But getting right to it, the key is research.
Research, research, research. When I started all of this, I had no idea about anything when it came to publishing. And all I had was myself. I didn’t have writer friends until later on, and my creative writing UWG professors were beyond unhelpful nor supportive.
So it was me and the internet. Any question I had, I typed it into Google and hunted for the information I needed. I ended up reading a lot of author blogs, and how-to posts. Also, I read books for writing and publishing, such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published, Steering the Craft by Ursula K Le Guin, and Stephen King’s On Writing. I also stockpiled writing books such as John Gardner’s On Becoming A Novelist, Elizabeth George’s Write Away and Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer.
I found this post here, which is a great one about the differences between indie/self-publishing and traditional publishing, including the pros and cons of each. I’d like to add however that the two avenues of publishing are both valid and one isn’t “better” or more “real” or “professional” than the other. They have the same goal, to publish a book and they both accomplish that goal. Whether its indie or traditional, either way, a book gets published and that’s the end result we all want. So there’s no need to pretend that traditional publishing is more official or more respectable than indie publishing.
With that out of the way, it really boils down to personal choice, and it varies author by author.
For me, after all of my research, it became outstandingly clear that indie publishing was the way I wanted to go. Mainly because I felt the traditional publishing route had a few major flaws in it, and I decided I was willing to pay for my book rather than go through agents and slush piles and signing contracts.
So yes, I paid for everything that you see on The Other Side. The book cover design, I paid a book cover designer through the custom freelance design site Design Crowd. I paid for the copyright of the book and for the ISBN. I had to do research to find out how and where to do these things.
Research, research, research.
Don’t make major decisions after reading one article on the web. Read as much literature as you can. I for one, wish I had done more research on self-publishing platforms. I saw that Amazon had a self-publish link on their site, and went for it without further ado.
Afterwards, I realized Ingram Spark would have been the better choice, and I intend to go with them for my future books.
The same goes with understanding how editing works. Beta-reading is very good but it doesn’t replace copy editing or line editing. Jenna Moreci, self-published author and Booktuber, talks about the pros and cons of self-publishing as well as the pros and cons of traditional publishing if you want to watch videos, she curses but is still very informative. In Jenna’s video 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice, at the time stamp 2:50, Jenna says a line that I wish I heard earlier in my career.
“An unedited book is an unfinished book.”
My book is not unedited. I revised and edited The Other Side over and over. I also had an incredible beta reader, Tira. What I’m actually getting at is that I’ve never heard of copy editing or line editing, and by the time I figured that all out, The Other Side was up on Amazon.
Once more, it’s all about researching.
I found out what I preferred by researching. I want complete creative control over my work, as from what I’ve seen, traditional publishing houses maintain creative control over a writer’s work. They can change anything they want about it, from the title, the content and how it ends. With self-publishing, I decide every single thing.
That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to advice or don’t take criticism well. Because I do listen to advice and I much prefer constructive criticism than praise, which I’ll definitely talk about another time.
My main basic tenets for choosing indie publishing is that creative control is mine, and business decisions are mine and as well, I get more money from the sale of my book than if I went with a traditional publisher. And for that matter, because I’ll pay for the marketing and the book cover designs and copy/line edits, what the book looks like and its content are up to me. Like I said, traditional publishers retain control over every aspect of the final outcome of the book, the publishers have the final say.
I have the final say with self publishing. There’s also the process of traditional publishing that I don’t really care for. I don’t like the agents and the query letter, rejection slips and the slush pile. This isn’t to say it’s because I’m “afraid” I won’t make it. I actually just don’t like the idea of someone telling me that my work isn’t good enough to be published and refuse to do so. I only think about the hundreds of writers who have amazing novels they wrote locked up in file cabinets unpublished because someone else told them it won’t sell. I’d pretty sure there are readers out there willing to read it.
Traditional publishers are looking to make money, not share great stories. Self-publish your work instead, just make sure it’s in the best form as possible and you’ve built an author platform and gathered an audience first.
So that’s all for me. Just a closing statement is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to publish. It’s about what is the best fit for you. Do the research, and decide for yourself. There’s also no need to stick to one route to publish your entire career either. I still figure in the future if I’m offered the right deal for a certain book I may decide to sign a contract. Or maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll stick with self-publishing going forward.
Are there any published authors or wanna-be published writers out there? How did you decide which avenue of publishing you took? Or are you still deciding? Share your story below in the comments!
See you in Part 4 where I talk about Design. Book cover, bookmarks, and setting up my author website that you’re reading on right now. And yes, it all cost money!
But it was totally worth it.
And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.