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Christyp
10-25-2013, 10:00 PM
Here's a conversation that came up between a bunch of authors and myself. One author self-pubbed (I've done it myself in the past) and was wondering if there was any point for him to attempt to find an agent or publisher for his book. I said, why not. I mean, self-pubbing doesn't have the stigma it did in the past. We've all seen the numbers of Indies published on Kindle and others.

Just wondering what your thoughts and experiences were. Other than Amanda Hocking type success, has any of you (or someone you know) ever self-published, only to successfully sell your book to a traditional house?

veinglory
10-25-2013, 10:03 PM
It is not so much a matter of stigma as that agents get you publishers, and self-publishes have already decided to be their own publisher. So why change half way through, and what to offer an agent to try and get them to help you?

It can get a bit murky. An unpublished manuscript is a much more straightforward prospect.

cornflake
10-25-2013, 10:17 PM
Here's a conversation that came up between a bunch of authors and myself. One author self-pubbed (I've done it myself in the past) and was wondering if there was any point for him to attempt to find an agent or publisher for his book. I said, why not. I mean, self-pubbing doesn't have the stigma it did in the past. We've all seen the numbers of Indies published on Kindle and others.

Just wondering what your thoughts and experiences were. Other than Amanda Hocking type success, has any of you (or someone you know) ever self-published, only to successfully sell your book to a traditional house?

Are you talking about the same book or a subsequent one? As above, it's not about stigma, it's about $$$.

If it's the same book, first rights are gone and the sales numbers are right there to see. If it wasn't a big success, why would an agent or publisher think it'd be worth their time or money to try to sell it again, if it didn't sell the first time?

If it's a subsequent book, less of an issue, but same as above, if the author wasn't successful with his or her first effort (which can be the same if the author had a first book trade published and is looking for another agent/house), they'd have to be more convinced this would be different.

Not that any of the above can't happen, but there are certainly more hurdles to overcome.

jjdebenedictis
10-25-2013, 11:24 PM
Dittoing Cornflake, mostly.

The only reason a trade publisher would take on a self-published novel would be because the novel sold really well, and the trade publisher thinks they can wring some more money out of it if they get it onto bookstore shelves.

The only reason an author would want to take their self-published novel to an agent, and later to a trade publisher, is so the trade publisher can wring some more money out of the book by getting it onto bookstore shelves.

If the book isn't selling well, a crucial link in the chain is missing, and the agents and trade publishers won't be interested.

In many ways, it's better to be an unknown quantity with potential than a known quantity with poor sales. This is why midlist authors sometimes get less support from their publishers than debut authors. People are much more excited by a lottery ticket than by a dependable, if lacklustre, paycheque.

HoldinHolden
10-25-2013, 11:40 PM
I actually attempted to query my last book (self-pubbed). Only one agent even responded, even though my book is reviewed VERY well on Amazon, and while he loved it, he couldn't get behind the concept. Another one of his issues was that if you, as a self-pubber, sell too MANY books- the publisher will wonder if there are any sales left to make that would make it worthwhile to sell. If the book is NOT selling well, the publisher will wonder if it's just your lack of reach and marketing, or if it simply isn't good enough (and by good enough, I don't really mean that it's written poorly, just not a book that caught on) to be popular.
I do know 2 self-pubbers who queried their books and got deals. One had won an award as a self-pubber, and the other was someone who worked for big stars in Hollywood as a nanny, so obviously there was a market there that had been untapped. Book #2 went on to sell for 6 figures.

ETA: Now as I am querying my 2nd book, one agent cited my lackluster sales on my self-pubbed book as a reason he would not take the 2nd on.

Polenth
10-26-2013, 01:46 AM
Self-publishing is something to do because you want to self-publish. You'll always find cases of people who went on to get a deal for their self-published book, but they're not the majority. Don't expect to be the minority, because that'll most likely mean disappointment.

Most of the people I know who've self-published have not had trade deals for those books. Some have sold different books to trade publishers, but the titles don't tend to overlap.

WeaselFire
10-28-2013, 06:52 PM
In more and more cases, Amazon/Kindle is becoming New York's slush pile. Agents, and publishers, are looking for those that can sell consistently and approaching them. Rarely is it to take on a currently published work, rather it's for contracting new work. Not everyone gets the million dollar offers, but many are getting offers.

So, use your self-pubbed work and its sales record for promoting your next work to agents.

Jeff

Karen Junker
10-28-2013, 11:19 PM
In more and more cases, Amazon/Kindle is becoming New York's slush pile. Agents, and publishers, are looking for those that can sell consistently and approaching them. Rarely is it to take on a currently published work, rather it's for contracting new work. Not everyone gets the million dollar offers, but many are getting offers.

So, use your self-pubbed work and its sales record for promoting your next work to agents.

Jeff

I'd be more likely to believe this if you named just ONE of the 'many' (besides Amanda Hocking) who got an offer and sold their book to a large publisher. This is the kind of thing I've heard self-pubbed people say to each other to give each other hope. I wonder if editors and agents really take the time to comb through Amazon listings for potential sales, especially if sometimes they don't even have the time to respond to material they've requested.

Pearl
10-29-2013, 03:25 AM
But how many sales is considered successful? And what about free days as part of Kindle Select?


I'd be more likely to believe this if you named just ONE of the 'many' (besides Amanda Hocking) who got an offer and sold their book to a large publisher. This is the kind of thing I've heard self-pubbed people say to each other to give each other hope. I wonder if editors and agents really take the time to comb through Amazon listings for potential sales, especially if sometimes they don't even have the time to respond to material they've requested.

This is the problem with many aspiring authors aiming to self-publish. They saw what happened to Amanda Hocking and even EL James, and are convinced they stand a chance. But those chances are rare.

kaitie
10-29-2013, 03:49 AM
For what it's worth, E.L. James didn't self-publish. She was picked up by a small press.

Pearl
10-29-2013, 07:25 AM
For what it's worth, E.L. James didn't self-publish. She was picked up by a small press.

Really? I keep hearing that she self-published before getting picked up by one of the Big 5. Well, this is something to tell those who think they'll strike it rich like she did.

jjdebenedictis
10-29-2013, 08:00 AM
Really? I keep hearing that she self-published before getting picked up by one of the Big 5. Well, this is something to tell those who think they'll strike it rich like she did.50 Shades of Grey started out as fanfiction for Twilight. I guess that's what they mean by "self-published"--but it hardly counts as publishing if it's stuck online to be read for free.

kaitie
10-29-2013, 04:42 PM
Yeah. She had a big online following from when it was a fanfic. She did a (crappy job at) filing off of the serial numbers and had it published, but she presumably brought in a lot of initial readers of her fanfic, who were willing to spend money on it.

EMaree
10-29-2013, 06:07 PM
But how many sales is considered successful? And what about free days as part of Kindle Select?

When this question is asked, I usually point to Janet Reid, who said she'll only consider it if there are more than 20,000 copies sold (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/some-hard-numbers.html).

quicklime
10-29-2013, 06:22 PM
In more and more cases, Amazon/Kindle is becoming New York's slush pile. Agents, and publishers, are looking for those that can sell consistently and approaching them. Rarely is it to take on a currently published work, rather it's for contracting new work. Not everyone gets the million dollar offers, but many are getting offers.

So, use your self-pubbed work and its sales record for promoting your next work to agents.

Jeff


in addition to disagreeing with the first paragraph, or at least finding it a common saying that tends to be short on examples, the part in bold is important.

If you sold 50 books, what are you going to tell an agent?

"Look, I don't mean to brag, but I have shown the ability to sell, like, literally DOZENS of copies!"

er, no. Someone just above me linked a quote of Janet's, which is a great reference, but yeah. If you aren't killing it, those sales records can actually cut against you.

CrastersBabies
10-29-2013, 09:19 PM
in addition to disagreeing with the first paragraph, or at least finding it a common saying that tends to be short on examples, the part in bold is important.

