I’ve done what I could. My second book, THROUGH DARK SPACES, is finished. It’s polished to within an inch of its life. Three separate critique groups have combed through it looking for grammatical errors and plot holes, and I’ve fixed everything they found. They all liked it, too, waited eagerly for each succeeding chapter, which made me think it would definitely be sellable.
Then I sent e-queries to nearly 20 agents. Half sent replies (the others couldn’t be bothered apparently), but nobody was interested. Though several of their emails were complimentary, none of them apparently know who to market this book to. Perhaps I thought too highly of the book. I read it yet again, and it’s good. It’s set in western South Dakota and deals with the environmental consequences of mining. Hmmm. Not the sort of subject matter New York agents usually try to sell, I suppose, though the success of such writers as Craig Johnson, Margaret Coel, C. J. Box and my friend Lori Armstrong—who all write about the west—tells me that, if I work at it, my book can be just as successful.
So. No takers. What to do? Well, these days, there are alternatives that won’t kill a career. When I first started writing, back in the late ‘90s, self-publishing was the kiss of death. It conjured up visions of trudging from library to bookstore, trying to wheedle signings for books the stores wouldn’t stock, speaking to the occasional book group and selling volumes out of the trunk of my car outside shopping centers as they close for the evening. And once that path was chosen, it was curtains for any sort of career with a “real” publisher. No thanks, not for me.
Now, however, things are different. Mainstream writers are opting for self-publishing and turning down the very contracts I had sought. Well, Barry Eisler did, anyway. And after my experience with a small, print on demand (POD) publisher, it was an easy choice: not many people will buy a hardcover book at $27.99 by an author they don’t know (that would be me), at least not in this economy. And while that publisher does print paperbacks now, they print them in a very strange format—like a magazine. Not something that will catch on, I don’t believe. The best remaining alternative is for me to publish the book for e-reader, and publish it myself. There. The decision has been made.
For the next several weeks, once a week at least, here on my blog I’ll detail the process I’m following to e-publish that book. In the end, I hope it will all be worth it. I’m not hoping to make a million bucks here, just to find what all authors want: readers. The things I have to say are important to me and, I hope, will also entertain my readership. I don’t expect to become an Amanda Hocking, whose name is now synonymous with e-book mega-success, but I do expect to find, out there in cyberspace, some readers who will eagerly await my next novel, too.
So stay tuned…..
[And if you want to read an interesting conversation between Barry Eisler and Amanda Hocking, go to agent Ted Weinstein's website: http://www.twliterary.com/selfpub.html.]