Recently I have joined some writing groups on Facebook. And they’re great. I love the community and the advice from all of the people. I love being able to connect with and find relatable things with complete strangers. And most importantly, I love talking about writing.
One thing that I’ve noticed in these groups is that a lot of the people are extremely adamant about self-publishing their books. Some are so resolute about their position that they will always suggest for people to self-publish, even if they’re looking for traditional publishing advice.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with self-publishing. I self-publish content twice a week on this blog. I think it’s an excellent avenue for people to get their books out there. The problem that I find is that not a lot of people seek out a freelance Copy Editor and Designer, so their work is extremely flawed.
Here are the reasons why I choose to not self-publish:
1) Hiring a Copy Editor and Designer
Although I am a strong writer, a thorough editor, and a talented designer I believe that a second pair of eyes on my work always helps. I believe that strong pieces of work cannot happen in isolation.
If I were to self-publish I would still hire a freelance Copy Editor and Art Director to look over my work, fix errors, and make suggestions for improvement. But this an extra cost for myself and I currently don’t have the money for that. Maybe one day when I can afford to hire freelance publishing professionals then I will reconsider.
2) Marketing the Book
When you self-publish, you can miss out on great opportunities for book marketing. Traditional publishers will do the marketing with you. They already have a following and are actively building a following for all of their books. In addition, you have the chance of being part of a book launch for the company. I know a lot of people that buy books at the launches because they hear an excerpt read and want to read more.
I know I could probably market my own but it can be exhausting trying to build a following on your own. I value the company’s skills and the time the people in marketing spent training for it. As well as their ability to think of unique ways to get books noticed.
3) Building a publishing portfolio
The reason that I created this blog was to showcase my writing skills and interests to future employers in an organic way. I want to pursue a career in book or magazine publishing, which means being surrounded by writing and content all of the time. I want it to demonstrate my ability and desire to be published. I want to start conversations with people about writing and about their interests. My blog is my way of quickly and easily publish my work online.
So, for me, traditional publishing is a way for me to showcase that I understand what a piece takes to be published. It demonstrates that other people appreciate my work and the skills that it took to create a piece of work. I want my portfolio to showcase that I know how to post articles online and get fiction published into established (or establishing) businesses.
4) A Strong Desire for Feedback and Criticism
I’m a rare type of writer who actually craves people’s feedback on my work. I may not always agree with it but I appreciate honest and constructive criticism. I know I’m not perfect. Having someone else do a substantial edit on your work is so beneficial. There could be plot holes or inconsistencies. Or you could have missed a chance to foreshadow later events. There are so many things you won’t notice in your own work. And I desire this type of feedback.
It’s why I value my writing friends so much. They provide me with the same type of feedback as a traditional publisher (once your manuscript is accepted). It’s a great feeling and would love to experience it in a professional situation rather than educational.
5) No Fear of Rejection
Traditional publishing gives you validation that is missing in the self-publishing market. It’s nice for someone to read your work and want to take the risk on you and your writing. My fiction stories are super personal to me, even the ones that aren’t a reflection of my real life. I can only imagine the incredible feeling of having someone want to publish your work.
I think the reason why some people choose to self-publish is because they fear rejection. And it’s scary. I have submitted to several different journals and have received a handful of rejections so far. But it doesn’t scare me. To be honest, I give do a self high-five when my Submittable account informs me that I received a rejection. Why? Because it means that I tried.
I don’t fear rejection. I believe in my work and that it is publishable. But I may just not be submitting to the right places. Maybe my work just doesn’t fit the theme. Maybe my piece was good but there were better ones submitted that time. It could be so many different things. But it doesn’t mean that my writing is bad. It just means I need to be patient and wait for the right person to read my work.
I have yet to receive a rejection with feedback but will be thrilled when that happens. I’m always interested to know why someone decided not to publish me. But you can’t always know. But I definitely look forward to hearing feedback on why I didn’t get published.
Traditional publishing may be a harder and longer route but it is worth it. I will be published one day. There is one Star Wars quote that always keeps me motivated:
"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."
What is your opinion of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?