Friday, May 29, 2015


Hi Everyone!

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my best friend about self-publishing a book vs publishing a book with a publisher. My best friend has never worked with a publisher or tried to publish a book on her own, but she still had a lot of questions about both topics. It dawned on me that I didn't know a fair amount of the answers. I've only ever published with a publisher, so it got me thinking that it would be interesting to find out the answers and to compare self-publishing a book to publishing a book with a publisher. 

I compiled a list of questions and asked three publishers, three authors who have published with publishers, and five self-published authors to answer my questions. Everyone was so sweet and responded. It was very interesting to see the different responses that I got. 

I put everyone's answers together and ended up creating three blog posts. On Wednesday, I published one blog post with the answers from the authors who have published with a publisher. Yesterday I published a blog with the answers from the self-published authors. Today's post is all of the answers from the publishers. 

Please note that the opinions and statements listed in these posts are solely by the person and not a reflection of me or my blog.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to the honest Bethany, the patient James, and the sweet Casey. Without you guys, this post never would have gotten done, so thank you. Let's get started! 

What do you think the biggest difference is between working with a publisher vs. self-publishing a book? 

Bethany: The biggest difference is the obvious one: publishers provide publishing services so writers can write. Some authors enjoy finding their own editor, working with the cover artist, learning how to create ebooks, etc. Most don’t – and aren’t very good at it. Even a smaller publisher like Blushing Books has three or four people working full time, and more working part time. These people all have jobs that involve doing things to get these books published, things that the self-published author has to do on his or her own. Some of the things the author can do if they work hard enough, but other things the author can’t do. For example, Blushing Books’ has an Advance Reader program that is run by someone who works 20 hours a week just on that program. This ARC program typically generates 10 plus reviews for our titles with 1-2 weeks of release. A new self-published author simply can’t put something like this in place.

James: In my mind, the biggest difference is that self-publishing puts all of the responsibility for the performance of a book on the shoulders of the author. An author might hire an editor and a cover artist and might pay for various forms of promotion, but those people typically get paid the same amount whether the book sells well or not.

Working with a good publisher, on the other hand, means that you will have a team of people at your side throughout the process. Since the publisher only makes money based on sales of your book, they should be highly motivated to help you write a book which will sell well.

Casey: The biggest difference is definitely support. With self publishing you are on your own and have to figure out everything yourself. When you work with a publisher you can be more focused on your book and have the luxury of not getting caught up in all of the minute details.

Self-publishing has a bad reputation for poor quality stories, particularly poor editing. Do you think that there is any truth to that? Do you think that there is any way to fix it?

Bethany: The way to fix the problems with the poor editing is to hire a good editor, and a good cover designer.

James: No matter how good someone is as an author, in my opinion they should still always work with an editor. There are some self-published authors who do take editing seriously, and those authors tend to pay professional editors to work with them on their books. When self-published authors don’t take editing seriously, I do think it often tends to result in lower quality books.

Casey: I don't really think that self-publishing has such a stigma anymore. I think a lot of writers who really want self-publishing to work for them take the steps to put out quality work. Anyone can hire an editor, not just a publisher.

Everyone, no matter if they're a self-published author, an author who uses a publisher, or a publisher has come to the consensus that hiring an editor is vital to self-publishing a story. 

What made you start a publishing company and what makes your publishing company different from all of the other ones in this genre (spanking, age play, medical play, etc)? 

Bethany: Blushing Books was the first ebook publisher anywhere. We’ve been publishing on the Internet since 1999 and e-books since 2001. I guess what makes Blushing different is that we’re the largest, the oldest, and we do look at more varied books.

James: Stormy Night has always been an author-centric publisher. We don’t take a book unless we feel that we can help the author make it more successful than it would have been without us. We also consider honesty with our authors very important. For example, if we aren’t confident that a given plot idea will sell, we will tell an author that upfront. If we believe that a book will sell better with a different title, we’ll work with the author to come up with a new one, and so forth.

Casey: Technically I started out as “self-publishing” but I feel like a fraud even saying that because I really wasn't doing it all myself. My husband was publishing my books for me, I never did it 100% on my own and I think if I had tried to I would have stopped long ago. We just decided to take the next step and do for other authors what we were already doing. It came about kind of organically.

What advice do you have for someone interested in entering the e-publishing world, but wasn't sure which publisher to choose? 

Bethany: Read books in the genre you are interested in publishing in, and then pick the publisher that has the nicest covers, the best blurbs, and is publishing the most books. Who has a strong ARC program? The more books a company publishes, the more times YOUR book is going to be offered on Amazon and the more you will sell.

James: Before you submit a book to a publisher, take the time to contact at least a few successful authors in your genre and ask them about their experiences with the publishers in that genre. Also, never sign a contract without making sure you have read it thoroughly and understand it completely.

