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View Full Version : How to revoke an agent query and self publish instead?



AderuMoro
06-11-2015, 04:00 AM
I have a few queries out at the moment. Some of the agents are "no response means no" but I have heard of some agents who have replied AFTER their window of response time.

Anyway, the prospect of self-publishing seems more appealing now. I haven't received any favorable responses from agents in the past year, so now I'm thinking that I should just forgo literary agents and self-publish.

What's the best way of telling the literary agents that I'm moving on to self-publishing? Should I even bother? Will doing such a thing put me on their blacklist forever?

Thanks for your responses, everyone!

Aggy B.
06-11-2015, 04:04 AM
Unless you have a partial/full manuscript with an agent, I would assume no notification is necessary. If someone does respond to the query after you self-pub, you just send a polite response to let them know you are no longer seeking representation for the book. If someone does have a partial or full manuscript you should let them know so they don't waste time reading it only to discover you already published it elsewhere.

mayqueen
06-11-2015, 04:05 AM
I imagine that just a polite email saying you're withdrawing the query (no reason given) is enough.

I don't want to get all preachy here, but I hope the reason you're going to self-publish isn't the lack of favorable responses from agents. There are a million good reasons to self-publish, but that isn't one.

Why not wait it out to see if the agents respond? At most, that's three months, and that's how long it might take you to get together a quality editor and cover artist and a marketing plan, etc.

Putputt
06-11-2015, 04:12 AM
I'm thinking just a short e-mail stating you wish to pull your work from consideration would do fine for those agents who have a full or a partial. For the ones you just queries, I'd leave it alone. Good luck!

AderuMoro
06-11-2015, 05:26 PM
I don't want to get all preachy here, but I hope the reason you're going to self-publish isn't the lack of favorable responses from agents. There are a million good reasons to self-publish, but that isn't one.

Why not wait it out to see if the agents respond? At most, that's three months, and that's how long it might take you to get together a quality editor and cover artist and a marketing plan, etc.

Mayqueen, what's a good reason to self publish, then? I mean, I know self pubbing leaves a lot more on my own plate, such as editing, cover design, marketing especially, but my thought is, if no one else is going to do it for me, why don't I do it for myself?

But thank you for your response :) I will wait it out another three months. I wasn't planning to get started until maybe around October, and I still have to sort things out with a cover artist and editor, anyway.

Thank you for everyone else's responses as well!

Chanda
06-11-2015, 05:43 PM
Why not wait it out to see if the agents respond? At most, that's three months, and that's how long it might take you to get together a quality editor and cover artist and a marketing plan, etc.

That's great advice. When I was self-publishing my second book, I spent months searching for the right editor, cover designer, etc., creating spreadsheets , and looking at other books those people had worked on. I had originally planned on having it out by last Christmas, but ended up getting it out in April.

Parametric
06-11-2015, 05:52 PM
I don't want to get all preachy here, but I hope the reason you're going to self-publish isn't the lack of favorable responses from agents. There are a million good reasons to self-publish, but that isn't one.

That actually sounds like a pretty good reason to self-publish to me. :)

mayqueen
06-11-2015, 06:00 PM
Eek, I meant, like, don't make a reactionary choice. You all are absolutely correct and I phrased it poorly. :)

Toothpaste
06-11-2015, 06:32 PM
Well I get what mayqueen is saying. There are many reasons a work might be being rejected. Especially if it's just query letters. Because then that says little about the work itself and more about the quality of the letter. You never said, are you getting full manuscript requests? If not, I'd suggest not jumping the gun and trying to work on the query instead.

Also, this is something I was worrying about when self publishing became a big thing: that some authors maybe need to work on the book itself, maybe there's a good reason it is being rejected. Sometimes rejection is good because we learn how to improve. Maybe all our work should not be out there. And I feared back then, and it has been shown to be true, that more and more new authors would stop working on their craft and what they can do to improve their writing, but just self publish every drawer book they have out there. Sometimes rejection isn't evil. Sometimes a book isn't a misunderstood masterpiece. Sometimes an author needs to practice more.

Now, I realise this might read as harsh, but I don't know your work personally. Yours might be fantastic and should be out there. There are books out there rejected not because they are bad but because the agent doesn't know where to place it in the market absolutely. And I have helped many a friend self publish because their work deserved to be read. So I think the best way to decide if one should self publish a work after seeking out agents is to see what kind of rejections one is getting. Is it, "This is fantastic but I have no idea how to market it"? Or is it something like, "The characters don't feel real and the story feels forced"? Obviously the latter suggests that possibly more attention needs to be given to the work itself. The former definitely suggests that self publishing might be a good choice.

Don't jump the gun because you are frustrated, in other words. Ask yourself some hard questions. Is it the query or the book being rejected? Is the book ready for the world? Is this the book that you should publish, or is it maybe the next one? And so on. Be brutal with yourself. And if the answers line up with self publishing, then go for it! And be extremely professional when you do.

