That Reminds Me…

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?

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One thought on “That Reminds Me…

  1. I’ve been waiting for several months from a response from an agent who requested a full. She said to expect a response in October, then November. It’s April now, and I’m still waiting on that rejection letter (which I figure it must be for her to leave me hanging this long because she has signed other people who sent in fulls at about the same time.) I’ve actually stopped looking for an agent, and turned to publishing through small presses. I now have 5 publishers that have published some of my work in one form or another, and my debut novel, Fervor came out in both print and ebook formats in March. I don’t want to do the graphic design for the cover, or the formating, or pay for someone to edit my work, so small press works fine for me, and they work fast. I sent Fervor to my publisher for review last October. I had a contract in December, and a book in March. I have a contract for a second book in September and we’re in discussions for a third in November.

    There is a lot of turmoil in the industry today. I’ve managed to get by without an agent, and while big traditional publishers may bring better distribution, more publicity and a certains status, it is definitely at a price, including lengthy delays, loss of control and small percentages for royalties. That, and my work is very unusual, not the thing a big publisher would be willing to take a risk on.

    I wish you good luck with the self-publishing. It is a struggle, but I have friends who have been very successful going it on their own. Looking forward to seeing updates on your progress.

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