You’ve written a book. You thought that was the hard part. But now you must navigate through the rapidly changing publishing landscape, a quest that may seem like being dropped into Siberia with swimsuit and a snorkel. It’s a Brave New World out there: as bookstores close, longstanding publishing houses merge or fold, and the e-book platform explodes, most of us are left questioning our path to publication. Once upon a time, a writer’s dream was to land an agent, a book deal with a big name publishing house (and the advance that came with it), and utilize their vast network of editors and publicists to become a household name. If you were self-published, it was because you weren’t good enough to make it to these big leagues.
Many previously traditionally published authors are detouring from the conventional route and self-publishing. Now anyone, from NYT bestselling authors to the crazy cat lady down the street can put their work up for sale on Amazon or Smashwords. But to poorly paraphrase a quote from Jurassic Park: [Many writers] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Enter Rachelle Gardner. Like many other aspiring authors, I’ve read her blog religiously for a while. As an agent with Books and Such Literary Agency, she generously shares her insider’s view of the industry, schooling us with a mix of encouragement and straight talk. Her posts cover topics such as the craft of writing, querying, platform building, and of course, publishing.
Gardner crosses over to the self-pub world with the release of How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors). She draws on her years of experience to walk us through the various steps in both publishing processes. She concisely explains the advantages and disadvantages of each method, laying out the financial differences, writer responsibilities, and complications an author can expect. She stress that no matter which method you choose, content is still king: you cannot succeed without a well-crafted book.
As a writer gearing up to enter the publishing arena, I found her checklist worksheet exceptionally helpful. (Apparently, I’m far more equipped to pursue one method over the other, something I hadn’t realized until I read this book.)
I also enjoyed the author perspectives interspersed throughout. Jennie Nash’s 5 Surprises of Self-Publishing was an eye-opener, reiterating the risks and rewards involved.
If you decide you are destined to self-pub, Gardner provides links at the back of the book to editors, book designers, and cover designers. Some traditional resources for finding agents and general publishing info is provided as well.
As Gardner explains, there is no right or wrong answer any more. Every writer should carefully examine their motivations, skill sets, experience, and personality traits before they decide which path to take. How Do I Decide? is a quick, helpful read I will most likely refer to again before I make any decisions regarding my own path. It’s well worth the $3.99 price, and a must read for any writer considering their goals and options.