Indie Writer & the Trade Publishing of Doom

As I'm doing the final edits on my MS, and facing the dread of writing a query letter, I'm starting to wonder what's in store for me after that? I can't know for sure--no one can, I'm aware of this...but in the best of/worst of situations what should I expect for the future of these 77,000+ words that have so much of my heart & soul--my life poured into them?

In the best of scenarios I would get snapped up immediately by a wonderful agent who is totally excited about my MS. S/he would get my book straight into the hands of a major publishing house and ink me a 7-figure deal.

In the worst of scenarios--or at least one of the endless worst-case outcomes--I would be stuck in a steady cycle of submitting my query letters and only getting form rejections as feedback.

I am not naive enough to assume either scenario will apply to me, although I accept they are at least within the realm of possibility. But even somewhere in between those points on the spectrum--maybe a series of queries that eventually attracts an agent who sells my book for a respectable figure--still leaves me feeling a little left out in the cold.

I have no way of knowing how long I'll be waiting to see if my dream of having my book in print and being able to share it with others will ever happen. I've heard the horror & success stories and neither were helpful. My biggest sticking point has been that once I achieve the miracle of getting a book deal (if ever), how much am I giving up in the process? How much control over something I worked so hard on for so long do I retain? This led me to look into self-publishing.

I hate to admit until recently I was one of those people who bought into the stereotypes about self-publishing. Anyone who did that was either tired of being rejected by agents & editors, or too impatient to wait for a book deal. I never viewed it in a negative light, I was just 100% convinced it was not for me.

Now I'm not so sure.

I researched POD's, including Lightning Source & Createspace. I bought some books on indie publishing and read several blog posts. 2 things stood out for me:

---It doesn't take as much $$$ to get started as I'd thought, but it does take a major amount of hard work.

---Writers are very polarized on this issue.

Some people are not only hooked into the negative stereotyping, but they cling tightly to it--as if the thought of self-pubbing is scary to them. It blew my mind reading comments saying that self-publishers were "taking the easy way" or just another victim of the vanity presses.

I am still wobbling back and forth on the fence right now on whether I want to forge ahead with the querying and hope for a agent and book deal, with possibly some self-pubbed titles in my future...or whether I want to take charge and get my book out there myself without having ever licked the seal or pressed the send button on a query letter.
Who knows?
If I did publish myself and got a great response, it could be considered a trial run and may attract the attention of an agent or editor. But if it wasn't successful, it would be close to impossible to ever get it into the hands of an agent without extreme rework-age--if not a complete overhaul.
But that just leads me back to being confused, because if my book fails after being self-pubbed, then it's highly likely to have been rejected by agents...putting me in the exact same position! =P

So what do I do? The most important thing to me--the entire reason why I write is for the enjoyment of the process, but also to get my story out to others in hopes that they will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. =)

One thing is for sure, no matter which side of the indie/trade publishing fence you fall on--self publishing is growing in popularity and declining in stigma. Not sure how long it will take, but I believe POD's & e-books will become a staple in the publishing industry.



  1. I followed the self-pub debates with interest late last year and early this year. I then started realizing I was seeing the same arguments over and over, and casually backed away from the debates. I feel much lighter of heart since! :)

    Regardless of how anyone else feels about your path, I hope you find the one that's right for you . . . and delight in it!

  2. Deb, I agree...I need to decide what path is going to be the best for me and my individual goals and expectations, then just go for it! ;o)

    BTW, I'm really enjoying "The Monster's Daughter"! =)

  3. I've looked into it too and figure that if my novel is too different for the trad publishing houses (& it may well be), then I'll self publish on ebook - but I will pay a professional editor first. That way, I know that I'm not doing my career a diservice by publishing something inferior.

    My agent (at least she thinks it's good) is approaching publishers now, but I've already had 7 rejections.

  4. I completely agree...if I do self-publish, I definitely want to make sure it's clean & polished. This is one time when perfectionism pays off...and I'm lucky to be married to an excellent editor! ;o) He is brutally honest and doesn't let me get away with anything.

    Good luck with everything--hope you get to see your book in print soon! =)

  5. Married to an editor? Great plus!
    Tough decision, best of luck.

  6. He is a strict one, but that's a good thing, right? lol
    Thanks for the comment & good wishes! ;o)

  7. This is a great pot! I too am on the fence of what to do. I love the idea of having control over my novel and what happens with it. I love the idea of not sharing 15% of my profits to an agent and the even higher percent to a publishing house. In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, "I say who. I say when." I like the idea that even if I get an agent I won't have to wait a good year for my book to get published (or quite possibly longer).

    It's hard to say at this point as I've been querying my novel for many months and have only had 2 requests for partials that resulted in Rs. It's a tough biz. I know I have well told, well written story (I've had 8 BETA readers tell me so), but man, it's like hitting the lottery.

    anyway, good luck in whatever you decide to do and thanks for the well thought out post :D

  8. Shanona, I found you on twitter. I love to write also. I love your blog and have followed! I've followed this debate over self publishing also. There will always be those who say if you don't do it their way, you are not a true writer. I do know several people who have self published and been quite successful. You have to find what works for you! I hope you hop over and visit my blog and if blesses you, follow!
    Erin at:

  9. Hey Melanie! =)

    I love that line, "I say who, I say when." I love the sentiment behind it as well. I'm not normally much of a control freak (I leave that to my mother, lol), but I hate the thought of handing over something I've put so much of my life into and basically saying do what you want with it.
    The good thing about SP is that if I fail or if I succeed, it's all on my own terms...and I'm comfortable with that.
    Sad thing is now when I think about getting repped by an agent and even landing a deal, I don't feel excited about it like I used to...the thrill is gone. However the thought of publishing my book myself leaves me elated and slightly terrified! lol

    Thanks so much for your comment...I wish you good luck as well! ;o)

    xox, Shannon

  10. Hey Erin! =)

    So glad you found me...thanks for following! I'm following your blog as well. ;o)
    My heart is really telling me that self-pub is the way to go for me...my head too, actually. But that doesn't mean I'm not a little scared...especially this being my 1st time out! I've never even sent out a query letter (for this book)! =P
    Fortunately for me the community of writers includes a lot of very kind and supportive people (like you!) to help me through it all. =)

    Thank you so much for the nice comment...and for following!

    xox, Shannon