Posted in Writing

YOUR Advice? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional

self-publishing comic
©Dave Coverly, image from

A blogging-friend emailed me today to say she has finished her novel (pause here to CHEER for her!) and she wondered what I thought about self-publishing versus finding an agent and traditional publisher.  I have no authority or experience on this question, having neither written nor published a book–though husband and two sons are pretty persistently pushing me toward devoting some time to tackling the first… (Christian, however, with the caveat that I “can’t get too famous” because–what more natural reason?–“You’re my MOM!”)

It seems that self-publishing has lost a great deal of its stigma in recent years, and the advent of both e-Books and the ability to publicize with the internet have opened up opportunities for authors who don’t get a “nibble” from a publishing house.  But I’m also pretty sure there are folks who swear by the traditional route, and have solid reasons for doing so.

I know that we have a wealth of resources here in our blogging-community, so (for both my friend and for myself)… What are YOUR thoughts?  Experience? Tips?


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

71 thoughts on “YOUR Advice? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional

  1. I had a friend who had a traditional publisher & one who self published. Can’t give much advice, but I can say that the self publishing route did not seem to take as long & she was able to directly control her ad market. The first friend could not & did not get much in the way of royalties, whereas the other did have to make up her costs before she saw any monetary rewards. Of course if money is not a factor (as in your friend only cares about being printed) then I say try traditional first, but with a time limit in mind & then self publish if the other doesn’t pan out.
    And that’s my five cents. ;)


      1. I thought it was on, but I just looked through his posts and couldn’t find it. I’m not sure :-( I will look through this afternoon and see if I can find it.


  2. Just got this answer via Twitter:
    Friend self-published through x-libris. very successful. (from @lupuschronicles)


  3. I’m in the process of self-publishing & I’m documenting some of the process on one of my blogs Although I’m a novice, I’ve put many usuaful links in to advice & various sites where you can self-publish in different froms e.g eBook only or print as well. My choice is partly because I want to set up my own indie publishers, but in general at the moment I’m biased towards self-publishing & indie-publishing, because the trad-publishing world really needs to evolve to the times.


  4. I actually know nothing about the subject, to be honest. But your friend might want to check out Christine Grote’s blog. God, I’m assuming she’s on my blogroll. Can’t remember if it’s under the name “Random Thoughts from Midlife” or from the newer name–her actual name. Christine self-published a memoir and she writes about the subject, in general. Another blogger friend self-published a novel I enjoyed. HIs blog is called “Mark my Words.”


  5. Ah, goodness, this has been a matter of great debate lately in some (or, er, most) writing/publishing circles, with some taking sides and voicing strong opinions one way or the other. Don’t be surprised, if you delve very deeply on this subject in the blogging community, to feel like you just came in late to a boxing match in some cases. Thankfully, there are many level-headed thinkers out there as well. Most agree that it is a matter of personal preference and individual skill-sets the writer brings to the table that will determine the degree of success with whatever publishing route one takes. There are, of course, remarkable exceptions to any rule, but in general, these things apply:

    *It is very difficult to break into traditional publishing (did I hear someone say, “No duh?”) It requires a great deal of experience and top-notch writing skill. Most likely will need to get an agent to represent your work to publishers (which itself requires a great deal of skill, professionalism, and polish). Traditional publishing can take many months to years for your work to hit bookshelves. But you have the backing of a professional publishing house that takes care of things like editing, proofing, cover design, layout, printing, and marketing (albeit to varying degrees based on the individual writer and book).

    *Self-publishing can be a much faster process. But a much more varied assortment of skills are required of the writer/entrepreneur to see any degree of success (or even to break even financially). The writer can do most or all of the work themselves, but the final product may suffer if things such as cover design, editing/proofing, and layout/formatting are attempted without definite professional-level skills in those areas. The writer can also hire freelance professionals to handle some or all of these things, but that requires substantial up-front cost. Then there’s the marketing, which is all up to the writer, and/or, again, hired help.

