Self-Publishing vs Traditional:
(Disclaimer: I was not paid by the companies or people mentioned in this post, I just want to give credit where it's due since they helped me along my journey.)
How I decided to publish my debut book Gear Heart.
Sorry I can't give y'all a one word or one sentence answer.
If I do, I think it would be an injustice to all my fellow authors and aspiring writers who want to publish their book babies in the future.
I published my first book on October 16th, 2020. That's right, I published in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and right before the 2020 election.
But I'm getting ahead of myself! You need to know a few things about me first:
I have two learning disabilities that I was born with: ADHD, and Dysgraphia
Definition of Dysgraphia: A learning disorder that hinders motor skills in the individual's ability to write. A deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence.
So writing for school projects, essays, tests, etc. There has always been a pitted spiral of loathing for writing since I was so much slower than the other students and had to stay after school all the time just to finish everything. I never dreamed that I would one day write a book. The idea of it even popped into my head once when I was in high school and I laughed at it.
Life can sure be ironic sometimes, huh?
Well, one night in my senior year of high school, I had the most vivid, enticing dream. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I even made a Spotify playlist for it just so I could daydream the scenes out again in different ways to the music. I kept re-dreaming it for a full year until one day when I was on a trip in the Philippines for ocean conservation.
I had found some spare printer paper and had begun daydreaming about it again- that was when it clicked. I have to write this down! I didn't want to forget about it, so over the next few weeks of my free time there I would pour out all my memories of the dream and even expand on them. By the time I got home to the states I had the plot outline for the book and the first three chapters. (Keep in mind, they were very short at that time.)
I just transferred to a new college and almost immediately found a friend who was hugely into writing and reading. I didn’t think of writing the story for anyone but myself, but after letting her read it and seeing her laugh at some of the funny quips between the sisters, I began to think to myself- who else would enjoy this story?
I had ended up setting it aside for two years until I fished it out of my old papers in my senior year and rekindled my love for the story. And in nine months I wrote and finished my first draft of the book during school. By then I was already making a list of agents and publishing houses to pitch my book to, and yet never reached out to one.
I did my research to say the least and I soon realized that to be accepted by most publishing houses takes a lot on your part. You had to have a good following on social media, you had to have an agent (most of the time), you had to have a large email list of subscribers, basically you needed to be known already to be accepted by a publishing house.
And if you don’t, then your book had to be amazing to be noticed by the numerous publishers you had to reach out to. Most of which will reject your book. A process that could take months to years to find one who will accept your book.
That was when I met three different authors that truly helped me decide on how I should publish (note this is my personal preference on publishing, I recommend that everyone do their own personal research into the publishing world and the different styles to determine which is right for you.)
- Jet Parker: Both traditionally published and self-published author (indie).
- Beth Erlund: Self-published Children’s author and artist.
- Rebecca Dwight Bruff: Traditionally published author.
Each of these ladies had different experiences in the publishing world, but after hearing their success, what they preferred about each method of publishing and why, the answer became so clear to me.
- Self-publishing allows you to own and keep all the profits of your book instead of a royalty percentage.
- I’ve talked to traditional authors who have had to even pay their publishing house multiple fees during the production of their book. (Shouldn’t they be paying you?)
- You decide what is kept in the book and what parts of the story get scrapped- not the editor.
- You have control over how the cover looks.
- The book is truly yours.
- Though you are in charge of all marketing for the book, there isn't that much difference if you were to traditionally publish-you have to do the majority of the marketing yourself when contracted to a publishing house.
- You control when it gets published. (It can take one to two years + for a publishing house to complete and release your book.)
And yet I still wasn’t totally sold.
That was until that wonderful film Little Women came out, and the ending scene where Jo holds her book and for the first time. It gave me shivers! My heart was swelling because I wanted to hold and own my book like she got to as well. And it was that night of watching it for the first time that I decided on self-publishing my story.
Then I thought to myself "But, how do I self-publish?"
Stay tuned to how I went on that journey.
The things I recommend:
- Do your research for yourself and talk to authors who have published in the three types: Indie, Self-publishing, and Traditional.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the path you want to choose and personally see the value in it. Your future publishing choices may change, but for now, do your research.
- Read your book aloud fully to yourself when going through the final drafts. It helps immensely.
- Do not limit yourself or think "Oh, no one will want to read this." you will never know where you could be in a few months to years if you stop before you’ve even begun. Keep reaching and keep going further as a writer. If you self publish-look at all the avenues like Kobo, Apple, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble, Ingram Spark, Lemon, etc. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
Whelp, that's the first bit of my story for now, subscribe to follow along for more, and more ways to grow as a writer.