There are two things going on which have contributed to my decision to self-publish my novels on-line. To recap: the first is the state of the publishing industry and print books. The second is my lack of patience for waiting around for other people to get stuff done.
Let me elaborate and show you what has got these two things on my mind again.
I’ll start with my own shortfall: my lack of patience. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (or perhaps several), I have spent the last couple of years following the traditional model of submission and rejection: write a novel, send a query letter that must follow strict rules or not be read, wait for a reply. Many agents method of rejection is non-response. I understand this: agents receive hundreds of queries a week (some of them hundreds a day) and need to work efficiently with their time, but I have to tell you, when you’re the author who put months, maybe years, of blood, sweat and tears (a good band) into the words on the page… waiting sucks. I first submitted the manuscript to my urban fantasy novel “Harvester” (name change to come) to a small Canadian publisher back in Oct., 2009. My last contact — a very encouraging email saying the book was in the hands of the publisher himself — was in Oct., 2010. This seemed to me like a long time, even for the publishing industry, so I sent a follow-up email recently to see if they had forgotten about me. Good news, it turns out they haven’t forgotten poor Bruce. The bad news? The publisher is still reviewing it. Now I am an admittedly slow reader (I have about 10 minutes at the end of the day before I doze off with drool running down my chin and the book propped open on my chest), but one would think a publisher might be a little speedier at assessing work. Do you want to pull your work from submission? They ask me. No. Fill your boots. If you want to publish it, we’ll talk about who keeps what rights.
The condition of the publishing industry was recently re-illustrated when I sent another email to an agent who had requested my manuscript and never gotten back to me (it’s not unusual for agents to non-reply a query letter, but getting no response to a requested manuscript submission is). She got back to me a week or so later with a form-letter rejection which had a telling line I haven’t seen before: I can only properly represent material that greatly excites or interests me, especially in the current difficult publishing climate.
Even the agents admit it. Bookstores are closing. Authors are turning to self-publishing because they maintain control and make higher royalties doing so. Your novel can go from finished to available and making money in a matter of days instead of months (or years).
Is there really any choice?