I self-published – should you too?

‘Are you glad you self-published your novel?’ said Stacy Green to me, in the secret passages of Twitter.

‘Totally,’ I replied. Although I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Stacy replied: ‘I’m in the early query process and wondering if I’m making a mistake.’

‘Stacy, I think you should carry on querying.’

An answer that might sound like I’m being disloyal to the indie cause. But here’s my reasoning.

But why????

It’s early days yet for Stacy. Yes, querying is wearying, but it’s the way to tell if your novel is up to professional standard. Yes, it may take a ridiculous while before you get a reply – publishing turnaround is like sending messages to the distant reaches of the solar system.

I still believe everyone should try to get representation first, if they’ve never been published before or don’t have a ready-made audience.

Never forget, writing is a self-taught art. There is so much to get right in a novel and so many ways we can be blind to our book’s faults. This is entirely understandable. You remember when your novel was a scrap of paper with just one idea. You remember learning, from the bootsoles up, how to make it into a novel. You’ve quarried for depth, trampled the rough spots and polished over and over. You’ve developed brilliant and stylish marks of your individuality as well. Compared with when you started, you now feel like an expert – everyone does. Now, you need outside, experienced input.

You can of course hire an editor, and an editor who is a good fit for you can certainly give you a lot of help and guidance. You can trade with beta readers. But the final book is down to you. If you want to cut it in the marketplace, you have to try in the marketplace. And that generally means seeking representation – or publication via the smaller presses. (Although why would you aim small to start with?)

Rejections

Yes, you may be rejected because your book is unusual, or an unfashionable genre. But if you made the grade, the rejection will tell you this – even if it’s just a few short lines. They always do. If you’re getting form rejections or never hear back, you probably still need to do some work. And that tells you you shouldn’t self-publish. Of course it does.

Waiting for this feedback takes a long time. But while you’re waiting, get started on another book. You’ll need it sooner or later. And aren’t you itching to put all you learned into practice?

Me, me, me

I didn’t self-publish until my novel had wooed an agent. (I didn’t have an agent for my ghosting). She took my novel around the publishers, who said ‘it’s fascinating but we don’t know how to sell it’. At that stage, I could have left it locked behind the gatekeepers’ portcullis, or changed it into a conventional thriller (some of the feedback I got). I wasn’t having that.

Am I glad I self-published? More than I ever imagined. Every word of feedback from readers brings my novel to life and gives it a place in the world. For which, thank you.

But going it alone means doing all the selling. That’s no bed of roses. It is much harder for me to prove the book’s worth. If you have an audience amassed, no problem. Few of us do, so we rely on reviews to spread the word to new readers. Ideally we want to be reviewed alongside traditionally published novels that would be next to us in a shop. But it’s not a level bookshelf. Indies are still regarded sniffily in most quarters. (One review I did get, on For Books’ Sake, said My Memories of a Future Life was ‘so original and odd it’s in a class of its own’. I’m going to put that on a T-shirt, of course – but artistic pride aside, how does anyone sell a book like that? No wonder publishers wanted it tamed. Still, that’s my problem now.)

New authors, I urge you to test your book in the market first. If you get an offer and you don’t like it, you can always turn it down.

Indie publishing isn’t for people who couldn’t get published or represented. It’s for people who could.

(Thanks for the pic, Muckster)

How to write a novel – in-depth webinar series with Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. Catch up on the first seminar and sign up for the rest.  Find more details and sign up here.

Nail Your Novel – my short book about how to write a long one – is available from Amazon.

My Memories of a Future Life is now available in full. You can also listen to or download a free audio of the first 4 chapters over on the red blog.

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  1. #1 by Stacy Green on November 19, 2011 - 8:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve sent out less than ten queries, and the rejections I’ve received from agents have been form, which is okay. I’m tweaking my query and reminding myself it only takes one person. I do know that if I don’t at least try this route, I’ll always wonder. And I have to admit, if I actually get requests for partials and then no bites, that tells me the book needs some work. I wouldn’t have known without querying.

