On Definitions & Decisions

I recently read a post pondering how to define a writer, which, to me, appears to actually be considering the definition of an author. A writer is a person who writes, whether those words create drivel or the most glorious sentences ever placed on paper or computer screen. To me, that is all a writer is, though, to be fair, there are certainly qualifying adjectives that can be used to differentiate those who write well from those who write…less well.

#diplomatic

#diplomatic

Yet the idea of exploring what it means to be an author intrigues me. With the e-book industry, with website platforms such as Amazon and iTunes, it seems that it is becoming ever easier to become published. Previously, I would have said that was all it took to become an author – become published. Yet traditionally, there has been a distinction between the traditionally published and the self-published.

divide

Is this still the case? I heard an NPR segment that discussed the lack of stigma and sometimes higher pay that comes with self-publishing, as opposed to traditional publishing, which is more difficult if you’re not a celebrity or already well-established author.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

A well written piece of writing is a well written piece of writing. Yet sifting through the published and the self-published pieces to find these well written pieces can be a significant challenge.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

If you really want to share your writing with the world, theoretically, it is more likely to be received well if you are able to go the traditional publishing route. Traditional publishing means that you have people who are already familiar with, and fans of, your work (agent, editor, publishing house, etc.). Traditional publishing also means that the publishing house will solicit feedback via issuing ARCs, alerting the reading community through Twitter and newsletters, etc.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

Yet is this really still the case? If you are not a celebrity, or already an established author, how difficult is it to even get a traditional publishing contract? And with the ever-changing media climate, if you are able to get a traditional publishing contract, how likely is it that a traditional publishing house will use its resources for your book? I have heard rumors that the book tour, and likelihood that a publisher will push your book hard in terms of media, etc., are currently much less likely than in prior years.

book tour

So if you decide to eschew the traditional publishing route in favor self publishing, is this a better alternative? With self-publishing, you know all of the marketing is up to you. Yet you don’t have the contacts that someone established in the traditional publishing community will have, nor do you have the experience with regards to pricing, book covers, book titles, etc. Are you giving yourself more work, or saving yourself from over-reliance, and likely, a lot of rejection? Are you making your writing career more difficult, or taking it into your own hands, with the potential failure AND potential success entirely yours?

2013_Entrepreneur_Quote

I don’t know. I can see pros and cons in both instances, and don’t currently have anything I have written that is worth publishing, so I don’t have to make a decision. What are your thoughts?

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