Should I Self-Publish or Get an Agent?

Should I Self-Publish?

In 2013, I self-published The Gospel According to Breaking Bad. At the time, I was thoroughly onboard with self-publishing as the only “smart” way to publish. The inevitable publishing path of the future seemed the wisest choice. Why would I want to give away so much control of my final product, along with such a great percentage of sales?

Plus, because I’d waited so long to begin that book and because I wanted to capitalize on the show’s success during its last season, I couldn’t have played the waiting game that traditional publishing requires. I needed to publish almost as soon as the editing was complete.

From writing the book’s first words in January of 2013 to releasing it on Amazon in August of that same year, I only needed eight months to complete the self-publishing process. And that included teaching myself everything I could about self-publishing and two months of serious self-doubt about the project when I didn’t write a word (fodder for a future post).

In hindsight, I realize I was also a self-publishing sycophant because I was afraid of the rejection that necessarily stems from the traditional publishing process. (The irony is that rejection is part of any publishing process!)

I didn’t know enough about the traditional publishing path back then to think it worth my time. And I had nothing remotely close to a platform to reach my target audience.

Should I Pursue Traditional Publishing?

Fast-forward to 2015. I met John Finch through a mutual friend. Though not a documentarian by trade, he’d produced an excellent documentary called The Father Effect. He wanted to write a book based on the documentary, which itself was based on his troubling, fascinating, yet ultimately redeemed life story.

Since I’d begun freelancing as an editor, author, and ghostwriter the year before, I’d learned much more about the process of traditional publishing. I’d made more contacts in the industry. I knew more working writers. I’d even begun to meet agents. I apprenticed myself to learning how to craft proposals and pitch agents.

And when John told me his story (and shared his platform numbers, which were and remain impressive), I knew he was a great candidate to prod toward traditional publishing.

Although we didn’t see The Father Effect: Hope and Healing from a Dad’s Absence on bookstore shelves until two years after we’d written its proposal, we were both satisfied at having successfully navigated the traditional publishing path. And I thoroughly believe pursuing an agent and seeking traditional publishing was the smart move for John—and for me.

Should I Self-Publish or Get an Agent?

Now I have experience on both sides of the publishing fence. I’ve come to understand that neither side is “smarter.” Each publishing pathway has its benefits—and its drawbacks. And it’s hard for today’s writers, especially those new to the game, to grasp what they’re receiving or giving up by choosing either path.

That’s why I wrote “Should You Self-Publish Your Book? 5 Essential Questions to Help You Decide” for The Write Life.

This long article is based on my self-publishing vs. traditional publishing seminar that I sometimes deliver for Writing Workshops Dallas. Using these five essential questions, I believe you can discover which publishing path may be your best option. At the very least, the questions will make you pause and truly consider why you’re writing your book.

Since comments have been disabled at The Write Life, feel free to comment here. If you have a question specific to your writing project, contact me.

We are living in a golden age of publishing, but when so many opportunities abound, it can be difficult to know what’s best for you. I hope this article helps guide your way.


The Breaking Bad 2.0 Tour: Treading Lightly in Albuquerque

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Albuquerque and you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, be sure to grab a seat on one of the ABQ Trolley Company’s Breaking Bad-themed tours.
Currently, they offer the Bad Tour, a three-hour tour hitting the most well-known spots from the show, and the Bad 2.0 Tour, a two-hour jaunt through some of the lesser-known but still just as awesome filming locales.
If you ever do plan to take that tour, don’t proceed any further, as I’m about to show you the photos I took while on the Bad 2.0 Tour.
Or, in words you may be more familiar with, tread lightly through this post.
Click the first image to start a slideshow. Be sure to read the captions for details and trivia on what you’re looking at!


Breaking Bad News: Will the Real Saul Goodman Please Stand Up?

In this week’s Breaking Bad news roundup, we talk Better Call Saul, possibly meet a real-life Saul Goodman with an over-the-top commercial, wonder what Giancarlo Esposito’s life would have been like had he actually turned down a defining role, hear that Bryan Cranston’s doing OK for himself as LBJ on Broadway, and see Breaking Bad as retold by middle schoolers, whom I’m hoping haven’t actually seen the show.

‘Breaking Bad’ star Jonathan Banks talks ‘Better Call Saul,’ answers fans’ questions in Daily News live chat

‘My guess is that Saul will be the lighter side as far as humor goes, and the dark side would be Mike. And I look forward to that. I love the mystery of Mike,’ Banks told one reader. ‘I love that he can be tender, when the reality was that he was a murderous, drug-dealing bad guy. Unlike some of the other characters, he knew that. He knew his soul was lost.’