  2. #4 by ccc on November 19, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    I’m wondering if your self-publishing a paper version through CreateSpace increased your sales. Did you do your own CreateSpace formatting? And are you happy with the actual physical book they published? I read your book in the 4-part issue on Kindle, but am considering buying the paperback just to see how CreateSpace did (although I enjoyed your writing immensely, I think I lost a bit of the flow reading it in four separate parts, and I might just have to read it again). I’m getting ready to self-publish, and CreateSpace seems the way to go for print.

    • #5 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:22 am

      Hi Carl – yes, having a paper version was definitely a good idea. A lot of people have gone for that version.

      Yes, I did my own formatting etc – but then it’s been my job in the real world for donkey’s years so I found it easy as pie! It looks yummy – although I wish CreateSpace did matte covers.

      I posted about formatting for print here – http://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/category/formatting-for-print/

      And there is a full version of the novel on Kindle too, if those breaks are too irritating. To my surprise, though, some people are still preferring to buy it in the episodes and saying they like it that way.

  3. #6 by EmilyHill (@EmilyHill_Indie) on November 19, 2011 - 9:26 pm

    Oh gosh! I hate to be a nay-sayer…but…I am totally beating the drum for self-publishing..right out of the gate!

    According to Bowker NINE out of ten books new published are indiePublished! I was in a radio interview with Kristin Nelson six months ago and her off-Broadway (she’s in Colorado) agency is receiving 36,000 queries annually! In 2009 she chose to represent THREE authors out of that 36,000 (her interview is on my http://www.emilyhillwriter.com page under the ‘Projects’ tab) Any writer who IS chosen by an agent then has to wait for that agent to place them with a publisher – that could take months … or years… depending on how long the author’s contract with the agent runs.

    Once the/If the/ author IS placed with a publisher, count another 18 mos. to publication – publication that will NOT include marketing (unless the newbie author negotiates marketing up front!) Then, wait seven months MORE until the author receive15% royalty from each book (a $20 book earns the author $$3.05…because if you go THIS route THAT is what ‘your cut’ will be. That ‘successful’ (because they found an agent) writer will wait up to two years to earn that 15% off retail. So many new writers do NOT understand the money trail! It’s bad!

    The converse is that the IndieAuthor gets an immediate head start on building a fan base, and a platform, they earn a 70% royalty, and start getting their royalty checks in TWO months.

    I’m sticking with IndiePub! It works for me.

    Bottom-line advice? Give the ‘looking for an agent’ torture chamber six months – if you’re not fully, wholly placed – determine if its your writing…or the market – and make a major change in your approach to how you want to get published.

    Emily Hill, IndiePub Coach

    • #7 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:31 am

      Hi Emily – yes it is a long process and not ideal.
      You raise great points about the money aspect – but that can’t be the only reason someone seeks publication. We want to be fairly rewarded for what we write, and we should fight for the best deal we possibly can – but doing the sums beforehand and choosing indie for that reason is focussing on the wrong thing.
      Very good point,though, that if you’re not getting any interest you should find a way to determine why.

  4. #8 by Paul R. Drewfs on November 19, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Who could argue with such advice and logic; no genuine professional with their head screwed on properly – right? But wait – what’s this — could there be an odd old joker in the deck? What if you cannot imagine a book contract that could satisfy you? What if you think the book publishing industry business model has been tits up for decades? What if you can’t imagine an agent and marketing team who could serve you? What if you think genres are self-perpetuating wooly minded nonsense that semi-serve the Q-sorting tendencies endangered bookshop owners? What if you don’t give a rat’s ass about making a living off your books, let alone becoming a rich and famous writer? What if you just want your books to be written and edited properly for purposes of storytelling and communication, so you can make them available to be read by the public? What if you believed that if you actually write a good book, word-of-mouth will find it and lead your readership to it? What if you are willingly accept the fact that the word-of-mouth marketing of your book will most likely happen in a timeframe that wouldn’t begin to satisfy the young and desperate for recognition? Would you then skip the swim with the starving sharks, write you damned brains out, and go straight to self publishing? Whew — apparently I’ve got an attitude after all.

