Signing with a publisher has made me a better writer. There, I said it. Typed out the words. Hit “publish” on my blog. It is out in cyberspace, and I am forever beholden.
But it’s the truth, so I’m okay with it.
I have read plenty of articles and blogs about signing with a publisher versus self-publishing, and most have a similar theme. Choosing to go with a publisher to make your book available to the world means you lose control. I suppose this is true in some areas, namely marketing — which I’m okay with because that’s why I chose to continue to seek a publishing partner, even after reading all those articles telling me to do it my own way. I am not a marketing expert, nor do I have the time to devote nor the reach to get my book in front of enough people that I will make enough sales to justify spending the time and effort to write another book, and another and…
When you sign a contract with a publisher, you also do not have control over the cover. I get the impression that this can be a potential point of contingency between publishers and authors, based on the information I’ve been given thus far. I haven’t seen either of my covers yet, but both publishers have made it clear that I have absolutely no control over the final decision. They have also made it abundantly clear that they have artists on staff whose jobs are to create covers that will sell books. I want to sell books and I’m not an artist (not that kind, anyway). Yes, I have a preconceived notion of what I’d like the cover to look like, but I also understand the dynamics of our relationship. The publisher does not make money unless my book sells, so whatever cover they determine best fits my words, I believe they have confidence it will sell. Which, for both of us, is the ultimate goal.
The title is another area where you sort of have control, but the publisher has the right to veto. One of my titles is a good, the other had to be changed. I agonized over title ideas for days. I finally went to my personal Facebook page and asked my friends for ideas. I presented my top two favorites to that same group of friends and asked them to vote. Hey, these people not only believe in me, but they’re readers too. I figure if they like the title, it’ll probably sell. One of the titles was an overwhelming top choice, and I offered it to my publisher. They loved it. So while I did not have total control over the title, I had enough to feel comfortable, and to be honest, the new title fits the book content better than the original anyway.
Last and most importantly is the editing process itself. This is the area, I assume, many writers feel they truly have to give up control, and ultimately decide self-publishing is the way to go. Yes, it is a daunting task, if you have never had one of your books edited by a professional before. All that redlining, all those comments and highlights. After scanning the first couple dozen pages of edits, I started hyperventilating, afraid I was going to have to cut so much that my novel would turn into a novella. I emailed my editor in a panic.
She responded and told me not to worry, she was confident I would find places later in the book to add different words back to the story. She was right.
I am nearly to the end of the first round of edits for my first non-self-published book and already, I feel I have become a better writer. Every single one of the edits was a good decision. Redundancy, using someone’s name too many times in one paragraph, repeating the same angst instead of finding a new reason why the hero and heroine should stay apart for another forty or fifty pages. It all made sense.
And guess what? I’m using that same advice as I work through the final edits of my latest self-published book as well. In fact, I wish I could go back in time and edit all of my self-published books in the same way. I am a good writer, I have great stories to tell, but I am not perfect. Everyone can improve their craft, and my editor just helped take mine to the next level.
And so long as they put a hunky, muscle-bound man on the cover, I’ll be happy with that too.
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Great article! You have definitely inspired me to try publisher route.
So glad to hear it! Good luck 🙂
I do both ~ have a publisher and indie pub. I like the publisher better for all the reasons you said. I use the indie books as a way to control my own writing time and release schedule. Editors and publishers create author timetables, indies make their own. So if I’m not getting turnaround quickly enough, I focus on an indie project. Love your font btw:)
Cindy – I completely agree with you! I started as indie and this will be my first release with a publisher. I expect I’ll keep straddling both worlds too :). Thanks for the compliment – I’ll pass it along to my webmaster!
You make a good point, especially on the marketing aspect. I think Self publishing may work for those with marketing experience or a lot of time/exertise in social media but not so great for those who don’t, having seen someone I know go down that route!
Also, those who have a lot more time on their hands than working moms with kids and a “day job” to pay the bills while we try to get these writing careers off the ground, right? 🙂 Thanks for the comments! Tami