What to do, what to do?

It’s a mystery to me what I’m going to do with the mystery I’ve written. Here is my dilemma; my book is done. It has a beginning, middle, and end. It has interesting characters, all kinds of conflict, and a heck of an ending, if I do say so myself. It’s 85% polished and when it’s 100%, I will then have to figure out…what next?

Here are my options:

a. Hire an agent. I do not have to pay this agent until he or she sells my novel. Good deal, except getting an agent seems to include a certain amount of grovelling. You have to sell yourself to this agent. Query her to see if she’s interested in your genre and then convince her you are, at the very least, a competent writer or, at best, an exceptional writer.

From what I’ve read agents are being very selective when offering a contract to a writer. And so they should be. Janet Reid says in her blog, “Many of us (agents) now have to be careful about taking on small contracts cause they end up costing us money instead of making us money.” I understand that. A book would have to darn near blow their knee-highs off in order for them to take the chance that it will sell enough to make everybody involved some money. Editors (plural, please note. Copy editors, content editors, etc.), people to design your cover, people to market your book…all this talent needs to be paid if you are going to use the traditional method of selling your book.

I don’t think my book is a knee-high blowing masterpiece. I think it is what I meant it to be; good entertainment. A good beach book. Bathtub material. Something that helps ease the time of flying for six hours over the Atlantic at 30,000 feet. Not sure if an agent would take the chance on it so instead of going through all that rejection…

b. Indie publish. An independent publisher. Thing is, you pay them first, then they market and edit and whatever else you want them to do for you…for a price. Which is fine, as well. These people are business people; they are not gamblers willing to put themselves out-of-pocket for you. Again, I understand that. But do I want to spend approximately $1000.00 to $6000.00 for something I really could do myself…which brings me to option…

c.  Self publish. Sure, I’d get to keep 100% of whatever I sold, but I’d have to spend quite a bit of time learning how to do it. Apparently Smashwords makes it relatively easy, and Amazon, Kindle and Nook are more than happy to put your e-book on their sites for sale. But, it sounds like a lot of work. And my network of potential buyers is pretty darn limited. And then there’s the stigma of self-publishing. Family and friends, not familiar with the problems of publishing, might mutter amongst themselves, “evidently she couldn’t find anyone to sell her book, she had to do it herself“. And they wouldn’t be saying this to be mean, or discouraging. It’s just how it used to be.

But not anymore. There are a lot of fine writers doing their own publishing and keeping the money all for themselves, because they are doing all the work. And there are a lot of horror stories out there of artists being ripped off by dodgy bookkeepers or agents. I would prefer to keep total control over this manuscript of mine, which I have toiled long hours over and into which I have dripped copious amounts of anxious perspiration.

I am leaning towards option c but I am also already resenting the time self-publishing is going to take. Time that will take me away from finishing the second book of my Mabel series. Take me away from what I really want to be doing. Writing.

What to do, what to do.

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20 Responses to What to do, what to do?

  1. Linda MS says:

    If the only reason you’re holding back on an agent is because you have a lack of confidence in your work – I say go for the agent. Yes, it is hard to get an agent to handle your book, but you’ll never know if one will until you try. And your work is good, you should give it all the opportunity to be read that you can. Besides, you already have one agent who likes your writing.

    If you’re holding out for self-publishing because you want full control over your novel, that’s a different matter. It will take a lot of time and you’ll have to promote it yourself, but you will know that it’s done right. You will also know that your novel, and any profits to be gained by it, are controlled by you alone.

    I would say that I was glad I didn’t have to make the decision, but actually I’d love to be in your position.

    • ajcap says:

      Thanks, Linda, for the input. I waffle. Change my mind every fifteen minutes. Another drawback of self-publishing is the time it takes to get your name out there. A good fan base takes time. Then again, it can be time consuming even with an agent. All this reading I’m doing on the subject makes me more confused. When an agent finds a publisher for you, the publisher still has all kinds of hoops for you to jump through. But on the up side, they give you a down payment for your book as soon as you sign with them, then a final payment when it is ready for marketing. No waiting for the money to filter in slowly, as you do with self-publishing.

      What to do, what to do.

      And you could be in my position Write. Every day. As many words as you can get down. When you finally have your move over and done with, make yourself a promise.

  2. S. J. Crown says:

    Think you probably know my leanings on this matter, but if you want to check out another point of view, see this post by Steven Pressfield’s agent. And remember that these options are not mutually exclusive. Nothing wrong with building your self-pubbing machine while you send out some query letters.

    • ajcap says:

      Very interesting post, Stan, and good comments. I think I’m leaning to your way of thinking, in fact, I may be even getting excited about it, which is what I was hoping for. It should be an exciting time and if I don’t make enough to support my chocolate bar fetish right away, well, I’ll just have to learn patience. Good point about self-pubbing and query letters. Bottom line, work my butt off.

  3. Linda MS says:

    It sounds as though the old system of submitting manuscripts to publishers is going by the wayside. Not all bad, considering the hardship of even getting your book read by one of the established publishing companies and the millions of rules you have to follow when your work is accepted.

    I like the idea of being in control of all that happens to my book, but I’m pretty certain that I’m going to have a real problem with self-promoting my book.

    One of the required (apparently) self-promotion tools is a blog. I finally succumbed and let two of my friends set one up for me. So far, they’re my only readers. I don’t know how to promote the blog – that’s supposed to promote my name – that’s supposed to promote my book – that’s supposed to promote sales – that’s supposed to…ah, you get the idea.