If you sold 50 books, what are you going to tell an agent?

"Look, I don't mean to brag, but I have shown the ability to sell, like, literally DOZENS of copies!"

er, no. Someone just above me linked a quote of Janet's, which is a great reference, but yeah. If you aren't killing it, those sales records can actually cut against you.

Pretty much this. I've heard a few agents say that unless you have significant sales with a self-published book (10k books or more), then don't solicit that manuscript.

And don't mention it in a query.

Just write a good query and let the work stand on its own. I guess that's what my suggestion would be.

I think too many people spend months, YEARS writing a book, rush through the proof-reading/editing process, then have to get it out RIGHT FREAKING NOW and just slap it up on Amazon and hope for the best. I mean, if you spend years writing a novel, why cheat yourself right before the finish line?

I'm not dissing self-publishing. I've seen people go into that platform in a very thoughtful manner, with good, solid strategies, and they have good reasons for doing so (and are pretty dang successful).

MandyHarbin
11-06-2013, 12:46 AM
I'd be more likely to believe this if you named just ONE of the 'many' (besides Amanda Hocking) who got an offer and sold their book to a large publisher. This is the kind of thing I've heard self-pubbed people say to each other to give each other hope. I wonder if editors and agents really take the time to comb through Amazon listings for potential sales, especially if sometimes they don't even have the time to respond to material they've requested.

I know of several authors who've been contacted by agents when their self-pubbed book sold well (and I've chatted with some). I.E. Atria (S&S) has negotiated several deals with self-pubbed authors and their newly acquired agents. It happens more than people realize.

BUT an author shouldn't self-pub something in hopes of getting it picked up by a major pub. It's not a guarantee even for those who've rocketed up the charts. One author I know rejected several offers and took over 6 months to work out a deal. So it's not a guarantee it'll happen even when the sales numbers are awesome (or if it does happen, that the offer will be in the author's best interest...it's not all about the $$$, people).

Unless you hit the NYT bestseller list AND stay on it awhile, your best bet with a decent-selling self-pubbed book... use your sales info to shop a shiny new manuscript.

shaldna
11-06-2013, 02:28 AM
For what it's worth, E.L. James didn't self-publish. She was picked up by a small press.


Yeah. She had a big online following from when it was a fanfic. She did a (crappy job at) filing off of the serial numbers and had it published, but she presumably brought in a lot of initial readers of her fanfic, who were willing to spend money on it.


Same with Cassandra Clare - her Draco fics were really, really popular back in the day, and with just a few name and minor changes we got the Mortal Instruments series.




I said, why not. I mean, self-pubbing doesn't have the stigma it did in the past.

GOOD self publishing doesn;t.

Ken
11-06-2013, 02:41 AM
Are you talking about the same book or a subsequent one?

... seconded. Can't really address your question w/o knowing this.

But will give it the ol' college try in regards to the second scenario.

If the chap is considering an attempt to get an agent for a subsequent one
then having a self-pub'd book in their past MAY be a bit damning, unless it sold well.
And even then it MAY still be considered a red flag.

Though unfair, self-pub'ing still carries a stigma that the writer is a rank
amateur and not up to the big leagues, predisposing and agent or editor to
have reservations.

But that certainly shouldn't inhibit an author from sub'ing to an agent
or editor. Sub a good book and the field is leveled. Good books will always
be in demand, author's credentials be damned !

G'luck to the anonymous writer.

MDSchafer
11-06-2013, 02:54 AM
There's really two issues here, whether it's fiction or nonfiction. More than a few nonfiction authors have build their platform by selling books out the back of their car at hundreds of small events. Self publishing is a legitimate way to build a non-fiction platform, but it has to be a 20 hour a week job for the most part.

With fiction its about sales, or critical reviews. If you can get your book favorably reviewed by Editor and Publisher or leading genre sources than you can take that and sent it to agents along with your query letter.

