It's the Wild West in book publishing right now – a land of opportunity and excitement and also a land where no one quite knows what the rules are. It can be an overwhelming task for writers to figure out the best way forward through this unknown terrain, because in addition to having to worry about your book – is my idea any good? Is the story any good? Should I throw out Chapter 5? Should I end with the scene in the zoo? What if I do all this work and no one ever reads what I have to say? – now, you have to worry about publishing too, and this ushers in a whole new series of questions:

Do you need an agent? How do you get an agent? Which agent should you try to get? Do you need a book proposal? How do you write a book proposal? Am I giving up too much creative control? What about money? If I self-publish, should I produce physical books or just e-books? How should I price them? How should I label them? Where will I sell them? Who will make my cover?

It can be enough to cause a writer to head for the hills.

We won't solve all the problems in the writing universe in this class, but we will solve one of the essential ones, which is whether traditional or self-publishing is right for you.

A Note About Terminology

When I say traditional publishing, I am referring to the process where a book is published by one of the major New York publishing houses. The first step in this process (after writing a good book) is signing with a literary agent. Literary agents "pitch" books to editors at publishing houses. Editors buy the rights to those books by offering an advance against sales to the writer. Editors then work with the team at the publishing house to design, produce, market, and sell the book in various forms (including printed books, e-books, and audio books). We will get into the details of this process later.

When I say self-publishing, I am referring to the process wherein a writer writes, designs, produces, markets, and sells his or her own book in various forms (including printed books, e-books, and audio books). There are several different variations of self-publishing that allow an author different levels of creative control. We will discuss these later but for now, just know that self-publishing means that you are in charge of all the steps.


During this class, we'll be looking at the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing question from many angles. We'll be discussing some practical issues, some emotional issues, some financial issues, and some intangible issues that turn out to be very important parts of the equation. By the end of this class, I expect that you'll have a clear sense of whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is the best way forward for you.

Who Am I to Help You Decide?

That's an excellent question, which I will answer further in the next lesson, but for now, suffice it to say that I am a writer who has published both ways, and a book coach who guides writers through both processes. I have my biases and and opinions, and you will get those in this class. I think that's better than giving you straight facts, because there are plenty of facts out there on the web, and what I believe you need is not simply facts, but a way to make a decision that fits your writing career.

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