To self-publish or not to self-publish…

So, the moment of truth is nigh.  This weekend is the annual RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) conference at Lancaster University.  This is the first ever time I’ll have been – RNA virgins we’re called apparently – and I’ve come to realise it’s a BIIIIIIIG deal in the romance writers’ calendar; the biggest in fact.

Emails are flying about all over the place, very helpful ones, about what to pack, what not to pack and whatever else we might need to know.  This organisation is all very frightening for me as, what with work and family, and all, I’ll most probably be thinking about packing 20 minutes before I set off so will inevitably forget most of this well thought-out advice.

No matter, the most exciting part of the weekend for me is not whether I pack enough pants, but that I will, for the first time ever, get to meet a Mills & Boon editor for a one to one 10 minute meeting.  By this point she’ll have already read my first chapter and will give me feedback.

Either she’ll say: “Wow, where have you been all my life, send me the rest of this masterpiece.  Pronto.”

Or she’ll say:  “Hmmm, needs a bit more work before you even think about submitting this bad boy.”

Hopefully she won’t say: “Sorry, is this meant to be a comedy script?”

With my optimistic head on I’m hoping for the first option, but with my realistic head on, it’s more likely to be one of the latter two.  The question is, if it is, what do I do: start from scratch and try again or – du du duuuuuuuu – self-publish?

And I really don’t know.  Does self-publishing look bad in the future if a traditional publisher is considering you or does it actually look good that you’re committed enough to write an entire manuscript and have at least started to build a following?

I want to be published the traditional way, of course I do, as this means someone in the know thinks my work is good enough for public consumption.  However, I’ve read so many self-published books recently, many of which were just as good if not better than published books I’ve read, that I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t a more valid route than I’d first thought.

What I do will depend on the feedback I get in those precious 10 minutes.  If there’s so much of a glimmer of hope that, even with a few edits, they’ll look at my manuscript seriously, then I’m likely to go down that road.  However, if it’s a case of don’t give up the day job, love, then I might well opt for plan B.


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