Friday, June 24, 2011

Self-Publishing v. Traditional Publishing

My husband is a Bloomberg Radio addict.  All of our AM dials are set to 1130 so that no matter what car he's in, he had immediate access to the latest broadcast of financial information.  It's gotten to the point where my kids cry out, "No Bloomberg, Daddy!"  Despite the controversy, every once in a while I get in a mood where I like to check out what the Bloomberg has to say.

The publishing industry is a hot topic, especially after the Borders bankruptcy.  There's a lot of talk about e-publishing versus traditional publishing, the percentage of people who own e-readers, and the percentage of book sales that are e-books versus paper books.  I add it to the information I have about the benefits for authors of self-publishing over traditional publishing.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a self-publishing company that I had contacted a while back.  They send me emails constantly, and I usually blow them off when they call my house.  On this particular day I decided to stop the calls by politely informing the man on the line that I had decided to go the traditional publishing route for now, with self-publishing being my Plan B.  He thanked me for my time and ended the call.  That solved that, I thought, happy to finally stop the periodic, inconveniently-timed calls.

That's what I thought.

Within an hour I had a looooong email in my inbox detailing for me the perils of traditional publishing, my relative chances of winning the lottery compared to being picked up by a traditional publishing house, and the lost income I would suffer if I settled for inferior royalties.  It took me every red light on the way home to get through the darn thing.  But the message got under my skin.

I'm pretty clear on where I stand.  I'm a publishing snob.  I want the satisfaction of saying that I'm good enough to be picked up by a traditional publisher.  I want to look back on the years of work and say, "See?  It was worth it."

But it's more than just that.  I am not a professionally trained writer.  I think I'm good, and people who read my work think it's good, but what would a professional editor say?  There are two ways to find out.  Hire one out of pocket, or be chosen for representation.

Maybe I've got my priorities mixed up, but financially, I can't afford to hire a professional editor right now.  Maybe if I could, I'd go the self-publishing route.  I've had numerous requests for my book from people who have read snippets and want to see more, but I'm hesitant to put too many electronic copies out there.  The whole thing could change once viewed by a professional and I may end up rewriting significant sections.  I'd rather keep it small until I know I have the official finished product.

I'm not quite sure how to go about the marketing, either, and I'm worried if I create a lot of hype now, people will be desensitized once it's published (regardless of the route).  I want to get the energy and momentum going at the right time and in the right direction.  Again, out of pocket if I go it alone.

However... the instant gratification of having my work out there, available for consumption, is tempting.  The possibility that the quality may suffer is what's not acceptable.

So for now, I'll close my eyes to the warnings in the well intended email I received, and stay my course as a publishing snob.  I have many more weeks of waiting to go before I start hearing back from the agents I queried. In the mean time, between work, home, and writing, I have plenty of things to keep my mind occupied.

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