Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing


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I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject over the past fourteen days of the month. I mentioned in my January Dares post that one of my writing-related goals was to get a lot of different opinions on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing…and also to do some research of my own. Not just to know about it, but so that I could hopefully decide which one I want to do.

I still have several people to ask, and so there may be a part two of this at the end of the month, but today I was thinking about it a lot and looking through different websites and trying to pinpoint what exactly my goal was, and you know what I found out?

Self-publishing isn’t the easy way out.

Okay, yes, you can write a novel and put it on CreateSpace with minimal effort, but making an actual career out of self-publishing? It’s hard. Way hard. When you traditionally publish, the choices are left out of your hands. You don’t have to worry about talking to libraries and bookstores and managing how much your book is priced, and all of that, because the publishing company takes care of it.

But then you lose control, which seems to be the main reason that authors choose self-publishing. That’s why it’s hard–it’s an entrepreneurship, where you deal with the repercussions if your book doesn’t sell out; you have to be the one to make the hard decisions; you have to be the one to revise your book; you have to be the one to do every single little thing.

And that’s the reason traditional publishing is so wonderful, as well. Because all you have to really do is write and revise and have an online presence, and write some more. And if that’s all you want, then that’s great.

I still don’t know which I want to do.

I love the idea of self-publishing and being able to market my own book. I love that I can write what I want, when I want. I love that I reserve all the rights. I love that I’m the one who can be in control.

When I was younger, I created my own massage business around the house (mainly geared toward my dad and mom), which led to my older brother also creating his own, competing massage business, which I responded to with a ferocious increase in marketing.

I liked getting paid, but, more than that, I loved convincing people to buy from me. I loved creating little massage cards that I could print out and cut out in nice little stacks. I loved making posters exclaiming about me giving the massaged person an M&M or a skittle for every minute they were massaged. I loved marking down star ratings of my massages (though I can’t say I reacted well to the not-so-good ones) and calculating the overall rating of my business. I loved creating specials where people could buy certain things from me and get something else free. I even created a newsletter partnered with my brother’s business, with my dad as the editor, to inform my parents of important massaging information.

All this points to me choosing self-publishing, and I admit that today, looking through all of the options that were open to me, the same sort of excited feeling washed over me…but I’m also terrified.

I’m terrified of having to do things I’ve never done before, and, yeah, you still have to do that with traditional publishing, but I’m terrified of the idea of having to do it on my own.

I love to improve myself, but there are times when I feel so alone trying to do it on my own, and I desperately want someone there to help me, to give me advice, and to carry me through those hard times.

That’s why traditional publishing is so tempting. It’s so safe, so easy, but it’s also stagnant to me. I want to query so I can be rejected, I want to query so I can be accepted and know that my writing really is good enough, but I don’t know if I actually want to be traditionally published.

The choice is obvious; I know it is. I know you can see it–if self-publishing is going to be hard but rewarding for me, then that’s the road to take, isn’t it? I can see it, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. Even though I know I have years and years ahead of me, and that I can change my mind, and that I could even do both if I wanted to, something seems so final about saying that I’ve decided to self-publish.

Gah. I need to stop doubting myself, but I’ll wait until the end of the month–part two of this, probably. Until then…if you have any opinions/advice/good places to learn about either type of publishing, please comment below and let me know!

But You’ve Just Got to Do It

I’ve always had a problem with getting myself to write in my novels. Starting was easy, as can be shown by the many paragraphs and unfinished first chapters I’ve saved. Going a little farther wasn’t hard either–NaNoWriMo forced me to write, rapidly, a large portion of the rough draft.

But finishing…I’ve never been good with that. It just always seemed so hard to go back to that novel, the old one that seemed so boring now, especially when a shiny new story awaited me, taunting me with enticing new ideas that I could unfold in my mind.

Usually when I write, or am about to start writing, I find myself distracted so easily by other things, as I’m sure you’ve also experienced. Everything just seems so much more interesting than what I’m doing–and wait, do I even know what I’m doing? It would probably just be easier to go do something else. It’s not like I was going to get anything done anyway, right?

Of course, whenever I think that way, I do end up with nothing done. So what’s my problem? I think this quote by Jim Rohn sums it up nicely:

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

I didn’t try. I didn’t want to try, so I found a reason not to. How do we, then, write in things we don’t want to write in?

I don’t think this quote is saying that we need to want to write. We just need to want to try to write. It’s hard, but you’ve just got to do it. Sometimes, there’s no other way to write than to just decide you’re going to do it. You have to make the choice to not look at those distracting things, and instead turn to your writing.

I’ve made a goal to write (or revise, or plan writing) every day, just for 500 words or 15 minutes. It’s going to be tough at times, but I believe I, and anyone else who’s willing to try, have the capability to achieve this goal by exercising willpower and simply doing what I need to do.

Choose to write, and you’ll find a way. It’s as simple as that: just write.