Why I Still Try To Get Some Of My Books Traditionally Published - Lynne Garner

You may think it's a little odd that an author who has successfully self-published would still want to write for a publisher. I confess I'm one such author and I have three reasons why I still bother to submit to publishers. These are:


For some reason people still believe if you've written a book that you are an authority on your subject. As a freelance tutor/teacher I'm often asked by new clients if I've written a book about the subject they want me to teach for them. I've found I get a better response if I can say I have had something published either in book form or as a magazine feature.  


I write craft books and these are highly illustrated with full colour photographs. Although I've tried I've not been satisfied with the way these look as an eBook. I'm sure over time this will change which means I may self-publish these titles in the future.


A percentage of my books are picture books and although I don't make a good income from sales (the royalty percentage is small) I receive a reasonable income from PLR (Public Lending Rights). Sadly at present PLR cannot be earned on eBooks, so it still makes financial sense for me to continue writing these and getting them published traditionally.  

There are a number of reasons why I chose to self-publish (which will be the subject of another blog post) but perhaps one of the main reasons can be best explained by one of my heroes Bernard Black:  

Lastly if you're a self-published eBook author but still submit proposals to publishers I'd love to know to why.


Lynne Garner


Andrew Crofts said…
Once an author has written a book they want to find the most effective way to sell it to the largest numbers of people. To do that they need the help of someone who has access to customers, marketing skills or the necessary capital to buy the services that are required. That partner might be a traditional publisher or it might be Amazon or a specialist retailer. It might be an agent or a publicist or a lawyer. Every book needs different things. Every author needs different things. The more choices we as authors have in who we can ask for help the better.
Lee said…
'Once an author has written a book they want to find the most effective way to sell it to the largest numbers of people.'

Not necessarily.
JO said…
A number of people have asked me to publish the Over the Hill ebooks as print books - when I've got three (to make them an economical print-book-length) I'll do that. I'm told that people like dipping into them and they find that easier with a print book.

And what the customer wants ....
I'm 'hybrid' too. I do want to sell to as many people as possible, but I can also understand that people may neither care not want to do that and that's fine too. Room for all of us I think. Benefits of working with a publisher? Not really financial but there are some projects where it's beneficial to have a collaboration of sorts. I've been mulling this over a lot, of late. I'm currently working with an excellent and collaborative publisher. I didn't so much 'submit' as was 'paired up' by a colleague. A few years ago, I took a decision not to submit in the traditional way ever again. (And I don't have an agent now.) But when a colleague who knew both of us said 'I think this book and this publisher would be a very good match' I felt inclined to agree and contacted them. There was absolutely no pressure on either side and in all honesty, I wouldn't have minded if they had said 'no' because it didn't feel like that all too hideous submission /acceptance /rejection process. Perhaps because I had other options. Which is an interesting thought in itself. I realised then that I had genuinely stepped off the merry-go-round and was in a different relationship which involved me in the decision making as much as the publisher. I think we both thought that the publisher could bring something extra to this particular project in terms of editing, contacts, promotion, reputation - and I think she did and will continue to do so. But then I also think she recognised that I had an established 'platform' which would be advantageous for them. Would I like to work with her again? You bet I would, and I already have plans. But I have other projects that are not suitable for them and would be better self published. In the old days, I would probably have shelved them and regretted it somewhere down the line. In fact I've been in that position in the past. Now, of course, I'd do no such thing. Of course it's only some way into a career and with a longish backlist that you find yourself in this position, and it would be different and more difficult if I were just starting out. But perhaps in that case indie publishing, feeling your way into a career, establishing a body of work, would be much better than submitting the same book, endlessly rewritten, to a string of agents and publishers over many years - as I've seen happening to young writers all too often. And in this way too, you could decide whether you were after commercial success or not. Thanks for such a thought provoking post!
Bill Kirton said…
Interesting post, Lynne. It makes complete sense to keep all options open and you're right about different types of books needing different publishing strategies. Over the past 2 or 3 years, my traditionally published books have all been non-fiction and a recent Twitter exchange made me realise that I tend to forget about them when I think of my output. I got a new follower and, as usual, tweeted to thank him for the follow. He tweeted back 'No, thank YOU. Your dissertation book is about to save my life.' Money would be nice but, as always, it's that sort of feedback that's most important and that one came through the traditional route.
Ann Evans said…
Interesting post, Lynne. I'm another one who still submits to publishers as well as self publishing my out of print books.
Personally, I feel more confident in my books when they have been published traditionally first. But also, I'm not so hot on the marketing, getting reviews and selling side of self publishing which I know is vital if you're going to be successful.
madwippitt said…
'Not necessarily' Lee? Writers publish books because they want people to have access to them and be able to read them. If you don't care whether anyone reads your books and write solely to amuse yourself, then there isn't really much point in publishing them.
Lee said…
Madwippett, you're making an assumption that isn't quite in line with what I've said. There is a difference - perhaps even a large difference - between not wanting to be read at all (your 'write solely to amuse yourself', the superciliousness of which I find mildly offensive) and looking to maximise the number of your readers. Surely there is a wide spectrum between these two extremes.

