Friday, May 27, 2011

Reflections on a Cabbage-Eating Gorilla

There is a giant gorilla lurking around the internet these days. She weighs 4,264 pounds, eats raw cabbage, and answers to the name "Temperance." This gorilla has a purple pelt and, if you see her, stand still, for she attacks people who make sudden movements.

All right, enough with the metaphor. Authors these days seem to fall into three camps: those who are all about going the legacy pubbing route, those who are all for self-pubbing, and those unseen masses who, uneasy to discuss the giant gorilla in the room, tend not to say what's really on their mind. These folks, I am here to tell you, are unsure about which path to take, legacy or self-pubbing. I am one of these people.

Of course, as with everything in life, there are shades of gray within all three camps, but since I am a simple man who likes to speak in broad generalities, let's keep to my 3-camp model for now. As I said, I place myself firmly in the latter group. I see advantages to both leg-pubbing (a real term?) and to self-pubbing, but no clear-cut, slam-dunk reason to go either way.

The advantages I'm referring to are likely obvious to anyone who pays attention to the writing biz (i.e. leg-pubbing gives you great exposure while self-pubbing gives you more control), so I won't belabor the point. My point is, I don't see much written in either tweet or blog form about us wait-and-watchers. It seems there's some social pressure to lock yourself firmly into either the ra-ra leg-pub crowd or the screw-those-legacy-goons-and-the-horse-they-rode-in-on bunch, even before you've finished writing your first book.

Admittedly, I'm in a relatively luxurious position right now. As someone who's in the midst of writing the first book that they intend to publish, I can afford to bide my time, watching the landscape shift before me. But I'll have to choose sides soon. Some days I wake up convinced that I want an agent, and I zealously tear open my Jeff Herman Guide and start check marking all of the agents I'll canvas with query letters. Other days, I wake up full of optimism about publishing and marketing my book the way I want to, straight to Kindle.

It's OK if you're going through this--you're not alone. And the good news is that if you decide to self-publish, you can always go the legacy pubbing route later on. Or vice versa, unless you get locked into a book deal, in which case, kudos to you! At any rate, I just wanted to get this out there because I've been thinking a lot about it lately and feeling a bit lonely in my reflections. If you have any insight into this issue, please leave a comment--I'm interested to hear your opinions!


  1. Nice post. Im still finding my way out. Im still an newbie in this kind of biz :)

  2. You and me both. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I'm a self-pubber. There was a short time when I finished the first draft of my book that I looked really hard at agents and such, but it's just not my style. I'm an only child and have always wanted to do things my way or not at all! :-)

    There are a couple of blogs you should take a look at before deciding either way. and specifically her Writing like it's 1999 post and those in a series that follow it

    BTW, I love you on Twitter. I can't believe this is the first time I've read your blog!