Written by A Guest Author February 16th, 2023

Traditional or Self Publishing – That is the Question

By Rod Martinez

Traditional or Self-Pub? It’s a question we all ask. Once you have edited, and re-edited… and re-re-edited your masterpiece, the bug bites. “I want this book in the hands of readers!” The quickest method, it seems, is to self-publish. It’s easy, it’s actually free on most sites and you can have readers in a matter of minutes after uploading your files. Of course, questions of quality and editing and formatting abound (as well as attracting readers). You don’t want to just throw anything out there, that’s your name and reputation as a writer hanging in the balance.

We writers have it ingrained in us that we want a traditional publisher to have our book, why? Because they have the marketing, the experience and more importantly – the money to make it happen.

I am an author of middle grade and young adult novels. My first traditionally published book went through the normal ritual of re-edits, submissions, and rejections. Then I got lucky, a small publisher liked the concept of my book “The Juniors” and decided to go with it. Soon submissions of my other titles were accepted by other small presses, but for those few traditionally published titles, I have also managed to pen many unpublished and yes – self-published titles.

I chose self-publishing for a couple of reasons; I wanted quick, easy access to a book that I had just written for an audience I already had in place – local elementary and middle schools. The logic was simple to me, I wanted to have a title in my hand that I could show at book talks and author visits. While I had a few traditionally published titles, I wanted to bring more titles for those young voracious readers.

As I waited for my books to go through the traditional process, it was an easy transition to have copies of a self-published book to present. Self-publishing a title is an easy way for you to get your name out there and be able to sell copies instantly. Your story deserves to be read by anyone who loves the genre you represent.

Although most writers agree that a traditional publisher is the best way to get there, unfortunately, it is also the hardest. Face it, writing the novel is the easy part, getting it in the hands of a publisher is the work. YOU – the writer – know this. You know the work involved, so you must write, and keep writing. But we know the work of creation isn’t all, we are expected to be PR person, publicist and any other role necessary to get that masterpiece out to the readers. The goal of publication is only something you can achieve by pursuing with the kind of fervor that an Olympic athlete has with her eyes on the gold, or the professional football player with his eyes on the Super Bowl. If traditional publishing is your Super Bowl, then like a pro player, you work endlessly for the goal.

If all of this sounds great – remember there is a downside – vanity presses. Yes, I saw that eyebrow raise. You know who they are, and if you don’t, make do to find out who they are – sharks are out there. As with any business endeavor, a watchful eye and careful planning should go into your decision with publishing. Some vanity presses are passing themselves as self-publishers. Yes, they never went away and they’d love nothing more than to take your money, mass produce hundreds of copies and land them at your doorstep leaving you the painstaking job of distributing and selling them.

Of course, there are snags with the smaller imprint traditional publishers too. The one I didn’t expect was with my first traditionally published title. After two years into my contract, I got an email from the publisher letting me know that they would be going out of business and that I would have the rights reverted to me.

I learned that this is something to expect with small publishers as the volatile nature of the publishing world isn’t for everyone. So, what did I do? I re-edited the book once more and offered it as a self-published title. Because it was a locally based middle grade crime adventure drama, I already had a readership with the title in schools.

The freedom of self-publishing is great as long as you, the writer, are sure to have a professional (read: edited) product for readers and are ready to do the legwork to end with a professional product.

Yes, the road to national and international acclaim as an author is something we all want, but with the glory comes a lot of hard work. Are you willing to go the distance?

BIO: Attracted to words at an early age, Rod’s first book was created in grade school, his teacher used it to encourage creativity in her students. His high school English teacher told him to try short story writing, he listened, and the rest – as they say, is history. You can visit his website here.


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