Casey: The best piece of advice I could give is to tell a new author to form some friendships with other authors. Join groups and forums online and ask around. Other authors will give you honest opinions of publishers. If they have had good or bad experiences they will tell you.

Bethany, I love your advice. I think that past books that a publisher publishes in the niche that the author is looking at definitely reflects how awesome the publisher is.

Do you ever think that some authors in our genre (spanking, age play, medical play, etc) would be better suited to self-publish their work instead of go through a publishing company? 

Bethany: Self-publishing in most cases is like winning the lottery. Sure, you can go on Amazon and find some very successful self-publishers, but this is not the norm. You can also find others who have managed to hit a niche or a genre (the recent spate of “sex with the dinosaur” and “hucow” books comes to mind) and if you want to write books about human cows, all I can say is have at it.

Bottom line: Self publishing is a phenomenon created by one source – Amazon – and they did it for very concrete market reasons, specifically to reign in the larger publishers and to expand the number of books available when e-readers started to become more popular. However, the fact is that the most successful “self-published” authors are not really self-publishing. It’s a polite fiction. One rather prominent self-published author is publishing with Blushing under a different penname and I have gotten to know her fairly well. She is not, in my opinion, “self-published.” She has a publishing company that publishes one person – her. She has a full time assistant and her husband quit his job, and runs all her marketing, her website, and does her eBooks. Call that “self-publishing” if you want, but I don’t.

James: I think that depends on the goals the author is trying to achieve. If it is really important to an author to maintain complete control of every aspect of the publication process, then it might be better for them to self-publish.

Casey: I think self-publishing vs going through a publisher is a personal call. No one can really know who would be better with what except the author. It all depends on your knowledge and resources.

It seems like that a book published through a professional publisher jumps into one or more of Amazon's top 100 list, but a self-published book rarely does. Why do you think that happens? 

Bethany: Because Amazon’s algorithm is becoming increasingly publisher (as opposed to author or genre) based. When Blushing releases a book, the Amazon algorithm “offers” it to customers who previously purchased a Blushing title through their various recommendation functions. Because Blushing releases 30 books a month we have a lot more customers than a new self-published author who basically has … zero. If Amazon’s algorithm does not pick a book up it will not sell unless the author can substitute some serious marketing in order to “kick start” the algorithm. But the bottom line is that few new authors have enough Facebook friends do really generate the number of sales in the first 72 hours to make that happen.

James: This is partly due to the fact that good publishers will have substantial marketing infrastructure that is hard for most self-published authors to duplicate. Perhaps even more importantly, though, a good publisher will work with an author to ensure that their book is as marketable (i.e. as appealing to readers) as possible, thus resulting in higher sales.

Casey: I'd actually have to disagree with this fact, this is not necessarily the case. Plenty of self published books jump into top 100 lists and lots of books from publishers can flounder and not make it anywhere. At the end of the day I think it has to do with exposure. Readers can't buy a book if they don't know it exists.

Bethany, I didn't realize that other books that a publisher put out was added in to the algorithm of a book that was put out by another author, but with the same publisher. I really wish that Amazon would specifically tell us what went in to their algorithm. 

The biggest thing that crosses my mind when I think of self-publishing is, the author gets to keep the majority of the profits. With publishing with a publisher, the author only gets to keep a certain percentage of the profits. What would you say to an author who brings this point up to convince them that not receiving the majority of the profits is actually a benefit to them?

Bethany: 100% of $200 is a whole lot less than 50 or 60% of $4000.00

James: At Stormy Night all authors receive 60% of the royalties earned by their books. Doing the math, this means that if we can increase sales of your book by 67%, you are doing better publishing the book with us than self-publishing it. In many cases, we can do that and often quite a bit more.

It is also important to keep in mind that self-publishing costs money if an author takes it seriously. Professional editors don’t work for free and neither do skilled cover artists. Trying to cut corners in those areas can often end up hurting sales of a book. Even if an author is confident that they can do those things on their own, time is a finite and valuable resource. It is a matter of asking whether an author’s time is more productively spent writing books or doing other things which a publisher could be doing for them.

Casey: I wouldn't try to convince an author to do anything. I think when entering into any kind of contract both parties need to be making an informed decision. An author should have already weighed out the pros and cons of signing on with a publisher to doing everything themselves. If they had questions about specific things then I would answer them, but if they were that much on the fence about it then I would suggest they take the time to do a little more research into their options.

You have a point James. I'm not sure if everyone remembers that you might not have to split the royalties once the book is published, but at the beginning, the author will have to pay and editor and a person to design their cover. Unless the author wishes to edit the book or design the cover themselves.  

Self-publishing is starting to become more and more popular. Does this worry you at all, yes or no, and why? 

