Should I self-publish or try to take a traditional route? Part 1

Part of the book writing process involves deciding what route to take to get your book published. Many authors do not know where to start when making this decision. This guide will help you figure it out.

Part One: Goals

The first step in the decision making process should involve an honest and thorough assessment of the results you wish to receive from the publication of your book. Why do you want to publish? What are your goals?

Do you want to make money? Realistically, if making money is your primary goal, you need to be aware of what your chances actually are. If you are a good, solid writer with a great idea and the time and energy to invest into properly marketing yourself then becoming a financially solvent writer may be within your reach. It’s part luck and part grit. You can make money as a writer but it’s hard work no matter what route you choose for publishing.

If your ultimate goal is to make money, you have to really explore your options. The possible financial rewards versus the work you need to put in vary between both of the available options based on the book you are planning to publish and your overall goals as a writer. Most of the time, both methods also require a lot more than the ability to write, but self-publishing requires you to be especially versatile. You need to be able to invest time and/or money into marketing, editors, and networking. It is also important to have a long term outlook on your potential earnings (it’s going to be a long time before you’re in the black as a self published writer, but it could take years to get published). Really look at the options and realistically evaluate the potential of your book. Compare royalty rates (10% to 20% for a traditional publisher versus 60% to 80% for indie publishers), upfront costs, and the competing market for your book. This isn’t easy to do and it requires a level of self-evaluation that many of us are not good at.

Do you just have a message that you are dying to share with the world? Is money less important to you? Sometimes people write a book out of a burning need to share something important with the world; something they know, something they’ve learned, or something they believe. Often, money is a secondary or less important goal for these people, getting the message into as many hands as possible is their priority.

If you just have a message you want to share with the world, or a close group of friends, then self-publishing may be the best option for you. Realize that self-publishing success stories are few and far between (although they are becoming more common) and your chances of making money are slim. But if that doesn’t matter to you, then waiting for years for a publisher to maybe accept your book is really a waste of your time.

Is your goal to win literary acclaim as a great writer? Do you want to receive accolades from well known literary establishments and have your work reach down through the centuries? If this is your goal, traditional publishing is definitely the way to go as far as the current market stands. Self-publishing and indie publishing markets are growing in their notoriety, but there are still many in the literary world who see the market as a place where writers who “can’t make it” go. The market is changing, but unless you want to be a champion for the indie publishing literary world, maybe waiting and trying again and again is a better choice for you.

Write down the goals for your book on a piece of paper. Really think about why you want to publish, and consider your goals both within a “best case scenario” framework and a more realistic framework. Where do you want your book and your career as a writer to be in one year, five years, and ten years? How does your current book play into your goals? Be as honest with yourself as possible. Once you have a plan in hand, you can start learning about the rest of the process, and ultimately decide which option is best for you.

Once you have clearly set your goals for the book, you need to understand the timelines that you are working with.

If you would like more personal advice that is tailored specifically to you and your book to help you decide the best route to take for publishication, send us an email and we can schedule a consultation!

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