Since deciding to jump into the book writing process with both feet, I've had a constant debate about publishing options going on in this head of mine. It looks a bit like a professional ping pong match, if I'm being entirely honest.
I've been listing out the pros and the cons of all of the options—of which there are many—and two stand out for me: self publishing with the help of a crowdfunding campaign and traditional publishing. There are, of course, downsides and upsides to each.
With traditional publishing, I must first make it past the gatekeepers. This is, of course, not a given. Sending in a book proposal—whether I go it alone or with a book agent—is a daunting thought. Admittedly, the whole process would help me face the fears associated with pressing send. That would be a great exercise, don't you think? Nevertheless, there is a very real chance that the project will get turned away repeatedly. If the proposal is picked up, a partnership with a publisher also comes with an inevitable loss of control over the final product, how it's produced, what other products might come from the project and so forth.
However, traditional publishing comes with so much built in support. Assuming I find a publisher interested in bringing this project to life, there would be a full team of people dedicated to making this project a success—from editing to production to distribution. The publisher would have a contractual and financial stake in the game, so to speak, and I could focus on the efforts involved in researching and writing the book.
With a crowdfunding effort, I would be in charge of (read: have control over and be responsible for) hiring an editor and an illustrator, deciding where and how the book is produced (for example, creating a book and producing it in the good ol' U.S.A. is pretty high on my list), choosing were the book is distributed, etc. However, with crowdfunding I would not only have to focus on writing the book, I would also have to spend an inordinate amount of time promoting the campaign to get the book out into the world. Now, I'm not opposed to the time and effort involved in a campaign like that. Not at all. It's simply something I need to consider.
In this scenario, however, I would get to choose who I want to work with on the book project (see also: support an independent editor, illustrator, printer, etc.), I could offer up extra goodies (I have so many ideas for extra goodies!) for project backers and I wouldn't be limited by a contract with a publisher down the line. I would, of course, be intimately involved with the distribution process (making friends at the post office would be key) and if I ever wanted to print and sell more books, I could do just that!
There is a hybrid version of both scenarios that's pretty darn alluring. It's called Inkshares and it's a way to crowdfund your book with a somewhat traditional team of professionals waiting to help breathe life into each book that gets funded. Though this concept is pretty brilliant, there are some limitations. For one, there isn't much room for extras and backers are essentially pre-ordering the book in various formats. The platform is also fairly new, which can be tricky in a world accustomed to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns, and their design leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to the psychology behind why people press that pledge (or 'pre-order' or 'support') button.
So there you have it. My inner dialogue—my mind's professional ping pong match, if you will—is in black and white for all to see.
Now, I'd love to hear from you.
Where do you find your favorite books these days? Do you prefer print books or digital books? Softcover or hardcover? Have you ever supported a book through a crowdfunding campaign? Or is the marketing involved in crowdfunding campaigns a turn-off for you? Do you care if a book is traditionally published? Does that even matter any more?
Spill it, friends. Inquiring writers want to know.