To Be Traditionally Published, or not to Be… How ‘bout Both?

Many authors debate whether or not to publish their books with a traditional publisher. The alternative, self-publishing, is becoming increasingly popular.

But you don’t have to choose one or the other. More and more authors are doing both.

Authors love to write. And write. And write and write and write.

However, there is a limit to what you can hope to get traditionally published (unless you have a big name that easily commands interest among publishers).

So if you strictly publish traditionally, some of your writing may not get published at all. If you self-publish, you can publish all of your writing (although all of it may not sell).

But you needn’t choose one or the other. Why not both? If you’re deciding which way to go, that probably means that you see benefits and disadvantages each way. Exploring both options will help keep you from wondering about the road not taken.

Choose one or two ideas that you’d like to traditionally publish, and pursue that. Self-publish your other ideas while you try to achieve this.

You’ll run into one problem right away: Should you use a pen name?

If you self-publish books in your name and try to get traditionally published in the same name, the success (or lack thereof) of your self-published books may factor into the editor’s decision. If you become highly successful with self-publishing, using the same name may be a plus; but if your book flops, it may be a red flag.

It’s easier to market a book published in your own name. You may have a following on Facebook, for example, when you first publish. You have friends and acquaintances who may support you. When you meet people and they discover that you’re a writer, they may become interested in your book.

You can build a following and market effectively using a pen name, but there are some advantages to using your own name. This is something to consider.

Personally, I love the freedom, independence, higher royalties, ease, and other advantages of self-publishing. I’m not exploring traditional publishing at this time. But there are attractive benefits of traditional publishing. There are also benefits to doing both.

Some indie authors and some traditionally published authors seem to feel that it’s ‘us against them.’ This isn’t true: We’re all authors; we all love to write. And more and more authors are fitting into both categories. There are many successful authors of both varieties, and both self-publishing and traditional publishing offer value to readers.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers