Chatting with Randy Ingermanson: Self vs. Traditional Publishing?

Jul 18, 2011Work Uncaged, Write!

I’m grateful to host my good friend Randy Ingermanson here. We had a long skype chat about publishing in the aftermath of my publishing The 11 Secrets of Getting Published. What follows is our banter. Today? We’re talking about self publishing versus the traditional publishing route. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about discipline. This series will happen all week long! Yay!


RI: So Mary, I just read through your new e-book 11 SECRETS OF

GETTING PUBLISHED, and I was struck by the irony of the situation.


MD: Yes, I can be ironic.

RI: Your book is all about how to get published by a traditional,

royalty paying publisher. But you SELF-PUBLISHED your book! Want to

explain the logic behind that?


MD: Because the book is a niche book, I knew a traditional publisher

wouldn’t want to publish it (too small a market share), so I decided

the easiest way to get it out to the most people was to create it as

an ebook.


RI: Not to mention that if you self-publish it, you can have it out

NOW, instead of in two years.


MD: Yes, the immediacy of it makes me really excited.


RI: But there’s still this irony–your book is about getting

traditionally published, not about self-publishing a book. Are there

advantages to pubbing with a traditional publisher?


MD: I actually wrote a long post about how to get e-published.

But yes, there are huge advantages to publishing traditionally.

Traditional publishers PAY YOU MONEY! I like that. And they get your

book into great outlets. And they help market and sell your book. And

they give credibility to your work. And you get the absolute best

editing, cover design, and layout. Plus you have zero outlay.


RI: There’s another thing also that I think goes to the core of your

e-book. When you publish with a traditional publisher, you have to

meet a certain standard of quality. Yes, anybody in the world can

e-publish. Instantly. With dreadful quality.


MD: Yes, and you won’t be published unless you’re super famous or you

write like the wind.


RI: But a publisher only wants stuff that it knows it can sell.


MD: All those icky books out there make it hard for readers to

discern what is good anymore, and they don’t typically look at the

publisher. So I think it’s harder for readers to find quality.


RI: Oh, they’ll find quality. They’ll read the Amazon reviews. The

hard part is putting in the quality to begin with.


MD: True. A publisher is a business. They have to look at the bottom

line, which means you have to pitch something that you think will

sell well.


RI: And that’s what your book is all about. How to put in the

quality, so that if you pursue a traditional publisher, you’ll get it

published. And if you self-publish, you’ll actually sell more than 3



MD: If you want longevity in your career, it behooves you to write

well and keep honing your craft. And I would argue you still have

that onus if/when you self publish.


RI: Right, the onus is even stronger if you self-pub, because you

have no marketing department. So quality of the writing has to do the

job of marketing.


MD: Right. That’s where your platform becomes even more important.

Because if you have a blog that reaches 12, you’ll probably sell 1