Fears about the Publishing Process
“Jsfrog” left me this note:
If you get an agent, how do you decide what form of publishing to pursue? Do agents typically have a list of preferred houses to pitch to or do they take input from the author? And if you are lucky enough to get a few offers, how do you decide which one to take if there is a difference of opinion somewhere? Like if one prefers the intimacy of a smaller house, but the other is just looking at the financial bottom line?
I am an independent introvert so while I would like the validation before publishing, I worry about being overwhelmed by the process. That is one reason I might consider self-publishing or by-passing a few of the steps with a smaller house that still has open submissions.
When an agent offers representation, most likely they already have some ideas about what type of publisher would be appropriate. You and your agent would discuss this, and if you have some input to offer, you should speak up. I often ask my clients, “Who is your dream publisher?” and then we have a place to start the discussion, regardless of whether I think their dream is realistic.
If there are multiple publisher offers, usually you go with the publisher offering the best deal, because the agent wouldn’t have submitted the project to a house you didn’t want to publish with. But there may be other considerations, and by this point your agent should already be clear on your priorities so she’ll be able to guide you in making a choice.
You mentioned “the intimacy of a smaller house” vs. “the financial bottom line,” which is an interesting way to look at publishing. A smaller house may or may not feel more “intimate.” A larger house may or may not be a better deal financially. They’re not mutually exclusive or automatic opposites.
Keep in mind the agent’s job is always to get you the best deal possible. This means financially the best deal, as well as a good strong contract where your long-term interests are protected. They also want to put you with a publisher that gives you the best chance of being a success—a company who knows how to sell the kind of book you’ve written, and with an editor who “gets” your book. There are a lot of things that make a publisher right for you (or wrong for you).
Don’t make too much of the fact that you’re an introvert. While your fears are valid, many writers are introverts, and somehow they manage to make it work. I’d say: feel the fear and do it anyway.
Also, regarding your last two sentences (the fact that you might consider self-publishing). I think you may have a skewed view of the requirements of self-publishing, vs. small indie publishing or traditional big publishing. If you’re afraid of being overwhelmed by the process, it’s not going to be any less with self or small publishing, unless you want to put your book out there and sell zero copies – then, sure, you won’t be overwhelmed because you won’t have to do anything. The truth is, you are far more likely to be overwhelmed by self-publishing; and no matter which way you decide to go, you have to face one fact:
If you want to put your words out there for people to read, it’s going to feel risky, it’s going to feel vulnerable, and it’s going to require you to step out of your comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid of that. It’s how we grow, right?
Q4U: Does anyone else out there have some trepidation about the process of being published? Published authors, did it feel risky and overwhelming? Was it worth it?
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent