This post has been churning in my head for a while. I’ve had a number of writers tell me openly that they want to go traditionally published so they “don’t have to do marketing”.
There are many good reasons to go the traditionally published route, unfortunately, this is not one of them.
Gone are the days when a traditionally published author would get to sit back and let the publishing house sort all the marketing.
There is no right or wrong answer regarding how to get published, you have to make your own decisions about what works best for you. Yet knowing what each option entitles is important as both have their own pros and cons.
However, the biggest thing I see is people believing that they don’t have to market if they go traditional and so blatantly ignore all opportunities to build their platform.
If you want to go traditional, you should at least be aware of the industry and what is expected of you.
The Myth about Marketing
All the Marketing
Despite the changes that happen in the industry, a lot of people still think that the one big bonus of going traditionally published is that the publishing company will do all the marketing.
Don’t get me wrong, they WILL do marketing. But how much marketing is where the issue lies.
I know writers who are convinced all marketing will be done by the publishing house and they don’t have to do anything.
This is extremely unlikely. Many publishing houses now want to see what you are doing to boost your own books and brand. Some will want you to have a following before they fully decide to invest in your book.
Few publishers will send their new writers on book tours or signings. They are not the most efficient way to sell books and unless you are a big name or writing something mind-blowing or controversial, it’s just very unlikely to happen.
Some publishers will support you if you want to arrange your own book tour or book signing, but these days, few will arrange them (or pay for them) for you.
I was shocked when someone told me they haven’t got an author website and that when they go traditional, their publisher will “probably” sort it for them. Not sure why they think that, but that is not really something they should be banking on.
Again a publishing house isn’t likely to spend resources and time creating and maintaining an author website. That really is something you need to do yourself and do it before you are published!
This is when a publisher will do the most marketing for you. The hoopla before the book comes out.
Which is good because this is important, however, for a book to keep making money it has to be marketing continually. People need to remember it.
However, usually after the launch, post-launch marketing is pretty minimal. So if you want to keep the momentum going, you need to do some of your own marketing.
You’re not a big name
If you are just starting out, chances are you aren’t a big name. Which means publishing houses will not be throwing the same kind of cash at your marketing strategy as they will for their big-name clients.
This is where a lot of new writers fall down, they assume they will get the same level of support as other writers but the publishing house will have top billing author clients and these are the ones who get the most investment and support.
This does not mean you won’t get any support. You will, but it might not be what you are expecting. There will be a difference in what attention you get from your publisher.
Work with your Publisher
I know a number of traditionally published authors who have done great because THEY did a lot of their own marketing.
If you want to go traditional, you need to push away the mindset that you can just hand over the marketing to your publisher. That isn’t the way any more.
However, what you can do is WORK with your publisher. If you know your launch date, come up with some ideas for marketing. Make sure you have plans for at least 6 months before the release date.
Take that list to your publisher early and see if they can give you any support or advice. Firstly, this shows you are serious about your book’s success.
Secondly, this helps to make sure anything the publisher is going to do, is not being repeated by you and they may be able to work your marketing ideas into any pre-launch plan they have.
Thirdly, they can often come up with additional ideas to develop your strategy and are more likely to give you support to complement your ideas.
You may also want to let your publisher know about any guest posting/speaking opportunities you’ve found/been invited to. Work in partnership with your publisher.
Why building your own platform is important
If you are pitching to a traditional publisher, then having a platform established can work in your favour.
Yes, your book needs to be good enough to grab them but if you can also state that you have an active platform, loyal followers and interested readers, this can go a long way with showing the publisher that you will do what it takes to make your writing career a success.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 8 and all through my early years I wrote. I also contacted publishing companies (I didn’t send them anything, I asked questions) and some even wrote back with answers (thank you Titan Books and Penguin Books). 🙂
I’ve been studying the industry for a while, and things have definitely been changing. Not surprising since the advent of more and more social media platforms and things like self-publishing.
Originally, I wanted to be traditionally published because there were a lot of benefits (and it was the only methods years ago!).
Over the years, I’ve found those benefits have dwindled and what you gain from traditional publishing doesn’t seem to be worth (for me) the loss of creative control. However, that is my personal preference and it won’t be right for everyone.
I came to this conclusion following lots of research into the industry as well as knowing my own abilities and limitations.
My advice is, no matter which way you want to go, take the time to look into the industry for yourself so you know what is needed and expected.
Also, check out posts and videos by newly published authors, experienced authors, those who’ve worked and do work in the industry as marketers, editors, publishers, etc.
The truth is YOU are ultimately responsible for your writing career.
Are you going traditionally or self-published?