I've been writing fiction for the last 2 years, and am now at that point in my novel (draft #4) where I am starting to wonder what the heck I should do with it once it's squeaky clean and ready to read. I've published poetry in some small (to moderate) journals within the last few years, but I'm interested in hearing thoughts you might want to share regarding the publishing industry as it now stands. For novels especially. Regardless of genre or audience, the market has changed hugely. 10 years ago, self-publishing was the smooch of death. Now respecatable writers do it. To agent or not to agent? Straight to e-book or work the schmooze and try to land the Big Deal? Does the Big Deal even really happen anymore? Does it happen to unknowns? Or is it all about who you know? To MFA or not to MFA? Print local or scour NYC? What are your thoughts about the current career path of the writer? As far as my writing goes, I'm not there yet. But I'm at a point where I'm starting to think about maybe trying to get over there. Anyone been there? Anyone know the way? Anyone currently in-transit? Please share. Thank you.
Here's a recent blog post about self-publishing (from somone who has also published with the NY traditionals):
A post on some myths about marketing self-published books:
Never done it myself, hope to one day, but after I did some research, I decided my first plan once I've finished a novel would be to find an agent. This is the best chance you'll have of finding a good publisher for your material. Plus, hardly any publishers will take a look at your manuscript without it being sent by an agent. You could search Google for literary agents in your area or country. I would say, if this route fails to work and nobody wants to take it on, then try self-publishing.
There are so many paths to publication these days - last year I took an entire class about it (8 weeks - it was intense).
There's traditional: agent ---> publisher - this is still pretty much the only way you'll get into one of the bit 6 publishers. There are pros and cons here - you get a MUCH smaller percentage/commission for each book sold, because you're paying for your agent, distribution and such. But this is still the path most people strive for, because it still carries so much weight (and is still the only way you'll get that big advance we all want).
There's self-publishing - some people find extraordinary success with this (50 shades was originally self-pubbed, though it makes me want to barf). You have full control, a much bigger percentage commission of each book sold, and that can open paths to agents/big publishers IF you sell well. However, to sell well, you really need a lot of marketing/PR savvy, and you also better have gone through a real editor at SOME point because you really need to stand out against the crowd here. Self-publishing *does* still have a certain stigma (i.e. writers like Chuck Wendig won't allow self-published authors to do an interview for his site), but you can definitely work around that.
And then, in the middle, there are small presses - some carry a lot of prestige (think Algonquin), some don't. I chose this route, working with a small e-publisher. My experience has been...mixed. They were great with editing and cover art, not so great with ANY sort of marketing, but I do hear this can vary based on your publisher. But I get a decent commission for every book sold, and I'm happy with where I'm at thus far. I think this is a great jumping off point for first time novelists.
For my next book, though, I will either find an agent OR self-publish. I'd like the control of self-publishing, but I still do crave the partnership only an agent can offer.
Hope that helps!
Thank you all. I'll look into these. =)