The road for an author splits into two at some point: traditional publishing, versus self-publishing. The writer has to make a choice, and follow through.
I took the decision to go self-published after a lot of thinking. I never even tried to send a manuscript to agents or publishers, because I had heard of the awful rate of success for people doing so. I didn’t want to waste months, or years, chasing after people who only take 1 to 3% of the requests.
I figured, should I one day produce a killer, best selling book (one can dream), then I might change my mind, but in the meantime, I don’t want to write for rejection only and discard all my hard work at the bottom of a cupboard or in the recess of a USB key.
I am also getting some experience through my readers. Their reviews show me the areas I need to work on, and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. How could I get that if I didn’t expose my work to the masses, but only to a bunch of people who might not even offer any word of advice? I think most readers are savvy enough to point out what an agent would as well, and to me, their opinions reflect a more realistic view of the market. I will not insist on the well known story of best selling authors getting turned down by agents many times. Everyone knows that. See my point?
Another key aspect that made me choose self-publishing was the marketing aspect. In all my naivety, I believe that agent equalled squat to do for marketing, they did all the hard work, and you could concentrate on the job at hand: writing. But oh no. Unless you are a very famous author, marketing still falls down to you (and even then, successful authors have to put themselves out there, though to a lesser degree.)
I think marketing is the most complicated, back breaking, sweat producing aspect of an author’s life. I don’t like it one bit. Do any of us do, in all honesty.
Take Twitter for example. At first, I followed a few people, and I could read every single one of their tweets, which was great, because if I follow someone, it means I am genuinely interested in what they have to share. Then I realized I had to increase my following/followers crew. I’m still picky in my choices, hence why I’m still far from the 000’s most Twitterers (Twitterers?) follow. But now, because I passed the 00’s, I am overwhelmed with the amount of tweets. I miss 80% of them because it would take me forever to read all of them. How can I follow someone if I can never read what they share?? And can they see my tweets when they already follow three thousand others?
I wish I could pick my favourites as well, and have their posts come out on top of my feed. If this is possible, please feel free to tell me how!
The only disadvantage of a self-pubber is the amount of money we have to fork out upfront. Our books are products. They need investment, from editing, to advertising and promoting. And the return is…yeah. I’m thinking long-term investment, it sits better with my thrifty nature!
How did you make the decision yourself to go traditional or self-published? Have you changed your mind since?