Publishing takes a long time. You’ll likely spend many months–perhaps even a year or two–writing your novel. It may take many more months for you to market and sell your work. Then your novel will wait its turn (the publisher has a business plan for what will get published when) to reach bookstore shelves. Then the process repeats itself as you write your next work. There are really no overnight successes–writing careers form over years, sometimes decades.
–Todd A. Stone, Novelist’s Boot Camp
(Maybe it used to take a long time.)
The more I read that paragraph, the more certain I am that I could never count on this path again. It’s just a matter of logic: If I know there’s something else I can do, and all it takes is more dedication and work–if I remember that traditional is no longer a guarantee–I’m not going to choose the long way in anymore. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve chosen an ‘easier path.’
Most bias against self-publishing is due to those who don’t work hard. We see people who don’t proofread their stories, nor do they promote them, leaving a story to float around Amazon for eternity. Unfortunately the world tends to generalize because of them.
But for every hundred people like this, you’ll find ten indie authors who are really putting the effort necessary to make their writing shine like it deserves.
On top of that, said Solomon, “publishers are doing less for what they get. There are still important things they do – a traditional publisher can edit, copy edit, design, market, promote, make your book better, deal with foreign sales. With ebooks, though, publishers’ costs are less, so authors should get a better share. They do not have to produce, distribute or warehouse physical copies. Even on traditional books, publishers’ production costs have gone down but authors have not benefited from these costs savings. And, increasingly authors are being asked to do a lot of marketing and promotion themselves.”
– The Guardian: Traditional publishing is ‘no longer fair or sustainable’, says Society of Authors
Since indie publishing is every bit a business as traditional, I’ve been researching. I have plenty of time between now and December to at least get the shadow of an idea what’s coming up.
Every article I’ve found doing my research helps make up my mind. And while I know these facts won’t make the journey simpler, it helps me have no regrets about the choice I made. Going traditional doesn’t guarantee success, or a simple path. I don’t want my life to pass me by while I wait for someone to tell me my book is good. I don’t need a thousand fans–just a few readers will do.
The purpose of writing, for me, has always been to have a career. To connect with readers, to share what I hope are books of escape and hope, and to grow into a more seasoned and skilled author, so I can better serve my readers. But when my books never reach the hands of those readers, it’s less of a career I’m making and more of a dusty library for no one.
– Publisher’s Weekly, My Self-Publishing Journey: On Becoming an Indie Author
It’s necessary to prepare for any outcome. If I choose to go traditional, it could be years before I have an outcome at all. I have too many stories to tell, and choose not to wait six years. If I only get ten reviews for each book, I’ll say each one was earned with hard work, and I’ll appreciate even constructive criticism.
This choice is a huge step away from any comfort zone, because I’ll be doing more work than just writing. But I have never been happier than I am now, with this decision, taking the steps to my goal and waiting. It’s a different kind of wait, because I know something’s coming.
None of this is going to be easy. Whether you go indie or traditional, it really depends on your choices–before and after the book is out. It’s up to you–what you want from your career and books, how long you’re willing to wait for other people to read the story you love, etc.
I’ve found that after so many rewrites, recovering from Carpal Tunnel surgeries, a year querying and waiting, I’m not a patient person. A few people have read my book, and not all of them have finished it–but knowing it’s out there, alive, in peoples’ hands is far better than waiting while it sits in some agent’s inbox.
Not everyone’s going to be like me, and I’d be worried if you were. By all means, make the decision that suits you–but at this point I wouldn’t go back to Plan A. It just seems like a long wait for something that, if I can work hard enough, I’ll have right now.
Think about the options, but please don’t think with bias. I’ve met wonderful people who’ve taken the indie route and done brilliantly. Even though I can’t say for sure how I’ll do, I’m going to give it my best shot; already I’ve had sleepless nights researching to ensure it. This isn’t a game, it’s not a shortcut, you shouldn’t just hit publish.
Writing is a job, and I find it endearing to see people taking matters into their own hands. I won’t wait six years to call myself an author when I have a book right now. Thanks for joining me this far, and I hope you’ll come back to cheer me on when things get really hard!