I have tweeted this before, but it’s worth saying this in a blog post and reiterating it once again for good measure:
Be wary of anyone who tells you there’s only one way to go about the publishing process.
There are as many ways to find success writing books as there are books. Anyone who tells you that the only right way is traditional publishing or self-publishing or with an agent or without an agent is probably simply telling you what has worked for them and projecting that experience onto you. Either that or they’re trying to sell you something.
There’s only one person who knows what’s best for your manuscript: You.
Do your research, follow your gut, figure out what works best for you. And if the first thing doesn’t work try something else. And if that doesn’t work try a third way.
There’s no map to finding success with books. There’s just a constant journey.
Laura Pauling says
so true! And that's why I love that we have so many choices. There is only the path that is right for you.
Mr. D says
True for life, but never more true for publishing.
Matthew MacNish says
Is there a "here there be dragons," on that map?
Sad to see you had to turn WV back on. You must be too popular to avoid enough spam.
Jessica Bell says
Ted Fox says
The dragons may be lurking somewhere between a FedEx Office and the trunk of a car.
Christina G Gaudet says
This is so nice to read. Going with your gut is often underrated.
Matthew J. Beier says
Awesome post. So very true. My crazy journey of self-publishing this past year ended up getting me a new day job at a publishing company in Minneapolis. I followed my gut, worked like crazy to publish well, and it has now opened all new doors for me. Do what feels right, because it feels right for a reason!
Rick Daley says
I will find success if it doesn't find me first.
Nancy Thompson says
I wanted the be traditionally published, but didn't want to waste years searching for an agent, so I found a publisher instead. Now my dream will come true this October when my book is finally (traditionally) published. There's no perfect path for everyone. Just the perfect one for YOU!
Kelly Barnes says
The research is key, and it's a good idea to keep researching (read that: keep up with) other strategies even if you've already adopted one.
This is so true. I would add to be especially wary of those who use inflammatory language and scare tactics to make their point.
Mina Burrows says
I agree. You have to do what's best for you.
You'll have to explain this to me, "There's only one person who knows what's best for your manuscript: You."
Why would I know better what is good for my manuscript than someone with twenty years of experience in editing or marketing?
Are experts of no value? FYI, I'm no expert in any of this.
Nathan Bransford says
Experts are like coaches – they can steer you in the right direction and draw up the plays but it's up to the players to decide what to do on the court.
The Circus says
I'm fairly new to your blog and can't say thank you enough for the things you post. The information is invaluable.
Are you no longer working as an agent?
A published author told me that you are not a professional writer until a publisher publishes your book. Self-publishing does not count. What do you all think about this?
Amen to that!
That's why it is important to take anything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. I've seen many of the self-appointed watchdog groups–Absolute Write an Preditors and Editors, for example–keep trying to preserve the old-style publishing system by badmouthing those in the independent publishing movement. They also allow their sycophants to post lies about various companies and editors. Even some of the moderators have started to post half-truths, all in an attempt to preserve a publishing monopoly that serves their own interests. Good for you, Nathan. Maybe you should run for president.
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban says
You're right as usual.
There are many ways to get published now.
And yet, this has not solve the problem for the writer. Only moved it to further
Now, the problem is not getting published but reaching your readers.
The writer's work is not anymore to convince an editor to publish his/her book, but to convince the public to read it.
Susan Kaye Quinn says
Nice! As usual, you're the voice of reason! 🙂
Amy Saia says
So true. Time Traveler's Wife was originally published with a small press. A writer should never see one way as the only way.
Nancy Kelley says
Absolutely true, Nathan. There are far too many variables at play for any two books to be the same. For instance, I know genre played a big role in my self-publishing success. Jane Austen fans are used to reading online fanfiction, so there's very little stigma attached to self-publishing. That's not true for every reader base.
Great post. You're right. Everyone has their own path.
This is especially true since so many factors are out of your control. So, you have to trust and walk the path that feels best to you, listen and learn, and see where it all leads you.
Although – I will say there is one essential if you want to be successful in terms of publication: you need to write a really good book.
Holly Michael says
Wise words. I was so confused. And zig-zagged all over the place. There's that tug to be a published author RIGHT NOW, and through self-publishing you can. Someone told me that my manuscript could get picked up by a publisher and I should go the traditional route. I did traditional. An agent, just yesterday, agreed to represent my mss. Yay!
Sandra Stiles says
Such a great post. I wish more people felt the way you do about finding your own way and what is right for you. There are still so many who look down on self-published authors. Thanks
Dave Morris says
"There's only one person who knows what's best for your manuscript: you."
Hmm. Surely that's only true if the "you" in question has deep experience of traditional publishing, digital publishing, POD self-publishing – indeed, everything short of town crying.
It is true that the only person who gets to decide what happens to the manuscript is its author – that's part of your authorial moral rights. But I don't assume I always know best; I try to listen to the advice of people in different fields, who surely are in a better position than I am to judge effective marketing, publishing and publicity.
Natalie Aguirre says
You said this so well. And it's so true.
Gabriele Goldstone says
I often read this blog, but never comment, until now, that is. That last line is going into my favorite quotes file. Thank you!
"There's no map to finding success with books. There's just a constant journey."
Laurence King says
Well said, Nathan! Thank you for the reminder.
Terin Tashi Miller says
The best advice I think I've ever seen you give. And Mira has a fair point as well: if you want to be proud of publication, no matter how it happens, it has to be a really good book.
I've probably mentioned it before (:)), but the names and number of "literary" figures who would not have found publication without either willing and generous friends, or their own persistence, is pretty large.
I would argue–of course, right?–that writers also need to really get past the idea that either sales figures or a big name publisher means, by some grace, that their book, or someone else's, is "good," or even "great."
As with many things, promotion seems to be key to sales; promotion, or even skill at promotion, does not automatically mean something has literary, artistic, or other merit. It just means someone has convinced others that it does.
Sheila Cull says
When I found the best advice for a writer three years ago, I didn't just read your back in the day, daily posts, I studied some.
Well put about an author not feeling fenced in. Doesn't your attitude for a writer, not necessarily of books, mirror that of an author?
My former and especially current blogs are seeing the metaphorical light (now that I have sponsor interest.) So there's room for us all to be wary! Yes?
Thanks for posting this Nathan. It's something that bears repeating from time to time as it is easy to get lost in all the advice flying at us from every direction.
James Scott Bell says
So true that there are new avenues available now.
Do your research, follow your gut, figure out what works best for you. And if the first thing doesn't work try something else. And if that doesn't work try a third way.
Add to this getting input from a really good team. That's what the best agents and traditional publishers offer. An indie author, however, can put together his own team with a bit of care and strategic planning. Once in place, it's invaluable.
D.G. Hudson says
That's good advice for life as well as publishing, Nathan.
Basically, we have to decide what feels comfortable to us at each point. Look around, be aware of the pitfalls and believe in yourself. Tenacity helps.
Anne R. Allen says
Thank you for this, Nathan. We are blessed to live in a time when writers have so many choices. It's odd that people are in such a rush to limit them again.
Traci Kenworth says
Thanks for the advice!!
Robena Grant says
Love this. Thank you.