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A Writer's Journey: Traditional VS Self-publishing


Stories are in my blood. Even as a young child, I was longing to read them, longing to create them. Books, pictures, music....I searched for tales worth hearing and tales worth telling. Early on, I knew my dream was to be an author. 


But how do you go about accomplishing that dream? How do you do it right? 



At first, I assumed I would go the route of traditional publishing...it was really the only one I knew. And there is a thrill at the thought that some big publishing house would accept your book--yours--and proclaim it to the world. And for authors who achieve this goal, I can't imagine how exciting it must be. 


But as I learned more, I started to realize it wouldn't be a good fit for me. To start with, I'm a bit of a control freak. I remember the outrage I felt the first time I discovered that most traditional authors don't get a say in the cover or even sometimes the title. Now, granted most of the cover designers working for these houses have a lot more skill, experience, and access to create an amazing cover than any of us do. But beyond interior control, I knew I wanted complete artistic freedom to tell the stories in any way I wished to. Write as many books as I wanted....write the side series and novellas to accompany them....maybe even create a webcomic! And I knew I wanted it to be my call to say "Yes." 


But as lovely as this freedom can be.... "With great power, comes great responsibility." Being

your own boss requires you to be hard on yourself. And just because you're self publishing doesn't mean you do it alone. Recognize your own weakness.


For one, every book needs a good editor. Even after you've passed your book through the content critique of beta readers, even after you've combed through your draft with your best editing eye...you still need an editor. And that can get mighty expensive. I chose Rachelle Rea Cobb based off her reasonable rates and author recommendations.


Hiring a book cover artist is probably a good move unless you're good at cover design yourself. But not even artists are good at EVERYTHING. I am terrible at maps, for example. When I need a fantasy map, I'll need to find a good map artist. And I wasn't comfortable at my level to try a "People-based" art cover. I'll be honest, people-based covers are my favorite kind, but done cheaply or quickly, they usually turn out as the worst looking covers.


Consider hiring an illustrator as well. There are so many artists out there in the world of many different rates, so finding one to work with is possible. I adored PhantomRin's work and thought the style suited FAIREST SON. 


So when people think "self-publishing," I venture to suggest they think it's the easy way. It's not; not if you're trying to do it right. It takes a lot of research, a lot of trial and error, a lot of expense. But for me, and for other authors who want to explore their own way, it's worth it.


There's a lot still left for me to learn. I am very glad I chose a standalone novella to start with. There are some things I wish I could have known about earlier, but hey, it is now learned for the next time. ;)


I'll be writing more posts in the future about some of the things I've learned on my self-publishing journey! See you there!

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(c) 2018 H. S. J. Williams