So what's it like, being published traditionally?
Virtues of War, my military SF novel, was re-released just over a month ago by the traditional publisher Titan Books. Having self-published Virtues myself way back in 2010, I was quite curious to see how the two processes differed. Well, now I've had my first glimpse.
First and foremost, traditional publishing takes a LOT longer than self-publishing. This isn't due to any laziness or inefficiency. It's due to the fact that there's a whole industry involved now, not just the author, and every player in the industry needs their own time. Bookstores need to be pitched the book four months prior to launch; reviewers needs to receive the book six months prior to launch; sales teams need to be briefed on the coming book ten months before launch, so that they can in turn pre-pitch the bookstores and get them excited about the real pitch coming next season... This is all for real, and it's all good stuff. But my goodness it takes a long time.
Around launch date itself, I as the author felt pretty good, because my publisher worked hard to get me some interviews with noted SF sites, and had me write a few articles on SF topics for publication. A bunch of major reviewers came out with their reviews of Virtues of War around that time - all good, I'm happy to say - and for about six weeks prior to launch I felt like centre of my publisher's universe.
Then launch date itself arrived. There was no gala event, no big announcement. It was more just the day when all the efforts for the past ten months sarted to pay off. As the author I was excited, but also a little frustrated because I couldn't really tell how well the book was selling. Other than checking the Amazon sales ranking each day (which is itself a pretty blunt instrument) I've been completely in the dark about whether the book is selling well or not.
And all that support from my publisher I was enjoying? Gone. Silence. Once launch day was upon us, the publisher's work was done. And I can't really blame them, because Titan puts out new books every month, so everyone's focus had now shifted to the books coming out in August. Virtues of War isn't forgotten, but it's no longer their priority. And it probably won't ever be again.
So to all those authors out there who wonder what it's like to be traditionally published, or who are wondering how it compares to self-publishing, here's my little snapshot of the short period around launch date itself. I received excellent support from my publisher, but now that the book is out I'm pretty much on my own. At least, until Book II is getting ready for launch.
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