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To Self-Publish or not to Self-Publish

I spent years working on my first novel, but after careful consideration, have put it aside for a while to work on other projects.  With that said, I started another piece.  This piece was designed to be a short story that I wanted to self-publish; however, somehow it has morphed into a novella.  (It is a young adult fantasy story, and I’ve already plotted the series.)

This project has moved faster than I expected, and soon I will be facing a completed novella.  I am very excited for this next step, but I’m terrified at the same time.  This next step is unfamiliar territory to me.  Instead of being a writer, using my skill to create a whole new world, I’ll become a marketer.  I am not a marketer.

Part of me likes the idea of finding an agent and a publishing company, because they’ll have expertise that I lack, but part of me worries about losing control over my novel.  When I first started writing, I assumed the strength of working with a publishing company was that they would put the time and money into marketing my novel for me, but my innocent eyes have been opened since then.  It seems even exceptional novels can be published through a publishing company, while the marketing is still left up to the writer.  But is this the norm?  Are we as writers expected to know how to sell our novels?

And then there is self-publishing.  With a bit of research, and talking to writers with more experienced than myself, I see the ease through which we can self-publish.  Anyone, it seems, can publish their work.  They can have the control of designing their own cover, choosing their date to publish, and monitoring their sales.  But self-publishing comes with an equal risk, that no one will read your work unless you market your book properly.

I’m new to the world of publishing, unfamiliar with its secrets, but I hope that when the time comes, I make the right decision.  And although I might be wrong, it seems clear to me that I will need to learn to be a marketing expert if I have any hope of making it in the writing world.  What are your thoughts?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

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