One month ago, the beginning of January, 2014, I decided to find out. I sent my historical fiction manuscript, The Sorrow Stone, to my agent to offer to publishing houses. Within a few days, I also self-published my science fiction novel, Walls of Wind, on Amazon. Aside from the difference in genre, these books are comparable in length, quality and writing skill/talent/voice. Thus began my experiment in publishing.
To learn more on how I set up my experiment, read my previous post, An Experiment in Publishing.
I will share my results with you on the first of every month. One month is a good marker, and should be long enough to give me something new and interesting to report in each post.
Part II went live on Amazon without a hitch on Feb 1st. I offered free copies to science fiction readers who would write honest reviews - good, bad or indifferent - to help Amazon's search engines find it. 10 reviews were posted. I also put it up on Goodreads.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING MODEL - My agent emailed to let me know an editor at one of the large publishing houses is interested in The Sorrow Stone, and asked for a list of comparable titles. We sent her several.
ONE MONTH RESULTS
Timing: Most of this month has been spent editing Part II and III Walls of Wind for ebooks, and the full print copy, and finding reviewers. Both of those things have to be done for a traditionally published book, also, although a publisher might help with finding reviewers for the cover. Or not - the publisher of Connections didn't. The s/p books take more of my time, but there is less time spent waiting in frustration - they are up now.
Even though a t/p editor is interested in Sorrow Stone, she still has to take my manuscript to her board, where it could be rejected for many reasons unrelated to the quality of the book, such as what books other editors in the house bring to the board and whether they'll compete. At least another month's wait to hear, possibly longer.
Personal Satisfaction: I love the covers of the ebooks and the one for the print book. Like, jump-up-and-down love them! I got to approve the pictures and the print style and say, "please make that colour a bit lighter" and "could you add a space between the blurb and my bio" all I wanted. That WON'T happen with a t/p book. I really liked working with the cover artist until my book looked the way I want it to. There's a lot of personal satisfaction in having that kind of control, and very little in having your future totally out of your control as you wait and hope a publisher will take a chance on your book.
Financial Gain: While I have obviously made nothing on the t/p book which hasn't been picked up yet, I have also made under $10 this first month on the s/p book. Feels like I've dropped it down a deep, dark hole where no one can find it, and maybe I have. However, the full ebook trilogy, and the print book, and the Amazon POD book, aren't out yet, and may make a difference to the equation. Next month I will take advantage of Kindle Free Promo days and offer Part I for free on Kindle Feb 27, 28 & March 1, in advance of the trilogy going live on March 1. It seems strange that anyone would download it for free, but not pay 99c, but there are a lot of sites to advertise a free book on, so exposure may be the prime factor here.
In conclusion, both models require a lot of hard work and a lot of patience. I was expecting the hard work, but not an equal requirement of patience. Next update will be on March 1st.