…..not everyone can write. It is easier than ever to publish your own writing whether that’s a blog, a white paper or an e-book, anyone can put themselves forward as an expert. I was recently invited to “become a published author” by submitting chapters to a self-published compilation of stories about women in business. I declined, not least because I am already a published author, but because I know just how much work goes into writing a book and because I didn’t see the opportunity in quite the same way.
For me there is a big difference between self-publishing and writing for a mainstream publisher with a book that is guaranteed to make it onto bookstore shelves. These differences are not just about royalties. My experiences of the publishing world are ones of negotiation – from content to title the publisher decides what ultimately will sell as they have to make money out of my book. The whole writing process is critiqued and shaped by the editorial team. Once drafted, this honing is even more intense. But I enjoy this because I know that the end product will be worth it. If you’re writing for a very specific niche audience then self-publishing is probably the way to go. But if the book is to target a national or international audience it’s extremely difficult to publish it effectively unless you publish it traditionally. And the process has made me a much better writer.
The difficulty with self-publishing, blogging, writing e-books and any social media writing is that you don’t necessarily have a reality check in the form of credible feedback – sure, you’ll get opinions about what you are writing and you might be able to measure whether or not people like what you write but you’ll never know if you are a good writer or not. You just won’t.
Traditional publishing may be old school but because they have to be so super-choosy about what they decide to publish in the first place, if you are with a mainstream publisher you can be reasonably sure that you know how to write and can do it reasonably well. In fact well enough that there’s a good chance the book will make money. Now I’m not saying that if you’re published the book will be a best-seller – just like self-publishing those are few and far between – but there’s every chance of a reasonable return on your writing investment and none of the headache of sorting out your own editor, illustrator, copy editor, proof-reader, marketing and distribution channels.
Most of all though, what I find is that being traditionally published gives me a credible and respected platform to do other things whether that is consultancy, training workshops or writing white papers. I’m improving my writing, selling books and doing work that I love.