Is it OK to change your mind about something important? I think it is.
I was sharing my declaration of not publishing The Family Of Noise through Bad Hare in favour of the more traditional route with a close friend and he asked what exactly a publisher was going to do for me that I wasn't going to do for myself.
This is a really good question. It made me think all day, all night and quite a lot of the next day about it. If you're interested, I'll talk you through some of it.
1. Getting a publishing deal would be great. Seriously. It means somebody believes in you enough for them to invest their time and money into your work.
1B. This alone is no guarantee of success or failure. It simply means somebody else will pay for a quantity of your book to be printed and they will make their way into the marketplace... at which point the public will decide to buy it or not to buy it. If readers buy enough, it will be deemed a success and if they don't it will be deemed a failure... but only if you only tend to speak of these things in financial terms. Before you got that deal, you were likely simply quite pleased with yourself that you finished it at all. People buying a book in huge numbers does not mean it's a brilliantly written book (see all the things ever said by critics about Fifty Shades) but people buying a book in not very many numbers at all, doesn't mean it sucks (go hunt down The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas. I can hear you asking 'who the hell is he?' from here... and he is a she).
When you look at it like this, you might as well stop questioning it at all because it's a water tight argument, but it would still be nice to swan about the world for 24 hours telling anybody who will listen you got a publishing deal. Then you can sit around playing with your hair for many months on end before it finally comes out.
2. Given that I can make InDesign and PhotoShop do just about as much as any publishing company can, what exactly am I handing over my book for? The answer - and this is the real pig-sticker - is publicity and promotion. If people don't know about it, how are they going to be able to buy it? So far as I know, that all comes out of any advance/future sales you might get anyway - if you should be lucky enough to get a budget assigned to you in the first place.
2B. The plot thickens.
3. Amazon and iBooks have provided a good platform for people to jump into the water, but visibility wise, those are even harder shops to get your face known than a high street bookseller. If I wanted to make my books available digitally (which I may), I can make them available right here and not have to play with those stores at all -
3B. This may seem slightly ironic but it's their own business model, so er... thanks guys.
4. Here's the kicker: I like designing my own book covers, I like deciding when they're ready, I like working with (professional) friends as an editing/back-up team and I really like the fact that there is nobody between my audience and me.
4B. I don't honestly know if I'm right or wrong but I have no choice, I have to choose. If I choose to go it alone, the book comes out in a few days. If I wait, it could be a year or more and I could be dead by then.
All of which reminds me of that Bukowski quote: "They didn't want to write. They wanted to succeed at writing."
Thanks for talking through it with me. Bear with me for the rest of the week while I get it ready... and we shall not come back to this place again unless somebody Really Important knocks on my door.
Not arrogant. I just want to write. Hopefully, you just want to read.