One Writer’s Journey

March 20, 2015

Self publishing: No right or wrong answer

Self publishingLast week, I read with interest that Cheryl Klein’s writing how-to, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, will be published by W.W. Norton.  What does this have to do with whether or not you should self-publish?  The book, which Klein self-published, is now in its fourth printing.

That’s right.  Klein, executive editor at Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, originally self published the book.  It made sense when she did it because she had already written the talks.  Believe me, if you’ve ever heard her speak, her talks are detailed and contained a wealth of very specific information.  Instead of taking notes, she asked us to listen and she would send us the text of her talks.  To create the book, she compiled these talks.  Given that she already had the talks and that she has ready access to a well-defined market, it made sense.

But now she wants to update and expand the book. There will be a lot of new content.  It will be more comprehensive.  Klein has a good idea what she wants to do, but this time around she sought out an editor and a publisher.  Why?

As she explains on her blog: “. . . I was (and am) at a different place in my life than I was when I put Second Sight together, and I could really use the support, structure, challenge, and deadlines provided by a traditional publisher.

What I wanted to emphasize is what this new approach by Klein made clear to me.  There is no right or wrong answer in the self-publishing vs traditional publishing debate.  It is all a matter of what you need/want.

Traditional publishing offers:  design and editing; an editor that you have to listen to at least to some extent; external deadlines; and a host of people who will add their ideas to the project.

Self-publishing offers:  speed; a greater level of control; and more of the profits.

The path that you choose will depend both on what you need and what you want, but also where you are on life’s journey.  The decisions that you make today may not be the ones you would make in five years, but that’s okay.  Klein is making it crystal clear — you don’t have to choose self publishing or traditional publishing.  You can make a career out of doing both.






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