I spent my Thanksgiving-food-coma-recovery-period tweaking my query letter for the mythological romance novel I’ve completed and am ready to shop around. I figure I’ll e-mail it to my targets—uh…I mean—carefully selected literary agents next Wednesday. (I’m guessing the many aspiring writers hunting agents will have inundated their Inboxes over the holiday weekend, maybe they’ll be caught up by next Thursday?) (OK, they probably won't be, but I've gotta get them query letters out some time!)
Why try to land an agent? Well, with so many as-yet-unproved writers hawking their wares, publishing companies generally don’t look at unagented work. According to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (and many others) proper literary agents make money only when they sell their clients’ work, so they’re not about to waste their (or publishers’) time with books that aren’t le awesome/commercially viable. Knowing this, it behooves me to seek representation. Plus, agents are experts in the wheeling and dealing and legalese involved in contract negotiations—the very idea of attempting to tackle this on my own makes my stomach wobble unpleasantly (and not in the, “Whoa, who’s *that* god-like specimen of masculine comeliness?” sort of way). Rock on, literary agents!
Meanwhile, I’m thinking of trying the thrilling frontier (as Cheryl Shireman describes it) of independent publishing. I’ve got a short story (creepy romance—it's just so me), an idea for another, and a shorter weird tale that I may compile into a mini-anthology and put up for sale on Amazon.com as an e-book. I can test the waters with it and, if my novel gets no nibbles, may go the e-book route with it as well. On the pro side, authors receive a significantly bigger cut of the profits when they e-publish themselves, rather than go with traditional publishing. On the con side, authors may have to put money up to make any (if they do), they receive no advance in royalties, and they’re completely responsible for all promotional endeavors for their work, as well as all the bureaucratic stuff. (Eeeeek!) I should note that mine is a down and dirty summary of the business; Kristine Kathryn Rusch (and her friend, Lee Allred) go into more detail discussing traditional publishing -vs- indie publishing, and Tracy Marchini gives even more to chew over. But, you know, if what you're doing ain't workin' for ya, ya gotta try something else, dontcha?
A friend suggested I put samples of my writing up on the blog, by way of providing teasers/appetizers for any interested parties, so I may do some scribbling towards that end. Please do check back—and wish me luck!