I am often asked about the reasons why I chose to opt for self-publishing with my debut novella as opposed to the more traditional method and given that they are numerous, it seemed that the best way to try and explain them was to write a post solely for that purpose.
Firstly, the world of publishing is cut-throat. When a publisher has a seemingly never ending pile of manuscripts to get through, one submitted by a young writer with no previous book deals will inevitably be tossed to the side in most cases without so much as a second glance. They need ways to filter through the load and as harsh as it is, that’s the reality any budding author must face.
This is all assuming your manuscript even makes it onto a publisher’s desk in the first place of course, which brings me to my second point. Due to such demand on their time, most of the best and most successful publishing houses (the ones that will actually promote your book and help you earn some money) will not accept submissions directly from authors. Instead, those seeking a book deal must hire a literary agent to approach publishers on their behalf; an endeavour that while hugely helpful, is both time consuming and often very expensive.
Accepting that big publishers simply were not a viable option for my debut book, one could argue that smaller, more local publishers may have been an option. In reality however, most small publishers only handle the physical production of your book (formatting, printing, etc.) and while that is all well and good, it won’t amount to much if nobody actually knows about it being available. It is still the job of the author to promote, promote, promote and sell, sell, sell, which in reality is often the most arduous and important step anyway, meaning you sacrifice a substantial cut of profit and control but are still expected to put in the hard graft.
My own personality was another important factor in my decision to self-publish. My desire to retain control over my creation and my hesitation to jump in at the deep end right away meant that dipping my toe into the water of the industry by taking the process at my own speed and doing things in my own way really appealed, especially since this was my first book. It was gaining experience and achieving a dream that were my goals with The Vessel, not fame and fortune. Thus, self-publishing was ideal.
All in all, I made the decision because it was the right one for me and more importantly, the right one for my book, which is now available in the UK and the US, among others. Will I self-publish again? Definitely. Does that mean I will never attempt the more traditional method? Not necessarily. There is no set formula to decide the path to take, as both have tremendous benefits to offer. You must instead weigh up your options, trust your instincts and go for the method you feel will best accomplish what you hope to achieve with your own work. Whichever route you take, good luck and I hope to see your books out there in the world one day!
To any other writers, I would love to know: Which method of publishing did you use and what made you decide to do so?