Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing… YES – yet another argument.

A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook – so of course, I had to go read it.

And of course – I have to now critique it, and add my own opinions to it.

First, here is the infographic:

Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing: Which Should You Choose?

Courtesy of: The Write Life

And by the way… just for anyone else who does NOT know the term Sisyphean:

  • Sis·y·phe·an
    adjective: Sisyphean
    1. (of a task) such that it can never be completed.
    late 16th century: from Latin Sisypheius (based on Greek Sisuphos : see Sisyphus) +-an.
    (courtesy of Google)


OK… now for my thoughts:

No matter the opinion, research or experience – no infographic, book or class can tell you definitively how your publishing journey will go – or even how it should go.

Every author has a different journey. No two authors write, query, acquire an agent or publish in exactly the same way – like everything else in life.

Even if two authors follow the same path, their results will be different. Each book is different. Each query is different. Each author has different connections.

  • Even if (and that is a BIG “if”) those two authors have the same story, written in slightly varying styles, they use the same outline for their queries, they belong to the same organizations, they both travel in the same circles so they have the same connections, they both query the same agents (and that is stretching it quite a bit. Very rarely will even two of these things match up – much less ALL of them)
    1. the likelihood that they will both acquire the same agent is slim to none
    2. the likelihood that they will both be picked up by the same publisher is even more slim to none
    3. the likelihood that they will both have similar launch experiences is completely nil
    4. the likelihood that their sales will be about the same their first year is nearly impossible and…
    5. the likelihood that their continued popularity will be the same is completely impossible.


There is no hard and fast line. The infographic above is nice but there are literally thousands of other factors to consider…

  1. An author builds a platform as an author of Amish fiction but their heart really is not in it, they want to step out into a different genre but their agent tells them it’s not a good idea, their publisher tells them they won’t buy it and yet… they see a fellow author do this very thing quite successfully and they want their chance – what do they do?
    – They take the leap and self-publish. They have a good fan following so they have enough people who buy the book just to be supportive = success. And once those people read the book, they want the next one so that will be a success as well
  2. An author works and works and works to write, edit and polish her work and she is lucky enough to land an agent but she is told by her agent that her genre is too new, too unpopular, too shaky – no one will take a chance on her right now – what does she do?
    – She takes that leap and self-publishes… and she is so successful with her first novel, that she publishes another book
  3. Then there are the many authors who self-publish because, after… years… of trying to break through the traditional publishing glass ceiling, they get nowhere.
    – after self-publishing, they garner such impressive sales, that a traditional publisher takes notice and offers them a deal
  •  And then there are the many… many many many people who go either way and have an unsuccessful career:
    1. The authors who self-publish, continue working a day job but never achieve any kind of success
    2. The authors who traditionally publish and have 1 book hit the shelves to a mediocre reception


And, as one of the commenters in the post where I found this infographic pointed out – it can be exceptionally difficult for someone to be traditionally published…

Brooke says:


This is a really cool infographic; complicated but very well thought out. The one thing that’s missing here for me, however, is the very real fact that it’s incredibly difficult to get traditionally published. Most of the authors I work with—even most of those I publish—pursue traditional as a first choice, and then come around to the idea of self-publishing. It’s no longer the case that if you have the desire and the drive you can get traditionally published. The barriers to entry are officially so high that great authors who would have been traditionally published ten years ago simply cannot get deals. I just want to put that out there for the readers—that the path to publishing is not an either/or scenario. And then there are the hybrid options (like my press, She Writes Press, and so many others—Ink Shares, Turning Stone, and countless others) who are creating an in-between space specifically because there’s so much grey.



The point is this: Don’t count your chickens…

Even if you have an exceptional story, a well-developed platform, a flawless query, and a killer agent – you are still subject to the whims of the market and the odd timing of current trends.


Don’t judge your own experience by ANYONE else’s!

Don’t give up on traditional publishing until you’ve given it a real try!

But don’t discount self-publishing because of what you’ve heard or what you’re told by anyone else!


Will it be easy? NO! Either way you go there are challenges!

Self-publishing can be extremely expensive and difficult but it could pay off in ways you can’t imagine right now!

Traditional publishing can be incredibly slow and frustrating but there are resources there that make it all worthwhile!

the story of your life


Unless that someone is God – For my own personal advice… PRAY! Wait on God! Follow His path and your career will take the directions it is meant to!

©JCMorrows 2015

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