Topic: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question


Yes, I plan to self publish Where Heaven and Hell Meet, only it was too much for my editor and she died halfway editing the story (bad joke, most likely). I've already self published one story: Amber Eyes. You can find it Amazon    and Amazon UK . However, if you'd like to read it, I can send you the ebook for free.

When I published Amber Eyes I was also doubtful between self publishing and looking for an agent. I did some research and found that gazillion of TNBW had looked for an agent little to no success. Few have been published, but I have no information about how successful they've been.

Many, and I mean many, TNBW authors have self published. I know at least of one who claims to be making US$1000 a week selling her books. I have made about $300 selling Amber eyes, but absolutely with no publicity and within 2 years. It's not much, but considered I've done no publicity, I think it's quite a good.

The problem I see with getting an agent, beyond the cumbersome query letter, sending it to 1000 agents and getting 999 rejections (assuming you finally nail at least one), is that, if your story is not successful according to the publisher's standards, the books are removed from  the book stores and they don't ever publish it again. You end up tied to a publisher who is no longer interested. And you have to do the marketing and advertising yourself, as when you self-publish. Unless you're already a published, best-selling author or your story is really promising, they don't spend a penny in marketing your story. So, what's the real advantage of of publishing through an agent? I'm not sure, but maybe further discussion can take place in this forum and people with more experience than I can bring their own.

In any case, you need to send your story to an editor, for any agent would immediately reject it if it's not properly edited, even if the publisher edits it later.



Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question

I'm not sure what kind of overhead is involved when self-publishing/promoting your book, but... If you ain't concerned with the prestige or cache that comes with "having an agent", then it seems to me (nowadays, anyway) that if you've got the upfront capital to invest in yourself --why NOT cut out the middle men?

Then again, if you can and do land an agent and a publisher but you're concerned about being tied down and summarily forsaken... Maybe you can insist on including a clause in the contract that returns to you all intellectual rights to the book after a certain period of time? Or something along them lines. I'm not a lawyer, you see.  I don't even play one on the internet. smile

Godspeed, Gacela

Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question

For me, the reason I would want to attempt querying agents before attempting to self-publish is that ideally, they would do a lot of the work for you - they have the expertise in an area that i don't. I don't have enough free time as it is for writing so I don't want to waste that time learning the skills involved in being a self-publisher.

that's amazing that someone is earning 1k with their books but I imagine the average person is making a loss with self-publishing when you consider the costs included in doing it like getting editing, cover art, etc.

I've given myself the deadline of 31/12/2018 to finish editing Being Fifteen. After that, the only work i'm allowed to do with it is sending query letters to agents. after no response by August, 2019, I'll start to think about self-publishing but if I do it, I want to do it properly so will really invest time in learning the necessary skills.

Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question

I think that publishing a story, as any other business, requires some investment and there's a return of such investment. In the pharmaceutical industry where I work, a 10-year ROI is seen as a successful one, but I'm not sure about writing. I mean, how much time is it consider fair for a writer to wait until a published book (either fiction or non-fiction) turns from a box-office flop into, I wouldn't say a best-seller, but at least into profit?  No clue. 

Now, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've read that, even if you've been published by a prestige publishing house, they do little marketing and advertising for you book, unless you're Stephen King or somebody from his lot. That's the reason why so many published--and even successful--authors have their own websites, and do the signing think, and do talks, and all the stuff. So, even if you've been published, you need to develop marketing skills otherwise it's likely your book will never be widely known--or even known.

Meaning being a published writer is not an easy task. It's a lot of stuff beyond the obvious--writing and editing the book itself. Unless you do it for the sake or art and don't care about doing any business. I have a cousin who is supposed to be a painter. Fortunately for her, she has a rich husband, so she doesn't do it for living. She's an abstract painter and, if you ask me, her paintings are crap. Her last great idea was to paint an abstract canvas she cut in 100 smaller pieces that she framed and put on sale on the internet. Each piece is numbered so, if she ever gets famous and you buy one of the 100 framed pieces, you can claim you own Number 74 of Beyond the Eternity (true name of the whole canvas). Each small piece looks like something finger-painted by a 3-yo kid (she gave me one for free and I hang it on my bedroom's wall each time she comes to visit my family). So, she clearly does it for the sake of art, because she invested not only on the canvas, the paintings and the brushes, but also on framing the 100 cut pieces and has make no profit yet--so far she's sold like 5 or 6 and given away for free like 20.

