An interesting article in the May 2017 issue of The Writer Magazine asks the question “Should getting published always be the ultimate goal?” (Joel Fishbane, p. 5) He points out Harper Lee’s 1960 best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird which stood alone in her list of literary credits until over 50 years later. I also seem to remember that Margaret Mitchell never published again after Gone with the Wind.
Authors, especially those new to the publishing game, hear the advice, “Start writing your next novel immediately”. Personally, I always have something going, but I don’t always have publication uppermost in my mind.
In the first flush of delight over having a novel accepted by publisher, I couldn’t wait to get that second contract. The third and fourth novels were only slightly less wondrous events. Then I waited probably four years before submitting a fifth. In the meantime, however, I was busy trying my hand at indie/self-publishing, which started out to be the main topic of this blog. So, I’ve digressed, and now it’s time to get back on track!
Traditional or Indie Pub?
Let’s jump ahead a few pages in the above-mentioned magazine and talk about “Going Rogue: Is self-publishing right for you?” by Kerrie Flanagan. She breaks down the traditional publishing model and then the self-publishing model with factual as well as thoughtful insights into each one. I’d recommend this article for newbies especially, but it holds insights for those of us who have been around the block before.
My personal preference was being traditionally published before trying my hand at indie publishing. If nothing else, it gave me confidence that what I write is worth reading. And, with almost no marketing, The Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series (6 books) amazed me by selling at a phenomenal rate. I plunged ahead with a second three-book romantic suspense series, The Dreamland Series and several stand-alones which unfortunately did not mimic Penelope in sales. However, I learned a great deal about writing/publishing/marketing and continue to keep indie publishing as a viable option.
Not wanting to sever ties with my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, I submitted a fifth book, also a delight to hold in my hands, and two “shorts” to Solstice which had been recommended to me by a friend. The novel currently in edits, The Legacy of Diamond Springs is destined to go the indie publishing route, as is Keeping Promises which is in the hands of a beta reader.
The choice of traditional or indie is one which must be made by the individual writer, but it’s not a black or white thing. One can do both, and I think both models offer their own distinct advantages based on what the author wants/expects as an outcome for a particular piece.
Know what’s going on!
For newbies (as well as oldies) I’d offer the quite obvious sage advice of knowing everything about a publisher before you sign on the dotted line. Preditors and Editors is the go-to site for the skinny on such. Unfortunately, they’re on something of a sabbatical until they can find new leadership. However, following the link will lead you to more helpful links. Just remember--you wouldn’t hire someone to remodel your house without checking with the Better Business Bureau to see if they’re legit. The same goes for places where you submit your babies (written words)!
I’d also recommend learning everything you can before you start down the indie-publishing road. At the same time, if you become overwhelmed (especially with the technical aspects), don’t throw up your hands in despair and say, “I can’t do this.” You can. I did, an so did innumerable others.
After ten years, I’ve evolved from “I have to get this published” to “I’m enjoying writing this”. You have to decide why you want to write, and your reasons may change as mine did. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something which gives you pleasure and satisfaction--and remember, those are things you make for yourself. No one else can do it.
1 The Top Ten Resources for Self-Publishing Authors (with internal links)