Feb 22nd, 2021
We've been asked more than one occasion how an author can get a traditional publishing contract?
While Autumn did sign a traditional contract years back, none of us are experts on the subject matter.
To bridge that gap, we brought in the award-winning author, Andrea Phillips, to share some insights and advice on this very topic.
If you want to learn more about Andrea, you can find here:
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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. In today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I'm Jesper. And this is episode 113 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. And while Autumn is busy editing one of our stories, I have a great guest on for you today. It just happens on a let's call it, semi-regular, basis that Autumn and I are asked about traditionally publishing contracts. And some are also interested in becoming what is known as a hybrid author, meaning that you are both sell publishing and traditionally published. So I thought this would be quite a good topic to cover while Autumn is busy doing other stuff. And while Autumn did have a traditional contract years back, we don't really have that much experience with this topic.
Jesper (1m 17s):
So today I'm going to be joined by Andrea Phillips and Andrea is an award winning transmedia writer. She does game designs and her projects have won awards like the broadband digital award, the Canadian screen award, and much more. She is published by FireSIGHT fiction. And her short fiction has been published in escape pod and the juice versus aliens anthology. So welcome to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, Andrea, and I hope you are keeping safe during these crazy times.
Andrea (1m 51s):
Hello. Thank you. It's so exciting to, to be here and yes, yes. I'm, I'm keeping safe. I'm a hermit in my home. We're even snowed in right now. So I don't know if I could, well, no, I'm, I'm exaggerating. We, we do a lot of snow very recently, but I could probably escape if my house caught on fire, you know, it's, it's, it's not so bad. Yes. Yes. I am in New York, got a foot into half of snow over the weekend as we, as we record.
Jesper (2m 28s):
Oh my God. Yeah. We don't really have that much, you know, I'm in Denmark and we have like one centimeter of snow or something like that. And it has been snowing the last couple of days, but then yeah, everyday it melts away again. So it's just gray. That's what it is.
Andrea (2m 48s):
That's usually what happens to us, but I would have thought, you know, Denmark would be one of the places where it snows and then it just stays all winter. And you have piles and mountains of snow by the end. Yeah.
Jesper (3m 0s):
Well here between the Scandinavian countries, you know, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, the other three countries actually do usually get quite a lot of snow because they're also much further North Norway and Sweden and Finland are huge countries compared to Denmark. It's just like this little dot and we're just slightly more South than the others, so we can sometimes get snow, but, and it does get cold during this winter, but most years actually, it's not that, that much. So yeah. But talking about the weather, we can always do that. No, that's okay.
Jesper (3m 41s):
It is. I'm the one starting it. So, but yeah, I, I did a short introduction of you there, Andrea, and it looks, or it sounds like you do quite a lot of things, but maybe you could share a bit more about yourself.
Andrea (3m 57s):
Sure, sure. I always try to find a way to explain how all of the things I do are kind of related. And the transmedia work that I do is, is immersive storytelling. And I do a lot of it for, for brands out of marketing budgets. So I might help to make an app. We're an alternate reality game for a TV show, a movie, a video game, and that's fiction writing. Usually it's, it's in someone else's Storyworld, but it's exactly the same set of tools that I use if I'm writing a novel for myself, in terms of thinking about sort of characters and motivations and so on and so forth.
Andrea (4m 40s):
And then I've written a nonfiction book about this sort of trans media, immersive storytelling, as well as having, you know, I have a novel that fireside published. I have a couple that I've self published and some shorts, and then, you know, I have a going freelance career. So I, I kind of do a little bit of all kinds of things and somehow together, it all seems to make up a career who knew
Jesper (5m 11s):
That's pretty cool. Yeah. I want to get into all the hybrid authorizing and contracts with traditional publisher. But, but before we go into all of that, do you find it's different to do the writing for games and, and, and those sorts of things, even though it it's, it's a story you're telling, but do you find the immersive part to be different compared to how you might want to immerse a reader into a novel?
