I unexpectedly became a hybrid author, so I assure you that it was not intentional. I realized after the fact that both self and traditional publication is highly beneficial. I’d like to share what I love about both.
The benefits of self-publishing are so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to explain them here, but I do think there are some worth mentioning.
With self-publishing, an author has total control over the entire process. For some, this may be the sole reason to self publish over seeking a traditional publishing company, but for others (like me), it can be daunting to handle every detail from start to finish.
My first book was self-published. I began writing it without a particular agenda for its printed version. Self-publishing came in handy and pretty much fell into my hands due to close friends of mine who had a) already been through the process of self-publishing and b) were learned in professional formatting and graphic design. I became a bit frustrated, however, because I had to make a lot of decisions I wasn’t prepared to make as a first-time author. I also was overwhelmed at the editing process, which took a long time until the manuscript was even remotely ready for printing.
I also found self-publishing to be somewhat expensive, though authors do have a lot of options available now for finding reasonably affordable programs, formats, and cover designs within a budget (and without looking too cheesy or unprofessional). There’s no question, however, that despite the initial costs to self-publish, the profits are exponentially better than going through a traditional publishing company.
Of course, an author must learn to build his/her platform and not rely entirely upon the book to bring an income. I’ve found marketing to be particularly difficult for me, and perhaps it is (at least in part) due to my introverted temperament. But finding small ways to connect with others through my niche (which happens to be grief recovery) has often landed me sales.
With self-publishing, I think it’s critical to do some extensive research beforehand and determine if this is a route you are willing to take with your book. It is a lot of work, but I think networking with other independently published authors (like on the Indie Catholic Authors platform) can make the process more manageable when things get intense.
Again, I am a newbie in this arena, but my first traditionally published book (From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph) will be released in February 2016 by Sophia Institute Press. Much like my first experience with publishing, I was honestly torn about which direction to take with this book.
I had already gone through the process of self-publishing, so I was familiar with it and knew what to expect (generally speaking), but at the same time I had this nagging feeling that I was supposed to seek out a traditional publisher for the next book. Naturally, some of my self-published friends were naysayers and tried to convince me otherwise. But I prayed about it fiercely and eventually was approached by my Catholic Exchange editor, who suggested I submit a book proposal to Sophia Institute Press.
What are the benefits of traditional publishing? For one, I merely wrote the manuscript, sent it to the publisher, and they are hiring editors, designers, formatting staff, and marketers to do the remaining work. It has been so liberating for me to focus on other writing endeavors now that my manuscript has been submitted.
At the same time, traditional publishing companies offer a measly royalty for book sales, so I never expected to become wealthy using this method of publishing. But I anticipate that the widespread promotion of my book (especially that it will automatically be in bookstores) will compensate for the lack of profit.
All-in-all, hybrid authors tend to be more successful than their independently published or traditionally published peers. The reason is that they have the best of both worlds: They have acquired the ability to make high profits through self-publishing while at the same time gaining more public momentum through traditional publishing. As a result, both processes – while divergent – somehow benefit each other. Widespread publicity leads to higher sales, and higher sales (especially if you have more than one book) lead to more people being introduced to your work.
The bottom line for me is this: As an author, you really have to know yourself well and understand the pros and cons of both types of publishing before you start the process. Profits and sales are only fragments of the bigger picture of why you are writing and how you intend to reach your audience.
Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Typewriter” by Unsplash on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.
Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.