#IWSG – The Path to Publication

Mountain Path

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s #IWSG day! That would be the Insecure Writer’s Support Group if you didn’t know, started by the esteemed Alex J. Cavanaugh. Be sure to pop over to the website and check it out. You’ll find a fantastic community of like-minded writer types, all at varying stages of their writing careers. You’ll also find resources up the wazoo on all things writing and publishing related.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler! Visit their sites, say hello, and give them a big thank you for hosting.

The question prompt this month is…

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Katherine Karch
That’s me, dreaming of making it in the publishing world.

At this stage in my writing career, I’ve got my sights set on the traditional publishing route.

I just finished up a manuscript and submitted it to Pitch Wars, in fact! I’m pretty darned proud for having entered a competition of this magnitude. Over 3,500 people submitted this year. My chances of being selected are slim, to say the least. But if you don’t try, you fail by default, right? And, if my manuscript is chosen, I’ll work on it with a talented author mentor for a few months. Then, come February, I’ll post it in the agent showcase. Who knows what might happen?!


I want very much to secure agent representation. Getting my manuscripted picked up by big five publishing houses is a dream of mine. My reasons are simple: self-publishing sounds like a massive amount of work.

Not that securing an agent and then working with a team of folks at one of the big houses wouldn’t also be a tremendous amount of work. From everything I’ve read and heard, things just aren’t what they used to be.

Heavy Lifting

Debut authors are being asked to pick up way more marketing and publicity weight much earlier in a book’s release and run with it. But, still. That weight is not 100%, as it is with self-publishing. And then there are the editors and copy editors and proofreaders and cover designers and people who know when the best time of year to release a book is. Stuff like that.

I’m not sure I’d have either the time or the energy to try and do all that. As with teacher, self-publishing requires a particular type of 

person. Don’t know that it would be a good fit for me.

I’m thinking about my “other” life as I contemplate all the work that would go into self-publishing a novel. As a high school teacher, my year just started yesterday.

New crop of students
The new crop!

A new crop of students filled my classroom, and I had to do all the stuff that needs doing to be ready for them. And once it begins, it’s really just a continuous, barely controlled fall to June. Not unlike jumping onto a treadmill cranked up to maximum speed. With a broken deceleration button. You can’t ever slow down. I suspect self-publishing is like that.


It’s that way for big name authors, too, I know. Folks like Victoria Schwab and Jason Reynolds come to mind. They’re red hot in the traditionally published world right now, and they’re both exhausted all the time. I ain't slept in 5 daysJason flat out told me during my final residency at Lesley University that he’s living an unsustainable life at the moment. He doesn’t know when he’ll collapse, but he feels it coming. Victoria has said much the same thing in a few of her videos over on Instagram.

So, yeah. I’d love, love, love to travel the more traditional publishing path, but life does run in straight lines. Who knows how I’ll feel about this question in a week, a month, a year…

How about you? Are you published? Traditionally or via self-publishing? Or, maybe you’re an aspiring author, like me. Which path are you hoping to travel?


Thanks for stopping by, and as always, happy writing to you.


  1. Jemima Pett

    Having been on the author-publisher route since 2011, my work being not easily classified and is in any case fairly niche, I’m really interested to follow your journey and see how different it really is on the trad route for a new author.
    Good luck!

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  2. M.J. Fifield

    I’m an indie author because I wanted the control—but yeah, it is a lot of work, and I only have one book out in the world. I bow down to any author who has managed to do this more than once!

    Hope you have a wonderful school year!

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