From Self to Traditional Publishing




Around this time two years ago, I began the process of self-publishing the manuscript I’d spent the better part of three years working on. At the time, my father’s health was failing and I was driven by a need to complete the work we’d started together. By the following March, my father’s health had improved and we had a book. Nothing could have pleased me more than placing his story into his hands.

That spring, a new local publisher started their business with the focus on publishing Northern Ontario writers. I took a chance and sent in the opening chapters, wondering if they’d be interested in a book set during the war and one which had already received some attention. To my amazement, a few months later, as I waited in the Toronto airport to board a plane to Helsinki, I received a message. The publisher was interested in my book and wanted a copy! What could be more exciting?

Months passed. My father and I continued to go to a variety of events and talk about his story. Our little self-published book surprised us all. The support from our local community and beyond was overwhelming. Once in awhile I met the publishers by chance at local literary events and they never failed to ask me how the book was doing. I didn’t think they were interested in publishing it, but it was enough for me that they loved the story and, even then, I felt their support.

A year after that submission, I received another email. Could we meet about the possibilities of publishing? My heart skipped a beat. This time, however, I wasn’t so sure. I was doing well on my own. Did I need to publish traditionally? Until then I’d had control over every step of the process. Every success, and every mistake, was mine to own.

As an indie author, I was not only the writer and publisher, but also the promoter and distributor, and a host of other roles I had to learn about as I went along. Now, I had the opportunity to let someone else take on some of that work. After meeting with the publishers, I came to understand how traditional publishing could open some doors that might otherwise have remained closed. I saw a team that had a vision and wanted my father’s story to reach readers, readers I could not possibly find on my own.

Since our meeting, my book has transformed.  A striking cover, a new title, a fresh layout, and careful editing give it renewed life. While self-publishing was an amazing adventure, traditional publishing has taught me so much, including how to trust others to care for and nurture my work.

With its launch next spring, I’m looking forward to placing my now professionally published book back in my father’s hands where it belongs. After all, it is, and always has been, his story.