Killer Women: Rachel Abbott & Louise Voss

In this article Rachel Abbott and Louise Voss talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

Voss is what’s known as a ‘hybrid author’, with a publisher for some of her books whilst others are self-published. All of Abbott’s novels are self-published in the UK. In 2015 she was named as the No.1 self-published author on Amazon Kindle UK and the fourteenth best-selling author overall.

Louise Voss: Hi Rachel! Many writers these days are asking themselves whether they should self-publish or try to get a traditional deal. So, let’s kick off with why you chose to self-publish.

Rachel Abbott: Some people believe that writers only self-publish because they can’t get a publishing deal. But that’s not always true. I self-publish out of choice. I like being my own boss and making the decisions, and for now I am prepared to put in the extremely long hours I have to work.

the-venus-trapLouise Voss: Self-publishing is definitely work heavy! With a traditional deal, the publisher takes responsibility for the editing, the cover design, and all the tasks essential to make a book available online. They also organise the printed version for bookshops and, in theory, do the marketing – although lots of authors find they still need to devote energy to that. How do you manage your time?

Rachel Abbott: It’s hard – I want to write more than anything, but I have to split my time between managing a business – because it’s not just the marketing, there’s a mountain of admin too – and writing. I employ two part time assistants and I also have an agent and publicist.

Louise Voss: I like the sense of control you get over everything when you self-publish. I can update books, change the pricing and covers, and if I want to I can pay for additional marketing. You don’t get that with a traditional publisher. So what do you think are the positives about a traditional deal?

Rachel Abbott: You would normally expect to receive an advance on royalties, and for some people that’s crucial. But the main advantage is that your publisher organises the whole process and takes the decisions, so you have less to worry about. They are experienced and knowledgeable and they give their authors support. But the big thing for me is that with a traditional deal, you get printed copies of your books in shops. That’s my one regret – I do get some in shops, but I’m never going to be on Waterstones’ front table.

Louise Voss: And the negatives?

Kill Me AgainRachel Abbott: You basically get a smaller share of the income from sales. If you self-publish successfully, the financial rewards can be higher than with a traditional deal in the longer term.

Louise Voss: There’s another publishing option that we’ve not discussed, and that is to sign with a small independent publisher. There are several around at the moment having big successes for their authors.

Rachel Abbott: They certainly seem to have their marketing nailed, and that’s the key. For me, though, I also think a good agent is important too. Many people find it strange that I have an agent, but it’s the best decision I ever made.

Louise Voss: Yes, and ideally one who will give editorial input so your novel is as good as it can be.

Rachel Abbott: They don’t all do that, apparently, so it’s really worth doing the research before signing up with an agency. A good agent will also sell translation rights, and my books are now in over twenty languages.

Louise Voss: In the end, the decision on the type of publishing for each writer comes down to their appetite for risk, their desire/ability to work their socks off to make their books a success, and their attitude to control, or lack thereof. There’s definitely no right or wrong answer that works for everybody.

Rachel Abbott: We’re just scratching the surface here, though. Hopefully we’ll be able to go into more detail and help the decision making process at our workshop at the Killer Woman Festival in October.

Louise Voss: Here’s a link for anyone interested in coming along to meet us: Shoreditch Town Hall in London on October 15th . It’s going to be a fantastic day! Look forward to seeing you then.


All of Rachel’s books can be ordered by clicking here.

Louise’s books can be ordered by clicking this link.