This year I intend to independently publish my first novel. I’m anticipating The Luxury of Time Travel will be available for purchase this summer. I’ve always wanted to be an author. There has never been a deviation from that.
I’ve always wanted to hold a book I had written in my hands. Since becoming a mom, one of the number one things I wanted was to leave behind a piece of myself inside the pages of my novel(s) for my kids. So even if it broke me down into mush, I was going to write and edit and work until I had a finished novel. And this year I get to see that come to fruition. WOOT WOOT!
As someone who has spent the better part of a decade working with authors, following (stalking) my favorites, listening to every podcast, reading every article and consuming every publishing trade I could find, I think it’s safe to say that I’m slightly over-educated in the publishing/writing space. It is an advantage I’m grateful to have as I stride (stumble) towards releasing my debut, but a question I toiled over for a LOOOOOONG time (long before I was actually holding a finished first draft) was: Do I self-publish (indie) or do I go for traditional?
First off, let me say traditional has a lot of appeal for me. My favorite authors tend to be trad. Hardcover books give me the warm and fuzzies. The bright and shiny allure of “being picked” makes my perfectionist, straight-A seeking, gold-star wanting heart sing. Other people’s validation of my work is hugely motivating for me. Hugely. Like, I live for that shit.
And yet, I’m headed straight for indie publishing without ever having sent a single query letter out. And here’s why.
Impatient is an understatement. I’m desperate to get my work out there and be on my way to making a career of writing. I don’t want to hold my breath and hope to god an agent likes my work. And that they then find an editor who likes my work. Who then is able to convince a publisher to publish my work. Who I then have to answer to for the next 1 – 2 years before I ever get to my debut date. I’m sorry, I just don’t want to wait.
There’s No Guarantee
Even if I get an agent, an interested editor and a publisher, stuff could still go wrong. And what if I just don’t get an agent? At this point, I don’t want the blow to my motivation and excitement. Agents are wise literary folk, but not the end all be all deciders of what work is worth making it out into the world.
I’m a Control Freak
This will shock anyone who knows me (not). I like to have the say in what happens in just about every area of my life. And while this can certainly be limiting in the areas where I don’t have as much expertise, I do believe I am equipped to manage the publication of my books. That doesn’t mean there won’t be missteps. That doesn’t mean I have EVERYTHING figured out. But I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this. I’ve invested time, money and a heck of a lot of effort into my publishing and writing knowledge and I am prepared to trust myself to know what to do.
I Want to Make Money
Oops. I said it. The thing we authors aren’t supposed to say. I want to get paid properly for the creative work I’m compelled to do. It is no secret that, shy of a few “chosen ones,” being a new traditionally published author does not pay. And while it’s not exactly easy to earn as an indie either, there are, in my opinion, more opportunities.
I’m Giving My Book the Trad Treatment Regardless
One thing you can’t bash on traditional about is the overall quality of what they produce. So regardless of going indie, my first book is getting the royal trad treatment. I’ve been through a developmental edit (with an editor who has worked in my genre in the traditional space… who I love BTW. Her name is Michelle Meade if you need an editor). I’ll soon be going through a line edit with her as well and then hiring a proofreader for the final touch. I’m adamant about my cover design being professional, on-brand and genre-adjacent. (I’ll talk about my cover choices during a cover reveal in the future.) I am working very hard to ensure that there is no distinguishable difference between my book and a book sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.
I Want to Own My Rights
There’s really no explanation needed here, I think. They are mine. And I want to keep it that way.
I Want to Own My Time
I have four kids. My life can be wildly unpredictable in some seasons and painstakingly routine in others. If I can/want to publish four books in a year, I’m going to do it. If I go a whole year without publishing something because we went through a rough spell, I’ll cope with that too. I just don’t want someone else dictating how much work I need to put out into the world. My number one priority is my family and sometimes that means a change in plans for my career.
All this being said, would I turn down a traditional deal if the right one landed in my lap? No. But I’m not actively seeking it at this time. That means letting go of some preconceived notions of what I thought a “legitimate” author looks like.
The truth is, if you write a book, you’re an author. If you choose to publish traditionally, you’re an author. If you choose to publish independently, you’re an author. And the title means NOTHING anyways. Because what you really are is a creator, a storyteller, a word slayer, a warrior and a BEAST! So write what you want. Publish how you please. And just make sure you support your friends who are doing the brave work of putting their words into the world. Because we need everyone’s stories in whatever form they decide to present it.