So, here we are at the end of the series, ready to broach the subject of that third path to publishing. The most recent spice added to the stew that feeds the world with hopes and dreams, adventures, and fantastical journeys. Stories of the past with thought-provoking lies and enlightening truths that can mold the future. Knowledge and imagination packed between pages, a universe filled with never-ending experiences, old worlds, new worlds, and those yet to be discovered.
The crux of what ties all those worlds together, what brings the past into the present, and carries both into the future. That is the world of publishing and why it will never cease to exist. And also why no matter what, it will forever continue to grow and change right along with the rest of the universe.
And that, my friends, brings me back to something I said at the beginning of this series. Well, actually, it was more something Bob Dylan said, and that is “the times they are a-changin’.”
So why are the opinions, the thoughts, and prejudices that stain the very idea of self-publishing so vast and varying? Well, I have a theory on that.
Jealousy. Envy. Spite. It could be more simply a resistance to change, perhaps and probably is in many cases. In others, it’s a show of anger and resentment for the way this 21st-century gift is often treated, and for that, I don’t blame them because many of us have most certainly taken advantage of the opportunities provided by self-publishing.
But no matter the critics, no matter the controversy, the option of self-publishing isn’t going away. The world of technology is not going to reverse itself and travel backward. So to those critics, I say, instead of resisting it, embrace it, nourish it, and help to make it better, help to make self-publishing the opportunity the world wants and craves. What we all need.
Do your homework, people. I can’t stress this enough. Do the work, learn, and hone your craft. Before you put your book out there to the world, make sure it is everything it’s meant to be; that it is of the same quality as any top publisher would wish they could call their own.
Don’t choose to self-publish because it’s quick, easy and available. Choose it because, after all of the research and all of the hard work you put into your project, self-publishing is the path you truly believe is the right path for you and your book. And just as importantly, do it with pride. Pride in knowing you took the time to learn, to fine-tune your craft, and most of all, you took all of the necessary steps required to make sure your book, your baby, is of a quality equal to any book on any publisher’s self out there.
So, why choose self-publishing? What makes it the right or wrong path for you?
The cons of self-publishing, of which, I won't lie, there are a few, basically, amount to time and energy. Do you have the time to do everything yourself? And I’m not just talking about doing your own printing and binding, your own cover, or even your own formatting. And let’s not even talk about marketing. Really, let’s not. Because you don’t have to do all of those things yourself. You could, but you don’t have to.
You can hire someone to do your covers, but you have to take the initiative to find the right graphic artist at a price you can afford. One who can see your vision and make it come to life. Whereas if you choose to work with a publishing house, odds are you don’t get a choice in this department. The cover is what the publisher says it is. Same goes for the title of your book.
You can learn to do your own formatting, or you can hire out, and the same goes for marketing and everything else that comes with running a business because to choose to be an author, you are choosing to be self-employed, and by choosing to self-publish, you are choosing to expand that self-employment into running your own business rather than to be a sub-contractor for some other publisher.
So, I’ll ask you again, why self-publishing? Because if you don’t mind turning over all of these decisions to someone else, the title, the cover, and possibly even the very essence of your story in exchange for a good chunk of the royalties, then perhaps self-publishing isn’t the right path for you. Maybe you prefer to let someone else make all of those decisions because all you want out of life is to sit behind your desk and write. And if some editor tells you to change the ending or the title, so be it. No problem. As long as you get your share of the profits made from all of your hard work, you’re happy. But if not…
If you don’t want to give up the right to make those decisions yourself, along with giving up fifteen percent to an agent, and another chuck to a publishing house, not to mention often giving up your copyrights and having even more restrictions imposed upon you and your book, then self-publishing just might be the road you want to explore.
With self-publishing, the decisions are yours, and yes, for anything you hire out, you pay, but what’s the end result? More than likely, you’ve paid less than you would have had to hand over to your agent and publisher. Yes, many would say, “Well, you earned a lot less too,” and they might be right, but they could also be wrong. That is not a given.
No matter which route you chose in the end, odds are you’ve had to hire an editor for if nothing else, at least to proofread. I mean, let’s talk facts here. Even if you go the route of traditional publishing or indie publishing, you’ll need that editor before submitting your work for consideration. And as far as self-publishing goes, you should refer to my initial advice of making sure your book is of the same quality as any book out there found on a Big-5 publishers’ bookshelf.
So, there you have it as briefly as I could possibly give it to you—because I can really get going if given a chance—as to what might or might not make self-publishing the right path for you.
Obviously, there is much more to the story, but isn’t there always? There is much more to the stories of both traditional and indie publishing as well, but I only have so much time to spare before I need to get back to editing.
What I’ll add in closing, however, is choose wisely. As I said before and will say again, do your homework. Research your options, and that’s everything from choosing the publishing path that’s right for you, to choosing the right agent and publisher, the right editor, the right cover artist, formatter, printer, distributor, whatever your needs.
And whatever your needs, remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself. There are tons of experts out there ready to help. Yes, it will cost you time and money, but you’ll be giving some of that up no matter what route you choose. So, do it. Make a choice. Write, research, study, and make an informed decision, not one made lightly or without the necessary knowledge behind it.
As always, I wish you the best of success and the best of life. So go forth, write, and follow your personal publishing path!
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