Dream on, Writer, Dream on.
Deciding on how to publish my novel was a tough choice. Sure, I’d like the prestige of having a major, or even a not-so-major, traditional publishing house buy the rights to my book and pay me a royalty. But that statistic I mentioned in my previous post, that a literary agency accepts fewer than one percent of submitted manuscripts gave me pause.
I’m not twenty-five years old. I don’t want to spend years submitting and resubmitting my manuscript to agents and hoping to be one of few writers accepted as a client. In the past year, I’ve participated in Twitter pitch parties five times, more than that, if you consider that hopeful writers can pitch one project more than once during the hours the pitch party runs. The only interest in my pitches has been from other writers. Too bad they’re not also editors from publishing houses.
WordPress seemed like a good option since I have a few followers, it has Reader to help bloggers find each other’s posts. I can link to other social media platforms. But even with the help of a WP customer service person, I couldn’t figure out how to set up a premium block. Maybe I’m too impatient. I don’t know if I’d have to set up a block each time a published a new chapter. That would be more work than I want to do. I want to write, not set up premium blocks.
Patreon is a platform where creators can offer their material to subscribers. I seriously considered it, but when I went to their site, I could find other creators’ posts to see what they’d done. That was annoying. Anyone can look at WordPress and see what’s on offer.
Vella is Amazon’s new publishing platform where writers can serialize their books, chapter by chapter. They pay a royalty of fifty percent, although the first three chapters are a free sample. Much better pay than any traditional publisher. The writer retains creative control. I don’t have to worry about word count. There are books on the market that are much longer than mine, but selling them to a publisher isn’t easy; the acceptance rate is probably even lower than that fraction of one percent. One of my writer friends encouraged me to do with Vella because it’s new and therefore Amazon might push it more. It’s certainly in their interest to do so. They get a bigger cut than they would from books published using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
Considering all that, Vella seemed like a good choice, so I went with it. I published the first chapter of my novel today. It was easier than publishing with KDP, which is also easy. It can take up to seventy-two hours for the episode to go live, but I’ve published stories on Amazon before and it always took less time to be approved. It helps that the material is short.
Maybe I’ll never make more than pennies per chapter. I’ve already done some self-promotion. Hopefully, the pennies will add up and the stack will get higher as I add more chapters. If this goes well, I have another book to publish on Vella. It just needs a bit more work.
Whatever happens, I’ll keep on writing. It’s what I do.
With a Bit of Info from an Agent
What do you do with a book you’ve finished writing and are hoping to get published?
You can go the traditional route and submit your manuscript to literary agents or directly to the few publishers who accept unagented submissions. You can pay a vanity press to publish your book. Or you can go the self-publishing route in a couple of different ways. The first is to use a self-publishing platform, such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which allows you to publish both ebooks and paperbacks. There are other self-publishing options besides Amazon. The second choice is to go to a subscription service, such as Patreon or Amazon’s new platform, Vella, where readers pay to read your book section by section; the platform takes a percentage of royalties. It’s like the old days when newspapers and magazines printed serialized stories.
Despite these new publishing options, many writers still choose to go the traditional route. It’s still a prestigious way to get published. Having “gatekeepers” select and vet a manuscript seems to assure some sort of quality control. I’ve read many traditionally published books where quality control does not seem to have been a consideration. No doubt you have, too. Advances from the publisher are another incentive to choose the traditional publishing option. There’s also the snob factor. If you self-publish, some readers assume no traditional publisher wanted your book, which could well be true, but doesn’t necessarily mean the book isn’t worth publishing or reading.
I have finished writing a book that I’ve submitted to agents, as well as directly to a publisher. I’ve participated in Twitter pitch parties, with not even a nibble. So what should I do? Keep on querying agents, publish my book myself, or offer it to readers on a subscription platform?
One of my writer friends has published four books the traditional way, he also is a regular contributor to a special interest magazine. You would expect those sorts of credentials to make it easier for him to find an agent. Not so. He has recently finished writing a new book, which he has been diligently submitting to agents. More than sixty of them. He doesn’t allow rejections to discourage him, for every rejection, he sends his query to a new agent. He’s like a long-distance runner when it comes to submitting. I’m more of a plodder. I’m still weighing my options, even as I send out queries.
WordPress allows creators to set up “premium blocks” which allow writers and other creatives to serialize their work. Or, creators can request tips and donations. I’ve tried asking for donations for my most popular posts with absolutely no results, except from me, when I tested my donation block to see if I’d set it up correctly. I had, so apparently, readers would only pay for material I’ve spent hours writing, re-writing, editing, and editing again unless they had no choice. Of course, they would still have a choice–pay and read or don’t pay and don’t read. Because of that last choice is why I hesitate to choose premium as an option. An agent might accept me as a client. The agent might find me a publisher and the publisher might pay me an advance. All that could take years, if it happens at all. So what does a writer, who can’t pay her rent with rejection slips do? The odds are stack against us.
Here are answers from a literary agency.
“You should look for an agent before a publisher.
“…these days publishers rarely buy the rights to self-published books or additional books in a series you’ve started self-publishing.”
Of the queries the review they accept less than 1%! But they hope you believe strongly enough in your book to try anyway. Of course, there is no guarantee that they can sell the manuscripts the accept to a publisher.
The question is if you believe strongly enough in your book, should you spend years looking for an agent or should you publish or serialize your manuscript yourself? If you do, you will have to market like mad. The fact that a traditional publisher chooses to buy your book, does not mean you won’t have to market. Many agents want to know what social media platforms you’re on so you can do the majority of publicizing your own material.
(Act 2, Scene 1)
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight; And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin, Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in...
This is one of my favorite passages from Shakespeare, from one of my favorite of his plays. It’s not the whole monologue. After these few lines, Oberon allows his jealousy, because his wife has adopted a mortal boy, to turn him mean. He anoints his fairy queen, Tatiana’s eyes with a magic potion that will make her fall in love with the first thing she sees, the weaver, Nick Bottom, who has been magically given a donkey’s head.
I had to look up the flowers.
Weed is a synonym for a garment. So the snake’s enameled skin is a garment that would fit a fairy. If you’ve read novels set during the Nineteenth Century, you might have come across a reference to “widow’s weeds,” in other words, her mourning clothes.
In Shakespeare’s day summer was considered to begin on May first, thus, the summer solstice was midsummer, the time when the boundaries between the human world and the fairy world were particularly thin. Fairies could cross over then and meddle in human lives. Hopefully, for the better.
Song on May Morning John Milton - 1608-1674 Now the bright morning Star, Dayes harbinger, Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her The Flowry May, who from her green lap throws The yellow Cowslip, and the pale Primrose. Hail bounteous May that dost inspire Mirth and youth, and warm desire, Woods and Groves, are of thy dressing, Hill and Dale, doth boast thy blessing. Thus we salute thee with our early Song, And welcom thee, and wish thee long.
May First was once considered the most important day of the year. It signaled the return of light and fertility. It was one of the year’s several fire festivals.
To the Celts of Britain, May first was known as Beltane. The name Beltane means the fires of Bel. Belinos was one of the names of the Sun God.
To ancient Romans, May first was known as Floralia, a five day festival to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers.
During the 19th and 20th centuries May First was May Basket Day when people created baskets with flowers, candy, and other treats and hung on the doorknobs of friends, neighbors and loved ones.
This tradition has been going on since 1929.