Sunday, November 9, 2014

Indie Versus Traditional - Marketing

The refrain I often hear from defenders of traditional publishing is that traditional publishers offer the backing of an established business, especially when it comes to marketing.  Traditional houses have an array of ways to help you get your name out there so more people buy your book.


Oh, it sounds nice, and I'm sure it even exists with a select few.  However, it doesn't exist with most writers, whether established or not.  Article after article talks about how authors are responsible for doing most, or even all, of their own marketing.  Traditional publishers don't want to waste their limited resources on potential flops, so they reserve what they have for more established names.

The problem with this is that the more established names are the ones who don't need as much exposure.  They've usually built up a loyal fan base that's waiting for the next tome to come out.  This becomes a death spiral when the newbie or mid-lister's work doesn't sell - the publisher uses this as a reason to not spend marketing money, so there is no exposure to new readers, and, therefore, low sales.

The only benefit of marketing offered by traditional publishers is distribution potential, and if you're not selling, they won't distribute it on a large scale anyway(to say nothing of how when it doesn't sell, you have little recourse since the publisher owns your printing rights).  The few newbies that get marketing are those already doing well due to word of mouth, like 50 Shades of Grey.  It's that old axiom of needing to prove you don't need the money in order to get it...

If you have to market yourself anyway, why not go indie?  You retain full control over how you get yourself out there.  No one is going to come along and say, "That's too risky" or "That's not your target demographic."  It's your decision, consequences and all.  Yes, it's work, but you were going to have to do that anyway.  Wouldn't you rather take control and be answerable only to yourself?

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