Andrea (5m 35s):
It is different and it's, it's actually a, a point of view change. I do a lot of writing in, in what amounts to second person. So when you're, when you're doing immersive storytelling, the person that you're telling the story about, and the person that you're telling the story to are the same person, the audience needs to have some sort of active agency in the story to feel like they can affect the outcome to feel like they're really, really there. Like the story is real. And obviously in a novel, you you're a little more removed and everybody knows that they can shout at the page, but that doesn't mean that the character is going to make a good decision instead of a bad decision.
Andrea (6m 19s):
So it, it, it's, it's just a sort of a different framing and you can use different things in the one way or the other. I am. I actually like to talk about the, sort of the, the emotional palette of feelings that you can make your audience feel and with sort of traditional flat narrative, where the audience is removed from the story, you can make people laugh, you can make people cry. You know, they can feel grief over a character that's died. They can feel, you know, joyous at, you know, a heroes, great, great victory.
Andrea (7m 1s):
But when you're doing immersive storytelling, you can, you can do other different things. You can make an audience feel guilty over something that they did, which isn't something that you can really do in flat fiction. You can make them feel proud of their, their own achievements of what they've done, which is again, kind of hard to do in, in flat fiction. So it it's, it's, it's not, it's not better or worse, and it's not as different as this may make it sound, but it is definitely different.
Jesper (7m 34s):
Yeah. But you also have the, a visual medium to play with there, you know, and also of course, the agency of the person, for example, playing the game and, and so on. Right. So, so in that regard, I guess the medium is also quite different compared to a novel where you just have to imagine everything in, in your mind and you don't have any agency on what's going to happen.
Andrea (7m 56s):
That's even true going from Nala writing to film. So for, for a lot, a lot of my, my kinds of work, sometimes we'll do video content. A lot of it is, you know, of logs or security camera footage, kinds of things to, to make it seem sort of, sort of realistic. And I hadn't realized before I did this, how much more detailed and how much clearer in your vision, you have to be about every little thing. So, you know, when you're, when you're writing on the page, you can say, you know, messy dorm room, you know, there was a bicycle, you know, spoon on its side, whatever, and, and the, the one detail, and then the rest of it, the audience fills in the gaps themselves.
Andrea (8m 48s):
But in film, in, in script writing, you know, the producers came to me and said, okay, we need to know more. What, what kind of lighting is it? What color are the walls? What time of day is it? What is their hair like that day? Is it messy? Is it like, do they look like they've gotten enough sleep? You know, are there posters on the walls? Is it clean? Is it dirty? All of these things have to be decided on purpose. So I actually have a lot more respect for cinema than I did before, because it really, it really drives home, help. Everything you see in a movie was something decided by somebody to be there.
Andrea (9m 29s):
Nothing is by chance and then even, even doubly. So in a video game where literally nothing exists, every cloud, every rock is something that was put there on purpose.
Jesper (9m 43s):
Yes. Yeah. It's, it's a very different style of writing as well. And I think, well, sometimes I hear people say that they're gonna, I'm gonna write a screenplay off of my novel. And always I'm thinking like, to myself, like good luck, because I wouldn't dare do that unless I got a bit of training and insight on how to do it, because I think it's a much more complicated method than you think.
Andrea (10m 7s):
Yeah. The problem is that novels are very, very internal. The thing that they're good at is letting letting you know about the emotional terrain, the thoughts and feelings of your characters as they go through. And in, in film, you really can't rely on that coming through. So unless you have a very, very good actor and you can't, you can't rely on the actor, seeing things the same way as, as the writer did. It's it's funny. It's funny.
Jesper (10m 45s):
Yeah. I can see that, but maybe then getting a bit into topic here. So usually when we talk about being a hybrid author, as I said in the intro at the top, usually means that you'll have both self publishing works, but you have also something that you have a more traditionally published. So I was wondering why, why did you decide to become a hybrid author?
Andrea (11m 12s):
So the first self-publishing thing that I did was actually a little, a little story that I put on Kickstarter because I wanted an iPhone. And this is obviously going really far back. I think it was the iPhone two. And I thought, you know what? I have this story. I could try and sell it to a market and that would take a million years. And it probably wouldn't sell anyway because short fiction is really difficult to sell. So I said, well, if, if I get, you know, enough money to buy an iPhone, then I will really sit on my website free for everyone to read. I think, I think I even put a creative and, you know, people, people will get to read the story and I'll get my phone and everyone will be happy and it works.
