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Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing

Hello friends,

As you all know, I’ve been sticking it out in the querying trenches, and it’s been hard on my heart. I know I need to develop a thick skin and over and again I’ve heard, “Remember, this is a subjective business.”

Yes, I know. I completely understand that. I know market trends matter. And I also know that nothing makes sense. Seriously.

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Listen to this…

I have a friend who works as a literary intern. So basically, she wades through piles of query letters to sort through those the agent may be interested in and she also reads manuscripts for the agent as a screen before the agent reads them. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say I know that nothing makes sense. My friend read a book that, although it wasn’t her favorite genre, she couldn’t put down. It was a page-turner and was incredibly well written. She passed the book on to the agent who said that she really gobbled it up but wasn’t going to take it on. Why, you ask? Oh, because the author had approximately 11 books published through small presses. The agent actually called him a hack even though she agreed the writing was very well done. But it doesn’t stop there, friends. The intern asked if he could publish under a pen name. The agent said he definitely should but still wasn’t going to take him on. In the same conversation, the agent asks the intern to read another book. The agent had already read it and said it was “a mess,” written by a debut author. A MESS people! And why was she willing to take on a manuscript that is a mess? Well, because the author was a District Attorney. Goodness knows no one can write things unless it’s true to life. Good thing when I wrote my middle grade fantasy about witches, I really was one.

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So here’s the point of this blog post. I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what I do or how many years I spend writing new books. I can continue querying agents until my heart cracks one too many times and just becomes a pile of dust ready to be blown away like a fart in the wind.

Since I started this blog and started working hard on my social media presence, I’ve had countless people ask me where they can read my writing, tell me they enjoy my blog, and ask me when they can buy my book. Am I missing out on sales and sharing my work because I’m so wrapped up in worry about the stigma associated with being a self-published/indie author? One, who by the way, makes 75% of royalties rather than 15 or maybe 35%. It’s no secret that authors have to do their own marketing whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Does it really matter that my book isn’t available in a bookstore? I can’t remember the last time I went to one anyway. I buy everything on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity I did a poll asking whether or not people buy books from self-published authors. While it isn’t a large sample, I was surprised by the results.

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Most people said they do or would read a book by a self-published author. I tried to think back to the time before I thought about publishing any of my work at all and wondered…did I have any bias against self-published books? No, I didn’t. Not at all. If I perused books on my kindle, I would pick whatever sounded interested. I didn’t care who wrote it. I didn’t check the publishing house. I didn’t even look to see if it was a self-published book.

So where did I get this idea that there was a lot of bad stigma surrounding self-published authors? I realized it was from other writers, authors, and traditional publishing.

As I query and collect rejection letters, I’m reminded again of all the times someone has said to me, “I love your blog, where can I buy your book? Or do you have anything else I can read?” And I’ve had to say no. Why? Oh, because it’s sitting on my computer where–quite possibly–no one will ever see it.

I know that there are quite a few (especially romance) indie authors who have done quite well for themselves. So why don’t I try?

I know I need to

  • Pay for proper editing
  • Pay for good cover art
  • Pay someone to format things correctly
  • Invest in marketing myself
  • Maybe hire a PA

But two of those things I’m going to have to do anyway. I’m not going to slap some poorly crafted, first-draft turd up on Amazon and call it a day. I’m going to work hard to showcase my work in a way that I can be proud of. Something that when I sell, I get to keep a large portion of royalties for myself, to invest in myself and future projects. I’ll also have more control over…EVERYTHING.

Yet here I am. Still questioning what I should do? But why? Perhaps it’s the validation. Maybe it is me wanting to be accepted by other authors as a “real” author. But I can tell you, I’ve read a lot of self-published, indie press, or yet unpublished work that I have adored and I’ve read traditionally published crap that I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

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I would love to know what you all think. Please leave a comment below.

And as always…

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