How can writers decide which type of publishing is right for them? Traditional publisher, smaller house, subsidy/vanity press, e-publishing, or self-publishing? Every writer must choose which type of publication adventure they want. There are no wrong choices. There are, however, wrong WAYS to make the choices. Here are 3 mistakes writers can make in choosing a publishing option:
1. Failing to do proper research.
The average reader lumps all books together. In my experience, local friends don’t distinguish my traditionally published book from an author friend who used a subsidy press. Our mutual friends proudly put us in the same category as “published authors” and are equally excited for both of us. They don’t examine our covers for our publishing house logos. They don’t understand the differences between our journeys to publication. And that’s okay. They have no need to.
But . . . a writer seeking publication SHOULD understand the differences completely and thoroughly. Before choosing a method of publication, every writer should do extensive research on all the options, look at the pros and cons of each one carefully, find other authors who’ve used particular publishers and ask them about their experiences. Choosing a publishing option is a very big decision with significant ramifcations for everything including editing, book covers, and marketing. We should go into our publication choice knowing exactly what the publisher offers and what we'll be responsible for shouldering.
2. Having wrong expectations.
When we started seeking publication, most of us had unrealistic expectations about the process, particularly of traditional publication (myself included). We finished our first book, jumped up and down with excitement, and knew the world would love it. We figured if only we could get our book in front of the right people, they’d ooh and aah over our original, creative, inspiring book.
When rejections began to roll in, we started to wonder what was wrong with publishers and agents. Surely something was messed up with the entire system if the professionals could so quickly and easily dismiss our works of greatness—often without even a word. We were tempted to get angry and bitter, and may have even said something like, “With all of the mediocre books on the shelves, surely mine deserves a spot.”
If we reach that point, first we need to evaluate if we have a realistic view of our own writing. We should get a qualified and objective view on our books from someone who is willing to be honest about our skill and story (consider the possibility of a freelance editor). And second, we should make sure we’re immersing ourselves in the publishing industry so that we can have a better perspective on the realities of the business.
3. Giving up too soon.
I respect those who take the time to investigate all of the options and choose what is best for them and their book, no matter where that leads. However, many writers start down the road to traditional publication without weighing what is best for them. Often traditional publication is the default choice. The problem with this way of thinking is that when things start to get rough (and they will), many writers give up the traditional route and head down other avenues, in some ways sending the message that non-traditional methods are Plan B, sub-standard, and last-resort. And is that what we really want?
So first, I think everyone should do their research and decide which type of publication fits best. For those who choose traditional publication, we won’t have the choice to give up when the wait begins to be interminable, when the rejections pour in, when the door seems like it keeps slamming in our face. We’ll continue to persevere on the path that we think is best for us.
Of course, everyone has the right to change their minds, to explore new options, to re-evaluate what works for their story. But . . . all too often writers give up on traditional publication because the going gets rough, when really they needed to stick it out, give it more time and effort, and continue to grow in their writing skills and story-telling ability.
~Summary: The beauty of the publishing industry today is that there are so many choices available for all of us, choices that can fit our unique interests and stories. But I firmly believe every writer needs to choose WISELY.
Do you agree or disagree with my logic? Do you think that some writers choose publishing options unwisely, based on lack of research, faulty expectations, or giving up too soon? What method of publication have you chosen? And have you thought through the decision carefully?