Andrea (11m 60s):
And in fact, I got enough money to buy my husband and I phone also. So I thought, you know, that that's pretty great. So a little bit later, I kickstarted kind of a goofy cereal idea about pirates and it's a, it's a really sort of Gonzo weird light rompy story. And I did a Kickstarter for it. The Kickstarter was, was really quite successful. And afterward I, I made a choice of games game actually with choice script, which was also pretty, pretty modestly successful and did a couple of licensing things.
Andrea (12m 51s):
And, you know, I had not, not exactly an empire, but, you know, I, I, I made a decent amount of money with, with this, this sort of Lucy smoke cart thing. And then I, at some point in there, I did, I did my traditional novel through, through fireside with, you know, regular contract and then, and so on and so forth. And that was actually a really lovely experience because Brian White, my, my editor at fireside is a really fantastic human being and a really, really good editor. So he, he helped me to, to let it be the story that he could see I was trying to do.
Andrea (13m 35s):
And he wasn't trying to nudge it into being something that it, that it wasn't, which I think a lot of, a lot of writers are afraid will happen. And let me see, I did a bunch of, a bunch of stuff for cereal box in there too with, with book burners and so on. And my most recent novel is sort of a political thriller that I thought I would try and sell traditionally, but it was very topical. It sort of had to come out last summer because it is about an election. And if you're writing about an election, you probably want it to come out around the time of the election, not after the election.
Andrea (14m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah. So I actually did give it to my agent and we had it on submission for a bit, but then we pulled it because it was, it was too slow, a process basically. And we hit the points where nobody had, had bought it just yet. And even though it was still under consideration in a bunch of places, given publishing timelines, which are so slow, it wouldn't be able to come out in time. It just wasn't feasible. And I thought, well, I'd rather have the book come out in the reasonable timeframe then than not. And this time I just, I just did it directly on, on KDP instead of doing a Kickstarter first.
Andrea (14m 60s):
And I actually do regret it because it didn't do as well as my other, other earlier starter things. And this is actually a failure of promotion on my part. Basically, I just didn't push it the same way because it's the year 2020 everyone was fatigued and it felt weird to be shilling a book, even if it's, you know, the book of your heart in that moment. So the stars didn't line up. It has nothing to do with the method through which I published it. And it has nothing to do with the book. It just, wasn't a good environment for me to be pushing anything, I guess, because I actually think it's one of the best books I've written.
Andrea (15m 41s):
This is the first thing I've written, where, where people came to me and said, Andrea, this is really good. And they sounded surprised, which makes me wonder if, if they'd been kind of exaggerating about how much I had like prior things.
Jesper (16m 1s):
Yeah. But I'm now that you sort of have a feet in both camps here. So that also gives you a bit of perspective. So I'm wondering from the way you see it, how do you see the main differences, but also, I guess, advantages of being a hybrid author.
Andrea (16m 19s):
I, I see the, the advantages are, are kind of, you could, you could pick and choose what you, what you want to try for in each category. And as, as a self publishing author, there are things that I know I'm going to want to write, that I will never ever be able to find a publisher for because the market is too niche for a publisher to want to sink money into, but the amount of money that I need to sink into something to get it out the door or self publishing is so much lower that I don't need to make the same amount to make it worthwhile. You know, so for, for an episode of Lucy smoke cart, you know, if I, if I were to sell, I'm going to make up numbers here.
Andrea (17m 4s):
I actually can't even remember real numbers. If I'm selling, you know, a thousand episodes to make a thousand dollars. And, you know, it's, it's, let's say 5,000 words long, again, I'm just making stuff up here. This has nothing to do with how, how the real things went. Then, then, you know, and I spent maybe $200 on a quick copy, edit and, you know, use the art that I already have. You know, I, I'm making $800 out of 5,000 words. And that's really great where a publisher isn't really going to be able to offer me kind of money for what is essentially a work of short fiction.