Speaking of Saul …

Meet the Real Saul Goodman

So that the circle may be unbroken, it was Saul’s fault that Walt and Jesse ever got involved with Gus, who apparently could have been played by someone else …

Giancarlo Esposito Turned Down Breaking Bad Role

Esposito has now revealed he initially declined the role when he was offered it by creator Vince Gilligan, as he feared his character would be killed off too quickly. He says, ‘I didn’t know the show at the time. I asked to see an episode and was really impressed with the quality and the writing. At that point, I had done so many guest spots in my life I wanted to be part of a family. I wasn’t in the market for another guest spot.'”

Bryan Cranston Goes ‘All The Way’ From ‘Breaking Bad’ to LBJ

All The Way by Robert Schenkkan opened to glowing reviews on Thursday night at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City. This play is [Bryan Cranston’s] Broadway debut and it was met by Tony buzz right out of the gate.”

Breaking Bad: The Middle School Musical

This isn’t new and made the rounds online months and months back, but I don’t think I’ve posted it before. It’s equally creative and terrifying because it’s kids recreating a thoroughly adult-themed show.

RVs in the desert, Walter White’s house and (legal) highs: New Mexico set-jetting holiday inspired by Breaking Bad

Holidaymakers will be able to enjoy a seven-night desert adventure in New Mexico, following in the footsteps of Walter White – the main character in the show. The trip includes touring the quirky city of Albuquerque and venturing out into the expanse of the New Mexico desert in an authentic RV, the iconic location where ‘the cooking’ took place.”

The trip costs nearly $5,000 and includes airfare from London, the vacation’s origination point. If you might have trouble coming up with that kind of cash, Saul can probably help you rustle up some last-minute money.

If the ending of Breaking Bad really hacked you off

You can take out your aggressions on this strange piece of Breaking Bad paraphernalia, a Heisenberg ball marker:

heisenberg ball marker

Breaking Bad News: Godzilla vs. Heisenberg, Los Pollos Cocinero, and the Music of Breaking Bad

Let’s see what’s new in the world of Breaking Bad this week:

Bryan Cranston to Star in (Yet Another) Godzilla Remake

An immoveable object meets an unstoppable force? This line in the trailer below—“It was not an earthquake, it wasn’t a typhoon … and it is going to send us back to the Stone Age. You have no idea what’s coming.”—could almost have been said by Walter White. Almost.
Cranston does play a scientist in this film, so let’s hope he’s not being typecast now.
On that same note, here’s Godzilla vs. Heisenberg. The last shot is the best:

A Fascinating Breaking Bad Factoid

I’m going to assume it’s true.

HT: @JeffSutton

Man Wearing Los Pollos Hermanos T-Shirt Caught for Cooking Meth

Truth is always stranger than fiction, unless the truth was inspired by the fiction. Since the man that was busted was only 21-years-old, you’d have to think that the cops should expand their search to find his mentor. I’d recommend scouring the local high schools for a chem teacher down on his luck. TMZ broke the story.

How “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards” killed the Oscars

Despite its title, this excerpt from The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System only makes a few passing references to Breaking Bad. However, it relates what so many already know. Engaging, episodic TV (that’s also provided via binge-capable mediums) has been telling better stories than film lately. Many call the last decade the Golden Age of Television, and this excerpt agrees, stating that talent and creative energy have been migrating from Hollywood to the small screen for a while now, in large part due to HBO and Netflix.
As I read recently (and know implicitly) in regards to my self-publishing posts, digital changes everything. As the author of the afore-mentioned book succinctly says regarding that fact: “Adapt or die.”

Breaking Bad’s 10 Best Musical Moments

The music of Breaking Bad always fascinated me. Every song seemed perfectly matched to the story, even when the song seemed to say the reverse of what was happening on screen. “By juxtaposing lighthearted music with the dark realities of the drug world, Breaking Bad comes off as something very different.” This trek through Breaking Bad’s musical choices, replete with Youtube videos of each moment, is a fun remembrance of the songs that caused us all to burrow further down the rabbit hole of Walter White’s broken psyche.

What was your favorite musical moment in Breaking Bad?

Might I also recommend this well-curated Breaking Bad Spotify playlist?

