Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why an agent decides to self-publish

On Monday I shared the exciting news that I am releasing my debut novel, Rite of Rejection, on December 4th. Woohoo! Since that might be confusing, I set aside this whole blog post to talk about how I came to this decision. I'm also going to stay on top of the comments all week to answer any questions that I might accidentally leave out. I'm ready to lay my cards out on the table

This story actually starts almost two years ago. Because we all know books aren't born in a day. In Spring of 2013 I queried my YA Dystopian novel. I already knew going in that Dystopian was on its way out the door and I had an uphill path to walk. But I really believed in this manuscript. I had several other manuscripts under my belt, but this one just felt different. 

So I queried and much to my surprise I got a really great request rate. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ended. While every agent I queried had really lovely things to say about my book, they all eventually turned it down, citing the current market. I understood. After all, the market they spoke about is the same one I work with daily. Editors were filled up and, honestly, a little sick of dystopian books.

I trudged on for several more months before I gave up the ghost. In November 2013 I decided to self-publish. I loved the book too much to let it sit on a shelf and the feedback I got convinced me the book had a shot. I got my ducks in a row with editors, cover artists and a proofreader. If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be as professional as humanly possible. I also wanted to be professional in my work situation.

That's when I called up Marisa Corvisiero, my boss, to let her know about my decision. Since I had decided to publish under my own name, I didn't want it to be a surprise to her. Marisa was wonderfully supportive and even offered to read the book to give me an additional set of editing eyes.

Marisa read the book and then promptly broke her own "don't represent co-workers" rule and offered to sign me and submit my book. So, surprise, I have an agent, the talented Marisa Corvisiero. While I was delighted to have another professional see what I saw in the book, I didn't get my hopes up. After all, editors were still not showing interest in new dystopian projects. However, Marisa is amazing and got a lot of interest in the book. And in the end, we got an offer.

I can see you scratching your head from here, but stay with me. Of course, I was delighted that someone believed in my book. There really is something to be said for that sense of validation. I did a lot of research and took my time to consider all my options. In the end, spoiler alert, I decided to turn down the offer. While they are a wonderful house that has put out some great books, I didn't feel they could offer me what I really needed.

Before, you jump to any conclusions about value from publishers, keep this in mind. First, I had already paid for and received professional editing, proofreading and cover design. Second, while we were waiting to hear from publishers I figured out how to format my book for ebook and print (I learned from a talented lady you'll hear from on Friday). Third, I have an extensive background in marketing and have had an active role in several authors' marketing plans. Not everyone has the same experience I do or has the funds to pay for professional services. I still believe in traditional publishing and what it has to offer authors. Okay, I'll step down from the soap box now.

All of this took place in the past month which has been a complete whirlwind. Between this, my theatre production which goes into the final run starting tomorrow and an overly elaborate Dr. Who birthday party for my oldest daughter, I'm pretty much running on coffee and excitement. But I really am excited. I've already kicked off my marketing efforts, and starting next week I'll be sharing more of the nitty gritty details of what I have planned.

This post is already long enough, so I'll close by, once again, saying thank you. Seriously, you guys are amazing. :)

7 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah: After reading all your excellent posts on marketing and social media, I think you've made a wise choice. Go for it!

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  2. I'd love to have you on my blog in December when your book releases! It looks great, and can't wait for the cover reveal. I love cover reveals, especially for sp books.

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    1. Thanks, Leandra. I'm sending you an email. :)

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story! I was curious why an active agent would self-publish. Could you tell us a bit more about things we should look for when reviewing offers from publishing houses? Or red flags that we should put on our radar?

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    1. Great question, Sam. And much more involved than I could answer here. However, I have answered this in other places. Check out The Writer Diaries for several Q&A posts where I have answered questions about what to look for from a publishing contract. http://www.thewriterdiaries.com/p/ask-sarah.html

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    2. Thank you, I will be sure to take a look at this link.

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