    • #9 by Tahlia Newland on November 20, 2011 - 1:04 am

      I want to have control of my book and all those other reasons for going indie, but as a debute author, I personally needed the confidence that getting an agent gave me. Now that I know what a good book and good writing looks like, I don’t think I’ll bother with the establishment for future books, but I’ll leave this first one in the hands of my agent until she gives up.

      • #10 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:33 am

        Confidence…. that’s a great point, Tahlia. And agents often work with you to fine-tune the rough spots – a valuable experience.

    • #11 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:31 am

      Paul, you’ve always got an attitude, if not an opinion :)

  5. #12 by Dom Camus on November 19, 2011 - 11:03 pm

    Very brave post! No matter how right you are, I imagine this is the opposite of what most people considering self-publishing want to hear.

  6. #15 by Jennie on November 19, 2011 - 11:36 pm

    Woohoo! Glad to see somebody talking sense! I think it’s crucial that somebody with an impartial eye and high standards believe your work is ready for publishing before you go indie if you want to succeed. I don’t know that you actually have to go through the submission process if you have people whose opinions you can trust advising you and you listen to them, but you should have work of that quality before you publish.

    • #16 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:36 am

      Hi Jennie – thanks! You’re right – if you have people whose experience and opinions you trust. But in that case, it would still be a pity not to try.

      • #17 by Jennie on November 20, 2011 - 11:01 am

        I think that depends on the reason for not trying. Publishing is in such flux right now that contract terms that make sense now could cause problems by the time a book hits the shelves in 18 months. Publishing moves at a much slower pace than the change the industry is having to adjust to. I went indie because I’ve seen the same thing happen in newspapers (my FT job) and I can tell there’s another 2-4 years before things fully shake out. I don’t want to get in before that, and I didn’t want to wait that long to start the process. So I’m going my way while all the wailing and gnashing of teeth occurs, and when traditional publishing sorts itself out, I’ll figure out if I want to try to go that route or not, hopefully with a fan base and solid track record of sales to enhance my chances.

        • #18 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 11:58 am

          Jennie, that is such a sensible, level-headed strategy. I’m also seeing the upheaval in magazines (I freelance on a medical paper) and no one knows anything about how the industry will pan out. I’m seeing it too in book publishing – I know various big publishers who are trying to grapple with new kinds of content, and not really knowing what they can charge for, what they should pay for and what customers want. But there’s no harm in having an agent in your arsenal, for when things settle down.

  7. #19 by Tahlia Newland on November 20, 2011 - 12:47 am

    I’m in the same situation in that I have an agent, but my work, although firmly within the YA fantasy genre, is a bit different and times are tough for getting it placed. The rejections I’ve had all say things like – we have too many YA fantasy on our books already, or the story sounds too similar to another we are publishing, or I love it but I’m not sure I could market it and in the current environment we can’t take that chance, or we’re not taking any more books with demons in them etc If my agent doesn’t find a publisher for it, I know that the reason it’s not found a home isn’t because it isn’t good enough to be published, and that gives me the confidence to indie publish if I need to.

    My book improved a lot as I went through the process of submissions and rejections, so I agree that new writers should definitely try this route first. Its a shame how many good ideas I’ve read in Indie books that just need to be better writtten. If I’d put my work out there in the shape it was in when I first submitted to an agent, I would have been in that category as well. I shudder to think of it.

    • #20 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:38 am

      Tahlia – many writers don’t realise how an agent who’s in tune with your work can improve it. Excellent point.

