|"That is one heavy bag of wishes you've got there!"|
And so it should be.
Honing your craft as a writer is no easy task, to which just about any serious writer can attest. Sure, we write those first few crappy stories and we think they're brilliant, but then we do the one thing we were unprepared to do. We start querying agents. And we get rejection after rejection after rejection. Now, I'll admit, most agents give very little feedback anymore, which is a bit disheartening. And because so many first time novelists are either a) too scared to put their work out there for others to read, or b) so frustrated with the persistent rejections, they tend to turn to self-publishing in the e-book format.
I've stated before in previous posts that I have nothing against the wonderful world of e-books. I do, however, take issue with what's flooding the self-published e-market. If anything, a lot of what's out there is taking the writing world down a few pegs. Thus, why I still believe in traditional publishing. Yeah, you know -- the kind where an agent, editor, and publisher are involved. Here are five good things that come out of having an agent and being persistent when it comes to getting traditionally published:
- Agents work as filters -- For a long time, I couldn't figure out what was really bothering me about self-published works, but then I attended a writers' meeting where the speaker spoke on how agents function. They are the filter to a seemingly endless line of aspiring work. We may not all agree on what constitutes good literature, but we can all agree that when we've read a satisfying novel we are happy to see it was published. True, some junk still gets out there when it's run through agents and publishers, but it was never so prevalent ten or fifteen years ago as it is today.
- We are not all business men and women -- I cannot tell you how many blogs and websites I've read about those who took the self-pub route and just ended up frustrated. These authors came to realize that, although they may be good writers, they confessed that they knew nothing about balancing finances, keeping track of sales, promoting their book at every turn, etc. In one blog I read, the author confessed to so many sleepless nights over whether the book was selling or not that she became physically sick. Sure, we do have to handle much of the promotion responsibility now, but wouldn't it be nice to have someone extending a helping hand whenever you needed one?
- Agents are contractually bound to root for you -- You get your own personal cheerleader, otherwise, the agent would never have taken you on in the first place. The self-pub route can be lonely. You (and usually your husband or wife) end up being the cheerleader for your team. Your agent wants your work to sell, so he/she will be pushing, pushing, pushing to get it out on the market. Encouragement always helps.
- Other writers tend to take you more seriously -- Because the self-pub industry has become so flooded (and many of us have read some of those new "authors"), there's a certain kind of stigma that goes along with it. I've seen those looks some self-published authors get and I find it hard to take. And I'm just the bystander! The writing market is like any other entertainment market. We'd be hard-pressed to buy a low-quality rock album cut in someone's garage with horrible acoustics, and yet, self-published authors of all genres think their work should be taken seriously even if the work is filled with glaring errors. Until the self-publishing industry learns how to turn a filter on again, unfortunately, this stigma will always be there.
- Deadlines make it feel like a true profession -- When we self-publish, we have no real deadlines. We make them up as we go along. A real agent or publishing house is going to set limits on our time. They will want things when they want them, and that means our butt is going to be in that chair each day pounding out a manuscript. If, as writers, we want our careers to be taken seriously, then we need to treat them as such.
Some basic light literature all would-be authors need in in his/her arsenal:
I'm asking for it! Give me your feedback when it comes to self-publishing and the e-book market. Do you still believe in traditional publishing? Why or why not? Would you add any useful points to my list?