Many articles have been written about traditional vs. self publishing (this blog is no exception, as my articles here and here prove), and agent Rachelle Gardner’s recent post added an intriguing twist to the conversation. She asked her readers who are sticking with traditional publishing to explain their reasons why.
Good question. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. As I’ve stated in my posts on the issue, we all have different goals for our stories and careers. And while some goals are a good match for self publishing, others require us to go the traditional route.
In her follow-up post yesterday, Rachelle shared some of the reasons cited by her readers to pursue traditional publishing. Many of them are reasons we’ve discussed here. Some people don’t want to do all the work themselves. Others don’t want to spend up-front money. Still others want to see their books in bookstores.
But the last reason she mentioned gave me pause: “wanting validation for your writing and a feeling of legitimacy.”
Don’t get me wrong. Wanting validation is a perfectly reasonable answer. However, I saw some commenters take that reason and twist it to reflect the opposite situation:
Some intend to pursue traditional publishing because they want validation,
but that goal becomes unimportant if they’re continuously told,
“don’t give up your day job.”
Then what? One commenter (whom I won’t pick on and name here because I’ve seen this attitude from other sources as well) wrote that they would consider self publishing at that point.
Really? This makes no sense to me. If I was told that, essentially, my work wasn’t ready for prime time, the last thing I’d do was move on to self publishing.
A great book might not sell to a traditional publisher for many reasons. Maybe it’s too much of a niche story for them. Maybe they already have a glut of that genre. Maybe the timing is just wrong.
A stack of rejections doesn’t mean our work is bad. However, we should make sure our work is professional and ready for its closeup before going down the self-publishing path.
If I self publish, it will be because I decided it was the right thing to do for a story or my career, not because it was the last resort. Call me old-fashioned, but self publishing shouldn’t be a loophole to avoid creating “publishable” work. Feedback of “this is great but I don’t think I can sell it” is very different from comments about pacing, characterization, or craft issues.
Sure, we could self publish anyway, but what would be the point of putting out something less than professional? The best way to succeed as a self-published author is to collect a lot of positive reviews, and that wouldn’t happen if our work isn’t polished. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.
If you disagree with me, tell me why. Have you ever considered self publishing because you got tired of the rejections? Do you expect self published stories to be as professional as traditionally published books? Should they be?Pin It