These carry less weight with each passing year. More and more established authors are choosing to eschew the constrictions of traditional publishing houses in favor of creative control. The advantages of payment advances and placement on shelves are no longer enough... especially with less and less marketing done on behalf of the author.
In my first edition, I went with a self publishing outfit. I was naive, impatient and excited to simply be able to release my work in some capacity. They offered a package which promised the size that I wanted, included editing, the use of my cover design, multiple reviews and a fair amount of marketing that I could not negotiate on my own.
When all was done, it was clear that they couldn't deliver on some of those points. Others were skated through with the type of loopholes that left me feeling as if I had been conned out of more money than I had ever spent in my entire life... While I had creative control, I was paying for promises that could not be kept.
The editing was flawed. The marketing was almost non existent. The promised reviews turn out that I was supposed to send my work to reviewers on my own, and they no longer offered printing in the size we'd agreed on. I was left disillusioned, in debt, and without a single copy of my own book. I'd given away both copies they had offered me for free...
Traditional publishing was looking better and better.
So I did my research. I jumped through hoops and sent out queries. (Something that nearly took classes to learn about in the first place.)
The lists of agents were buried so deep in forums, blogs and paysites that I felt as if I were descending into some underground club scene where the bouncer looked liked king kong and the dress code exceeded my price range. IF I found a publisher, then I would have to sacrifice creative control, give up on designing my own cover, give up on the inclusion of illustrations, and possibly cut content that mattered to me as an artist. That was a hard enough pill to swallow...But the result would be sales. There would be copies on shelves and there would be a marketing push. I was willing to try.
Then, sinking deeper into the world of convention pitches and artistic compromise, I found out something important. Other authors offered the information that had been guarded to that point, the marketing I wanted so much, that key element that I needed for success... was going to be little more, if not the same to what I had gotten from the first company I'd gone with.
Whether I went traditional or self published... I was going to need to market on my own.
I would have to sink into the abyss of social media and selling myself, no matter what I chose. It was infuriating. It was confusing. it was heartbreaking... but at least with one option, I could maintain creative control. I could include all that I'd written, all of my illustrations, and my own cover art. So long as I was going to wade through humanity's sewage, then I may as well get to do it on my feet rather than my knees.
So that is why I'm self publishing. It had nothing to do with quality or last resort. I just want to do things my way.
A big part of that is to include something rare and seemingly strange to many. My novel, which is intended for adults and older teens, comes with illustrations.
Well I could spin some logical reasons related to my love for antique books. I own illustrated copies such as Paradise Lost with woodcuts by Gustave Dore. I have Treasure Island with woodcuts at the end of nearly every chapter. Even my copy of Frankenstein has a lovely image upon the opening page. It wasn't such an uncommon practice once upon a time. It is something I miss dearly. Even moving on to more recent editions, I could talk about my fondness for the illustrations of Michael Hague, whose work adorns the pages of my copies of The Hobbitt as well as The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe... but the truth is far simpler.
I am an author. I am a very visual person. I was a film student for crying out loud. I still make money working on graphics and illustrations. I am a designer and I am an illustrator. So why would I be so insistent on the inclusion of full color illustrations in Book 1? Because writing my world and story isn't the only way to include the reader in the experience. I illustrated it because I wanted to, and because its rare to see done anymore, but most of all, I illustrated it because... I can.