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Creative support for business writers, pre-published writers and for writers-in-a-rut.

The Publishing Game

The Publishing Game

Publishing is changing. Technology, recession and social issues like saving the trees, are affecting the publishing industry. People who earn their living from producing and selling books are facing many challenges.

What does this mean to the pre-published writer? A lot, according to Trish Gentry who recently published a post on her blog, Chicklit. Her blog, ‘An Unpublished Author’s Perspective on Paying to be Published’ highlights the challenges she has faced trying to get her first book published.

Gentry has paid her publishing dues in money, time and tears. She has spent large chunks of time writing her book. No an easy feat as any first-time writer will attest to.

The next step was paying someone to edit her book. Gentry knew this would enhance her chances of becoming published. She admits she is an unknown, has no credibility. With edited book in hand, Gentry spent hours researching publishers who have accepted authors in the genre she has written. She submits her manuscript. And waits. And waits. Hopefully she will receive a request or rejection. She admits that she has more chance of winning the sweepstakes. Not because she is a bad writer. It is because she is a new writer.

The safe game

Publishers are playing the safety game. The safety catch is firmly in place before they will commit to a pre-published writer. Why? Because publishing is expensive. There are no guarantees. Recession has taught people to be cautious with their money. Readers will more than likely purchase a book written by a known author. The established author will have prime spot in the retailer. Where will the unknown’s book be positioned? Probably in the dusty recesses of the shop, next to the forgotten gems of yesteryear.

So why do people still feel it is important to go the traditional published route? Gentry admits that publishers and agents do have clout. They know the book game. And it is a status thing for a writer to say ‘I was published by [insert your choice of publisher here]’.

Consider this: once the production costs have been deducted, the agent has taken their commission and the publisher has sliced their pound of flesh; you the writer may get R12 per copy sold. Is it worth the effort?

Why self-publishing works for the pre-published author

Amanda Hocking, self-published writer of a supernatural series, earned her money from selling her books online. Hocking decided to self-publish after being continuously rejected and being told that the supernatural market was oversubscribed. An international publisher is now interested in her books. Why? Because her self-published ebooks have earned her a cool million dollars. She has credibility and is now considered a low risk.

There are many options for the newbie author to follow. The traditional publishing route is not the only way to get people to read your book. Research the market. Understand genres and their story-lines. Ensure that your book is as close to perfect as possible. Spend the money on attending writing courses and editing. Publish it online. Spend some more money promoting. Get a social media presence. Test the waters. See what readers and reviewers say about your book. Once you understand this process, you may realise why publishers are nervous about the future of publishing. You may also earn more money this way.


Ulrike Hill
First published on
23rd February 2012
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