Finally, I'm back! The computer rides again, and so I am back with updates, and working on the next Marly Jackson, so stay tuned.

A portrait of me after nearly 2 weeks with no computer


In this modern age there are really only two ways you can publish: The traditional route or self-publishing. It's always been that way, but self-publishing is free and easier than ever now thanks to eBook readers. Choose carefully which path you follow, because that will determine a few things about your novel. In our next lesson we'll get into just what that tailoring is, but for now let's compare and contrast traditional publishing and self epublishing as honestly as possible.

Here's an easy way to decide, and it works: Do you prefer to work alone, hate depending on other people, and pay great attention to detail? Then self publishing is for you. Do you thrive off a team environment, take criticism well, and prefer to depend on other people to pay attention to details? Then traditional publishing is the way to go.

Like most things we could boil this down to: are you a cat or a dog person?


Let's explore those differences, stating with traditional publishing. With traditional publishing there is a flow chart of sorts to follow, so in the order of events, here is the process:

1. Editor for a publisher quits, becomes a literary agent
2. You write a novel about gay astronauts
3. The publisher sells millions of copies of a book on lesbian aliens, asks the literary agent to find another similar work
4. By sheer luck your gay astronaut book query reaches the agent seeking lesbian space travel stories and the agent accepts you (after 75 rejections from other agents). The agent now makes 10% of everything you will do  in writing, forever.
5. The agent makes you pay for an outside editor to fix your book
6. The agent makes you do some additional re-writes
7. The agent sells it to the publisher
8. You sign a 2 book contract with a small advance, and will make less than 30% of royalties, and your agent gets 10% of that
9. You wait six months and end up having no voice in choosing your cover, which you will hate
10. The novel will be released and have no marketing, so your agent will ask you to hire a publicist...who is her boyfriend
11. You'll hire the publicist who spills jargon and does nothing, and still sell only a handful of copies 
12. You'll write your second book for no advance and finally get some money from your first book. 
13. Your agent will either drop you (if you sold poorly) or ride you like a pony to write a third (if you sold well).
14. If dropped, begin process again / If enslaved...good luck, keep to the pattern

There you have it. Some people prefer traditional publishing because it seems like everyone else takes care of details. Indeed, they do all too often. For control freaks like me, this system strips you of creative control and readies your work for mass consumption. It removes the soul, and commercializes art.

You may also suffer the delusion that there is always more money in traditional publishing. Pardon me while I laugh, and laugh, and laugh...okay, I'm better. First off, you will have to pay an outside editor, usually about $300 out of pocket. Your agent may do the editing, but they will still charge that. When you get your advance 10% must go to your agent who will never do another goddamn thing for you except collect 10% of your income and answer a few phone calls. Then, your advance will most likely be more money than your royalties for your first two books, so you'll likely see no more money after your advance until well after the sale of your third book.

Should your first novel become a runaway best seller, of course it will be different. Good luck with that...I need another laugh break.

So you're going to top the NYT Bestseller list right out the gate? 

Now how about self publishing? Here we are going to concern ourselves only with ePublishing. There are vanity publishers that will make print copies of your book, but the process for this is largely done online through services like Lulu and CreateSpace on Amazon, and is similar enough to ePublishing that we'll treat them as one thing. 

With self publishing here is the process:

1. Write a book
2. Edit the hell out of it
3. Get friends to read as critique readers, you take a break
4. Make critique changes
5. Edit the hell out of it
6. Have a friend edit for spelling/punctuation/grammar or pay an outside editor $300
7. Make changes and edit the hell out of it
8. Take a break and plan your cover: you must design your image, or take your own photo, plan it out
9. Edit the hell out of your manuscript
10. Do your design/photo shoot for your work
11. Research and figure out which epublishing venue to go through and figure out what requirements you need
12. Edit the ever loving motherfuck out of your manuscript
13. Do any final design touches for your cover
14. Set up an account with your epublisher and read through all their guides and FAQs, and watch any tutorial videos
15. Edit you manuscript. This is the last one. NO MISTAKES. Have a friend read to verify
16. Convert your manuscript for your epublisher. Do this seventeen times until you get it right, and verify with every damn page on a previewer that it is correct
17. Spend 35+ hours editing and re-editing your cover photo
18. Publish it
19. Go to every website on earth that you can use to promote it and do so
20. Pray

With self publishing you have five extra real steps, and most of this is due to editing. Without an agent, outside editor, and publishing editor looking over your manuscript you have to do the editing yourself. 

The money with self publishing is slow, so keep your day job. It does however allow you greater control of your work and you don't need a leech, er, agent. You do however bear the full brunt of publicity, and even if you ever make it big you have to. If you want a publicist you'll have to hire one, but at every step of the process no one will guide you.

The real difference is that traditional publishing means someone will lead you every step of the way. You will lose creative control but never get that lost feeling. With self-publishing you have to have an adventurer's spirit, be the kind of person who enjoys getting lost and making it on their own, or you'll die. This is the the time to be very, very honest to yourself about who you are.

Turns out this is an important question, but getting it wrong means dying and having a best selling book written about you


Think over the differences now and really evaluate which one is right for you. In our next lesson we'll get into what that means for who you write your novel. Until then, happy thinking!