The mistake I see most fiction e-pubbers making is that they don't pay for an editor, don't pay for a copywriter, and don't do much in the way of promotion and expect readers to find them. If you do all the right things, have a good book, and spend enough time and money to support the book, then you'll probably be alright, agent or no agent.

Terie
11-06-2013, 01:07 PM
The mistake I see most fiction e-pubbers making is that they don't pay for an editor, don't pay for a copywriter, and don't do much in the way of promotion and expect readers to find them.

E-publishing is a format. All major publishers e-publish books, and they pay for editors, copyeditors, promotion, interior book design, QA, office space, CEO salaries, telphone and utility bills, and everything else, including author advances.

I think you mean 'fiction self-publishers'.

E-publishing /= self-publishing. Self-publishing /= e-publishing.

It's really important for people to stop equating e-publishing and self-publishing. They aren't the same thing.

kaitie
11-06-2013, 05:35 PM
Well, there are also a lot of fiction epublishers who fit that category, Terie. There are an awful lot of publishers who pop up regularly run by people who have no idea what the hell they're doing, who are often rejected authors deciding to change the way publishing is done (because clearly it's broken if they couldn't get published), and who have zero capital to fund things like editing and cover art, etc.

I honestly think we see a lot more that fit that category than don't. B&BC is full of them, and they are putting out books. Yes, there are some ebook only publishers that are doing a good job and have good reputations, but it's a relatively small number. I'd say the majority showing up are bad ones putting out badly produced books.

WeaselFire
11-07-2013, 12:48 AM
This is the problem with many aspiring authors aiming to self-publish. They saw what happened to Amanda Hocking and even EL James, and are convinced they stand a chance. But those chances are rare.
Million dollar deals are rare. But self-pubbed authors getting picked up is becoming far less rare every day. Although at more normal contract rates.

Also keep in mind that the Big 6, er, 5, is growing less relevant in the electronic world. There are many small presses that are doing ebooks and are signing multi-book contracts with authors. Again, not million dollar contracts, but enough that an author could almost earn a living.

And again, bad authors with bad works don't get deals from publishers. Not everyone that thinks they're an author is really capable of it. Some can be trained, others will never be.

Jeff

Terie
11-07-2013, 01:34 PM
Also keep in mind that the Big 6, er, 5, is growing less relevant in the electronic world

How do you figure that? Because I just checked the top 100 on the Kindle paid list, and only two of the top 10 aren't from the Big 5, and those two are from Amazon imprints. IOW, not one of the top 10 is from a small e-press or is self-published.

1. Sycamore Row by John Grisham (Doubleday [Big 5])
2. Silent Echo by JR Rain (Thomas & Mercer [Amazon imprint])
3. Unwritten: A Novel by Unwritten: A Novel (Center Street [Big 5])
4. Mine by Katy Evans (Gallery [Big 5])
5. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Tor [Big 5])
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf Books for Young Reader [Big 5])
7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books [Big 5])
8. Wilderness by Dean Koontz (Bantam [Big 5])
9. Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed (Lake Union [Amazon imprint])
10. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Putnam [Big 5])

The first self-published book is number 14, Our Favorite Slow-Cooker Recipes Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch.

This is one other self-published book in the top 20, and a couple more from Amazon imprints. There are no e-only micropress books in the top 20.

Three years ago, almost the entire top 10 list was self-published titles. Today, not one of the top 10 list is self-published, and all are from either a Big 5 or an independent trade press. (Yes, Amazon Publishing is an independent publisher, using the long-standing publishing definition of 'independent': a trade publisher that is not part of the big conglomerates.)

This evidence doesn't exactly support the contention that the Big 5 is becoming LESS relevant. The facts suggest that the Big 5 have regained most of what they lost when they got caught with their pants down by the speed with which e-books caught on a few years ago. They have clearly caught up to their former dominance.

WeaselFire
11-07-2013, 05:46 PM
How do you figure that? Because I just checked the top 100 on the Kindle paid list, and only two of the top 10 aren't from the Big 5, and those two are from Amazon imprints. IOW, not one of the top 10 is from a small e-press or is self-published.
And how many of the top 100 are?

When you look at best seller lists, you'll see plenty of Dean Koontz, John Grisham or other name authors. They could be top sellers if they published on an old mimeograph machine, by name alone. Look at first time authors, the kind we're talking about in the case of the original poster, and you see a lot more published by independents than in prior eras. You no longer have to get to a top publisher to sell your book.

There are always the fluke authors who hit the right combination of fickle audience and demand. They will get the big deals as big publishers throw money at them in hopes of a connection. But the big 5 publishing houses haven't been actively hunting large numbers of new talent in the past decade, simply because book buying demand has dropped. It's a business.

That normally means fewer opportunities for unknown authors. But in the last five years, the options have greatly expanded, due mostly to electronic publishing bringing the investment in a new author, and potential failure and loss, to a much lower entry point. That means that many publishers can take risks they couldn't ten years ago. Which means many small publishers can get into the business.

Not all small publishers are scams or disgruntled authors. Many are trade execs, editors and agents who are finding opportunities to bypass the Big 5/NYC process and simply work with good, promising authors to get published.

Face it. The big publishers have been putting out fewer titles for close to twenty years now. The big, proven authors aren't getting cut, it's the new talent that loses. Electronic publishing has changed that world, and those opportunities. You no longer need to be published by a major house to make it as an author (John Locke, et. al.).

Jeff

MandyHarbin
11-07-2013, 07:09 PM
FYI, #4 on that list, Katy Evans, is a formerly self-pubbed author. MINE is the followup to her self-pubbed NYT bestseller REAL. Once she hit the list AND stayed on it, an agent and a publisher snapped her up. Gallery re-released REAL under their imprint. MINE just came out this week. To my knowledge, she has never released another book before REAL. She is an example of someone who self-pubbed properly (hired editors, designers, PR peeps), the stars alined, the waters parted, and the gods smiled down on her.

This goes in line with what I said about agents watching the lists. Self-pubbing doesn't have to be a negative stigma. The majority of people probably didn't know Katy Evans was self-pubbed before traditionally pubbed.

juniper
11-07-2013, 10:49 PM
Electronic publishing has changed that world, and those opportunities.

Yes, more opportunities, but opportunities are not all equal. Some require much more work - and money - to succeed. If you're willing - and able - to produce a good product without the middlemen, go for it! I have a friend who's self-pubbed about 5 titles now, and she seems happy with her decision. She hires editors, cover designers, etc.


You no longer need to be published by a major house to make it as an author (John Locke, et. al.).

John Locke isn't really a good author to use as someone who "made it" since he revealed that he bought a bunch of his 5-star reviews, and encourages others to do the same.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

MandyHarbin
11-07-2013, 11:20 PM
You no longer need to be published by a major house to make it as an author (John Locke, et. al.).

Jeff

I agree with you here, but what authors have to do is decide on their own just what "making it" is. Granted, the explosion of ebooks has opened more doors for authors, but it doesn't mean big 5 is out of the game. Personally, I think they should have embraced it sooner, but they are slowly creating digital-first imprints, releasing ebooks faster, etc. It'll be hard for the small indie publisher to compete with the level of marketing/distribution/etc. a major publisher can achieve.

If I had my choice between a digital release from a Random House imprint or a digital release from a Mom&Pop indie publisher, I'm going with Random because they can offer me more. If Mom&Pop is my only choice, then chances are I'll self-pub...because why would I want to give Mom&Pop a cut of my royalties when most pubs at this level think their job STOPS when the book goes live on Amazon. I can hire their same editors, cover designers, and typesetters and do it myself.

So I agree big 5 isn't necessary to make it in publishing... but neither are the fly-by-night small indie publishers.

juniper
11-07-2013, 11:52 PM
So I agree big 5 isn't necessary to make it in publishing... but neither are the fly-by-night small indie publishers.

I think most of these are actually micro-presses, rather than "small." There are many good, well-regarded small publishers.

