Traditional or Self Publish?

If you haven’t tried the traditional publishing route yet, I would vote for doing that first. Make sure you have the best book you can write and that you also have a good editor go through your book. Good editing is key as a poorly edited book will do you more harm than a rejection as far as publishers, agents, and readers go. Everyone is turned off by a book that hasn’t been edited for typos, punctuation, and grammar. Especially if you opt for self publishing.

There are several types of editors, those who are freelancers, and those who work for publishers or magazines. Freelancers can be concept, line, or a mix, with varying degrees of each type and varying degrees of skills. In my experience, editors do not always know what their strengths are or when they don’t have any. You should ask for references and see if the editor you are considering will edit a few pages or a chapter so you can assess how they would approach your work. You want to be sure that you and the editor are compatible.

Next I would research agents and publishers and see if you can make a connection. If you keep getting rejected for reasons such as the book still needs work or too much telling and not enough showing or other valid comments, then the book needs more work. Comments such as “I couldn’t relate to the characters” is not necessarily a valid comment, rather an indication that this agent is not your target audience (unless everyone tells you they can’t relate to the characters). If the criticisms you are getting from agents and publishers’ representatives seem to have more to do with their own biases than with your book, then proceed with self-publishing (SP).

My first choice wouldn’t be SP unless you are the type who is somewhat of a perfectionist and a stickler for details, and willing to spend the money for great cover art, type-setting, and publicity. If you are entrepreneurial, than SP could be perfect for you. You’ll know when the work to find a publisher is more than the work you will have to do to self-publish. One of my best friends, C.B. Shiepe who wrote Cliff Falls, has gone the (SP) route, but he approached it as a serious business and not as a hobby. Promoting the book is a full-time job in itself, and as others will tell you, SP sucks time away from your writing.

And by the way, both traditional and SP are very demanding as far as self-promotion goes if you want your book to sell. Some feel if they are going to spend that much time and energy on a project, they’d rather it be SP and make more money per book. Some feel that they will make less per book, but possibly have far more sales because publishers have distribution channels, which is probably as important as the editing. Either way, the ability to market your book is imperative for success.

Good luck with your book.

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