Easy Come, Easy Go?

I just sent an e-mail to “my agent” suggesting that we dissolve our nascent partnership.

I haven’t heard a peep in response to the revisions I sent him, but the disquiet I felt about them has only grown. The small changes were fine and helpful. The big ones, though I tried my best to implement them, I think did harm to the overall story. I regret making them.

Meanwhile, as bookstores and publishers continue to bleed red ink, the odds of success in traditional publishing get longer and longer—and e-publishing is looking better and better. The market for e-books is exploding. Sure, there’s your Amanda Hocking (who couldn’t get published through traditional means, and has become a multi-millionaire selling e-books for a buck or two a pop)…but more importantly, there’s a growing “mid-list” of e-published authors who are earning a steady living with their work. E-books published through Amazon offer writers 70 percent of the profits, which is huge compared to traditional royalties, while giving them the chance to retain near-perfect control of their work.

I first started querying agents for this manuscript in early 2010. Here it is coming up on the end of 2011, with no real progress—and that’s basically just how the industry works. As I wrote in my e-mail: “I’ll always be grateful for your willingness to work with me; I’ve simply become extremely discouraged by the very slow progress. And since I know you have many other projects pressing for your time, I’m hoping we can part ways with a friendly wave on both sides.” (The contract I signed specifies that it “may be terminated at any time by mutual consent, or by either party upon thirty days’ written notice to the other.”)

I really think I’m going to do the e-book thing. It won’t be anywhere near as prestigious, or as satisfying, as seeing my name on the title of a real book in a real bookstore. But how many more years do I want to invest in the “traditional publishing” route, when traditional publishing is in such terrible straits? And e-books are selling like hotcakes? I dunno, but I’d rather take a chance on something fast-paced and exciting than have my novel hang around in publishing limbo for the forseeable future.

4 Responses to “Easy Come, Easy Go?”

  • Hilly Dunn Says:

    Hi Shannon, We have a family member on my mother’s side that is writing a book about my grandmother, Hildreth Meière. He has not had any success finding a publisher. He even has an agent that has been trying. I think you are on the right track going the e-book route. I am going to suggest it to my cousin. Thanks for sharing this story. All the best, Hilly

  • Madeline Says:

    Huh. I posted a comment on this yesterday, but it’s gone! Anyway, I said something along the lines of “Go you!” and that this sounds like the right choice to me, especially now that I’ve read your post from today. I’m not sure how to weigh the pros and cons of using an e-publisher vs. doing it yourself, but either way sounds like it would probably be a better option than print publication. And I said in my comment yesterday that I’ll certainly tell everyone *I* know to buy your book online.

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