traditional publishing versus self-publishing

Should I self-publish or try to take a traditional route? Part 4

By Julie Wehmeyer

Visibility Quotient

When you are trying to decide whether or not to self-publish your book, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Understanding your goals for your book and your career as an author, having an awareness of how your personal timeline fits in with publishing timelines, and knowing what your budget is are all good places to start. You’re not done yet though. Another factor to take into consideration is the type of visibility you want to have for your book and yourself as an author.

Member of the Glam Squad

famous author, published author
Some authors want fame and fortune

Do you want to be a rock star author?  Do you envision yourself giving interviews on television and having Hollywood knocking on your door to turn your literary masterpiece into a movie?  Do you want to be the next Stephen King or Danielle Steele, getting invited to glittery parties and rubbing elbows with celebrities?  Is fame and recognition important to you?  Does the idea of seeing your name printed on the cover of a book as you walk into a bookstore give you chills?  Then you might be driven by fame, honors, and glamour.

Mysterious and Introverted

introverted writer, self-published writer
Some authors prefer seclusion

Do you dream of living in a remote cabin with a big beautiful golden retriever sitting at your feet, or maybe a lovable cat purring and sitting on your lap while you drink wine and spend hours pounding out important and meaningful books on your keyboard? Do you see yourself turning out book after book, sending them off to be published, and then having the money mysteriously appear in your bank account with very minimal human interaction so that you can just keep writing more and more books?  Does the idea of hob nobbing with the beautiful people, socializing, being interviewed, and being recognized publicly make you want to hide and cry?  Then you might be a hermit writer driven by the romance of introversion.

Whatever type of writer you envision yourself to be, or where on the spectrum between these two extremes that you may fall, all that matters is that you identify what your visibility quotient is so that you can plan your career appropriately.  No matter what motivates you as a writer, there is no right or wrong answer in determining your visibility quotient.  All that matters is that you define what it is and what you want out of your writing career.  You must know in your heart what motivates you and makes you get up every morning (or stay up every night) putting words on paper.  And that takes some honest soul searching.

The Glam Squad style writing career lends itself more toward traditional publishing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the self-publishing route.  However, with self-publishing, it would be much more difficult to attain the type of celebrity lifestyle you desire than with traditional publishing, unless you get lucky and get signed later on down the road like JK Rowling.  Large publishing companies have marketing departments that have access to events such as book signings, television interviews, magazine spreads.  They will help you to meet the “right people” and attain your career goals. Most reputable and large bookstores refuse to work with self-published books; and very few literary awards are available to self-published and indie writers, so if you long for this type of visibility with your career, you should seriously consider trying to get traditionally published. While it won’t guarantee these things to you, they are pretty much impossible to achieve as a self-published author.

For the Mysterious and Introverted type of writer, who doesn’t care much about awards, bookstores, and television shows, self-publishing might be a better route to take. There are many public relations and marketing tools you can utilize to market your book online through your webpage and/or online events that will enable you to be successful as a writer. You still need to interact with your readers, but you can do it from the safety of your home most of the time, in your pajamas, with your cat snuggled up on your lap.

In order to become successful, all writers will eventually need to bite the bullet and learn to do interviews, sit through book signings, attend events, and interact with actual people in order to simply educate the public on what they are offering. As a self-published author, the setup of these events will be under your control, however, which will help you to limit these interactions until you are more comfortable with them.

Understanding yourself as an author and what you are comfortable with will help you make a decision as to which route to take when publishing your book, and help you take that step with confidence.

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