Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to get published?

Oh, I know how to get published.  Well, sort of.  Let's say, for the time being, that I'm aware of the tasks involved and how to get from there to here.  What's tough is getting an agent who can sell your book to say yes. 

The thing that's vexing me now is how best to go about this when I have multiple works.  My book is ready to publish, I think, once it gets all those things that are traditionally done by--well, by traditional publishers.  Things, that is, like beautiful cover art, an ISBN, a final run through copy editing and proofreading, etc.  My novella is in its final stages before getting there as well, having had many of the beta readers chime in.  It'll take me the rest of the weekend to redo the parts that need redoing, and then I'll need to go through all the tasks I know need to happen in order to be self-published.  Tasks, that is, like beautiful cover art, an ISBN, a final run through editing and proofreading, etc. 

Then it's on to Book 2, in each case.  Book 2 in the novel realm has been written but not revised.  Book 2 in the novella realm is in the process of being drafted, but I can easily finish it in a weekend. 

I've never felt this strategy-less, though.  The novella piece is pretty straightforward, but the novel part is entirely reliant on luck: keep sending it out till somebody says yes, and then wait till somebody else (a publisher) says yes to them.  That's not a strategy; that's a roulette wheel. 

I asked the question in one of my Facebook groups: "I've sent queries to about 30 agents, and have received rejections back from 12 to date. There are those who say to persevere, persevere, persevere; keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. At what point do I say screw it and self publish?"

Got a lot of responses to that.  Some said "Bah, 30 queries--come talk to us when you've had real effort."  Others said "Bah, 12 agents--come talk to us when you've had real rejection."  They were both right, of course; most authors, including many now-famous ones, worked through dozens or hundreds of rejections to get there.  

Others offered more or less direct response to the question.  My favorite response was, "Now."  OK, jump out and self publish now.  I get that.  But I still want some of the bennies that come from traditional publishing, including a spot on B&N's bookshelf and the ability to become a card carrying member of SFWA, and I don't want to chance ruining that.  Some of the most detailed, and I think smartest, advice came from Valerie Douglas, author of Nike's Wings: "Right now several Indie authors have gotten contracts with NY publishers based on their work with e-books. So you can follow a dual path, build an on-line presence and a market as you query. That's something you can use when you approach an agent/publisher. And don't restrict yourself to agents, try the publishers, or smaller presses. You have choices now..."  Good point.  Others chimed in that they, personally, had had success with agents and publishers once they could claim that they'd sold X copies of their works in indie format.  

Good advice, all.  Time, I guess, to start exercising the marketing plan writing muscles. 

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with Valerie Douglas about the dual approach and self-marketing. Knowing how to market yourself and your skills takes you a long way, but of course you know that. I just sent you an email about a guy named Stephen Clarke who did just that with his website Red Garage Books. From what I understand, he did originally self-publish, but then later on a well-known publisher bought the rights to his book because it was already so successful. I'm not sure how common that is though because I can see how one would be reluctant to self-publish for fear of missing the boat with a renowned publisher who might be less eager to buy the rights for a book that has already been published. Decisions, decisions ... I'm sure whatever you decide, it will be well researched and turn out to be the right one for you:-).