I’ve started and abandoned this blog post three times now.
The first time was in October after I finished the majority of my book’s edits, but I was confused about what comes next in my publishing career. The second time I tried writing this was in December when I got overwhelmed by my options.
And now it’s January 2021, and the world is exploding.
My little romance book feels very insignificant in the grand scheme of things, as does my musings about it. People are dying of COVID, our democracy is crumbling, the wealth gap is growing, and the ice caps are melting. It’s a grim time to be alive. Yet another part of me feels like if I can’t celebrate this very big win in my very small life, then what’s left? If everything good must be overshadowed by the terrible, then (to quote a cliché) the terrorists have won.
In the spirit of hope, optimism, and the triumph of good over evil…
Drum roll please…
I WROTE A BOOK!
Did you hear me? I WROTE A BOOOOOK! Remember in 2017 when I quit my job to write a book, and I was so nervous about it? I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I freakin’ did it. I wrote that dang book! I put my butt in the chair (and on the couch) and cranked out words. I wrote in coffee shops, libraries, parks, and inside my car. I gave myself daily word count goals to reach for, then slashed and burned words to clear out the clutter. I worked on it for three years, and then I edited it, rewrote many parts, and gave it to people to read. Then edited it again.
The book of my heart.
The story that wouldn’t leave me alone. It exists on paper now instead of in my head.
Way to go, me! I’m so proud of you!
OK, now that’s out of the way. What’s next, for realsies? I have two paths in front of me.
#1: Traditional Publishing
This is the “my book is in Barnes and Noble” path. It involves lots of gatekeeping and possibly several years of rejection, but the opportunity for reader exposure is much higher. I’ll be querying agents to find one that can help me navigate the publishing world, then having them try to convince a publisher to buy my book.
It’s a slooooow business, and as an unpublished writer, I’m at a major disadvantage. I will also have to subject my book to edits I may not love; I’ll have little to no say in what the cover looks like, plus most of what the book earns goes into the publisher’s wallet instead of mine.
However, I would be working with a team of professionals who can get my book into the hands of readers I might not be able to reach myself. And let’s be honest, there is a “legitimacy” awarded to a traditionally published author that is often not awarded to the self-published. I’m not 100% sure I need that external validation, but…I’d also really like to see my book for sale at the grocery store.
This is the path with full creative control, but more difficulty to achieve wide distribution. While self-publishing was once reserved for vanity projects, hand-drawn zines, and books about obscure hobbies, it’s now a viable (and profitable) choice for many authors.
Pros are that the author is the #1 boss of the book’s content, cover, distribution, and marketing. Cons are that authors must pay for edits and proofreading services, hire a cover design artist, manage the book’s print and e-book distribution, plus handle all the marketing. Most authors spend $1,000-$5,000 on these tasks. As mentioned before, there’s also less prestige with this route, and it’s difficult to get into bookstores. If I took this path, I would need to study up on marketing BIG TIME, so my mom and a handful of friends aren’t the only ones buying my book.
So which path will I set my book baby on? I haven’t decided. I’m querying agents but also trying to educate myself about all things self-publishing. The pull to traditional publishing is strong, but I also just want to get this book out into the world and do it on my terms and timeline.
Whatever happens, I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading my blog, and hopefully you’ll be reading Unbound by Shadows soon.