No “Right” Answer? More Debating Over Self vs. Traditional Publishing

I know, I know. We all thought I had my answer. Self-Publishing was definitely the way to go when it came to The Caspian Chronicles, right? Right? Well, maybe not. I don’t know. The last time I was so torn on a decision, I was trying to figure out if I should break up with my high school boyfriend or not (I did). That was three years ago… today, actually. Wow. Time flies. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that apparently this is the time of year when I question my decisions in life, and this year’s dilemma is the self vs. traditional publishing one.

I honestly thought I had this figured out. I’d done the research, weighed the pros and cons against each other, but time has passed and I’ve learned even more since I supposedly made my decision. I’ve realized exactly how overwhelmingly expensive self-publishing is, and there’s other things I really need my money for. Plus, I don’t have enough money, regardless. And the stress of finding cover designers and editors is overwhelming. But the biggest factor that’s now steering me away from self-publishing is the fact that my book really isn’t turning out the way I want it to. I wrote about this a little in my last post, but let’s dig down deep into it right now.

My book is good. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m not going to cut myself down for modesty’s sake. I really, honestly think my book is good. It has great characters, a pretty unique plot and magic system, and it’s fun. But there’s just something about it that I can’t seem to get right. I’m not entirely sure if it’s pacing, or tone, but there’s just something off. I thought my beta readers might be able to help me fix that, but at this point only two of my betas are still sending me responses. This means I’m pretty much left in the dark, and I don’t want to publish my book when I know it isn’t ready. I know I could technically hire a developmental editor to help me with this, but again, that costs a lot of money. Money that I really, really, really don’t have, especially since I know I’d need a line editor for sure. I just can’t afford both.

So that leaves one solution: Traditional Publishing. An agent who will help me get my book to the point where an editor will pick it up. An editor who will help me fix my book up to publishable quality. Neither of which I’ll have to pay out of my own barren pockets. It sucks that it’s coming down to money, but I guess it’s also coming down to the fact that I know I don’t know everything there is to know about publishing a book. I’ve been struggling this whole way since I decided to self-publish. I’ve talked big talk and watched so many YouTube videos on the topic you’d be amazed, but still I don’t feel confident in self-publishing.

This isn’t me necessarily changing my mind… yet. I’ve got a long ways to go and a lot to think about. And if I do decide to traditionally publish instead, that doesn’t mean I think any less of self-publishing. I think it’s a great method of getting a book out into the world, and I really wish I felt confident that I could do it. The idea of all that control I could have over my book and my series is tantalizing. But, at the end of the day, maybe control isn’t what I need at this point. Maybe I need to let go–of both my control and my pride–and ask for help where I need it. I really hope I’m not letting anyone down by voicing my doubts about self-publishing my book, but I’m not here to blow smoke up your ass. I’m not here to act like I’ve got it all together when I really don’t. This blog is about my writing journey: The good, the bad, the ugly. My hope is that, if any of you are going through the same thing as me, you won’t feel so alone. You’ll realize that a lot of people struggle with this kind of decision–because it is a huge decision.

It isn’t that traditional publishing is better than self-publishing, or vise versa. It’s that sometimes one works better for one person than it does for another. The authors who I watch on YouTube who have successfully self-published have some things that I don’t: Money, a successful author platform, and options to fall back on if things go south. They’re older than me, and they’ve had time to get to the point where they could self-publish. Sure, I’m getting there. My platform is growing, which is amazing and makes me so happy, but a growing platform won’t pay the bills or get me where I want to go in life.

So, yeah. This is a really tough decision. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to what I want vs. what I need, more than anything. And that’s always a choice that sucks to make. I hope you’ll all bear with me as I work through this, and that you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I hate making a decision and then changing my mind. Coming out and telling you all about my dilemma is a little scary, because you never know how people will react. But like I said, this blog is about my writing journey, and not all of it is going to be a smooth ride. Sometimes, like today, it’ll be bumpy.

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