Tobias Buckell and me on Adventures in SciFi Publishing

Adventures in Sci-Fi PublishingShaun Farrell has an excellent podcast called Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has had many of my favorite authors on his podcast, has editors and publishers as well. It is well executed and quite interesting.

Shaun recently (Episode 24) had author Tobias Buckell on the show (you can read the first 1/3 of Tobias’ new novel Ragamuffin online here). He announced that Tobias will do an “Ask a Writer” portion of the podcast.

My question was chosen to be the first one tackled.

Ragamuffin by Tobias BuckellEpisode 25, released on the 4th of July, featured my question: I asked for Tobias to contrast self-publishing, print-on-demand and traditional publishing. With my background in the software and internet industry, I chose the print-on-demand avenue, as it appealed to my sense of how distribution and marketing should work. If I would have had more time to spare, I would have investigated more in self-publishing, creating a small independent publisher. My question:

I know Toby is published by Tor, but I am interested in his opinion of traditional publishing (i.e., going through an agent, waiting patiently for one of the major houses to review your work, etc.), self-publishing (building your own printshop, etc.) and Print on Demand (like self-publishing, except contracting with somebodies print shop).

My question is: does it matter any more which route you go? With the exception of maybe the top few books, the publishers appear to provide little marketing for most books. The author is in charge of pushing the book, getting the word of mouth going, etc., in all three of these publishing routes.

There does appear to be an easier route to get into the major bookstore chains if you go through a traditional publisher. But what does Toby thinks are the differentiating factors?

Toby has obviously thought this question through in great detail, he gives an almost twenty-minute answer on the podcast. I highly recommend you listen to it through the links above. If I were to summarize his answer, it is that the biggest difference is having a team vs. doing it all yourself. With the traditional publishing houses, it’s not just the author, it is the editor, the copyeditor, the publicists, the channel bookseller folks, etc.. If you go it alone….you are alone, doing all of this yourself. Even if you do want to maintain control of your finished product, you must question how much you are taking yourself away from your number one job of writing by doing all of these other things, and how much expertise one person can have in all of these jobs (reminds me of my day job of being a small software company CEO).

Toby has certainly given me a lot to think about. A great addition to the Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast!

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1 Response

  1. larry says:

    An interesting perspective on how authors need to self-promote their works at

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