I have to say that I was rather naïve in the past. I thought whatever writing talent I had would be instantly recognized by the “professionals in the field”.
Surely, I thought, despite my lack of qualifications (no MFA here), and publishing credentials (I have some now)—surely there was SOMEBODY out there with the vision and courage to give aspiring talent a chance. It’s happened in the past to authors. All it takes is that one person to believe in you. So I boldly took that first step.
I completed EyeLeash, my first novel, when I turned 21. I was determined to have it published by the time I was 23 (which I will be in September this year).
I went through the whole gamut.
I drafted (and then tweaked) my query letter, in late 2007. I went to AgentQuery.com, searched for agents who handled my book’s genre, personalized the queries, and sent agents exactly what they wanted [“first 10 pages only”—“first 5 pages only”—“first 50 pages”—“first and last chapters”—“TNR font and font size 12”—“sample chapter and contact info in body of email only”—“add last name and title of the novel, on the upper-left corner and page number on the upper-right corner of each page (both in font size 10)”].
So on and so forth.
The furthest I got with EyeLeash was a discussion with an editor for 6 months, before he decided to leave for another publishing house.
Yes, I started all over again. Because I used to think having my manuscript accepted by a literary agent/editor/publisher would be the hallmark of success.
Perhaps I was influenced by what a literary agent had/has to say about self-publishing.
From the 2008 Guide to Literary Agents:
“…the extra effort and expense smacks of trying too hard…it conveys the sense that the material may already have made the rounds before—else why the desperation to self-publish?”
~ Rob McQuilkin (literary agent)
“Desperation to self-publish.” Initially, I took that phrase very seriously.
I only realized (once I tried it out myself) that self-publishing nowadays is POD (print-on-demand) – this means little, or no costs upfront. Which obliterates the “extra effort and expense smacking of trying too hard.”
I didn’t know about the long list of authors who have self published their own works, at some point in their lives: e. e. cummings, Beatrix Potter, William Blake, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Anaïs Nin, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf (and many more!).
So in June 2009, I finally decided to self-publish my debut novel. My praises for it were instantaneous.
I love having full creative control – from designing the book cover, to the actual book’s content, to deciding when/where/how I’d like to market my work.
What I love more is the speed and relative smoothness of the whole process.
No need to wait eons, to hear back on the status of one’s manuscript.
No need for hopeless trips to the post office.
No need to worry about warehousing and inventory (since it’s POD).
No need to wait one to two-and-a-half (bleepin’) years, before the book is available to the public.
There’s an article on Publishers Weekly, on the current state of the publishing industry.
As quoted from the original source:
a) “2009 (will be) the worst year for publishing in decades…”
b) “this means…the willingness of publishers to invest time and money in developing new projects and of retailers to risk stockpiling unknown authors may drop precipitously…”
c) “under these circumstances, some writers may be willing to…establish a direct relationship with a retailer such as Amazon, thereby undermining the exclusive role of publishers in the long run.”
Full article: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6626103.html
One has no real need to lose sleep over point (b), because of point (c).
And the part about “undermining the exclusive role of publishers in the long run”?
I have to say: I like it!
Jess C Scott is the author of EyeLeash: A Blog/IM Novel.
She is getting ready to launch her second book, by her 23rd birthday.
+ Main Website: http://jesscscott.com
+ EyeLeash Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnRoFDRwMmw
+ Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesscscott