Friday, February 1, 2013

Publishing Your Novel: Traditional or Self-Publishing?

The big day has finally arrived: you have finished your manuscript. You poured your heart and soul into creating an entertaining story. You sweated and suffered through the difficult editing process. And now the question remains...are you going to query publishers or are you going to self-publish? 

I recently published a New Adult/Young Adult Dystopian Romance (State of Emergency), and this question is one that I have given a lot of thought to and seen a lot of discussion about. Here are the pros and cons of both paths! 
  • Publicity!
  • An Advance 
  • A marketing plan courtesy of your publishing house
  • A cover design and artist 
  • A team of editors 
  • Professional distribution channels
  • The possibility of a book deal that includes a series of books
  • A contract (this could be a good or bad thing depending on your publisher)
  • Not a lot of control over cover design 
  • Editors can (and will) request that you remove certain scenes or create new scenes (example: sex scenes, thematic material).
  • May have to change the ages of your characters
  • Control! You have complete, all-encompassing control over your creative work. 
  • You can design your own cover. 
  • Your characters can be as old as you want them to be and do and say what you think they should. 
  • You can choose your own marketing path. 
  • Create your own deadlines. 
  • You don't have a professional marketing team.
  • You don't have a big editing team. 
  • All of the marketing aspects of your novel are completely up to you. 
  • Channels of distribution can be more limited. 

  The truth of the matter is, every author would love to have a huge publisher behind them (well...almost every author!). But here's another zinger: because of technology, blogging, social media and incredible tools available to the average person, you can be just as successful as a self-published author as you can be with a traditional publisher. Both roads work! If you go Indie, you're going to have to do all the marketing and publicity. It's up to YOU to get people to buy your book and subsequently adore it. Don't sweat the cover design. There are so many people that do awesome design work (see my feature on novel cover designs here), or you can do it yourself. 

If you go traditional, a lot of those elements will be taken care of and replaced by other responsibilities and duties. It's a give and take situation, and it's basically up to you to decide what you want!

Where does your novel belong? :)


  1. Great post--you got it covered! After two-plus years of looking for and almost getting an agent, I went indie for FLAPPERS, FLASKS and FOUL PLAY. Sure, it's been hard and sales are slow but the control over content and the cover, plus the feedback I get from readers has been totally worth it. Instead of sitting by the sidelines, indie authors are forced to be pro-active and learn the tricks of the trade. Very educational, not to mention rewarding...
    Congrats on your debut!

    1. It can be tempting to give up, but then all of the sudden: BAM! Success!!! LOL, thanks for stopping by, E. :)

    2. Thanks for the encouragement! Blogs like yours help get the word out for us indie authors. Keep up the good work!

    3. You're so kind - thank you, Ellen! :)

  2. Thank you for helping me make my mind up what route I want to go!

    If I self-publish, no need for an agent, right? Or am I wrong?

    1. No, you don't need an agent. You can if you want to query your books later on, but when you go Indie, you are essentially your own agent. :)

    2. That's what I thought, but I wondered if I was missing something somewhere!

      I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about my cover design and he said, "Leave that to your agent." And then I began scratching my head, wondering if I needed an agent anyway.

    3. You can still have an agent as an Indie Author, if you want, but I personally feel that if you're indie you don't need the agent. Down the road, maybe, when the book is getting bigger and you're looking into different possibilities with the novel...but I wouldn't worry about it. Few self-pubbed authors do. It's not necessary to have an agent if you're not looking to publish with a traditional publishing house like Harper Collins or Little Brown.

  3. The big pro of going the traditional route you missed, is getting your book reviewed. If you self-pub you have to beg little blogs with a couple hundred fans to review your book. If you go traditional you can talk to every reviewer in your state and they will give you a shot.

    1. It's definitely much harder to get your book reviewed - it's one of the give and take aspects of self-pubbing vs. traditional pubbing. More and more reviewers are becoming open to Indie Authors, though.

  4. Darrell, as a former reviewer for a big-city paper, it's very true! But getting an agent can be so frustrating and time-consuming. I just wanted off the crazy merry-go-round that wasted my time and went nowhere. Good luck!


Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!