    Full disclosure here — I haven’t published a book myself by either means, as yet, but I do have a few decades of on-and-off experience writing and submitting fiction, both short and novel-length. This is just my non-professional rough take on the state of novel publishing these days.


    1. Apt metaphor about the boxing match–I wondered if I should don a helmet before I launched this question. ;) The points you make about the challenges self-publishing are critical to consider, I think. We all know what’s tough about traditional, but it’s easy to overlook the challenges of taking on the whole project yourself…


  6. I’m in the same position as your friend. I’m opting for the traditional route because…well, I guess I’m just traditional. I’ve always had the dream of being published. It’s still my dream. Yes, going the Indie route is quicker — not easier, when you look at what’s all involved. But I’ve already put two years into writing and polishing my ms around life and the day job — what’s another year trying to get it published? I think it all comes down to personal choice. And, I guess, a small sense of validation. After all, if I get an agent to rep my ms, and they get a publisher to sign it, that means it must be good, right? Maybe. Maybe not. A lot of tripe has been published both ways.


  7. Kana, if you find the answer, let me know. I’ve written a few novels but have been hanging back trying to decide whether to self-publish or go after an agent or hit a publisher directly. The route to publication is confusing and there are particular markets that many of us don’t directly fit into. So…I’ll be checking back to see what your readers come up with.


  8. Hi Kana. I agree with everything Mr. Kurtenbach said in his comment. As the past-president of the Chattanooga Writers Guild I have participated in developing programs, workshops, and activities related to writing, and getting published is the number one topic of the majority of participants.

    Clearly, getting published by one of the large publishing houses (who are now owned by conglomerates) is the dream of many writers, but even more clearly is the reality that this just isn’t going to happen. We encourage writers to seek out small presses such as a college press.

    They key to finding the right publisher is researching to find a publisher that prints books similar to what you write. For example, don’t query a sci fi publisher is your book is a romance novel.

    If this still isn’t working for you, consider self-publishing and again research long and hard on how to go about doing this. The one thing we have heard from self-published writers is that it can be confusing, time-consuming, frustrating, and most of all expensive. But in the end you have your book and if successful enough, it could be picked up by the mass market and be then published by a large publishing house.

    The newest trend in publishing is e-books which once again is in the hands of the writer. There are lists galore online as well as in writer’s magazines that one can research. My favorite is the Writer Magazine ( Each month there is advice from both sides of the issue and great tips on writing and publishing. It’s been around for 125 years.

    I have friends who have published in all these ways and each has an opinion. The one who is with Random House lives, breathes and stays in her pajamas all day to write and is responsible still for her own marketing but she is writing her fourth or fifth book now. Another has been published by Bantom and she has now self-published her second book because it was easier. By far most of the members of the Guild who have published books, do it themselves in print and by e-books. Some are excellent, some are not. None will make any significant money off their books.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for asking us to share. (My own book is non-fiction and was published by Arcadia Publishing in their Image of America series in 2009. A photo book depicting the history of the Town of Signal Mountain. I was responsible for the writing while my co-author was responsible for the history. I loved working with Arcadia, but the stress of getting the stories, collecting the pictures, and then proofing – and they still changing it – was over the top at times but worth it.)



    1. Thank you, Pris, especially for bringing that “middle-ground” possibility of a SMALL publisher to our attention. (And while we’re here, can you link us to YOUR book so we can check it out?)

      I’m thinking now about how much change Writer Magazine has seen in its 125 years… What a journey! ;)


  9. I’m of the mind that I’d rather go the traditional route. A lot of it depends on who you get as your agent and your publisher. Some agents go all the way–from helping with editing, marketing, everything, plus the bigger publishers work in this area with you as well. Granted, a larger chunk of your royalties goes towards them, but you’re also selling more books in return. And if you have a super agent who can get your publisher to pay for your tours and all of your appearances, then all the better. If I self-published, I’d have to hire someone and pay them up-front for editing, pay someone else for marketing, and yet another person as a publicist. On top of that, I have to pay to jettison myself across the country for tours and whatnot. I guess I’d much rather have someone else take care of the details so I have time to actually write.

