Recently a small independent press decided to close their doors. This really saddened me because I have so many of my friends that have books with them. It got me to thinking once again about the publishing world and how unexpected it is. There have been so many small publishers to go under over the past few years that it seems almost not worth it to be with a small publisher. The risk seems too high. The publisher that recently announced their closer actually asked to review The Dream Keeper book when I was shopping it around. I don’t know how I would have responded if I had been published with them and just a few months later they made this announcement. What would have happened to the remaining books in the trilogy? What would become of my rights?
|image courtesy of Stewart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
This got me to thinking more about the goals for myself as an author. I want to be successful and I crave the support of a publisher, but a small press, unless it’s self-sustaining, cannot make that happen for me. I need a large publisher. So really, I need an agent. With the regulations on unagented manuscripts there is no way I will sign with a large publisher without an agent. In order to get an agent, I need a great book that is sellable—intriguing and market driven. So, first step: write a killer book. Next, I need to find an agent that I know will get the job done. Not just anyone. I need someone who has proven to be successful and who knows their business—that’s not asking too much right? Of course not! But that means I am going to have to do my homework. Submit only to the agents that I feel are a good match for me and my work. Submit to agents that I know will work as hard as I will to sell that book. Okay, I have found my agent, now I need to get the agent’s attention. I need to write a query letter that will have them requesting the book in a matter of seconds after reading it and not put it in the “maybe” file and be forgotten. After I bleed the query letter onto the keyboard I send it out and wait. Once I get an agent the process begins again, this time with publishers. In a few years I might see my book printed. This sounds like a lot of work right? You bet it does! What’s the other option?
The other option is to self-publish, or as the hip new term goes, turn indie. This is going to be less The Dream Keeper on my own I knew what I was getting into. I spent two years researching the playing field before I even attempted doing it. I started with picture books, just to see how they did. I found the work, hard, frustrating at times, rewarding at others, and over all a full-time job. Did all the work I put into it make me successful? No, it didn’t. Am I still working on becoming successful? Yes, I am. An overnight success takes about ten years, so I feel I am on the right track. Self-publishing or indie-publishing, however you look at it, is not going to give you a quick way to publishing a book and making it big. I am not saying it won’t, but it will come with a heck of a lot of work. As an indie author I am the cover artist, cover designer, formatter, editor, line editor, copy editor, proofer, marketing expert, budgeter, publicist, distributor, financial backer, and on top of it—writer. That’s a lot of roles, not to mention all the ones you have outside of your book, spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, employee…the list goes on and on. Self-publishing take a lot of work. Heck, publishing a book period, takes a lot of work. Let’s not forget what it takes just to get an agent and even that’s no guarantee you’ll sign with a large press.work and more rewarding anyway right? Ah…no, afraid not. Rewarding yes, but less work, heck NO. When I gave up my contract with a small press to publish
I hope I am not sounding all Johnny-rain-cloud. I just want to remind myself and maybe you what authors are up against. Whichever road we take to get our books into the hands of readers will be well work the time, effort, risk, and heartache (yes there is plenty of tears shed over rejections and bad reviews). But guess what? It’s really worth it in the end. The best moment of my writing career was when I saw a picture posted online of a kid reading my book—my book!! It took over a hundred and twenty rejects from agents and publishers, hours and hours of editing, illustrating, formatting, sweating, planning, launching, and smiling to see it all happen. It was hard work, but that one kid made it all worth it. Will it be the same with a big publisher, heck yeah, and I am ready for the ride, but I think I am done with small houses. It’s either go big or go indie for me…maybe I’ll do both.