I've self-published, traditionally published, and work for an indie press. Ask me anything!

Eliza Tilton
Feb 27, 2018

My YA Fantasy series is published by Curiosity Quills Press, I’ve self-published two novels, and I’m the design manager and associate publisher over at Blaze Publishing.

There are many different routes to publication. I've seen success in all three. As a budding author, how do you choose which option is right for you? There are many aspects to publishing, and being from all sides, I can tell you what I've personally done, what my own publisher does for me, and what my experience at Blaze Publishing has taught me about the publisher's responsibilities.Whether you self-publish, get an agent, or submit to a press on your own, all three are perfectly affective ways of achieving your goals, and all three have benefits.

When you first start this journey, it can feel overwhelming. Begin to think about what YOU want, want YOU can financially do on your own, and where YOU see yourself in a few years.

Ask me anything about publishing and help you decide where to start.

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What other indie presses do you adore?
Mar 3, 3:55AM EST0

I haven’t had much experience with other presses. I do think the key to be a successful indie press is to have your niche, a clean website, and a unique theme that can be recognized.

At Curiosity Quills, we're all goats and speculative fiction (most of us), and at Blaze we're YA Books with Heart, and our mascot is the editors dog, Blaze who's super cute!

Mar 3, 11:47AM EST0
When and how did YA fantasy series come about? What was the spark to start it and what did its infancy look like?
Mar 2, 11:50AM EST0

My YA Fantasy series was a birthday present to my husband—or so it started that way.

I was in college, broke, and wanted to do something creative for my man’s birthday. I wrote 13 pages of a fantasy story about a boy called Avikar. My hubs loved the story—hated that I only wrote 3 chapters—and suggested I keep writing. I’ve written stories since I was in 5th grade, but this was the first NOVEL.

The only aspect that stayed the same was the boy’s name, Avikar.

This April Book 4 will release. It’s crazy to think this all started because of a birthday gift.

Mar 3, 11:44AM EST0

Hows does your typical work day at press looks like?

Mar 2, 9:46AM EST0

Blaze is a small press, and my workload changes around releases. I handle formatting and publication. During my busy time, I'll be formatting books, uploading titles to our distributors and making sure we're set for release day. 

Mar 3, 11:40AM EST0
What are the pros and cons to each publishing method?
Mar 1, 8:54AM EST0

Here's a quick list of the big things:

Self-publish:

Pros: full control, higher % of royalties

Cons: expenses are all on you, limited distribution

Indie/small press:

Pros: family like setting, royalty rates higher than bigger publishers, distribution, input into cover design, no publication expenses (editing/cover art/formatting), partner in your career, marketing, working to sell additional rights like audio/film/international, contracts renew earlier, royalties paid sooner

Cons: less control than self-publishing, marketing budget can be small, limited or no print distribution

 

Mid-large size publisher:

(since you’ll need an agent to submit to a big 5, you’ll have someone who loves your work, fighting for you)

Pros: Small-large advance, marketing budget, distribution, bigger exposure to market,

Cons: little to no input on cover, control over story—if you sign, and an editor wants you to change story elements, you may be locked in per your contract, longer release schedule, royalties can be paid every quarter or only twice a year.

Mar 3, 11:37AM EST0

I am working on a book/expose about truth in media (or lack thereof) about a rescue by the US Navy of the two women 'lost at sea' last October.  The real story of their rescue is quite different than what trended 100% on google.  Is it better to self publish orgo through a publisher - as 

Feb 28, 2:23PM EST0

I love novels based off true stories! It sounds interesting. You can always submit to an agent and if you don’t get any bites, self-publish.

Feb 28, 6:54PM EST1
Show all 3 replies
If it is possible to see success with every method you choose, how do you know which one is the right for you? What are the criteria you base your decision on?
Feb 28, 10:14AM EST0

Lately, it’s been based on which story I’m working on. Anything that falls into my fantasy series goes straight to my publisher, but I have another novel I plan to submit to an agent because I think it has market potential. I’m also working on a series that I’ll plan to self-publish because I’ll be shooting for a quick release schedule and I want full control over the covers.

Feb 28, 6:47PM EST0
What did you learn after starting to work for an indie press that has proven very useful?
Feb 28, 10:02AM EST0

Blaze Publishing has been able to get a few books into a bookcrate--the fabfitfun box but for books! being able to get your book into a subscription box can be a HUGE marketing opportunity. Most people that order those boxes post pictures on Instagram--free marketing! It's not easy, but there are lots of subscription boxes out there that you can reach out to.

Feb 28, 6:44PM EST0
What are the biggest misconceptions about each publishing method?
Feb 28, 8:14AM EST0

The biggest misconception is that one way is more successful than the other. Years ago, self-publishing was taboo—if you self-published you weren’t really a writer. The industry is evolving into a new model where anyone can be successful. One of my indie friends just signed with an agent who will handle the international/media rights to her novels which she will continue to self-publish. It’s an exciting time!

