My journey from self publishing to traditional

January 20, 2015

Recently I went to Armageddon in Melbourne with good friend and fellow author Kimberley Clark. For those of you who don’t know, Armageddon is a comic/pop culture convention that is held in Australia and New Zealand. I’d never done anything like that before. Sure, I attended an author convention in March this year, but it was saturated with romance/erotica authors, so little ol’ me with my dark urban fantasy books simply didn’t get a look in.

But comic/pop culture conventions are a different story. I soon realized that I’d found my place. While there, a lot of people approached our table. They were excited and had so many questions for us. The most common opening statement was: “I’m writing a book too. How do you go about getting your books published?”

Of course, there are two methods: self-publishing and traditional, and I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced both.

Self-publishing has shaken off the stigma of simply being vanity publishing in the last four to five years, and for some authors, self-publishing has been very lucrative and successful. For others, the opposite is true. You might have the greatest book ever written, but unless the right people take notice, it’ll just be another book.

I started off my writing career as a self-published author. After a couple of years of rejections from major publishing houses and literary agents, I was left with two options. Give up and keep going. I didn’t understand the term ‘give up’, so ‘keep going’ it was. That was when I discovered Kindle’s KDP program. Can you imagine it? A way to get your books published and out there into the world without someone telling you, “no you can’t.”

And that is exactly what I did. But what I didn’t know at the time was that if you want to be taken seriously, and if you want to be professional, self-publishing requires a phenomenal amount of work. It’s not enough to simply write the book. You have to spend time, and money (A LOT of money), on making sure it’s the best book it can be. That means editors and proof readers and cover artists and time spent on promoting your work on so many social media platforms that sometimes it makes your head spin! 

It was a crazy ride, and I never realized just how much a publisher does for the author until two of my books were picked up by Momentum earlier this year. When I first read the email telling me they were interested in my books, I had to read it again…and again, and then take it to my husband so he could read it too. I remember asking him, “Is this saying what I think it’s saying?” When he said I wasn’t going crazy and that I had read it correctly the first time, I just kind of sat there for a little while and absorbed the news. An honest-to-god publisher wanted my books?

After that first phone call with Momentum, I knew that this was what I wanted—what I’d always wanted. From there, things started happening. I had an editor. I had a copy editor. I had a proof reader. I had a publicist and marketing teams. I had someone to take my ideas for the re-vamped cover and create something visually stunning. 

Having all these people and resources at my disposal has been great. It meant that I didn’t have to worry about finding editors and proof readers to go over the manuscript. It also meant that I didn’t have to spend hours on Photoshop trying to perfect my cover, or deal with formatting the book for e-book and paperback. 

Many self-published authors think that their publisher will simply take away all their creative rights, but I have to tell you that that’s simply not true. If the author works with the publishing team, magic happens. Although many things are now done for me, there is still one element that stays the same between being self-published and traditionally published, and that is promoting yourself. 

It’s a twenty-four seven kind of thing, and at the end of the day, it benefits you as well as your publisher. I’m still new to all of this, but I’ve come to realize that a publisher/author relationship is symbiotic. The publisher wouldn’t have a business without authors and authors wouldn’t have the opportunity to have their books read without a publisher. So whether you choose to go down the self-publishing route (as many previously published authors are now doing, too) or if you’re hanging out for the recognition from a traditional publisher, know that it is a lot of hard work either way, but so very worth it.

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