After much thought, effort, and research, I have decided to self-publish my first novel.
I dedicated the past couple of years to attempting to publish the traditional route, and no one can say after my 100 + rejections, using all available contacts, and being willing to enact any useful suggestions, that I didn't try. The time was not wasted in that I learned a lot, and I would have regretting not trying, but all of that work took the place of actual writing. I miss writing.
So no more.
It's difficult for me to criticize traditional publishing and not have it look like sour grapes, I know, but my honest assessment is that that system is broken. There is no excuse for the number of agencies that still expect writers to mail unwieldy packets of printed out manuscripts; the waste involved when there is a simple electronic option is ridiculous. The number of agents who don't even respond is disheartening, and I understand the efficiency of a self-addressed stamped envelope, but after a while it's just adding insult to injury to receive a form letter rejection that's addressed to you in your own hand. So much of it crawls at a snail's pace, and the kinds of things agents and publishers are looking for don't have enough to do with good writing it seems.
The major value I could see in landing an agent and having a publisher pick up your work was that sense of having been screened and deemed worthy. But have you seen what kinds of awful things get published anymore? And not that one shouldn't be wary of the enormous amount of dreck available in self-publishing, but the difference between the two worlds is getting smaller as the quality at one end diminishes and at the other is rapidly improving.
For regular authors not of blockbuster status, I'm not even sure what traditional publishing provides anymore. I have friends who are wonderful writers who have agents and publish excellent writing, but they have to work just as hard at self-promotion within that system as people I know who self-publish. I talked with one writer in particular who has an agent and has published using the traditional route, but when she couldn't find a buyer for her recent novel went ahead and just put it out there herself. She told me it wasn't all that different in terms of the work involved, but she had more control and receives all the profits.
I do not for a moment expect my novel will sell to more than those dozen or so people I mentioned in my acknowledgements section. But it doesn't need to. I would love it if many people read my book and it moved them, but for me the real goal is for that piece of work to simply be done. It's possible to pick at a piece of work forever. And the final part of the process for any piece of writing is for it to be read, so I have to let it go and let it be what it will be out in the world in order for it to finally be finished.
So wish me luck on this strange new venture! I await my proof in the mail from Amazon's CreateSpace so I can check for any last typos or formatting problems before offering my novel to the public, and the wheels are in motion for getting the ebook version underway through BookBaby.
In the meantime, check out the beautiful cover my mom drew for me, and that my brother formatted:
Already looking forward to working on the next book.