Saturday, September 29, 2012

Traditional Vs. Self Publishing

I read a post yesterday morning about working together as authors. I liked what I read except I had no idea the imaginary line drawn in the sand was so long and so wide. I truly had no idea that traditionally published authors thought that much less of us indie published authors. I mean, my novels are doing great on the charts, I’m getting great reviews and I’m even making a little pocket change. Why would someone want to discredit me?

Still, the blog post was well written and I agreed with it. Let’s work together instead of expending all our energy battling one another. Good concept.

Imagine my surprise when I went on over to the ACFW’s website and found out there is no place for a self-published author like myself. I can join. That is true. But the only thing I can really partake in is handing over my money.

Here I had been planning on joining to learn to be a better writer. Isn’t that what we all desire? Is to become better at our craft?

I’m feeling snubbed and I don’t particularly like it. I guess I thought what qualified me as a writer is the fruit of my work. I never realized that you have to have a stamp of approval by a certain group, publisher or literary agency before you can actually be a writer. Wow am I na├»ve!

I chose to self-publish. I had other choices. I could have published with a small but reputable traditional publisher. I chose not to.

So, my question for those of you whose entire worth as a writer is based on acceptance to such a group as the ACFW by way of a traditional publishing house contract is, why?

Why do you want to be traditionally published by a Christian Publishing powerhouse? Is it because you can get the message of Christ out to the masses? Is it because you will have the means to support your family?

Well, it can’t be the money. A friend of mine was recently offered a five thousand dollar advance for one her titles. Wow, right? I mean, that is so cool. If she accepts the deal, she’ll get a check for five thousand less her agent fees. It is going to take a year to a year and a half for her book to be released by this traditional publisher. Then, she is going to need to earn back the advance before she sees another dollar from her hard work. Odds are, it will take years before she sees any more profit from this book, if ever.

Okay, so it must be the author wants to get the gospel message out to the masses, right? You are using your gifts to glorify Christ in the best way you know how. Okay, take a trip to Amazon and look at the prices of most traditionally published e-books. Now, take a look at the rankings. Make sure you are looking at new up and coming talented authors who just got their five thousand dollar advance. Where are they in the rankings? That should give you a pretty good idea of how many e-books are flying out the door, right? I guess that negates reaching the masses.

Now I am at a loss. What exactly makes a traditionally published author an author and me not one? I mean, my message of salvation and hope has now reached well over 60,000 people. Until Forever has an average reviewer ranking of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Forever Blessed has an average reviewer ranking of 4.5 out of 5 stars. So, it can’t be reader approval. Is it because my e-books are priced at only $2.99 and $3.99 respectively? Well, I suppose my prices are lower, but I justify that because how many more readers have the opportunity to hear the gospel while they are being entertained.

In my mind, exposure would be one good reason to go with a publisher. They do have the means to get a title in more places. Although, from what I am hearing, the author is now supposed to do most of their own marketing. I guess there are more questions than answers.

Here is my humble opinion. The business of self-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds. Forward thinkers will benefit greatly from this progress. Those who feel compelled to live by the old rules will wish they had taken advantage of the opportunity while they had the chance. I will continue to use reader response and the amount deposited in my checking account as my validation. I am thankful I can be about the Father’s business without feeling the need to impress those who have placed themselves in lofty places.

Darlene Shortridge, Author, Speaker, Singer


  1. Great post, Darlene, and enjoyed reading it! I'm sorry you were snubbed and it's happened to a lot of us. Your book covers are gorgeous.

  2. Good thoughts here. I don't have a good answer, except it is true that *in general* self-published books are not as good a quality as traditionally published ones. (I'm talking story, editing, covers, interior layout - the whole works.) This is because no one is able to be an expert in everything, and where a publishing house has experts to do all those things, Indie authors are usually trying to do it all on their own.

    I think the future of publishing will be more of a combination of the two - Indie authors who sub-contract out the technical aspects (beta readers / content editors who point out story weaknesses, copy and finish editors, graphic artists, and layout / ebook professionals.)

    Will be interesting to see where it all goes. I for one am happy to be along for the ride.

  3. Diana, thank you. I guess my head was in the proverbial fault. ;) And thanks on the cover compliment. Lynette, you are right. We have to seek the expertise of those around us who do best what we cannot do at all. Those covers were in my head...although there is no way I could have gotten them to print. I'm just not the graphic artist in the family. Thank you for for your comments. :) Blessings!

  4. Wonderful post as always Darlene. It is incredible to me what people's pre-conceptions about others can be. I am caught in the middle. Many people don't consider me to be a traditionally published author because I have a refundable author contribution with my publisher. Several have gone as far as to very belligerently inform me that they believe my publisher is a self publisher or a vanity press. At the same time, I am not considered an Indie author or self published by most other people. So what exactly does it make me?

    People I don't even know often feel it is their God given right to either criticize my choice of publisher or try to tell me why and how I should self publish. I personally try to respect every other author I come in contact with and judge them based on their work and how well it is written. I never offer opinion unless I am asked and I promote Indie and Traditionally published authors equally if I believe in their work.

    I have read some extremely poorly written books in both the traditional and Indie groups as well as some extremely well written book. So no matter what others are doing or saying, I will continue to plod along and encourage other authors no matter what kind they are :0)