Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Other Gatekeepers

I was recently asked if I have tried to contact agents about my novels in the comments of another post. The answer is absolutely yes.

The first thing I did when I decided to try out traditional publishing was look up the publishing houses I thought my novel might appeal to. Over and over again, under the submission guidelines, it was made clear that without an agent, don't bother trying.

This ran counter to some of the advice of successful authors who said to represent yourself and keep going without an agent. But a whole other set of publishing professionals said that without an agent you're a dead duck.

So, last year, instead of sending out a bazillion submissions to publishing houses, I sent a bazillion submissions to agents (well, maybe not THAT many, but you know what I mean...) Relatively quickly, the form letter rejections came in. "Not what we are looking for," they read. Over and over again.

I actually wasn't bummed out over the whole thing. I expected it because by now I realized that as hard as it is to get published by a major publishing house, its just as hard to find an agent unless you have an in road to one (an author friend refers you, etc). It was rougher on my husband. He was annoyed by every rejection that came in. He had, after all, read my novel and liked it a lot and he doesn't read my genre! My mother and husband took it harder than I did.

I had now read enough about the publishing world to realize it could take eons to make any headway. I was also involved in a writer's group and saw that if you did not master the art of writing a query letter, you were screwed. One of the other writers helped me with my own query letter and when I showed my husband her notes, he was flabbergasted. He was annoyed enough over the fact I spent several months trying to figure out how to summarize my novel in two pages. He watched me begin to agonize over the query with just as much fervor.

When the last rejection letter came in ( I didn't know it was the last, some agents just didn't respond), I didn't care anymore. I had been reading enough blogs of successful writers to understand that the traditional publication route was very long and, at times, soul crushing. Its hard to stand in a bookstore looking at a book full of typos and a plot you've seen a million times on Lifetime that you cannot read past a few sentences without thinking "Mine is better!" and not feel frustrated.

Toss in a very supportive fan base who can't understand why the first publisher you approached didn't throw a million dollars at you to publish the story they love so much and you can imagine my feelings.

As I researched endlessly on the world of traditional publishing and read a ton of contradicting articles about how to get published, my husband read up on independent publishing by using the publish on demand technology.

One day, he walked up to me and said, "I think you should self publish your books and take back control."

And here I am, declaring myself an independent author, and striking out on my own. The fans are happy their book is coming out and I'm happy to be back in creative control.

Of course, I have a few things to my advantage. I know several kick ass artists to do my cover. I know a former professional editor. My husband is a tech geek. I have fans waiting for the novel.

As the World Dies will not be a roughshod novel when it comes out. It's my responsibility as an Independent Writer to make sure it is the best possible product.

I owe it to myself and my fans.

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