Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
First off, he does have some good points. The agenting process can be time consuming and often agonizing. One of my author friends sent her first now-self-published book to over one hundred agents and received roughly the same response: it’s great, but not for us. However, she is now, hopefully, a soon-to-be hybrid author, as she found a literary agent and was willing to do the edits for that agent before said agent accepted. She is still self-publishing, and she probably will continue doing so because she has found a little bit of success with it. He is also right that the agent then has to find a publisher, and I know not all agents update their authors on which houses they’ve sent the book to, most likely because they’re busy with other clients’ manuscripts, so their clients are left in the dark, something I can’t accept. In fact, I know one girl who wrote an amazing-seeming book, has been with her agent for several years, and that book hasn’t found a home. I often wonder why she doesn’t drop kick that agent and seek out a new one, or have the agent help her self-publish it. He also has a point that once said publisher is found, more edits will be done, almost undoing the edits the agent had you do. And then it can take some time for your book to come out, even after everything is finished. You also may not receive any promotion (other than reviews, like Kirkus), and being published with a traditional publisher doesn’t guarantee a shelf in a bookstore. Your book also has a certain time period in which to sell, and if it doesn’t sell all its books, it’s removed from shelves (however, with the advent of the e-book and online bookstores, authors removed from shelves still have time to build a fan base, so this point is, well, pointless).
One point I didn’t find in the article (it could have been mentioned) is that advances for first-time authors can be pitifully low, not to mention that royalties are pitiful as well (about 12% without an agent, down to 2% with an agent).
You do have full control with self-publishing, but at the end of the day, it’s not for every writer. It certainly isn’t for me, even if I am a little bit marketing-minded. Business-minded, I am not. Writing is an art, publishing is a business. They are two completely different monsters.
At the same time, the one thing I firmly disagree with about this article is that this writer implies that ALL authors should self-publish and never go the traditional route again.
I am going to end this on a positive note for the sake of this author, as I am writing this article to argue against his. Check out his book, Iona Portal. Great cover art, and it seems interesting. This is a guy who knows what he’s doing.
To balance out this article, I am going to write one on the positives of self-publishing, arguing against an article who says you should never do it (it’s a really horrendous article, completely biased, and has god-awful points. This guy’s article at least has some valid points).