Traditional or self-publishing?
This question nags at the minds of so many debut authors, myself included! You can find blog posts, podcast episodes, youtube videos, and more content comparing the two publishing routes.
For a long time I was sure that I wanted to publish traditionally. This means I wanted to sign my book with a publishing house. And I gave that a pretty good go. I took a mini-course on writing an awesome book pitch, researched appropriate agents (optional), and pitched! And failed. And went back into re-editing my novel, during which time I started pivoting towards self-publishing.
Then I found myself telling people that I was going to self-publish my book, something that had never been on my to-do list and was becoming a reality.
Why did I finally end up choosing to self-publish my book? Some of my reasons may seem a little flippant, but some are pretty important. Let’s go:
The idea of selling rights to my book freaks me out.
From what I understand, when you sell your book to a publishing house, you sell the rights to it, which means you’re no longer in control of it. And that freaks me out! That book is my baby. It’s the project I’ve been working on for years and you want to tell me I don’t get a say in how it lives now?
Author lifestyles are changing.
This may be due to the fact that I spend a lot of time following and interacting with indie authors, but it looks like authorship is becoming more of an online business than a publish-and-done kind of thing. Authors are online entrepreneurs selling their product and their brand, and they’re getting creative about how they do that. Authors teach online courses or masterclasses, they do fun giveaways and collaborations, they incorporate other business ventures into their author brand so they can support their writing. And because they’re self-publishing, they have more say in their careers – what to write, when to publish, how often, etc.
I’m impatient to get my career started.
Just sending in my book pitch to agents on my first attempt was a three month process, because that’s how long it can take for someone to get back to you. Three months I waited around for a bunch of no’s. And then once someone signs me (which can take years), the publishing process with a publishing house is another year or two. Meanwhile, I’ve been seriously getting myself amped for publishing for over a year and I’m ready to get moving!! Self-publishing means I can publish when I want to publish.
There’s a shift happening in the publishing world.
In my copious research on this topic, I found a few articles about how already-established authors were switching from traditional to self-publishing because they had more freedom and control over their work. Those established authors have the advantage of already having a following, so they’re less concerned about sales than a debut indie author, but it’s interesting to see that there is some discontent over traditional publishing at this point.
Who knows what the future holds.
Just because I self-publish this book doesn’t mean I can’t traditionally publish the next one. My eyes were really opened to this when I spoke with an author online who shared that she self-published her first book, signed with a small publishing house for her second, and got in with one of the Big 5 (is it Big 4, now?) for her latest book! This is not a decision that is set in stone for the rest of my author career.
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If you’re an author, did you have the traditional vs self-publishing debate with yourself? How did it go?
Enjoy the journey,