    On another note, if you’re already an established writer, then self-publishing might be another way to go in addition to the above. You already have your fan base, so you don’t have to work so much on the marketing and whatnot–you’re readers will come to you. This happened with an established writer who’s publisher decided not to finish out her series (though they’ve already published about 4 books I think) due to what they call low volume sales even though she is selling quite a bit, so she is considering the possibility of self-publishing the rest. She already has a loyal fan base eager for her books, so again she doesn’t have to deal with the promotion and marketing as much as a new writer just starting out would.


    1. There’s definitely a big “machine” behind you with a traditional publisher, isn’t there? Of course… I’m imagining the prospect of being a very small cog in a very big machine, and in the abstract it actually DOESN’T seem very comforting. I have a feeling that the nature of the personal relationship with agent and editor could “make or break” the whole experience. As always–PEOPLE can make the difference. ;)


  10. First off, major applause and kudos to your friend! There is nothing more exhilarating than finishing a novel.

    After about two years of querying, numerous rejections and several near-hits with agents, I’m going the Indie publishing route (Indie sounds so much cooler than self, like I should be wearing lots of flannel and black eye makeup). Tell her to pick up this month’s issue of Writer’s Digest with Lisa See on the cover. It’s got a great feature on Indie publishing, including a chart that breaks out the different distribution channels. I’ve been researching and so far, from what I’ve read I really like what they have to offer. Hope this helps!


    1. You’re right, Indie sounds much cooler. ;) Indie it shall be from this point on–and thanks for the BookBaby suggestion. Since I hadn’t been seriously looking into this question previously, I’m only now realizing how little I know about the options (and challenges) of Indie distribution…


  11. I speaking from the POV of someone who has never been published, so take it for what it is.

    I would prefer to be published in the traditional way. I assume in most cases you have the potential to reach a much wider audience since you have the machine working on your behalf. Also, the chance for a decent payday is greater. Maybe people are not motivated to write for money, but making money allows for greater freedom and (hopefully) more time to write.

    Self-publishing is alluring because you know you will be published! You also need an understanding of marketing, design (for cover and layout), rights, and all the other things a traditional publisher deals with. That being said, when you self-publish you get a much larger cut from each sale. If you can somehow strike a “Fifty Shades of Grey” gold mine you’ll be sitting pretty!


  12. Personally, I’d go the traditional route. I just would. I realize that I may not actually “go” anywhere that way, and I’m okay with that.

    If you want to self-publish something for family or for a market of your fans/followers that you already know exists, go for it!

    BUT, If you want to see your stuff selling to folks who have never heard of you before, let me share a little story for you from TODAY at the library where I work. I think it speaks to what people are saying above, about the importance of cover, layout, advertising, etc….

    We recently ordered and received our shipment of new fiction for the library, traditionally published. We also received a donation of two CASES of a mystery series from a local author who is a retired teacher and is self-published. “New books” have such cache and allure with kids, that I put the local author’s books out on display with the books I had ordered, to see if I could get them to circulate. Kids LOVE mysteries, right? NO ONE is checking the self-published books out. Why? The cover artwork and production looks like it was done by those places that publish your grandma’s church’s cookbooks! I’ve made “Quiet, Please” signs for the library on Microsoft Word that look better!

    If you’re self-publishing, pay attention to that stuff. It’s important.


    1. So, so, SO important!–as your anecdote aptly illustrates! We DO judge books by their covers, all the time. Even with an e-Book, where it’s never physically going to be on a shelf, cover art still influences me. And not all of us have the multi-faceted talents to get great cover art together ourselves, but if we’re going to take that route, we’d better find some resources that can still help us get it done WELL.

      Another case in point: editing! My husband pointed out to me this afternoon that I had written “authority ore experience” in this post–and although I’m certainly mining for advice here, that’s clearly not what I meant to say. According to my stats, about three hundred people read that error before I corrected it. (Embarrassing!) But it reminds me that if I were to self-publish, I’d REALLY need to put some thought into the editing! :)


      1. Absolutely — Although I missed YOUR typo, one thing that is a definite turn off is obvious spelling or grammar errors. Neither are easy to matter, but there are so many resources (including eagle-eyed husbands) that can help people get it right!


