To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish

I have once again hit that point; a story has been finished, edited, beta read, and edited again.  It is time to make a decision, to either put it away in the dark to never be heard from again, or bring it out and work on publishing.

This is not the first time I have done this.  Last time, I went through the process of putting myself out there, only to realize I was not quite as ready as I thought.  I’ve attempted to learn from my mistakes.  Not only did I ask for more advice and editing notes, but I actually took them into consideration, even when they were not what I wanted to hear. I am working to not underestimate the advice of others who have been down this road, either successfully or unsuccessfully.  I’m working on my research, targeting goals, and basically just trying to get it right this time.

I have also been dragging my feet. 

I know in retrospect my last attempt was riddled with problems that come from inexperience.  Anything great that might have come from my original attempts, would have been the product of extreme luck. Knowing what went wrong does not make it any easier to consider the possibility of going through the fear and rejection process again.  And I know, it might be different this time, but I used a lot of hope on the first time around; I don’t have as much as I should this time.

Before beginning the potentially soul crushing process again, I have been considering my options. 

My hopes have so far rested on the possibilities of signing with a talented and well connected literary agent, who will then sell my book to a large publishing house, who will naturally push my book hard and help me to become successful.  I had not counted out the possibility of self-publishing, it was more of a back up plan to. 

The more I learn, the more I realize that both options are difficult, and neither necessarily fits within my dreams. First of all, signing to an agent is difficult.  I could attempt to bypass the agent, however publishing houses are not necessarily any easier to sign with, particularly without an agent.  I have also learned how much of the help I thought might come standard is unlikely to happen.  It is not that agents and publishers don’t want their authors to be successful, but the bottom line is simple; they have many authors, and spend their money where they think they will get it back.  They are the business side, and they must think that way.  Publishing with a large publishing house will require a lot of skills I do not currently possess.

Of course, self publishing requires even more work.  I have complete freedom over my choices, both creative and business.  I could have my novel out tomorrow, and another one out the day after that if I could write fast enough.  Everything I want to do, I can choose to do.  However, I am completely responsible for the editing, formatting, promoting, well, the everything.  The entire success or failure of the novel would rest on me and me alone.  It’s just a bit of pressure.  Additionally, messing up a self publishing debut, could kill a career in both self and traditional publishing. 

I continue to do my research on both sides, but unfortunately there are very few well researched and informative articles that give a honest and fair portrayal of both sides.  Self published authors often discuss how their way is the future of publishing and even attempting any other options makes you archaic and boring.  Established, traditionally published authors might talk about how all authors need the support of an agent and publishing house to be successful, and their success does speak a little to their expertise.  While both sides make incredibly skewed arguments, they also make valid points.  Self publishing opens writing up to those who are the creative force behind the business; without writers, there is nothing to publish.  However traditional publishing lends support and knowledge about the business to those who either have no experience, or don’t have the time to both write and do the entire work of a large publishing house.  I know I don’t have enough time to do everyone else’s job, not if I expect to do anyone’s job well.  Authors need the experience professional agents and publishers bring to the table.

So what does this mean for my current novel?  I have no idea.  I guess I can only do what I can do; look for help, but not give up on my dream, even if I end up doing it alone.

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