Sunday, April 10, 2016

Happily Rejected

As I move forward to my first actual publication by May of 2017, I reflect on what might’ve been.  When I began this whole process, I was focused on getting published by a traditional publisher.  I had grand visions of being on a display stand in Barnes & Noble with some big name publisher’s brand on my inside cover.  Knowing I needed a literary agent, I started querying and sending out notes, hoping to get picked up and linked in with a Big Six(at that time, it was six, not five) Publisher.

Of course now I’m glad that never worked out.  The more I researched traditional publishing, the more I disliked the way the odds were skewed in the favor of the publishers.  With slow payment schedules, small royalties, rights of first refusal, and fixed numbers in terms of amount in print, it became clear that I would have almost no power over my own career unless I hit the lottery and became the next JK Rowling.

But what to do?  I’d grown up thinking that self-publishing was for losers who weren’t good enough to get picked up.  Well, it turned out I had a very 1990s view of self-publishing and that things had changed dramatically in the last ten years.  Not only were self-published, or indie published, books now on the same level of quality as traditionally published works, the advent of ebooks made access to the market a snap.  We could remove the middle man from the process and access customers directly.
Needless to say that I’ve never been so happy to have been rejected by people in all my life.  I now shudder to think what would’ve happened had one of those first few agents I queried signed me.  I’d have gone blindly and naively into the business and gotten disillusioned very quickly.  Now I have more control over my career.  If it fails, it’s on me, but if it succeeds, that’s also on me.


  1. I've been coming to the same conclusion. My next book will be my eighth, which will leave my published books evenly divided between independent and traditional publishing.

    1. That's awesome! What do you find each experience to be like?

    2. I loved having a traditional publisher that did a lot of the work--but the one that published my fiction is a small publisher, and there was very little in the way of promotion or distribution. I was satisfied with what they did do, but wonder if it was enough to justify their cut. My non-fiction book publisher is much larger and did a lot more promotion--and I ended up in the local Barnes and Noble--but there was still that matter of a very low monetary return for the amount of work I did.

      On the other hand, if not for my wife I'd have never successfully self-published. I didn't have the money to pay a company to do all the things I couldn't, but Emily's tech-savy and artistic. She did the cover, the setup, the formatting, inserted photos in the non-fiction books--basically everything but the writing. The result is that we'll get a much higher percentage of the profits, but it was a huge amount of work. Overall I can see the advantages of both ways, but I wouldn't mind spending less time on non-writing chores.