|Rebecca at the Nagle Warren Mansion in Cheyenne Wyoming|
Question in my email: Should I give up trying to traditionally publish?
I hope you don't mind me writing to you. If you can't respond I understand, but it seems to me like you've encountered a similar experience to mine and I was wondering if you would mind giving a little advice? I'm a writer with a completed manuscript, historical romance, and I've been trying to find an agent for over two years. As you can probably guess I've received nothing but rejections. I really want to publish my book, but I have completely lost hope that it will ever happen. I am now wondering if I should consider self-publishing but I know that it is a lot of work and it is unlikely my book will sell many copies without a big publisher marketing it for me. I would really appreciate any advice and/or thoughts you have about this.
On The Fence
Dear On The Fence,
Thank you for writing and giving permission for me to re-post your question here, anonymously of course. I hope all my readers know they can always shoot me an email--I do my best to always answer.
About your question, I have so many thoughts about so many things you've shared, I feel like I could probably write five blog posts addressing each one (I think I will do exactly that!). However, your main question was, "Should I give up trying to traditionally publish?"
When I read this, I got the same feeling I always get when I'm sitting in a meeting with a parent whose child has just been diagnosed with x, y, or z. Usually they have already worked through a course of action to take, but every now and again one will ask me, "Do you think I should medicate my child?"
These are, obviously, two very different scenarios but the emotion they elicit in me as the "advisor" is the same--extreme caution and the desire to choose my next words carefully.
Here is what I will say: It's a very personal choice and one you should not make lightly or on a whim. Weigh the pros and cons, because when it comes to self-publishing, there are many on either side. And I would further caution that you not only think about the extreme success stories that receive regular press coverage and earn half a million dollars a year (and surely you realize that I am not one of these stories) because, much like traditional publishing, the ocean is mostly filled with all the small fish with names you have never, ever, nor will you ever, hear of.
Basically, if you are hoping for a get rich, famous, and retire quick escape route, self-publishing is very unlikely to be it.
However, if you really love your book, and you have it on reliable authority that your book can probably find a audience out there that would appreciate and enjoy it, AND you are willing and able to learn about self-publishing, AND you end up, like me, quite enjoying all the many processes required to deliver a manuscript to a public audience in a tidy book format--then I would say you should definitely maybe consider self-publishing.
If in your heart of hearts, what you REALLY want is the gold star standard VALIDATION that you believe comes with being accepted by an agent and then a traditional publisher...well, in that case I would say you should honor that need and continue to try and find an agent OR, put this book away and start another book armed with all the lessons I'm certain that first book taught you.