I've seen several local micro-presses who do just as you say - get the book up on Amazon, then consider their job done. And sometimes their covers and editing aren't that good.

So yeah, between micro- or self-pubbing, the only difference is that the writer can say, "Yes, a publisher bought my book. I'm not self-published."

And sometimes, that badge of "being published" is all a writer wants.

MandyHarbin
11-08-2013, 12:21 AM
And sometimes, that badge of "being published" is all a writer wants.

That's so true. After years of queries and rejections, it's easy to get caught up in that first acceptance and forget that signing on the dotted line is a business decision that must be thoroughly thought out.

WeaselFire
11-08-2013, 01:05 AM
So I agree big 5 isn't necessary to make it in publishing... but neither are the fly-by-night small indie publishers.
Nobody wants the fly-by-night operators around. And sometimes it's tough to tell who they are. That's a major distinction between the big 5 and indie publishers.

Over the years though, I've found that no publisher, or author/editor/agent/reader is perfect for all books. Or for all goals of all authors. And that's the toughest part for beginners to see.

Jeff

djf881
11-13-2013, 12:26 AM
Here's a conversation that came up between a bunch of authors and myself. One author self-pubbed (I've done it myself in the past) and was wondering if there was any point for him to attempt to find an agent or publisher for his book. I said, why not. I mean, self-pubbing doesn't have the stigma it did in the past. We've all seen the numbers of Indies published on Kindle and others.

Just wondering what your thoughts and experiences were. Other than Amanda Hocking type success, has any of you (or someone you know) ever self-published, only to successfully sell your book to a traditional house?

If you self-published it, the sales figures matter. If you didn't sell at least 10,000 copies, it's most likely dead to agents and publishers. This is why I adamantly caution authors against treating self-publishing as a route to mainstream publishing.

MandyHarbin
11-13-2013, 12:55 AM
If you self-published it, the sales figures matter. If you didn't sell at least 10,000 copies, it's most likely dead to agents and publishers. This is why I adamantly caution authors against treating self-publishing as a route to mainstream publishing.

I commented last month on another thread discussing sales numbers here http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8508070&postcount=6

All 10k in sales is going to do is maybe help you when shopping a new, unpublished (in any form) manuscript. But I do agree that self-publishing a book is not a way to get THAT book traditionally published. There are no guarantees even for those of us who've sold many times that amount in a short amount of time.

djf881
11-13-2013, 05:50 AM
I commented last month on another thread discussing sales numbers here http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8508070&postcount=6

All 10k in sales is going to do is maybe help you when shopping a new, unpublished (in any form) manuscript. But I do agree that self-publishing a book is not a way to get THAT book traditionally published. There are no guarantees even for those of us who've sold many times that amount in a short amount of time.

I meant 10,000 copies of that work alone; 10 different things that have sold 1k each are of no interest to the mainstream publishing industry.

I suspect many agents will probably reject a book that has been previously self-published in almost every circumstance unless it has at least 25,000 sales for that title. However, I can imagine, if it was a manuscript they'd be eager to represent under other circumstances, that if that book had sold 10,000 copies, they might not reject it on the basis of being previously self-published.

But I think publishers are probably done lunging at every self-pub book that did 60k copies at $0.99, because they've acquired some of those for large advances that have not done well at higher prices. My impression is that, if a publisher would not have acquired a manuscript through its normal acquisition process, editors will not want to deal with it, even if it sold 100k e-books.

MandyHarbin
11-13-2013, 07:25 AM
I meant 10,000 copies of that work alone; 10 different things that have sold 1k each are of no interest to the mainstream publishing industry.

I suspect many agents will probably reject a book that has been previously self-published in almost every circumstance unless it has at least 25,000 sales for that title. However, I can imagine, if it was a manuscript they'd be eager to represent under other circumstances, that if that book had sold 10,000 copies, they might not reject it on the basis of being previously self-published.

But I think publishers are probably done lunging at every self-pub book that did 60k copies at $0.99, because they've acquired some of those for large advances that have not done well at higher prices. My impression is that, if a publisher would not have acquired a manuscript through its normal acquisition process, editors will not want to deal with it, even if it sold 100k e-books.

