Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Publishing Game-Part I

Some people have asked about Ghost Notes. Here's an update.

Right now, I’m in the shopping phase, which means I’m sending Ghost Notes to literary agents, seeing if any of them are interested in representing it. It’s the literary agent’s job to take the manuscript to editors--who work for publishing companies--and try to encourage them to buy it. If one does, the author gets an advance and a cut of future royalties. It’s a long process, and stressful; nobody likes it.

The last time I did it, in 2003 for Stuck Outside of Phoenix, I’d already decided I wanted to self-publish, but I wanted to test the waters of traditional publishing first. More than anything, I was curious; I wanted to know what people in the business thought of my novel.

I queried 25 agents and one editor. (At the time this seemed like a lot, but I found out later 100 is more the norm--if there is a norm for such a thing.) Of those 26 queries, I received four requests for pages, anything from a few chapters of Stuck to the whole book. One agent asked to see the book immediately, via email. From that agent I heard back within a week. He was complimentary, but in the end he felt he wouldn’t be able to sell it and turned it down. Other agents took longer but came to the same conclusion. The last one to request pages, an editor, I still haven’t heard back from. (Maybe today!)

So my half-hearted attempt to get Stuck published the traditional way ended, and I moved on to self-publishing, which is where I suspected I'd end up anyway. There were many reasons why I wanted to pursue self-publishing, but here are three. First, I knew I already had some kind of built-in audience. Second, I was intrigued by the possibility of print-on-demand technology, namely the fact that I wouldn’t have to invest thousands of dollars up front to see my book in print. Third, I had a desire to do it all myself, from book cover and Web design to stocking bookstores, requesting reviews and scheduling events. This all sounded like great fun to me (I’m sick, I know), and I took it seriously. (Remember, I hadn’t been associated with any product since The Bottle and Fresh Horses, six years previous, and I didn’t want to give up the reigns of my new creative endeavor right off the bat.) Put simply, I wanted to be proud of Stuck, and the only way I knew I’d proud of it was to do it myself.

It’s different with Ghost Notes. I don’t feel the need to control every aspect of its published existence. Frankly, there are a few tasks I’d love to pass on. And getting a check this time, as opposed to writing one, to see my book in print would be nice.

More on the publishing game next week.



Kathy said...

Thanks for the insight, Art! I understand how you feel. With 3 novels finished a 4th very near done, I need to move on to publishing some of this paper I've piled up! I want to maintain creative control. The thought of MY ART getting in the hands of someone who might say, 'well, this is OK, but let's change this...or that'. It's more than I can handle. So, I've explored self publishing as well, but since I don't do manual labor ;-0 the marketing side of it just does NOT appeal to me. So, after bantering it back and forth I'm now back to the shopping for an agent stage. I've queried. The numbers you gave are very helpful. I had no idea 100 was the norm before a positive response would be received! I'll persevere. I'm encouraged by your success, thanks so much for sharing your experience! ~ K

Art Edwards said...

Keep plugging away, Kathy. For all the hassle, I think it's worthwhile in the end. I hope, anyway.