Should You Wait for New York?

The discussion on whether to wait for New York or to self-publish is as vibrant as ever on social networks. I saw someone tweet “If you self-publish, you’re an idiot” the other day.


Severely judgmental, but interesting. It speaks to the lack of respect some people (many people) have for self-publishing. However, there are many self-published authors sharing their successes, and their struggles. Some are selling hundreds and thousands of books, others are selling a handful.

So, should you wait an publish with New York or should you self-publish? The answer: it depends.

It truly depends on your goals.

If you want your book to rocket to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list (NYTBSL), a New York Big Boy (NYBB) is your best shot, and even with a NYBB behind you, it’s still a long shot. It happens every day, of course, but the ratio of authors on the NYTBSL to all authors published by NYBB is very low. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, being on the NYTBSL does not make a career. Sometimes it doesn’t even make the author much money. And if it does help you earn out your advance, it is unlikely to provide residual income.

Google this: “Realities of a Best Seller Royalty Statement” and see what some best-selling authors have to say about it.

If you want a hefty five or six figure advance, a NYBB is your best shot. That said, such large advances have become the exception rather than the norm. With the recent changes seen in the industry since 2009, fewer and fewer new authors are being signed. Publishers aren’t taking the risks they once were, and that means sticking with known authors who bring in the bucks. This is bad news for the new author and the little guy. Even if you are one of the fortunate ones taken under the large wing of a NYBB, advances are more in the $10,000 range, often for two books, paid out in installments over a year or longer.

This does not a living make.

If you want your book out within the next three-five years or you want more than 2-7% of the net (cover price minus printing & other costs), then you don’t want a NY Big Boy.

The above is an excerpt from Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author.

Whatever publishing path you choose, and they are all valid, know the pros and cons of each. Learn the common pitfalls to avoid, and above all, have a good, well-polished manuscript before you seek out publishing in whatever form.


What are some of the pros and cons you can think of with going through a New York Publisher? What about self-publishing?

17 Comments Add yours

  1. christinerose says:

    Thanks to Nathan, we have this link that illustrates the point: More on the Reality of a Times Bestseller

  2. Jim Beckman says:

    An author needs to be sure that his/her product is good! An agent and publisher perform this function. But there are other was to to do this. Cheaper and quicker.

    My experience is to self-publish if you have validated your story. You, Christine, have shown me how to get on allmost all e-book venues in a day! Thanks.

    1. christinerose says:

      My pleasure, Jim. And you’re right, no matter what publishing path you choose, you must ensure your story is solid.

  3. noobcake says:

    When I was a member of a writers circle many years ago, I remember hearing a lot of negative comments about writers who self-published. Back then, being a newbie writer I didn’t have an opinion either way, however with the advent of the internet and ebooks I don’t think the stigma attached to self-publishing is a fair one.

    It seems a good method for building up a fan base if publishing your work online for example, which I would like to think may entice a publisher to take you on and offer you a deal for a future book.

    1. christinerose says:

      There are still a lot of negative comments and a nasty stigma to those who self-publish, but it is lessening everyday. You can tell this when NY and its representatives are putting out a lot of content why one shouldn’t self publish. It can be a good way to build up a fan base, but if the content doesn’t have the quality, the writer could be making a name for him/herself as a bad writer. Self-publishing is fine, like I said, depends on the writer’s individual goals, but ensure the work you put out there is of a certain quality in writing, formatting, cover design, and as clean as possible (typos/grammar,etc.)

  4. Writer’s Digest’s Jane Friedman at There Are No Rules has a great checklist this week to help decide if you should self publish.

    And I had a remarkable email from one of my blog followers today. His book has been climbing up the UK Kindle charts and yesterday he was approached by a US agent. He wanted to know if the agent was legit.

    “Legit?” sez me. It’s one of the biggest in NY!

    It looks as if agents are trolling the Kindle bestseller lists instead of the slushpile for new authors these days. A total about face from a couple of years ago when self-publishers were shunned by agents. I’ll be blogging more about this on Sunday.

