In essence, when you want to get a book published you have three options:
- Send it off to agents
Pros: If you manage to get an agent they’ll handle approaching publishers and selling your book for you. Many publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, and you’d need an agent to get your book looked at there. They’re professionals with industry contacts, who have done this many times before.
Cons: As the astute readers among you may have noticed by now, getting one ain’t that easy, and they take an approximate 15% cut of anything you earn (if / when you’re actually making any writing dollar).
- Send if off to publishers
Pros: In some senses you’re skipping the middle man, saving yourself 15% and still leaving the actual selling of your book to someone else; they print it, market it, do all that other boring-sounding stuff and leave you free to get on with actual writing.
Cons: Once again, easier said than done – there are cases of unagented writers getting publishing deals, but I would argue they were the exception rather than the rule. Also there’s (I’m told) a whole bunch of business-y, contract-y, official-sounding legal stuff with the publisher that you’ll have to handle yourself.
Pros: You don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval or acceptance, you can literally just pop it on Amazon at any given moment and your book is out there, ostensibly being read.
Cons: You have to do everything yourself. Proofreading, formatting, marketing, designing, selling etc. Which will arguably be less professional-looking than a team of people whose job this is. On top of which, without the might of a publisher behind you, you’re unlikely to be able to throw your net anything like as wide (though, again, there are exceptions to this rule).
Now this is very simplified, and in our marvellously modern day and age, there are weird hybrid options like crowd-fund-y Unbound, attracting enough attention on something like Wattpad, acquiring a big enough following on some other forum (blogs/YouTube/social media etc.). But as an overview, I’m pretty pleased with myself for that.
I went with option one for a variety of reasons. Not least is my tendency, just as a person, to refer up when I don’t know what I’m doing. If my computer breaks, I’ll try maybe two or three things before turning to my boyfriend with a whingey, “Peeeeeeete…” Once our boiler broke when Pete was out, and I again tried a couple of things before throwing a tantrum and Skyping my dad. Big life issues go to my mum, worries go to my friends, financial stuff to my dad again, printer issues at work go to literally the nearest person…you get the point. I am never too proud to ask for help.
The second, more haughty reason is that chasing publication is something I’ve been (if you’ll excuse the cheesiness for a sec) dreaming about since I was about twelve, and most of those fantasies involve holding a real, professionally-made book in my hands. I don’t have the slightest problem with e-readers, but hopefully you’ll admit that the mental image loses something when the thing in your hands is a Kindle, and doesn’t have your name on it.
But the third reason is simply that I don’t want to do all that other stuff. I am a chronically and impressively lazy person, and the reason I write is because I love writing. I don’t really like proofreading, I can do without formatting, I’m terrible at designing and I frankly loathe marketing (that’s what customer service will do to you – the very word ‘upsell’ sends an honest-to-God shudder down my spine).
And like, writing is hard. The last thing I want to do – when I’m sitting in the carnage of a post-novel-writing study, in my dressing gown, distinctly un-showered and with a fairly manic look in my eyes – is get cracking on publishing it myself.
This is all – of course – totally subjective. You may be (in fact, in all likelihood, you are) a far less lazy and whingey person than I am – maybe the idea of learning all the tech-y stuff behind e-books sounds like an exciting challenge? Maybe the idea of spending hours on Amazon trading reads with other self-published authors sounds fun? Maybe drinking a fourth coffee whilst trying to translate a publishing contract into actual human English sounds invigorating?
But I’m afraid that if I can persuade someone to do all that stuff for me (and the persuading part here is proving irksome), then they can have at. I’ll be over here, with my tea and my manuscript, spending my time wondering what’s another word for ‘glanced’.
Next Post: A feedback myth-busting is, I think, in order. In my little rant the other week I mentioned the level of feedback one can typically expect from agencies, but I’m thinking maybe going into a bit more detail and covering some of the positive stuff, as well as just moaning. Of course, balanced with hilarious gifs (hey, they’re hilarious to me).
Submissions Last Week
Okay, I only sent three off. In my (pathetic) defence, it’s been a super busy week and the next agencies on my list wanted, like, complicated things that I didn’t already have prepared! …I’ll do better next time…
Current Rejection Tally: 9