Monday, July 18, 2011

To Self-Pub Or Not To Self-Pub?

After I thought my first novel was as crisp as it could be, I started querying agents. My cheeks are heating as I’m typing this. What the hell was I thinking? I wasn’t ready, but more importantly my novel wasn’t ready. I queried about fifteen to twenty agents, getting a partial and two full requests but no takers. So I put my novel in the drawer to start my next project.
Once that one was finished, I queried twenty more agents, getting the same rejections. I thought my second one was better but I didn’t get any interest at all. I’d heard all the hype about the market and resigned myself to waiting awhile longer.
So here I am with my third nearly completed ’script and I’m wondering what to do. The thought of writing a query letter again makes my eyes cross. I hate it. And will I ever really land an agent? What are my chances?
A good friend of mine just lost her agent, who decided to pack it up and get out of the publishing business. She said it was dead. I’d heard the rumors but dead? You can’t come back from dead, unless you’re a cat or Elvis.
What’s a dreamer to do?
Self-publishing is on fire with the ebook craziness. I’m leery of it. For one, there is the self-published author stigma and two, I’ve read a few self-pubbed books and I’m sorry but I thought they were unpolished. That’s not to say that traditional works are perfect; I’ve read my fair share of crap. There's been a lot of crap that makes a whole lotta money though. So unless I'm one of the lucky crap writers, I'm not sure what to do.
I have a friend who went with a smaller publisher and her debut novel is set for release in a few months. Another has her book ready to roll through Createspace, with another set for a few months after. She hired a cover artist and sent it out for reviews. 
It's never been easier. Point and click. That seems like all it takes. So I want to know where you’re at. Are you still holding out for an agent or traditional publisher, or are you running to self-publishing like everyone else?


Christine Tyler said...

I'm planning on going with an agent. A few months ago I was dead-set against ever trying to self-publish. I feel differently now. Things are certainly changing. If I could find a way to hire an editor and someone to work out legalities for me, I might consider self-pubbing a plan B.

But in all honesty, I think it'll stay as plan B for a good while.

Ryan Sullivan said...

I'm running like a madman to self-publishing. I think I can get more out of it than taking the traditional route. I'm slow enough at writing long works; I don't need the extra years it takes to find an agent or publisher or a small publisher when the books will possibly not get reprinted. My focus in writing is to reach my audience, anyway, and I can reach enough of my audience by myself.

I get to take as long as I want to write stories, choose who I want to work with to edit it, and choose who will do the cover art. It's all on me, so if I'm not selling, that means there's something I'm doing wrong and I can change things.

I don't really know what I'm getting into, but I do know that this is the quickest and most accessible route for me to achieve what I want.

Susan Oloier said...

I am not ready to give into self-published yet. I consider myself great at line editing, but I still would like a professional to comb through a manuscript prior to publication. Plus, the marketing aspect of publishing does not at all appeal to me.

That being said, I am all for smaller publishers and bypassing agents altogether. One of my MSs is with a small publisher right now.
However, I may change my opinion down the line.
I had the same experiences as you with my first few manuscripts and agent rejections.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I know how you must feel, Diana, but there are other options besides waiting for an agent. There are several UK publishers taking unagented/unsolicited work and the market is even bigger in the US and Canada, with many very good small publishers. They take care of editing, cover art etc and many publish ebooks and print.

I did that with my first historical novel, but I'm also holding out for an agent or mainstream publisher for my contemporary novel - for now anyway. Really, the author has more choices these days. Even self-publishing with Amazon has been a huge success for many writers I know.

Email me offline if you want some suggestions (ros_gemmell(at)hotmail(dot)com)

Trisha Leaver said...

I am going the traditional agent/publisher route. I have a few writer friends who have gone the self-publishing route as well as a few who have go to small vanity publishers, but it is not for me. I want to concentrate on the creative side of the process and have an agent worry about the contracting side of it.

Lane Diamond said...

For years, I said, "No way will I self-publish. Not gonna trap myself in that box."

Well, the market is what the market is, and about a year ago, I concluded that opportunity abounds in self-publishing. If, and this is a monstrous if, you can rise above all the white noise out there.

And so, realizing that professionalism and marketing were the keys, and that there is power in numbers (working as a team rather than as an individual), I co-founded Evolved Publishing, a publisher/authors' cooperative.

It is, I believe, a new model, one that will help writers get a good book published and noticed. Take a look. Can't hurt.

Heather said...

I agree with above commenters. It's a strong plan B, but with the the way the trends are going, it may be the way of the future.

Good luck. I know you'll make the best choice for you!

Sarah McCabe said...

The only thing I am sure about is that getting an agent is NOT the way to go. Even submitting to a publisher yourself would be better, but honestly with the way things are going now there's not really a lot a publisher can offer you to make it worthwhile. You're far more likely to make more money over time self publishing if you do it right.

Anonymous said...

I went with a small press (6 novels to date). Rhemalda doesn't require agents and they've signed several authors from the U.K. So, if you're looking for a home for your stuff, you should check them out. I highly, highly recommend them. :)

We're like a big old family there.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I think it's a great idea to wait. Give it everything you have. ;)

I on the other hand, am excited to self-publish since I know it's the right decision for me at this time.

Misha said...

I'm actually hanging back, waiting for the dust to settle.

My MS has too much of my time invested in it for it to get lost in the feeding frenzy.