  8. #21 by Lindsay B. on November 20, 2011 - 8:35 am

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise here, but I chose to do short stories as my litmus test. Rejections and acceptances from magazine/anthology editors tend to come more quickly, and you actually get paid if you make a sale. ;) (Whereas signing on with an agent is just a step up the ladder, and there’s still a question of whether that agent will find you a book deal.)

    If you can sell some short stories, then you know your writing is “good enough.” With sites like Ralan.com (SF/F/H) and Duotrope, it’s easy to find markets, and you can send stories off quickly. You can write them a lot more quickly than a novel too!

    The whole agent-querying process…enh, it’s too much of a time sink IMO. I wrote my last novel in less time than some people take to research agents and hone their query and synopsis.

    • #22 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 10:42 am

      Lindsay, short stories are definitely a way to start, but novels are a much more complex beast. There’s a lot more to the ‘writing’ of a novel than a short story. But some people stick happily to short stories – there’s no reason why you have to graduate to longform.

  9. #23 by Dave Morris on November 20, 2011 - 10:29 am

    Life, to paraphrase Sid Meier, is a series of interesting choices. Whether to self-publish or go the traditional route, that’s a very interesting one (by interesting I mean there are pros and cons that depend on circumstances). I have written dozens of books that were traditionally published, and if I think a manuscript is a good fit for publishers I still send it out via my agent. But there are some books that are never going to float high enough for a traditional publisher. I just self-published my little book “A Minotaur at the Savoy”, for example, because it would have been a waste of time showing it to Random House and co. The readers who like it, like it a lot – but it’s never going to fly off the shelves in Waterstones. Then the only guide you can get to whether it’s actually any good is in the form of reviews by people you don’t know.

    So two good reasons for self-publishing: you are very famous and can sell shedloads without a publisher (like Ms Rowling), or you have written a book that’s only going to appeal to a niche market or is too wacky/original for publishers to shift. The bad reason for self-publishing is if the book simply isn’t good enough – and I agree it’s worth submitting your work to the acid test of criticism by agents and publishers. You can always turn an offer down, after all.

  10. #24 by ken davis on November 20, 2011 - 11:43 am

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written, Roz. It’s incredibly tough to raise one’s level of writing to the level of professional – it rarely (never?) happens right out of the gate – and takes a certain amount of contact with the world at large to be honed properly. Skipping that process risks missing out on a critical ingredient to growing as a writer: feedback from people who’ve specialized their careers around looking critically at whether writing is up to snuff or not.

    It’s not an easy step in the process, but it’s important. If KDP & Smashwords & PubIt had been available 15 years back when I’d started writing, I’d surely have been tempted to use them. That would have been a major mistake. Getting my writing to the level of getting representation by a major NYC agent needed rejection and feedback, reassessment and recalibration – and that took several novels to pull off.

    All that said, the market will also always be a fickle fashion-show, and that’s where indie-publishing rocks. Even though I had a top agent, historical horror wasn’t selling. I’ve been on my own for the past year, and have two of my novels selling via KDP, PubIt, etc. It’s cool because they’re selling, and readers are telling me how much they love the books.

    • #25 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 11:59 am

      Thanks, Ken. That’s so true – if all this self-publishing machine had been around when I started, years ago, I would have been very tempted. Can’t blame people for feeling the same now.

    • #26 by Jennie on November 20, 2011 - 3:40 pm

      Ken, good point. Mine was eight years ago, but I would have been in the same boat – putting out something that I thought was good enough, but really wasn’t. I’m glad I didn’t have the chance to make that mistake. The biggest pitfall of the indie opportunities available is people jumping the gun, and you and Roz do a good job explaining how to avoid that.

  11. #27 by catherineryanhoward on November 20, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    Fantastic post Roz, and a fountain of sense!

