Saturday, November 16, 2013

Traditional versus self-publishing: Choosing the right road

Roy Huff is the successful self-published author of the EVERVILLE young adult fantasy series, who was gracious enough to endorse my YA sci-fi thriller, GOD PARTICLE. He has a few words to say to those looking to be successful authors. 

As a new writer it can be difficult to make a decision regarding whether to self publish or to try and pursue the traditional route of finding a literary agent, editor, and publisher. While there are benefits to both methods, the final decision should be informed by one’s individual situation and one’s own personal preferences.

It may go without saying that most writers would prefer to be signed to a traditional publisher. That of course assumes that a writer can be signed, and that’s a big if. The simple truth is that while a publisher will front the cost of publication and some marketing, publishers expect authors to market themselves. Aside from the quality of the book, the eventual success of the book will largely hinge on how savvy a writer is with social media and self-promotion.

There is no question that being signed to a large publishing company can add street cred to a publication along with wider print distribution, but for many writers that is simply not an option. For those authors, the choice has been made for them. There is also the option of finding smaller indy publishing houses willing to publish, and while being backed by a publisher may offer some benefits, a smaller company will often be less able to promote the author, and the low royalties and loss of creative control will often offset the potential benefits.
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For the vast majority of writers, self-publishing is the only option, and for new writers, they will also find that there is a brave new world of options when it comes to self publishing and marketing. Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and others have made it easy to get published. Print companies like LightningSource and audio book companies like ACX have made print and audio books equally as simple and quick to get published. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Fiverr, and Google Plus have also revolutionized self-promotion and micro advertising. Together, the ease of publication and decentralization of social media provide a powerful venue for writers.

Regardless of the method, the quality of the work, the effectiveness of the marketing campaign, and a little luck will determine one’s eventual success. As an author, I have personally chosen to go the route of self-publishing for the initial series of books I have written. I do, however, plan on utilizing traditional publishers in the future in combination with my existing self published titles. This will give me the opportunity to develop a fan base as well as experience in self-promotion. More importantly KDP select and free promotions for self published titles can be excellent ways to cross promote existing books while leveraging that exposure for future titles published through traditional publishing companies.

My recommendation for new writers is write a good book and find a good editor. Once the book is written, decide whether or not spending the time and effort in finding a literary agent is something that one is willing to do; if not, then self-publish. If one decides to go the traditional route but continues to get rejected after a couple of dozen attempts, take a second look at the manuscript. If there are changes that can be made to improve the quality, then make those changes, but if after the changes one is still unable to find an agent or a publisher, self-publish.

In the end, the best thing for a writer to do is focus on the quality of the writing and the editing. Spending sufficient time in marketing and self-promotion is also a must. Worrying about getting published, however, should no longer be a barrier for future authors. Instead, writers should research and decide what’s best for them. More importantly they need to understand that the removal of barriers to getting published applies to everyone and it has dramatically increased competition. That being said, the old rules apply now more than ever. Write a great book, and market the heck out of it.

Check out Roy on the web at