The Dilemmas of a Struggling Writer Part 2

The world of publishing is changing.

According to recent articles, the sale of e-books last year accounted for 9% of all book sales. Over the Christmas season, Amazon reported they sold 115 e-books for every 100 paperbacks sold. The New York Times is set to begin an e-books bestsellers list. Tech reports that e-reader sales will surpass 11 million in 2011, an increase of over 68%.

Do you own one yet? I don’t but I will soon.

Sounds like a great time to be a writer, doesn’t it? More venues for people to buy your books should equal more income opportunities, right? Well, sort of.

Here’s the dilemma: as a ‘sruggling writer’, do I continue down the traditional publishing path (i.e. – send out hundreds of query letters hoping to land an agent , then have an agent query publishers hoping to get the book published) or do I go straight to publishing my novels on line.

There are pros and cons to both.

Traditional publishing: Pros – advance money up front, a professional editor, distribution, the smell, touch and feel of paper, promotional budget (usually very modest).

Cons – agent takes 15%, publisher takes much more, some creative control given up, tough to get published (and getting tougher), and the big thing: time. For example: I have a publisher out of Calgary interested in one of my manuscripts. I’m still waiting to hear back as to whether they want it or not and I sent my origianl query letter in Oct…. of 2009. That’s right, your heard me: it’s been 16 months and they still don’t know. On a smaller scale, I had an agent request to read my manuscript and said not to ask about the status for twelve weeks but would probably be back to me before that. That was almost twenty weeks ago. In fact, it’s been almost 8 weeks since I sent an e-mail inquiring about the status. No response.

And that’s just trying to find someone who’s interested in my work. If the publisher contacted me today and bought it, it would still be at least a year before it saw print.


Next blog: the pros and cons of e-publishing.

3 thoughts on “The Dilemmas of a Struggling Writer Part 2

  1. You missed the option of small or medium press traditional publishers. You don’t require an agent, they will often offer a smaller or no advance but a higher percentage as far as royalties go and they can work much more quickly than the big publishing houses because there is less red tape involved. I sent in a full manuscript last October, had an offer in December and a signed contract by 2011. The book is due for release at the end of March. I don’t expect the kind of sales and publicity that would come with a bigger publisher, but this is my start and I’m thrilled that I will finally have one of my 13 completed manuscripts in print.

    I wasn’t about to self-publish, even though I have read some stellar self-published books. Aside from the stigma attached to that option by some people, I know that I don’t have the time or marketing skills to make a proper go of it.

    Going the large publishing house route without an agent is almost impossible (despite what some established writers try to suggest – they have no idea what current entry into the market is like, compared to what it was like when they got in 20 years ago.) Getting a proper agent is almost as difficult as getting published without one. I’ve had a full with an agent for review since September. She said I’d have an answer by end of October, and then revised that to November. It’s February…still no yes or no.

    I’m not banking on a career in writing, but I do want my books out there. I have my day job, and I’ll keep taking baby steps. I hope your efforts pan out and that we see one of your books on the shelves soon. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. The publisher who’s considering my ms is a smaller Canadian publisher and I’ve still been waiting more than a year.
      How did the contract you signed handle rights for e-publishing? I’m leaning toward self-publishing electronically. I’m going to deal with that in my next blog.

  2. Hey Bruce,

    It’s good to hear other peoples opinions on publishing. I’ve been planning do this for awhile, however I had never considered anything other than e-books. I read these all the time and am not surprised they are so popular.

    I’m biased toward e-books for tons of reasons. Yet my motivations are also different.

    On a side note, you refer to yourself as a struggling writer. Have you considered how the label of ‘struggling’ might affect your self-perception and overall success?

    I only ask because I’ve had to change my view of self before actually making forward movement in my life, the first step was changing how I described myself.

    Thanks for the blog. I enjoy reading it 🙂

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