Parametric
06-11-2015, 06:35 PM
Eek, I meant, like, don't make a reactionary choice. You all are absolutely correct and I phrased it poorly. :)

I'm with you there! Sometimes I hear the underlying message that any writer who gets rejected can't be a talented writer and shouldn't bother self-publishing, like the only people who should self-publish are writers who get showered with agent offers and book deals. Which is a little discouraging. :)

Parametric
06-11-2015, 06:39 PM
So I think the best way to decide if one should self publish a work after seeking out agents is to see what kind of rejections one is getting. Is it, "This is fantastic but I have no idea how to market it"? Or is it something like, "The characters don't feel real and the story feels forced"? Obviously the latter suggests that possibly more attention needs to be given to the work itself. The former definitely suggests that self publishing might be a good choice.

I think most writers would love to have lots of detailed and constructive feedback from professionals to analyse in this manner, but I think the reality for many writers is that they never get a single word of agent feedback. Just form rejections. Or silence.

Toothpaste
06-11-2015, 08:47 PM
But I think, quite honestly, form rejections on a full or silence is a sign as well. If an agent is passionate about a book, thought it was good, but just didn't think she was right for it, she tends to reject with an explanation. If none are offered from any of the requesting agents? I think that is something to consider. That maybe the book isn't working in some way. I'm not saying one will have exactly all the information needed to make a carefully informed decision. I'm just saying that maybe not all books should be published, and maybe it's important to take away information from what we DO get. Even if that information is radio silence.

Now if it's just form rejections or silence on queries, though, that's another matter. It means the query needs some fixing, not necessarily a book.

Toothpaste
06-11-2015, 08:54 PM
I'm with you there! Sometimes I hear the underlying message that any writer who gets rejected can't be a talented writer and shouldn't bother self-publishing, like the only people who should self-publish are writers who get showered with agent offers and book deals. Which is a little discouraging. :)

As for this, I want to make it very clear I'm not saying that at all (though I do think I have been very clear I'm not saying that at all). I am simply saying that to me the thought process shouldn't be: "Well I was rejected, guess I'll self publish then!" but rather "Well I was rejected, is there a good reason why? What is that reason? Should I work on the book to make it better and resubmit? Should I write another book? Or is my book actually good enough and being rejected because of other considerations, like niche market or whathaveyou? Oh it's the latter! I'll self publish then!" I just think so many writers skip the middle bit, and what gets to me the most is the middle bit isn't evil. It's okay if the book isn't good enough yet. It's okay if one needs to work on it more. It's okay if this book isn't the book and was a practice book and the next one is even better. It's the instant gratification thing that gets to me. The lack of working to improve one's skills. The not taking a step back and really analysing the book and yourself.

It's okay to be rejected. And it's okay to self publish. And I just wish more new authors took more time to really hone their craft, as opposed to just get indignant and never really work to improve their writing and instead spend so much time self publishing work that maybe just shouldn't be out there. I feel like it's a wasted learning opportunity sometimes. Not all the time. And I have no idea which category the OP falls into, but I wanted to offer some more thoughts on the subject.

Jamesaritchie
06-11-2015, 08:59 PM
I have a few queries out at the moment. Some of the agents are "no response means no" but I have heard of some agents who have replied AFTER their window of response time.

Anyway, the prospect of self-publishing seems more appealing now. I haven't received any favorable responses from agents in the past year, so now I'm thinking that I should just forgo literary agents and self-publish.

What's the best way of telling the literary agents that I'm moving on to self-publishing? Should I even bother? Will doing such a thing put me on their blacklist forever?

Thanks for your responses, everyone!

You really don't have to worry about it. But do you really want to self-publish something when you can't attract an agent with it?

mayqueen
06-11-2015, 09:25 PM
I am simply saying that to me the thought process shouldn't be: "Well I was rejected, guess I'll self publish then!" but rather "Well I was rejected, is there a good reason why? What is that reason? Should I work on the book to make it better and resubmit? Should I write another book? Or is my book actually good enough and being rejected because of other considerations, like niche market or whathaveyou? Oh it's the latter! I'll self publish then!"

This is exactly what I was trying to get at with my comment. My comment was brief and easily misconstrued. I hold these things to be equally true: 1) not getting an agent/publisher does NOT mean that your book is bad and 2) rejection does tell you something. The issue is, of course, figuring out what that is. If it's silence in the query stage, it's your queries. If it's form rejections at the partial or full stage, maybe there's something with your manuscript. Of course, not every agent is going to give feedback about why. That's where things like contests and beta-readers come into play. But it takes some figuring out if the rejection is about your manuscript needing some improvement or your manuscript simply not fitting into the current Big 5 publishing world.

