“My mom mostly shops at Kohls.”
So… now you, as well as my daughter’s friend, know where I buy most of my designer dudds. Easy in and out, easy returns, easy selection… it all adds up to an experience that fits my life (I know… it sounds like an ad).
Sometimes, though, I am willing to spend a little more time and take the risk on a small, independent clothing store, like Ipnosi, in Portland. I am sure if I invested more time in discovering stores like this I would be able to find unique
clothes that better match my style and price tag than the big department stores. Better yet, if I only knew how to sew, I could completely customize my look and not worry about shopping at all.
So how do I decide which way to go? Interestingly, I have been having a similar internal debate about how to publish my work. Do I continue to look for an agent who can get my work seen by a huge mega-publisher? Do I target small,
independent publishers who might give me more attention and support? Or do I continue to sew it myself, so to speak, and self-publish?
I recently spoke withApril Eberhardt, a well known literary agent who is also very in touch with the changes happening in the publishing industry. Here’s what she had to say…
If you feel you've had success with self-publishing your first novel, and you've been satisfied with the process, that may be the best way to go with your second novel. It's the future of publishing, and authors like you who are willing to jump in now and develop experience in self-publishing will be the winners longer-term.
As for smaller publishers, some are good and some aren't. Going with a weak (or worse) publisher can be damaging, and will delay your getting your book out on your own, in a way that you're proud of. Going with a great one, on the other hand, small or large, may help establish you in ways that are harder to do on your own.
It's worth evaluating any publishers interested in your work by critiquing them carefully, and asking a few questions.
- To begin with, if their covers and websites aren't good, those are reasons not to go with them, even if they're interested.
- To evaluate fit and value to you, ask for the edits they suggest and consider them vis-a-vis your manuscript--do their edits improve the manuscript in your view? If not, then this could be another reason not to work with them.
- What will they offer you in terms of marketing and distribution? Contact a couple of their authors and verify that they have indeed done what was promised. Ask what went right and what didn't. Any publisher unwilling to allow you to talk to some of their authors has something to hide.
Finally, after they pass the above hurdles, if you're interested in considering any publisher, small or large, ask for their author contract and have a publishing contract attorney review it for you. It's well worth the expense to ensure that the terms are fair to you, and that you're not getting locked into anything that will prevent your going the self-pub route eventually if things don't work out the way you envisioned.
April’s advice has given me a solid platform for making this tough decision. Unlike shopping at Kohls, not everyone can have their novel printed by a large commercial publisher… and I am still looking for the publishing version of
Ipnosi. Until then self-publishing is a great way to continue to learn about all of the changes happening in this industry.
And, it’s not saying much, but at least I know how to self-publish better than I know how to sew.
Special day – April has agreed to be online with us during the day today to respond to your comments…. So don’t hold back. Are you thinking of self-publishing? Small house publishing? Going the agent route? Check in with April to get her read on current author best practices today, April 23rd.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
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