Traditional, Indie, and Everything in Between

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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More publishing choices for writers

Writers often hear the experts comparing the differences between Indie and Traditional publishing. They have classes at conferences and tons of blogs on this topic, but in today’s publishing world, the publishing question isn’t that simple. As the old saying goes, all roads lead to Rome.

We are in a wonderful new age of publishing and just as the building of the Roman roads opened up a whole new world of trade and exploration, the onset of digital eBooks in 2007 and the explosion of small presses across the country have given writers more publishing options than ever before.

In Jane Friedman’s article “The Key Book Publishing Paths:2018”, she references not two but six paths that writers can pursue in order to publish their work.

Those paths include large to mid-size publishers, the big five, small presses, hybrid publishing, Indie publishing, and publishing on social media.

So, the question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals?

Writers publish for varying reasons. You can see that by visiting different writing groups. Some are interested in literary excellence, others in telling a good yarn, still others want to leave the family stories behind for the next generation.  Then there are those of us who are taking our writing and turning it into a career.

But whatever your reasons for wanting to publish, there is an avenue for you to take.

The large to mid-sized publishers and the big five offer a writer great opportunity. They usually provide editing, cover design, some marketing, and some form of an advance payment for your story. They also shoulder all the financial risk. So, even if the story doesn’t sell well for some reason, you’ve made something for your efforts.

The big guys can also get your book into brick and mortar retailers, be it bookstores or chain stores such as Costco or Wal-Mart, giving your work more visibility.

So, if one of your publishing goals is to see your book on a shelf at the local book nook then one of the mid-size guys might be for you.

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Publishing changes over the years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is social publishing. That is where you set your work free in the wild on a social media platform. There are many out there for doing just this such as Wattpad, Medium, Write.as, and Writers Café.  These are usually Serial story sites where the writer publishes segments or chapters of his story daily or weekly. This is great for garnering a fan base.

Of course, there is the writers own blog on his website, Tumblr, or BlogSpot for those who want to share articles, data, and content with their audience. These sites build audience trust and let them get to know the person behind the writing.

If your publishing goals are to grow an audience, get quick feedback, and experiment with writing styles, then this is the way to go.

Small presses, Indie, and going hybrid are the bread and butter of the writer’s existence.

Small presses are a wonderful addition to the publishing world. They give the writer a more personal experience with the publishing staff which helps to develop that much-needed trust. They also give the writer accountability for deadlines, help with editing and cover design, as well as assistance with marketing. Publishing with a small press can open doors as a speaker and teacher, allowing the writer opportunities that aren’t always available to Indie authors.

So, if your goal is to speak as well as to write and you want a more close-knit community, then a small press would be ideal for you.

Of all the roads that lead to Rome, Indie is the one many consider the back alley or the shortcut. However, Indie writers are true entrepreneurs. The thought of doing it all themselves and having control over every aspect of the writing and business components does not put them off. Instead, they learn the ins and outs of the entire process, allowing them to make better career decisions based on industry facts and their own experience.

Those who are “going Indie” tend to delegate many of the jobs such as cover design and editing to others who have more experience and talent in these areas in order to assure they put out a quality product. This means the writer shoulders the financial risk.

The Indie writer will also have critique partners, beta readers, and mentors to help keep their writing on track. When needed, they hire accountants and personal assistants for the business side of the writing career. If done well, an Indie author can enjoy a long, profitable career while being at the heart of the decision-making process.

So, if your goal is to make a career out of writing and you want to be in on all the decisions, then going Indie is for you.

In our present publishing market, a writer is no longer tied to doing only one option. Many well-known authors are publishing some of their stories, that don’t match up with the needs of their traditional publishers, on their own, creating for themselves a career as a hybrid author.

Hybrid writers take their experience from the traditional publishing world and combine it with the freedom of Indie publishing. This form of publishing allows an author to try a new genre, get their feet wet with a pen name, or put out works that don’t fit on any of the normal bookstore shelves.

So, if you’re an already published author and you want to try a new genre or put out that unique story that’s on your heart, the option of doing both Indie and traditional might be for you.

Never before in history have there been so many opportunities for the writing community, so many roads leading to Rome. Small press, Indie, or the big five, it’s all about your writing goals and what publishing option best fits your needs. No matter what the experts say there are more than two roads that lead to your publishing dream.

Writing Prompt: The idea of going Indie thrilled Carol; so much so, she was having trouble sleeping. Not wanting to wake Harold, she got up and tiptoed out of the room.

Click to Tweet: The question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals? #IndiePublishing #amwriting

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Bonita Y. McCoy hails from the Great State of Alabama where she lives on a five-acre farm with two horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who she’s had for over twenty-nine years. She is a mother to three mostly grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law, one who joined the family from Japan. She loves God, and she loves to write. Her blog and novels are an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit her on Facebook/bonita.mccoy or bonitaymccoyauthor or at her website bonitaymccoy.com.  Her new release Truth Be Told can be found on Amazon.