Skip to main content

Pros and Cons of Mainstream Publishing and Self Publishing

As an aspiring novelist, I know that acceptance by a mainstream publishing house not only validates my ability to tell a story, but it announces to the world that I have arrived.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is there are more authors writing quality novels, than there are traditional venues to publish them. Estimates provided by one of the panelists at the recent James Rivers Writer’s Conference (JRW), in Richmond, Virginia, indicated that there are approximately twenty thousand manuscripts submitted to mainstream publishers each year. About five-thousand of these are accepted for publication and only one-thousand are by new authors.

I’m sure it’s no secret that Steven King’s novel, Carrie, was rejected by thirty different publishers, and J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected fifteen times before being accepted for press. If either of these authors would have thrown in the towel, imagine how different the literary landscape would look today. Since I'm no Rowling or King, I wondered how many times should a manuscript be rejected by a mainstream publisher, before turning to an alternative venue?  The answer to this question depends on the endurance of the author.  However,  if you decide that enough is enough and you believe in your work, then maybe it is time to consider self publishing.

At the JRW conference I learned that there are pros and cons to pursuing a non-traditional form of publication. For instance, the recent economic downturn has made it difficult for many mainstream publishing houses to absorb the costs associated with marketing and publicizing new manuscripts. As a result, the expense is transferred to the individual author. Since novelists are required to take on the duties that were traditionally offered by their publishers, many have turned to self-publishing. This makes sense from a marginal standpoint, since the author is doing all of the work, they may as well pocket a bigger share of the profit. 

Although there are several self-publishing models to choose from (website listed below), one of the cons is  mainstream publishing houses still hold the monopoly on distribution to major book sellers. Regardless of the access the internet has given us, people still want to see the books on the shelves.  However, the distribution gap between non-traditional and mainstream publishing venues is slowly changing.  I recently learned that major bookstores like Barnes and Nobel frequently offer consignment to new authors. Whereby the store manager has the discretion to stock individual books on the shelves. By combining this sales outlet with the internet, a new author may have the ability to compete with a book sold by a mainstream publisher.

Note: If you are interested, the following is a link to self publishers: http://www.searchforpublishers.com/

Popular posts from this blog

Opinions Pleaaaaaase!!!!!

Hello All,

I recently began a new WIP.  Although I'm happy with my outline, I've struggled with the beginning. This said, I wrote two opening paragraphs. Both lead to the same place, but they take a very different paths to get there. I just can't decide which one I like better.  If you have a minute or two, I'd  appreciate it if you'd give your opinion. Which paragraph would keep you reading?  Also, please be mindful that these are very raw first drafts.  I'd be happy to return the favor anytime.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Opening #1A cold chill broke across my arms when he entered the room. It happened every time I saw him. By now you'd think I'd be used to him Yet, here I sat, dreading his very presence. You see, to everyone else he was a man of flesh and blood. A man who devoted his life to treating the sick.  To me, he was Doom—bringing false hope to the incurable—deliverer of tragedy, ready to do his worst.  My dad and I had been confronted…

Flexing My Writing Muscles

Hello all, it's time for another installment of the ISWG hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. For more information about this group, please click on the following link: Insecure Writer's Support Group

First of all, I want to wish each and everyone of you a happy New Year. In my experience people reserve their first post for NY resolutions, etc, but I've decided not to bore you with promises.  What I will say is I'm looking forward to a fresh start--New Year, New Me.

Due to all the stress that comes with returning to nursing school, I haven't written at all. However,  I did make it to my writer's group last month.  After missing three months of meetings, I felt a little out of sorts.  The sense of familiarity and comradery I usually encountered with the members was somehow off   I didn't let it get me down.  Instead, in the spirit of the New Year, New Me thing, I endeavored not to miss anymore meetings.  I've also come up with an idea for a short story.  It'…

From The Dust Marinade to a Gourmet Work of Fiction

Hello all, it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.  To learn more about this wonderful membership please click on the preceding link.


After several weeks of juggling family and nursing school, I finally get a much needed break. Specifically, Spring Break. Woo hoo!!!! Unlike some students who go wild during this time and head to the beach for fun in the sun, I plan to hunker down at my desk and catch up on my writing. It's been a month since I've written anything, and I'm jonesing to escape into my world of fiction.

My short story is about two-thirds complete. If all goes according to plan, I hope to have it done by the end of next week. Then I intend to pull my first novel from its dust marinade,  and return it to the writing kitchen, where I hope to create a gourmet work of fiction.  If I can find the time.

Once school resumes, every second of every day is consumed by my studies. I truly feel like a fish out…