Why I'm Not Self-Publishing
- Even my best works need polishing. Can I edit my books on my own and through the help of family, friends, and proofies/beta-readers? Of course I can. Others have (and I've been a proofie/beta-reader for more than one of them). But even a lot of self-published authors agree that a professional editor is a must- and having read self-published books that definitely didn't have a professional edit, I tend to agree. And, yes, a self-published author can hire a professional editor to look over her book, but they're expensive. On the other hand, traditional publishing puts my novel in the hands of a team of editors who, unlike friends, family, and beta readers, don't have any reason to go easy on me but do have a good reason to help me make my book the best it can be- and who I don't have to pay out of pocket.
- On a similar note, people judge books by their covers. Should they? No, of course they shouldn't. But they do anyway. I do it to some degree, you probably do it too. And, like editing, cover design is something that I could probably do myself (I do have a certain amount of skill with Photoshop) or could hire someone else (for example, Laura Hollingsworth, creator of one of the best and most beautiful webcomics I've ever read) to do for me. But the problem with the former is that what I can come up with is primarily dependent on what I can cobble together from my own photography and stock images, and the problem with the latter is that, again, it costs money out of pocket. But, also like editing, if I publish traditionally there's a professional cover designer there to handle it for me. True, I don't get to decide myself what the cover looks like . . . but I think I can live with that.
- However, the most beautiful possible prose and the most gorgeous cover imaginable won't do me any good if no one knows my book exists. Which brings me to my third point: traditional publishing means my book will reach more people. I am not good at marketing and advertising and promoting products and all that sort of thing (which may prove to be a problem later in my career, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it). And while I hope that a lot of you who read my blog will buy my book, not all of you will. (And I will totally understand when you don't, because I have friends who've published books and I haven't bought their books because there's three billion and one books that I want to buy and limited funds to buy them with. So, yeah, I get it.) But if I connect with a publishing house, they have a great deal of interest in making sure that as many people as possible hear about my book, which means more people will buy it (and, I hope, enjoy it).
- This next reason may come as a surprise, given some of what I've said so far, but: I don't plan on making a lot of money through novels, no matter how I publish them. Don't take that to mean I don't want to make any money on my novels, because if that were the case I'd probably just post the lot of them to my blog, then bind them up nicely and self-publish each one once it had been been posted in full. But I think that one of the two biggest draws of self-publishing is that the authors get to pocket more of the proceeds than they would in traditional publishing, which is pretty important if you're trying to make a living off of being an author. However, I don't plan on my creative writing providing my main income, so the advantages of traditional publishing- namely, the support in editing, design, and promotion- are, in my opinion, worth the trade-off in profits.
- My final reason for choosing traditional publishing is similar to my first, but not completely: traditional publishing forces me to constantly push to be better. If I have to impress no one but myself and perhaps my beta-readers and editors in order to publish, I will always be tempted to say "Eh, this is good enough" and not ask "Is there a way I can make this better?" However, if simply starting the process is reliant on my impressing someone else- someone who sees a lot of stories go across his desk and whose job it is to pick the very best of them- I will always be asking "Can I change something to make this better?" And if I'm going to put my stories out there as the best they can be, that motivation is something I very desperately need.
What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)