” yet can’t make a living at it. I might feel rather bitter too if I thought that way.

  30. Good Lord. I make more than 5,000 quid for a new book in its first month through self-publishing and pretty much the same for month two and almost two-thirds of that in month three.

  31. Of course Darren, the indie published ones smell funny….

  32. Of course, in no way was this marketing for her work.

  33. What her post says to me is:

    1. How little Traditional Publishing knows about markets and what readers want. 75,000 pounds for a literary novel about Marlowe? Who TF is going to buy it? Lit Crit profs and their grad students? Not nearly enough people to earn out that kind of advance. Yeah it won awards, but sheesh… It’s nothing more than vanity publishing on the publisher’s part to pay that much for such a novel. They obviously wanted to publish it as a feather in their cap and bragging rights among the literary crowd. They can’t have thought a book in blank prose about Marlowe was going to earn out… Right???

    2. How deluded some authors are about publishing and especially self publishing. Her advance for 5,000 pounds for her next book is a slap in the face. Either the second book is a dud or it’s a pity payment. I made that much in a week this month. But I write genre fiction that has, you know, an actual market with actual readers who are actually willing to pay actual money for my books…

  34. I’d suggest this author who wrote the piece, believes every word. For himself.

    He makes an error of judgement when he attempts to apply his personal pique and non-polymorphous perversity preferences in publishing, swinging both ways that is, to everyone else.

    In our time, today, the old scrolled and filagreed iron gates are hanging blackened and bombed off their hinges on the ‘gatekeepers’ former grand, now much smaller ‘rental castles’ that look oddly like cubicled spaces with tiny offices and only two corner offices instead of grand glass vistas they once enjoyed…

    In our time, for an author to preen, that ‘only serious writers’ are x or y or j or b, is unobservant, the opposite of what ‘serious writers’ are in actuality: creative with endless patterns and forms, not just one, or five, especially, lol, while being self-coronating as a vedy vedy ‘serious writer.’

  35. I encourage this guy to stick with traditional publishers. He derives satisfaction from being among the select few who work two years for £5,000. I hope his success continues.

    God Bless serious writers, for without them nobody would take writing seriously, and nobody would love to write.

  36. Google sez:

    “ROS BARBER was born in Washington, DC and raised in England. She is the author of three poetry collections and her poetry has appeared in Poetry Review, London Magazine, The Guardian among many other publications. Ros has a PhD in Marlowe studies and has taught writing at The University of Sussex for more than a decade. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Hoffman Prize for The Marlowe Papers. She lives in Brighton, England.”

    She has her own website: http://rosbarber.com/

    Books

    How Things are on Thursday (2004) — poems. No US Amazon reviews, a few in the UK.

    Material (2008) — poems. No Amazon reviews at all

    The Marlowe Papers: A Novel (2012) — Somebody else wrote shakespere’s plays, all rendered in verse. “searing poetry meets compelling narrative in a historical tour de force” — won a prize.

    Devotion (2015) — addresses issues of loss, religion, and traditional vs non-traditional medicine.

    She teaches somewhere in the UK. Surry? Also from her website…

    “Ros is an advanced practitioner of the Energy Psychology techniques EFT and Matrix Reimprinting. Through these techniques, which remove the psychological blocks to success, she has been helping writers and other creative women achieve their dreams since 2009.”

    Lord save us.

    • Reality Observer

      Oh my. Lord save those poor women – who are certain to be really poor. It would also be very interesting to know whether she charges for teaching them her psycho-gobble-gook. I smell a scam operation…

    • Oh, my.

      I’m an EFT Practicioner in real life, and I love the modality. I know Matrix Reimprinting. And yes, I’m using it for my own growth as person and author. Yes, I help other authors get over their blocks. It’s wonderful and satisfying work to see my clients feel better and have more success.

      But I also self-publish. I pay for formatting and editing. No, not really successful yet – but I certainly am willing to move with the times and take the road that promises more success these days. I’m willing to market and learn how to do it better.

      She seems as if she’s stuck in her literary corner as well as craving validation the old way. (Maybe I should offer to work with her and shift her blocks on genre work. Ahem.)

