Both books had small print runs. Maybe 250 copies at the very most. Because this was back before print-on-demand or e-pubbing (cuz, you know, before the internet). One of them was even written on a typewriter instead of a computer. Yup, those were the days (that I don't miss, because I <3 my computer(s) and word processor).
In case you missed my last two posts, this week I've been thinking a lot about what drives me to write and how that relates to my publishing options. I don't think I knew that's what I was doing at the time, but sometimes my subconscious figures things out before I do.
The responses to yesterday's post were really eye opening. I almost posted this in the responses there, but then it grew out of control into it's own blog post. What I would have posted in yesterday's responses though:
I don't think there's any one right way or one better way to publish a book. Like with absolutely everything in life, I feel like the answer is unique for every individual. Sure, there are common factors, but I don't think self-publishing is better, or traditional publishing is better. They both have their pluses and minuses.
I also believe that "I'm going traditional/indie/something else because it's right for me" is enough of a reason. If that's the way you feel, you shouldn't have to defend your decision. On the other side of that coin, it doesn't mean everyone else has to feel the same way. Every person has to pick the path that makes sense to them for the reasons that are important to them.
If you know me, you know what my reasons are for pursuing a more traditional path. I'd list them here, but they've already filled countless (or at least five) other blog posts.
However, the self-publishing side of things fascinates me. I've never completely dismissed it because I see the possibilities. I would love to be able to pick a single project and dive in to the experience. It would be for so many reasons. Seeing my work in print isn't one of them. I have several short stories in print, and I'm perfectly capable of going to Create Space and making a POD version of any one of my novels.
But the experience:
- Assembling 'the novel package' (cover, edited story, back copy)
- Securing distribution channels, not just online, but local bookstores
- Promotion, marketing, getting the word out
It intrigues me. It also sounds like an ass-ton of work.
And there's that #1 reason I write - to be heard. If I can't reach anyone with my efforts.
And someone might say 'but you're not reaching anyone now, with your manuscript sitting on your computer'.
That's true. I won't argue it. But I know that's why it's not being read. I don't have to wonder. But I have to cross that hurdle either way - whether someone chooses to publish me or I decide to do it myself.
So, besides fear of not being heard, and the knowledge that it would take so much more effort than I want to expend in order to get my name out there, what stops me from self-publishing?
I don't think my work is ready. In a way, I do allow the opinions of literary agents and publishers to dictate that. But it certainly goes beyond that. On a personal level, I don't have any work that I feel is worth putting in print in its current incarnation.
Before you wonder if that's just insecurity talking, keep in mind that I have some stories I think are fantastic ideas. I love my plots and characters. Just not their current execution (not as in death, as in...yeah, you get it). And yes, I think other people would love them too if they just gave them a chance.
So to answer my own question from yesterday, would I self-publish? Yes. It's something I would consider and may do someday.
Am I at that point now? No.
- My work isn't ready.
- I'm not a control freak, and I'm happy to surrender some of that control to someone else if they're going to back me up with the aspects I'm not so good at. I don't expect to be able to just write and nothing else, but I don't want to go it alone.
- I want someone else to tell me they think my story is ready for public consumption. It may end up just being my CP's, we'll see, but I don't have enough ego to force my work on the world if they don't want to hear it.
Which brings me to my ultimate, bazillion word question of the day: How do you know your work is ready?
If you're self-publishing, I guess you really don't know for sure. I personally have critique partners, and the novel I just published was read by a Beta reader, who I felt did a fantastic job. The thing about self-publishing is, you're the publisher, and you can do all the new editions you want. If something's wrong, you can fix it for the next edition. To me, self-publishing is a long-term proposition. The Big 6 want immediate and huge returns, so they won't publish anything until it's been thoroughly edited. That being said, about 80% of all books published by the Big 6 do not earn back the advances they paid the author. So, how accurate are they in their evaluation of manuscripts?
I know my book's ready when I and my critique partners, and if I ever have enough money I might hire a professional editor, feel it's gone through all the revision it needs; that ultimately falls on my shoulders.
A thought-provoking post, Loralie! For me, I know when my work is ready for the public eye (whether that be the eye be my family, my friends, or literally the world) when I know that it tells a good story and I can't do anything else to improve it (more changes would have a negative effect). That's pretty vague...but there is always this satisfied, happy feeling inside of me when I know that my work is finally completed and ready.
As for publishing, I think traditional and self publishing each has its own merits. In fact, I spoke with a literary agent, Chris Parris-Lamb, a few weeks ago and he made a great point by saying that self-publishing gives you as the writer a lot more freedom, and you can be your own boss.
But traditional publishing can definitely lend a hand in marketing and actually reaching an audience. I think I personally would prefer traditional publishing. I like the idea of working with a team to get the books out here.
The Red Angel Blog
I'm just going to expand on my comment from yesterday, because you brought up some interesting parts re: self-publishing and all you have to do for it. I was lurking in the #indiechat on Twitter Tuesday night, and one person said something that really struck me: if you want to just be a writer, self-publishing isn't for you. And it fits me so well.
I don't want to be in control of everything--just thinking of that makes me sick to my stomach. And knowing that, I know trad is the way for me. It's just one of those things you know, without knowing how to explain it.
I see the cons and pros of going trad and self-publishing, but for me the pros outweigh the cons going traditional. I also have a problem with people who self-publish because they aren't getting the attention they want from literary agents. For me, it feels as if your work isn't THERE yet, and maybe if those people work harder they could break into traditional. And of course there are other factors, and my self-publishing view has soften a lot since I've been on twitter and actually befriending writers who eventually self-publish.
And I'm going to stop talking about that before I write a novel in your comments. :p
I know my work is almost there is when I want people to see it. I am working on my sixth manuscript, and I'm still in the first draft stage, but I am SO excited for this project to get out there. I guess it's hard for me to explain, like why I want to trad publish, but I just know this manuscript will get me where I want to be--even if it doesn't sell, it'll make me a better writer.
Okay I'm done now. :p If you want to continue discussing this, you have my email addy. :)
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