Over the last couple of months, I have been querying publishers and agents for my crime novel. Although I have published several books myself, I wanted to try a more traditional route for this book. It is the old story about the grass seeming greener somewhere else. Also, there is a certain amount of snobbery with writing. Are you a published author if you are self-publishing?
Every week without fail, I query one agent or publishing house, but I have started to see some surprising trends. With my copy of Artists and Writers, I have been working my way through the lists of those that would be suitable for my book. The first shock was that 90 per cent of those listed have either closed their doors to submissions or closed their doors altogether. It appears that publishing might be another casualty of the pandemic. So many publishing houses have disappeared from the market, except for the huge houses that are less likely to take on a new writer.
Where then does this leave writers?
I am determined not to give up on this journey and will keep querying until I can paper the wall with rejection letters. There is, however, many an hour when I wonder if self-publishing would be easier.
Self-publishing for any writer should never be considered the easy option regarding the work it takes; it is, however, the easy option as you control all aspects of the production yourself. You are not waiting for someone to get back to you or do the additional work. You can work at your speed. You also have complete control over every aspect of the book, from cover to title.
Some would say that you don’t have to advertise with traditional publishing, but you do with self-publishing. The market has changed over the years, and both publishing methods rely on you marketing the book, so this should not be your deciding factor.
If publishers are shutting their doors and refusing unsolicited manuscripts, this makes the business even harder for a new writer to enter. With this, then self-publishing will increase, and the market may become saturated. It is also worth mentioning that many self-published books are written on a tight budget; editing is not always a cheap option to pay for. Your real fans may forgive errors; others will not.
How to self publish well
So how do you make a self-published book as professional as possible? First, I would say do what your budget allows you. If you can afford a professional editor, hire one; if not, find a friend who would be happy to read your work. If you can afford someone to design a cover, then ask them, although you may have skills in this yourself. This is an area that I have grown more comfortable with through the books I have published.
Many different packages can help with either of these tasks. Canva is brilliant for cover design, and the least you should be doing is run your manuscript through Grammarly or a similar program. Once you have the written work as polished as possible, it is time to decide how to publish it. For me, there is one easy option, and that is through Amazon Kindle; the create program is easy to navigate and sets the manuscript to all the correct parameters to be able to publish in both paperback and eBook format. The other advantage of Kindle is it allows paperbacks to be printed as people request them, so there is no initial outlay to the writer.
Will traditional publishing survive.
There will always be a need for traditional publishing. However, I wonder if it will be a significantly reduced market. EBook readers are ever more popular, and traditional publishers have no advantage over self-publishing in these markets. This could be one of the reasons so many of them have shut their doors.
As a writer, I have mixed feelings about the rise of self-publishing; the positives are that it levels the playing field, the negatives the market may become saturated.
However, as a reader, I am horrified at the thought of a reduction in traditional publishing. I am very much a book in hand person and would hate paperbacks not to exist and be replaced by yet another electronic gadget.
Which do you prefer, a physical copy of a book or an electronic?