Two Doors

I think we can all agree that the development of technology in our modern culture has opened the publishing door wider, spurring more people to pursue writing in one form or another.

But what does that mean for writers today?

If we keep the analogy of the door, then I would say there are two main doors: a door marked non-traditional publishing and one labeled traditional publishing. Because of the wide open doors, both have seen an influx of writers. But let's look at each door separately for a moment.

Door #1 non-traditional publishing: In one sense writing has never been easier; anyone who wants to write can stroll through this door. This includes blogs, e-books, self-publishing, or small publishing companies. Writers usually don't need to wait in line, pay dues, find the right connections, or search for an agent to move them ahead of the others.

Door #2 traditional publishing: This door opens to the world of big name publishing companies like Zondervan, Tyndale, Harlequin, HarperCollins, etc. The door to traditional publishing is open wider than ever before, but the line to get in is phenomenally long. Writers usually have to bide their time, pay dues (i.e. conferences), make connections, and fight to find an agent who can help them in.

Many writers standing in line for door #2, traditional publishing, get fed up with the long wait. Days and months, even years pass waiting in line. While waiting we may feel like we have to jump through hoops, smooze the right people, and draw attention to ourselves--all in the name of getting closer to that door.

What door are you trying to get through, non-traditional publishing or traditional? And why are you choosing that door? I'm curious to know which way you're headed and why!


  1. traditional publishing.

    I can so see where many writers could get their stuff out there in non-traditional ways, but the facts are for a FICTION writer, it's going to be harder to sell to the masses in a non-traditional way. Books need to be in bookstores, not on my personal bookshelf at home.

    I"m not completely against small-pubs, because I think if you publish with them and are able to get decent sales numbers, it would increase your ability to get sold to a trad. publisher, but for self-publishing, almost the opposite is true.

    I'm not an overly patient person, but I figure the longer I wait, others will drop out, and hopefully I'll get closer to the front of the line soon enough!

  2. Excellent analogy, Jody.

    I'm standing in line for the traditional publishing, because it's the goal I've set for myself. Because I know I can do it. And I've always been traditional in nature. :)

  3. Krista: It looks hard even for traditional publishing to make the sales especially with the growing competition. I can't imagine how much harder it would be to sell with non-traditional publishing!

    Janna: You have such great confidence! I wish you could bottle a little bit of it and send it my way!

  4. Traditional. I'm of the thinking, you don't know until you try. So I'll try, and I'll try, and I'll try. :D

    Good Tuesday to You!
    ~ Wendy

  5. I'm going traditional because I'd like to try to make some sort of career out of this. I think a career would be more difficult with non-traditional.
    I love writing but have never cared if anyone read what I wrote until I decided that I want to make a teensy bit of money doing what I love. LOL We'll see if it happens. :-)
    Great questions Jody!

  6. Wendy: The long traditional line definitely takes patience and perseverance!

    Jessica: A teensy bit of money wouldn't be a bad thing! Although yesterday on Between the Lines blog, Wendy Lawton encouraged writers not to quit their day jobs! So I guess we can't count on making too much!

  7. I don't think I would ever self-publish--I value the feedback of traditional publishers and editors who have been in the business and know what good writing is. I need that I guess so that's the route I'm going.

  8. You may not like my answeer, but oh well.
    I am doing both. Trying to get my work in the hands of traditional publishers and also considering self publishing and ebooks, internet, whatever.
    I think both doors are valid. The goal for me is to glorify God with whomever He chooses, as He leads.
    I know an award winning author who self pubbed his last book because his agent (a well known, excellent agent) shopped it for ten years with no takers. And the book is excellent! I am teaching it in my Sunday School class.
    Sometimes traditional publishers have to be narrow minded, based on the martket. But, if your idea does not fit that, and you believe it's from the Lord, it's okay to branch out and do it yourself.
    You may touch a life that changes the world!

  9. Good morning Jody. I'm sipping coffee and thinking about your post.

    This one's easy for me to answer. Traditional all the way! I've been blessed (or maybe cursed? heh-heh!) with a specific vision of what I want, and part of that vision incluses me walking into a major bookstore and seeing my books on the shelves.

    I remind myself that the authors who already have books on shelves didn't have it easier; they just persevered.

    Have a great day!

  10. Traditional publishing here too. I've always felt that if I'm going to write a book, this was the path I'd want, to be working with a team at a publishing house. Also having the support of a publisher in marketing and promoting the book is important. I know that an author is expected to do much on her own, but in self-publishing, that support of a big house is just not there.

  11. Terri: I'm sure traditional editors can give great feedback. Do you think they're better at that than non-traditional editors?

    Jeanette: Your answer makes a TON of sense, especially for a nonfiction writer. The self-publishing door may in fact help to build a platform that could open more of the traditional doors down the road. Great thoughts!

    Jill: I love that dream! Wouldn't that be great to walk into the bookstore and see your book right there, at the front of the store? Dreams. . .*sigh*

    Joanne: It will be interesting in the years to come to see how much more work authors in traditional pub have to do to market their work. Do you ever think it will increase to the point of non-traditional marketing?

  12. Both. :)

    Becaue I love to write. Period.