    • And, according to her blog, you can become her patron for just $1 per month (84p including VAT). For that you “will get regular ‘insider’ updates and at certain other levels get other rewards too….”

      So, you’d rather write to a small audience, be poor AND beg than write something people want to read and figure out how to do it profitably. Starving artists indeed.

    • I’m sure she is a lovely person, and sincere. But a Ph.D. in Marlowe studies? That is very precious indeed.

      She is, perhaps, a Doctor of Marlology.

  37. I’m tempted to send a thank you note to their publisher for their aid in keeping this ‘author’ from fouling the indie pool with their ‘writing’ …

  38. Smart Debut Author

    O_O

    Yep, P.T. Barnum sure had it right.

    But in publishing, it’s more like one every 10 seconds.

  39. There is nothing more profitable than intellectual property. It’s like owning vast amounts of land, but never having to pay property taxes. The right IP can generate huge amounts of money. There is big, big money in creating stories.

    What is fascinating to me is how a business system has evolved where people, like this writer, willingly work for almost nothing to virtually give away their intellectual property, and angrily condemn smarter options. It’s quite fascinating.

    There’s an old article about how most gang connected drug dealers have to live with their mothers because they make less than they could at a McDonalds.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/apr/24/opinion/oe-dubner24

    They work tirelessly for almost no money simply because they dream of someday becoming rich and powerful in a system that is designed to make sure the vast majority of them never will be.

    So this is kind of the same thing in traditional publishing. It’s designed to make sure that most of the people working in it will never see any money, except the people at the top of the pyramid (executives and maybe a couple best selling authors). One of the interesting things I keep hearing about traditional publishing (and that this writer mentions in the blog link) is that traditionally published writers often get a pretty good advance for their first book, and then have to accept smaller and smaller advances on their follow ups, eventually having to take other jobs (or live with their mothers like drug dealers) to survive. It’s really kind of brilliantly evil. You pay someone pretty good to get them into the system, and then you keep paying them less and less the more they work. Wow.

    I wonder if it’s the same thing with drug dealers. Maybe their boss gives them a nice chunk of cash to get them interested and then keeps squeezing them as time goes by.

    I had kind of bought the idea that the big advance for the first book, lower advances on all the others had something to do with sales (as traditional writers assume), but I think more and more it’s all part of the con game to keep these people hungry so the food all goes to the top.

    • I’d never thought of comparing publishing and drug cartels.

      But now that you mention it…

    • That’s true of virtually every capitalistic endeavor. The world is a massive pyramid scheme of dreams.

      • But at least when someone works at McDonalds they know it’s mostly about the money and expect to be paid a certain rate per hour. (And usually are.) I’ve worked lousy paying jobs to make money for others, but I went in with my eyes open and took what I was offered.

        It’s pretty clear that traditional publishing has evolved into a pretty sophisticated and nasty con game to grab copyrights from the naive. Which… I guess is legal, but really needs to be pointed out frequently since there are still plenty of universities teaching writers it’s the only way to go. And, as the writer above points out, there are plenty of major book awards that refuse to acknowledge self-published work, which basically means they are supporting what increasingly looks like an unethical system.

  40. The worst thing about this kind of articles is the impact they have on newbie authors. They drive them to places like Author Solutions that seem to offer safety in indie-publishing.

    I had to tell someone about the dark side of Balboa Press the other day. Unfortuntely, she has already signed a contract and is now trying to figure out a way to get out of it. I know she’ll lose money but probably still less than if she had gone through with them.

    That’s the real danger. Ros is hurting other newbie authors by her terrible assertions about indie-publishing and the rosy light she shines on trad publishers.

  41. Wow, this guy is clueless. First, I wasted way more time on inefective marketing and publicity when I was trad published, becauseit was expected. Selfpublishing means I’ve been able to cut useless marketing and focus only the few things I think make a difference so I can focus more on writing.

  42. I took a look at her covers. That’s what the publisher did for her? I’d be furious – no sign of artistic genius anywhere near the covers.

