Starting at the Middle: Some Personal Thoughts on Publishing

As I’ve been working to gather together all of my information, I’ve realized that I’ve got some rather conflicting opinions on how I feel about the publishing industry and how I feel about even getting published at all.  Before I start in on the more serious subjects and getting into the details that I’ve been learning, I thought I would start off with just a few of the things that I think about publishing.

1. Big Presses versus Small Presses

While everyone knows about the major publishers and the large imprints that put out book after book all year, there’s an alternative for people that don’t quite feel like putting through all of that.

Some people will argue that if you want to get out there, a big publisher may be better than going to an independent tiny press that doesn’t require an agent for submissions.  While they may be able to do more for you at times, a big publisher does not equal sure success.  Many large publishers won’t pay for you to go on a tour and you will often be paying those expenses out of pocket (or out of your advance).

Smaller presses that don’t require agents won’t have the same time limits and pay checks may come sooner than they would if you were working with a big press.

Pros and cons aside, I often find myself dreaming of getting a deal and getting published through Penguin Random House or Simon and Schuster.  In those dreams, I get a good deal and a better advance.  But those are just dreams and maybe one day I’ll get to that point in my creative life, but for now I should be aiming for something else.

Getting published through smaller presses may be a little easier for people that want to break conventions and try something new, but aim for both.  Try getting an agent and see where it goes.  If it doesn’t go anywhere, then go somewhere smaller and see if someone else is still interested in it.  Never give up on getting your book out into the public, if that’s what you really want to do.

2. E-books versus Print Books

There are a lot of opinions about E-books out in the world.  They take up less space, sometimes cost less, and are easier for self-publishing.  Unfortunately, this means that there’s a flood of E-books that may not be exactly the best done.  It’s a problem that some people have when they go to look for E-books.

Print books are heavier and take up more space.  But there’s something about having a physical book that really makes everything better.  You can hold onto it and read it anywhere.  There’s no batteries involved, and since it’s not digital, you can’t be afraid of it just getting erased.

I am often the most conflicted about this debate purely because of my living situation.  I am a student at a college that is states away from the place that I still call home.  I know that I want physical books.  I want to enjoy them and hold onto them and take them with me everywhere, but I also need space so that I can live and I have to take all of this stuff home at the end of the school year and my car can only fit so many books before I run out of space for clothing.

But this is another situation where you should go with what helps you the most.  If you do a lot of traveling and you need entertainment, then go get that e-book reader or an app and cut down on the amount of stuff that you need.  If you’re settled in a town and have the space in your apartment or house for the books, then get those.

3. Publishing versus Not Publishing

When I was younger, I wrote a lot of stories that were just for fun.  I knew that people published books because I was reading all of them, but I didn’t really think of getting myself published until later.  A lot of people write for a lot of different reasons.

Some people are writing just because it’s something that they enjoy doing.  They have no inclination to share it with the rest of the world or maybe even their friends.  They write because writing is fun or cathartic or it’s just what they do.

Other people want to share their stories with as many people as possible.

There are some people that just want to get famous from writing.

There’s no shame in whatever kind of path a writer is pursuing.

I would like to get my stories out there eventually, but it’s okay if they’re still just on my computer right now.  There’s no shame in not having gotten out there yet.  I’ll do it when I feel like I’m finally ready and not a second sooner.

Publishing is a big business, and I’ll be looking at all sorts of different parts of it as I continue this blog.  I’ll be sharing more about publishing, next Monday.


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