Bethany: Sure, it worries me a little. Some very talented authors are drinking the Kool-Aid… and flopping. It’s bad for them personally and it’s bad for the industry. I know of several authors who tried it in the last year and gave up. At least one of them, who had previously had quite good success WITH a publisher, was so discouraged and personally confused by her self-publishing failure that she seriously considered giving up writing. She had no idea how the whole thing works, and she assumed – wrongly – that people didn’t want to buy her books any more.

But I don’t think it IS becoming more and more popular. Amazon is actively discouraging new accounts now. A year ago already at RWA, the Amazon representative was pretty blunt. He stated that 90% of their book customer service issues come from accounts with fewer than 10 books published – and this was an unacceptable statistic. He didn’t come right out and say, “If you don’t already have an account, don’t bother,” but he came close. More and more Amazon is pushing buyers towards the larger publishers for just this reason.

James: Competition with self-publishing keeps good publishers working hard and treating authors well, which is ultimately better for everyone. If things ever reach a point where publishers can no longer offer something valuable to authors, then they should go the way of the dinosaurs. I believe good publishers do have something of value to offer to authors, however, and for that reason I’m not worried.

Casey: I think self-publishing has been popular for quite some time and it doesn't worry me at all. Self-publishing can be a lot of work and I think there are certain people who are up to that challenge and even enjoy the process. There will always be people who prefer using a publisher instead. I think it's a good thing to have options and there is no one right way to put out a book.

With self-publishing, the author has entire control of the process of publishing their story. With publishing a story with a publisher they don't. How do you convince an author that giving up some of the control of their stories is okay to do? After all, stories are like a piece of an author's heart. It's hard to give them up. 

Bethany: For the author who wants to create his or her perfect “art,” by all means self publish. If you want to make money in the publishing industry, it’s probably in your best interests to listen to someone whose business it is to publish books. We want to make money too, and we are not going to arbitrarily or capriciously cut parts of books, or re-edit, or in any way do things to make books less profitable. If we tell an author that their book is too long or too short, it probably is, and bottom line: that author should listen.

James: I think that it comes down to convincing the author that we are on the same side. We both want to make their book as good as it can be, have it sell lots of copies, and have readers enjoy it. In some cases we might initially disagree on certain aspects of how best to do that, but disagreements can be worked through if both author and publisher remember that they share the same goal.

Casey: Again, I am not going to try to convince an author to do anything they don't want to do. I think as an author you need to be able to trust your publisher and know that the decisions they make is to ultimately sell your book. Baronet Press is a small publisher at this point so the authors we work with actually have a lot more control than one might think. So again, I would urge an author to ask around and see where they might be a good fit.

James and Casey, I think that you both are absolutely right that an author needs to know that no matter what, the publisher and author are on the same side. I think that that gets forgotten sometimes, but it's important to remember. 

With self-publishing, it seems like that the authors are able to put their stories up to sales in twice as many places as a publisher can. Why is that the case? For instance, one self-published author had her books put up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, D2D, Google, Apple/ibooks, Smashwords, Scribid and Kobo. Why don't publishers have all of their books put up in those websites too?

Bethany: I can’t speak for other publishers, but Blushing Books places books where time spent / money made is a good tradeoff. Kobo is a good example. The Kobo listing process was horrific, sometimes taking my staff person 1-2 hours to get a book up there. And a quarter would go by and we’d sell three books. Financially, we can’t justify this. So right now, we list on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance and through Smashwords, to Apple and Kobo. We’re looking at Google. The others are just not profitable enough to justify the time it takes to post them.

James: In general, publishers have to be a little more selective about distribution because it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to upload a catalog of hundreds of books to a new store. With that in mind, we first have to ensure that books will actually sell well enough on a given store to justify the work required to upload all of our books there.

Looking at Stormy Night specifically, we already put our books up for sale through most of the stores you mentioned. We’ve been selling through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and All Romance eBooks for years, and we’ve recently begun uploading our catalogue to iTunes. We plan to begin selling on Google Play in the near future, and we are looking into Scribd as well.

As far as the other two sites you mentioned, Draft2Digital is a distributor, not a store, and we already sell our books through most of the stores to which they distribute books. Smashwords is both a distributer and a store, but in my opinion Draft2Digital is superior as a distributor and in any case there would be no reason to use both for the same book. When at all possible, we prefer to upload our books to the stores directly because using Smashwords or Draft2Digital to distribute books means giving up a percentage of royalties to them.

With regard to the Smashwords store, in the past we uploaded some of our top-selling books to them to test the waters, but the sales numbers were very low and did not justify the amount of work which would be required to upload our entire back catalog to them.

Casey: Publishers can offer their books for sale in just as many places. I'm thinking it just comes down to time and what you get out of it. A majority of ebook sales come from Amazon. It's nice to have a book for sale in as many other places as possible so more people might see it. But getting it up on each platform takes time and if you aren't going to make a lot of sales from it, then I get why some might be left out. Right now we sell through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, Blushing, and Smashwords (which gets us up on Apple iBooks and Kobo).

