I was never rejected from a publishing house. In fact, I never even went to a publishing house with my book. When I was still in the first draft of my novel I gave traditional publishing a very fleeting glance and decided that it wasn’t for me. That’s not to say it won’t ever be for me, it’s just not right now.
Traditional publishing does have it’s advantages, such as a marketing department and a lot of money to put behind their books, but they don’t necessarily put all their resources behind each author. If you happen to have a different writing style or focus on a topic that’s not wildly mainstream and guaranteed to be popular based on current trends, then you could find yourself with the short end of the publishing stick. It really depends on what you want out of your books and your writing career. I do want my books to get into the hands of readers, but I wasn’t ready to give up creative control of something I’d devoted so much of my time to. Today self publishing isn’t about rejection, it’s about creation and control and you can produce high quality books with the companies that assist self publishing authors. Self publishing allows you access to as much or as little help with your book as you want
Some people seem to think that just because you’re fronting the initial costs to get your book published it means your book is somehow less compared to a book that was picked up by a publishing house. It’s not vanity to put money into something that you believe in, much as you would have to do for any project. If you’re a seamstress you need to pay for the products, if you’re a painter you need to buy paint and supplies. The actual writing of the book doesn’t usually cost money, but turning it into a quality product does and it shouldn’t really matter who’s footing that bill. The achievement is to have written something, to have finished a project that you love and have invested your time into. I don’t think less of my book because I didn’t try to take them to a publishing house, I’m just happy I wrote it and that someday very soon people are going to be able to read it.
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Some examples of successful books that were self-published: The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, A Time to Kill by John Grisham, The Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and many others.