Why I chose self-publishing instead of traditional


Here’s the short answer: control.

I tend to obsess over my stories. I’ve spent months, maybe years, preoccupied with every finite detail and nuance, sensory detail and room set-up, plot point and motivation, hair color and presentation, etcetera. I map out characters’ bedrooms, how my characters walk, outfits, family histories, and so much else. However, as I understand it, a traditional publisher could dictate changes to my books. They could request I change a character’s gender, for example, or maybe key plot points. I cannot see a traditional publisher allowing some of the creative decisions I’ve made. For example, I created the narrator’s voice in Into the Unknown from an ungendered base. The character does admittedly lean a bit feminine (that happens sometimes), but I never officially assigned them a gender. I want the reader to decide how they perceive this character, which is an important decision for me. I doubt traditional publishing would allow them to be as they are right now.

Also, I get to set my own deadlines. If a lot happens in my personal life, I can push a publishing date back a bit without that much issue. I am already extremely productive (seriously, I have to remind myself to eat meals and take breaks), so convincing myself to do the work is not an issue. Occasionally, I might procrastinate something marketing related by working on something else, but I will get it done. In the world of traditional publishing, it takes a lot longer to get books actually published and someone else gets to set those deadlines.

I would also be expected to do a significant portion of the marketing work on my own anyway. I’m still not that great at marketing, and have a lot to learn in that area, but I get to move at my own pace as a self-published author. Some of the marketing I expect traditional publishing would do, or expect me to do, would likely leave a bad taste in my mouth. For example, Into the Unknown includes a deaf character as one of the mains. I refuse to use this aspect of this character as a buzzword or a lure to pull in readers. If a review does it, that’s the reviewer’s decision. But I refuse to exploit that character trait for the sake of marketing.

I’ve never gone through traditional publishing, so I may be wrong in some of these points. But, as I understand it, self-publishing is the better route for me.

Update: I’m surprised this post is this old. Since 2015, I have been more involved with the traditional publishing world. I actually apply somewhat-regularly for anthologies. Several of these entries have been accepted, and I’ve had an odd array of experiences. Most professional anthologies use editors that don’t always agree with me. I can accept criticism, but there’s a reason I like controlling my work.

For example, not all publishers allow authors to use they/them pronouns in author bios. I have a pronoun-free author bio I’ll use when publishers outright refuse to include my correct pronouns. I pretend this isn’t erasure so that at least my story can be included.

And I always feel like I break a little when I admit that.

It should also be noted that editors in the traditional publishing world still tend to fight me on the inclusion of LGBT characters. I can only think of one editor who was actually okay with me including queer characters, but she was editing a trans charity anthology. I’ve heard from other writers that things are getting better. I have, admittedly, seen more openly queer writers, but I wonder if that’s because I’m more aware of them. I haven’t seen an improvement in my personal experiences in the traditional publishing world.

Note from the future: I have since moved from public deadlines to pendings. This better reflects (in my experience) the unpredictability of the self-publishing world. I still maintain my own deadlines, but you’ll no longer see them on my site (at least for the time being). I know my own work habits well, and I can still decently predict how long it will take me to accomplish something. What I can’t predict? Other people and the things I cannot always control in my personal life. Want an easy example? I’m typing this during the COVID-19 lockdown.



Genre: Fantasy

Pages: [Not yet recorded]

Word Count: ~57k

Publishing Date: [Put on hold indefinitely. I’d have to clean up so much old writing that I’m not sure when (if?) I’ll be returning to it. I put way too much pressure on myself when writing it initially and there are some major pacing issues. It will likely remain unpublished.]


My second book! At approximately 57k words, this work had been my secondary project for a long time, since before I even started focusing on Y. Wing has been through many rounds of editing, and seen multiple side-plots and chapters added to it over years. However, less than a year ago, I decided to make it my main project until its completion.

It is set in the World of the Mystics, the same setting as Y. Although the two stories are not part of a series, certain events from Y are mentioned (because of how large an impact the events of Y have on the setting). For example, the disappearance of the stars during Y is mentioned in Wing as having happened before the story began. However, you can still understand Wing without reading Y.

I continued with self-publishing for Wing, and had already created my website before Wing’s publication. I still have a lot of work to do with marketing, so I decided to try something a little different when Wing is published. The effectiveness of social media may soon be tested.



[Summary has yet to be written][Whoops]


Daeya’s song is NeedToBreathe Something Beautiful. You can [find it on youtube here].


[link to excerpt]

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