Choosing the Right Path

Recently, I was explaining all the different publishing options to my husband’s cousin, and I was close to a panic attack. Started sweating and panting mid-conversation even though I was just sitting in a chair.
But the vast number of options of what to do with a finished manuscript is overwhelming.
After my spiel, I moved on to ask her about her precious, sweet, and innocent newborn grandbaby instead – this was definitely a more peaceful conversation.
When she left, I thought about traditional versus independent publishing some more, and I’ve thought about it a lot ever since.

Of course, before I ever even started writing a book, I considered it all – traditional or independent? Or both?

While I don’t have any experience any, I have researched each option, talked to authors, and listened to many established traditional, independent, and hybrid authors speak on the subject. My conclusion?

There’s no right path to take.

I need to do what I think is best for me.
I know this isn’t profound or original. Many have said it before, and they’ll continue to say it. But I don’t feel like we’re always listening. Every time I’m at a book/author event, this is always a question asked several times. The topic is covered in articles and on blogs and probably written on the walls somewhere. And I’m glad we talk about it, but I don’t feel like we always listen.
I feel like we tend to lean on someone of authority to tell us one way is the best way, that we should most definitely do [insert “correct answer”]. This would certainly make our lives easier.
It’d be easier for someone to say, “Publish your book this way.” “Go to this college.” “Get this degree.” “Live in this town.”
It’d be easier for someone successful to give us a flow chart describing exactly how they got to where they are so we too can become successful.
And while these experts can definitely offer sound advice and guidance, it’s ultimately up to each of us to make that decision for ourselves. We just need to be well informed enough to choose the right path – for us.
In regards to publishing, I’ve absorbed as much information as possible over the last four years – and I’m still learning. There’s something new every day – a new way to market, a new platform to utilize. And while it’s overwhelming, it’s a good thing too.
Research and talking with others in the field provide clarity to an otherwise cloudy picture. It forces us to re-evaluate our goals and choose the path accordingly.
I’ve asked myself several times what my goals are regarding my books. There’s more to think about than just, publish a book. Why do I want to publish? What do I hope to accomplish by publishing? How much say/freedom do I want on cover design, print options, retailers, pricing, and so forth?
The truth is – yes, the different considerations and options are sometimes too much to bear. But it’s a good thing.
Options are a good thing.
I for one, am happy there are so many, that we’re not strictly confined to one route. That writers are no longer at the mercy of traditional publishers. That if I want to publish my book tomorrow, I can.
It’s that simple, in a way. You know, before you break it down step by step and start to hyperventilate like I did that afternoon with my husband’s cousin.
But seriously, the rise of self-publishing truly is a Godsend to many aspiring authors like myself. I think about all my favorite, tremendous authors who self-published their books – had they not had that option, I might’ve missed out on all their beautiful words and stories.
Making a living writing books is more attainable now than ever before because of all our options. Sure, it’s stressful to pick the right direction for ourselves, but at least we have choices and are not forced to go one way or the other like a fork in the road. Instead, there are many winding back roads to the mix now that offer more routes.
I think the important thing to remember is that, no matter the number of options, there are no shortcuts. Never shortcuts when it comes to attaining something as big and rewarding as our goals. The road might be bumpy and winding and difficult, but aren’t they all?
If we’re informed and willing to learn instead of taking the shortcut, we’ll be right where we’re supposed to be.
Because I’m a romantic, let me paint this picture for you. It’s like going on several dates with various guys – some funny, some charming, some that could be the one. You’re getting to know them, but maybe there’s something off about each one. Maybe they never offer to watch your Netflix show, or – and God forbid – they take food off your plate (Joey anyone?).
But then you meet the right one, the one that makes you glow and smile even in the darkest times. Maybe they offer to not only watch your show, but they get you a Sonic blast and wrap you in your favorite blanket while you watch together. There’s a feeling in your gut that they’re the one.
The right one.
In much the same way (with obvious differences – I’m a romantic, not delusional), you’ll wade through the pool of options for whatever future you’re headed toward. But don’t get yourself worked up with the endless directions.
Whether you’re publishing a book, applying to different colleges, looking for a house, be glad there are options to begin with. Then take one step at a time to reach your goals. But don’t forget to breathe along the way. Maybe roll the windows down and enjoy the ride.
You’ll know the right path when you see it.

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