First of all, an update. We got lucky with an 11th hour save. We have a President for next year. I don't fool myself into thinking I'm not going to end up doing a great deal more of the work than I did last year but at least its not all on my shoulders.
This month's ORWA workshop on getting published has made me think a lot about my preconceptions.
I've always assumed I should pursue a New York publishing contract as my first choice. Quality editing and a wide distribution would benefit me more than the higher royalty fees of the other options. New York still makes a lot of authors into best-sellers.
However, it's an extremely competitive environment which is also becoming more conservative. More and more, the New York houses are looking for authors who have already become independently successful. Don't already have published works under your belt? Then it's difficult to get an agent or a contract.
Small presses are more willing to take risks but can also be riskier. If I sell my manuscript to a small press and it goes under, it can take a lot of time and money to recover the rights to my book so I can sell it to someone else. They also don't tend to have the distribution contacts the big boys have. A lot of small presses specialize in e-books. (This may sound snobbish of me, but if I'm published, I really want to have a shelf full of print books with my name on them.)
Self-publishing is a lot of hard work but it offers the ultimate flexibility. You are responsible for hiring an editor, copy-editor, cover artist, etc. You are responsible for all marketing. But you reap the majority of the profits (once there are profits to be had). One key factor seems to be frequency of new content. If you want to make money with a self-published book, you'd better be ready to have new stuff coming out every few months.
I'm still not sure what the best choice is. I'm not to the point of being ready to publish. At the moment, I'm leaning more towards small press and self-publishing. I don't think there's a necessary loss of quality and it certainly allows for more control by the author. Print-on-demand services means I could still have my vanity wall.
It's a lot to think about.