Lifestyles of Traditionally vs. Self-Published Authors

Blog 24 2In my last blogs about a first-time fiction writer choosing between traditional publishing and self-publishing, I looked at non-financial considerations that might make the writer lean one way or another. Today I’m posting about the career lifestyle associated with each.

If one looks at day-to-day career lifestyles, I think those of traditionally and self-published authors are bound to be very similar. In both circumstances, it’s about getting some writing done, and then getting some self-promotion done, too.

But if one examines the career lifestyles over a longer period, say a year, differences do emerge.

In general, the traditionally published author benefits from the help provided by her publishing house (and perhaps an agent), but must also deal with the constraints the house imposes. In contrast, the lifestyle of a self-pub provides more scope for control and even entrepreneurship, but it also requires a lot of self-discipline and may be (even) lonelier.

For example, a traditionally published author will receive editing and cover design assistance from her publishing house. In some arrangements, however, changes will be imposed on her. The self-pub has full control over editing and design, but must have the tenacity to ensure good relationships are developed and the right results are achieved.

Similarly, the traditionally published author will get at least some help promoting her book while the self-pub must lead and implement the entire effort on her own.

By many accounts, the help provided by publishing houses is declining while their expectations that authors self-promote are rising. So, it is easy to overstate the lifestyle benefits to authors from working with a traditional publisher. And one must remember that the traditionally published author lives under a contract that imposes considerable constraints like the obligation to produce a certain number of books in prescribed times.

A self-pub author, in contrast, really runs her own show. This can be appealing for those who like maximum control and scope for experimentation, and who are easily self-motivated. It may be less interesting for those who like or need a contract deadline to produce.

In the end, for each writer, the choice between the career lifestyles of traditional publishing and self-publishing will be a matter of individual preference.

I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.

Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).

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