Publishing

Why I Chose a Traditional Publisher

Why is it taking so long for your book to be published? It’s a question I hear quite a lot. While I appreciate the eagerness of friends and family who want to see, hold, and read The Last Carolina Girl for themselves, it takes time to traditionally publish a book.

And I knew that before I signed the contract.

A few days ago, my ten-year-old asked me a similar question: are you happy with the publishing decision you made?

Clearly she has heard me discuss the various paths to publishing. She has also witnessed the long process of getting my book in print. In short, I began writing the first draft in April 2018. My book will be available from booksellers on March 7, 2023.

That’s five years from first draft to publication.

This is what I mean when I say that writing takes perseverance.

I could’ve chosen a quicker route. I could’ve self-published the novel when I felt it was done which means it would’ve been available by 2020. Instead, I chose to try to secure a traditional publishing contract. I knew that decision came with a lot of variables, a much longer timeline, plenty of rejection, and the need to surrender some control. I also fully realized that I was never guaranteed getting an agent or a book deal. Even still, I chose traditional publishing for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:

Expertise

Through each round of revisions with my agent and editor, the story improved. When I began querying, I felt the story was as solid as I could make it. I had run it by beta readers and had edited the manuscript several times. I had taken the story as far as I could, but I knew it could be better. I just didn’t know how. I needed expert advice on the strengths and weaknesses. And that’s exactly what my agent and editor were able to show me. They brought a clear perspective and offered notes that didn’t change the story, but instead made it even stronger, deeper, more compelling. If I had chosen to self-publish and I hadn’t taken the time to work with a professional editor, the story, sales, and readership would’ve suffered.

Marketing

For nearly 20 years, my day job has been in marketing. I know how difficult it is to build brand awareness. I know how much time, effort, hours, and budget go into awareness campaigns. That’s why I wanted to work with a team of marketing professionals who could build a book campaign and help launch a debut author. I will still do my fair share of marketing and self-promotion, but I value my publisher’s insight, marketing know-how, and industry ins-and-outs.

Connections

I like to write, edit, strengthen a story. What I don’t like doing is networking. The advantage of choosing a traditional publisher is that they have connections with bookstores and libraries. They have established avenues for getting my book onto virtual and brick-and-mortar shelves. I am relieved to not have to hustle to figure out how to make The Last Carolina Girl available for readers to find it.

Reach

Those bookshelf connections reach more potential readers than I can do on my own. If I had self-published, I know some friends and family and maybe a few random strangers here and there may have purchased my book. But with a traditional publisher, they can get my book in front of potential readers far beyond what I could do on my own. And with that reach comes the potential for more readers to discover my story.

So, back to my daughter’s question of whether or not I’m happy with my decision: yes. I very much am happy with choosing the traditional route. Yes, it does take more time. And, yes, it even takes giving up a certain amount of control (I can discuss that more in another post). But choosing a publisher meant finding a partner who knows the industry and readers better than I do, and who also wants to see my book succeed. 

I have great news: my historical fiction novel will be available March 7, 2023! Don’t miss news about THE LAST CAROLINA GIRL. Subscribe to my enewsletter for updates, sneak peeks, giveaways & behind-the-scene stories of my journey to becoming a debut author.