    I completely understand the temptation to self-publish your novel NOW. I’ve felt it myself, before my books were really ready for the market. You hear all these stories about people selling a million copies and making $$$ before breakfast, and you think, ‘I’m missing out.’ The not-yet-published author also has that warm, fuzzy feeling that everyone is just waiting to read their book. But once you self-publish, you can’t take it back. You can’t do it over. And you shouldn’t do it unless you have had positive, professional feedback from a trusted source, and that’s agents and editors, who you can reach by querying.

    My favourite line from this post is:

    Indie publishing isn’t for people who couldn’t get published or represented. It’s for people who could.

    I only wish the self-pub world would adopt it as their mantra. We live in hope! :-)

    • #28 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 1:01 pm

      ‘Once you’ve self-published, you can’t take it back…’ That’s got to be another mantra, Catherine! Thanks.

  12. #29 by Scott Nicholson on November 20, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    Good post but I completely disagree with the premise. There are a million reasons besides your writing quality that you can be rejected. In fact, “quality” may be the most overrated aspect of literary success. Talent is another form of luck, and a lot of getting published by someone else is about luck–competent book, right market, right time.

    A lot of writing and publishing is about ego. And we tend to define our decisions by our own situations and then spin them into universal truths. I could say “I published six books in mass-market, so I deserve to self-publish.” But I could also say, “I was rejected 700 times, so I might as well self-publish.” Both are equally true. I was lucky to get accepted at one point. Lucky. But I would have been the same writer if I hadn’t. And I no longer care about acceptance by anyone besides my readers.

    If you are defining yourself by anyone else’s standards besides what your next reader wants, that’s misguided. There are plenty of successful novels, loved by readers, written at an eighth-grade level. Yet most writers would call the eighth-grade level (generally regarded as the average American’s reading level) a terribly low standard.

    And, in the end, it really doesn’t matter what I think. If you want to self-publish, you should self-publish. If you want to wait for outside validation, wait for outside validation. The important thing is being happy with your writing life.

    • #30 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 6:55 pm

      Good answer, but rejections usually let you know if your submission is near publishable quality, in all the forms that may take. So they’re still a fairly reliable benchmark if you’re wondering whether you’re ready to put a book out.

  13. #31 by Stacy Green on November 20, 2011 - 2:41 pm

    I wanted to pop back in and say thanks for all the responses. I do agree that too many people still think self-publishing is for people who weren’t “good enough” for the Big 6, and that’s an unfair statement. The worst part of dealing with agents – for me – is the subjectivity of it. One man’s trash is another’s treasure and all that. Unfortunately there are still enough people self-publishing who aren’t ready, and they add to the stigma. As much as it makes me want to scream, I know there’s value FOR ME in this query process. I’ve got a partial out now, and I’m not getting my hopes up for acceptance but rather for editorial comments. Even though a rejection will be heartbreaking, the editorial advice will be invaluable.

    I’m babbling, but I wanted to say thanks to Roz and to everyone contributing:)

  14. #32 by Deb Atwood on November 20, 2011 - 3:03 pm

    I agree generally with these admonitions (having read some amateurish indie novels), but I think there are stellar writers who cannot find representation. Jack London with his 600 rejections comes to mind…

    • #33 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 6:36 pm

      Yes, but what did the rejections say? Agents usually let you know if they see quality in your work – because they want you to come back again.

  15. #34 by Debbie on November 20, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    Similar story, Roz. Lots of personalised rejections of the “we love it but it’s not commercially viable” kind. I had a big London agent once, too and even she couldn’t sell it. But with indie publishing, I don’t *need* to be commercially viable and my novel can stand or fall on its own merits. And it’s standing very solidly, maybe even jumping up and down a bit….

    • #35 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 6:58 pm

      Hi Debbie! Thought this subject might be close to your heart :)

      • #36 by Debbie on November 20, 2011 - 7:52 pm

        Indeed! :-) I’m not sure I’d have had the self-confidence to go it alone without first having the positive feedback from industry professionals though.

