In light of some things that have happened in the last few days, I’m going to deviate from my Agent Hunt series and write instead about publishing. Specifically, smaller boutique presses. I will admit, I’ve been a snob when it comes to anything that might be classified outside of “traditional” publishing. I didn’t necessarily sneer at those houses, the little niche publishers or the writers that work with them, but I wasn’t interested in submitting to them, either. If I couldn’t make my story go through an agent to one of the Big Six, I wasn’t interested.
So here’s my change of heart story. It’s been a little bit of a journey over the years, culminating with this last weekend’s exciting news from a friend.
I’d been feeling quite down about my chances of successfully getting an agent. I knew when I started my last major WIP that it would be a hard sell. Vampires just are right now, but I thought I could handle that. The story would bounce around for a few months, maybe a year, but at the end of it, I would have an agent and a contract and be a published author, go me!
Except. That wasn’t happening. As of today, I’ve officially been in some state of working on my last WIP for four years. About six months trashdrafting it, three years querying, betaing, and editing it to the exclusion of any other story. And it had gotten me nowhere. A few partials and full requests, but ultimately each one had flopped. (This was, to be fair, largely my own fault. I sent the story out prematurely and burned a lot of good opportunities.)
Last year, I started another project, realizing even as I did that this one was even more niche and would probably be just as difficult to place. You’d think I’d learn, right? Did I really want to spend another four years with a story I loved but ultimately couldn’t sell?
So I started looking into self-publication. If I couldn’t get a traditional contract, maybe I’d just market the thing myself. I didn’t end up going that direction for a number of reasons, not least of which being the prohibitive start-up costs associated with going it alone. (As a side note, there’s nothing wrong with self-pub. If you’ve got the head for it and the time and money to commit to seeing it through, knock yourself out! It just ended up not being the right fit for me.)
With that door closed, too, I didn’t hold out much hope for ever finding a home for either of my word-babies. I decided that this year would be the make it or break it year for both of them. Either I would find an agent with one or the other, or they would both be set aside to bring out once I’d attracted representation with some other work. I would obviously still love them even if they didn’t sell, but I didn’t like the idea of trunking years-worth of work with nothing to show for it.
Then a friend of mine posted on social media that she’d made a sale on one of her novellas to a boutique publisher. I’ve spent the last few days reading up on them obsessively, and they seem like they’re both professional and eager to work with new writers. They also don’t require agent representation. Best of all, they publish the sort of fiction that I’ve already been writing.
I can’t say for sure if I’ll submit to them or not. They’re a good fit for my current WIP, but who’s to say how I’ll feel in a year or two when it’s finally polished and ready to send out? For all I know, I could magically find representation before then. But in the meantime, it’s an important change in my understanding of how the publishing industry is evolving with the times. And it’s important that I change right along with them.