Even as my awesome agent and I prepare to pitch my first book to publishers — that’s my travel memoir about backpacking solo through Africa — we’re already coming up with a plan for Book No. 2.
It’s a practical guide to taking a career break to travel, a kind of how-to version of my memoir, with an emphasis on using your sabbatical as a career-booster, rather than a career-breaker.
When I started this book a year ago at a writer’s colony in Georgia, I never would have considered self-publishing, purely because of its stigma. So it’s ironic that we’re now trying to decide whether I should go the traditional publishing route with this manuscript or publish it on my own as an informational e-guide.
What’s changed during the last year? I’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry, for one. Turns out there’s a huge movement to self-publish nonfiction digitally, and lots of authors are doing it successfully. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, discovering an entrepreneurial gene that’s
distracting complementing the part of my brain that usually focuses on writing.
Which means I have a decision to make.
The benefit of aiming for traditional publication is obvious: credibility. Books backed by publishing companies still hold more weight than self-published books. But they also take a year or more to hit shelves, which, to a reporter who’s used to deadlines in five hours, seems like an eternity.
Making an e-guide available, however, would be fast. I’d still hire an editor for the manuscript, so that would take time, but then it’s simply about formatting and creating a cover — and pronto, the e-guide is ready to go.
The time issue comes into play here because career breaks are a hot topic now, and who knows whether they’ll still be hot in a year and a half. I also have several speaking gigs near the end of this year that pertain to taking a career break to travel, and it would be awesome to be able to distribute my book then.
What about money, you ask? Because this is a niche topic, the manuscript probably wouldn’t sell for much to a traditional publisher — if we could sell it. Quite frankly, I believe I could make the same amount or more selling it on my own. (I probably wouldn’t sell as many copies without a publisher’s backing, but I’d get to keep every cent of each copy I sold, which means good profit.)
Plus, doing this project on my own would be exciting. I love spreading the word about topics I’m passionate about! And I have you all to help me, right?
So in some ways, my heart’s with the digital DIY option. But I’d still jump at the opportunity to work with the right publisher, particularly because the street-cred issue could trump everything else.
What do you think? Would you shoot for traditional publishing or let your entrepreneurial side go wild?