Do I want to be read? Yes, so long as I don't waste too much time and effort on achieving this end. Perhaps it's my age (or stage of life), but I'm very aware of how little time may be left to me, and I simply prefer to write and read (and raise my grandson, bake bread etc.) rather than what seems to be a pointless effort to maximise my readership. I have no illusions that writing fiction will make a real difference to my income, so why bother? (If nothing else, translation pays more.) I'd rather focus almost all my efforts on writing better.

This does not mean that I look down on those those who hope to make a living from writing fiction. Nor do I envy those who succeed: wasted energy.
Susan Price said…
Lee, I think the point of view you explain above is completely valid - indeed, I wish I had enough financial security, or other options for making a living, to be able to join you!
However I can't see how 'writing solely to amuse yourself' is supercilious. Some people do - I've met them. Presumably they don't write because it BORES them. Some write to stay sane or at least balanced - it's very effective for that. But they aren't looking for an audience: they're doing it only for themselves and their own self-health. Or 'amusement.'
madwippitt said…
Nothing offensive about writing solely to amuse yourself, Lee. That's why a lot of people keep diaries. (although some do get published eventually, it's not usually done intentionally by the writer)

And if you want to make a living from writing, and succeed in doing so, why is that a waste of energy? No more so than baking that bread you enjoy doing, and which is eaten in a flash. So much less of a waste of time to buy it from the baker's, and then you can spend the time saved doing stuff like writing a bestseller. Or a book to raise funds for charity - now THERE'S a great reason for wanting to get as many readers on board as possible.
Lee said…
Madwippett, where did I say that making a living from writing is a waste of energy? I believe I said that envying those who do, however. is indeed a waste. Though perhaps for some people it's a spur, and therefore not to be despised. Arrgh, I can only speak for myself...

Susan, it's certainly possible that I've misinterpreted Madwippett's tone. Maybe. In any case, my whole point is that there is a very wide spectrum of reasons for writing, and Madwippett needs to be more careful of black & white claims.
nick mercurio said…
Lee, you should be ashamed of yourself. The gang had a dignified discussion going about making money--and the instant you knew you were losing the fight, you tried to throw them all off track by referring to black and white CLAMS? Why, they're worse than snapping turtles but you just had to throw them in. Oh, that is soooo just like you! Can we get back to moolah, please?
madwippitt said…
Ah, misinterpreted your comment about 'waste of time' Lee. Probably because it was a rather ambiguous statement which could be construed in two different ways - thanks for setting me straight. A brilliant lesson on the importance of writing with clarity! :-)

Lee said…
@maddwippett, Yes, I certainly could have been clearer, thanks.

@Nick, Ashamed? Not at all. No one has to participate in a discussion, do they? Long ago I realised that someone online (or lots of someones) would always dislike what I had to say, so I might as well say what I think. You're free to disagree, ignore me, or object. I'm sure no one has a problem with that, nor do I.

So what have you got to add to change the direction of the comments? Go ahead, I'm sure there's plenty of room for further discussion.
Lee said…
BTW, Nick, I do enjoy clams & miss them since leaving the States. But your type of humour reminds me of someone else here. Are you in hiding? Do tell!

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