Going From Rad Pro-Traditional to Indie Publishing

I will NEVER go the self-published route.


Self-publishing is for desperate people who aren't able to get their books traditionally published.


It's trad or death.


I remember basically saying all of the above to everyone who knew I was a writer. For most of my life, I, like most writers, dreamed of writing a book that would get accepted by a Big Five publisher and go on to sell millions (no...billions!) of copies. I was that person who was a borderline neurotic high achiever. Hard work got me a 4.0 in high school, straight A's in undergrad, and entry into Columbia University for grad. I was used to holding at least two jobs at a time, and then when I was out of school, leaping straight into corporate management with zero business experience.


I thought that as long as I poured in sweat and effort, like all things, my time in the publishing industry would come.


But it didn't.


And it was so frustrating...I can't even tell you.


As a workaholic, I need to feel like I'm in control. (Any achievers who can relate?) I was spending hours writing hundreds of thousands of words -- honestly, probably over a million by now -- and yet I kept getting rejection after rejection from literary agents.


I was so mad. And sad. And basically crushed.


I thought STORMFIRE, originally written in 2008, had transformed into an actual novel that young adults would want to read.


But after the tenth rejection, I decided to stop submitting.


Most people, even the established authorities in this industry, would say ten rejections is nothing and that you should keep querying. (If your book has gotten over seventy rejections, that could be a sign you need to stop. I've definitely been there. *Cough* I also submitted STORMFIRE under the title of "Storm of Jaypes" in 2016.)


Argghhhhhhh. So frustrating! Why could I hack basically every life skill EXCEPT the one I really cared about, i.e. fiction writing?


So in July 2019, a tiny voice whispered treason to me: "What if you try self-publishing, Jasmine?"


No, no, I could never turn traitor!


But then I had a total revelation.


I was worn out, and my Tier 1 had rejected me. At this point, what did I have to lose? I may as well put out STORMFIRE on my own because worst case scenario, it really did suck and sales would flop.


Best case scenario?


I could seriously grow my author platform and business brand.


OMG.


Suddenly, I was so excited. I felt like the mindset shift I had was about as rad as the one I had earlier in the year about being healthy (dammit Jasmine, eat well not to lose weight, but to have the mental energy to take on an even more psychotic workload!). Now, my primary objective is no longer to sell tens of millions of books (although I definitely wouldn't object to that). My new objective is exposure. As Grant Cardone wisely said, "Obscurity is the single biggest killer to a business or entrepreneur." I want to reach as many readers as I possibly can by releasing product under an established brand. And even if I fail along the way, which I totally will, I'll also learn some powerful social media marketing I wouldn't otherwise know as a traditionally published author.


All great things started with a first step, right?


Plus, I don't think the traditional publishers will object to reconsidering me when I come back to them one day with a much bigger author platform :)


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What is your take on traditional vs. indie? Is independent publishing in fact "vanity" publishing? Or is trad lagging behind indies who're innovating and taking the lead on online book marketing?


Leave a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.


Jasmine Young

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