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Hey, I’m Mikaela
“It’s impossible to get a traditional book deal.”
“Self-publishing is vanity publishing.”
I’m guessing you’ve heard both of these statements at some point. And if you’re an overthinker *at all*, then you’ve probably gone back and forth between these two ideas like a ping pong match.
First–both of those statements are wrong. Second–both publishing paths are good, viable, and important. They serve different purposes so it’s important to get super clear on where you want to ultimately go and which publishing path can take you there.
Last week, I talked about a business book that I loved but was riddled with typos and structure issues. Their audience did not need a traditionally published book. If the authors had tried to go the traditional route, then their book would still be stuck in some stage at a traditional publisher. These authors needed a scrappy book printed on the fly at their local print shop.
They also chose their publishing route because they knew their goal, which was to nurture potential clients and make income. Traditional publishers would’ve taken their royalties.
I’m working on a book right now and the publication route was obvious. My topic is niche. Very niche. I’m writing specifically to Christian women writers afraid to take their next steps to write a book. That’s not a massively huge audience.
But the book is also not the final destination for me. I also have coaching and (soon!) a course to continue to help people in their journeys. The book is designed to be a “first taste” in working with me. I’m not aiming for a wider audience. Traditional publishing just wouldn’t make sense for this book.
On the other hand, I recently talked with a new friend at a writer’s conference who is pursuing traditional publishing. It makes a whole lot of sense for her. She has strong connections to an agent. She’s been writing on a topic for years, and she’s already self-published a book. She’s got long-term goals of being a serial author and writing as many books as she can.
So think about your situation and your long-term goals. Do you want to include other avenues to help people besides your book? Then maybe self-publishing is best for you. But if you’d like to do this for the next several years and hope to only help through books, then traditional publishing may be the way to go.
If you are an entrepreneur or podcaster, I almost always recommend self-publishing. You can go deeper, speak directly to your audience, and earn more royalties.
I see publishing as simply a vehicle to get to your ultimate destination. If you’re trying to get to an island, you wouldn’t take a car. Just like if your big goal is to bring in more clients, you likely wouldn’t traditionally publish. That vehicle will take you far away from your island. Some people’s big goal is to traditionally publish and that’s great. Just get really clear on whatever it is.
But whatever you decide, remember this: you honestly can’t make the wrong decision. The wrong decision is to do nothing. Commit to one and get after it. You can always traditionally publish after self-publishing. And self-publish after traditional. The chances of either one breaking your career are slim. What will break your career is doing nothing.
I’m Mikaela - your writing coach + editor
I help women confidently and joyfully publish their books.
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