Topic #5: Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.
You’ve finished writing and editing your book. Now you’re ready to do something with it. The question is, publish it the traditional way or self-publish it?
You can read endless debates on this question online. I will take a streamlined approach and explain what is best for me. First, quick summaries of the two choices (for fiction novels):
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING: For novels, typically you find an agent to represent your work to sell it to a publisher. Send a cover letter, the first few pages, and perhaps a synopsis of your novel to several agents at a time. If an agent thinks it might be of commercial value, she will request the entire completed novel. It can take months or years to procure an agent willing to represent it. Your agent will then try to sell your novel to publishers. This can take months or years, or may never happen at all. Once your novel is sold to a publisher, there is an extensive period of negotiating, editing, and printing. Expect 18 months between signing the contract and seeing the book in print.
SELF-PUBLISHING: First, choose a publishing service (Amazon is the largest, but there are others such as Lulu, Bookbaby, Barnes and Noble). Create a free account. Format your book for an ebook and for a print book (if you want a print version). Upload the two formatted files. Upload your cover design (cover designs are a topic for another post). Set the prices for the ebook and print book. Your book then becomes available for sale on the service’s web site. There is no cost involved, other than a percentage of sales.
Yes, both descriptions are oversimplified for the sake of brevity.
Two reasons self-publishing is best for me: First, it is much faster (traditional = 2 to 6 years, self-publishing = a few days to a few weeks). Second, self-publishing allows far more creative control (including editing and cover design).
I want people to read my stories now. I am 55 years old and simply not willing to wait years. I also love being in control of the design of the covers of my novels, not to mention the plot, tone, pacing, and voice. I can set the price. I can have promotions and giveaways. I can switch to a new cover design. I can make improvements to the text and upload them to replace previous versions.
When I finish the sequel to Diffusion and Infusion, it will take about a week to make it available to readers (by the way, the title of the third book will be PROFUSION!).
Think you cannot become successful by self-publishing? Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, and a growing number of best-selling self-published authors might disagree.
Bottom line: For me, self-publishing is best, hands-down. It’s faster, and you have more control.