  43. This woman should not self-publish. She will not be successful at it, will not do it right, and will go publish articles complaining about it forever.

    I know we welcome converts – but maybe it’s better not to let some trad pubbed writers know this. They will give US a bad name.

  44. “You risk looking like an amateur.”

    To whom? Traditional publishers? Agents? Brick-and-mortar bookstores? Her first and fatal error is that she cares about the opinions of people who do not matter in 21st-century publishing.

    Literary prestige can’t pay my mortgage. Or put my kids through college. Or put food on the table. Real-world bills can only be paid with real-world money. Lots of it.

    So Ros, honey, you go right ahead and stay in your ivory tower. Enjoy your ever-so-prestigious traditional publishing career. I’ll be over here supporting my family with my indie earnings.

  45. I find it amusing that she bashes indie authors for posting about their books on social media, and yet when I visited her FB page, her feed is chock full of self-promo. I guess it’s different when you have a traditional contract.

    • Of course it’s different!

      A self/indie is only trying to support themselves.

      She’s trying to also support her publisher, her editor, cover designer … no wonder she’s in poverty!

  46. All these things are provided by a traditional publisher, and what’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny. They pay you!

    It costs the rights to your book.

    All this stuff about traditional publishing reminds me of the current TV commercials about “The Settlers” and their WiFi connection.

    One kind of poverty just makes you poor. The other makes you noble.

  47. Someone posted this in a writer’s group that I’m a member of, and I thought it was hilarious, so I figured I’d share it:

    “Funnily enough, you can find two of her books over at LeanPub, which is a…self-publishing platform…”

    *Sidenote: I haven’t checked to see if it’s true, so make of it what you will.

    I’m going with: The OP doesn’t understand what self-publishing is because the stupid is strong in that article. Also, she appears to be self-published…

    • This intrigued me, so I checked. Yes, she has two books on leanpub: one on how Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare, and one on how you can reach your full potential. (Sidenote: I’m amused by that combination of passions. “You can be whatever you want. Unless you’re Shakespeare. If you’re Shakespeare, you’re Marlowe.”)

      I’ve never heard of leanpub. I did a little research. This blog post seems a good summary: http://noop.nl/2014/08/why-i-dont-use-leanpub.html

      • Thanks for doing the research. I’ve never heard of Leanpub before, so I wasn’t certain if I was right or not. The comment just made me chuckle, so I thought you guys might get a chuckle out of it too.

        From your findings though, it looks as if Leanpub is most certainly a self-publishing platform, and if the OP’s books are on there, then the article in The Guardian can only be classed as fiction or hypocrisy, right?

        I didn’t know The Guardian was competing with The Onion for fictional news these days..

        • Also… poor Shakespeare, his words are being stolen by a hack in 2016.

          So, to protect your rights after death, it’s best to invest in Google’s Calico project then…

  48. Oh, um. Apparently she has a facebook page for her website — https://www.facebook.com/BeWriteOn/ — except that the domain, bethewriteryoudreamofbeing.com, has expired.

    • See, now you made me curious, and then I found this: https://www.facebook.com/ros.barber/posts/547455072092129

      Throwing out incorrect statistics and whale math is apparently her personal opinion. Well, it’s certainly not fact, but is personal opinion really the right term for misinformation? I mean, maybe I want to teach small children that the world is flat. Is it okay if I publicly project my personal opinion in that way to thousands of naive souls through a corporate-owned, global media source?

      And the ‘real writers’ in the comments there are great. Personally, I’m an unreal writer. I’m f*cking unreal, so it’s fortunate that I write fiction.

      I don’t have a Women’s Prize though (what is that, an award for having breasts?). I have an Editor’s Choice Award, winner of a Harlequin competition and 8 million readers worldwide, but not a Women’s Prize (even though I also happen to have breasts). Maybe I’ll be a real writer once I get 80 million readers worldwide, or will that make me more unreal?

      It’s questions like these that would keep me awake at night if the personal opinions of other people mattered to me at all…

  49. “For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way”

    OK. Cool. Be poor. And/or unpublished. Your choice. See if the rest of the world gives a rat’s behind.

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