Sunday, June 16, 2013

Still Deciding Whether to Self-Publish or Go the Traditional Route?

Last week, I was selling my self-published Alex Bellamy mysteries (and handing out bookmarks for the traditionally published Casey Holland series) at Creative Chaos Craft Fair, which apparently is one of the largest craft fairs in western Canada. Creative Chaos welcomes authors, but has strict guidelines about what we can sell. In other words, they must be made by the authors and not commercially made by traditional publishers.

This was Creative Chaos’ 38th year of operation and I had the good luck to have a table beside a lovely woman who’d been on the craft fair’s Board of Directors for seven years. In fact, the terrific people on the other side of me were also veterans of this fair, so I had lots of tips and advice about what to expect. Interestingly, not much of it turned out the way they expected, but that’s craft fairs for you. Every year’s different and unpredictable.

One of the things they noted was the increase in self-published authors over the years. As somebody who tries her best to keep tabs on the publishing world, this wasn’t a surprise to me, but what I found interesting was the variety of titles on the tables. Authors were selling everything from young adult fantasy, to children’s books, to memoirs.

All this ties in with an interesting blog I came across by author David Farland. Farland earns a living with his books, both traditionally and through self-publishing. Writers often ask him which type of publishing they should pursue. His answer is that it’s complicated and not always an either-or decision.

There are a number of factors to consider, Farland says, such as the type of book you’ve written, your age, your expectations, and the type of person you are, for starters. He does say that certain books seem to do better in the self-publishing world such as self-help books and romance. He has mixed feelings about westerns, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and comedy.

Personally, I’d also emphasize (which could come under Farland’s type of person category) how strong your commitment is to taking full responsibility for promoting your book on a long-term basis. As all of us in the business know, it could be years before your work starts to take off. Anyhow, Farland has some interesting insights, which I recommend you read (especially if you’re still undecided about your publication choice) at


florida said...

So true! Some books work well self-published others need the mass market touch. And in the end, it's all about marketing, isn't it? I wrote two books (Before The Road Came, and , The Lively Ghost of Howe Sound) for the Britannia Mines Museum and gift shops in that area. They were deliberately self-published, because I felt they would be of interest there, but probably not anywhere else. But I have several traditionally published books, which have wider appeal, and which are being marketed by my publisher. But things are changing so rapidly today - anyone can publish an ebook, which was an unknown commodity twenty years go. It's going to be interesting to see where publishing goes, because it really is in a state of flux today.

Jean said...

I agree. I am learning to take full responsibly for everything in my life. This is a change for me.
Unfortunately I have no one but myself to blame!

PS: Here is what I wrote on June 17
for you on my blog:
Marian, is it [turtle, tortoise] your spirit totem?
Am I making any sense to you? Or do I sound like I just went over the bend?
Some people have totem animals.
Some people have more than one.
What do you think of all this?
I am always curious about other ways of seeing things.
love, jean --I will post this on your blog, too. xox

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Much appreciated!