Q02: Path to Pub

(This post is part of a larger subseries entitled Perpetual WIPs: Pre-Pub Authors. To see the rest of the questions posed, click here.)

What do you think are major advantages and disadvantages of your path to publication? Do you plan to do things the same way in the future?

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Disadvantages – the long lead time (3-4 years) from first attempt querying to actual deal and all the rejection. Advantages – ditto. The long lead time, while fraught with frustration, gave me the time I needed to grow as a writer, find my voice, and improve my craft. All the rejection, while crushing, gave me a thick skin which I know I’ll need when my book is out in the world and getting actual reviews. Book reviewers aren’t as well known for using the “sandwich” method as beta readers, agents, and editors are. (Big-6)

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I would definitely recommend having an agent – not only is it great to have someone with insider contacts and knowledge, but it’s nice to feel part of a team too. I also think it’s great to try the traditional publishing route, as self-publishing can be expensive and I’d be too scared to try it! I wouldn’t know what to do. I love the passion of my publishing team too, and it’s amazing to think that other people are paying to get your book published. (Big international publisher)

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Pros – good people who know what they’re doing in the industry behind me. Cons – fairly detached from the process. (Big-6)

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The only real disadvantage I see is the whole royalty thing. My publisher will, of course, take a fairly large percentage of my book’s earnings. But I don’t consider this a major disadvantage because they’re providing an editor for me, designing a cover, placing my book in bookstores, helping out with the marketing…They’re doing lots of things I don’t have the time or skills to accomplish. They’re allowing me to have more time to write, which is why I prefer this path to self-publication. (Big-6)

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The biggest disadvantage is keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of booksellers and publishers. The fact of the matter is that B&N is going to go away sooner rather than later and that puts everyone who wants to be sold “in a bookstore” at a huge disadvantage. I think kidlit has it easier than adults because fewer kids have e-readers. But B&N going away will be a loss to everyone, more paralyzing than losing Borders. The major advantage to going this route is, of course, the legitimacy of having a trad publisher believing in you and backing you. Also, I wouldn’t completely know what I was doing if more of the work had to fall on me, so it’d be a huge learning curve in terms of many things that right now my publisher takes care of. Also, there is something pretty great about having a “brand” behind you that you don’t have to create from scratch. (Big-6)

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Unfortunately, my path to becoming a debut author isn’t replicable. Not on purpose anyway. The disadvantage to the way things fell for me, though, is that I sold my first novel (and, tentatively, the three books after that) without an agent and am now at a loss as to where to go from here. My time for the next three years is going to be devoted to the books I’ve sold and so I don’t know that I’ll have anything un-contracted to query with for quite a while.  (Indie publisher)

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So far the major advantages I’ve experiences are the editorial expertise and the team of people who all have one common goal: seeing your in the hands of readers. I haven’t experienced any real disadvantages yet, but this is new and publishing is evolving. I expect there will be some bumps over time. Unless life says different, I plan to continue on with traditional publishing. (Big-6)

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I haven’t found any disadvantages yet! I loved having an agent to give me her ideas about how to make the book more enticing to publishers, and I’m really happy with the publisher I ended up with. From what I hear, I probably won’t have much input on my cover, but that wasn’t something I cared too much about, so it doesn’t bother me. I plan to do things the same way as long as someone wants my stuff! (Big-6)

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Due to the nature of how my deal came about, I wouldn’t be able to travel that path again, even if I wanted to. I believe things will be very different the next time around. (Indie digital publisher)

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Two of the unusual aspects of my “path”…I signed with my agent on the first book I’d ever written, after querying only 5 agents. Even though my queries were purely slush pile, with no connections or shortcuts or whatever, I felt like I didn’t “earn it.” That relative ease was a disadvantage because I didn’t learn as much from the process as I could have. Then my Book 1 didn’t sell. We went on one round of submission with it before I finished my 2nd book, which was infinitely more pitchable as a debut. (Book 2 sold this year.) The rejection of Book 1 (my baby!) was hard to take, but ultimately felt like an advantage. I learned, amongst other things, to channel all my nervous energy and frustration into my next WIP. That’s the only salve I’ve found for rejection: working hard again and again. Because the nerves and frustration and criticism don’t end once you get a book deal, so it’s best to have already developed helpful coping mechanisms. For example, when I saw my Goodreads page, I was delighted…and the next moment, I realized this is the place where, soon enough, people will point out every flaw I’ve ever secretly worried about in my writing. So I closed the webpage, opened up my WIP, and plowed ahead. The fires of a difficult experience can burn you…but they can also forge you if you’ll let them. That’s what I’ll do the same in the future: learn from the low moments. (Mid-size house)

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I trusted in my agent’s expertise – and I’m very glad that I did! (Big-6)

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Advantages are definitely the prestige, reputation, marketing, and money that come with a publishing house contract. Disadvantages are the wait to get your work out there in this digital age and losing control. It will be interesting to see how things continue to change and morph in the publishing world. I’ve got friends self-publishing who are doing quite well and it happens SO FAST! (Big-6)

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