Andrea (17m 53s):
Right. And I can do it on my timeline and I can, you know, just, just kind of suit myself in every possible way. One of the problems that I've I've had, it's not really a problem, but one of the constraints I've had in my career is since I do so much work for other people's intellectual property, I'm used to working in a sandbox and having to take into account. No, what, what, what you're say, what clients say and what the clients bosses, bosses say.
Andrea (18m 36s):
And there's, there's a lot of Liberty in just being able to decide something on your own and, and do it. Like it's very satisfying to just be able to do something on your own in a really Gonzo way that said, I feel like self-publishing is a tremendously larger amount of work than writing something, submitting it, editing it and letting someone else worry about cover art, letting someone else worry about getting the copy, edit together, getting a line at it together, letting someone else worry about promotion and timing and availability and schedules. And, and sometimes I just don't have that in me, you know?
Jesper (19m 19s):
No, I understand that. I mean, with self publishing, you are going to get a lot of freedom, but you're also going to get a lot of tasks.
Andrea (19m 28s):
Yeah. And to some extent you, you get out of it, what you put into it, but, but you have to put in a lot before you start to see much of anything. Yeah.
Jesper (19m 41s):
But is it, so when you are the sort of deciding your next book, for example, I'm gonna self publish it or am I going to give it to my agent to sell it? Is it about the length of it? Versus for example, also it's a too niche or not, or how do you determine which ones are self puppies and which ones to ask your agent to take care of?
Andrea (20m 5s):
It's you know, it's, it's, it's sort of, I, I feel like in general, if I'm writing something novel length, I'm probably going to try and publish it through the traditional route. First, if I'm writing something that feels more like a cereal to me, or if it's shorter, probably go another path, but said, I don't know if you consider a short story publishing to be traditional publishing. But my, my go-to for a long time has been, if I want to publish a short story, I'll send it to escape, Potter, fireside, instead of doing like my, my sort of Kickstarter things and that, and that's a traditional route, just not books.
Andrea (20m 53s):
It's, it's, it's the other stuff, but I usually have a pretty good idea of where I want to send it while I'm writing it. And then at the end, I do have, I have material that my agent hasn't been able to sell. And in the case of my most recent book, I decided to self publish it because I really believed in it. And then in the case of another book, I'm actually just still sitting on it with the idea that we may be able to sell it later. And I don't think it would be a good fit for self publishing for me, just because of the nature of the book.
Andrea (21m 37s):
It's, it's hard to explain. I it's, it's, it's not even, it's an emotional thing. It's an emotional logic thing and not, and not an objective business decision, if you know what I mean.
Jesper (21m 49s):
No, no, that's fair enough. And not, not all decisions have to be objective all the time. I do know quite some of our listeners are interested in pursuing a traditional publishing contract. So if you were to give some listeners some advice here, what would you say in terms of how do you get started and what is sort of the best approach, if you want to find an agent and get a more traditional publishing contract and so on, how do you go about it?
Andrea (22m 22s):
I mean, it's, it's the same, it's the same advice on all of the blogs. And everybody says, you know, you, you do have to find, find a bunch of agents, see people who are buying, find people who are publishing things, sort of similar in feeling to what you would like to publish, figure out who represents them and, you know, write a good query letter or letter, send it out. None of this matters unless your material is already as polished as you can make it. I don't advocate going out and getting an editor before you start submitting and so on. But I mean, in the same with self publishing, you need to make sure everything is absolutely as polished as you personally can make it before you send it out into the world.
Andrea (23m 3s):
Right? This is actually pertinent advice for me personally, because I have a habit of dashing off a first draft and wanting to run with it. My defense, I do write fairly solid first draft. And then, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's a difficult and slow process. And that's, I think why a lot of people find self publishing much more satisfying because it can take you a year to find an agent just waiting for an agent that will become yours to get around, to reading the manuscript and, you know, reading the partial and then asking you for the full and then reading the full and then, and then offering, it can take months and months to can take a year.
