Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That Is the Question

So, the question about whether or not an author should self-publish has been beaten to a bloody gurgling pulp.  And the general consensus is, there is no right answer. There’s only what’s right for you. (I know.  About as helpful as a wet fish in the face. But it's true.)

For me, when I walk into a book store, I just know. –I want to see my book in there so bad it hurts. I want to see it in windows and on shelves. I live in France so I’d like to have foreign rights sold and see it over here too.

In short, I want a traditional publishing contract.

Which means I might remain the Creepy Query Girl for years to come before being bumped up to Creepy Client status.

And I’m okay with that.

That said, I’m not closed to self-publishing.

In fact, I already have a project I’m thinking about putting out there. Why? Because I know I’ll never stop writing and living new adventures. It’s become a part of who I am and I don't feel like myself if I'm not working on something. I guess, my take is- even if a book wasn’t picked up by an agent, if I still believe it’s a worthy read that people will enjoy, why not share it?  Why hole it up on my hard drive forever, hidden from the world?

If it’s not ‘the book’ that will get me a traditional publishing contract, it can still be ‘a book’ that touches readers regardless.

I don’t think we need to pick one over the other.  But maybe that’s just me.

What about you guys? Do you think a line has been drawn between self published vs traditional published? If you’re thinking of self-pubbing, what’s the biggest obstacle for you? (I think we’re all well aware of the obstacles faced when you want to traditionally publish:)

39 comments:

Sarah said...

I don't think there's a line anymore. I've already had conversations with my agent about the types and timing of things I'd self-publish vs. the things I'd reserve for my traditional contracts. As long as you make the decision with realistic expectations and a rational plan, it makes sense to take it one project at a time and have different goals for each.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't think there's a line either. I think we all just do what's right for each book and us. That's kind of cool actually.

At this point, I'd probably not be published if it's not traditionally. With working full-time, I don't think I could handle what's required to be a self-published author.

Talli Roland said...

Nope, no line! I know many authors doing both - some who are published with the big guns, but also quietly released other projects on the side under different names, along with their backlist. As the industry evolves, I think more authors will be doing both.

Louise Bates said...

I'm looking at doing both, too. I have a few projects that I know would do better self-published, but I also have a couple that I think might work well in the traditional market. I think it's fantastic to be open to both ways of publishing, to not get locked into "only one right way for me" and instead look at each story individually, and see what's right for that.

As for the biggest self-publishing challenge for me? Honestly, it's all the technical stuff. Formatting, cover design, uploading ... makes me want to go cower in a corner. So very much not my area of knowledge or skill!

Em-Musing said...

Um, I'm with you. I want traditional publishing. I wish writers only had to worry about writing. You don't see athletes having to design and make their own uniforms and their equipment...they just play. I just to play!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know a lot of authors who have done both and successfully.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Members of my RWA chapter have been doing both successfully. Even the one who is succeeding huge time as a self pubbed author still wants to be traditionally published on day.

I'm still not sure if I'll do it yet. I write for teens and I don't know how many of them are reading self published books. If that didn't matter to me, I'd self publish. But I still prefer, even with all the negatives you hear about traditional publishing, to be published the traditional way. Not that it guarantees your book will end up in the bookstore, even with one of the Big 6.

Laura Pauling said...

I think the consensus is pretty much the same. The line blurs everyday so you can do both. :)

TC Avey said...

I think I feel like you. I'm open to self publishing but I really want to go the traditional route and that may mean years before it happens. In the meantime I love to write and I want to share what I write in hopes of touching others.

Look forward to what you may potentially self publish- I'm sure it will be worth reading!

Connie Keller said...

There are people who draw the line between the two, but it doesn't seem legitimate anymore. Especially since a lot of people are doing both. Self-pubbing makes sense because not every book will make the sales/money that traditional publishing needs to have. But that doesn't mean the book shouldn't be published.

BTW, I gave you the Versatile Blogger Award on my Merry Heart blog. (I hope you haven't had it before.)

Grammy said...

Hi,
AS you may (or may not know), I am doing a serialized story on my blog which follows up on one I did for the A to Z Challenge. I am writing each day, adding to it as I go. My grandson and his family gave me a gift card to publish it in a book form when I have completed what I want to write. How neat is that? So, as much as I would like to have it published by a big company, I know my family will be happy to have it published by any means. (I am 79 years old, btw. A little late to begin serious writing, eh?) I have been enjoying your blog for a long time. Best regards to you. Ruby

mshatch said...

like you I want to be traditionally published but I think some great points have been made about self-pub and/or doing both. The one thing I don't want to do is release anything of mine until it is ready, which is why I'm looking at the traditional route.

