Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

This is a brief post this week about my personal journey to being published, and why I’ve avoided self-publishing to the point where I’m just about phobic of it.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
I’m more terrified of self-publishing than of this spider. But that’s just me.
Really, a person can get a great deal of success from self-publishing, and it is becoming a perfectly legitimate way to get your stories out to the public for consumption. The ingenious John Dies at the End by David Wong is self-published, and that means all the money went to him. No publisher, no agent, no editor, no other human being got in the way of himself and that sweet reward of food-granting nectar known as money.
But David Wong committed himself to excellent editing (or having someone excellent do it for him), constant self-promotion through Cracked, and the likely superhuman powers to make other people want to read his book.
So why won’t I do it? Because even though I’m a pretty damn good writer, I know that the David Wongs of the world are rare gems, and there are tons of self-published people out there who are struggling to make ends meet. David (Jason) had a great vehicle through Cracked for promotion, and that’s helpful. What I want is someone who can help me get into one of those great vehicles and then BOOM — I can promote the hell out of myself.
My journey is to do the traditional publishing route, and hopefully secure myself a literary agent. Agents, to me, are worth their cut, because a good agent will work his/her fingers to their stubby nubs to get you published. They have all the experience, strategy, and marketing knowledge to sell you, your manuscript, and get your message out to a wider audience.
Isn’t that what you want, anyway?
Whether you choose to self-publish, find an agent, or represent yourself to publishers, just be sure you follow through. Make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Keep moving forward, and don’t stop when you get a rejection. Don’t take it personally. Somewhere, there’s an agent or publisher out there who will like your stuff and give you a chance. If you keep working at it, that is.
I’ll let you know how it works for me when I get an agent for myself. Right now, I’m looking forward to October, when my short story comes out.

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Keeping Track of Submissions

This process has become so overcomplicated, it’s ludicrous. I mean, there are even apps out there and complicated doodads to keep track of where you’ve submitted. It’s insane.

Listen, you want to get published. Yes, of course! It’s only natural. But this should be the least stressful part of being a writer. Unfortunately, it’s often the most stressful for writers.

Whether you’re submitting to agencies or to publishers directly, you do need to keep track of your submissions. Some places don’t allow multiple submissions, and others get very snippy when you submit more than once to them. SO, you need a method that will keep it simple without tripping you up.

My method is simple, straightforward, and it might even work for other people.

I use my email folders and sub-folders to keep track of my submissions. Very easy. Easy peasy, even.

  • Folder One: Query – Publishers
    Subfolder: Responses
  • Folder Two: Query – Agencies
    Subfolder: Responses
  • Folder Three: Publishing Agreements
    Subfolder: Responses

From there, I arrange the emails in them alphabetically. That way, I simply access the folder, and I can find to whom I’ve submitted already in just a couple of seconds.

Some people do the same, but with a spreadsheet. Now, while I love spreadsheets, to me, this seems like doubling my work. I’ve already got all the organizational tools I need in the email folders, so why take extra time getting out a spreadsheet and doing almost exactly the same thing there? For me, that’s going to take more time than I have.

Now, I’m not saying don’t use apps or spreadsheets. They may work for you. But what I am saying is, you’re a writer, not a professional submitter. Devoting too much time to this process just increases your stress and takes the focus away from your creative process. No one needs that!

Follow me on Twitter (@Spellvira) where you can read absurdities on an infrequent basis. You can also learn more and read excerpts of my work on my tumblr page.