That very question came up this week at the Barrie Library Non-Fiction Authors Day. No simple answer to that one. I have to confess that the traditionalist in me felt I'd gain greater credibility if a publisher wanted to go with me rather than just publishing a book on my own. Especially in this crazy time where it seems next to impossible to even get picked up by a publisher. So when I'd completed my manuscript for "Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival", I shopped it (with help, I'll be the first to admit) to Canada's largest independent publisher, Dundurn. Took a year but they finally said YES! And now I've got that credibility test behind me.
That being said, I recognize that not every writer will be as lucky as me. And self-publishing avenues are creating more and more opportunities. Besides, if you're in it strictly for the bucks, you'll enjoy a higher royalty rate if you go it on your own. But I still have to ask:
- Do you really want to pay your hard earned dough to get published when a publisher is prepared to pay you?
- Do you want to avoid the potential for getting a cash advance from a publisher?
- And do you really want to devote all the effort it takes to create sales opportunities for your book when a publisher has the arrangements and connections already in place with retailers?
OK... I will admit that it's really tough trying to get a publisher without an agent (and most publishers will only deal with agents). And yes, it seems to be as tough trying to get an agent as it is trying to get a publisher! Sure feels like the system's gamed against you.
I have the feeling that many authors who choose to self-publish may be doing so simply because they tried and failed to get a publisher. Or they don't even know how to go about finding a publisher. It does take work. Lots of work!