It seems a great many writers are self-publishing nowadays, but that isn’t the route I wanted to take. It’s not as if I believe publishers and agents are always right or anything of that sort. But self-publishing takes a lot of money up front, money that I don’t have. You have to pay for everything yourself.
My publisher designed the cover based on my concept. I believe they did a beautiful job and that they created a better design that I could have on my own. Yes, I have a BFA, but that doesn’t mean that I know anything about creating an effective or marketable book cover. Also, my publisher set up my author account with Goodreads and my author page with Amazon, so I didn’t have to pay for those. They also did editing in-house, so that was something I didn’t have to pay for either.
I was a National Merit Scholar and have always had my marks in grammar as off the charts. I won first place in the National Language Arts Olympiad when I was 11. But, even with doing college grammar exercises for fun at 10 years old, I don’t feel it is good for me to edit my own work, especially if I want other people to read it and like it. I prefer to have more input and my editor was very helpful without changing anything about the plot or writing. She made minor changes, but I’m grateful regardless. They only improved the book.
Always, when publishing a book, there is a lot of marketing and promotion that goes into it. With a small publisher, a lot of this comes onto my shoulders. However, I also know that it would be much harder and much more work if I had self-published. I am not a marketing genius, so I don’t think I want to be doing all of it with no guidance whatsoever. Maybe someday I’ll have an agent, but at present, I do not, and I am lucky that my publisher is willing to accept non-agented submissions and give new writers a chance at publication without requiring any fees paid up-front (which would be a huge red flag).
The main thing I hear about people who choose to self-publish is that it takes a long time to get the book out if you go the traditional route. It did take a while, but I’ve waited years to do this, so I don’t see what the rush would be to get it out a few months earlier. Once my book went into editing, the process went very quickly, and my book was released less than a month after I sent the final draft to the editor. From signing the contract in January, the book was released August 2. To me, that was completely acceptable. It was worth it, to me, to have the checks and balances to make sure the book was the best it could be and wait a few months, rather than rush to get it out with the possibility that it might not actually be ready.
Of course, I won’t pretend that my book is perfect or that some people aren’t great at self-publishing. But making a living at writing is very difficult, and most writers need a “day job” to pay the bills. As a new writer and an unknown, it is doubly hard to get any promotion done and the media mainly cater to established writers or writers with major publishers. So I didn’t expect to get rich off of my first book, and I want to be realistic. Therefore, like I said, I didn’t see the problem with a delay of a few months when I would be struggling just as hard or harder if I’d done all the work myself to get it out a few months earlier, several thousand dollars in debt.
So, thank you to my publisher and editor and to all of the professionals who make this job easier. I couldn’t do it without you.