So, you wanna be an author? Alright, here the first thing you do. Open your front door, place your hand on the jam and then slam it six or seven times. That’s the kind of pain you’re about to embark on, only every day, every rejection, every missed opportunity, every hour spent writing and not with your friends.
Advice I Never Got, R.A. McCandless
Still with me? Groovy. Now let’s talk some publishing—traditional versus self-publishing.
There are literally a ga-jillion (I did the
math) articles out there already discussing this topic at great length and in
|Presidential Flash Cards!|
For the TL;DR version, here’s where you should start:
Money, Money, Money
Yog’s Law tells us that money should always flow toward the author. That’s a great rule of thumb when applied to the traditional publishing machine. You should never, ever, never pay a publisher to publish. That’s not your job. That’s theirs. If they do their job, everyone (theoretically) makes money.
It may not be much, but it’smoney.
Self-publishing, however, is a different animal. Yog's Law does not immediately apply, and here's why.
|Writing ain't like dusting crops!|
Publishing Ain’t Easy, Kid
If you're doing it right, then it's a TON of work and effort. Like any art form that is worth buying, you have to know what you're doing, craft a solid product, ready it for market, and then get it in front of the right people at the right price.
If you're self-publishing, you take on the burden of all that yourself. You'll need to find a good, solid, reputable editor who can help you whip your brilliance into shining glory. You'll need a copy-editor who can give your work a good scrub for grammar and spelling. You'll have to get the work ready for publishing then push it out to the retail stores. You'll have to pay the cover artist for the artwork. Seriously, pay a cover artist—unless you’re aiming to make a “worst” list.
A traditional publisher should make most of that easy—or at least easier. That is they should
who help polish your story and clean up the typos and grammar. You should get a strong graphic artist who can
provide a solid, viable, marketable and story specific cover. Your publisher should also do some marketing
as well. You’ll still be expected to do
most of the heavy lifting, but a good publisher should point you in the right
direction to market. For doing all that, they take a cut of your sales.
There is no right or wrong answer for which direction to go. There is a right and wrong way to go about it. Cutting out editors or graphic artists or marketing properly and across media are all perfectly acceptable if writing is just a hobby. If you want to be a professional author, what you should consider is the time, effort and potential cost v. benefit that you will have to put into traditional publishing OR self-publishing to make your decision.