    Yes, I am still writing. Every day. I can’t NOT write. To be honest, with all that’s going on right now, my writing is all over the place. I’m writing all kinds of stuff, but never staying with one work long enough to finish it.

    But I am preparing for the move to be over. I’ve already marked one room in my new house as my “writing room.” (A WHOLE room just for writing!) And identified other spots in and around the house that look great for ‘writing cubby holes.’

    Who knows? I may finish a book yet.

    Not that you need any help on the self-publishing thing, especially since you’re obviously doing a lot of research into the subject already, but maybe more tales of self-publishing might give you additional problems that might come up. Jim Spencer on Funwriters set up a publishing company to self-publish his book. On Mystery Writers Forum, Lance Charnes just published his book. I’m sure that both would be happy to talk to you.

    • ajcap says:

      Very glad to hear you’re still writing, Linda, as busy as you are. So what is the address of your blog? Can I read it?
      I had forgotten about Jim publishing his book, I should check back in there. Thanks for reminding me.

      • Linda MS says:

        Absolutely. It only has a couple of posts on it right now, but I’d be happy to have you read it.


        Jim hasn’t been posting a lot since he published his book; he’s been doing some work promoting it. If you can’t get hold of him through the site ask Cathleen to get hold of him for you, she lives near him.

        Cathleen broke both her femurs, but she’s still posting fairly regularly. Which is part of why I felt like a sorry excuse for a writer when I wasn’t writing because I was ‘busy moving.’ Fortunately, my lazy streak allowed me to get over that quickly.

        • ajcap says:

          LOL! My lazy streak overrides my guilty conscience every time. Will check out your site, I’ve added the address to my favourites, and let you know what I think.

          • I’m one of Llinda’s friends who helped her set up her blog. Her move is making it tough to help her learn WordPress, but we’ll be working together by Skype once she’s finished her move.

            I’ve been learning about self-publishing and marketing, and I suggest you check out Firepole Marketing for a realistic program for building up your audience so you can sell your books..

          • ajcap says:

            HEY! Networking DOES work! Look at this, a complete stranger has checked out my website! :)

            Hi, Tammy, nice to meet you and I hope you won’t be a stranger for long! Okay, enough with the exclamation marks.

            Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I will check out Firepole Marketing right away. My publishing learning curve has flatlined and is irritating the hell out of me. I’d rather be writing, or even reading more about how to write, but I understand that I must learn the business end of selling myself (ew, that bought up horrible images), as well, if I want to be a successful author.

            Most of all, big appreciation for helping Linda get started on her blog. I think it will be the start of a whole new world for her.

          • Tammy Rizzo says:

            Linda was so happy to find your blog again (she was on my computer, without her bookmarks), and let me read over her shoulder, so I just HAD to find it again after she relinquished my keyboard – especially since we are supposed to be meeting face-to-face this summer, at Linda’s new house! Bet you didn’t know that. She’s invited me and my sister, Michelle (www.michellecyoung.com) to come visit for a week or two, and have a writer’s retreat, with you there, as well. Actually, she didn’t so much ‘invite’ us, as ‘inform’. 😉

          • ajcap says:

            That would be majestic! (I’m trying to stop saying ‘awesome’. Magestic is one of the synonyms that came up when I entered ‘awesome’ in my dictionary app. ‘Astonishing’ and ‘breathtaking’ seemed a little over the top.

            And no, I didn’t know that, but looking forward to it already. I’ve never been to a writer’s retreat but I’ve read a lot about them. Does Linda have a tree fort at this new place? Now that would be awesome.

  4. Tammy Rizzo says:

    I don’t know if Linda has a tree fort or not, but she does have a lovely sunroom/veranda with a majestic view!

  5. Tammy Rizzo says:

    By the way, Amanda, thank you so much for following my blog! I’d like to add you to my blogroll, but I need your email address for that.

  6. Linda MS says:

    I didn’t “invite” y’all, I “informed” y’all?

    I know I’m not socially outgoing, but I’m apparently bossy as well. I’d work on that if I really cared what anyone else thought. ; )

    Obviously I’m messing with both of you.

    Sorry Amanda, I intended to ask you if you’d like to come also, just didn’t get to it yet. We were talking about writing and the fact that I wouldn’t have any close writing buddies up there. I invited them (note I said “invited”) to come up and visit me in the summer when the temperatures get to 105 degrees in Texas. That evolved into making it a writer’s retreat and I wanted to invite you also.

    So, we haven’t got a date set yet, still not sure what differs a visit from a writers’ retreat, I’m not moved up there yet, which means there’s still no furniture in the house, but if we can work out a date for all four of us and what we’d like to do, would you like to visit me in the summer and have a writer’s retreat? Maybe even invite any writing friends you have up there. You know, the kinds that drive and won’t make you slam your feet into the floor. Love to have you there.


    • ajcap says:

      Invited or instructed, makes no matter to me, I would love to attend a writers’ retreat of any kind. Will there be horses?

      Hopefully I will have a full-time job by summer but I’ll have weekends off. As for bringing a friend, I don’t have any writing friends anywhere close (probably why a writing retreat sounds like a great idea) but I do have one who should be getting her life story down on paper. Maybe I can talk her into it.

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