  16. #37 by J. R. Nova on November 20, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    My reasoning for self publishing has nothing to do with rejection. I’m not even going to waste my time (or theirs) trying to find an agent/publisher. Indie publishing offers more freedoms and rewards with all the same risks. That’s the road I’m taking because I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Perfectly patient to take the time to edit my novel and attract readers, but don’t have a second to wait the years it’d take for an editor to buy my work.

  17. #39 by Marshall Buckley on November 20, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I never intended to self publish, and actually secured an agent quite quickly who liked my work and said it was very publishable.
    But after 2 years she had to concede that it wasn’t going to find a home – for whatever reason. I asked if she thought I should self-publish and she was 100% behind the decision.
    Have I sold thousands? Nope. I’ve sold a few, though, and like you I gain a little from each and every comment I receive.
    I’m still aiming for “traditional” publication, but I’m now also writing specifically for self pub (I have to finish the trilogy!), but I only did it because someone who counts told me it was good enough.

    • #40 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 20, 2011 - 7:08 pm

      Thanks, Marshall. It’s interesting that agents are now seeing self-publishing as a viable step in some cases – mine does too.

  18. #41 by Daniel R. Marvello on November 20, 2011 - 10:33 pm

    It will be interesting to see how things change now that the big publishing houses are offering self-publishing services. Penguin just started doing that, and as far as I’ve been able to tell, they aren’t enforcing any kind of quality control (other than the quality of the services they offer). Some mainstream publishers are actually partnering up with subsidy presses, which is an idea that would have scandalized the industry just five years ago. Now they are just “reacting to the reality of the marketplace.”

    As much as we may want all indie novels to be produced with the rigor of those from the Big 6, it isn’t going to happen. Authors will continue to publishing both gems and junk simply because they can. The quality control is in the hands of the author, so you will naturally get work from both ends of the spectrum. This situation is a drag for readers, who have to sort it all out, but the crowd-sourcing of reviews has already helped in that regard. Likewise, social networking sites for book lovers (LibraryThing, Goodreads, etc) help readers find the cream of the crop.

    I haven’t ruled out the idea of trying to get traditionally published one day, but for now I’ve decided not to go that route. As Jennie pointed out, the industry is in flux right now, and we are only starting to see the fallout from the shift to the new publishing paradigm. In some respects, self-publishing is the only way to safeguard your rights until the dust settles. Which publishers will survive the transition to digital? I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out the hard way.

    • #42 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 21, 2011 - 6:59 am

      Hi Daniel! That’s quite some development, the Penguin announcement, isn’t it? This year has been a revolution in publishing and self-publishing.

  19. #43 by Ardyth DeBruyn on November 21, 2011 - 4:10 am

    I have to say I agree 100% with this advice. I had a similar journey. I submitted my book to agents and got a lot of comments like “we just bought a similar book, so I’m going to pass,” “I really enjoyed it, but I don’t know the right editors,” and “the market is really tight right now, I don’t think I have the right connections in this market to sell this.” At first I was rather crushed… if they liked my book that much, why didn’t anyone say yes and help me fight for it? But the process helped prepare me for the brave world of standing up and marketing myself. I also got some really encouraging advice from several of the agents that resulted in revisions that made the book stronger. I never actually got an agent, but honestly, the wouldn’t have given m such detailed advice if there wasn’t a lot of promise in the novel.

    In retrospect I don’t regret all those queries and rejections one bit. I’m in this writing business for the long haul and will probably query my next book before either going indie again or with a small press. I also believe that going with a small press was a huge learning experience as well. The editor at my small press taught me a ton about line edits and the proof readers caught things even after we’d gone over it three times. I strongly believe that the expensive of a paid editor is also 100% worth it when indie publishing.

    • #44 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 21, 2011 - 7:04 am

      Thanks, Ardyth. I remember being mystified by that very situation. ‘If they like it so much, why don’t they say yes?’

