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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Traditional Publishing to Self-Publishing and Everything In Between

In the last few months, I've been asked quite a lot if I'm switching to self-publishing. The answer is no. There's no switching involved. I am, however, putting some stuff in print (and ebook) myself, and I thought I'd take a minute to explain why and talk a little bit about my experience.

First of all, I <3<3<3 Simon Pulse and Simon & Schuster. They have been very good to me, and I couldn't ask for a better publishing experience, or for books that I could be prouder of.

My first experience of putting on my own publisher hat was when I came up with a group of companion stories to go with NEVER ENOUGH.

Because I've been so happy with Simon Pulse, I first offered these stories to them, and they wanted to take the first two and publish them on a private forum of theirs that would reach thousands and thousands of teens. I was thrilled with this, but because the stories wouldn't be available to everyone, I asked if I could put them out myself as well. The stories were only about 3000 words combined, so I added a few deleted scenes and then put them out for free as a small anthology. I created a cover, had the stories edited, learned how to format...basically learned the ropes of self-publishing.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I have a book about writing grief in fiction ready to publish. Again, my agent sent it to my editor at Simon Pulse first, because, really, I would love for Simon Pulse to publish and promote anything of mine. This is a non-fiction book, and so Simon Pulse didn't have any real place for it in their publishing roster. My agent suggested that if I lengthened it and made "grief" one section in a bigger book on writing with emotion, that she would be happy to try to sell it to a non-fiction publisher. I didn't really have any desire to do that, though. The idea of writing about grief came from a very personal place in my life, and I had only taken on the task because of that.

So I've kept WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART as a short book, which comes out in just a couple of weeks, but I think it includes lots of meaty advice, examples, and exercises. I'm super proud of this book and I'm so glad I've put in the time and effort to publish it. I should also mention that formatting a non-fiction book, at least for me, was a much greater learning curve than formatting my stories had been. But I'm slowly figuring it all out. And I guess the nice thing about self-publishing is that if I've made any huge formatting errors, as soon as I find out about them, I can go back and correct them.

So what's ahead for me? Will I continue to sell my work to traditional publishers or jump in full speed with self-publishing? For me, I'm still thrilled to stick with the traditional route for my regular YA novels. I'm happy with the amount of publicity that has given to me and my books, and to be honest, at this stage in my life while I'm homeschooling my young son, I don't have the time to do it all, even if I wanted to. I have a renewed respect for people who are undertaking a writing and publishing career all on their own though. It's a lot to be responsible for!

And I don't doubt that I'll have other unusual projects (or brain farts, as I fondly like to call them) that won't fit into the traditional publishing model. I may have books that don't sell to a traditional publisher within a short span of time (I'm not interested in having my books held up in the submission process for years). I'm glad that there's freedom to choose to publish in as many ways as we want to, and so I guess I plan to continue to use all of them.

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