To query or not to query, that is the question.
I stay about a project ahead. So right now, I’m doing a final, pre-publication edit on Boz’s story, the third in my forever series – A Sixth Sense Of Forever. My talented hubby, the graphic design guru, is working on the cover. We hope to have it up and out very soon.
I started editing Sixth Sense after I finished my just written legal-contemporary romance, Griffin’s Law. In the olden days of yore, before the gates of freedom and the rise of the internet made self publishing financially viable, I’d be working on a query letter about now. That means, I’d be getting out my old, faithful list of literary agents and crafting the best letter in the history of letters to try to convince them that they want, need, bloody have to read the full of my MS. This time around, I haven’t even started the query.
So I could be, perhaps should be, composing a letter to sell my MS to agents in the hope that one can sell it to a publisher. The publisher would take a year or more to turn it into a book and then try to sell the book to Barnes & Noble, Wal Mart, Books a Million, etc. If all of that succeeded, then the book might eventually, someday, be sitting on a shelf, trying to lure you – all of you — to put it in their basket and take it to the register.
Today, I can skip all the steps and put it out there for you to read and hopefully buy and more hopefully enjoy. And it’s not just little old me lured by the possibilities of getting it out there fast. I understand that the Vonnegut estate is about to put the late, great literary geniuses’ final work, short stories, out as an ebook first. If the goal is to get the work in the reader’s hands, ebooks do it a lot faster.
I love writing. In my dream world, I’d get up every day and sit before my computer and write. When reality and a day job don’t intervene, I’m a pretty prolific writer. I don’t love trying to sell myself to an agent. I don’t look forward to getting a query letter together and getting it out there so that eventually agents can request material. I’d then spend weeks and weeks, sometimes months, and in the case of my last contact with an agent – over a year and a half – waiting to get the letter that says thanks, but no thanks. Oh, I suppose I at least progressed in the process. My latter letters all generally said, you’re a good writer, but…. Yeah, having folks who work with so many excellent writers say you can write is a compliment. And I do and did appreciate it. But it’s a back-handed compliment at best – you’re good, you’re just not good enough for me and I’ve decided you’re not good enough for publishers or the American public.
Self publishing is the ultimate act of democracy. Am I good enough for the American public? Will you enjoy the stories I so enjoyed writing? Will you get my over-the-top style and understand it’s a little bit “I wish men in love acted that way” and a little bit tongue in cheek? Maybe or maybe not, but I don’t have to convince a bunch of folks in the middle that I’m good enough to have the opportunity. America is the land of opportunity and I can put it out there and let you decide.
Despite everything I just said, I haven’t given up my dream of being published. For all their delays and deferrals, publishers don’t just get it out there – they get it out everywhere. You may love it or hate it or you may just ignore it altogether, but a big publisher is going to make sure you’re exposed to it. That, I can’t do and no self-published author can do. So being published remains the dream.
Perhaps the path to the dream has changed. With self publishing, an agent could hit the buy button and purchase my work on Kindle or eBook or even a paperback at Amazon (or soon – over the mass market by Lightning Source). The agent could read my bio, find this blog and email me. An editor at a big publishing house could find it the same way. And they can contact me and say, I think we can sell this. But in the interim, it’s out there instead of gathering dust on my hard drive. And people are reading and being entertained, uplifted and yes – taken over the top.
Perhaps today, the question for agents should be – what kind of writer doesn’t self-publish? If an author who has never put anything out there queries, then an agent should examine that person mighty closely. Either that person doesn’t believe in their work, isn’t willing to put their best efforts out to get it to readers, or isn’t current with the technology or the trends. All of these things should raise big red flags.
Maybe I’m not querying because the old process is over. If you’re an agent or an editor and want to know whether my work is good enough, then read my work. If you don’t get it, you don’t like it and you don’t think you can sell it then don’t call me and don’t email me. I won’t clog your inbox if you don’t clog mine.
I think my books are my queries. Brotherly, Faerie, Golden, and E-mail are out there now. Sixth Sense will be available in the next few weeks and in a couple of months, my brand new and just-finshed contemporary legal romance, Griffin’s Law, will be out and about. I love to hear from readers, but if you’re an agent or an editor who gets my over the top style and thinks the reading public will enjoy the trip past the top — then my e-mail information appears on this blog.
Agents and editors have often discussed outsourcing their slush pile. I think technology has done that. If you have authors in your inboxes and your slush pile who aren’t brave enough to put it out there or who’d rather let their work linger on their hard drives instead of actually getting it to readers, then I think agents and editors should ask themselves why they’d want to work with those kinds of people. Books belong in the hands of the readers, and all of us who love them can now work together to get them there.
I think the day of the query letter is over. Today, the work is the query and if you’re an agent or editor who enjoys my books, then I’d love to hear from you.
The internet is the great equilizer and email works both ways.