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Goodreads asked Charles S. Weinblatt:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Charles S. Weinblatt The world of publishing has changed considerably since my first trade-published book ("Job Seeking Skills for Students," 1986, Kendall-Hunt Publishing). We no longer mail our 260-page MS to publishers and hope. Today, there is traditional publishing, subsidy publishing, vanity publishing, self-publishing and a combinations of the above. In 1986, when I signed my first author contract, there were few options. Today, the astute author must examine a variety of options.

If you primarily write non-fiction and you are a known subject matter expert, then self-publishing (SP) might be the best choice. Why share the profit when you don't need to? But the downside of SP is that YOU (the author) must also be the person who hires the editor, graphic designer, printer and publicist. You will pay for each service, which typically amounts to several thousand dollars or more. You must travel the world promoting your book at key international book fairs, conventions and conferences. You must manage distribution, film and translation contracts. You must post your book and your e-book for sale with all major distributors and retailers. You must market, advertise, stock and restock. You must hire an expert to design a winning book video trailer. And you must handle all sales options, including stocking and restocking retailers. All of this requires at least 15-20 hours per week, more if you're not already a successful marketer.

If you write fiction as a novice author, then traditional publishing makes more sense. This is particularly critical for authors without a viable platform. For fiction, the biggest and best publishing houses are your goal, because they will throw tens of thousands of dollars into making your fiction book a market success. Instead of paying several thousand dollars or more to have your book published, you won't pay a dime to a trade-publisher. In fact, the publisher will pay you an advance.

Think of it this way for fiction... Google your name. You can bet that literary agents and even small publishers will do that first. And major publishers only accept a MS from trusted literary agents. If you want to impress the agents, then you'll need a powerful platform. This constitutes, every writing award, all of your published books, major media opportunities, newspaper, magazine and journal articles, major media articles and interviews about your books, positive reviews from the most persuasive and compelling review organizations, etc. When an agent or publisher decides to Google your name as a fiction author, many pages (not many references, but many pages of such references) must appear. This is the platform you require. It takes many books and many years to establish a formidable platform.

I have SP three books and I've been trade-published three times. You could say that I have a footprint in each camp. Later this year, a major American university will publish one of my novels. In other words, I've learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Self-publishing rarely works well for fiction. And if you pay to have your book published (a.k.a. subsidy publishing or vanity publishing), it will mean nothing to your platform. In that case, you might be fortunate to sell a few dozen copies, while paying several thousand dollars. But the trade-published author pays nothing and instead receives an advance and royalties. But more importantly, the novice fiction author has enhanced her or his author platform by being trade-published.

I have devoted one of my blogs entirely to this and similar topics at: http://cweinblatt.wordrpess.com.

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