Before you read this post, please be aware that I support BOTH traditionally published and self-published writers.
If you’re published, trying to get published or considering it, you rock.
My Current Position
My first novel is nearly ready to be published. It’s going through the last edit and then I will be querying.
I have chosen to go the traditional route and see where it leads.
Don’t Make Me Feel Embarrassed
Once upon a time, trying to get your novel published by a publishing house was something people applauded. Many people still do. Unfortunately, from my experience, many don’t.
I have read writers’ comments in posts, threads, and on my social media, telling those who want to pursue traditional publishing not to bother. The level of responses range from the joking, ‘Good luck with that, it’s tough’, to ‘You’re selling out’. The snide comments are not helpful.
I am going to query agents. I am going to try to get my book published by a publishing house. Why have I felt embarrassed to admit that until now? Because it seems to be routine for some writers to scorn that. Again, not ALL writers.
I have put posts on my Facebook writing page poking fun at the slog of getting your novel traditionally published. I’m saddened whenever a writer replies with comments telling me not to bother or that I should self-publish instead. That is NOT supportive.
Maybe there are writers who are jaded by rejections. I’m not looking forward to that but I’m preparing for it.
I think instead of writers trying to discourage fellow writers from pursuing a path they may not have found success with, we should be teaching each other.
Self-Publishing Is Not a Default Option
I love self-publishers for being so hard-working. We all know that self-publishing isn’t usually an easy or cheap option.
When someone who has self-published tells me not to bother trying to get traditionally published and just self-publish instead, I’m shocked. If the reasons are because they think it’s a better option for them, that’s all well and good, but often I’ve found it’s because they think it’s the easy option.
There’s no doubt that you could self-publish with very little effort or money. We’ve all seen the poorly formatted, unedited novels with a cover that looks like it’s been cobbled together by a five-year-old. These novels do no favours for self-publishers trying to get noticed in a saturated market.
There are many writers though that produce amazing self-published novels. They don’t get the recognition they deserve but they keep on doing it.
Some writers choose self-publishing and have no interest in traditional publishing. That is, of course, fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I will always support them.
What I don’t support is self-published writers who tell me and other writers I’m selling out or haven’t got a hope in hell of being traditionally published. That’s not on.
My Eyes Are Wide Open
I have conducted research on traditional publishing and I will continue to do so. It is an absolute minefield that is constantly shifting.
The stages you need to go through just to start the process make my brain hurt. Querying agents is going to be a slog. I know this. I am not foolish.
I may not get an agent, let alone a publishing contract. As with most things in life, it’s uncertain.
The odds are stacked against me as writers, publishing houses, writing magazines, blogs, and agents like to tell us. You have to be in it, though, to have a chance of winning it.
I’m aware of the relentless rejections. Sometimes I’ll shrug it off. Other days, when I’m feeling vulnerable, it will feel like the end of the world. I’ll move on though. I always do when hard times hit.
Share Your Experience Not Your Bitterness
This section is hard to write as I’m not a confrontational person. It has to be said though because I’ve noticed it’s becoming a thing.
If you have tried to get a publishing contract and it didn’t work out for you, I’m genuinely sorry. I may have to face that one day.
To work so hard on your novel and then bust a gut going through the process of getting it published is bound to affect a person.
Unfortunately some writers who haven’t got an agent or contract can inflict their bitterness on other writers. I’ve found this in social media writing groups and occasionally on my social media.
I love the writing community when we’re strengthening each other, giving advice, and encouragement. Let’s keep doing that rather than making snide comments to writers who are querying about how they’ll never succeed.
Let’s pass on what we learnt about the process to help others negotiate the path.
Other writers are not our competition, even those who write in our genre. You may feel like they are, particularly when their novel is sitting next to yours in the slush pile.
With the spirit of competitiveness comes that of feeling like a failure in comparison. Another writer’s success doesn’t mean you lost. Rather, it is a hope for you that you can succeed too.
Please, no matter how much you want to scream at the world because you’ve had your eleventy- billionth rejection, don’t piss on someone else’s parade. We will learn, in due course, how tough it really is. Even better, we can be prepared if you will help us.
What Happens If I’m Not Traditionally Published?
The world ends. I give up writing. Just joking.
As long as I’ve done all I could, tried my best, and gave it all I’ve got, I will be proud of myself for trying.
I’m not going to lie and say I won’t be a little disappointed. I’m a human being. I hurt. I don’t tend to win much anyway so it won’t be a big shock – cue the world’s smallest violin.
I will self-publish NOT as the second prize or default option, as previously discussed. I will self-publish because of the main reason why I write; to share my writing with others.
I won’t feel like self-publishing is a failure because I know how dedicated I am. I will put everything into making sure my self-published novel is the best it can be. I owe it to my novel, myself, and my potential readers.
I will be excited that people can read it, even if it may be only a handful of people.
The self-publishing world is ever-changing. Exciting developments take place all the time. While it is a dense market, certain writers shine brightly there. Maybe I will join them.
What Happens If I Am Traditionally Published?
I’ll celebrate, have a kip after all that querying, and probably have all the same kind of meltdowns about writing that I did before.
Over to You
Are you or have you pursued traditional publishing? How is or was that for you?
Did you choose to self-publish first or after querying? How do you feel about that?