Over the last several months, as e-publishing has picked up pace and become, more and more, a viable way for a writer to get work to readers, debates have sprung up. There's even been some rancor, as some writers are bitterly opposed to e-publishing and want only paper books. Other writers sneer at the paper book camp and swear e-publishing is the only way to go.
This is all mixed up with traditional publishing through an agent, publishing with a small press, and self-publishing. The latter is gaining respectability because of the greater ease of doing so, and the lure of profits without the middleman. The small presses are springing up in response to belt-tightening at the top, the Big Houses. It's all so intermixed.
I guess I'm on my way to being in all camps at once. I couldn't possibly argue for or against any of these methods. I'm trying all of them.
To explain, here's my situation:
(1) I'm currently working on a proposal for my agent (Kim Lionetti of BookEnds) that she hopes to sell to one of the traditional New York guys, Berkley. If and when that happens, you are going to hear screams of joy from one happy camper down here in Hubbard, TX (near Waco, if you've never heard of it--and I'd be shocked if you had).
(2) Just yesterday, a small press, Barking Rain Press, accepted the first novel in my Cressa Carraway series. This book has been a long time coming and I'm ecstatic that it's seeing the light of day. The tentative schedule in my contract is awesome and a book should happen very soon. This is my second experience with a small press. The first one gave me my first shot at being published in novel form and also enabled my Agatha nomination for that book. Talk about over the moon!
(3) When I left that first publisher, who had never taken the e-book rights for some reason, I was able to redo and self-publish the same book(CHOKE), then self-publish the second in the series (SMOKE). I intend to get the third one, BROKE, out in October. This has been terrific fun, being in complete control of the text and the cover, and being able to check numbers, raise and lower prices, and give copies away on blogs.
(4) To muddy the waters, I'll bring up my digital-only publisher, Untreed Reads. I have some things published with them and some of my self-published works distributed there. This is enabling my work to reach way more people than I could get to on my own, especially libraries.
All good experiences! I've refrained from using many, many exclamation points above, but I was tempted. I'd say every form of publishing had its downside and its upside. Since I'm so new to all of it, having just been published now in novels for a bit over a year, it's hard to end up endorsing or recommending any one way. I know I'll continue to bang on all the doors I can find.
I'd highly encourage writers who are trying to break in to decide what would fit for them, then go for it. Self-publishing, of course, gives you the greatest control and requires the most work. The traditional route gets you onto book shelves not otherwise accessible. Small press, being the middle ground, will do you edits and covers for you and gets you onto bookshelves if you work at it, but doesn't give you complete control.