Why I’m Choosing Indie Publishing

While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I made the decision to go with indie publishing. I’ve sent out somewhere from 20-30 agents in the last 3 months, most with the generic “No, thanks” but a few with an “Interesting premise” response. If it’s not for them, then that’s okay-I’m not taking it personally.

Some people might think I’m jumping the gun on this, that I need to take my time and do my research. Believe me, I have; I did months of research (not contacting) on agents and their desirable manuscript needs when I probably should’ve been polishing the last few chapters instead. But I’m impatient and excitable and like to multitask, so I do a bunch of things at once instead of focusing on them one at a time (don’t worry, I’m learning my lessons there).

My new friend and fantastic author Wren Emerson gives out tons of advice to new authors on her blog. At least, it’s advice to me because she chronicled her journey from the very first outline, when she published, even her stats on purchases. It’s been a great tool for me to stalk for ideas on software and get questions answered when I didn’t even know I had them yet. (Wren, sorry I just admitted to stalking to you. But you’ve been super helpful! 🙂 )

When she set out to write a book, her blog held her accountable (a main reason I started mine as well). She didn’t write her book to make millions (though who would object?), but because she wanted to write it and put it out in the world for fellow fantasy lovers. But here’s the thing--she knew she wouldn’t take the traditional publishing route. She knew she wanted to independently publish “I Wish” and now she’s a successfully published author with a fan-base dying for more of her books. In this day and age of books, there’s no shame in being an indie published author. (We’re like the hipsters of the written word.) She’s written a great article here about why indie publishing was best for her.

She made a really good point that sometimes, we get so caught up in researching agents, writing query letters, and hiding in corners from rejection letters that we forget to work on what needs it most–our writing! And therein lies my problem-I’ve been so busy getting caught up in the whirlwind excitement/nausea of trying to put my first book out in the world that I’ve neglected working on the next adventure for my characters. I need to get working on Book 2 of my “Gifted” series. Like, real bad. After I finished the final edit and sent off a couple copies to beta readers, I took some time to relax (plus take a real vacation). But now I need to get serious and start working on the next outline. I’ve got Scrivener now, which will be a HUGE help with my outlines (I’m a pantser, not a plotter, which means I kinda throw a bunch of words on paper and go from there…okay at first, but not after you’ve written 190 pages and have no idea where to put a scene).

Yes, I’m impatient. Yes, I have a tendency to expect immediate results (which I know realistically is just plain dumb, so I’m working on it, ok?). Some people may ask, “You’ve already waited this long to put it out there, why not wait and keep seeing if an agent/traditional publisher will take it?” Because quite frankly, I’m done waiting. If I have an option to get my work out there, I want to do it. I’m a damn hard worker and the thought of marketing myself in an indie world doesn’t frighten me–whereas the thought of sitting around for months, praying someone emails me back to look at a full MS makes me cringe.

And you know what? While some of it may be due in part to control issues (I haz them), I REALLY sincerely love the indie author/writing community. Instead of bashing each other, they support, retweet, like, reply, and show genuine interest in what other writers are doing. I totally dig that-a support group is exactly what I need and I’ve already learned so much from just a handful of them. I can’t imagine how much smarter I’ll feel about all of this in a year, after I’ve stalked and nagged them for answers. They’re patient and sweet and give great feedback and I’ll be forever grateful to those who’ve helped me along the way. Unless you’re offering me $6 million, why would I ever want to leave such a great group?! 😉

Indie publishing seems like the most logical choice for me. Thinking about it, looking at my options and realistic goals, I simply have to go with my gut instinct that indie is right for me. And I’m damn excited about it.

Rejection Letters: Why Writers Shouldn’t Hate on Agents

I think I just got the World Record of rejection letters. No joke-I emailed an agent everything she required in her submissions guidelines: query + the first 5 double spaced pages. I even spelled her name right. As soon as I hit send, I got the generic “Thanks, we received your submission!” email. Fine, okay, cool. I put it in the appropriate folder and went on to my next thing. Literally, not even a full minute later, I got an email directly from the agent:

“Thank you for querying me.  Unfortunately I don’t feel I’m quite the right agent for your project. I’m regretfully going to pass.

Best of luck with this project and all your endeavors.  Due to the volume of queries and submissions I receive, I’m unable to provide a personal evaluation of your query and/or further explanation of my decision.

Good luck with your submissions.”

The thing is, it’s not the rejection that bothers me. I’ve gotten them before and I’m 110% sure I’ll get a bunch more in the next few months. But there’s no possible way she even read past the opening sentence of my manuscript. NO. WAY. She barely had time to read my entire (short) query.

Here’s my deal: if it seems like you didn’t read my query letter past my “Dear Agent’s Name” (and I know I got that part right), then yes, it is frustrating for me. At least make me feel like I had a 1% chance of you reading the story description! I’ve commended myself on not taking these rejections personally and I still don’t. I know agents aren’t passing my manuscript up because they don’t like me. They don’t know me. They get what they read on paper and make a split second decision. We as writers move onto the next query letter, fingers crossed and ever-hopeful.

I get it, I really do. I’ve worked in publishing, both in books (three years ago) and magazines (present job). Agents are busy people, with thousands of submissions coming in on a monthly or weekly basis. I know from experience that it’s a tough job. And boy, do writers hate on agents. The ones that have agents love them, but for those of us lost out in publishing space, it’s mostly filled with frustration. I can see both sides of the page as well as the giant brick wall that’s between agents and new writers.

However. As disappointing at that rejection email can be for writers, we need to remember that agents are people, too. They don’t hover on their keyboards just waiting to reject us. For whatever reason, they don’t think our writing works for them and that’s okay. I mean, think about it–JK FREAKING ROWLING got rejected. I’m willing to bet every buck in my bank account that the guys who rejected her are still kicking themselves so many years later. When we get the letter telling us it’s not right for them, that does not translate to “It’s not good enough.”  I think it would do all writers well to remind themselves of that from time to time. I once read somewhere that most agents really do want that next Harry Potter/Hunger Games/sparkly vampire novel. They want to be excited about a manuscript and to have a successful and in-demand client. But they can only do so much–it’s up to us to write the damn thing and get it in their hands.

The query letter is the quick and dirty way to explain your novel and why it fits for that agent. So as frustrated as I was to get that particular rejection, I had to take a deep breath, remind myself it’s not about me, and start working on the next query letter. If it didn’t work for her, she had a reason, even if it was because of my query letter instead of the plotline. It just means that I need to rework my letter to reflect the best manuscript possible. I guess my main point for all of us is not to take it personally. It’s not about the writer. It’s not even about the agent. It’s about your novel, the story you want to tell because you believe in it and know you’re the right person for the job.

Worse comes to worse…get the hell away from your computer and get yourself a milkshake. (To drink, not throw against an agent’s car door.)