It is my belief that all writers, whether they’re starting out, or they’ve already developed a name for themselves, should stick to self-publishing. I would make an exception to that under specific circumstances, but I’ll get more into that later.
I spent 7 years conceiving and planning my Remnant series, while taking only 1 year to write the first novel. Realizing how realistic and dark it was, I knew beyond a doubt that a publisher would have told me to omit certain sections, or even certain details, and that worried me. These stories are what they are, no matter what’s in or not in them. Most importantly, my books are not just products, but a publisher’s only concern would be money.
Self-publishing in the past was expensive, a nightmare, and a gamble. You had to pay substantial sums of money to get your manuscript edited, put in book form, and then to order hundreds of copies, which you had to store yourself somewhere. Then, you had to do your own marketing. Most of the time, self-publishing authors would end up with a garage-full of copies of their book because they didn’t just have the means to promote the book enough. Thus, they rarely sold well.
This is not the case anymore.
Through platforms like CreateSpace (what I use) and Lightning Source, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your book out there in the world. You only need internet access and some basic computer skills; that’s it. You can self-publish for free, and the cost to produce each copy is already in the price of the book. It’s even better since Ebooks are now a thing. People can just download your book onto your phone, tablet, or computer, which saves them money and space.
These days, the only copies of your book that exist are ones that people already paid for. So, it’s just plain easier to self-publish now. And there’s yet another great benefit: You keep a larger percentage of each sale. With traditional publishing, authors usually just get an advance and that’s it. Sometimes they get an advance plus and an additional 30% (ish) for each sale.
In 2014, I heard a statistic from a professor at Full Sail University: The average number of copies writers sell each year through a publishing house is 200, and it’s the same average for self-published books.
Let me clarify that everyone has a different experience with their books. Some sell thousands, or millions of copies, and that’s generally with traditional publishing. Technically, either option is a gamble. If you write something specifically with the intention of selling as many copies as possible, then traditional publishing is for you. Expect to get rejected a lot before finding a house that accepts your manuscript, and expect your book to not be a bestseller. It most likely won’t be. If everyone was at the top, there wouldn’t be a top. Prepare for disappointment.
It’s obvious that there’s money to be had through traditional publishing, but that’s never a guarantee. So, I suggest stick with self-publishing. If your book appeals to the masses, it will get the attention on its own, just at a slower pace. Also, you can set your own deadlines, and you can include or exclude whatever parts from your story that you want. Traditional houses can edit your book, and invest thousands of dollars into promotion, but you can do those things yourself as well. If you choose to take the self-publishing route, agents and publishers can still discover your book and ask for your permission to wide-release it. So, what do you have to lose?
Best case scenario:
If a publishing house contacts you, allow them to edit and promote your book (in exchange for a portion of your sales), but don’t let them take away any of your power of your book – content, deadlines, or otherwise. If they want to profit off your hard work, make sure you call the shots, but be pleasant and willing to compromise, because you both can greatly benefit from a deal. Just don’t compromise too much. Remember they can help a great deal, but you don’t need them.