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Today I'm excited to share a guest post by Lisa Nowak on choosing your publishing path. She's got some great considerations for you to think about in weighing your options.

Here's a bio of Lisa:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. You can find her book Driven on Amazon and other online retailers.

Lisa is the author of a recently published book , DRIVEN, and DEAD HEAT, which will be released in early October.

Here's a description of DRIVEN from Goodreads:

The last thing on 16-year-old Jess DeLand’s wish list is a boyfriend. She’d have to be crazy to think any guy would look twice at her. Besides, there are more important things to hope for, like a job working on cars and an end to her mom’s drinking. Foster care is a constant threat, and Jess is willing to sacrifice anything to stay out of the system. When luck hands her the chance to work on a race car, she finds herself rushing full throttle into a world of opportunities—including a boy who doesn’t mind the grease under her fingernails. The question is, can a girl who keeps herself locked up tighter than Richard Petty’s racing secrets open up enough to risk friendship and her first romance?

And here's a blurb from Lisa about DEAD HEAT:

Alex is a machine whisperer. All he has to do is touch a broken-down car or CD player to know what’s wrong with it. But that talent can’t save him from the brutal abuse of his meth-addict father. For the past two years, Alex has known kindness through Cole, the man who’s become his mentor. Now Cole’s dead, and the violence in Alex’s life is escalating.
Certain his friend is in great danger, Cole lingers in spirit form to protect him. But if Alex can’t find the courage to escape his father’s grip soon, a grim future awaits. And Cole may be earthbound forever.

Don't these sound  good?

Now here's Lisa to share her fabulous guest post.

How to Chose Your Publishing Path

Publishing models are changing. Power is shifting to the author, and New York is resisting that shift. Depending on your perspective, it’s either a frightening and fascinating time to be a writer. Several publishing options are available, and each has its pros and cons, which you must evaluate to determine the path that best suits your personality and goals.

Before you decide which publishing venue is best for you, you need to ask yourself several questions:

·         What do you want from your publishing career? Money? Fame? Validation? A publisher who will treat you as a person and listen to your requests? Creative control? Marketing control? Speed to press? Plenty of time to write?

·         What are your skills and talents? Do you only want to write, secluded in your office? Do you have a knack for computers? Are you comfortable doing social networking? Do you have the ability to think outside the box? Are you a self-starter? Can you use a spreadsheet? Download and manage files? Format documents in Word? Write sales copy?

·         What are you prepared to give up? You can have validation, but you’ll give up control. You can have independence, but you’ll give up the marketing power of a big publisher. You can have a rapid path to publication, but you’ll give up prestige. You can have the close-knit family feel of a small press, but you’ll give up securing an advance. It’s important to determine exactly what you want and exactly what you’re willing to sacrifice.

·         What is your content? Paranormal is hot in the indie market right now but a tough sell in New York. Series are going strong online, and though some traditional editors are looking for them, the fact remains that if the first book in a series flops, the second won’t be picked up. Some books are so specialized they’re hard to sell traditionally. Boy books for teens are always a hard sell. But what’s not popular in New York might be just what a small press is looking for.

Maybe you’d prefer to stick with the traditional model because you’d like to be eligible for contest and reviews or get your books into libraries. On the other hand, while you might want the validation of traditional publishing, you’d prefer the intimacy of a small press. These days there are a lot of new ones popping up, so your chances of getting accepted are improving. And then there’s indie publishing. It’s a model that’s becoming more glamorous every day, but is it right for you?

Because I’ve pursued this path, I want to delve into it a little more deeply so you’ll know what to expect. Not everyone has the temperament and skills to be a successful indie author. People who want prestige, or are uncomfortable with marketing, won’t be happy with this route. If you have a lot of other commitments, such as being a high school English teacher or parenting three toddlers, self-publishing is not a practical avenue for you.

What’s necessary to be happy and successful as an indie author? You need to have enough passion to carry you through all the hard work. You have to be skilled enough with computers to handle formatting and uploading your books, as well as tracking sales and engaging in social networking. You need to be a self-starter who is able to make cold-calls to set up school visits, book signings, and other public events. You have to be willing to approach reviewers, have the skills to write your own book descriptions, and have the organizational ability to deal with your tax information and create spreadsheets to track sales. If you’ve run a small business before, it’s not going to be a whole lot different. But if you’re the kind of person who’s quiet and shy, and would just like to sit at home and write, self-publishing probably isn’t for you.

There are some other options. If you want the control of being an indie author, but don’t have the time or skills, you can use businesses like Bookbaby or hire formatters, designers, and even social media management companies to help. There are also hybrid presses, where you share in the expenses, but get assistance with the mechanics of publishing and marketing. Or, if you’d like some creative control—such as having input into cover design—but don’t want to be responsible for editing, sales copy, and fact checking, a small press might be a good fit.

Regardless of what path you take, be prepared to deal with social networking and marketing. Just because you land a Random House contract doesn’t mean they’re going to do all the work. Besides, if your first book doesn’t sell, you could be dropped, so it’s important for you to learn how to use a blog, Twitter, and Facebook to promote yourself.

Whichever path you choose, do your research. Oregon authors Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch have become watchdogs for writers of all stripes. Their blogs are full of good advice. J.A. Konrath has a great deal of archived information about the indie publishing process. And The Passive Voice covers news about all aspects of publishing. 

