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The good, the bad, and the ugly about publishing -- by Kathleen Sawisky

Full disclosure. I am not a published author. I am barely an author. Sometimes I’m barely a human, but that’s only before 8:30 a.m. and two cups of coffee. Still, the CC chat has been gabbing recently about the differences between Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing. I thought I ought to take my copious amount of knowledge and explain the pros and cons and settle this debate for good.

Here you are, people. The good, the bad, and the ugly about publishing.

First, let’s examine Traditional Publishing:


  1. You will probably have an agent, and that agent will buy you things like coffee because you are the money maker.
  2. You will be paid in royalty checks which you may collect, throw onto your mattress and then roll around on. Nudity optional.
  3. You will rub shoulders with hoity toity authors who are actually famous. Some of them might even not call the cops on you.
  4. As a traditionally published author you will get use the phrase “I have been traditionally published” which, as everyone knows, makes you totally legit and not a stupid wannabe author like all the rest of us.
  5. You will have the marketing professionals at your disposal to guide you through the murky waters of marketing and social media.


  1. The marketing professionals will kindly ask you to use less swears in your tweets.
  2. You will suffer neck pain due to the giant inflated head you will carry around.
  3. Your lifestyle will be partially controlled by how well you write, which will be controlled by editors, agents, the agent’s dog, the dog’s food provider, and that guy down the road named Dave who may or may not be harboring illegal immigrants.
  4. No matter how hard you try you will never ever be satisfied. Women and men will throw themselves at you and your life will still be a hollow shell. You will never be truly complete.
  5. You’ve got to spend, like, a shit ton of time trying to find an agent and convince them that you are worth something, which is hard when you yourself know deep down that you are not satisfied with yourself.

And Self-Publishing


  1. No pants Friday? No pants every day!
  2. You don’t answer to anyone about anything. Even those stupid creditors and that repo man.
  3. You can swear all you want in your tweets because you are the master of your own universe.
  4. You’re not bound by your agent or publisher’s desire to satisfy market demands. Oh, is vampire romance in? Well let me tell you a story about a dog with IBS who is also a wizard and solves WWII mysteries. Bam. Best seller.
  5. No matter how ill-advised it is, you can publish at any point and time. Take a picture of a dog turd, paintshop it onto an 6.5 x who-gives-a-shit cover, add a title in comic sans and BAM - Published.


  1. Drunk publishing is ill advised. You are your own agents and marketer. If you are an awful person, this can be difficult.
  2. You are ‘self-published’ which is apparently a ‘bad thing’ and ‘less legit’ and everyone is ‘going to make fun of you’.
  3. You are on your own schedule. No one is holding you to finish anything. And Netflix did just add a new season of BoJack Horseman.
  4. Finding an editor you can afford.
  5. God, you’re so hungry. There isn’t anything in your fridge. Maybe check that chocolate bar wrapper and see if you can lick something off of it.
  6. No one will offer to pay for your new keyboard when you get your sticky, chocolatey fingers all over it.
Posted by Kathleen Sawisky 13 Apr 2015 at 01:52
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Responses to this blog

Swat 13 Apr 2015 at 15:42  
No pants every day!
Tonin 13 Apr 2015 at 19:32  
Congratulations; you just made me check for the new season of BoJack...and it wasn't there!
Guess I'll have to write instead.
Gabbie 14 Apr 2015 at 00:13  
All I can say is - you're doing really well. I can't even find a chocolate wrapper!
Bethywoo 14 Apr 2015 at 01:56  
Number27 14 Apr 2015 at 08:40  
Nice one
Edwardra3 14 Apr 2015 at 11:13  
No pants every day
Unless you write at Starbucks. They seem to have a problem with writers coming into the store without pants on.
Ferris 14 Apr 2015 at 15:35  
I refuse to publish. FIGHT THE SYSTEM!! DAMN THE MAN!

Bre7907 15 Apr 2015 at 01:30  
You get chocolate?
Anomika 15 Apr 2015 at 15:37  
If a traditional publisher found me and offered me a job, I would consider it. Haha... I think I'm in any danger of that happening.

