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Jane Freeman tackles the question should you try to publish traditionally or go the self-publishing route. She gives you some thoughts you might not have heard before. Personality has a lot to do with it. As someone who is self-employed, self-publishing seems a more likely route for me, if I ever get a book finished. ; )
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Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?
June 21, 2016
by Jane Friedman
Are you wondering if you should self-publish or traditionally publish? You’re not alone. The same question is on the minds of many writers I meet, regardless of their career path or how established they are.
When I began working in the publishing industry in the mid-1990s, a stigma surrounded both self-published books and self-published authors. I recall speaking at the Chicago chapter of the Romance Writers of America in the mid-2000s, and running a workshop on how to self-publish. About three people showed up and two of them were already self-published; it was by far the worst-attended session I’ve ever run at a major writing event. At the time, self-publishing was not a well-regarded path to success, and it indicated some kind of author failing or eccentricity.
Times have (dramatically) changed, and now some self-published authors accuse traditionally published authors of being misguided or short-sighted in their allegiance to a “legacy” system.
But there is no single right answer to this question because it’s context dependent. That means the right answer can change—even for the same author—from book to book, and from year to year.
This post outlines what I think are the biggest factors that play into the decision.
1. Do you expect or want to see your book stocked in bookstores across the country?
It next to impossible for a self-published author with a single title to achieve wide-scale distribution for their book at bricks-and-mortar stores. You may be able to get your book stocked locally or regionally, especially if you have the right connections or are a well-known person in your community. But for the most part, a self-published authors’ books will sell primarily through online retail, whether as a print book or an e-book. That’s not the drawback it used to be, given that more than half of all books sold in the United States sell through Amazon (regardless of format).
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