Andrea (23m 53s):
It can take longer. And nobody likes to feel like their career is on hold for that long. Right. And then submitting can take even, even that long or longer. I, I know, especially in Yia, it was really, really backed up for a while. And people were getting offers a year, a year and a half after their agents had submitted the manuscripts. And I mean, I know, right. And we can publish four novels. And at a certain point, you, you just can't wait forever. So yeah, I it's, it's the information on, on what to do on the, on how to do all of the right things is absolutely out there.
Andrea (24m 41s):
And none of it is, none of it is, is difficult, which is to say, it's not, it's not hard to figure out what the right thing is to do, but it is to figure out whether or not you can make your book any better than it is. It is hard to wait that long. It is, you know, hard to maintain professionalism in all of your correspondence and essentially become your own marketing person and writing a query letter when the skills that go into writing a novel and the skills that go into writing a good blurb for that novel are really not the same thing at all. Yeah. And what does it mean?
Andrea (25m 24s):
You're great at the other, go ahead.
Jesper (25m 26s):
No, indeed. No, that's exactly what I was about to say as well, because even if you say that, okay, I'm going to self publish it. You're going to be confronted with a lot of marketing skills or the need for marketing skills that you don't need when you're writing the novel. So in some extent, I guess to some extent, I guess you could say that it doesn't matter if you go one route or the other, you will be confronted with the fact that you have to put some marketing skills in place and exercise those skills in order to, to get somewhere. But I was also wondering, because we see some, at least some of the big, you know, it used didn't, it used to be the big six and now it's a big five and I guess it's going to be the big four soon as well.
Jesper (26m 8s):
So those are merging together, but at the same time, we also see smaller publishers popping up in the market space. So I'm wondering, do you see that it's, is it easier? Is it more difficult or is it the same difficulty level to, to find an agent and find a traditional publishing contract nowadays versus what it was maybe four or five years ago?
Andrea (26m 31s):
I feel like it's about the same level of difficulty, even, even with the publishing mergers, for the most part, the number of imprints is still about what it was. You don't see, you see one of these mergers basically shutting down one of the arms completely, but I feel like the level of competition is about what it was four or five years ago. The, the marketplace has changed some, but only in the way that that publishing has sort of cyclical fads, you know, this is hard. And then that's how it's.
Andrea (27m 12s):
So, so it goes, I, I don't know. I feel like it's never going to be easier or harder, but also it's kind of a moot question because you, you don't have the option to go back and submit four or five years ago. It's now is what, you know, you know, but
Jesper (27m 34s):
I was more thinking that it might be a bit helpful to understand the difficulty level. If you have to, if you're sort of, if a listener is sitting there thinking, should I try or should I not try? Should I just self-publish instead of even trying than it is, of course, I think an important input to have in your mind to say, well, it is a lot more difficult nowadays or no, it's actually the same. So you can go ahead and so on.
Andrea (28m 0s):
I mean, it's, it's a lot more difficult than it was in the 1940s. The that's that's about is as solid as, as I think I could even say it it's, it's very difficult. It is definitely very difficult. It has been very difficult for at least all of, all of my career. It will probably remain very difficult, but that said promoting and marketing and succeeding and self-publishing is also very difficult. And anyone who's done it is there tremendous accolades because it's a ton of work and, and does a ton of work, but it's not easy to do well. So that's absolutely true.
Andrea (28m 41s):
The problem is if you want it to be a writer and you want it to be published through any means, it's, it's not the sort of career where you were going to be able to kind of Slack off and take it easy and to have your career take care of itself, that that is never going to happen.
Jesper (28m 60s):
No, I think we've said multiple times on, on, on former episodes of this podcast as well, that if you get into writing, thinking that you're going to earn money, then just quit now because there's way easier ways of earning money than writing
Andrea (29m 14s):
So many easier ways.
Jesper (29m 17s):
But one thing I was wondering as well though, was that I can just imagine if I put myself into the mind of somebody who have tried to pitch agents or publishers for ages, and let's say like two years later, some agent comes back to you and say, Hey, you know, I'm actually prepared to take this on. I can imagine a lot of people jumping at the opportunity thinking like, wow, that's wonderful. Finally, I succeeded, but how do you actually know? Because one of the things that we do a lot when we self published autumn, and I, for example, when we select an idiot editor, we are on the opposite side of the table in the sense that we are the one hiring the editor.