But I would never submit a manuscript. It's just not me. Deep down I don't think I even 'wanna' be 'legit'.
Kids_table 18 Apr 2015 at 18:10  
This is possibly my favourite blog post on the entire internet.
Hijo 18 Apr 2015 at 18:43  
You wear pants?
Suebarr13 22 Apr 2015 at 15:46  
Hmmmm.... In a previous life I was 'traditionally' published, but I did it without an agent. I think the stars and planets were all aligned the day I submitted. This suited me because why should I pay someone a fee to peddle my book around when I'm just as capable?

Anyhoo, I digress.

I loved my publisher, but I spent an awful lot of time pimping out my books, and doing blog tours, and camping on the social sites, and, and, and.... I got so busy I wasn't writing anymore. Then I got the royalty checks. Which was nice, (took a vacation in the Cayman Islands), but I had to do a lot of stuff for only 7% print (Amazon), 15% digital (Amazon) and 30% (other sites).

That's when I decided I would self-publish for 70% (Amazon). If I'm going to do all the leg work anyway - I may as well be my own boss. New title coming out July 2015!!! Can't wait.

Indie Publishing is no longer a dirty, dirty phrase. We are united and we are strong!
Swat 22 Apr 2015 at 16:37  
You wear pants?
Totally overrated!
Lcrooney 24 Apr 2015 at 03:56  
What is this 8:30 a.m. you speak of?
Swat 24 Apr 2015 at 22:57  
Damned if I know. I'm told it is a time of... day? No, that can't be right. Day starts at 10:15 a.m. Further research is required!
Ruckeme 13 May 2015 at 02:29  
this was a completely pointless article.
Swat 13 May 2015 at 03:54  
You seem like you're upset about something, Ruckeme. Why don't you tell the class why you are being a killjoy?
Sheridan 4 Oct 2015 at 14:53  
Loved your smarmy snarky voice in this post!
Jessmess 14 Oct 2015 at 19:20  
Everything about this is good and right

*buggers off to go lick chocolate bar wrapper*
Pnwwriter 14 Oct 2015 at 22:56  
I like this post, but I think there are some points missing that should be addressed. Yes, authors will get royalties but most books don't make it out of the 6 week "make it or break it" time frame. New authors are unlikely to get large advances. Advances are basically royalties assuming you are going to sell an X amount of books, so royalties don't even come in until after you've sold enough books to cover your advance. Luckily, you don't have to pay back an advance if you fail to sell the agreed upon number of books—the publishers account that risk into the rest of the budget.

Also there is the A-B-C model that is used in publishing. Say a traditional publisher is publishing your book, and you're a brand new author. Most likely they're also publishing up to 10 other books, each one assigned a letter of the alphabet. They throw all their money at the A, B, and C books, which tends to be their big sellers already. The idea is that those books will sell so well, it'll make up for the money they're statistically most likely to lose on your book. It sucks, because you have to go in knowing they're not going to be willing to spend the top dollars on a book by someone the audience doesn't know.

But, it can definitely be worth going the traditional route. You'll have an editor that helps you develop your writing and the story, they'll be able to represent you in the best way possible to the other departments in a publishing house—because their success really depends on your success. Publishers have design teams, and if you have a good agent and stress it enough, you may be able to get a say in the artwork on the cover.

Self publishing is definitely still growing, and publishers are scrambling to catch up with it. I think the decision between self publishing and traditional publishing will ultimately coming down to how well you are able to navigate the service world (copy editors, designers, artists, marketers, etc) and how much effort you're willing to put into it. Self publishing is a good way to build your audience before ever trying to become traditionally published as well.

I guess what I'm trying to say is there is a lot about in inside workings of a publishing house that many first time authors don't know, and that traditional publishing—while much harder to get into—has a enormous network of . . . well everyone that it takes to get a book published and on a store's shelf. And it comes down to where you want to put in your efforts.

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