Monday, December 6, 2010

When it rains it pours, and this can be a good thing.

Have you ever put off a certain decision thinking you'll never have to make it anyway? I'm guilty, and after four very busy brain draining days, I am not equipped to even start on this decision. So, I'm here to ask for your help locating good information.

Let me back up a moment. Sunday I came home from church with one thing on my to-do list--take a nap. I ate some lunch and sat down to email a friend my cooking curriculum before heading to my bed. The email opens and look, I have an email from one of the small publishers I pitched to in October.

Plans are derailed! I stare at the few short sentences and feel completely blank. The words don't register, and then when they hit me I actually panic. Yes, panic!
Hi Charity, how are you? I want to find out if this has been contracted anywhere yet? We loved your story but before a contract is issued I need you to clean up as many of the 'I' highlights marked in your ms attached to this email. The "I" is repetitive and you can easily reword some of these sentences and avoid it.
What!? Wait, I'm not sure I want to go this route. All I hoped for was a rejection with some advice on how to make it better so I could hook that agent. Now what do I do? What if this is the right choice for me? Aaaahhh! In spite of all my pretty talk the last few days, Completely Unprepared!

I planned to research the pros and cons of getting an agent vs small publisher--next year. It's part of my Post Nano series, but I haven't started. I don't know enough to decide what's best for me, what I really want.

I think hooking an agent and selling to a big publisher is major validation. Is that what I want, or do I want to get my story into people's hands? The publishing world is changing and I believe both choices are becoming more widely acceptable, but what do I want?

Yesterday, I closed the email without answering. I need to take some time, do some research and soul searching. Sometime today, I will answer that email to let this wonderful person know that I do have it out on submission with a couple other places and would prefer to hear back from them. At the same time, I want to ask some questions about this particular publisher to help me get a feel for what they are offering.

Here are the questions I came up with:
  • What can I expect from them in regards to marketing?
  • What will I be expected to do to help market (and can they teach me how to do it)?
  • What kind of editing help is available before going to print? Their website says there is an editing process, but how does it work?
  • They ask for all English speaking world publishing rights. Where exactly does that cover and does that mean my book will be available internationally in English speaking locals?
  • How are their other books selling?
  • What kind of sales are average for their company?
  • They are royalty paying (quarterly if you make more than $20), but do they offer any kind of advance?
  • Can they give me an average range their clients are currently seeing with royalties?
  • Can I contact some of their authors to discuss the company?
  • Where are the books available? Only on their website or other venues?
What else should I ask? And, do you know of some excellent articles I can read to get a better feel for this whole agent vs small publisher question?

I also have a request for a full with another small publisher that I haven't mailed yet. This second publisher is one that a fellow blogger is associated with. She's awesome and I know I could talk to her about what it's like to work with them. I want to go ahead and send it.

Do you think I'm potentially burning bridges if I want to wait a few months to see who else might be interested?


  1. Congratulations on your bird in the hand problem. You have to have a feeling about "what feels right to you" and balance it on the scales of "if-only."
    Good luck. You are right to take the time to think this through.

  2. I went with a small publisher and have no regrets. I think you'll have to do a lot of the marketing no matter which route you take.
    Start this path and see what happens!

  3. Oh goodness!

    First of all congratulations!

    I think you have some good questions. I haven't research small publisher vs. agents AT ALL. Actually, I think I am planning to just submit to agents and skip the small publishers entirely. Not that I think there's anything wrong with them! I love small publishers! I just really like the idea of having an agent who's got my back. ;)

    The best advice I have for you is ask what other authors experienced, do some research on the Internet, but don't drive yourself crazy. Don't panic. Deep breaths. Somewhere deep down inside you know what you want to do.

    I don't think you would be burning bridges by telling this small publisher that you're waiting to hear back from some people. That's a standard, as far as I know. And how sad would you be if you had a better offer, but you didn't wait to hear back?

    Maybe you could let the other people you've submitted to know you've had an offer? And ask them about their turn around time?

    Good luck!

  4. What a great problem to be stuck with. I know it’s a gut-wrenching decision and only you know what you want but you know, I mean you know someone really like it and they are interested in your book! Keep us informed. Good luck and congratulations.

  5. Ahhh!! I hope you get what you're looking for, do your soul searching on this (it is an issue I have wondered about in the past too so I can't help there) BUT I also hope hope hope you celebrate the fact that you got someone hooked way before you planned to! Your story! Your writing! YOU! Celebrate that if nothing else! Yeay! I'm so excited for you!

  6. First of all, congratulations on it raining! That had to have been a lovely surprise, even if it did induce panic.

    Second, even the best laid plans have to bow to life. Find the answers to your questions but don't dismiss these guys as a serious possibility. They are obviously interested in your work and you don't want to let an opportunity slip by because you were hopping on one foot.

    Good luck and I hope it all works out.


  7. I have such wise blogging buddies. Thank you all. I'm going to continue my course while asking my questions and doing my research. I'm not closing any doors just yet.

    In all this I lost sight of one important face. Someone believes in my book! The giddy happy feeling I should have had yesterday is starting to surface. :D It feels good.

  8. I've been very curious about taking the small press route vs. snagging an agent. All I can say is, please keep us updated on your decision-making process!
    in medias res

  9. Those are great questions. Yes, you could completely burn the bridge if you wait that long. However, if I were you I would start contacting agents that you feel are a great fit for you and letting them know you have an offer. Trust me, you'll want them for the contract portion! Don't sign the pub contract first though. And don't sweat it, agents should respond to that type of emails within days! This is great, congrats!!!

  10. This is great news, but I think you are handling it in exactly the right way. It's better to be cautious than to screw up big time by being too hasty in making a decision. You are asking great questions and I think the right questions.
    Good luck!

    Tossing It Out


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