Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing vs Hybrid Publishing
I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some self-publishing since I started hearing about authors who are “hybrid authors.” Some of their work is traditionally published. Some of it is self-published. The key to doing this successfully is in understanding what types of writing benefit from each approach.
Liz Schulte started my education when I sat next to her at a conference luncheon. Liz, the author of approximately 27 self-published novels, asked me what I write. When I told her that my work is educational nonfiction for tweens and teens, she nodded. Then she said something I’d never heard before from a self-published author. “You’re work wouldn’t sell if you self-published it.”
My books sell to school and library markets that buy books from educational publishers based on the reputations of those publishers and book write-ups in School Library Journal. Self-published books don’t have access to these markets at the national level I currently enjoy.
Another benefit of traditional publishing is the access to international markets. Since my conversation with Liz, I've been doing some reading. I just read a post about whether self-published authors need agents. The author pointed out that no self-published book has become an international success. Sure enough, I’ve been keeping my eyes open as various writers announce the international editions of their books. Not a single one of these books was self-published. I don’t know if these rights were sold via an agent or the publisher, but traditional publishing seems to be the key.
Obviously self-publishing isn't all bad. It is a good choice if you have a readily defined market that you can reach without the help of a publisher. For me, that would be my fellow writers. As I speak at conferences and workshops, it would be amazing if I had a book of my how-tos to sell. The market probably isn’t big enough to interest a traditional publisher but that’s okay. I have the material. I have access to the market. And I wouldn’t have to share the money. The market might not be huge, but that's not as great a problem when you don't have to split the profits. This wouldn't be the right choice for everything I write, but for some of my work it makes sense.
Traditional publishing, self-publishing, or hybrid publishing. Which road to publication would you chose?
Sue Bradford Edwards is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next section of this class begins on October 3rd.