    1. christinerose says:

      That’s wonderful for him! I think things are moving that way. My agent found me because my presence on Twitter led her to my blog where she read the blurb of my book. She asked for pages and fell in love. She says that the authors who are going to make it through this transition are the ones who know how to market themselves.

      I’m interested in checking out Friedman’s checklist. I go over the four basic publishing choices in my new book along with pros and cons of each. It really depends on the individual author’s goals and timeline.

  5. Great post Christine. I find that writers generally – and especially those seeking publication the “traditional” way – are woefully uneducated about the realities of book sales, contracts, royalties, etc. On a book-per-book basis, I can hardly imagine an author doing better with NYBB than self-pubbing (in terms of royalties). IF you can get an advance though, while $10k isn’t much, that’s a LOT of self-pubbed books! At $2.99 & 70% royalty, you’d have to sell almost 5000 books to make that advance. And since most authors sell much less than 5000 copies of their first book – no matter HOW they’re published – there are times when that advance sounds good to me! Plus, it would be nice to walk into my local Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf.
    BUT, it takes so long to go through NYBB! If you have your first book ready to go, you’ll probably spend 2-5 years going through the process of finding an agent, then the agent finding a house, then the publisher getting it out (that’s IF they end up publishing it – more and more first-time authors are waiting for their book to come out only to have the NYBB drop it after all). And then when it hits the shelves, the burden to market is almost always entirely on the new, unproven author.
    I think that if you write commercial, genre fiction and are willing to work your butt off, self-pubbing is not only viable, it may be the smart move.

    1. christinerose says:

      Absolutely. I wouldn’t turn down $10K advance either! Not by a long shot. There is a level of validity by going with a NY publisher, no doubt. There are pros and cons for each publishing path. One is not necessarily better than another. It all depends on the writer’s goals, budget, and timeline.

  6. I self-published a novel in September 2011. Since I am an editor and book designer by profession, I didn’t have a huge expense. My costs have been in promotion and time. Anyway you go, you WILL be promoting your book unless you can afford a publicist. Perhaps the greatest thing I have learned in this whole process of DIY indie publishing is: think of the reader. I find I am not just writing for me anymore; I’m writing for them. Promotion—seeking that connection with readers—has drawn me closer to the reading community. I feel sorry for writers who still think they can just write in their tower and fling the pages out the window to the readers milling down below. I will never be on the NYTBSL and maybe that’s okay.

    1. christinerose says:

      In my experience, publicists are a waste of money in today’s marketplace for an emerging author. YES! Write for the reader! It’s all about connecting with the reader on a personal level. I’ll never be on the NYTBSL either, and that is totally okay. 🙂

  7. Great points, Christine! I chose the self publishing route. If you have followed my progress then you know I currently have a sleek, well-polished and great book in electronic and eBook form. I looked at the few cents per copy I would get with a publisher, (I actually had an offer from one and I turned it down) compared to what I get on my own and it was a “no-brainer”.

    Keep up the great work and supporting the community!

    1. christinerose says:

      Good for you!

  8. ummm.. That should have said eBook and print form.. not eBook and electronic. Laughing at myself is fun…

    1. christinerose says:

      Isn’t it though? I laugh at myself often. Keeps me from crying.

  9. The other thing to consider is that there’s a whole spectrum of possibilities BETWEEN “NY” and “self-pub.” I want a traditional publishing career, but I am so far small press published and I’d be happy enough with midsized presses, or even larger ones that aren’t NY. That’s not to say I wouldn’t self-pub at some point. I have some stories I know could find an audience but a rather narrow one comparatively speaking, and those I don’t think a publishing house would want.

    There’s a much bigger spectrum of possibilities out there right now than there have been in the past, and while that’s a good thing (IMHO), it can also cause a lot of confusion for people who are trying to navigate their career paths.

    1. christinerose says:

      Agreed. Unfortunately, I’ve recently met authors who have still gone the Vanity Press route just because they didn’t know about CreateSpace or Lightning Source as viable options. There are so many options. It’s important to do some research and find out what’s best for each author as an individual.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s