I met with a published author today, who I came in contact with through my doctor, of all things. She was pretty awesome, and I got some insights into the publishing world and what I should expect. The gist of the conversation was that ALL publishing methods have pros and cons, you MUST be an aggressive advocate for yourself, and you have to be patient. (Yeah, those last two seem to contradict each other. You really have to be both.)
I was worried about meeting her at first, because her novels are based on real-life events of her adventures in Burma. As mine are fantasy based, there seemed to be a difference gap there. But we both found ground in the fact that we both wanted to teach through our literature – to expose people to ideas that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.
I was delighted to learn that she was pretty impressed with my views on what publishing really means, so I feel a little more confident that I might have a inkling on what to expect in getting myself out there. She told me I had a good set up for being smart about the business aspect of writing, due to what I was writing about, the practical and realistic head on my shoulders, and the time I had available due to my situation in life (aka, no kids and/or working an exhausting amount of hours yet).
I’m nervous about self-publishing due to my inexperience, so I’m taking the longer route that I hope will provide more of a foundation and learning experience. She had a bunch to say about that too, including the fact I should be sending book proposals to editors, not just agents and publishers. She’s not a fan of huge publishing houses (as they are bogged down with inefficiency and overloaded with submissions) nor agents (also overloaded with submissions), but that all methods are going to have pros and cons. You just have to choose the ones you can live with.
She didn’t have a lot of good to say about self-publishing, which was fascinating because all I tend to hear from people is the chant about how self-publishing is the best option. She’s not impressed with the distribution ability of self-publishing, how Amazon takes advantage of self-published authors, and how all promoting rests on the author’s abilities. As most first-time authors don’t have a clue how to promote effectively (myself included), it results in the crash-and-burn scenario which I see happening around me quite often. Readers don’t just “find” your book, especially considering the saturation of the market.
That being said, total control and the speed of getting books out there is nothing to scoff at: it all depends on what your strengths are as an author. That being said, skills are going to change and grow over time – maybe your publishing method will too.
Anyway, the point of this long ramble for all of you, is that you should dissect the pros and cons of each publishing method and choose the one that’s right for you. People will talk, everyone had a bias, and only you know what your abilities are and what vision you have for your writing. And it seems to me that “the Traditional Route” and “the Self-Publishing Route” are not as cut and dry as it seems – there are variations in how individuals can creatively engage their readership.
As a final note, I was recommended a book that details all the pros and cons of each publishing method and what it entails. I haven’t gone through it yet, but it’s called “How To Get Happily Published,” and it’s website is here.