Sometimes I scratch my head when I come across posts on Goodreads. Last week I came across a post from a traditionally published author that was giving encouragement to authors that they can become traditionally published with a big name publisher and not to give up.
The poster told authors not to limit themselves. That being traditionally published isn't only 'a bridge only a select few are privy to cross'. It also goes on to say that with 'persistence, a true belief in the power of your words, a broad knowledge of the industry itself, a bit of innovative strategy, and a hell of a lot of luck' you can cross that bridge and be traditionally published, too.
There are some issues with this.
1) Not everyone wants to be traditionally published.
I know plenty of authors who have chosen not to be traditionally published. They wanted to have complete control over their book's content, cover, marketing, etc., so they decided to publish the story themselves.
2) Self publishing isn't the black hole it used to be.
With the evolution of Amazon's 'KDP', iBook's 'Connect' and other online retail sites, authors who self publish have access to something that used to belong solely to authors attached to one of the big six publishers…readers. More and more readers are shopping online for their books. This means that a self published book that was once relegated to a box in the author's house waiting for someone the author meets or knows to become interested, now has a platform alongside a slew of other books.
3) It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.
Many authors decide to become what is known as hybrids. They have some books contracted with a publisher and others that they've self published. There are some great advantages to this. Authors who choose to hybrid publish not only have the flexibility they desire with their self published titles, but they also have a publisher helping to market the contracted books, and in turn, the author themselves. Paired with the right publisher, it really can be the best of both worlds.
4) Luck where are you?
One of the things this poster stresses is that you need 'a hell of a lot of luck' and their one hundred percent right. In order to get a contract with a big name publisher (one of the big 5 now that Random House merged with Penguin) you need a lot of luck. Not only do you need a quality book, but you also need to have good timing. Some of this comes down to research…knowing which agents/publishers are looking for what types of books and when. But sometimes it isn't that simple. Say you wrote a great murder mystery and you submit it. It may truly be an amazing story. But you wrote a cozy mystery and they're looking for a nail biting thriller that is X number of pages long with an ending that can be developed into a series. Your book, however, is complete in and of itself. So guess what? Your book gets rejected. Has nothing to do with your book. It's all in what the publisher is looking for at that given moment. Who knows? If you'd submitted the same book a year before, it might be sitting in bookstores all over the world now.
My biggest issue with this post is that while I'm guessing the author was meaning to be encouraging, their words came off as condescending. Not everyone chooses to get an agent and try to get a publishing contract with a New York Publishing House. Some writers do and it just never happens.
So what is right? That's up to the authors themselves. They have to decide what they want and how to best go after it. I would never discourage someone from trying to get an agent if that's what they desire. But at the same time, I wouldn't tell someone that self publishing is selling themselves short.
The first nine books I published were through a medium sized publishing house. My tenth and eleventh books are being self published. This was my choice. Will I publish again through a house? Probably. I like having a little of both. It works for me. That doesn't mean it will work for someone else. Everyone has to find their own way.
What are your thoughts on what the original poster had to say?