    1. And there’s yet another possibility that hadn’t crossed my mind! Thanks, Charley–I’m loving the idea. :)


  13. I’ve been published hundreds of times in magazines, and once as a book writer (a novel, self published). I investigated traditional book publishing first and found it to be a world overrun by time and money wasters. That said, my novel isn’t traditional. If your book is more mainstream, by all means submit it to agents and publishing houses, especially if you have industry connections or any kind of publishing track record. Mainstream is what publishers want. However, if your book is unlike the current crop of bestsellers, you’ll just meet resistance. May as well cut to the chase and publish it yourself. Read my blog about this.


    1. Thanks for sharing the blog (I’m giggling at the title), and congratulations on the fact that Barnes & Noble and Borders are now selling your printed copies!

      That’s another possibility for all of us to contemplate… I think it’s increasingly common for self-published authors to get “picked up” after the fact by publishers–or in this case, by big sellers–after getting their book out there and selling…


  14. What a can of wyrms! … my thoughts on the matter.

    I chose to go with a publisher, because I knew I didn’t know enough about publishing to even ask the right questions.
    I chose to go with a small publisher, because I didn’t want to wait for forever to hear back about a query, let alone the rest of the process (Tor has a wait time of a YEAR, last I checked!) – this is where I agree with the person who commented that publishers need to catch up with the times.

    Small publishers have a high suicide rate (the companies that is) for lots of reasons; lack of publishing experience, lack of funds, lack of staff, lack of ethics, etc, so if your friend goes this way she really needs to do her homework. Check out Preditors and Editors, for a start, also Writers Beware,

    Most publishers worth their salt put your manuscript through an editing process. Some not much more than a line edit, and some a content edit as well. They also take over the nuts-n-bolts side of the process, listing the title in the trade catalogues, provide an ISBN, listing online, etc.
    Smaller publishers usually pay a greater royalty than the big six, ‘specially if you feel confident enough to cut out as many middle-persons as you can.

    After my adventures with my publisher; the good, the bad, and the ugly, I reckon I have enough experience to start asking those questions and try self-publishing in the future. Ideally I see myself with a mix of indie and self published works.

    An agent is NOT necessary, unless you want to approach the big six. They wont speak to you otherwise. (which smacks of protectionism as far as I’m concerned) But make sure you understand (very thoroughly) how the game is played, particularly when you get to the point of negotiating/signing contracts.
    A good agent can also be your best friend no matter which publishing path you take, a bad one can screw six ways from Sunday, and still take their percentage.

    One last word on your friend’s finished novel. What does ‘finished’ mean?
    If she’s just typed ‘The End’, then her work has just begun.

    If she has edited, and rewritten, and edited some more, if she’s edited for continuity, for pace, for typo’s, for style, has had it critiqued or beta read by someone other than a family member or close friend, if her query letters (she needs a template that can be tailored to the publishers requirements) has been polished to within an inch of it’s life, if her one-paragraph and one-page, and five-page synopsises (what is the plural of synopsis?) are equally shiny, then she’s ready for the wonderful world of hurry-up-and-wait publishing – whichever form she chooses.

    And then there’s the marketing, which is a whole ‘nuther ball of wax!

    Whoever said this business wasn’t for the faint of heart, wasn’t kidding!

    P.S. if your friend wants to chat some more about any of the points I’ve raised, please feel free to give her my email address.


    1. Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to share all this with us!

      You know what’s funny? I haven’t even typed “Once upon a time” yet on a book of my own, let alone “The End”–and a rational person would probably be getting a little overwhelmed with the prospect of everything this process will entail… But I’m getting kind of jazzed. ;) It definitely helps to know I’ll have some marvelous brains to pick as I go along… ;)


  15. This is a very difficult topic. With self-publishing I believe that you have to be a marketing guru, as all the promotion is up to you. It is entirely doable, but I plan to opt for the traditional route myself. I am not a good salesperson by any stretch!


