The Best Thing Self-Publishing Ever Gave Me

Have I really not blogged since June?  Whoa … I need to get back it, huh?

So, a lot has happened since we last visited or, um, since I went ‘dark’ … I’ll spare you all the stories, but let’s just say, it’s been one heck of a ride.

In October, In The After was published.  In February it became a best-seller on Amazon.  It remained a genre best-seller for a while thereafter and really threw me for a loop.  Me?  A best-seller?  With my little self-pub’d book?  Oh yes, the numbers don’t lie, darlin’.   Your eyes do not deceive you!  Celebrate!

Then, once the high faded (but not the numbers, really) came the question … did I see more for my book?  The answer was a resounding yes — but don’t we all?

The truth was simple: I’d done pretty much everything within my power to push that book to where it landed, stayed for a while, and slowly fell.  But still, if you can believe the readers (and I do), there was more this book could do, a wider audience it could reach — and unfortunately, I simply am not capable of being the one to do it.  Lesson one: know your limitations, get on a first name basis with them.

I decided after much consideration to query my already-successful, already-self-published manuscript.

In the beginning of this blog, we spent a heck of a lot of time discussing querying.  With The Milestone Tapes the query-go-round consumed my life and really darkened my mood. I lost faith there for a while.  Lots of “no thanks” followed by a couple partials, followed by a full, followed by more “no thanks.”  That sort of nonsense takes it toll on two things …

1. Your spirit.

2. Your will to carry on.

With In The After things were going to be different, I decided from the starting line.

Here are my rules for my second chance up to bat:

  • I’d work hard to protect my sanity this time.  No month-long marathon of non-stop selling myself via e-mail.  I couldn’t stomach the thought, really.  If I thought I’d have to do that again … I’d run the other way (and I’m not, for the record, a runner.)
  • I would be honest with my sales and selling status, write a compelling pitch that would include reader reaction — unconventional maybe, but incredibly important in an industry where readers are the real clients.  It was a benefit, if you think of it in those terms, for both myself and the agent — this book had proven itself in the real world.  I’ve done my part to show, not tell, that — natch!
  • I’d only query a select THIRTY-ISH agents out of the almost 1,500 registered with Publisher’s Marketplace.  I did my research, I queried established agents and new agents alike.  If they “spoke” to me, I’d speak back.
  • And lastly, I’d of course adhere to their query guidelines and address them personally — I’m a big one on manners, you know.

Within the first hours, the first request came for a partial.  It actually came before a single rejection.  I actually made it a whole 24 hours this time before the first rejection — and the one who rejected me, well, he was a long shot anyway.  (No hard feelings though, I understand what the guy was saying.)

But, while reading his scant reply to my long, verbose query I realized what self-publishing has given me …

Perspective.

I don’t write books for agents.  I really don’t.  I write books for readers.  The ones who spend hours on Amazon trying to unearth a good novel and sample it greedily on the screen of their Kindle before clicking “buy” and submerging themselves into the world we create for them.

I respect agents — always have, always will.  I admire their job and cringe when I think of all the slush they have to scoop away to find the hidden gem that speaks to them.  They, are readers too.  But when my query zooms into their in-box, they aren’t … they are working, they are “agenting”, prospecting and cherry-picking.  They aren’t looking to simply be entertained, they are looking for the next NYT best-seller, the next award-winner, multi-million dollar movie deal.  They need to eat too.

Rejections, with a broadened scope, no longer hurt.  Maybe it’s all the scar-tissue cultured from the zinger two and three star-reviews and returns on my KDP page.  Maybe it’s simply exhaustion and the desire to just write.  Maybe it’s knowing that tastes are so subjective and that, as an avid antique enthusiast, I personify the saying one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  

Whatever it is, I’ve turned a page.

Instead of looking for an agent to give me a break, I’m looking for a partnership.  Did I query the best of the best?  In some cases, yes.  But I also looked to new agents building their client-list because I too am looking to build my books-list and we can work together.

In truth, I love agents.  I love what they represent and I admire the “old way” of publishing just as much as I love the “new way”.  I know they are capable of doing things I simply am not, but likewise, I know what I’ve done has been pretty awesome too.  I also have unwavering faith in my book — something, sadly, I didn’t know enough to have before.  You cannot underestimate the power this gives you. I’ve put this novel out into the world like a loving mother who puts her kindergartner on the bus for the first day of school — we both do so with apprehension and excitement and hope.

This time it’s not about please, please, please like me please! It’s about here is my story, I’ve proven it sells, want in?  Oh, and once we get friendly, I’ve got another for you … have you ever heard of Two Spirits?

So … I’m back … I’m blogging … and I’m different … so this should all be interesting … stay tuned!

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