The statement is true that you learn something new everyday. I didn't realize how long it took to upload stories on to some websites. 

On average, what is the general time frame from submitting the story to finding out it'll be published, to getting the first set of edits to finishing the edits, to getting the book copy read and the contract signed, to having the book up for sale on Amazon? 

Bethany: From the time the author hits that “upload” button to publication varies a great deal, but generally for a new author it’s going to be 3-4 months, and for an established author 2-3.

James: The time frame varies somewhat depending on the volume of submissions we’ve received recently at any given time. In general, an author should expect to hear back from us about whether or not we will accept a book within about two weeks and should receive editing comments within around three weeks after that.

How long an author takes to make revisions varies widely from author to author, so I can’t provide a general time estimate for that part of the process. Once we have the revised version from the author, it takes about two weeks for us to have the book copy edited, prepare a cover and blurb, and then get the book up for sale. One thing to keep in mind is that it is pretty rare for us not to accept a book from an author we’ve worked with successfully in the past, so when working with authors we publish frequently, we usually skip that initial step and move straight to sending editing comments.

Casey: We don't really have an average time frame. If you email Baronet Press about publishing your book, you're emailing me. I usually just talk to an author about what works for them and what works for us. The time frame for each author varies. The luxury of being a smaller operation right now is being able to work one on one with authors and setting up dates and times that work for all of us.

I would like to say thank you to all of you again for participating in this blog post! I loved all of your answers!

Have a great day everyone!  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Self-Published Authors

Hi Everyone!

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my best friend about self-publishing a book vs publishing a book with a publisher. My best friend has never worked with a publisher or tried to publish a book on her own, but she still had a lot of questions about both topics. It dawned on me that I didn't know a fair amount of the answers. I've only ever published with a publisher, so it got me thinking that it would be interesting to find out the answers and to compare self-publishing a book to publishing a book with a publisher. 

I compiled a list of questions and asked three publishers, three authors who have published with publishers, and five self-published authors to answer my questions. Everyone was so sweet and responded. It was very interesting to see the different responses that I got. 

I put everyone's answers together and ended up creating three blog posts. Yesterday I published one blog post with the answers from the authors who have published with a publisher. Today's blog post is all of the answers from the self-published authors, and tomorrow's blog post will be the answers from the publishers. 

Please note that the opinions and statements listed in these posts are solely by the person and not a reflection of me or my blog.

I want to take a moment to thank the amazing Megan Michaels, the delightful Sue Lyndon, the knowledgeable Trent Evans, the wonderful Cara Bristol, and the brave Kristin for taking the time to answer my questions. This blog post wouldn't have happened without them! Let's get started!

What do you think the biggest difference is between working with a publisher vs. self-publishing a book? 

Megan: You get to decide solely on your own:  The cover, the title, date of release, and then I can buy ads and promote it whenever I want for the life of the book.  And, on the flip side, you get to fail on your own.  If a bad decision is made, it rests solely on you.  For example, my most recent book I didn’t list myself as the author.  I thought I had done that by listing my name, my cover, my biography, etc. So I didn’t list myself as a “contributor.”   So it listed Trent Evans as Editor and no author.  hehe.   But Author Central fixed immediately and it was repaired within hours. 

Sue: When you self-publish, you are the author and the publisher, not just the author. You’ll have to do all the work a publisher would’ve done, such as finding a good editor and book cover artist, managing your own promo, and making sure the book is formatted properly for upload on the various sites you plan to publish it.

Trent: Everything hinges upon your decisions (or lack thereof) when you indie publish. All the glory – and all the blame – will fall upon you, and you alone. Some people find that terrifying, while others find that empowering. :) For writers who want to “just write” traditional publishing may seem more attractive, but for those who indie publish but decide to farm out all the functions/tasks of publishing, they can still “just write”… and keep twice the royalties and 100% of the control.

Cara: The amount of control you have over the product. As an indie, you make all the decisions. You hire the editors and the cover artist, you decide how to market, where and when to release the book. You take on all the financial risk—but you stand to gain all the financial reward. The actual work involved in being an indie is not that much greater than working with a publisher.

Kristin: In self-publishing I control what happens. It’s as simple as that. I control the release date. I control the pricing. I get more of the royalties. I control the editing and cover design. I am in total control the entire time. There is no waiting or miscommunication. No deadlines. 

If you publish with a publisher the only thing you need to worry about is writing the book and the rest is taken care of for you.

What's your least favorite part about self-publishing a book and why? 

Megan: Deciding on my cover and watching the sales on the Dashboard.  I agonize, AGONIZE over my cover--because I truly feel a cover makes or breaks a book.   When I scroll through books on certain FB pages at break-neck speed, it is only the unique and stunning covers that make me stop. So I search for the unique and stunning. 

