This is something a lot of people have asked me about since I started talking about getting my novel published. "Why don't you try self-publishing?" And since I have some strong opinions about this, I figured I'd post about it!
Well, there are several reasons why I'm not going the self-pub route, at least not yet. The first one is simply that there's absolutely no reason to not pursue traditional publication first. No reason. Sure, the process might take a few years longer, and there's 100% more rejection involved, and it's a lot of work, but none of those facts are good reasons to self-publish. At least, not for me. It's been my dream since I was in middle school to write and publish a novel one day, and that dream was always about traditional publication. I want my books to be in Barnes & Noble, on the same shelf as Brandon Sanderson (they totally would be, I checked). And since people are still getting published in the traditional way, I'm putting my lot in with the rest of them. I'm not going to give up on my dream, or accomplish a half-assed version of my dream. I'm going to try as hard as I possibly can to get published the traditional way, whether it's with my currently finished novel, or with another one in the future.
I realize that it's about a billion times harder to get published now than it was in the past. The publishing industry is suffering, and I get that. Agents are only taking on projects that they absolutely adore. Publishers are only taking on books that they think will sell really well. I get it. It's a business. But just because it's hard, doesn't mean I'm going to give up. Since when do people give up on their dreams because the odds are against them? That's just lame, guys! So I'm not letting the shitty state of publishing discourage me. I know I can publish a book, I just have to write the right one, and put a shit-ton of work into editing, finding an agent, and everything else. I'm more than willing to put in that work.
Which brings me to another reason why I'd rather not self-publish. I think it smacks of laziness a lot of the time. I don't mean always. I realize that self-publishing isn't just for lazy people. But, let's be honest -- I think it can be sometimes. There's significantly less rejection involved (i.e. none), and you don't have to wait 6 months for an agent to finish reading your manuscript, and then you don't have to make a billion edits for your agent and then your editor. You can make all the decisions yourself, and then you start making money immediately. You don't have to wait forever for the book to be released, because you have that power. Easy! Right? Yeah, also lame. I feel like if I self-published right now, I'd be taking the lazy, easy way out. Which isn't what I want for my books, my career, or myself. I want to work hard at this, and receive an equal amount of reward.
Another reason I'm not so into the whole idea of self-publishing is because it can get in the way if you want to traditionally publish that book later. If an editor or agent sees that your self-published eBook isn't selling very well, they probably won't be super eager to offer you a book deal. So if I self-publish a book, and then decide later that I'd like to try publishing it the traditional way, the fact that I self-published could be a red flag to publishers. They might think it's a bad book. They might wonder why I self-published in the first place. Am I difficult to work with? Impatient as hell? Unwilling to do the work necessary to get published traditionally? I know not all publishing people are going to react this way, but I've read a lot of articles and interviews, and listened to podcasts that say these are all legitimate concerns. And I don't want to take that chance yet.
Also, I don't trust myself to edit my book. I don't believe I could get it to a place where I feel comfortable selling it, without an agent and an editor looking at it first. I know I could pay somebody to edit for me, but that's something I'd rather not spend money on.
I still think self-publishing is totally legitimate, and definitely a great option for some people, but it's not for me. At least not right now. I just straight-up don't see a reason not to go the traditional route. I may be getting rejection emails every day and I may not ever get this first novel published, but this is a huge learning experience, and I wouldn't change anything about the process. My soul may have been crushed a little, but that comes with the territory. And hey, I'm working on a new novel right now, which I will definitely try to publish when I'm finished with it. I'm not giving up any time soon. My books are going to be on the shelves of Barnes & Noble one day, and I won't stop working toward that dream, damn it!