Us vs Them | Author Denise Grover Swank Us vs Them | Author Denise Grover Swank
Denise Grover Swank

Us vs Them

Lately, I’ve noticed a slew of Us vs Them blog posts and comments. No, I’m not talking about Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m talking about Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing.
First, let me just say I learned a long, long time ago to never say never. Oh, dear I just said it. But you get what I mean. Before I had kids, it was easy to spout “My kid will never do that.”  But guess what? Karma’s a bitch and she loves to bite you in the ass.
So when I see people blasting self-publishing and saying they’ll never lower themselves to the gutter. I cringe.
And when I see self-published authors say they’ll never work with a traditional publisher ever, I cringe then too.
Because guess what? The publishing world is a volatile place right now. It’s like the Wild West, everyone scrambling to grab their piece of gold. But the gold isn’t just in one place. It’s scattered all around. What people forget is that gold doesn’t necessarily have to have monetary value.
My goal is to be both self-published and traditionally published. At the same time. I want both feet planted firmly in both camps. Does this make me a sell-out?
I think it makes me smart.
Some “experts” think the self-publishing bubble will eventually burst. I personally don’t believe this, but I think competition will get steeper. More and more authors will upload their babies onto Amazon– and yes I say Amazon because it runs circles around B&N in its appreciation of indie authors. And the more books there are, the more glut there will be. How’s a reader to find good books?
I think already established self-published authors will have a jump on the newest wave of uploaded books. We already have readers waiting for our next books. But I want to broaden my reader base. I know a bunch of readers who won’t touch a Kindle or a Nook. They get their books at Barnes & Noble and Walmart and in the grocery store check-out lane.
I want those readers too.
Yes, I’m greedy.
The fact is, I’m not Amanda Hocking. I’m not E.L. James (author of Fifty Shade series.) I won’t make a million dollars on my traditional book deal. (Although I’d love my agent Amanda Luedeke for ever and ever if I did.) I might not make as much money on a traditional deal as I would make self-publishing, but it’s a business move.
Yes, I said the B word.
Sure, I’m an author, but I’m also a business. I’ll go so far as to say if you are a writer and you aren’t thinking of yourself as a business, you’re making a huge mistake. The days of writing a book, handing it off to your agent and publisher and letting them work their magic are gone. If those days ever really existed. I don’t care if you self-publish, publish with a small press or Big 6, or if you publish standing on your head, you still have to:
1) Work your own publicity
2) Set up and maintain your platform
3) Respond to reader email and comments
4) Work on copy edits and all the other things that go with getting your manuscript ready
5) Write more books
These are all huge time fillers. I literally work 12 or more hours a day. But guess what? I’d do that if I was traditionally published too. I’m an all or nothing kind of person and even if I hand my manuscript off instead of handling everything myself, I’ll still be working to promote it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I’m proven wrong: The successful author of the future will be BOTH self-published and traditionally published.
They might not write books with the sole purpose of self-publishing.  They might just publish their back list. But if they are smart and want to make money, they will self-publish.
This is why I get so frustrated when people make negative comments towards authors who do either. First of all, it’s THEIR choice. Let them make it. They aren’t hurting you. Second, life is not an all or nothing experience. There’s a whole lot of gray. Refusing to acknowledge that doesn’t make it any less so.
We’re all feeling our way in this Brave New World of publishing. Let’s stop cannibalizing each other.


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Categories: Writing
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Bonnie Paulson
Bonnie Paulson
12 years ago

I love this post. Balls to the walls truth. Let’s face it, a good story needs to be read and readers want stories. In this day and age I think we are lucky to have options. That hasn’t always been the case.
I’m trad and self now and I have to say, I love both worlds. There are distinct advantages in both and I cons as well. Overall, though I love the options in both.
Way to be smart girl!

Alicia Dean
Alicia Dean
12 years ago

Beautifully said, Denise. I agree completely. I think sometimes traditionally published authors look down on self-published authors because they’ve ‘made it,’ as far as they’re concerned, and the self-published authors are still trying. Although, in my opinion, the big guys are a little narrow-minded at times as far as what makes a good read. And, many self-published authors have ‘made it’ too. By the same token, I think a lot of self-published authors are critical of traditionally published authors because they’re a little jealous. Not always, but in many cases. But, yes, there is definitely a shift happening, and the smart author will be a part of every avenue they can. You are definitely one of the smart ones. 🙂 Good luck with all the roads you take.

Heather McCorkle
Heather McCorkle
12 years ago

I think it makes you smart too! Excellent post, with an excellent point. If given the opportunity, I will definitely publish in both arenas and I think that’s the wave of the future honestly.

Skye Hegyes
Skye Hegyes
10 years ago

I have been seeing a lot of this too, especially recently as I am getting closer and closer to releasing a self-published short story collection. I find myself standing up for self-publishing more and more because a lot of talk I am seeing is that traditional publishing is the “one true way”.
When I first started thinking about publishing, I wanted to go the traditional route, but reading what I have written (that’s anywhere close to publishable material at the moment), it is not good enough for the traditional authors in the sense that it doesn’t follow the right niches they are looking for – especially since I include a lot of taboo subjects in my work.
Because of this, I turned my sights toward self-publishing. Will I still try the traditional route? I believe so, but for now, at least with any short story collections I write, I will go the self-publishing route.
Delving into both sounds smart in every possible way. And even traditionally-published authors are starting to nose-dive into the waters of self-publishing. It’s nice to see that it isn’t all one-side-or-the-other anymore.

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