Breaking Bad News: Relive the Epic Last Season

First, we start with the Breaking Bad news heard round the Internets yesterday:

Netflix releases the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad

… and hundreds across the land suddenly took a “sick” day off work.
Might I suggest 80 Moments You Might Have Missed in the Last Season of Breaking Bad as apt reading material for when you finish watching, or re-watching, the last eight episodes?
Once you’ve finished every episode, take a look at these:

62 simple yet impressive Breaking Bad posters, one for each and every episode, created by Zsolt Molnár

Looking at these makes me realize (again) how visceral the show is, where one simple image can evoke so much about an episode. There are so many more I’d like to post, but if you’re a fan, just go visit the site.
Speaking of saying goodbye …

Aaron Paul talks about the grieving process over Breaking Bad

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In other words, Jesse Pinkman Aaron Paul sounds like he’s doing just fine. I find it fascinating that he started shooting Need for Speed the day after wrapping Breaking Bad. It really is as if [SPOILER ALERT] Jesse just kept driving after the finale.
In another moment that only the Internet could provide …

Betsy Brandt takes part in an epic celebrity wedding congratulation video

Scrub to about five minutes in if you’d like to see her part. A guy in Britain tweeted a ton of celebrities to wish him and his surprised bride a happy marriage. While there are many in this video I don’t recognize since they’re famous beyond the great pond that divides the U.S. from Great Britain, it’s an impressive example of what can happen in this day and age if you just ask.
And last but not least

Win a free AUDIOBOOK copy of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad

My book recently released on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I’d like to give a review copy away. All you have to do is subscribe to my email newsletter this week. If you’re already subscribed, leave a comment below and let me know that you’d like to be entered into the giveaway. I’ll pick a winner (and possibly multiple winners) after Tuesday, March 4th, so you have until then to enter.
Here’s a tweet you can use to help spread the word:
[Tweet “Win an audiobook copy of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad. Details at the end of: “]

The Gospel According to Breaking Bad Now Available as an Audiobook

tgatbb-audiobookIt’s with great excitement that I can say that my book, The Gospel According to Breaking Bad, is now available as a five hour and 45-minute audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
What began as a simple inquiry in December 2013 of a few narrators on, Audible’s website that pairs publishers with audiobook producers, has now resulted in an audiobook that I’m quite happy to see published. Narrated by professional actor and narrator Alex Hyde-White with Punch Audio, the audio version of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad captures the tone of the book and the series quite well.
Continue reading “The Gospel According to Breaking Bad Now Available as an Audiobook”

Breaking Bad News: It's a Hard Rock Life

5. Breaking Bad Breaking Albuquerque?

“An entire industry has arisen locally around ‘Breaking Bad.’ Months after the show’s final cut, Albuquerque remains enthralled with the crime drama, even as critics complain about ‘Breaking Bad’-themed hats, shirts, tours and cocktails.”

And, more sobering:

“In 2008, when the series began, one-third of all criminal cases in Bernalillo County were connected to meth use, sales or related crimes. Today, ‘Breaking Bad’ tours pass county drug detox centers filled with addicts. ‘Meth use among the young hasn’t dropped,’ said Katrina Hotrum, director of the Bernalillo County Department of Substance Abuse Programs. ‘We’re going to be seeing this drug here for a very long time.’ All the publicity from the show hasn’t meant more drug-treatment funds for her department, she said.”
John M. Glionna, ‘Breaking Bad’ still cooking in Albuquerque

Continue reading “Breaking Bad News: It's a Hard Rock Life”

Breaking Bad News: Ground Control to Walter Blanco, Take a Facebook Look Back

5. David Costabile, a.k.a. Gale Boetticher, talks Breaking Bad and new movie Somewhere Slow

While the interview itself is fairly interesting, I found his reveal about singing “Major Tom” for that never-to-be-forgotten karaoke scene in Breaking Bad to be, well, revealing:

The burn of ‘Major Tom’ was that the entire crew watched me do it. Everybody standing around — there must have been 50 people watching me. They all just stopped what they were doing to watch. It was just this single shot, with a single, crappy camera in front of a green screen. So everybody got to take a nice 20-minute break and just watch me go for it. There was a challenge inside of that.

In case you’ve forgotten the awesomeness:
Continue reading “Breaking Bad News: Ground Control to Walter Blanco, Take a Facebook Look Back”

Breaking Bad News: Need for Speed, Netflix, and … Bill Murray

5. Did you see the Super Bowl commercial that almost got your hopes up that Breaking Bad had never ended?

You know, the trailer that starts with Aaron Paul behind the wheel of a car as if he’s trying to escape someone?
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I’m going to choose to believe that Paul is still actually Jesse Pinkman in Need for Speed.
Continue reading “Breaking Bad News: Need for Speed, Netflix, and … Bill Murray”

Breaking Bad News: Breaking the Facts of Life … and Other Empire Business

Works of art with depth, vitality, and a well-told narrative often become translated into different mediums over time.
Today’s Breaking Bad news roundup reveals what most of us know already. Breaking Bad is a work of art.
From college courses to symphonies (yes, you read that correctly) to T-shirts and spoofs, Breaking Bad somehow managed to be a cultural touchstone for 2013. Consequently, its story will continue to live on in a number of mediums far outside its beginning as an episodic film narrative.
For example:
Continue reading “Breaking Bad News: Breaking the Facts of Life … and Other Empire Business”