Day 21: Two publishing roads diverged in a yellow wood…

Do I take the road less traveled? At this point, I have no idea. I’m not even sure which one would be considered “less traveled.”

I made it through the hardest parts already with my novel, starting and making it through the slump week, but as I approach the end I find that I feel unprepared for what comes next. I’m not even sure that I like my novel, and I already have people who want to read it. The honor of the first, even-before-revision reading goes only to my Leander, because I’m not comfortable letting anyone else read it at that stage. But when I am ready for more beta readers…will I ever feel ready for more beta readers? I’m terrible with criticism, always have been. I am part of a large segment of my generation that was told we were smart and spent our lives avoiding failure to make sure that continued to be true.

Yet somewhere down the road, I know that my novel will need to become something that I share with other people. After all, I’m not writing it for my own enjoyment. I’m writing so that other people can have this thing I made, and know that I made it. At the most basic level, that’s what writing is for me. Proof that I was here, and I contributed something to the world. Sending it out into the world is a necessary part of that equation.

But whether or not I will self-publish or look for an agent and a publishing contract, I really haven’t decided yet. I understand that self-publishing is a good option, allowing you to reach readers right away and keep much more of your profits–but it wasn’t really a prevalent thing for most of my life, so I find myself stuck on The Dream. You may know the one: I write a book. I work on that book until it’s as good as I can make it, and then I seek out an agent and a publisher, both of which arrive in a timely fashion. My book is published and becomes incredibly popular, and I never have to work minimum wage jobs ever again. 🙂

Obviously I know that things aren’t that quick and simple now that I’m an adult, but it doesn’t change a lifetime of expecting that that is how things work for successful authors. Trying to imagine a future where I have a small number of dedicated readers who buy my books digitally, directly from me, just feels impossible, because I’ve never been that kind of reader or related personally to that kind of author. I love bookstores and library shelves, and I’m not sure I’d feel like a published author unless I could actually see a hard copy of my book somewhere. In that respect, I suppose I’m a relic of another time at not-quite-30.

This is not to say that self-publishing is less valid than going the traditional route. There are a lot of good reasons to control your own publishing and distribution, and with the growth of eBooks authors can reach readers in new ways, too. I personally struggle to read on a screen, so my pleasure reading is never digital, always a lovely paper copy–but I’m very aware that the industry is shifting towards most people, who don’t feel that way.

I worry that I wouldn’t do well as an independent author because I don’t have the kind of connections that most people have, a network of family, business contacts and friends that help you reach others when you start out in any kind of new venture. I have some family and friends, of course, but I can’t imagine most of the people I know wanting to pay for books I write. And yet, I’m not willing to rule out self-publishing either when I don’t even know what kind of book I have yet.

I have no personal experience with either kind of publishing, so it’s not as though I’m well-informed and ready to go. I haven’t even done any up-to-date research during the month–that is mostly because I didn’t want to jinx my writing by getting ahead of myself, which for me is always a safe strategy as I tend to get distracted. I will become more familiar with my options and their pros and cons when that time comes. However, as I finish out Week 3 this seemed like a good time to share my thoughts.

Have you decided how you’ll share your writing, and why?

Today’s word count: 2,549

Total word count: 54,150

Today’s excerpt: “I don’t understand,” she protested, as her baby sister smiled a regretful, strange smile.

“You will. You have to pay attention to what comes next, Elle. You need to fight for what you believe in, okay? Stand up and fight. Even though it will hurt. It’s too late for me, but you can save her. You can save them all.”

Day 21: Two publishing roads diverged in a yellow wood…

2 thoughts on “Day 21: Two publishing roads diverged in a yellow wood…

  1. I’ve struggled quite a bit with this same conundrum and often flip back and forth between wanting the dream of being traditionally published and all the paper books that go with it and realising with the more research that I do that it’s probably not going to happen for me because of the amount of control I want to keep over my cover/title etc. I still want to one day make it into a book store but if I do well on Amazon they may offer me a contract as part of their imprint and I’ve seen many of their books in book stores in Australia. If you do end up doing some research into self publishing this blog is very helpful:

    I’m still learning all the ins and outs of putting your work out there for others to read. The cycle is quite funny. I always put something out there with such pride and anticipation and then it takes some people forever to respond and you just know those are the people who haven’t liked the book and then I start thinking about how that will translate into a ratio of people who would dislike my books in terms of reviews and I just want to lie down. At the end of the day though, I want to be a writer and sadly that involved actually putting my work out there. I can try to make the book as good as I can and then it’s up to the internet gods whether it’s received well.

    1. Toni Travis says:

      Thanks for the link! I can use all the help I can get when I start researching my options. It’s a lot more complicated now, isn’t it? With all the different paths that you can take that may or may not translate into mainstream bookstore shelves.

      I’m already worried about people’s responses, though I’m trying to ignore that while I’m still writing because I don’t want to forget where I wanted to go out of fear that people would like it better another way. I will try to keep the internet gods’ serendipity in mind and un-fixate.

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