As I look through some of the posts that I have written on this website, I realize that, while I have discussed the different publishing routes (traditional and self) and while I have talked about the steps that I took to self-publish my work, I have never really written about why I decided to self-publish.
First of all, I am not here to try to sway your opinion either way on the subject. I definitely feel that traditional publishing and self-publishing should be available options due to the fact that not all humans are the same. What works for one person may not work for another. I cannot say with too much authority what it is like to traditionally publish. The only thing I have traditionally published (so far, anyway) was a short story. I published it in an online journal. The process of publishing was so quick and effortless that I could not reasonably compare it to being traditionally published. The hardest part (for publishing, that is) was finding a company that would take my story. What Bees May Come didn’t fit neatly into one category (not thought-provoking enough to be considered literary, not fantastical enough to be considered true fantasy, but not realistic enough to be considered a “normal”, straight one), and so I had the added challenge of trying to find guidelines loose enough to accept some genre-bending. Once I found such a company, and they liked what I had written, they posted What Bees May Come in their Spring publication issue. So, from writing the story to getting it published took about one full year.
I imagine that some writers go the self-publishing route because of the difficulties that traditional publishing offers. Though it took some work to track down publishers and wait for replies, in no way was my experience “traumatic” enough for me to switch to self-publishing. Of course, I knew that with self-publishing, I would not have to endure the process of trying to find a proper publishing company (like my story, my new novel is also hard to pin down into one genre).
However, that wasn’t the main reason I decided to go with self-publishing. In all honesty, at the time of publication, I really didn’t believe that any publishing company would take the manuscript seriously. Or, if they did like it enough to accept it for publication, I was worried that the book sales would be too small to generate a profit for the publishers. Additionally, and perhaps the biggest reason of all, I thought that I was going to die. Not from suicide, but from a larger event. For those who have not experienced depression, it is a strange place to be. The more I have researched this, the more I believe that I was not alone in this thought, that there are others—many others—who firmly believe that their life is soon going to come to an end. There usually is no factual evidence to support it, which makes the claim even stranger. Yet, when in that state of mind, facts aren’t needed. The belief becomes such a certainty that nothing can persuade you out of it except for the continuation of life. Eventually, that is what happened to me. I kept on living long enough to realize that I would not die anytime soon (even though a large part of me desperately wanted to). And so, after finding the best editor that I knew, I formatted and designed my book on Amazon’s CreateSpace and then hit the big “submit” button.
Would I do it again? Perhaps, perhaps not. Again, I believe that the route you take should be based on where you are in your life at that time and what option makes the most sense given your circumstances. While I have yet to really make much of a profit on my book (due, in some part, to my horrible lack of marketing), the experience of self-publishing and going through all of the steps did help me feel self-sufficient. Despite all of my worries that the book wasn’t good enough, I caught some confidence as I realized that I didn’t need to rely on another company’s opinion in order to get my story out into the world. If I believed in the story enough—and I must have believed in it enough—I could publish it and let my voice be heard. And, for that, the experience was worth it.
Do you have experiences with either traditional or self-publishing? Let me know down below.