  16. I am going to be lazy and not read through every other comment to be sure I’m not repeating ideas… cuz I am on a quick break! But wanted to respond. I’ve been working on some writitng projects in the past few years, which has prompted me to take some workshops offered at our local bookstore with different writers of varying degrees of success and genre. The overall impression I get, is that the traditional way is better because of one reason only, and that is marketing!!! Sure, self-publishing is an amazing and cost-effective journey, however… getting your book out there for people to actually buy… and for big stores to actually carry.. is tough. Not impossible, but tough for sure.

    I will probably try my hand at both, because products may allow me that freedom. But for the big novel(s)… my shot at being the next Meyers, Rowling, or Cast… I plan to shoot for a house to carry me.

    Good luck to your friend, regardless of which way she decides to go!


    1. That’s true–I’m thinking “marketing” a book should be a whole forum of its own at some point. I got pretty creative with marketing tools when we owned our restaurant, and have been thinking how I could put those to work for marketing a book–but marketing is the big deal for a self-publisher, no doubt about it!


    2. Traditional is only very slightly ahead in the marketing department. Unless you are one of the very fortunate few (Rowling and Co) then ninety eleven percent of marketing and promoting is up to you alone, no matter which way you go.


  17. Hi Kana,

    I think writers should view self publishing online as a perfectly respectable alternative to the traditional route nowadays – and okay, I’m saying that because this is what I’ve done. It depends what you’re looking for from your writing of course. There’s still lot of kudos attached to  the idea of seeing your novel in the highstreet bookshops, and if you want to earn your living by your craft, and be famous etc, then traditional publishing’s probably still the only route. So, if this is your dream, then go for it, but you should also be realistic about your chances. Publishers/agents aren’t exactly falling over themselves to sign up unknown authors, or even to nurture new talent. Okay, what I basically mean here is they didn’t want to sign me up.

    I think self publishing’s great if you love writing, you like telling stories, and simply want to reach a readership. This is what I do, and enjoy it immensely. I gave up on the money and the fame, and gladly exchanged it for a handful of people around the world who seem to like reading my stuff.

    Things are changing in this field all the time, especially the ebook market, and I’m finding it very interesting keeping abreast of developments. I think the next few years will see more potential for earning a few bucks from it. The trick here  though I think, as you said is self publicity – keep an active blog, participate in the blogsphere, and use all the other online networking tools we have these days to create a following. Then you’ve nothing to lose by putting your novel up on the Kindle marketplace or Smashwords and charging a modest fee for it. At the moment though I’m keeping my work free. I may try charging a little for the next novel. But I don’t know.

    To sum up then, test the water of traditional publishing, if that’s your dream thing, but don’t let it get to the point where the rejections are getting you down, because that way you may just end up quitting on your craft. There is another way now,  all be it somewhat limited in terms of fame and fortune. But then there are plenty of writers who’ve scaled the mountain of traditional publishing who aren’t famous either.

    Love your blog Kana, always a pleasure. If you ever get around to writing that book, you already have at least one potential fan here.

    Regards Michael


    1. The latest Writers Digest devotes most of the latest issue to self-publishing and provides a great deal of information.
      Walt Trizna


  18. All of the above is really great information. It’s great to have such a wonderful forum open for discussion. I’ve got one book finished. Twice. Different slants and voice both times. Now, I know what is wrong with both and am anxious to start on the third version. Both times I got to “the end” I had laboriously spent hours on many edits and re-writes as I went along. Then I sat it on the shelf to age.

    At several writer’s conferences, I have heard several writers complain that the marketing for even the large pubs is being delegated to the writers. So it seems that you will be on tours marketing that book no matter how it’s published. The big difference is who do you want to arrange the tours?

    If you are established and on the NYT best seller list many times, you still market that new book. Author signing at book stores, on talk shows and with luck a really big talk show. Local at fairs, on radio, newspaper interviews, anyone who will listen.

