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Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

In the discussion between self-publishing or traditional publishing, I say…Porque no los dos?

Self-publishing or Traditional Publishing?
Self-publishing or Traditional Publishing?

A while back I was reading an otherwise helpful writing book, when almost out of nowhere, the author made a somewhat snarky remark about whether or not self-publishing “really” counts as being a published author. I was a little taken aback by this comment, especially since I had found the book useful and encouraging up until that point.

As I am moving forward with self-publishing my own works, I have encountered more debate about this very topic, and people valuing one form of publishing over another. I have heard some self-published authors not being considered as “real” authors, and other indie authors decrying traditional publishing.

I recently read The Book Marketing Bible (which I highly recommend to everyone, whether self- or traditionally published), in which Norm Schriever dedicates a chapter to this topic. I really respected the way Schriever handled this discussion, arguing that there is room for both. Each form of publishing has its advantages and disadvantages, so this battle of one versus the other may not be completely necessary.

I too have gone through making the choice between self-publishing or traditional publishing for myself. After exploring some options in the traditional path, I ultimately chose self-publishing for a few reasons. Completing book-length manuscripts and going through the process of editing has been a significant achievement in its own right for me. I didn’t want to go through the process of writing and submitting query letters to publishing houses when I could be spending that time distributing my works myself. I know that having my works picked up by a traditional publishing house doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll sell lots of copies of my books. Some books that have tried the traditional route have found more success after self-publishing (such as Machine of Death). While this may necessitate putting more work into marketing my books and finding freelance editors and designers, I have enjoyed learning about publishing and all of the authors, both self- and traditionally published, that I have met along the way.

Who knows: perhaps my works may find more success going down the traditional route, and I’m not opposed to considering traditional options later on in my career. But for the moment, I’m incredibly happy and thrilled about my decision to self-publish. While I believe self-publishing is the right decision for my works at this stage, I do not think that it would always be the best choice for everyone else. I respect the work that both self-published and traditionally-published authors put into their writing and I wish everyone the best success no matter which route you choose.

Writers: what has your experience been with self-publishing or traditional publishing? Do you use one or the other, or some combination of both?

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