I’ve decided to pursue trade (traditional) publication. Here I try to explain the madness that led to this decision.
If you know me, you’ll know you I’m a firm supporter of all writers, whether they write for themselves or an audience, whether they’re self-published or big five-published (except for total jerks–I’m slightly less supportive of them).
I started researching how to publish in 2006 when self-publishing was still very much fringe. (Not by coincidence, this was the year I first completed a first draft. It was 200k words long.)
At the time I was a long way from being ready to publish and I knew it, but I always intended to pursue trade publication.
When I came back to writing seriously a few years ago, the publishing landscape was unrecognisable. I redid my research, and concluded that self-publishing was now a real option, but I still wasn’t sure if it was the right option for me.
I wobbled along the top of the fence for some time, but now I’ve jumped down onto the lawn.
This post is my public declaration that I plan to pursue trade publication. (Though I reserve the right to change my mind at any point for any reason, including His Royal Fluffiness’ say-so.)
If this is a decision you have to make, I strongly suggest you do your own research, but, in case it’s helpful, I’m going to explain my reasons for my decision.
Why I’ve decided to attempt to trade publish
I’m not entrepreneurial and I’m terrible at project management
If you self publish everything is on you.
It’s not that you have to do everything yourself if you self publish–you can and probably should pay specialists to do some things–more that you’re responsible for making sure everything gets done well and at the right time.
Did I mention I have nightmares about packing?
I would rather clean drains with my tongue for a living than be a project manager, even for my own book.
My artistic skills are… limited
You saw my dragons.
Not only am I limited in my ability to create art, I’m also limited in my ability to evaluate it, and that includes book covers.
My understanding of a good cover goes something like this:
Dragon? Check. Castle? Check. Sparkly magic? Check. It’s a winner!
Some people have put years of work and considerable artistic talent and business research into the question of what makes a good cover.
I’m not one of them.
Sure, there’s a chance I might end up hating what I get, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Especially because I won’t have to pay for it.
I’m not a control freak
Sorry, I can’t say that without laughing.
I’m totally a control freak, but it mostly only bites in relation to things I know I could do better than the people I’ve handed the job to.
This describes no aspect of the publishing process.
The money isn’t important
I know trade published authors tend to get less per copy sold that self-published authors (depending on their pricing decisions, obviously).
Though they also sell more copies on average.
Either way, I already have a job that pays the bills, and I don’t expect to make enough from writing to affect my need for that. (Obviously I’d be thrilled if I did earn dump-trucks full of money. Who wouldn’t?)
If I earn money from writing, excellent. If I don’t, I’ll keep doing it anyway. A bit more money or a bit less is not worth the horror of having to deal with my own formatting.
I’d like the validation
Many self-published books are wonderful, but many are drek because anyone can self-publish.
The proof of a good self-published book comes from the readers.
However, there’s still something in having an industry professional read your book and say, “yes, I love this and I think other people will too.”
Maybe the book stills sell abysmally, but someone whose job it is to know saw something worthwhile in it.
Please excuse my vanity, but I want this.
I want to learn from others my first time through
I will do my own research on publishing to the best of my ability, but research can take you only so far.
The first time I’m published, I want to be led by the hand by an experienced guide.
I’m not a fast writer
Some writers choose to self-publish because trade publishing can’t keep up with the speed of their output.
Thankfully this is not a problem for me.
Why do I think I’ll succeed at trade publishing?
I know the odds are against me, but I’m quietly confident that I have a better shot at this than the average aspirant. Here’s why.
I’m willing to wait
I know this isn’t going to be easy, but I’m in no rush. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’m impatiently patient. Or patiently impatient.
That is, I’m willing to wait, though I’d prefer not to.
My current WIP isn’t the first novel I’ve completed, but it’s the first I’ve believed has a chance at becoming publication-worthy.
Maybe it won’t be good enough.
That’s okay. Maybe the next one will be, or the one after that. And did I mention how much I enjoy editing? (Feel free to hate me now.)
I’d rather take my time and not publish something that will later be an embarrassment.
I don’t know anything
I don’t know everything about writing yet. It’s possible I don’t know anything.
But I’m continually reading about writing, studying how other authors achieve effects, and working on my technique.
I’m happy to admit I’m wrong about things and learn better ways of doing them.
My psychic tells me this means my writing is going to keep improving. I pay her enough that she has to be right.
I’m good at using feedback and criticism
At least, I think I am.
When I hear the things someone thinks are wrong with my manuscript I get excited over how I can use the information to improve it. Then I make the improvements.
(That’s the appropriate response, right?)
I’m good at setting my sights on something and working until I achieve it
Yep, pure stubornness. More valuable than chocolate wrapped in gold-coloured foil.
Of course, getting trade published is only the beginning. The first book is only the first book, and there’s a lifetime of writing and new challenges that come afterwards.
Bring them on.
Have you chosen or will you choose to trade publish or to self-publish? Why? If you’ve done it already, are you happy with your decision?
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