And as much as I love the Dashboard where you can literally watch sales as they come in--it is sooooooo addicting and mood-affecting.   So I have passed this task to the husband, The Book Crier, who has several spreadsheets now, and he will  randomly yell out, “You’ve now sold___ books, and made ____ dollars!”  LOL

Sue: The extra promo I have to do after the book is released. Most of the publishers I’ve worked with do a fair amount of promo for their authors, but when I self-publish it’s all on me, and that can be stressful.

Trent: Retailers do treat indie/self-publishers differently, in ways both obvious and subtle. An obvious way is how they allow publishers five main categories for their books, while allowing indies only two. A more subtle one is the increased scrutiny indie covers receive from reviewers. I have no hard data to back this up, but I’d be shocked if indie books aren’t slapped with the Adult tag (or outright blocked) far more often than trad pubbed titles are.

Cara: I wouldn’t call it my least favorite part, I would just call attention to a risk. As an indie, you don’t have a safety net. You and you alone make all the decisions, and you don’t have an experienced, knowledgeable overseer to say, hey, you’re messing up here. So you learn by making mistakes. However, publishers make mistakes too, and when you’re contracted with one and you realize a mistake is being made, you have no power to change it. As an indie, you can correct your missteps.

Kristin: You have to do all the work. Everything on your own.

Megan, I think that if I had to pick out a cover, it would be the toughest part of self-publishing for me too! You have to find the right cover that represents your story, but then like you said, you want to find one that really stands out and will catch readers attention.  

What's your favorite part about self-publishing a book and why? 
Megan: I like being in charge of when a book gets published. I like and fear hitting the green "Publish" button--but there isn't a greater feeling in the world than hitting that button--you want to dance. And once I pick a cover, I am on a cloud for days. So I guess control, hitting publish and the cover are my favorite parts of self publishing.

Sue: Can I say hitting the publish button eis my favorite part, LOL? There’s just something highly satisfying about finally seeing my project finished and ready for publication.

Trent: The control. Shocker, I know☺ When you indie publish you do it on your schedule, with your cover, your product description, your – you get the idea. No waiting months for your book to be published. No editors saying “fix this, or it’s not being published.” No covers that make you cringe. No ridiculous contracts. No inscrutable statements for sales that happened 6-12 months ago. No quarterly payments, with reserve against return monies held back. Control. It’s worth even more than the money – though the money’s pretty good too☺

Cara: Before I started self-publishing, I thought reaping 100% instead of 50% of the royalties would be the best part. Now that I’ve been self-publishing for about eight months, I realize the benefit is in the control that I have over my own work and my ability to respond to market demands in a more timely fashion. I can better pace my releases to even out my income. Instead of highs and lows, it’s been steady.

LOL Sue! I think that your answer sounds perfect! At the same time, like Trent and Cara said, the total control over the entire process would be nice too.


What made you switch from working with a publisher to self-publishing your stories? 

Megan: I wanted the experience of self publishing and the money involved.  I was new enough that I figured I had nothing to lose.  My original goal was to be a “hybrid”--self published and with a publisher. 

 Do you think that you'll ever work with a publisher again on one of your stories and why? 

Megan: If the right situation arose, I may go back to a publisher. It’s difficult to say--I would miss the independence of self publishing.  I don’t see myself going back anytime soon.

Self-published authors have gotten a bad reputation for their stories being poor quality with horrendous grammar mistakes in them. Do you think that there is any truth to that? Do you think that there is any way to fix it? 

Megan: I had an editor before I even moved out of publishing.  I knew that having an editor was imperative. Editing is as important as the cover, again it effects the sales.

Sue: I must say that I respectfully disagree with your statement that self-published authors have a bad reputation for their stories being poor quality with horrendous grammar mistakes. Most authors who self-publish, at least those I know, hire an editor or at least use a proofreader. You don’t have to use a publisher in order to produce a well-written and well-edited book.

Trent: Yep, there are some horrendous self-published books out there, no doubt. There are also some horrendous traditionally published books out there too. I think it’s a mistake to blame the mode of publication for a poor quality product though. Ultimately, no matter how a book is published, the blame for a shoddy product falls on the author’s shoulders. It’s the author’s responsibility to make sure they’re putting out a quality product, whether via indie pub or trad pub. There is no way to “fix” the larger problem of poor quality books, save one: the market. Crappy books – whether trad or indie – will sink like a stone into the ether of the interwebs, never to be seen again. The market is remarkably efficient at separating out the treasure from the trash, so writers (on both sides of the aisle) can better spend their time by writing more books and letting the market sort things out.☺

Cara: Of course there is some truth to it. Some authors rush to “print” with unedited manuscripts or who believe that self-editing is enough. Self-editing is NOT enough. Beta reading is not enough. Unless your best friend is a professional editor, having him/her “edit” your manuscript is insufficient. So poorly edited self-pubbed books exist. But I’ve seen publishers release poorly edited books too. And on the flip side, many indie authors started out with good publishing houses (like myself) and know the value of quality professional editing. As result, many indie publications are indistinguishable from those produced by publishing houses, and some are better.