Advice About Self-Publishing

  • Don’t expect to get rich quickly. Most authors don’t make a living at it, and some never sell a single book.
  • Self-publishing is like any other small business. Approach it with a professional attitude if you want to be successful.
  • Be sure you have a good story that is well-written.
  • Use critique groups and beta readers to vet your manuscript.
  • Hire a professional editor. This can be tough with no industry standards to determine who is or isn’t good. Do your research, get referrals, and ask for a sample edit of a chapter to see if the two of you are a good fit.
  • Have a cover professionally designed. Covers are one of the top selling points for books.
  • Format your book correctly. The Smashwords Style Guide is free and a good place to start.
  • Know your market going in.
  • Network with friends and other authors. Join Facebook writers groups. Follow writers on Twitter. Read blogs by other authors. (These are to form alliances for learning and cross-promotion, but be aware that it’s a waste of time to market to other indie authors. They’re too busy to read your book.)
  • Read Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters for an overview.

Advice About Traditional Publishing

  • Be careful. There’s a backlash from the indie author movement, and some publish houses are responding by tightening up their contracts. Make sure your agent knows how to read a contract, and if he or she doesn’t, get an IP attorney.
  • If you can possibly retain your ebook rights, do it. If you can’t, negotiate for the highest percentage of royalties you can get.
  • Be careful of options clauses and right of first refusal. These can keep you locked into a publisher and prevent you from releasing other projects on your own. Also, even if you’ve been in negotiations for weeks, be sure to carefully read the contract one last time before you sign it. Publishing companies have been known to send the final contract with the original language added back in.
  • Be aware that even if you do have a contract, your publisher may try to get out of honoring it. (Believe it or not, it has happened.)

Bear in mind that choosing one path now does not eliminate the others. While dabbling in self-publishing used to be the kiss of death for a writer who wanted to go traditional, that’s no longer the case. Many authors are finding success publishing by several different methods. Be open-minded about your options.

Thanks Lisa for sharing your great advice. You can find Lisa at:

Here's the link to purchase DRIVEN: AMAZON

Lisa is donating a e-book of DEAD HEAT for a giveaway. (You can sign up for her newsletter to be notified when it’s released.)
  Don't have an e-reader? Not a problem. I only recently was given one and have enjoyed reading books on my computer. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on October 6th. I’ll announce the winner on October 8th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. 

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I'm so excited to help debut author Shannon Messenger (she's the founder of the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts and one of the founders of WriteOnCon) celebrate the release of her book, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. I'll be interviewing her and giving away a copy of her book.

Next Tuesday I have a special Tuesday Tip by debut author Carrie Pearson to help celebrate her new picture book, A WARM WINTER TAIL

Thursday that week I'll be doing a guest post at Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing on what I've learned about reading.

The following Monday I'm helping Kiki Hamilton celebrate the release of THE TORN WING, the second book in her historical fantasy THE FAERIE RING series, with an interview and ARC giveaway.

Then on Tuesday that week I'll be participating in Mike Mullin's blog tour to celebrate the release of ASHEN WINTER, Book 2 in THE ASHFALL Trilogy with an interview and ARC giveaway.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!



Donna K. Weaver said...

Great information here. What's a professional smartass? You can get paid for that? ;)

Pili said...

Great advice indeed!

Linda Gray said...

There's a lot of good information in that advice. It's a tough decision, and I think Lisa is exactly right when she says to start out with, figure out what 's right for you as a personality. The books look terrific.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

What a great post, Lisa! Thanks for sharing so much information. Your books sounds super.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm so excited for Lisa's new book!

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks for the publishing thoughts, Lisa. And Natalie - you seem to get busier and busier!

Anonymous said...

Great advice, Lisa! I'm pursuing the traditional route, but there are certainly no guarantees, and I'm soaking up all the info I can about both sides of publishing.

Natalie - I don't know how you do it! You are one busy chica. Thanks for all of your wonderful content.

Laura Pauling said...

Love the cover of Dead Heat! And such wonderful balanced advice!

Barbara Watson said...

This is some of the most concise and well-worded advice on publishing I've read. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

Driven sounds like a really fresh concept, and I love that I get such a strong sense of the unique character just from the description.
Also, thank you Lisa for the advice, there are so many options and your breakdown really helps provide some perspective.
Thanks for the great post :)

Stina said...

Thanks, ladies, for the great interview, and thanks for the pros and cons list. Dead Heat sounds great! :D

Lisa said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm glad my advice seemed helpful. Choosing your publishing path is a huge decision, and it's easy to get bogged down in all the advice that's out there.

Natasha said...

Sounds really good!! Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Mart Ramirez said...

Wow this is great advice! Thank you! Keeping this baby in a folder. Congrats on your release! Sounds awesome!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Great Advice. Dead Heat is an interesting book. Not a lot out there on machine whisperers.


Tweet: https://twitter.com/queendsheena/status/251364929733525504

Christina Farley said...

Lots of great advice here. Thank you! I liked the bullet links at what to look for and be careful of for both traditional and self publishing.

Europe Hotels said...

The information about choosing the correct publishing path in this post is really very helpful. Actually I am new in the world of internet publishing and am trying to learn the tricks of the trade fast. Thank you for sharing such insightful information!

Europe Hotels said...

The information about choosing the correct publishing path in this post is really very helpful. Actually I am new in the world of internet publishing and am trying to learn the tricks of the trade fast. Thank you for sharing such insightful information!

Stock Donations said...

Thanks Lisa for sharing a nice thoughts of traditional publishing and also have the way of self-publishing. Really a motivated thought

Isabella Miller said...

Informative blog with some awesome details. Just a week back I found a similar blog but the posts were not so deeply researched. Thanks & will be keeping track for your new posts!!