Kristi's picture
Kristi from Connecticut is reading Anything I can get my hands on! May 11, 2015 - 9:03am

Hi All!

I just finished up with my editor and after 2 years about 6 beta reads, I am now looking to get my book published! So my question is… Small Indy Press vs. Agent?  Do I have a better shot with one over the other? Do they both work just as hard for you? I know I don’t want to self-publish. I don’t have the time and definitely don’t have the money to promote myself properly to make that work!? So here I sit asking for the sage advice of those who have traversed this path before and made it to their final destination! Any and all help would be much appreciated!



Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 11, 2015 - 12:56pm

In hindsight, I can say with total confidence I wish I had gone with an agent rather than the small indie that I ended up signing with. Fortunately, the indie shut down and I got all my rights back. An agent will shop it this time.

Tim Johnson's picture
Tim Johnson from Rockville, MD is reading Notes From a Necrophobe by T.C. Armstrong May 11, 2015 - 1:51pm

This Stephen King post is obligatory for this question. See No. 11. Is it the best advice? I really don't know.

When I was in your position, I figured a bird in hand was worth more than two in the bush. I had an opportunity, and I sold my first novel to an indie. Of course, I made mistakes, but I don't regret the decision to move forward. My next novel will probably go to them.

If I'd had an agent, I might have gotten a better deal. Or, my manuscript might still be swimming out there in the ether.

It's all about what's important to you. So what's important to you? What do you hope to accomplish by publishing this one?

For me, my goal is to get four or five novels out in the next ten years and establish a foundation to build on. I hope to climb a ladder rather than take a catapult to the stars.

There's a lot that's uncertain. One thing I'm absolutely certain about: there is no final destination. You have a manuscript, and that is awesome. Send it to a press or an agent, but send it to someone. Talk to people about it. Go to a conference or convention. There probably will be publishers or agents there that you can meet and talk to.

But always, keep writing.

These are all steps forward.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 12, 2015 - 5:43am

Most indy publishers are going to expect you to do a majority of the promotion, just as you would with self-publishing. Really, very few publishers do substantial promotion these days. They provide a cover, formatting, an editor, and that is about it. Some do some basic promotion, but you will be required to do a lot of it yourself. I would try agents first. If you have something commerically viable, you might get a better deal in the long run through an agent. If agents don't bite, you can still go the indy route.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 12, 2015 - 6:33am

Jack's right. About 95% of the promotion is going to fall on the author.

That's the beauty of having an agent: they can pitch you to a pub with an actual marketing team.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 12, 2015 - 8:13am

That King list is thirty years old. Some of it may still be relevant, but be advised.

The promotion / marketing / saving me time is the main reason I'd desire representation, and would be worth giving up some money. If I were writing something I was reasonable sure couldn't be a big crossover success, there wouldn't be any need for big marketing, and I might be happy to publish with whatever niche indie press felt my stuff fit in with their style and readership.

michael.overa's picture
michael.overa from Seattle is reading Why We Read Fiction by Lisa Zunshine, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and There are Two Errors in The The Title of This Book. May 12, 2015 - 2:36pm

I've heard roughly the same -- that the small press leaves most of the grunt work to the author. I've known a few authors who started with small presses and then switched to agents.  It seems like a small press might be a way to get one's foot in the door; does that jive with anyone else's experience?

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions May 12, 2015 - 4:06pm

Important to note that all small presses are not equal. Do your research. Graywolf Press is an indepenent publisher with lots of big titles that I regularly see on the shelves here in Tokyo. Looking at their website they were named best small press of the year--the rub being that now you need an agent to submit to them.

Agree with Jack's comments above. If you're confident in the work, always start at the top and work your way down. Start querying agents, then the better indies, etc--same strategy as submitting short stories really, get rejected until you find your place.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day May 14, 2015 - 6:03pm

Sssoooo what's the best way to find an agent? Besides LinkedIn

Kristi's picture
Kristi from Connecticut is reading Anything I can get my hands on! May 14, 2015 - 8:10pm


I've been using query tracker, just ponied up for the premium subscription $25 for the year! They have both publishers and agents. The site keeps everything nice and neat! I'm in the process of making my list {and checking it twice!} 

Check it out!