Kristin: Yes, it’s true. It’s is because most indie authors don’t use an editor for whatever reasons. I can’t speak for everyone but it is super important. For big publishers and for some indie authors, they do exist and we must use them. There is no excuse not to.

Cara, that'd be me if I tried to self-publish. I'd get so excited and just want to have my book finished and up for sale, that I'd press the green publish button to early. :-/ 

What would be your biggest piece of advice to someone who is considering self-publishing one of their stories? 

Megan: Make sure you hire the services of an excellent editor.  Then find an excellent cover artist.  In addition, make sure you have money saved up--the cost for these is up front.  But once the book is published and you’ve recouped the costs, the profits begin.  (except for ads you may take out).

Sue: Do your research and make a plan. There’s more to self-publishing than writing your story and slapping it up on Amazon. Your story should be edited and formatted correctly for each individual ebook store (i.e. the guidelines for Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc. are different), you’ll need some snazzy cover art, and you should figure out how much time you plan to spend promoting your book once it’s released. Then go for it! If you’re nervous about self-publishing a longer work, then start out with a short story or a novella.

Trent: Don’t let anyone – and I do mean anyone – tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t self-publish that book. I think every writer needs to first, before they do anything else, decide what it is they’re looking for from this book. Are they looking to express themselves, market be damned? Check off that bucket list item of publishing a book? Maximize sales and/or revenues? Once they’ve done that, then they can figure out how to match their expectations/goals with the most suitable mode of publication. Okay that was two pieces of advice. Sue me.

Cara: You can cut corners on many things, but editing and a professional cover aren’t one them. Hire a good editor and get a good cover artist. LISTEN to your editor! Self-publishing isn’t exorbitantly expensive, but it's going to cost you a little money. If you can’t afford to spend roughly $600 per book to produce it, then stick with a publishing house.

Kristin: Talk to Trent Evans. He has become a guru of sorts for Indie authors and he has detailed ways to help you every step of the way.

I like that advice Kristin! I've talked to Trent Evans before and he is so smart and able to explain everything in such perfect detail. 

Who would you recommend self-publishing to an author in our genres (spanking, age play, medical play)? 

Megan: Anyone can self publish--or can hire someone to help you self publish :)

Sue: I can’t think of a genre, or subgenre of spanking fiction, I wouldn’t recommend self-publishing too.

Trent: I may be misunderstanding your question, but I’ll take a stab at it. For fiction, I really can’t think of a specific genre or sub-genre where there is a distinct advantage in going with a traditional publisher. If there is one, I’d say literary fiction might be the lone genre where trad still has an advantage. Perhaps that readership wants that perceived curation conferred by the imprimatur of a trad publishing house? For the record, I’m actually not anti-traditional publishing. I think it can work for certain types of personalities and for certain projects. But increasingly, I’d say self/indie publishing should be the default (i.e. that trad publisher is going to have to present a compelling reason for me to go with them, rather than the other way around… )

Cara: I think the erotic romance/erotica genre overall lends itself to self-publishing. We’re in the age of ebooks. Self-publishing is easy and affordable (but don’t skimp on editing!).

Kristin: YES!  Our genre is super super popular right now and if you aren’t with a publisher you can make a lot more money! These stories will sell! There is a huge fan base! You don’t have to worry about a publisher becoming too busy to market for you or help you, you don’t have to rely on anyone.

What made you want to self-publish your stories?

Megan: Many times there are restrictions that a publisher will put upon an author--because the goal is to make money--it’s everyone’s goal.  But there are also times when you would like to venture into an area that a publisher isn’t comfortable with--as a self-published author you can venture into areas that a publisher may talk you out of or may tell you they have no interest in supporting. 

Sue: I really enjoy writing short stories and there aren’t many publishers who will accept shorter word counts, so I decided to start self-publishing all my short stories from here on out. That’s not to say I won’t self-pub anything longer though, but this is how I got started. I’ve also wanted to experiment with Kindle Unlimited more, and I’m more able to do that while self-publishing.

Trent: I just didn’t want to have to get “permission” from anyone to publish my stuff. I’ve never once queried. Not once. I see zero use for an agent. The idea of waiting months and months to find out if a publisher has even so much as looked at my book, gives me the shivers. To each his own, I suppose, but why? Why in God’s name do writers put themselves through that anymore? ::: shrug ::: This one sure doesn’t☺

Cara: I felt that the benefits I received from my publisher did not merit giving away half the proceeds. It was a financial move for me.

Oh Sue! I hope that you self-publish longer stories! I LOVE your Sue Mercury stories, but just as the story is really starting to get good, it ends! Gosh, I love those Risteria males and their mating urges! <3

How do you cope with not having an editor to go over your story and check for plot holes or grammar mistakes?

