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  • Writer's pictureEli B

Thoughts on Publishing

I'm back with another rambling on my thoughts about publishing.

If you know me, or if you follow me on twitter you'll know I go back and forth with trad publishing or self/indie publishing quite a bit.

I was in the query trenches for a quick minute. I'm not like most of my trad publishing hopefuls who have cultivated large lists of agents to query and amassed hundreds of rejection emails. No. I'm the author who dipped my toe in, had a list of about 20 - 30 agents to query, queried 14, was rejected by all 14 and decided that life isn't for me - right now.

I've gone through multiple edits and revisions of my novel to mold it into the industry standard word count between 80 -100K words, I worked with an editor, I joined Jericho Writers to learn and grow with other authors (which is a fabulous place to be if you're a writer and you have the money to spare). I wrote and rewrote query letters and synopses that would appeal to an agent - or so I thought. I cried over rejections and I lost faith in my writing for a moment.

Yeah, querying isn't a mentally healthy space and my heart goes out to all of you who continue to push through it and come out on the other end with an agent.

So. I stopped querying and I'm not sure if/when I'll go back to that. For me, it's a toxic place to be especially when there are agents out there who have no shame in sub-tweeting writers about their query letters, the lack of diversity in the publishing industry and to be quite honest, it pained me to sift through agency websites and hardly see anyone who looked like me in their client lists.

Which brought me back to the other route to publish. The Indie Route.

This route is no easier than trad publishing. Let me say that again for the people in the back who think an author going indie is somehow a cop out to an easier path:


But this path is the route for me and my novels at this time. I kept thinking I'm doing all of this work to polish my novel and make it the best it can be, for what? For an agent to tell me they like my work, edit it to make it marketable for industry standards again so my agent can put it on submission and hope and pray a publisher will think my novel is good enough to give me a book deal. As a woman of color, I already know any potential book deal (if I was lucky enough to get one) would be less than my white counterparts and from looking around the writing community it seems I'd be given less support for marketing and have to do my own anyway.

So why should I do all this work to sell my rights, earn less, have no meaningful control over the decision making process and wait 2 - 5yrs (maybe more) for all of this to happen? I suppose it's for validation that my work is marketable and deemed worthy of the Publishing Gods - is it though? And is that what I really need to feel good about what I write? I'm honestly not sure, but I'd still like to have one of my novels traditionally published for the experience, but right now that's not for me.

I've done my research into the Indie author world and the satisfaction of being in control of what my novels look like, holding on to my rights and learning how to master skills like publishing, marketing and promotion seems daunting but also extremely appealing.

Over the last year, I've cultivated a small but mighty readership and I think they deserve to hold my novels in their hands after all the support they've showered me with. I deserve to be the one to control how and when my novels are published on my terms. I want that challenge and maybe once I've learned how to do this for myself, I'll be ready to try trad publishing again. Who knows?

All I'm saying is, there's no right or wrong route to putting your book out there. I read a tweet the other day along the lines of:

'Giving up on trad publishing isn't giving up. Not publishing your work is giving up.'

That really resonated with me as there's this mindset that if you're not trad published your work isn't worthy and if you're an Indie author you're not a real author. Well, to that I say: Fuck you.

I am a real author and I've found a place for me and the stories that I write and you know what?

It feels good.



Diversity in Publishing:

Just How White is the Book Industry:

7 Famous Authors who Started with Self-Publishing:

Jericho Writers Trad Publishing vs. Self Publishing (Jericho Writers supports Trad and Self published authors)

20Booksto50K (if you're thinking about becoming an Indie author this Facebook group has plenty of resources)

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