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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Which Publishing Path to Choose

Since embarking on my quest to become a published author, I've been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about the process. Keeping in mind that I still haven't quite captured the allusive contract (although I'm very close) I decided to put together a few posts with advice and tips I've collected along the way.

First up is Traditional versus Self-Publishing.

Once you have a manuscript (MS) that you have edited and revised to the point you don't want to look at it anymore, and then edit and revised a couple more times, it's time to start thinking about publishing it.

There are two basic ways of getting published. Both have pros and cons to them and a lot depends on which way you feel the most comfortable.

You can self-publish through a service like CreateSpace or Lulu. This way means you take on all the costs of publishing the book and marketing it yourself, but is becoming more and more popular.

The traditional route means querying (sending letters) to agents & publishers and trying to get a contract. This method should cost you nothing, but it's much harder since agents and publishers are very selective.

I'm going the traditional route right now. It can be very time consuming, but I decided to go that route for several reasons:

  • Editing - my work will be looked at by another set of eyes and catch things I miss. If you self-pub, you can hire an editor to do this for you, but it can cost a bit. A lot of self-pubbers (but not all) skip doing this to save $ and end up with typos & plot issues. 
  • Contract - if I want to end up selling internationally or get a movie deal, an agent is the best way. Personally, I don't want to figure out all the negotiations necessary.
  • Marketing - even doing a traditional publishing I'll be expected to do some marketing for my work - signings, book talks, etc. Self-pubbing means I would have to do ALL the marketing work - setting up all the signings and book talks as well as getting my book into bookstores.
  • Validation - I admit, this is a bit of a shallow reason. Especially since there are a lot of self-pubbers who are really good. Part of me wants to make sure my work is good enough to sell and I'm not just fooling myself.
There are a lot of self-pubbers who can give you lists of reasons why they did it the other way. At this point, there is no right or wrong way to go about publishing. It all depends on you, what you're comfortable doing and where you want to spend your time/energy.
Self-pubbers - chime in and let us know why you chose to do it on your own!

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