I’ve been asked, especially recently, why I chose the path of traditional publishing over trying one of the avenues of self-publication. Frequently in the past, I was more or less told I was making the wrong choice.
Once I was even told, “You just want to see your book in bookstores.”
I found this a fascinating rebuke. Of course I want to see my books in bookstores. That’s where people buy books. I mean, yes, the digital models have made the methods of distribution more diverse, but they haven’t eradicated the old ones. The old ones are still pretty vibrant. The old ones are still how quite a few readers acquire their books. Why would I want to deliberately exclude those readers?
Now, I won’t say that self-publishing is wrong in a vacuum, in that every person’s situation is unique. There can be really good reasons to do it. However, I think there are also very wrong reasons to do it. This is the sorts of argument I see:
“Unfortunately there are thousands of us out there who can’t even get a publisher to look at our work so it’s self-publish or nothing!”
I find this either/or look at it interesting. “Self-publish or nothing!” Why is “Try to write better” not a consideration? I wonder how many of these people declared defeat before really trying. They bought into the myth that it can’t be done, so they didn’t bother.
It isn’t easy. John Scalzi just recently compared it to playing in major league baseball, and I think that’s pretty apt. It’s long, hard work, and it takes patience and perseverance.
So over the next few entries, I’m going to talk about my path to this point. As part of that, I’m going to include “If I had self-published at this point” along each step of the journey. Because, as I said, I don’t think self-publishing is definitively the wrong path to take… but it would have been the wrong path for me.