Old Kitty said...

I could never ever self publish only because I don't have the steely determination and strength of character to do so!! LOL!! And I'm so feeble I constantly seek validation - and for me - it's the traditional route that would do it! Take care
x

Julie Dao said...

I'm in the same boat, Katie. I think self-publishing is a terrific way to get books out there and I know it has worked for so many people. But I want to get published the traditional way. It's hard - but maybe that's why I love it. I love the challenge. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I will always stay open to self-publishing, though!

LTM said...

Oh, I totally foresee myself doing both. I have one thing going and then I have this other thing that's not going. The other thing'll probably get the SP treatment.

I don't know about the line, but I do like that we all have options! Best of luck w/your decisions!!! :o) <3

Katie said...

I think you should self-pub a project (maybe a novella) and see how you like it!! You might be surprised...I did that, just to "test the waters" while I continued to query my novel, and it worked out so well for me that now for the immediate future I'm just pursuing self-pub. I truly love it and find it very rewarding creatively (and hey, monetarily as well). And it's quite the challenge, so if anyone wants to do the "hard" thing, you're in luck. When you self-publish, you're both author and entrepreneur, and it's kind of a fun challenge to handle the marketing and distribution and have the creative control of the cover, layout, etc.

And...you could also see your book sold in French bookstores, if that is your dream. If you go the POD (print on demand) route for hard copies (POD is different than vanity publishing...you get paid royalties per sale just like with ebooks, and each copy is printed when a book is ordered by a customer, so no upfront printing cost), you can sell them on consignment in many physical bookstores. Also, Createspace (who I use for print copies) now prints in Europe and England, so nobody has to pay shipping from the US for print books anymore. Distribution is much more global now.

But yes, doing both is becoming a viable option, and I think it's going to be the way of the future for authors. Yay us! It's a win-win.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm still holding out. Probably like a fool, but who knows?

Liz Fichera said...

This is an excellent post. There's no reason why you can't do both anymore.

DL Hammons said...

I will say this, which I heard from several agents at the DFW Conference, if your considering SP before signing a traditional book contract you might want to consider doing so under a pen name. A SP book that performs poorly (less than a 2000 copies) could actually hurt your chances of signing a traditional contract because you'll already have a weak track record. But if you use a pen name, you mitigate that possibility. Make sense?

Nickie said...

I'm leaning towards only self-publishing. For me, the important thing is to tell a story. Do I need to see it in a bookstore? Not so much. If just one other person reads what I've written and enjoys it, I think I'll be satisfied. Does that make me an underachiever?

Carrie-Anne said...

I've always longed to be published traditionally, esp. since I started writing years before e-publishing existed and when self-publishing was one and the same as vanity publishing. I have been strongly leaning towards e-publishing for my superlong historical sagas, but haven't given up on the idea of finding an agent for my shorter historicals.

LD Masterson said...

I have the bookstore dream so I'm going to do everything I can to get published traditionally. That said, if I have something I'd like to put out there and see if it can float, I'm not against trying to do it myself.

KarenG said...

I love that there are so many options for writers now. And don't forget the small press! A way to be traditionally published with a print book to appear on bookstore shelves, many of which do not require agented submissions. Just like we don't write only one book, why should we try only one way to publish?

Jen Daiker said...

Self-publishing is even positively viewed within the agent world too. I know several authors who have books sold traditionally and self-published. It's amazing the world we live in now, so many options.

I used to want to see my book in stores so bad until I realized there is one thing I want more and I'm better at. Those on the television screens. Turns out sitcoms are a little more up my alley!

Nicole L Rivera said...

Hey Katie,

I'm feeling the same way you are. Whether I get a deal or not I still want to write and I still want to put my writing out there for whoever it will benefit.

I suppose the biggest block in my way is learning how to format and create a cover design so that when I upload my work it will be something I'm proud of both in the content of the story and in visual appeal. I haven't had the time to learn all the ins and outs of editing and formatting e-books and I don't have the money right now to pay someone else to do it.

That being said, I'm not opposed to learning if I need to. I pray that you will get that publishing deal and see your book on the shelves. I would so LOVE to read one of your books. Your blog has been one of my favs for a while now. I find reading about your journey uplifting and motivating. You keep on plugging away and I just know someone is going to wake-up and realize, "Man, why didn't we sign Katie earlier? What the heck we're we waiting for?"

