I had a family member ask me recently whether I had considered self publishing my novel, instead of going to all the trouble of finding a traditional publisher. I have thought a lot about this – and I have a number of reasons, even aside from the reasons I have never bought a self published book. This isn’t about which is better, it’s about what I want and what’s best for me.
I do better being managed.
I’m not a terribly self motivated person, but I work well under pressure. Give me a deadline, and I can make that deadline. Just tell me what you need me to do.
Self publishing, I’d have to manage myself, and I suck at that. As John Scalzi mentioned in his article on Amanda Palmer and her indie Kickstarter project, “This is particularly the case when it comes to writers, artists and musicians, who are famously complete shit at working through their finances anyway, but who are also, through Kickstarter tiers and through encountering production costs that were previously handled by other people, wading into financial waters they often know next to nothing about.” The same thing goes for self publishing. Traditional publishing has a system all worked out for pumping out books – they know how it works and how to usher an author through the process.
I don’t, and if I self publish, then I have to learn a huge ton of crap that I’m really not good at handling.
Self publishing is a lot of work that takes away from writing time.
Why go to the trouble of finding a traditional publisher, when I can just self publish?
Even I know self publishing is not the easy way. Self publishing means doing one hundred percent of the manuscript preparation, distribution, and marketing for my books. That’s a frelling ton of time that I could be spending writing. That’s why traditional publishers existed – because it frees up writers to do what they do best – write.
I know that self publishers who have been successful have had to put massive amounts of time and effort into getting their books out there, and getting the word out. I know I’ll still have to put a decent amount of effort into the marketing side of things myself, but to be completely responsible for everything, my productivity would suffer.
I wan the legitimacy that traditional publishing gives.
Adam Heine made a clever analogy on his blog today, about wanting to finish the game on the hardest setting. There’s definitely that for me. I want to be able to say that someone besides myself was willing to put their reputation on the line and say that I wrote a book that’s worth paying money for. That I was ready to be published, not an author with potential, putting their book out there too early because when I’m self publishing, no one can tell me it’s not ready.
But honestly, even more than that, I don’t want the responsibility of trying to convince readers that I’ve written a book good enough to pay money for, despite the lack of legitimacy that the traditional publisher provides. I don’t want the responsibility of convincing potential readers that my self published book isn’t like the others that they’ve heard about, the nightmares of grammar that should never have seen the light of day. People have tried to convince me. If I haven’t been convinced, how can I convince anyone else to give me a chance?
I know traditional publishing is on uneasy ground right now. With people predicting big three will to put the big six out of business, sure, that scares me. I think self publishing, or some form of it, will eventually find a way to gain more legitimacy via some way of filtering out the books that are of poor quality. There isn’t one yet, but I really think someone will come up with something eventually. But I think when the dust settles, there will also still be a system that allows writers to just write, without having to manage the publishing end of things, and that’s really what I want for myself.