For Writers on Wednesdays: Making Sausage

What does making sausages have to do with writing? A lot more than you would think. Confused? Trust me by the end of this discussion you’ll understand.

Making sausages was the name of the panel consisting of Allen Wold, Theresa Bane, Barbara Friend Ish, and Debra Killen at Stellarcon. The title confused me so I nearly missed this fascinating discussion until I read the description. As it was I did come in late but not so late I missed too much.

For the last several months the writing world has been in an uproar over ebooks and their sudden surge in popularity. Many believed the time for ebooks had not arrived but they were wrong. Now the world of writers and publishing is in a state of flux where no one knows how it will end. 

Every writer and their blog has at least one discussion about indie versus traditional publishing. Should you or shouldn’t you? A question that may never be answered to some’s satisfaction. The panel I attended wasn’t about this highly volatile subject but something as important. The benefits of small publishing versus big publishing.

It was not something on my mind. Heck, I’m still nowhere near where I want to be to even consider publishing but we should all be aware of the options available to us so we can make informed choices.

Most writers want their stories to be read and enjoyed by as many people possible and make lots of money while they do it. Nothing wrong with that. Except most of the writers I met, even though they are published, still had a day job or at least another means of making money other than writing. They’re with big publishers.

Big publishing doesn’t guarantee big money or a wide audience. In fact, just about every panel I attended stated the opposite was true. The odds are good it will be years, if ever, that any of us will be able to support ourselves with our writing. 

Unless you’re a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or someone like them you’re just about on your own when marketing your work. They are proven money makers with huge followings so it stands to reason big publishers are going to put the majority of their money and efforts into promoting them.   

A small publisher may not have the same distribution means or the same money but they will have ability to work with you whereas a large publisher does not. Your book will not necessarily have to sell as much in a very short period and has the time to find an audience. It is not a given you will not make money with them.

Allen Wold sums the matter up by stating, “If you want to make money it’s the big press you want. If you want to be treated right, making little money, then go with the smaller press.”  Perhaps that’s true to a large extent but…

Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Shiloh Walker are all well-known names. I’m pretty sure they’re all making good money or at least enough to support themselves with their writing. What they have in common is they started in small publishing.

Their popularity was enough to allow them to transition over to larger publishers taking their work with them.  They still publish with Ellora’s Cave giving them a mainstream and a niche audience. It seems they have the best of both worlds. If they can why not the rest of us?

Another panelist, Theresa Bane talked about buzzymag.com and her work as a professional beta reader. Did anyone else know there was such a thing? Neither did I but she makes the case for one whether you choose big or small publishing.

She reads for content and can tell you if what you’ve written is accurate. A good example would be if your book has sapphires in a volcano she can advise it should be rubies. Did you know that? Maybe not but she makes it her business to and in doing so helps you have a better book.

Another take away from this panel is be sure to submit your genre to the right publisher. Two websites to know: http://duotrope.com/ and http://ralan.com/.

Barbara Friend Ish titled the panel ‘Making Sausage’. She states this, “Behind the scenes publishing is a lot like making sausages; you don’t want to know.”

Really?  The more we know the better decisions we can make but I agree it’s not necessary to know every detail. Just enough so we can determine what course our writing careers will take.

I’m curious. What’s your opinion?

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 19:56:31

    I believe behind the scenes of publishing is easy to learn. Some say if I do, I take away the job of someone else who is pretending his/her job is too difficult for me, as a writer, to learn. 🙂 Publishers want writers to just trust them to get “it” all correct and we should just write the next book, slowly.

    Editors once checked facts in novels, now it is beta readers? While the publishers cut back on what they do for the writer, including marketing and editing, they are not increasing the percentage of each book sold for the writer. Well, we learnt in HTTS to ask for spies.

    Mainly, there is a place for both traditional publishers and ebook publishing, but to make an informed decision, you have to know how it all works. Otherwise your decisions are based on faith and trust, not knowledge.

    As for sausages, I do not eat them, ever! I prefer to remain healthy and spend nothing at the doctor or chemist. 🙂

    Reply

    • curiocat
      Apr 27, 2011 @ 05:01:06

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s important to know how publishing works so at the very least we know why we are or are not making a living as a writer and what we need to do to correct that if necessary.

      Reply

  2. Shellie Sakai
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 08:35:52

    I don’t think I have got to the stage of thinking about publishing. And I agree that this is a very unsettling situation for writers and I also think for readers.

    It will be interesting to see which one is standing, Indie or Traditional, when the dust settles.

    Thought provoking post. Thank you.

    Reply

    • curiocat
      Apr 27, 2011 @ 05:02:55

      Shellie, me either but one of the things I have learned over the last year about publishing is it’s a good thing to be prepared. So I’m trying.

      Reply

  3. ekcarmel
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 14:55:02

    I really hope she was joking about that “behind the scenes” bit. Who *doesn’t* want to know what’s going on? It’s in our best interests to understand it all. (BTW, I eat sausage even though I know how it’s made, I just don’t eat a lot of it!)

    About the professional beta reader – I had to laugh. No, I didn’t know there was such a thing. But I suppose you can call yourself a professional anything if people are willing to pay you to do it. But, what this also tells me is that there are writers not willing to double-check their own facts! I mean, WOW!

    Very interesting post, Angela.

    Reply

    • curiocat
      Apr 27, 2011 @ 05:06:32

      I don’t think she was kidding when she spoke about it. One of the things that was talked about over and over was how busy editors are and their heavy load of work. Maybe she was referencing that? I don’t know but I thought her statement thought provoking enough to share it.

      Reply

  4. curiocat
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:55:56

    @ Diane & Eileen. I’m sure publishers still have fact checkers but everything I heard was they want the book to be as close to be ready to publish as possible. If they don’t have to do it, it saves them money. That was part of the case Theresa made for a “professional” beta reader.

    Still I agree with you guys, writers should be willing to search out spies and check their own facts otherwise what are you doing trying to write a book? Isn’t that part of the process?

    Reply

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