    I have a children’s picture book nearly finished and have it ready to go as a POD, an Indie (I like that), or traditional. I plan to send complete full color dummies out first (traditional) and see what happens. It has been a long process and a labor of love. I’m open to try any of them including e-book.

    I pitched it to two children’s book editors a summer ago. One loved it but had something similar that she thought it would compete with, the other hated it. So there you go…I only need one who likes and NEEDS it.

    So wish me luck, I’ll let you know what happens.


    1. DO keep us posted! And I’ll be keeping my fingers & toes crossed for you. :) “Labor of Love”–I’m loving that description, and glad it has remained such throughout the process… I think the worst tragedy would be getting so “sucked in” by the process that the writing itself lost its joy for us..


  19. very great topic…I would have to say, Self Publish then do super great then gun for traditional if you want a team, global support and advances. If on a budget and create a good campaign, then self publishing is the realm to be in. I also is on my way to self publishing. kudos on an awesome post.


  20. Hi Kana!
    Congrats to your friend and thank you for this fabulous topic. :) I’ll be adding it, in due course, to my page of ‘posts I like’ because the comment stream and the discussion its brought about is something all of us can benefit from.

    Personally, I would love to be published down the traditional route. Love, love, love! Unfortunately, my work doesn’t really fit into any neat little niches which makes everyone I’ve approached so far (agents and publishers) reluctant to look at it in any detail. Other novels of mine may have better luck, but the idea of control involved with indie publishing is becoming increasingly attractive to me.

    My solution, therefore, was to make attempts to publish my first novel traditionally, while looking at indie routes for others. Its a bit of a jumble, but it suits me – or it will when I get started properly on the indie part. I also have another novel which has been picked up by Popcorn Press (a small press in Wisconsin) so it seems that I’m a bit of a here, there and everywhere kinda girl.

    I’ll do my best to let folk know how it all goes; personal accounts and sharing experiences is how we all learn, after all. :)


  21. I love holding a book in my hands, feeling printed paper! mmm, that’s what makes a book :)
    Good for your friend! And thank God for your own supportive family!


    1. What synchronicity! :) (And even more so, since I’m in the middle of a post about synchronicity, LOL..) Thanks for sharing!


  22. First of all, Kana, let me say how much I am enjoying the cartoon on this post! For me, I am being wary of transitioning from traditional publishing to self-publishing/epublishing because of all the incessant tweets from self-published authors who only share one thing: their ebook! I am going with regional journals and competitions run by university presses, for now. However, I have run across a couple of wonderful ebooks on reviews. So I am withholding judgment on the negatives of self-publishing for now.


  23. I’ve had books published by big name publishers, by small press publishers, and I’ve also self-published. It’s a matter of preference (and luck!) which path one takes, but the one thing a writer should never do is grow fat, slack and lazy. However you put your work into the world, make it the very best work you can produce before you put it out there. Write, rewrite, rewrite…and do it again and again until the work shines as it is meant to.


    1. Whatever the choice, it boils down to “working hard at it,” doesn’t it? :) If you were able to separate the EXPERIENCE itself from the sales or results of the different publishing routes, which method have you ENJOYED most?


      1. It’s a toss-up. With traditional publishing, so much was out of my hands (cover choice, etc), yet they handled all the marketing and such. With the small press, I was fortunate that they worked closely with me on the cover (although they did very little marketing and that was mostly left to me). With self-publishing, it’s a question of how much I want to learn, how much time I want to invest in learning new technology, or do I want to hire someone to do the mechanical stuff so I can concentrate on the writing? The marketing stuff is difficult; don’t let anyone tell you differently. I guess what I ENJOY most is the writing process itself…and that hasn’t changed no matter what venue I chose.


