The Same Old Argument

By Bruce Blake


I did something unusual this weekend…I had a Saturday off. If you heard angels singing, now you know why.

While it’s not typical for me to have a day off from the ole day job on a Saturday, it wasn’t a surprise. Mainly, it didn’t surprise me because I asked for the day off. Those guys sure  know how to reward good work.

038575440XI took the day off because a friend of mine who is a traditionally published author was doing a book signing at a local book store. My friend–Jordan Stratford, author of the fantastic Wollstonecraft Detective Agency books for young readers–has a very interesting story that we can all feel jealous of (check it out here), but that’s not the subject of today’s post. No, today’s post is inspired by the conversation Jordan and I had regarding the differences between being self-published or published by one of the Big 5. As many of you might recall, I’ve recently signed on to have my Small Gods series with a publisher, but that is a ‘small press,’ so I kinda still count that as self-published (but with a great deal of help).

Now let me qualify first…I don’t want this to degenerate into a ‘which is better’ post. My conversation with Jordan simply highlighted a few differences, so here they are in no particular order.

1. Editing – when I send my finished novel off to my editor, I generally have it back within a week. In that time, she  reads it twice (have I ever mentioned how much I love my editor? Ella is amazing!), makes notes and suggestions, and sometimes manages to make fun of me to keep my head from ballooning. Jordan told me that he sent the third book in the series to his  editor in August and recently found out it hasn’t been read yet.

2. Timelines – I write a book, it gets edited, it gets published. When I was writing full-time, that entire process might have taken only two months. It’s longer now that I’m back at work, to be sure, but I think 6 months wouldn’t be an unreasonable estimate beginning to end. The second book of the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series was finished in 2013 and is set for publication in August of 2015.

3. Money – he got an advance. He even gets to use phrases like ‘earn out.’ I didn’t and I don’t. Need I say more?

4. Promo – I don’t know what they do, but I did notice that Jordan’s site lists two publicists–one for the US, one for Canada. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have a publicist.

5. Contracts – contracts?

6. Reporting – I can obsessively check the sales of my self-published books as many times per day as I want. Jordan can check his rank on Amazon but otherwise uses his time wisely for other things…like writing. A definite win for the big guys.

7. Media attention – When I Googled Jordan (unbelievable that Google has become a verb), I found articles publishedth1 about him and Wollstonecraft on such places as CBC (that’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for you non-Canadians out there), Yahoo news, Huffington Post, and Reading Rainbow. Google me and you find my blog and a nice note my  mom once wrote about me. Too bad, I’ve always wanted to be on Reading Rainbow. (It should be noted that, when Googling Jordan, I also came up with a story titled “Daredevil Stratford Pilot Becomes Jordan Princess.” I chuckled at that).

I’m sure there a ton of other differences, but those were my observations. You can easily argue one way or the other–both have their advantages and disadvantages. I think I like this place I’ve found in between–the small press. Maybe we’ll tackle that in another post. Or maybe I’ll see if we can get it right from the horse’s mouth.

What are your thoughts on self- vs, trad publishing?


Bruce Blake is a writer.