We started by exploring the reasons why people turn to traditional publishing. The following factors were discussed:
- Financial aspects
- Prestige and validation
- Marketing (though Sarah and Ashley had differing opinions on this point)
- The ‘lottery’ ticket—having a chance to earn a big advance and/or have your book be made into a movie
- Differences in distribution channels
- The learning experience
We next talked about our personal reasons for pursuing traditional publishing. For Ashley, it has been a personal goal for quite some time, regardless of how much it pays. She voiced her dream of seeing her books on the shelves of her local bookstore and, considering New Zealand’s current distribution channels, traditional seems like a more logical way of pursuing this.
Sarah is more business orientated—she wants a quality product and to reach as many people as possible. And although the traditional pathway alone is not necessarily the best way of doing this, she voiced how she hopes to become a hybrid author, with the aim of dipping her toes in both traditional and indie publishing in the future to get the best of both worlds.
We then followed with a description of the road so far, harking back to the early 2000s when we initially attempted to have our book published, and working forward to our more recent experience in submitting to publishing houses and agents. This was an in-depth discussion of the mistakes we made, our process for sending away our novel, and the types of responses we collected.
We closed the discussion with our views of the overall experience and what we learned. We both felt that although the process is sometimes described as ‘soul-crushing’, this wasn’t our experience. We understood the publishers and agents’ needs to be selective to ensure the success of their business, and we will probably continue to pursue traditional publishing in the future. That said, we are both very excited about the prospect of finally self-publishing our first novel.