Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amazon vs. Tradition by DL Larson

I have been trying to get the attention of an agent for more than two years now, or even a publisher. I'm old school in most things, so I've stuck with the tradtional way of publishing my work. Frankly, I'm tired of the run-around by tradtional houses. I'm tired of being polite and waiting my turn - for months - only to receive a letter at how interesting my work is, but it's just not what they are looking for at this time. Six weeks ago I received an email from an agent, that yes, they had received my material and everything looked good and they would get back to me as soon as possible; the waiting time might be five months from this message.

Five months! I checked my records and realized it had taken them one month to respond to my query. So basically I have another three months to wonder if they have forgotten about my work, lost it or changed their policy and chose not to respond at all and simply deleted it. In three months, I'll have to decide what to do. I have the choice of looking, searching for another possible match for my book and begin the tedious process again, or I can go another route altogether.

So my question is, why oh why is the publishing world in such an uproar over Amazon taking over their business? They are not doing a very good job. Frankly they have been stuck in the same, slow, nonproductive methods for a long time and panicked when another business developed a better way of doing things. The publishing houses still refuse to turn from their slow-poke ways.

Amazon reminds me of Wal-mart in so many ways. I live in a small town, surrounded by other small towns. There are two huge Wal-marts within thirty minutes of my home. Between me and the Big W, most of the mom and pop stores have dried up. The grocery stores in most small towns have gone under, as well as the pharmacies, hardware stores and clothing stores. They simply can't compete with the big store. Amazon has done the same thing in the publishing world.

I always tell my kids there are two kinds of people in this world: learners and nonlearners. I'm betting the publishing world is on one side of that equation and Amazon is on the other. It is also the first time there is no "middle man" between authors and readers. Direct connect is a new concept for writers; perhaps that is why it has taken me this long to step out of line that feels like a slush pile and realize I too can do this on my own.

I'm terrified in a giddy kind of way to take this step, but it's time. I've waited around for a train that is not coming. I need to move on.

Any advice?

Til next time ~

DL Larson


SBJones said...

Be ready to do a lot of work. Publishing is a business and has nothing to do with your ability to write.

Learn as much as you can and ask people who have self published before any questions you have, ask more than one person too because everyone finds what works for them.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I ponder these same questions, and am happy to be with a small publisher where there are one of those multi-month delays.

In the Amazon vs. old-line publishing debate, I still don't know what to think. I see that new publishing (as in straight to Kindle or straight to Smashwords) is democratic, fast, and satisfying to the extent that more and more authors are getting a chance to be heard.

On the flip side off the coin, most successful novels (meaning they make the authors money) are still old line in origin. That is, think of the bestselling authors and ask how many cut out all the traditional middle men. Few, I think.

I look at old line publishing and think it's slow because supply exceeds demand. There are more and more people writing novels for a market that's not large enough for all of them.

More books, doesn't mean more readers. If I got a reasonable response from an agent, I might be prepared to wait. A friend of mine waited and got a major contract and her book is coming out in 2013. 2013??? Talk about delayed gratification and WAITING.

Thing is, her book will probablyh be reviewed by all the major review sites that help drive people to buy what they buy.

In this weird business, I have a feeling that none of us are quite sure what to do.


@Ruby_Barnes said...

At this point in time I just can't see the point of waiting in line to pass the gatekeepers, perhaps achieving a right place, right person, right time breakthrough and then being one of the majority of books that don't make back their advance.
My first novel was rejected by agents and publishers on both sides of the pond as an uncommercial proposition, a genre-bending thriller. I put it on Amazon kindle and Smashwords late spring and have sold a couple of hundred copies that wouldn't otherwise have existed. I'll admit it's not a masterpiece but it does have a smallish cult following building. Now I have my second ready and there's no question in my mind of not going indie with it, whilst pursuing the trad route in parallel. That seems to be the vogue.
My aim is to gain a readership and making money is a secondary goal for me. As a Brit I've already spent too much of my life standing in lines.

Deb Larson said...

SB: I realize there will be work involved - there's always work to be done. My two pubbed novels were a LOT of work. Thanks for the tip on doing my research beforehand!

Sun: I've been where you are and I've waited my turn, gotten my share of rejections, but don't see much changing in tradtional houses, except more waiting. I certainly hope to obtain a publisher soon, but plan to stay busy in the meantime - good luck and thanks for sharing your views.

Ruby: I'm glad you stepped out of line and tried something - I guess that's where I'm at too - tired of waiting! Hope your next novel will be a great success. Gotta keep tryin'!!!

Thanks for stopping by today!
DL Larson

Lutz Barz said...

Do both. I published with Amazon/Lulu. I had 2 publishers interested IF I rewrote it. Ha! They missed out. Go POD-digital.You got nothing to loose.

Morgan Mandel said...

That's how I feel about the traditionals. I'm not getting any younger and don't have the time to wait.

Yes, if you go indie it takes a bit more work to get everything done right, but is still a lot faster than the other way.

Morgan Mandel

ebsnyder said...

I'm still in limbo myself over whether I want to try to go the traditional route or just go straight to self-publishing myself, but the evidence is really starting to mount. Yes, there are more big name authors with big name publishers, but eBooks and ePublishing are still new. Until TV came along, all the big names were on the radio.

Most big name authors have been writing books since before eBook was even a term. eBooks are far from reaching their full potential audience. I still know many readers (and some authors) who haven’t even read and eBook and don’t plan on abandoning their nostalgia with print books. But the truth is, they will. Just like one day Grandma switched off the radio dial and jumped on that crazy new TV fad.

But radio didn’t go away; it found a way to compete. ePublishing is far from what traditional publishers are, it’s true. But it’s working for the authors which is why authors are turning to it. If traditional publishers want to be part of it they’ll have to find a way to compete. Also, we should keep in mind that by self-publishing we aren’t waving our rights to a book contract with traditional publishers, but we are pushing for change within the industry and we are pushing for it in our favor. Which, as side effect of being published, is a great thing.

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