Feb 28, 6:38PM EST0
What about writing is fascinating to you?
Feb 27, 10:47PM EST0

That I can a create a world and characters so real they stick with people long after the book.  Back in 2008 when I was going through my Twilight obession, I started writing fanfiction just because I didn't want the story to end.

Last edited @ Feb 28, 6:34PM EST.
Feb 28, 6:24PM EST0
Have you ever used a website called "Wattpad"?
Feb 27, 8:32PM EST0

Yes! It's a great place to load samples of your novels. You can check out my YA Historical Fantasy, Shadows of Kiev,  in the Wrath & Ruin boxset by clicking this link Wrath and Ruin on Wattpad

Feb 28, 6:22PM EST0
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next ten years?
Feb 27, 7:23PM EST0

Doubling my income and preparing for retirement! I'll be 48 and I would love to retire by 55. If I can make more with writing, I can increase my % I put in to my 401K. At 55 I could retire and write fulltime.

Feb 28, 6:17PM EST0
How long did it take for your novels to get noticed?
Feb 27, 6:13PM EST0

Define noticed? If by a publisher, a few months before they offered me a contract. I’ve been with that same publisher since 2012. Getting noticed in the world? I think that’s an ongoing process. You keep growing your audience/network, writing more books, and getting yourself out there.

Feb 27, 6:30PM EST0
Do you have any authors that inspire you?
Feb 27, 5:38PM EST0

Yes! R.A Salvatore is my HERO. I’ve been reading his books for over 15 years. I want to create a world like that where I can just continue writing in. There are plenty of books that have sparked me out of a writing slump: A Court of Rose and Thorns, The Iron Fey series, See Me … sometimes it’s just one story that really hits me.

Feb 27, 5:58PM EST0
While writing your books how do you determine that there would be a market for this sort of book?
Feb 27, 2:08PM EST0

Writing for the market can be really tricky due to the timing. If Cyberpunk starts trending, and you can write and publish it fast, sure! But if it takes you six months to write/edit, then another six months to find an agent, by the time you submit to publishers it could be saturated. I always recommend writing what you know, what you love, and if what you love is in a saturated market, create a unique hook!

Feb 27, 6:17PM EST0
What're your thoughts on publisher’s standpoint on streaming, and do you see any light in regards to authors receiving a fair payout of royalties?
Feb 27, 11:42AM EST0

Are you talking about book subscriptions, like Kindle Unlimited? If so, there’s potential in there. I’ve made good money on royalties through those services. 

Feb 27, 6:19PM EST0
It is really difficult to get self-published books placed in bookstores. What suggestions do you have for self-published authors?
Feb 27, 11:03AM EST0

Strangely, I think this is changing. I just did B-Fest at Barnes and Nobel and the manager ordered my self-published title. The trick is to build relationships with your local bookstores. You may not get mass distribution, but you can start local and spread from there.

Feb 27, 6:21PM EST0
Could you provide little insight into your editorial process? How different is writing process from the editorial process while self-publishing?
Feb 27, 10:45AM EST0

The process is the same. I have an editor and a proofreader. It can be difficult finding a good editor within your budget, but most editors will do a sample edit for you. That’s how I found an editor for my self-published novel.

Feb 27, 6:24PM EST0
How much time do you devote to writing versus networking, marketing, etc.?
Feb 27, 8:23AM EST0

I spend much more time on social media and marketing which can be a black hole sometimes. I have a new deadline coming up and I plan on creating a schedule so I’ll focus on writing and not scrolling through facebook all day : )

Feb 27, 6:26PM EST0
Which writing category is the greatest to generate a big impact when first joining the business?
Feb 26, 9:18PM EST0

This is a really tough question. Regardless of what genre you pick, your book could affect thousands. You could write a memoir about overcoming depression, write a romance that beats out Nicholas Sparks, or a middle grade novel that makes hundreds of boys fall in love with reading. Your best bet is to write what you love. 

Feb 26, 11:11PM EST0
How exactly did you find your way to work with Curiosity Quills Press, and how long did it take you to achieve that?
Feb 26, 8:51PM EST0

I was shopping around my YA Contemporary Romance novel, Soulspark. I submitted to this online forum that had a mix of agents and acquisitions editors. An AE from CQ read the blurb and wanted to read the novel. She ended up loving it, but didn't think it was a good fit for CQ since they specialized in speculative fiction. I mentioned my YA Fantasy, Broken Forest, and she ended up reading it and giving me an offer. From the time she read it and offered was about 3 months.

Feb 26, 11:11PM EST0
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