Is Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing a little like Duck Dynasty vs. Downton Abbey?

16 May

You write your book, you make a decision at the time to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route, you have your book in hand, or perhaps in pdf version only, these days you don’t really need to have a book in hand….and your done.  These days nothing is as it used to be in the publishing world, or on television. I love Downton Abbey, but I also like a little Duck Dynasty now and then as well.

I have always had a strong independent streak to me, as my son said to me the other day, “Mom you just keep reinventing yourself.  Sometimes your successful at what you do, sometimes you’re not, but you just keep taking on new projects.” Wow, I liked how that sounded.  I am creative and I believe you can accomplish what you set your mind to, if you follow your heart, and a good book or two on how to accomplish your dream.  Ha ha…that is where it get’s complicated.  If you buy a book on how to self-publish, or traditionally publish your book, by the time your book is written the book your purchased to educate you on “how to do it” is obsolete.  It sounds complicated, and it is.  I feel like the Grandmother in Downton Abbey, after World War I the entire Victorian age came to a sudden end.

I decided to self-publish.  This was a “God” thing for me.  I wrote my very personal story, The Year of the Cicadas as a thank you to God for giving me back my son, and helping our family to turn tragedy into triumph.  Sure it was hard to put all of our personal stuff out there, but I felt that perhaps our story could help someone else. After all, the family on Duck Dynasty put their personal stuff out there every week and they survive. Besides, I couldn’t trust that anyone else would have the drive that I have to push my book, it’s that independent streak in me….or is it part of me that doesn’t want to give up control?

The book had only been out three months when an agent from New York contacted me and wanted to represent my book. Wow, this was something to think about.  The old parable about the man caught in a flood, he knew God would save him…so he sat on the roof of his house to wait for God.  A rowboat, then a power-boat and finally a helicopter come by and he refuses all three, waiting for God to rescue him.  When he drowns he asks God why he didn’t save him, God answers, “I sent a rowboat, a powerboat and a helicopter, what else did you want?  Was this agent my rowboat?  Hmmm maybe I should learn to give up control.  I now had doubts.

My ego has been stroked and I am feeling all Victorian. I spend a month writing up a sixty-page proposal, editing and re-editing it to meet with the agent’s expectations.  My proposal’s all about why a publisher would want to get on board and represent my book, all the while I am really busy promoting my book and by many standards selling quite a few books.  One thing after another comes up for both the agent and myself and time goes by, suddenly we have now spent three months preparing, and finally the proposal is off to the first publisher.

I feel like Lady Edith when she is asked to be a reporter. This is a small publishing house that I have certainly never heard of, and I also don’t recognize any of the books that the publisher represents, but let’s remember I know nothing about the magical world of traditional publishing.  It would be like Lady Downton visiting with Uncle Cy.  Some things simply don’t mix well.

A response comes back with both positives and negatives, they need even more information before they can decide.  They read my book, they ask more questions, especially what have I done to promote my book and what else do I have in the works, and “what is my budget for promoting my book.”  I am confused at this point, I thought if I went with a publishing house they would promote my book and they would pay for the promotion.  I have been expecting a proposal from them.  I am feeling less Downton Abbey and more Duck Dynasty with the passing of each day.

The response comes back, they like my voice, and are amazed at the organic movement toward my writing. If I want their name on my book, they will require a complete re-work of my book.  A very deep edit, with many changes, I need time to think about this.  I don’t mind working hard, and if this is needed, and will get our story into the hands of more people, then great.  I finally agree.  After all, I have my copy for my grandchildren.

But, I have this nagging feeling…what they had referred to as the “organic” movement of my book, or the growing fan base of my down to earth style of writing, could it be compromised by a complete re-work of my book? I must ask this question, I have doubts. My book could use some rework, I agree, but there is something to it that pulls at the heart-strings.  I certainly am not savvy enough to know what it is about The Year of the Cicadas that spurs a reader to gather up forty people simply to read our book and discuss it!  Could a deep edit/re-write hurt that organic movement?  Do they know what it is about my book that causes such a reaction?

Once I ask this question, things change quickly.  Overnight a decision is made that I am to “independent.” That The Year of the Cicadas is doing well, and that perhaps I should continue on the course I am on.  I believe what is happening in the world of publishing is the same thing that has happened on television, we all say we want Downton Abbey and Masterpiece Theatre, but a large base of people want the real story and watch reality television, or Duck Dynasty.  Maybe that’s what my book is: The Reality Book.  Maybe that is what they mean by “organic” movement.

So much for my foray into the world of traditional publishing, I agree I am way too independent.  Back to promoting my book, my way…one person, one book at a time.



Our marketing plan is driven by one person at a time, and you play an integral role in helping this book find it’s way into the hearts and the minds of the people it was written for.

Want to help? Here are some of the things you can do:

Write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our website

Tell a friend about our book or purchase a copy for them as a gift.

Take our book to your or your friends book club, church group, or start a small group to read the book together. We have study guide questions on our website to help guide you through conversations about the book.  You can get a discount through our website for multiple books purchased.

Write your local newspaper book reviewer and tell them how much you like our book.

Send a copy of our book or write to one of your favorite shows, like the Ellen Show, Oprah, The View or Kathie & Hoda, tell them what you think about it.  It only does so much if I say my book is good, you the reader carry a lot more weight than I do with the outside world.

Pray for our message, that our story will reach the hearts and minds of the people who can help us to open the doors.  Pray that our story will help to inspire people who are in need and that our story finds a way into their lives.

Without you, the readers of  The Year of the Cicadas, this story would be in a shoebox in the top of my closet waiting for my grandchildren to discover it after my passing. Thank you for letting me see it find the light while I am still here.  You rock.


One Response to “Is Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing a little like Duck Dynasty vs. Downton Abbey?”


  1. What gives? | Jaye Em Edgecliff - May 19, 2013

    […] Is Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing a little like Duck Dynasty vs. Downton Abbey? ( […]

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