Self-Pub vs. Traditional

So when I decided to start this blog, I wanted to take a look at all of the things that concern me these days, and publishing is near to the top. I’ve joined a bunch of writing groups, and I’ve subscribed to some magazines for writers, and I’ve tried to figure out where I fit in the “new” world of publishing.

I’m still working on that one.

The thing is…I’m traditional. And easily overwhelmed. I like the idea of finding an agent (I already have one in mind) and having her go through the selling of my manuscript and negotiating my contract. I like the idea of professionals having a say in cover art. I like the idea of having a publishing house do the publicity and promotion, even though I know I’ll need to do a lot of work in those areas, too.

However, the more I read about self-publishing, the more my curiosity is piqued. Especially when I read about agents and editors becoming increasingly interested in writers with an online readership. I’m certainly not averse to that! I like that the self-publishing community is active and vocal (though of course, there’s some wading through to be done there). I like the idea of finding people who have done it successfully so that I can try to figure out my own path.

I think that path will include straddling both traditional and self-publishing worlds. I’m not sure, exactly, how I’ll manage that one, but it seems to be the most interesting route. Check back in as this plan develops!

Any thoughts from anyone out there? Pros and/or cons to my plan?


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Diana P. George on September 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I suspect that, if done well, self-publishing can’t hurt, and might even bring success. And success would empower a writer not only to attract attention from traditional publishing entities, but also to resist those who would like to publish a work . . . if the word count is cut in half, the main character’s name is changed, and all mentions of XYZ Corporation, which happens to be the publisher’s parent company, are expunged. I am fairly sure that if I were to set out to publish, I’d do so on my own–although, should my employment history include a stint with a well-known publisher that has a trade division, I would also attempt to capitalize upon that connection.


    • I think the thing that’s keeping me from jumping into self-publishing is all of the promotion/marketing. I don’t have any experience in doing so, and I tend to be very short and direct (see: every single post I’ve written thus far!). The authors I’ve seen that are really into promotion are the type of person I’ve never been…chatty and very able to talk themselves and their work up.

      I’m curious about why you’d publish on your own, Diana. Any thoughts? I also *love* that last half of your last sentence. Now you’ve really got me thinking! Thanks!


      • Successful self-publishing is all about finding your audience via social media and becoming their friend. It’s not as much talking about your book–though they should know there is one–as it is talking about your shared interest. Then when your book is released, they will want to buy it because they know you, and they know you as someone who has a voice on that subject.

        I’ve loved getting to know the online Jane Austen community. There are some fabulous people out there. I even started a website with one of them! I’m releasing my book in mid-November, and they’re almost as excited as I am.


        • Nancy, I think for you and your work, self-publishing is perfect–because you write for an extremely niche audience. I do not mean that as a put down; good for you for finding your voice, your audience, and friends through social media and for pursuing what you want to do.

          As for me? I’m trying to figure out exactly where my book fits. It’s literary fiction and it’s women’s fiction; yet the men who have read what I’ve written like it, and have asked to see more. I’m also trying to figure out exactly where I want my book to go–I don’t think it’s so much a fight between self-publishing and traditional publishing as it is my wanting both and trying to figure out what goes where.

          Have you seen this? Please note before clicking: The language is horrible! But it made me laugh and it made me think a lot.


      • Posted by Lisa on September 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

        It can be an interesting conundrum as far a self-publishing and access vs. ease idea that exists.

        My aunt has been writing books for about the last 10 years on topics that could be considered both a niche market or have mass market appeal with a big push from a major publisher. She is an MD–general practitioner who has down extensive research how diet and lifestyle can help prevent cancer. She tried for a few years to to the traditional publishing route, and in fact had two dropped contracts with publishing houses. She finally created her own publishing house (which was her own home), and successfully sell-published three different titles. Her titles were available a book stores and on amazon.

        After all this, another major traditional publisher based on the success her success with self-publishing. I guess this is my long-winded way is that sometimes the options are so divergent and even sometimes you’ll have to play all those extra roles of promoter, lecturer, ambassador, manager, etc when you try the self-publishing route.


        • Hey, Lisa! I forgot about your aunt’s business–I think we’ve talked about her publishing company before. What you’ve said in your last sentence is certainly true of any author these days: a writer cannot simply write these days. Although it’s been true for a long while that a writer has to promote his/her own work, there are just so many new ways of doing so! That’s what makes my head spin, and I think I need to get a handle on all of it, as do self-published authors and those who go the traditional route.


  2. Posted by Diana P. George on September 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    If you’re ever interested, I could help you with promotion. I have had on-the-job PR training over the years and launched some successful campaigns . . . and when I want a job, I always get it. Being direct and to-the-point is not a drawback, but rather something you can use to your advantage. Why would I publish on my own? For complete control, of course: To create something written, produced, and starring me, myself, and I. Without embarrassing typographical errors that might make me disinclined to include a piece in a portfolio.


  3. Oh, yes! I am very interested, Diana! Let’s talk very soon. I think you’re right that I can use my directness to my advantage, but I’m just unsure about how to go about doing so. (And I think you might be a lot braver than I am, as far as self-publishing goes.)


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