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September 21, 2017

“I went traditional because self-publishing was too hard.”

I attended a writer’s meet and greet the other day and one of the authors said this.

My jaw almost dropped to the floor.

Then she added this little tidbit and I am paraphrasing on both these quotes because I didn’t get the exact words:

“Though I know I got lucky, it still took me ten tries to get an agent.”

Are you kidding me? Got lucky?

I’d say this author struck gold pretty quick. In fact real quick!

She went on to talk about another author who was in her twenties with query letters and still looking. As if that’s something.

I’m not in any way knocking this girl. She read a writing example, it was good, and she generated a lot of positive reaction from the crowd for her young adult tale.


My beef with her statement is that the way it came across is like anyone who writes…

No, let me back up here.

In now twenty-two years of experience at this game, I’ve seen just about everything. The anecdotal evidence points to this:

The lady in question hit lightning in a bottle. She had a hot button genre that’s in demand. She has an ingrained talent and has been writing since elementary school. She has a positive attitude.

Everything for her fell in place and luck had a lot to do with it.

My beef is for her to say that the easy way was to go traditional, when the exact opposite is true. Most self-published authors choose that route because they can’t break into traditional publishing. Why?

I’ve written about this numerous times here at Fred Central. As you that have been here a while well know, it took me twenty years and 689 rejections to get traditionally published because I refused to self-publish.

I could’ve been published twenty years ago if I’d gone self-publishing.

I could have eleven books out now.

I couldn’t vouch for the quality of said books and I’d probably be bankrupt many times over in the process.

In no way am I knocking self-publishing. Also, the lady was true that it’s not necessarily easy in the sense that it’s all on you. In that regard, it’s a lot more difficult to get it right because you’re in control. You make all the decisions, you control the quality and if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t have the money, or don’t hire the right people, your book is going to be crap. Also, you have to do 100% of the marketing, not 90% or 80% but 100%. In that regard, what she said is true. Traditional is easier.

However, getting published traditional is certainly not easier than self-published! It’s 1000% harder!

The difference is lightning in a bottle.

There are literally thousands of outstanding authors out there that will never see print.




Lightning in a bottle.

Sheer talent alone won’t get you through the door.

It takes something extra and that includes the talent, good query letters, luck, lightning in a bottle and regardless of what this lady implied:



You want to see your book in print?

You can go the “easy way” and self-publish.

However, that only gets it in print. That doesn’t mean you have a quality product. To get a quality product, you need to put a lot of work into it…and money.

You can go the “hard way” and go traditional.

Traditional is the real hard way.


Foot through the door. It’s rare that lightning in a bottle strikes.

Once through though, you have an entire machine that makes sure your book is a quality product. All you have to do is cooperate with them. You have much less control over the process as well as profit margins, but you don’t fork out a cent for the final product. You also have a mass marketing machine to back it up.


It depends how much work you want to do, or more rightly, which type of work you want to do, how persistent you are and how long you want to wait.

I’m glad I waited. Lightning never struck in a bottle for me, but I never gave up.

Maybe what she meant by self-publishing being too hard was that she’d have to do all the work. I can accept that. I never got a chance to ask her. Maybe if she’d clarified herself I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this article.

Happy writing!

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