Megan: I do.  My editor checks for all these  areas.  

Sue: I have a lovely editor friend who reads my stories and gives helpful advice, and then another writer friend who proofs my final copy before I hit publish.

Trent: The short answer is, you don’t. Everyone should have at least one other set of eyes on their work. Whether that be an editor, a team of beta readers, a trusted first reader who holds your feet to fire, or simply an eagle-eyed friend good for spotting those sneaky little homonym errors, everyone should, IMHO, have their work edited in some form or fashion. However, that’s just my opinion, and it’s no more valid than a writer who believes it’s possible to put out good work without editing (whether that be self-editing or an outside editor). All that really matters, in the end, is the final product – not how it came to be said final product☺

Cara: I do have an editor go over my stories. No professional author who cares about his/her work would ever release a manuscript that was not professionally edited. I use two editors—one for content issues like plot holes, and another for the copy editing (grammar, punctuation). I would NEVER publish a book that I did not have edited first.

Kristin: Find an editor.


Instead of using the traditional publisher, you pay Trent to be your editor to help you through the self-publishing process. How does that differ from using a traditional publisher?   

Megan: Although Trent is an editor and assists me with publishing, the responsibility of when the  book is finished, what date it is published, content, and cover are all up to me.  He may assist me with these decisions, but most of the time I get told “Trust your instincts” or “I think you’re making a good plan.”  The decision is ultimately mine and he doesn’t sway me unless I’m walking into quicksand or alligators :)

We also discuss trends, prices, what works in advertising and what doesn’t, and when it is best to run ads and how to coordinate ads with certain time periods in the life of a book.  People who self publish tend to bounce ideas off of each other and openly discuss places to advertise.    

Trent sounds like a great person to work with to help with self-publishing a book! 

The thing that comes to mind with self-publishing stories is that the author gets to keep the majority of the profits. Whereas, working with a publisher the author only gets to keep a certain percentage of the profits. Do you think that this sways many authors to self-publish their stories? Yes or no and why? 

Megan: Definitely. We all enjoy writing, but let’s be honest we are all in this for the money.  The goal is to do this for a living--not in the middle of the night after working a full day at work.  So to make this dream a reality, we need to have a steady income that sustains us and/or a family.  Giving up 40% to 50% is a LOT of money especially over a seven year period or more. 

Sue: There are many reasons authors decide to self-publish their stories, and yes, not having to split the profits with a publisher is certainly one big reason. Twenty years ago self-publishing on a digital platform wasn’t really an option for writers. You had to play the game and submit to traditional publishers until you got a story accepted, and unfortunately even then you couldn’t expect huge royalties. With self-publishing, authors have more freedom to publish the genres they want without having to hear a publisher say something like “Oh sorry, stories about time traveling elves just aren’t popular now and I’m afraid we can’t publish your book.”

Trent: Of course, this depends upon the author, but yes, I believe the attraction of the money does draw many who might not otherwise take the leap. It’s certainly a big factor in trad authors dipping their toes in the indie waters. Every writer has to decide for themselves if the value proposition of trad publishing pencils out for them. Does the work the author saves for themselves by going with a trad publisher make sense for the big royalty cut they will incur? This works in reverse too. Is the additional work required when going the indie route offset satisfactorily by the increase in royalties? The answers to these questions will vary by author, and even by project.

Cara: Oh, definitely, this is why most authors go indie. When you do the work yourself and you see how little work is actually involved in publishing, it doesn’t make financial sense to give away half your proceeds to have a publisher do those things for you.

Kristin: It totally depends on you and your situation. That isnt a quick yes or no answer. It depends highly on what genre you write. If you write horror/thriller and have questionable content most publishers will turn their heads but if you choose to self publish it then it could become a best seller and you could make money on your own. If you are a writer who only wants to write and doesnt want to have to think about who to choose to edit or worrying about creating your own cover with license fees then work with a publisher and take a pay cut”.

Publishing a book with a publisher, the author gets access to a publisher's ARC readers which will give the author the first couple reviews for their book. Additionally, a publisher offers more outlets to market the book such as newsletters, their website, etc. Do you think that this effects a self-published book sales at all? 

Megan: I think if you are brand new you need to be with a publisher, like most of us have done.  It’s good to have the support and to develop a fan base.  After that, I’m not sure it adds that much.   My fanbase has doubled with every book since I started self-publishing.   It may be coincidental --I don’t know.  Most publishers have one person who gives an ARC review--most of us have at least one if not more readers that we rely on for a review to “kickstart” us--again fans are usually faithful in that regard. 

