There’s this river running between Indie and Trad publishing. In some places it’s a peaceful trickle you can hop from one side to the other. In some places it has raging rapids and dead-drop waterfalls.
Each author decides where they live and judge everyone else from what they see outside their own window.
It’s the topic I get questioned on the most: Are you happy you went indie? Are you happy you have an agent? Are you happy you queried first? Should I query first? etc.
I asked twitter if they’d be interested in hearing about this, and got a resounding YES!
This is the first in a series of posts about my own path, what I think of the paths, how to decide which path is for you, and an update of my old series The Great Agent Hunt, Getting To Yes.
I know, that’s a lot – I’m feeling ambitious! So, here we go.
I started writing about 5 years ago. I was bright-eyed and knew nothing. This is the best possible way to start your actual writing.
I sat down and wrote a book.
It went pretty well.
I rewrote it, went in search of help, got sent to the Romance Divas, met my CPs there, edited and revised, and sent it out to agents.
And got rejected. Almost all of them were forms, but I got several with feedback which was great and uplifting as everyone had told me you only get feedback if you’re doing something they like or you’re “close.”
I took the feedback and rewrote huge sections of the book and revised the rest.
Repeat the process above.
Repeat it again.
Repeat it again… Yes, with the same book.
Basically, I created a spreadsheet with 150 boxes to fill in agent responses. I decided I wouldn’t have really tried until those boxes are full.
Less than a year after I started writing, Agent #148 offered for my first book. By then it was pretty darn good and I was wishing it had been at that level for the line of boxes on the grid instead of the last.
I passed on Agent #148. Not because she was a “bad” agent or too far down my list (I’m going to talk later about why the order you “like” an agent doesn’t really matter). She actually represented a friend of mine so it was none of those things. The problem was her vision for my book (the word “bodice ripper” was used and I knew we weren’t a writing/editing match right then. Okay, it was more than that, but… just saying.)
So, I took a little break and wrote Secret Girlfriend. It was supposed to be a lark, but it turned into a much deeper premise than I originally meant to write. I queried my top 20 agents, almost immediately got 12 full requests which turned into 7 offers of representation. I spoke with 5 of those and narrowed it down to my top two. Then went with the person who would become Agent One when my gut told me to go with the Laird.
I worked with Agent One for a year. I think she’s incredible intelligent, but we just weren’t a match. I left her, waited the time allotted by my contract, queried 6 agents (including the Laird who knew I’d left), went with her, and we’ve moved forward.
Since then, she and I have worked on 3 more books and I’ve finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart.
The Laird worked the heck out of my GH book with editors and we got a ton of “Love it, don’t know what to do with it.” After a particularly odd comment (hint: If you don’t want issue books, don’t say you want issue books) I realized that I write THIS. THIS has a clear definition right now. But, it’s not a definition that anyone seems to think they can sell in the NY marketplace.
I write issue books that are in a humorous voice. I got through all the crap in my teens by being a cheerful smartass. There’s a lot of us out there. I wanted to write for those teens… the teen I was.
And no one knew what to do with it.
So, at that point, the Laird and I had a chat. She’d read through our rejections again and agreed that going indie at this point made the most sense since (currently) changing what I was writing didn’t make sense to me. Later? Maybe. Now? No.
Self-publishing (not vanity press or anything crazy where you’re paying someone to publish you) has been an incredible door opener for so many writers — for so many books. Books that were “unmarketable” but have raced up the ranks… or had a nice quiet little life thriving in their niche. It’s given people who write things that challenge the “exactly the same but just different enough” requests of NY. It gives people who write different-different a chance to spread their wings.
Personally, I never thought my books were that different. When we first started querying though, the only issue books on the market were really dark. I’m glad that’s changing (not fast, and not “too different”) but I wasn’t ready to sit around and wait for it to become so mainstream that then my books we’d been trying to get someone to take a chance on for four years would be “too the same.”
So, I published WRECKLESS – one of my smartass leaning, humor feeling, issue driven books with a heroine and hero who are both trying to find something close to normal in a world where there’s not such thing.
As for the Laird, we did decide not to sever our work relationship – which i’m extremely happy about. There is nothing I’d like more than to be able to hand her a deal of some sort. But, for now, my books (both my Caitie and Bria books) will be going through RogueGiraffe Books for publication.
So, that’s my path to this moment. Next up: Why That Path Was Right For Me.