Let me know when your first book comes out, even if it's self-pub. I'd LOVE to read it :)

Many blessings, and a happy vaca to the states!

D.G. Hudson said...

I feel the same. I plan to keep both options open. But trad publishing is still preferred.

Writers have to write. It's in our DNA. Enjoyed this post, Katie.

Ricky Bush said...

My debut murder mystery, River Bottom Blues, hit the market at the end of February. It was pubbed my a small press. The second in the series in due out in November. Small publishers have little in the way of resources as far as distribution goes. Book store signings have been due to my own efforts (I've had three)and most of my print sales have been by me. They provided excellent editing, formatting, and distributing to all the online venues. Self pubbing wouldn't be out of the question down the road, if I decide that want to deal with the things that my publisher provides for free.

Jenny Morris said...

I'm right where you are. I want to see it in that store. But I'm not closing my mind to other possibilities.

Jenny Morris said...

I'm right where you are. I want to see it in that store. But I'm not closing my mind to other possibilities.

Mina Lobo said...

I'm really thinking about self-publishing and what worries me most is coming up with the money for professional copy-editing and a gorgeous book cover. I need it (the book and the cover) to be beautiful and I really just don't know how I'm going to go about getting everything done to my exacting standards. Having noted all all that, I know that with self-publishing I'm in complete control of this book cover business, which would likely not be the case going the traditional route.
Some Dark Romantic

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I did everything backwards. (Self)Published a book. Then got a traditional contract. Then found an agent. Now I'm going through the process in the regular order: agent found me a contract and a book will be published. Whether this means I'm firmly on the traditional track remains to be seen. I suppose there are circumstances where I might self-publish again, but it certainly helps if I have traditionally published books to my name that might drive readers to my SP'd ones.

I can tell you that the traditional route is much slower, but that might be a good thing. I will name no names, but I have seen some self-pubbed books that are popped out way too fast and the quality just isn't there.

Just because you can do it FAST doesn't mean you SHOULD. It takes time to produce a quality book. (Time I know you've put in, Katie!)

Jericha Senyak said...

I've been thinking about this question a LOT as I finish my manuscript. Reading about the actualities of traditional publishing contracts is nightmarish: when I think about what the average author gets paid for a book they slaved over, I want to break things. But at the same time, I also desperately want a print copy of my book. I don't own an ereader. I might NEVER own an ereader. To me, a book is a beloved object. It's a question, for me, of how much a traditional publisher is willing to value my work: if they don't care about it and my contract sucks, why should I give them my work? Just seeing it in its physical manifestation might not be enough to balance the feeling that I've given it away.

So, I suppose, it's really becoming an individual, case-by-case thing for a lot of people. I just hope they leverage each other for good (traditional publishing bringing in standards of quality, self-publishing bringing in standards of royalty payments, maybe?) as opposed to bringing out the worst in each other.

prerna pickett said...

I'm a traditional kind of girl. It'll be a while before I see my book on actual shelves, but I think it's worth it.

Donna Hosie said...

No line! Most authors I know - including myself - are going for both. A writer's career is now in their hands, which I think is fabulous.

lbdiamond said...

I would LOVE to see my book on the bookshelves...in the meantime, I'm working with small presses to get my writing out there. Cuz I wanna share it with more people. :)

Elana Johnson said...

I think there are pros and cons to both avenues. There are some things my traditional publisher does really well -- covers, editing, distribution -- that I don't want to deal with. There are things about my traditional publisher -- and traditional publishing in general -- that are a bitter pill to swallow.

So enter self-publishing. Many things about it sounds enticing. More control over your cover! You get to set your price point, can give away lots of review copies for free, faster releases, just to name a few.

I think anyone who can produce quality work should be open to any avenue that will get their books out there to readers, no matter which avenue they travel. And sometimes, you can have one foot in traditional publishing and one on Indie Lane.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Yay, I'm still a big fan of the traditional route. I like the idea of having a great editor on my side and a bunch of professionals to make my book beautiful. Not to mention that I need the validation. Besides, I know I don't have the time or the creativity for the self-pubbed route. I'm not that multi-talented!

Botanist said...

I think there used to be a line, where self-pub was seen as being for those who couldn't get "properly" published.

Not sure how valid that ever was, but I think the line is vanishing now and writers are seeing that it's a choice - what is best for this work at this time?

Susanne Drazic said...

I like to think I'm keeping my options open for both right now. I'm learning all I can about the different aspects of publishing, with the hopes of being well informed when my time comes.

I do think it would be so cool to walk past a bookstore and see a book with my name on it sitting in their front window.

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