By Gayle Trent
My plan for retirement is win the lottery. My backup plan for retirement is to work until I drop while contributing to an IRA and praying it will be enough if and when the time comes.
Sometimes the scales on your plan versus your backup plan isn’t as unevenly balanced as the one for my retirement. I’m currently writing the first book in a paranormal cozy mystery series. My agent is shopping the book as I write. Since I’ve heard nothing about whether any publisher is interested in my series, I’m continuing to write knowing that I’ll self-publish this one if I fail to obtain a traditional contract.
Unlike many authors, I prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing. Traditional publishing can help an author build an audience much quicker than self-publishing. Readers are familiar with the brand, so they’re more likely to take a chance on an unknown author because they trust this book to be comparable with other books they’ve read—this is especially true for genre fiction. Being traditionally published also means your books will be readily available in bookstores. And, although you still have to do most of your own marketing, you’ll have a publicist who works for the publisher. In addition, there’s no upfront publishing costs to the author.
I have done—and will likely continue to do—some self-publishing. In fact, one of my self-published books—Killer Wedding Cake—won a bronze medal in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. But self-publishing isn’t cheap, as I’m sure you’re well aware. Authors must be prepared to lay out at least $2,000 minimum up front. (I’m putting aside funds now in case I self-publish my current book.) Then there are the advertising and promotion cost. (For more on advertising and promotion, please see my course on Supersizing Your Readership at this link.
Of course, there are many benefits to self-publishing. You get to determine your release date. You have control over your content. You get all the proceeds. And you decide what name goes on the cover. [The reason I write under the names Gayle Trent, Amanda Lee, and Gayle Leeson is a story I’ll save for another occasion.]
In my case, knowing I wanted to publish the book whether a traditional publisher snaps it up or not, I almost made my marketing plan before I began writing. The book is set in a beautiful nearby town. The characters go to some of my favorite places—mostly dining establishments—in that town, and I believe that at least some of these businesses would be willing to allow me to have a signing there or sell my books there on consignment since they’re getting such favorable press. Having the book set in a popular regional location will be a wonderful selling point to area television stations and newspapers. And I’ll be able to coordinate the release date with an event—the late summer festival or the Halloween ghost tour season.
So, always have a backup plan. That way if the first one doesn’t work out—lottery or traditional publishing—you’re ready to take the necessary steps to ensure your success.
Gayle Trent says “I'm an award-winning, best-selling international hybrid author. As impressive as that might sound, it really just means I've been around a loooong time; and although I'm still figuring things out, I'm doing much better than I once was. I started out writing for small presses. Then I started my own publishing company called Grace Abraham Publishing. After closing the doors to Grace Abraham Publishing, I landed my first agent. She was wonderful, and she managed to get me through the door at NAL with the embroidery series. So, I now write cozy mystery series for NAL/Penguin Random House under the pseudonyms Amanda Lee (the embroidery series) and Gayle Leeson (the Down South Cafe series). I write the cake decorating cozy mystery series under the name Gayle Trent (that series has been with Bell Bridge, Simon & Schuster, and is now self-published under the Grace Abraham name). I also write the self-published Myrtle Crumb series as Gayle Trent, and I've written standalones as G. V. Trent and as Gayle Trent. I have so many pen names now that my new motto is, "An author by any other name might still be me." Websites: http://www.gayletrent.com and http://www.gayleleeson.com and http://www.empoweringauthors.biz