  20. #45 by Dan Holloway on November 22, 2011 - 2:45 pm

    I think everyone has to do what’s right for them and their book. In almost all cases that will mean looking for representation, because most books fit the mainstream market. Which is why it’s the mainstream. Those “indies” who’ve had huge success with genre novels in the last year mean people suddenly see self-publishing as being as good a way to go for mainstream fiction as for those books that defy category. My hunch is that’s just not going to prove to be true long term.

    Personally I can’t imagine having an agent or publisher. A bit like a high tech smoothie-maker, I don’t quite know what I’d do with one. My artistic problems, the things that have caused me the greatest bouts of self-doubt and despair, have always come when I’ve tried to move towards the market (by trying to make literary fiction marketable, by trying to write thrillers, by making my short stories less transgressive, by hosting events at more prominent venues who “just want to have a look at the material beforehand”, by nearly signing up with collectives who “wondered if you had anything a little more discreet for the anthology” etc etc) rather than steering the course I want to take. I have to refocus myself at least every six months in a major way to remind myself of the artistic reasons for which I started writing. Having someone in tow whose job it was to keep trying to drag me back to the market would be a nightmare for me, and would certainly drive *them* to the edge of insanity.

    • #46 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 23, 2011 - 1:15 am

      Hi Dan – there will always be people who will buck the trend, but few people who carve their own path will make such a good job of it as you do. Your unusual approach of live performances gives you an additional contact with audiences and a network, if you perform well enough – which clearly you do. Most writers won’t be able to do this.
      I knew when I wrote this post that you would pop up and be interestingly awkward :)

  21. #47 by Jolea M. Harrison on November 27, 2011 - 4:29 pm

    I disagree that you need to seek out agents to evaluate if your work is good enough to be published. That’s what editors used to be for, back in the day when publishing houses had first readers, who then submitted to editors, who then decided if the work had promise. No book arrives at the book store the way it arrived at the editor’s desk, so it seems obvious that editors are the key, not agents. And editors you can pay for these days, a flat fee, to evaluate the writing, correct the mistakes, suggest improvements just like a Big 6 editor, only with a paid editor the writer has a bit more control. Beta readers are another avenue for getting feedback on a story and any writer worth their salt will listen to them, do the work and have a better story at the end of the day.

    I firmly believe that because of agents and the big unwieldy publisher, artistic license has nearly been squashed out of the literary community. How can writers be new, innovative and adventurous with their stories when an agent says, well, we can’t sell that? What ends up happening, and what has happened up to now, is the writer then writes for the market, and we the readers get 50 variations of the tried and true, same old, same old.

    Independent publishing changes quite a lot of that mentality. Writers now have the freedom to write what they want, instead of writing what they think the market wants. Readers benefit from great new stories that aren’t packaged based on the last best seller. Yes, it’s more marketing for the independent, but marketing isn’t provided to new authors anyway, so there’s not much difference there, and the timeframe authors have to work with is drastically different now. Ebooks are forever, and an author has the option of giving that new innovative story time to grow an audience. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint in Indie publishing.

    • #48 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on November 27, 2011 - 6:14 pm

      Jolea, you have a good point that an editor can certainly tell you if the book is ‘publishable’. I do that myself :)

      You’re also right that agents are having to consider marketing factors when they accept or decline a manuscript – a process that has certainly been stifling the more creative and original writers.

      But in my experience, most agents will tell you if you’re a good enough standard to be publishable, even if they can’t take you on because you’re not currently marketable. If they like your writing, regardless of today’s trends, they want to encourage you to continue. Not because they’re fluffy and lovely, but because they know the business is changing and that what keeps it turning is good content.

      Don’t forget that this post started with Stacy asking a question; should she query? Which suggests she’d quite like one if she can get one. And she’ll never know if she doesn’t try.

  22. #49 by Diane Tibert on November 27, 2011 - 9:57 pm

    Wow, there’s lots to think about here. Discussions like this add the good and the bad from both sides.

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