Is Self-Publishing the New Submission Process?

For those of you who follow my blog and give a rat’s fuzzbutt whether or not I ever publish my novels, let me start by saying thank you, love you, bless you.

My Pitch Slam went very well. The waiting lines were much longer than I anticipated, so I only pitched my novel to 8 agents. And I’ve been asked to submit my query + sample by all 8. Of those, 4 seemed really promising.

My favorite moment of the Pitch Slam was when Susan Hawk told me her 8-year-old son just told her this morning that he was using The Force to ask his best friend to come out and play in the snow.

[Oh yeah….BTW, it is snowing, freezing, slippery winter nastiness here.]

That said, I’m currently sitting in the (very chilly) lobby of the Sharaton New York Hotel & Towers with a spinning head (NOT induced by wine, I swear) and a stuttering heart.

ALERT…ALERT…Paradigm shift! There’s been yet another paradigm shift in the whole writing-to-market process. Self-publishing (at least in ebook formats) is now being described as part of the process to finding an agent and getting a traditional publishing contract. I’m rather flabbergasted, but, hey, I do GET it. Instead of a few people in tiny Manhattan offices deciding which books to publish based on (1) personal preferences, (2) market research (often flawed), (3) current mood & (4) Fate…OH NO! Now they want We The People to decide what is the next best seller.

The business of publishing has become more of a democracy than the United States of America ever was. Zoinks!

Writers, hold on to your hearts (and get out your wallets).

Readers, I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news for you. I mean, if you don’t mind searching through mega-tons of bad books (especially ebooks) and maybe even purchasing some very BAD ebooks to find the GOOD stuff, well, then this might be good news. I just don’t know.

I am both a writer and an avid reader (spending more $ than I care to admit on both traditional books AND ebooks) and I’m not sure how I feel about this. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how much to post about this. Hmmmmm……

Has anyone out there read The Help? If yes, OMG did you LOVE it? If not, stop reading this and everything else and read The Help. Seriously. Don’t just watch the incredibly wonderful movie. READ it!! I’ll wait here.

Favorite Line: Mae Mobley my favorite.

How about the movie Julie & Julia? If you have not seen this movie, GO! Yet again, I’ll wait here.

[Play Final Jeopardy theme here]

Favorite Line: You are the butter to my bread, you are the breath to my life

So….where am I going with this ramble? Well, both stories depict success in the old traditional publishing model. Julie & Julia also depicts success through blogging…but now the blogosphere is WAY crowded and not really the venue for brand new fiction authors without a platform. In other words, the Julie & Julia path to publication is already getting outdated.

What’s left?

Now the name of the game is to get your work “out there” to see if enough REAL readers will pay REAL dollars to purchase your REAL book. It’s like ebook sales are the new platform. Or the new submission process.

All righty then….let me go back to spinning and stuttering and wondering.

In the meantime…HELP! What do you ebook readers think? Are you ready to search through thousands of really bad ebooks to find the stories you really want to read? Or do you rely on some resource to find great ebooks?

Considering the fact that I will only spend a fraction of the $$ I spent on this conference to ePublish and everyone, everyone, everyone at this conference seems to agree this is the BEST first step to becoming a successful author…well, holy crapping crap!!!

What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Is Self-Publishing the New Submission Process?

  1. Eight for eight? Excellent.

    Hmm…I haven’t read The Help. But that wasn’t self-pubbed first, was it? I thought she was rejected some sixty times but she finally found an editor to take her on and work on a rewrite.

    You may be right about self-publishing being the way to find a publisher. I’m not sure. I think that there will be reviewers who will help us sift through all the books available. It’s going to be interesting. I think word of mouth is going to count for more now than ever.

    • Yeah, I was pretty horrified when I re-read this post the next day and realized how scattered I sounded. To be fair, my rambling bit about The Help & Julie & Julia didn’t really make much sense even when you had the benefit of the full post. About The Help…first & foremost, you need to read it. I know it’s not your writing genre, but read it!!! Yes, the novel was traditionally published after being subbed and rejected many times (I think over 100 times) Yes, it is one of those inspiring traditional publishing stories. Yes, I would love to have the same success (but with many less rejections before finding the right home for it.) HOWEVER, what you don’t realize is that the story itself is about finding justice, vindication, revenge, freedom, self-respect and more through a traditional publishing success story set in the early 1960’s. The glue that holds this story together is a partnership between a priviledged, college-educated, white southern girl (Skeeter) who wants to write a book about The Help (aka, black women who work in domestic positions in priveledged white households) in direct violation of the Jim Crowe Laws in effect at that time and the black women who risk everything to help her write the book. As for Julie & Julia…there again, I was thinking about the story depicted in the movie (never read the book). In the movie we get to see all the time, work, disappointment and re-writing that Julia Childs went through before her book was finally acquired by a traditional house (as we are also watching Julie find her way to a traditional publishing contract by a less-traditional route – the stunt blog.) And what I was trying to say by bringing up those particular books/movies is that I really want the DREAM…the letter (or the call or the voice message) from an editor saying, “YES, thanks for asking, we do want to publish your book!” And I just have so much trouble reconciling the DREAM with self-publishing (even profitable self-publishing). *sigh*

  2. Oh. For some reason the whole post didn’t load when I commented above. I see now that you were saying that The Help was traditionally subbed and pubbed.

    Everyone at that conference agrees that self-pubbing is the best first step to becoming a published author? Yikes. I have not heard this before. What did the agents say? They want to see self-pubbed books that sold over a certain amount? How many books are they saying you have to sell to make publishers give you a contract?

    • Hi Sally…Sorry I didn’t respond faster. I’ve been knocked out for the last 2 weeks. First with the flurry of requested agent submissions (2 rejections so far) and then with annoying minor health malfunctions (also known as cold & flu). Here’s the thing…I’ll try to write a coherent post very soon about the STRATEGY behind self-publishing with an eye toward impressing traditional publishers. Because there really is an art to it (I think). And very few professionals are really explaining the art of self-publishing (mainly because they fear it &/or just plain don’t understand it). For now I’ll tell you that there is no magic number of eBooks or paperback books you have to sell to catch the attention of a traditional publishing house. I think it’s more about dollars earned, but also in combination with # of readers and good reviews. To boil down the number of sales issue, consider this…if I sell 10,000 eBooks at a price point of $.99, I think I would earn myself around $3,000. (Woo hoo! Also, that would make all the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on writing conferences tax deductible.) However, traditional publishers are going to yawn at that & say, “So what? Big deal. Just because 10,000 people are willing to buy your work at $.99 does NOT mean even 1 person (who is not your mother) would pay $7.99 for your book in eBook format or otherwise.” And traditional publishers NEVER sell their eBooks for $.99. Wouldn’t be worth their effort. Some self-published authors actually bounce around between two price points, sometimes their book is $.99 (to drive up sales ranking) and sometimes it is a few dollars more (to make more $). Some self-published authors of series fiction, offer the first book in the series for free (to hook readers) then sell the next books for a reasonable price. In other words….IT’S ALL A GAME!!! Your self-pub strategy depends on your genre and your long-term goals. I think you and I have similar goals, so I might end up being your guinae pig….if I actually go through with this (oink).

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