I‘ve written a lot about publishing versus self-publishing, and have made it pretty clear that I’ve been fence-sitting: researching both, querying agents, and monitoring the self-publishing world and the struggle between the two methods of publication.
Well, I just got pushed off the fence.
At DFW Writer’s Convention in 2013, I was able to sit down with two agents for pitch sessions. They both went really well, and I went home with two full manuscript requests for my zombie gamebook, Undead Rising. I sent them in, and began my patient waiting.
After a few months, I received a rejection from one of the agents. It was short and vague. I found out a week later that she had switched agencies, so I think she probably picked up only her favorite things and took them with her. So my feelings weren’t that hurt.
And then I waited some more. And, frankly, I had a really busy year… so I forgot about it.
I just this week got the other rejection. That’s 15 full months (a year and a quarter!) of waiting to hear back one way or another on a requested manuscript; she’d already shown enough interest to get me to “phase 2” of querying.
Now, the agent was really kind in her rejection and apologized for the “unconscionable delay,” which she attributed to her “large backlog of requested material.” In fact, the rejection was largely positive; she mentions a quibble or two, but it (in my opinion) seems extremely minor and not a big deal. She said it was “well-executed” and that there was “a lot to like here.” Which is good to hear.
I’m not trying to call her out here–I’m not going to say who the agent was; she was very nice in person and I would have liked to have worked with her. But a 15-month delay on a requested manuscript seems ridiculous. Particularly because it is considered good manners to not consult other agents while a manuscript is with an agent (though I could have, had I notified her. Like I said, I forgot.)
This isn’t the only reason–the stars in general are feeling like they’ve aligned for me–but this is a big reason that I’ve decided to self-publish this book. The traditional publishing structure seems to be oriented toward very narrow types of books (whatever the gatekeepers think will sell well immediately) set on incredibly long-term time frames (making the process more about luck and timing than content). That combined with the lower rate of return… I just don’t feel like my oddball book will ever be a good fit in the industry. And that’s disappointing.
But it’s also exciting.
So, by Halloween of this year, I intend to have a complete zombie gamebook adventure available for sale as an ebook (and maybe a print book). I look forward to getting Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny to an audience in time for All Hallows Read!
If you’ve self-published, can you offer any tips or tricks?