  24. I’ve been worrying over this little dilemma for awhile now myself. On one hand, I’m told that – while costly – self publishing is so much easier and faster than going the traditional route. On the other hand, one of the most natural parts of being a writer (at least for me) is that tender little ego that wants/needs validation; how much more validation can you get as a writer than to be picked up by a publishing house? Of course, that’s a two sided coin isn’t it… if you face rejection after rejection, it could all but kill the inner writer’s ego. See? Dilemma.


  25. I think you’re right–self-publishing has lost some of its stigma. Some purists say self-published material is always subpar, but I have found that is not true. I’ve downloaded a few self-published e-books and have been happy with what I’ve read. My own novel falls somewhere in between–it will be published as an e-book by a small, independent publisher, but there is also a print option as well, which I think I will go with. Most of the marketing will fall on me, but I hear that happens to even those traditionally published nowadays.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it!


  26. Having published both ways, it depends on her ultimate purpose.

    Note: For either one, she is going to need about 100 press kits in hand for distribution and a plan on what she is going to do to market the book. Publishers no longer pay for travel or arrange PR conferences – they will set up interviews with radio stations which YOU have initially contacted and received a favorable response.

    If the novel is one that is easy to get published, like mystery genre, she may want to try for an agent because these are marketed fast.

    However, she should be ready for the following:

    1. do not expect to get much money for genre fiction – maybe $1000 flat less the agent fees

    2. rewrites x 3, 4, 5 ….

    3. turn downs from the first 20 submissions – which will tell her nothing
    … they may have too many of the genre she is writing, sales may be down, they may have an agent out sick or retired, in other words – it might have nothing to do with her novel, at all. MOST agents won’t even answer you one way or the other.

    IF she wants to just get something out there and in print, quality of the paper, the binding and photos and cover art are very important. Add to that:

    1. She will need to get an ISN license number from the Library of Congress

    2. register as a publishing business in her state – and keep track of any sales to report sales tax and other business taxes.

    3. She will need to put together a marketing scheme and know how/where/when to market the book.

    4. She will need to make the trips to bookstores to sell it personally because they will not put it on a shelf but many will let you sit at a table and sell it there. [Its a contracting issue with major publishers that prevents it from going on shelves.]

    5. She will need to arrange publicity dates, places, ect. including interviews with local radio stations, newspapers, and even bloggers.


    1. That’s a solid list of things I hadn’t even THOUGHT about! (Good thing I’m not there yet… I get to learn from all of YOU!) :)


  27. Great dialogue here.Thanks Kana for the forum.In the end, i really believe there are options both explored and unexplored for both options.One has to begin somewhere while remaining open minded.I believe it is with time one’s conviction can be fine-tuned to an authoritative position.There is power in the beauty of a dream come true…that could mean different things for different people!


  28. For years people said that I should self-publish. But I thought it was cheesy. In recent years people began sending me articles about self-publishing success stories. I discovered that this has become somewhat of a challenge to traditional publishing houses. More edgy non traditional writers have a chance to been seen by the public nowadays.

    I had a few agents look at a novel that I wrote, and had a short story published by a literary journal put out by Mensa. But after getting rejections for my other stories, as self-publishing was becoming more reputable, I went on ahead and published my short story collection. I bought an ad on Goodreads, bought a review, started a blog and got a face book account for my small time marketing effort. Now I’m planning to do readings in bookstores, cafes and libraries. It’s a lot of work but at least I can say that I wrote a book and got some people to read it. I might be waiting forever if the traditional route was all I would consider. At least now my book is out and who knows who will be reading it.

    With self-publishing at least you get a chance to be seen. And with social media, you can market yourself in ways that traditional publishing houses wouldn’t consider.


    1. First, congratulations on the success you have had!

      I have recently learned from a big-name traditional publishing house -editor friend of mine that the house is now requiring that their writers are required to produce a completely reader-ready manuscript every six months. It used to be one every two years! No writer can produce QUALITY work consistently in 200-250k manuscripts every six months. So, I am now on the side of Self-publishing especially if QUALITY is something the writer aims at.


      1. The more I read and hear, the more I think there’s no question. If I want to write what *I* want to write (and why else write it?) it’s going to have to be self-publishing! :)


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