How does a writer pick between traditional and indie publishing? There’s tons of factors to consider and not a simple answer. The goals for the book, the timing, the amount of control over the final product, the cost….
For I Know You Like a Murder, it was an easy decision for me. It’s a short story that doesn’t quite fit tidily into a genre. Both of those factors mean most publishers and agents wouldn’t take a risk on it. But I know the story. I believe in the story. I was willing to take that risk and willing to invest in the book.
With my new manuscript Unfixed it’s not so simple. This circus book is within the realm of genre conventions that someone out there might be interested in publishing. And if this is the book that has that chance, it’s worth exploring.
So I’m sending out queries to some of my favorite agents interested in this type of story. I’m re-learning the traditional publishing process I’d set aside the past few years. I’m putting my neck out there and my heart, in a new way with a new story.
The vulnerability of choosing both traditional & indie publishing
And it may not pan out. That happens in a thousand different ways on a regular occurrence. And if it doesn’t pan out, I’m willing to go the indie publishing route on this one. I believe in this book more than anything else I’ve written. It’s my fav. And yet, gosh darn it, vulnerability hangover incoming:
If I move from querying to indie publishing, there’s this stigma that I “failed” and that this is the “backup plan because I’m not good enough.” If you wouldn’t think that of me, someone else would, and if someone else doesn’t, then I will. Let’s be real. It’d give imposter syndrome a whole new angle to hit me from with each rejection. I’ll be out here pretending that “Hey this is a good and exciting thing that I’m putting together for you all,” but know I’m dying just a little bit inside and bracing for shots fired.
But I shouldn’t focus on only that. That’s a very real side I’m encountering of course. But there’s also the dreamerly good “what ifs.” There’s the “what if” an agent and publisher love my work and believe in it alongside me and we all put it out together and reach the readers who are looking for this book. There’s big what ifs of bestseller status and household name and winning the lotto type aspirations. There’s what if it’s worth a shot to see what’s out there and learn and grow, whether or not it “pans out” the way I’d hope.
And I gotta hold on to those “what ifs” while knowing either way a great story is coming your way as soon as I can get it out there in a quality package for ya. Hang tight.
The path less traveled: choosing both
It’s difficult to find info out there about choosing both options. I’m sure it’s out there. I’m sure some authors have chosen both for various reasons. But the most prominent information is either 1) sites with loads of info on traditional publishing, 2) sites with loads of info on indie publishing, or 3) articles on the major factors when deciding between the two (and often recommending one or the other). The two don’t tend to mix.
There are authors out there who choose both, I say as I remember hearing of a couple here and there but don’t remember who and can’t seem to actually find any. The reality is, most people choose an option and stick to it because they like it, whether because they picked the right fit for them from the get-go (good for you, people!) or they prefer to stick with what the comfortable and familiar (which is essentially the same reason).
Choosing both happens I’m sure, but it’s an anomaly. And well, I’ve always been one to try things “the weird way” as an enneagram 4 so maybe that’s the sitch here as I look into it. I may be biting off more than I can chew, and we’re all about to find out.
P.S. a qualification:
Ironic that I’d make this post after writing on “the myth of 2 options.” You’ll find a limiting belief of scarcity when you when you find yourself thinking “I can either do option A or option B.” And as soon as you remove that fence in your mind for any dilemma you’re facing, that wall that says there’s just those 2 and nothing else in the world, you’ll often find your options expand. There’s almost always an option C, D, E, … you get the gist.
So when I say “traditional publishing or indie publishing,” let me clarify that there’s a whole bunch of in between there. Vanity presses, hybrid publishing, small presses, etc. While I’m not entirely opposed to other options, in this area I am fairly polar for myself. I either want to have total ownership of decisions to “do it right myself” (I know, let’s not get into the flaws in that thinking quite yet) or I would consider giving that up for the nostalgia of the conventional industry stereotype (yay I’m in physical bookstores, etc.) (…And again, let’s not get into the flaws in that thinking.)