I want something that combines the flexibility and speed of self-publishing with the power of a publisher. I mean, traditional publishing was fun while it lasted, but it was so danged slow. I realize I say that as someone who hasn't published anything in awhile. I still have aspirations, y'all. I'd like to pretend I could go faster and pour out a bunch of books. Traditional publishing is just too slow for my tastes. Not to mention that a hearty dose of imposter syndrome convinces me I'll never see another traditional deal again anyway.
My problem is that I insist on hiring an editor. A good one. I have some bad habits as a writer - I know what I want to say, so what I write makes sense in my head - but it doesn't make sense to anyone else. I need someone objective enough to call me on it every single time. Of course a manuscript is never going to be perfect. Ask me how many typos, missing words, or repeated words I find immediately after a book gets published. I also fully acknowledge that I am not good at book covers. The cover artists I hire always ask for my ideas about covers, then spend the rest of our time telling me why my ideas won't work. This is exactly what I want - someone with far more experience with reader expectations around book covers than I have. It's just -- as a self-publisher who *does* no how to format electronic manuscripts for several different formats -- I've already spent more that $1k of my own cash. I'm also lacking that marketing team to help me focus a 100k word story down to a punchy, pithy sales pitch that helps readers understand at a glance what my stories are about.
As it happens, I've found the perfect for-me compromise. An e-first press. The press used to be called a small press, but Wild Rose Press isn't small. Not anymore. The press releases books across all genres. Their bread and butter is still romance - as it is for so many of us. But they've expanded into so many other markets. I get an editor, a cover artist, someone else handles the formatting, and I get a little much-needed marketing coaching. Are they slower than I could publish myself? Yes. But not by much. If I turn in a book, I'm usually holding a print copy in my hands within 8 months. The great thing is I'm not limited to one line or genre. I can write anything that takes my fancy. I hand it to my editor and she places the story - or tells me straight up that Wild Rose Press can't use the book and I'm free to self-publish it or sub it elsewhere.
I like the flexibility and the assurance that I have people on my side - who want my books. So far, it's working for me.