So, if somebody here is like my cousig, then there no prob. Just write the story, publish it on TNBW, get some feedback, and keep on. Or publish it on one of those sites where amateurs publish their stories  for every body to read them and like them, and you're done. But if you are serious, then money needs to be invested, at least, on editing and marketing (assuming the publisher invests on the cover artwork and on making it available as a printed book and en e-book).

Me? I want to see to see my work seriously published (as it was the case with Amber Eyes) even if don't make large sales, but I DO want to improve as a writer until I write a best seller.



5 (edited by Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons 2018-08-03 16:03:58)

Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question

Hey, Gacela:  Good to see you alive. My thoughts on self-publishing vs using an agent or a publishing house. Well...Yates was self-published, so was Tom Paine, and Piers Anthony decided to go that route after a while.  I mention that because some people think it's somehow inferior to be self-published.  But in the best of time, publishing houses have their own criteria, and they respond to the market, speaking of crap.  Edgar Rice Burroughs decided to try and publish his stuff because he thought he could write as badly as the best sellers.  Turns out, he was right.  Ayn Rand wrote an unpublished short story, "The Simplest Thing in the World." (How did I get ahold of it, if it was unpublished.  Leonard Peikoff, her literary executor published it, as well as her laundry list, and everything else written by her.)  In it the author is being criticized by his friends and family--why not just write something popular and make a living at writing?  He would try, and every time, he ended up writing something profound, epic, and heroic, i.e., not popular.  It would be sort of like trying to write for Designing Women and the only thing that comes out is Gone with the Wind. 

This isn't to say that you can't write brilliantly and get an audience for it.  Ayn Rand is an example of that. Her first published novel, The Fountainhead, was almost rejected.  The first reader put his job on the line, Random House reluctantly published it, and they did, as you say publishers do, killed it with lack of advertising.  Only, it refused to die.  People heard about it, word of mouth, and it became a bestseller.  Suddenly, her earlier novels, "We the Living" and "Anthem" were published, and she could write her own terms for her next novel.

Fritz Leiber wrote for a writing buddy and he returned the favor.  It was years before a magazine would print his stuff. And this was back when people were starved for fantasy, as SF was the thing, not fantasy, so most magazines were geared to that genre.

In today's market, you have the Big Five publishing houses, who only publish stuff that already sells.  No room for innovation, and little for new authors.  There are some small independent publishers, but they are quirky. 

I've not made much from my writing, but I just bought a hardback book by a theoretical physicist with my hard earned royalties from Kindle.  Before that, I published a couple of things and my earnings, combined, were about $300.  My kung fu mentor and business guru tells me that I should write self-help books.  It's good advice, but I nearly choked because I recall the scene in Newhart where he approaches a literary agent without telling him who is is to get his honest appraisal of his writing.  His character made a nice income from self-help books.  He presented "literature" to the agent and asked him--do you think I could be as successful as Dick Lauden? (Newhart's character's name)  The agent snorted, "You aim high, don't you?"  lol  On the other hand, a philosophy professor wrote a logic textbook that was used in all classrooms, and he bought a condo in Hawaii with the profits.  It all depends on your goals.

Personally, I write for myself, and the few adventurous souls who want to travel with me.  I will probably do some self-help books, but that is a separate enterprise.  I make my living from my tutoring (another entrepreneurial enterprise). 

Suin, I think you're doing the right thing.  See if an agent will take you on, but if they don't self-publish.  A little marketing will generate a little income; a lot will generate more.  And you can start the marketing very cheaply. For instance, you can say, in a post, hey, guys--I have three novels at Kindle, and I know you haven't seen how they end.  Only $2.99 each; the price of a coffee at Starbucks and I won't call the police on you.  So, what are you waiting for?

Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question


Have you ever read any 1960's Archie commics? My grandfather has about 300 of them in his library and I think I've read all of them. Well, there's this story in one of the comic books about Jughead interested in self-help books, getting Archie interested too. So, both buy tonnes books from the same author. Like, self-help on how make more friends, self-help on how to improve your high-school grades, self-help on how to learn sports, etc. Until one day he an Archie bump into the book of books, self-help on how to get rich.

They buy a book that is only one page long. On that page, it only says: "Write a tonne of self-help books just as I do."



Re: To self publish or to look for an agent, that's the question

lol  That's the way to do it.