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What are the benefits of being self published versus going with a publisher?

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I've been working on a novel for a long time, and it's currently in the stages of editing. I feel like I bit of an advantage on other authors by being a high school senior when I'm published, since I know I need all the help I can get in this highly competitive field. However, I don't know which path I should pursue. Are the publication contests worth it, or do they not get my writing out to enough people? Should I go with a big publisher? Or attempt to self-publish? Thank you!

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Erica’s Answer

Hi Christina. Great to know that you are a writer. I am a writer as well. I will say from experience that its okay to want your book published by a big publisher if you have the opportunity. Big publisher meaning publishers like Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster. These publishers have the funds to invest more into your marketing and promotional work that will be needed to get your books out to everyone. I'm sure you are a great writer and would like for the world to see your work. I had big publishing opportunities for my first book but I took the self-publishing option because of royalties. My books are still distributed throughout the world but I also have to make sure that I have my own marketing and promotional campaigns. If you're very passionate about writing and very driven (which I'm sure you are) I would take the self-publishing option. Technology has changed over the years and there are a lot of free resources available on the internet. Good Luck and I can't wait to read some of your work.

So you think that in terms of intellectual property a driver author is better off being self-published? I too have several books edited and written and would like to know the answer to this question. Trinity G.

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Brad’s Answer

Whatever path you decide -- Keep Writing! My wife is an author and her first book was self published. She learned many things from that experience. Many authors have found great success in self publishing. The reality of find a publisher to accept your work, is that publishing is still a very old school style business, that moves slowly and is very risk averse. However, placing your work with a publisher offers many advantages, like editorial assistance, marketing and placement with influential reviewers.
Some have succeeded though unsolicited submission, but, more than likely, agented authors fare better at getting their work read.
Have you worked with a critique group? Getting feedback from your peers in your genre can be enormously helpful in refining your work. Many libraries offer these groups or you could look into for something in your area.
If you're confident that your work, there's no reason not to self-publish. Just be prepared to do some work to get your piece ready, post it and get people to review it.
Best of luck to you!

Brad recommends the following next steps:

Find a local or online critique group in your genre
Look at some online writing courses to refine your style. Many are low cost or free