By Kathy Lipscomb
I don’t pretend to know the intricacies of either of these options as I am not yet published myself, but I know many authors on either side of the spectrum. And the biggest thing I have learned is:
Either is a viable option.
Either is a GREAT option.
It all depends on what you want to do as the author.
Self-publishing allows you to be in charge. Many successful indie authors talk about the freedom they have when it comes to what they can write, what their covers look like, where they sell their book and for how much. They make more money per book because they don’t have an agent and publisher to pay.
They do stress the need to pay editors, often more than one, to help get a book to where it needs to be. Books needs to be sent to several rounds of beta readers you trust (not your mom—unless your mom is someone like Shannon Hale who is a fantastic writer and will tell it to you straight. But seriously, most moms aren’t helpful when critiquing a book.). The bad reputation that anyone can publish and therefore there are many books available online that are not good books is a real thing. There are also fantastic self-published books, but it’s hard to sift through the not-so-good to find the great ones. Which leads to marketing. As an indie author, you will spend a whole lot of time marketing your books. A lot of time. You have to be willing to put in that time and effort.
Traditionally published authors still have to do marketing. Just not as much, and their books will be put in bookstores. When you send in a query to an agent, and then a publisher, you’re applying for a job. You are saying, I have these book ideas, but I want a team of experts to do a lot of the other work. You give up some creative say, because it’s a business. You don’t have much (or any) say in your cover. Sometimes you’ll write a book they don’t like, and you have to rewrite the whole thing. Sometimes you don’t sell well, so they drop you. This happens because publishers are a business.
When you publish with a traditional publisher, you don’t have to pay money up front. Someone else worries about the cover design. You work closely with an editor to make your book the best it can be. You have a marketing team who has years of experience in marketing. You can put most of your concentration into writing.
Then there are people who are considered “hybrids.” They have some books published through a traditional publisher and some that are self-published.
There are pros and cons to each side. Research and look at what kind of control and responsibility you want. You have options—great options either way you choose.