Jesper (30m 1s):
But in this case, it's the opposite of way around. But just because somebody says that they want to hire you, it doesn't necessarily mean that this is a good agent, that you're going to work well together with the person and so on. But I'm just a bit concerned that because of the long timescales and waiting time involved, that some people might just jump at the opportunity, even if they've got feeling a sort of saying to them that there's something off here, but how do you go about, or do you have any advice on, how can you possibly vet a bit about if somebody come an agent comes to you and say, Hey, let, let's make a, let's make an attempt here to get your, a properties in contract. How can you figure out if this is a good person or not?
Andrea (30m 43s):
Yeah. Agenting relationships are really difficult. They're, they're a lot like a business partner partnership, which is in turn a lot like a marriage. And the power dynamic is also very strange because the agent works for the writer, but the way that the getting an agent happens, it's common for the writer to feel like they work for the agent. And it's, it's resulted in a lot of kind of bad relationships, frankly, bad marriages, where the agent isn't working very hard on behalf of the writer and the writer feels like, well, this is just their, their lot in life, because this is the agent that shows them.
Andrea (31m 28s):
You always do have the ability to, to walk away. And if you feel like, if you feel like the agent, isn't actually very enthusiastic about your work. If they, if you get the vibe that they're only interested in this one book, and they're not interested in your career overall, if you get the feeling that they think that they can make a quick buck out of your book, if you get the feeling that they're chasing the market and not all in on you personally, then those are, those are red flags, I would say. But on top of that, you know, there are people who love an agent who gives them a really, really detailed set of feedback on, on a manuscript before they even submit it.
Andrea (32m 17s):
And there are writers who absolutely hate that and just want the agent to sell what they wrote already. And you have to look in your heart and decide if you want a hands-on agent or a hands-off agent. And then maybe do a little bit of research before you even submit to see what working with different agents is like to see if they even sort of sell. We're seeing to like the, the sub genre you work in. One of my problems is I, I have trouble deciding what genre I even work in. So finding an agent that actually, I guess, deals with my kind of work is a little weird.
Andrea (33m 5s):
But yeah. And the other thing is if, if you write, let's say a lot of horror and a little bit of science fiction, and you have an agent that represents a little bit of science fiction and a lot of romance, but they're interested in your science fiction work like that tells you probably that's not a good match because they don't represent the kind of work. That's the bulk of what you're going to want to try to sell. It's it's just, it's, it's complicated and messy. And unfortunately there's no one true right way to do any of it, which before, before we started recording, I think I said, I said something to you about how we're all just sort of making it up as we go along.
Andrea (33m 50s):
And it sounds, it sounds like a joke, but it's literally true. We're all making up our stories as we go along, but we're also all making up how our careers work as we go there, there are no rules. There, there aren't any, even many good rules of thumb. You know, if, if your agent isn't sending you royalty statements, maybe fire them. If your agent isn't sending you, your royalty checks, definitely fire them. And beyond that, it's all a matter of fit and suitability and what you want and what they want. And whether it's the same thing.
Jesper (34m 27s):
It's a lot about, I think being honest with yourself because it is, it doesn't matter. Well, you absolutely right in the sense that the agent works for the author, but I would almost go as far to say it doesn't really matter who works for whom in the, in the relationship, as long as you're honest with yourself and you know, what kind of partners do I want to work with? And you're, you're both sort of pulling in the same direction because at the end of the day, it is a very, very close working relationship. And I say that, of course, without having any agent, we self publish all our work. But, but, but I have heard so many times from those who do have an agent, that it is a very, very close working relationship.
Jesper (35m 12s):
And, and if you don't feel like, you know, you're pulling equal amount of the weight, then what's the point.
Andrea (35m 20s):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And again, it's, it's easy to feel like B agent picked you. And so that's the agent that you get, but the reality is actually very different. And unfortunately, in many cases you do an agent. There are a lot of publishing houses that simply won't accept material that wasn't sent through an agent. So this isn't the sort of situation where you can say, well, who needs them? I'll just go on my own and keep the 15%. But it's, it's complicated. Everything is complicated.