  13. Primarily traditional because I'm a traditional kind of gal. ;) Really, self-publishing is not for me, at least not at this time. It requires energy and resources I'm not sure I can muster at the moment. Maybe when the boys are older, and the traditional publishers have spurned me? I dunno. But I love that non-traditional publishing is growing and evolving.

  14. Jill: I know you published your first book with Samhain. Would you consider that a small press similar to White Rose?

    Patricia: Maybe someday non-traditional will have evolved so much that they'll become as hard to get into as traditional. It will be interesting to see what happens!

  15. Hey Jody! Now how is it that I didn't know you had this writing blog?? I'd have been here weeks ago! :)

    You pose such a good question; my answer is traditional. I've done some dabbling in the research of non-traditional publishing and found myself overwhelmed and worried that I'd somehow end up financially or legally in trouble. Perhaps part of that is from a lack of understanding...perhaps it's just fear. The traditional route seems much safer. I love guidance.

    Having said that, I am itching to publish some of the things I've already finished, even as I continue to write more. So maybe I need to take the risk and try a non-traditional route.

  16. When I get in that line-up it will likely be the traditional. Why? Because I'm a traditionalist? Serioulsy, I guess it's because the line I really want to write for is in the traditional line. Steeple Hill LI. But starting out in the vanity, which is still somewhat tough to get into, might be a route to go, too. I need to check into that one more when I feel the time is right.

  17. I am going with nontraditional right now. I've paid a fair amount of money for editing, etc. I've even had editing done on the editing done by the self-publishing company (it was a very poor job).

    Marketing, as you discussed with Krista, will be a challenge.

    I think nontraditional publishing can be successful if
    1) We make sure the book is edited thoroughly. I've seen some self-publishing books with so many obvious mistakes that I was embarrassed for the author.

    2) Have a definite marketing plan in mind. I have several avenues I will be persuing.

    Still, the project is "iffy," but I'm willing to risk it.

  18. I'm going to stand in line for the traditional door. Even though my father is dangling a carrot in front of my face and telling me he will pay for Iuniverse. We had my grandmother's book about creative thinking published through Iuniverse, so he sees as a way of getting out there quickly. She always said someday I will, but never did. So we did it for her as a a gift the year before she passed away. I've been meaning to do a post about her book. Thanks for the reminder.

    I want to be in the mainstream, have the help traditional publishing provides even though I may have to jump through a lot of hoops, but willing to pay the dues. I really don't feel like I'll be taken seriously otherwise. Don't want to self publish just to say "hey, look at me, I wrote a book."

  19. I'm aiming big. Not only do I want the traditional route, but I want to land a big NY publisher. Start big, I say.

    Lynnette Labelle

  20. Bekah: I'm so glad you stopped by! How fun to reconnect with you and share this love of writing!! I'd love to know more of what you're writing these days! I'll have to swing by your blog and "chat" with you some more.

    Eileen: I'm still not quite sure what vanity is. I've heard it explained, but with varying ideas. Is it basically a small publishing house that prints on demand?

    Warren: I totally agree with your two points. I've seen some self-published books too that make me cringe. As I mentioned with Jeanette, I think that for non-fiction, self-pub could be a great platform builder if done right.

    Robin: Right now, most agents and editors don't take self-pub seriously. Maybe the long line for traditional publishing weeds out those writers who don't take the writing life as seriously as others?

    Lynette: I love to dream big too! I guess we just have to keep on working on writing the knockout book!

  21. Wow, there are a bunch of traditional fans here. I kind of feel in the minority. The publishing house I am with is small. It's not a self-publisher but it is non-traditional in the sense that they don't do advances. Neither do they charge fees, however. They also help with marketing and the editor worked for Tyndale as a senior editor--she also has a plethora of other credits behind her name.

    There is a lot of respect that comes with being published by one of the larger, as you said "traditional" houses, like Tyndale or Zondervan but for me this option came out of nowhere and still seemed to fit perfectly. I am excited to see where my publishing company goes from where they started and where it will take me on its journey.

  22. Hi Jody,

    I'm pursuing traditional publication, period. In the meantime, I'm working on platform, platform, platform. :)

  23. Although in the long run I'm aiming for traditional publication, until that happens I'm not shutting any doors. I don't know about self-publishing, but starting with a small publisher is definitely a route I would consider.

  24. As of now I'm in line at the traditional door. Maybe I'll go the other route one day, but not looking in that direction just yet.

  25. Cindy: You are paving the way ahead of some of us! We'll be watching you and seeing how the small publishing works. And maybe someday as it grows, we will no longer diffentiate between traditional and non! Who knows?

    Julie: Platform is huge, especially for nonfiction! I don't envy that in the least!

    Kate: Smaller publishing houses are definitely a way to start building a readership. I guess the question is, how long do you want to wait in line for the traditional publishing before starting to pursue other options?

    Chelle: Join the crowd! It seems most of us are in the traditional line! No wonder it's so long! :)

  26. Oooo...oooo..put me in that long line too! Of course, by the time I ever get something publishable, maybe the line will be a bit shorter. Maybe not! Either that on ebooks will be sooooo the rage that I'll go that route. Who knows?

  27. Hi Sherrinda,
    I think you're being a bit hard on yourself!! You're a great story teller! Craft can be learned and we all need to grow in it. But I'm not sure everyone knows how to weave a good story. I think that takes some gifting and I know you have it! Keep plugging away! You'll get there!


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