Recently, I was trying to decide if I wanted Flight to be self-published (indie, what-have-you) or traditionally. And I decided to go down the traditional route. Both are viable options. Self-publishing would have been a lot of fun, but I also enjoy commissioning covers, typesetting, and doing all those little things to make something look coherent if not good. And I know the cover I would do for Flight if it was me; it would look like those neat technical diagrams in the Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition books.
But, traditional has the chance of getting me closer to where I want to go. Most of that has to do with my first novel, MG. Saying I was published is like saying I lived in a house with seven floors. It tells a story, but not the story. Both cases are true. In the case of MG, I was published by a company in 2001. It was for a 116k word, epic fantasy novel. I was so excited when it happened, but it ended up being a relationship gone sour. Looking back, MG is the type of novel that people will buy, but not finish. I did things in the first nine chapters that pretty much turned off most of the readers. And, because of that, it sold very poorly (under a hundred copies in ten years).
It should have never been published. It was, and I'm very thankful that it was, but it wasn't... there. The company went out of business in 2003 but I didn't really find out until somewhere in the 2007 or so. The contract was one of those things The Passive Guy would drool to have in his collection of contracts of the damned, but I got lucky because the new owners of the company wouldn't touch MG with a ten meter pole.
It hurts to say that, but I don't consider MG to be really published.
So, I need "I was published" to mean something. And, traditional publishing would get me there. I have the skills (or at least think I do) to self-publish. And I have the internal drive to keep on pushing and, I hope, the social skills to put Flight at least up there. But I need an impersonal editor to love my novel and someone else feel that it worthy of being published. I need someone not desperate to publish anything to keep the doors open. And, I need someone who doesn't know me to actually feel that the novel is good (which is why I probably won't go with the small press guy in my writing group for this novel).
It's a lot of needs, but I still feel a bit dirty when I say "I was published". I try not to, but it is technically true, but I don't really feel it is spiritually true. I think Flight has a good, if not great, chance of getting published. I do have to cut a huge number of words in the next month or so, but I can do that. I have a goal and a plan.