Sue: Reviews from ARC readers are certainly valuable, and so is the extra promo a publisher can do for a writer through newsletters, their website, and other media outlets. However, many writers are able to fill the role of a publisher in this regard even better than most publishers. Lots of self-published writers have street teams (a great way to get early reviews and help spread the work about your books), send out their own newsletters, and maintain a social media presence while successfully promoting their books. I suppose in many cases, if an author isn’t practiced at marketing, they might sell more books through a publisher than if they went it alone, so each writer has to decide how much marketing they are willing to do on their own and whether or not self-publishing is right for them.

Trent: I know indie authors whose ARC operations are absolute machines, operations that put any traditional publisher’s ARC program to shame. Indies can set up their own ARC teams, their own newsletters, their own websites – and in many cases do it better than what a publisher would do for them. Yes, all of these things can affect sales of any book, indie or traditional, but it’s important for writers to realize that they do have options now. The only thing a traditional publisher can do that an indie can’t do for themselves, is offer them an advance. 

Cara: Some publishers ARC readers do provide some reviews. But other publishers are not that successful with reviews. And you can get reviews on your own. What’s also interesting here is that in your list of outlets you mentioned only two: newsletters and the website. And, in fact, that’s generally all you get. Very few authors get more marketing than this. Occasionally, a publisher will take out some paid ads for an author who is already making them money. I think the publisher’s newsletter and website does give an initial boost to a new release, and can be very beneficial to new authors.. But the newsletter is often a one-shot deal, and once the next group of new releases comes out and your book falls off the home page into obscurity, the website benefit goes away. Every author, indie or traditionally published, should have their own newsletter and their own website, and should work HARD to attract subscribers and followers.

Kristin: An indie author can still giveaway ARC copies and get advance reviews for their book. A publisher doesn’t control that at all. An indie author can also market their book anyway they want to. The only difference is the author has to pay for the marketing. When you self publish there are more rules but they do the marketing for you and all the author authors they work with.

Would you ever not recommend someone to self-publish their story instead of work with a publisher? Yes or no and why? 

Megan: As stated above, I would recommend a brand new author work with a publisher, unless they know of a great editor that can help them maneuver the waters of authorland.   It helped to have support in the beginning and to start a fanbase.  I never saw myself self publishing, EVER.  I just think the trend is moving toward authors self-publishing. 

Sue: No, I would never recommend someone not self-publish, but I would gently nudge them to do their research so they know exactly what they’re getting into, especially if they are new writer, before they start the process.

Trent: Certainly. Sometimes, a project makes more sense with a traditional publisher. I would still recommend a literary fiction writer go trad over indie. Anyone who places great value on industry awards, should go trad rather than indie. Again, it would depend upon the writer and the project. It doesn’t have to be a binary thing anymore. Trad and indie are simply modes of publication that may or may not be available to a particular author or project. It’s all about being aware of your options and going after the best one!

Cara: Actually, I think most newbies could benefit from working with a publisher first—especially if the publisher offers quality editing and covers. When you start out, it is hard to generate a readership base. If you’ve chosen the right publisher for your work, the publisher’s following can really help you.

That makes sense that new authors would probably do best to work with a publisher to begin with, but afterword it would be easier for the author to venture out on their own if they wanted to. 

On average, what is the general time frame from submitting the story to finding out it'll be published, to getting the first set of edits to finishing the edits, to getting the book copy read and the contract signed, to having the book up for sale on Amazon? 

Megan: Well, there is no contract. I purchase a service.  So I pay him a certain amount per word.  I submit my book to Trent for editing, and we openly discuss how many words it is, how much time he thinks it will take  to process the book and when I am thinking of publishing.   Usually I allow eight weeks from the date of submission to the date of publishing.  Sometimes it has been six weeks and sometimes it has been eight.  Once we have set up a “drop dead” date of publishing, he sends me a statement on how much it will cost for him to beta read, line edit, copy edit, format and to assist me in publishing. 

Sue: Oh gosh…this has been different with each publisher I’ve worked with. I’ve had a submission to publication period take as long as eight months, and others as short as one month.

Trent: So, the length of time depends on the length of the book. For a full length, say 85K or so, I usually take 1-2 weeks to edit, 1-2 days for formatting, then I can upload everywhere in 2-4 hrs. I'm rarely organized enough to get a cover ready beforehand though, so I plan on about 3-4 weeks all told once the draft is complete. If I utilize beta readers, it's at least 4 weeks. If I forego beta readers, it's closer to 3 weeks all told.

Cara: This varies depending on the publisher, whether you’re brand new or have been published with them before, how good the editing is that the publisher provides, and how much editing your work requires. With Loose Id, it took me about a month to get a contract on my first book (but they had contacted me and asked me to submit something). After the contract was signed, it took about five months to get a published book. Once I was with them, it would take two weeks to one month to get a contract and then four months to get a book published. I do know publishers who take a LOT longer to act and some that are quicker.

I would like to say thank you all again for participating in this blog post! I loved all of your answers!

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the publishers answers to my questions!

Have a great day everyone!