Jesper (36m 1s):
Yeah. But let's say you then find your, the agent that you work well with. You have a very good cooperation and then you do at some point land, one of the publishing deals with some publishing house that the agent has sold you, your book to one of the things I hear a lot, and I suppose that's true as well, but maybe you can add your reflections to it is that you can't really expect that much marketing support from a publishing company, unless you are like one of the real big headed names, but otherwise you are almost on your own like UI, if you were indie publishing, it doesn't really make that much of a difference.
Jesper (36m 41s):
Is that also your view?
Andrea (36m 43s):
It's, it's kind of true. It's mostly true, but it's also kind of not true at all. One of the, one of the big things to note is that one of the big advantages I should say of, of going with a traditional publisher is that they will be able to get your book on bookstore shelves. And that is incredibly difficult through any sort of a self publishing schema. So simply having your book on shelves does wind up selling more and simply being published through, you know, Hachette or random house. You know, we'll make sure that more people are going to see your book for more opportunities for people to notice because you're, you're starting out at an advantage.
Andrea (37m 34s):
You're more likely to be sent to, you know, publishers weekly. You're more likely to be sent to Kirkus. You're more likely to be sent to a lot libraries like libraries, journal, librarian, journal, I'm sorry, I'm screwing it up. And you can see things on your own as self published, but it costs tremendous amounts of money out of pocket. And you're not necessarily guaranteed any, any sort of quality good review. And especially you're not guaranteed that anyone will see it where the weight of the publishing house sending you to publishers weekly instantly sort of, sort of gets you up a notch out of, out of the vast sea of publishing that self publishing work.
Andrea (38m 26s):
And so you're more likely to get noticed more easily. You're more likely to be able to get distribution in libraries, which can, can result in quite a lot of sales, you know, and that sort of thing. It's, it's, it's, it's just being in a publishing house results in, in a bit of a bump up. But,
Jesper (38m 46s):
But I suppose it also depends on what publishing house we're talking about, because of course, one of, some of the bigger publishing houses, they have, you know, big muscles that they can, they can flex in order to get into airports and bookstores and all those things, but whereas a smaller publishing house, well, they might really not be able to do much that you can't do. I'm thinking
Andrea (39m 9s):
For a very small house. Yes. But even, even like a small beer, you know, one of the, one of the smaller presses subterranean doesn't do solicited sort of original material, but like the smaller presses even still have the gravitas of sending to the reviewers and in turn selling to librarians, for example, that you have to pay a lot of money to get otherwise. I mean, they're, they're not going to be all sending you out on a book tour, or they're not all going to be putting, putting your book on, on bus shelters or billboards or subway or wherever else.
Andrea (39m 51s):
Honestly, nobody is going to do that for you unless you are Dan Brown. I think part of that is because publishing advertising doesn't have a history of a specially working very well. I I'd actually be interested in hearing you talk about advertising for self publishing at some point, because it's my understanding that there's a lot of advertising you can do. And very little of it is proven to work
Jesper (40m 22s):
Well. Yes mean we have, we have multiple episodes on this feed as well about marketing books as a self-published author. But there is indeed a lot of things you can do across Amazon ads. You can run BookBub ads, Facebook ads, all this click to play ads. There's ton of it. But the thing is that it's not, it's not that easy. It's not like you just create an ad and then you start selling books because first of all, there is the return of investment that you have to take into account. So you can't just bit like $2 per click or something because the, the book costs $2, maybe.
Jesper (41m 3s):
So, so it's, it's pointless. So there's, that's you take into account
Andrea (41m 7s):
The dollars to make $20. Yeah,
Jesper (41m 9s):
Indeed, indeed. So you might be able to get to the stage where you're selling books, but you're not earning anything from it. So that in itself is an issue. So from the inter indie author perspective, you can move some sales short-term by click to play ads. If you're short of narrow down to your audience well enough, and you do well enough in your ad copy and so on. But the real trick of the trade is, is to build an email list because that's where your money is longterm. And that's where, that's where our focus, my myself and autumn. For example, we only focus on building the email is we do have some kick to play ads running, but not a lot. And we don't spend a ton on it.