Totally understand what you were saying about the 10k copies.

There's a big difference between what an agent will take on and what a publisher will accept. My experience has been that agents won't handle self-pubbed books unless they think they have a chance at selling them to mainstream publishers. So even though an agent might say they won't even consider taking on self-pubbed unless sales are at least at 20k (i.e. http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2012/10/some-hard-numbers.html), it doesn't mean they'll automatically offer representation.

As for me, I've told my agent that I'm not eager to sell rights to a U.S. pub on my self-pubbed series. Creative Artist Agency contacted me about the film/television rights once the first book reached number 1 in teen romance. I pointed them in the direction of my agent. If they work out a deal, I'm not opposed to seeing if a U.S. pub wants to make a deal on it too. But right now, I want book deals to focus on my unpublished manuscripts.

Laer Carroll
11-15-2013, 12:49 PM
I see a couple of problems with several of the responses so far.

One is that not all agents are clones of each other. They don’t all feel the same about self-published works, for instance. Some don’t care if a book has sold a few copies. (They may even prefer it did not.) They are confident that most of the time they can tell if a book is worth their effort to sell it.

The second is dividing publishers into the Big 5 and “indie” publishers—the same over-simplification error of the “agents are clones” thinking.

They come in all sizes, from those who publish two or three books a year to the mid-level “indies” who publish several dozen. Such as Baen (67 in 2012), DAW &Scholastic (53 each), Subterranean (49), and so on. Some are long-established, some very recent.

Publishers (of all sizes) also have different target audiences. Baen, for instance, focuses on military SF & fantasy readers, but are pushing into more kinds of books each year.

So quit anguishing about whether or not your book was self-published. Read the agent’s description of what want. If they do not say they refuse self-pubs, see if your book otherwise is what they want. If so, send in a query.

AnneGlynn
11-15-2013, 11:05 PM
I think publishers are probably done lunging at every self-pub book that did 60k copies at $0.99, because they've acquired some of those for large advances that have not done well at higher prices.

Can you list a few of these failures?

I'm not disputing what you've written but I'd love to know which deals did and didn't work out. I've recently found Hocking's novels at Target, so I'm guessing she's doing well for her print publisher. I can't find Locke's work anywhere except Amazon, so I'm guessing he hasn't been a money-maker for his print publisher. But it's all a guess.

Which self-published authors signed a big deal and the deal didn't work out?

MandyHarbin
11-15-2013, 11:24 PM
I see a couple of problems with several of the responses so far.

One is that not all agents are clones of each other. They don’t all feel the same about self-published works, for instance. Some don’t care if a book has sold a few copies. (They may even prefer it did not.) They are confident that most of the time they can tell if a book is worth their effort to sell it.

The second is dividing publishers into the Big 5 and “indie” publishers—the same over-simplification error of the “agents are clones” thinking.

They come in all sizes, from those who publish two or three books a year to the mid-level “indies” who publish several dozen. Such as Baen (67 in 2012), DAW &Scholastic (53 each), Subterranean (49), and so on. Some are long-established, some very recent.

Publishers (of all sizes) also have different target audiences. Baen, for instance, focuses on military SF & fantasy readers, but are pushing into more kinds of books each year.

So quit anguishing about whether or not your book was self-published. Read the agent’s description of what want. If they do not say they refuse self-pubs, see if your book otherwise is what they want. If so, send in a query.

I was speaking from personal experience. I talked to several of my top-choice agents via email and phone when offers started coming in (I cited these agents in another thread somewhere) and what I was told of their experience. As for there being a range of publishers, I get that, too, but I already publish for digital-first publishers (and have connections at others). I'm only interested in my agent getting deals with the larger pubs, so I didn't ask about the smaller publishers willingness to take on previously self-pubbed material. I'm sure there are some out there that will re-publish previously self-pubbed material with minimal sales...I just didn't ask about those.