As many of you know, I’m a self-published author. I decided to go this route after finding not a lot of doors opening by going the traditional route and hearing a bunch of stories from fellow writers and bloggers on how they self-published and found success as writers. Since I made that decision, I’ve published three books, started writing for a website devoted to helping self-published authors, made lots of friends and found lots of new followers who went the same route as me, and am working on publishing a fourth one the same way I published the first three, though I like to think that with every book I get a bit wiser on how to go about publishing and marketing the books.

Do I like self-publishing? Yes, very much. For one thing, I’m the boss. I get to work on what I like, when I like it. I also get to meet and work with all sorts of interesting people and work on exciting projects with them, like anthologies and Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. We independent writers also tend to share information with each other, working to figure out what works and what can help us reach new readers. It’s pretty nice, being able to do all this and not rely on a publishing company.

But lately, I’ve been considering going traditional again. Or rather, other people are making me consider going traditional again, despite the fact that I never had much success the traditional way to begin with. At first, it was only my advisor on my thesis, who asked me, “You don’t want to stay self-published forever, do you? You want to move up eventually, don’t you?” Or something to that effect.

Now, I could brush that off, he’s traditional and a professor at a university, which isn’t exactly big on the self-publishing craze (though maybe some sociologists and business professors study it for academic purposes). But then a friend who’s helping me look for work suggested that I look into getting with a publishing company. And even my mother suggested something similar.

Now normally I wouldn’t even consider these suggestions. Like I said, I like self-publishing. I’ve even gone as far as to say that it’s the way of the future.

But even if it is the way of the future, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll have that many readers. In fact, I don’t have that many, or at least not as many as I would like. For a guy who hopes one day to write full-time, that’s pretty sad.

Plus I’m still between jobs these days (yeah, I know. I expected to be working by this time too), and while I’ve made headway in the job search, it really sucks that I’m not working and making money. Plus while I’m between jobs, I’m living with my dad, and while we’re good friends and love each other, we can rub each other the wrong way sometimes. Plus I just need my own space to spread out, act my own eccentric self without wondering who’s watching. Maybe get a couple of cats too while I’m at it.

Add all this together, and yeah, a contract with a publishing company sounds enticing. To many authors, that’s like winning the lottery. And it would be nice to have the support and distribution that would come from having an agent and an editor and a company with maybe it’s own marketing team. And the royalties from all of that? To say the least, it sounds like a golden deal. Heck, even folks like E.L. James, Andy Weir, and Christopher Paolini–bestselling novelists who all started out as self-published–took that deal when they got big.

But that’s the thing. They got big. Publishing companies saw them and saw profit. Truthfully, it’s still very hard even with a big company to make it a success. The Martins, the Rices, the Kings, the Rowlings, they’re rare. Most writers, both traditional and self-published, still have to have day jobs in order to pay their bills. And funnily enough, because of the self-publishing boom, publishing companies are even more selective about who they take on than ever before.

And if one does manage to get with one of the publishing companies, you don’t always get the marketing team to make sure people know your books. No, you still have to do most of the advertising yourself. And with the company, you don’t always get to publish what you write. No, they publish what they feel is profitable. At least with self-publishing, there’s still the chance that you’ll publish an unexpected hit that the companies rejected as a surefire fail.

Still, I wonder if maybe I gave up the traditional route too soon. And if I want to, I have the stories and the resources to try again if I want.

But at the same time, with every year I’m learning new tricks that allows me to reach more readers and get books out there. I could still make it as an independent novelist, and find myself writing full-time either way.

And maybe I’m only wondering this because I’m in a not-so-great place in my career right now, and some people who don’t really know the industry or doubt the power of the independent writers are speaking in my here. Or maybe they’re onto something and I really should try a career change.

I don’t know. What do you think?

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Comments
  1. Angela Misri says:

    I think you should try again Rami. I can’t say that I’ve seen the big bucks yet three books in, but having a team working with you on a book is invaluable. Rejection is hard, but we’ve already been through it. The books I sell at conferences and festivals are a big part of my fan base, and you can only access that (at present) by going traditional.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with trying. You can always be a hybrid author and do both after all 😉

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