For those who care, I think I’d like to ruminate on ebook publishing for a moment, because this experience has definitely changed the way I’ve looked at publishing and my dreams of hitting it big.
I’m not going to weigh in on the whole “Are ebooks going to destroy traditional publishing!?” deal. Humans have a natural need for stories, and technology’s continuous changing hasn’t affected that one bit. I’m more worried about the environmental impacts that things like the constantly-updated-newer-and-better ebook reader will have, rather than wondering if the Internet’s spurious influence has destroyed the cognitive ability to absorb a novel.
While I self-published, I have a friend who recently landed an agent and publishing contract for a middle grade children’s fantasy. I’m happy for her (and plenty jealous), but I’ve been glad for the opportunity to compare my journey to hers. Because, see, after my rewrites, my book went to print. It became available almost instantly. My friend is still in rewrites based on feedback from her publisher and agent (which is a good thing!), and it occurred to me that her book won’t be available for at least another 6 months, if not longer.
So, while I would have liked to have had professional feedback to make my book better, I have to say it sure was nice to put things out there in 24 hours. Faster is not necessarily better, but in marketing and business, it sure can mean a lot.
I”m also doing my own footwork to get my book reviewed. (Which I’ll be posting about next.) And I’ve realized that my friend will have to do this, too. Her publisher will give her some things, but by and large, the traditional publishing rings are pushing the marketing deal onto the author these days. It’s the author’s responsibility to market their book. (Unless you start making it big, of course, then a publisher can spare $50k for you to do a 20-city tour across the US.) But as much as I ached (and still ache) to get an agent, I’m really glad I took this leap. Because it’s changed so much about I think about myself as a writer, and what I really care about. (Bottom line: the fact that someone buys my book is far more satifactory to me than the pittance it puts in my pocket.)
And last, in searching for reviews, I’ve noticed a bastion beginning to rise. Traditional publishing circles are guarded. An agent, an editor, and/or a published book are the only thing that will get you into the more esteemed circles of review. Kirkus Reviews asks for $450 to review something indie, and that’s far beyond the scope of most indie ebook authors, especially in this economy. A traditional publisher, on the other hand, can easily pay the fee. Lots of bloggers state things like “no vanity press” and “no ebooks”, and the bigguns say this the most often. So it looks to me like traditional publishing is defending itself against the onslaught of ebookery by declaring their own legitimacy. Their circles are special, vetted, and high-quality need only apply. My friend will have libraries and school visits as marketing tools, but she’ll probably have to land them herself. Thank goodness she’ll still have the Internet, which is the only market I need.
Which may change soon. But for now, I still want an agent. It does lend a sense of legitimacy to my work, and I’ll still pursue it. I hope that my ebook is successful enough that I can break into traditional publishing. That would be great. I realize that other people may not feel the same; that they don’t want to sacrifice control over their project in order to satisfy someone else. But it’s a great source of comfort to me to know that regardless of what I write in the future, if it gets rejected, there’s still an avenue to get things out there.
That’s not vanity press, that is.