My First Blog Post
Posted by Kevin Harmon on February 16, 2012
I have a confession to make. I wanted to be published by a big New York publishing house. I mean, I really wanted to be published by a big New York publishing house. That would mean I had made it as a writer. It would mean that when I told people I was a writer and they asked, “You mean you’ve been published?”, I could tell them, “Yes. And by Simon & Schuster, too.” Or Bantam. Or Little, Brown. Which one didn’t really make a difference. So long as they were big. And located in New York.
So I did everything I was supposed to do. I made sure my manuscript, The Archangel Response, was in tip-top shape. I spent a ton of time drafting just the right query letter. I did endless searches, looking for agents who specialize in mysteries and thrillers. When I found a list of about 40 of the top literary agents, I tailored a query letter for each one of them, and sent it off just the way they specified on their website.
Then the rejections started coming in. Some were just form letters, or postcards, or generic e-mails. But some were very nice, with personalized messages of encouragement, showing that they’d actually read it and even the few sample pages I sent along too! But in the end, they were all rejections. They gave several reasons, of course: we don’t take on unpublished authors; we think your project would be better suited for another agent; we like your idea, but we’re just too busy to take on new clients right now.
And it wasn’t that they didn’t like the book… they’d never even read it!
So I asked myself, should I start over, and write a new book? But what’s the chance that they’d like the query letter for that one any better? Or should I forget the whole thing, and stop trying to be something I’m not.
That kind of rejection can be discouraging, I can tell you. But then, with a little encouragement from some family and friends, I decided to self publish. Yes, I decided to be one of those kind of authors. The kind people look down on. Vanity authors, they’re called.
But then I thought, what the heck! All those agents rejected me, not my book! My book is the same, whether it’s published by a big publisher or myself. In fact, it’s probably even better now. If an editor for a big publisher had got a hold of it, they might have stripped it of everything good. Getting rid of everything they thought wasn’t “marketable”. Or too politically correct. Or too whatever.
But with self-publishing, I can make The Archangel Response just the way I want it! And if people like it, I’ll get the credit. And if they don’t, that’s on me too. There’s no reason – other than the quality – why it can’t succeed. In the past, publishers controlled: the means of distribution. But now, with Smashwords and Amazon’s self-publishing unit Createspace, and e-readers like the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Sony, I can make my book just as available to the reading public as any other.
Technology evened the playing field with the big publishing kingdoms! Now it’s time for the unpublished barbarians to crash the castle!