Friday, October 07, 2011

My thoughts on mainstream publishing

Just because I chose to self-publish Hal Junior doesn't mean I think traditional publishing is broken. If you're writing in a genre with a big potential audience - Fantasy or Paranormal for example - then I don't see the point of going it alone when persistence and talent may eventually secure a contract with a decent trade publisher.

What I'm trying to say is this: If you've always dreamt of selling your work to a big publisher and working with their team to make your novel a success, don't give up on that dream just because some authors are finding success with ebooks and self-pub. The two are not mutually exclusive, and in fact the more published authors abandon ship for the lure of self-publishing, the more new authors those big publishing houses are going to need. But you probably realised that already.

Okay, that works for popular genres, but what happens to oddball novels? Crossovers, niche titles, anything which doesn't fit into a marketing category? If you've hunted high and low but can't find any recent titles similar to yours, there's a good chance you're writing for a smaller audience. Let's say, oh I don't know, maybe science fiction comedy. Or middle-grade science fiction, for that matter.

One suggestion, put to me more than once over the years, was that I abandon my scifi comedy series and write something people would buy ... like Fantasy or Paranormal. Nuts to that! Why on earth would I force myself to write in a genre which I don't even read? Do you want to know what happens when I try to write epic fantasy? See my short story, The Desolator (originally published in Andromeda Spaceways #6).

When switching genres is out of the question, and big publishers aren't interested in your chosen genre, what do you do? You could spend ten or fifteen years on the submission/rejection merry-go-round, or you could self-publish and prove the market exists.

In the meantime, keep writing new novels.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Roger Lawrence said...

Right with you.
I have to continue writing comedy SF because there's nothing else I want to write. If there's no one who will publish, I'll do it myself.

Simon Haynes said...

My point exactly. If I'm going to spend 12-18 months writing and polishing a novel it's going to be a labour of love. It's just great that there are other publishing options these days.

Sharon Henning said...

Interesting article. I agree with you that life's too short to conform to the popular culture just because that somehow defines us as "successful".
Also, my personal opinion is that paranormal and dark fantasy are flooded markets and there has to be drawbacks to that. (Not that I read either genre anyway.

Simon Haynes said...

I guess there's always a downside to everything! You're right, shopping a novel around in an overcrowded genre is almost as bad as shopping something for which there's hardly any market.