Although I haven’t posted recently (a freelance deadline I just hit today!), I have been thinking long and hard about my decision to self-publish. About a month ago, I mentioned to a friend I was frustrated by the query process. She murmured her sympathy and in an effort to test the waters, I confessed I was considering self-publishing my novel. She was quiet for a moment before saying “Oh.” I’m quite sure I didn’t misinterpret her reaction when I say she was clearly disappointed. Although it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, I understood her reaction. She had read a draft of my psychological mystery, A GUILTY MIND. She knew two agents had requested the full manuscript and had not yet rejected it. She was pulling for me to find the right agent and publisher. I could see in her face she thought I was “giving up”. The truth is – she wasn’t entirely wrong but nor was she right.
While I appreciate that two agents are reading my manuscript, I’ve been down this road before. Previously, one agent liked the full manuscript enough to phone me and request some revisions. Naively, I rushed through it and sent it back immediately. In retrospect, I should have taken my time and really thought about what he was looking for in the revised draft. Silly me. After all, it wasn’t like he was just sitting around in his office waiting for my new and improved manuscript to be plopped on his desk. Either way, he wasn’t satisfied with the changes and ultimately decided not to represent me. He did, however, call again and offer encouragement. Unfortunately, while he stressed he thought the book was well-written with solid pacing, he didn’t think he could sell it. Groan. I’ve had a couple of similar experiences with other agents although he was the most personal and professional.
Cut to today. One agent has had my manuscript in hand for more than seven months and the other for nearly four. I’m grateful they’re interested but I would be lying if I said I was holding my breath. I’m no longer that naive. I know that most debut authors have a difficult time finding agents and even if they do, they have an even more difficult time finding a publishing house. I’ve seen the comments from agents that publishers are taking fewer risks. I know the odds. In the meantime, weeks, months, and years go by. And let’s be real, none of us is getting any younger!
While I may not be as young as I used to be (old is such a relative term), that is hardly the only factor in my decision. The most important reason I have decided to self-publish is I believe in my book. I believe in it because I’ve had positive feedback from several professionals (not just from my wonderful family members and friends). My decision is also based on a sense of realism. I believe that the opportunities for unpublished authors in the traditional world of publishing are harder to come by. I also believe that self-publishing or indie publishing – whatever you want to call it – is the new world for the mid-list debut author. Realism also means that by deciding to self-publish, I accept that any support network a publishing company might provide will not exist. No in-house editor. No in-house cover artist. No distributor. No marketing department. No one to hold your hand. Does this make it harder? I know there are some who will disagree (they like being in TOTAL control) but I say – Yes, it’s harder.
I’ve recently hired a professional editor. I’ve contacted an artist and we are beginning work on the cover next week. I’m spending hours doing research to ensure when my book is published, it will be as professionally put together as if it had come from Random House.
The bottom line is, I’m no longer telling friends I’m thinking about self-publishing. I’m announcing that A GUILTY MIND will be self-published. Fortunately, the last friend I told gave me just the right response. She smiled and said, “You go, girl!”