Feature as published on Jane Friedman’s website on June 21, 2016.
Are you wondering if you should self-publish or traditionally publish? You’re not alone. The same question is on the minds of many writers I meet, regardless of their career path or how established they are.
When I began working in the publishing industry in the mid-1990s, a stigma surrounded both self-published books and self-published authors. I recall speaking at the Chicago chapter of the Romance Writers of America in the mid-2000s, and running a workshop on how to self-publish. About three people showed up and two of them were already self-published; it was by far the worst-attended session I’ve ever run at a major writing event. At the time, self-publishing was not a well-regarded path to success, and it indicated some kind of author failing or eccentricity.
Times have (dramatically) changed, and some self-published authors even accuse traditionally published authors of being misguided or short-sighted in their allegiance to a “legacy” system.
But there is no single right answer to this question because it’s context dependent. That means the right answer can change—even for the same author—from book to book, and from year to year.
This post outlines what I think are the biggest factors that play into the decision.