When I get this question:
Do you ever see yourself self-publishing? Why or why not?
This is my answer.
I’m a go-big-or-go-home personality, so I HAVE TO TRY for my own sake. It’s a ME THING. I want to know that I am good enough, that an agent looks at what I have and says, “Yes, this works and let’s sell this baby!” Now this reason might be silly and it really isn’t a good one for a lot of people, but for me, it is. I like the idea of being vetted—I suppose. I like the idea of seeing my books on shelves, in stores, etc. And I get that those dreams can be accomplished via self publishing. I do.
Self publishing has its perks—100% of the profits are yours. That alone can and could say it all. Money speaks to EVERYONE. Also, you have complete control. Another thing others love. It’s hard to turn it over to someone else when it comes to covers and titles and edits. But for me, those two things aren’t a big deal. With the right agent, it’s a team effort toward the same dream.
Any one can self publish. It’s a flood gate for anyone to step through, and sadly, there is a lot of garbage that fits through that width. Now, certainly, there is some wonderful material that is self-published and should be celebrated and promoted, because it’s awesome. That said, traditionally publishing narrows that flood gate, screening the work before it gets through. And not all traditionally published material is awesome. Getting through those doors or windows isn’t impossible, but tougher. And for those that go big, key holes. They’re getting through key holes!
An agent, an editor, a team, etc. knows what it is going to take to get a book sold and they have their thumb on the vein—they feel the pulse of the industry, and that’s huge, to me. Self promoting one’s work is certainly going to be a part of the business, regardless of which route you go, and since there are varying degrees within publishing, from the big wigs to a small press, the same goes for the amount of marketing on my part. To say I won’t have to do marking if I traditionally publishing is kind of a lie. But what I do like is the idea of building a brand, with a professional team behind me.
I’ve personally met agents, sat through classes and meetings with them, shared laughs and drinks with them, and while I know not all agents are created equal, and I am absolutely an Agent Advocate due this kind of interaction. I’ve gained immeasurable lessons from these experiences. Even after doing a huge Revise and Resubmit with an agent, which ultimately ended in a rejection, I learned something. That I can do hard things.
I watch their careers from afar, aka Twitter and such, partly out of awe, but mostly to see if what I write would be a good fit, if it’s on their Wishlist. It’s amazing and encouraging when they promote a book I’ve heard of, too. They’re behind their authors.
I also know they’re not super humans who can make my book a best seller over night with a movie deal on the side. They’re human beings, who have deadlines to meet, eat left-overs while reading through their slush piles in hopes of finding something that they will fall in love with and can sell, and you know, work hard to keep their job. They love books and the craft, and they get rejections from editors, and have to reject authors. It’s demanding and it’s not all rainbows and book signings. Heck, I haven’t got the slightly clue what muck they wade through, I just know there is some. Lots, probably.
But sometimes, it is book signings, and contracts, and deals. And sometimes, it’s even more that that. Sometimes.
So for now, I trust my gut.
And it’s saying not to give up that dream yet. It says that I’ll know when, and if, I should shut the window and try the door, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll be ready for the flood gates.
And so that we’re clear, I can cheer on my author friends who chose to self publish, just as much as I can champion those who do make it with an agent at their side. Your path is not my path. My journey is mine, mistakes and all.
And, ultimately, I think traditionally publishing is possible with hard work, lots of editing, dedication, commitment, and a little luck. And it helps if you have one hell of a story.