Jesper (41m 51s):
We just have a bit running. But other than that, all our marketing goes into trying to give people some something for free in order for them to join the email list so that we can start talking to the people, not, not about selling to them, but more over time, build a relationship with them via emails and they get to know us better. And then of course, if they like us, then at some point we hope that they're going to buy some of the books. But again, if you just get people onto the email list with the only purpose that I'm going to send you a ton of emails, promoting some stuff, that's not going to help, you'll have to go into it because you want to have an online relationship. Let's call it that with the readers.
Jesper (42m 31s):
Otherwise it's, it doesn't matter as, as well because people will just unsubscribe. I'm sure you can. You can recognize if you, the, the email list you might have signed up to where they just keep emailing, you offers about this and that it's, it's pretty annoying.
Andrea (42m 46s):
The worst one I ever had was for a children's clothing brand, who, who I signed up for, for my, for my daughter. And they wound up sending the marketing email literally every hour.
Jesper (43m 2s):
No, but, but it, it, it's this very fine balance to walk because on one hand, you have also to get your email list into the mindset that once in a while, I am going to try to make you an offer for, to buy something that is going to happen. But you have to walk this fine balance between I'm not here to push sales in your face all the time. And I'm here to actually, because I want to us to have like a two way communication going over the emails. But at the same time, once in a while, I do hope that you're going to buy something because if you're not, then I can't even keep doing this anyway. Right. So there is that element into it. And I know authors who sell puppies, authors, who either try to sell all the time, which is not good, but there are also those who fear selling anything.
Jesper (43m 52s):
So they just keep being buddy buddies with the people on the email list forever without ever selling them any of the books. And that doesn't help either. Because at the end of the day, you're paying for the people who are on your email is so you have to sell something as well. So it is a very fine balance to walk. And I think as you said, as well around the traditionally publishing stuff with it, none of this is easy, right? It doesn't matter which route you take, you aid. It is not easy.
Andrea (44m 19s):
Jesper (44m 21s):
No, no. If there, is there anything we S I sort of forgot or didn't think about asking you when it comes to traditional publishing contracts or being hybrid authors that you like, this is an important point that should have been mentioned.
Andrea (44m 35s):
I just, I just want to reiterate there's, there's kind of no, no right. Or wrong way to do anything. It's, it's what works for you and doesn't work for you and what works for your audience and doesn't work for your audience. So your circumstances may be different. Your, your goals may be completely different. It's entirely possible that you're not in it for money, but for, you know, reach and you want to find a way to reach as many people as possible. It's, it's, it's, it's hard to say, you know, it's, it's all a matter of, of what you want to get out of it. And you have to have that in mind before you start deciding how to do it.
Andrea (45m 16s):
Just like everything else in life.
Jesper (45m 18s):
No, that makes a lot of sense. And I also want to thank you, Andrea, for coming on to the, a am writing fantasy podcast here today and, and give us some insights on, on an area where at least autumn and I are not the most proficient people. So that was nice to get some insight inputs on that, because I know, I know some listeners, I interested in this area, so, so thank you for doing this.
Andrea (45m 43s):
It's been a really good time. Thank you.
Jesper (45m 45s):
Excellent. Is there any place where people can go on the internet or you want to point people on the internet, if they want to learn, learn a bit more about you?
Andrea (45m 54s):
I would say you can go to my website, which is <inaudible>, which is a pun in Latin, but you can actually also go there by Andrea phillips.com. It goes to the same place, because I realized I had made a terrible mistake at some point. And I am sometimes on Twitter and D R H I a.
Jesper (46m 24s):
Okay. That's perfect. So, Andrea, I'm also thinking that if you email me those links, then I will put those in the show notes for you and people can follow them straight from there.
Andrea (46m 37s):
Wonderful. I'll do that right now.
Jesper (46m 40s):
Perfect. That was the wrong sounder. This one was the one I was looking for. So next Monday, Autumn will be back and we're going to talk about one of her favorite topics, namely editing a novel.
Narrator (46m 56s):
If you like, what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn and Jesper on patreon.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the Am Writing Fantasy podcasts going. Stay safe out there and see you next Monday.