Monday, August 8, 2011

Looking at the Benefits of Both Traditional and Self-Publishing

100_5048I wrote a post on Saturday that covered the different things I’d learned in the process of preparing a book for e-publishing.

But although I mentioned the fact that many of my friends and family have been surprised (or confused or even concerned) that I was going to put a book out myself, I didn’t really talk about the reasons behind my choice to self-publish a book.

So consequently, I’ve gotten some emails asking me why I am. And if I thought that’s what all writers needed to do.

I don’t. I think writers should pursue traditional publishing. This is, I think, a fairly controversial opinion! I’ve seen other authors expressing different opinions.

Positives of Traditional Publishing:

You learn a ton with a professional editor.

Your books will be distributed to stores and can find readers who don't own e-readers. You learn the particular kinds of errors you’re prone to. You learn how to correct your errors. You learn how to be part of a team. The mechanics of book production are handled by the publisher.

If you're agented, you might receive new writing opportunities from your agent (it happened to me.) You gain confidence as a writer. You’re likely fulfilling a lifelong dream.

That being said---being traditionally published isn’t up to the writer. It’s up to professionals in the industry.

These days, getting rejected doesn’t mean that you can’t share your book with the world anymore.

My reasons for self-publishing:

I’m self-publishing two books (one now, one as soon as I get it whipped into shape.) Both are part of a discontinued series. I received the rights to the character back and I’ve got readers still emailing me asking for the next story. I decided it didn’t make sense for me to sit on books that I could be making some sort of profit on. Plus, I love the characters in the series and wanted to share more of their stores.

But I’m continuing traditional publishing, too. I’ve got a new series debuting with Penguin next year.

Positives of Self-Publishing Traditionally published authors who have a backlist that they own the rights to can resurrect series that are no longer in stores.

Writers who don’t write commercially viable or easily-defined books can find readers.

Writers have more control over their books and content.

Writers receive a higher profit margin.

Writers who are overwhelmed by the process of querying agents and publishers can avoid it.

The important thing to remember:

We all need to write books that are worthy of readers. Have we edited until we’re sick of it? If the book isn’t any good, it won’t be accepted by publishers…and it won’t find readers, even self-published.

I think the best thing we can do as writers is to write as much as we can. If we’re traditionally published and keeping up with deadlines, that might mean writing a short story collection or a series written especially for e-publishing.

If we’re new writers, that might mean trying to pursue traditional publishing, but continuing to write new books or short stories during the query process (stories which can then either be queried or e-published.)

We should keep writing, keep improving, keep enjoying the process. I really do think this is a very good time to be a writer.

Have you considered self-publishing? Are you still planning a traditionally published career? Have I missed any pros or cons of either choice?