I have a manuscript that I'm considering self-publishing. It is the fourth novel that I have written and the third that I have queried. (I am now querying a revised version of my second.) I got a lot of silence and form rejections, despite having beta-readers who loved it. I was fortunate to get some feedback from a contest and then a couple of agents who'd read my previous stuff that it wasn't commercial enough because of the prose style and that it would be competing with a recently published novel that is very similar in setting and theme. Having written the massive revision of my second novel and gone on to write a fifth one, I feel pretty good about the fact that this one in particular is exactly what I want it to be and that there is absolutely no large audience for it to land me a publishing deal.

So, yes, I believe self-publishing is absolutely a valid option. But I also think that it shouldn't be the immediate response to rejection. Especially since, and maybe this is just me, rejection sometimes clouds my judgment of my own work. (Usually to the "I suck and everyone hates me" side but sometimes the "fuck you this is brilliant I am brilliant" side.)

AderuMoro
06-11-2015, 11:07 PM
Thank you for your responses, everyone! I actually have given out some partials and fulls, but alas, they were rejected. Some rather vague feedback I got was that the agent didn't quite know how to market it, and I've talked with another self-pubbed author friend who suggested that my book was perhaps too niche. I've gotten some positive feedback from beta readers as well, but the lack of interest from agents makes me think that the manuscript just isn't something they know how to market.

Thewitt
06-12-2015, 05:11 AM
Though I'm biased, I wouldn't bother sending out any sort of retraction.

If anyone ever responds that they would like to receive a copy of your manuscript for review, just thank them for their interest and tell them you have decided to self-publish instead.

Make sure you have a professional cover. Hire an editor. Create a marketing plan. Don't look back.

JohnnyGottaKeyboard
06-12-2015, 05:38 AM
I'm curious. Are there no smaller publishing houses you can submit to without an agent? It doesn't make sense to me to go from 'Can't attract an agent' to 'Self publish'. Are smaller houses now considered less attractive than self-publishing? I would think a smaller house--especially for a niche book--would at least offer the sort of editing, layout and marketing support a first time author might find useful.

Treehouseman
06-12-2015, 07:46 AM
Since I'm going down both paths, I'll probably share what I've learnt.

Self publishing is very doable BUT tends to favour serial writers and QUICK writers. So if you have five manuscripts under your belt and the ability to crank out three to four good books a year, SP is definitely for you, and you may find it excellent.

If you are a slower writer, or only have one book under your belt, much of the promotional opportunities of self publishing will not be accessible for you, and your book may get lost. You only have 30 days as a Hot New Release, and without other works to keep the momentum going, you will find your book gets lost in a black hole.

Trade publishing is much the same, but it is kinder on slower release schedules and one-book-wonders in terms of promotion.

mayqueen
06-12-2015, 05:18 PM
I'm curious. Are there no smaller publishing houses you can submit to without an agent? It doesn't make sense to me to go from 'Can't attract an agent' to 'Self publish'. Are smaller houses now considered less attractive than self-publishing? I would think a smaller house--especially for a niche book--would at least offer the sort of editing, layout and marketing support a first time author might find useful.

I can only speak for myself, but there are maybe three small presses on my list that I am considering submitting to. Without solid marketing and distribution, to me, a small press wouldn't be a better bet than doing it myself. And, more and more, a lot of small presses than I would consider submitting to are going agent-submission only.

AderuMoro
06-12-2015, 06:04 PM
Since I'm going down both paths, I'll probably share what I've learnt.

Self publishing is very doable BUT tends to favour serial writers and QUICK writers. So if you have five manuscripts under your belt and the ability to crank out three to four good books a year, SP is definitely for you, and you may find it excellent.

If you are a slower writer, or only have one book under your belt, much of the promotional opportunities of self publishing will not be accessible for you, and your book may get lost. You only have 30 days as a Hot New Release, and without other works to keep the momentum going, you will find your book gets lost in a black hole.

Trade publishing is much the same, but it is kinder on slower release schedules and one-book-wonders in terms of promotion.

I've actually written a trilogy, and all three books are finished. The first is polished, the second less so, the third needs much more editing. How much time in between do you suggest releasing each book?

Niiicola
06-12-2015, 06:10 PM
I agree with the advice that you only need to withdraw if it's a partial/full request. And if anybody responds to a query after the fact, you can just say it's no longer available.

But I do want to second Toothpaste's advice, as hard as it can be to accept. I queried two manuscripts before writing a third that got me an agent. At the time, I thought those first two books were good, but with some distance and a few more years of working on my writing, I see that they need a lot of work (and one is basically a hot mess, even though I had readers who said they loved it). The thought of those being self-published and out in the world with my name on them is pretty terrifying. I don't know what your situation is, how long you've been writing, etc, but I'd say just tread very carefully. The fact that you're looking to hire an editor seems like a good sign -- make sure to get one with lots of experience and good references. And best of luck, no matter what you choose to do!

AderuMoro
06-12-2015, 10:31 PM
I agree with the advice that you only need to withdraw if it's a partial/full request. And if anybody responds to a query after the fact, you can just say it's no longer available.

But I do want to second Toothpaste's advice, as hard as it can be to accept. I queried two manuscripts before writing a third that got me an agent. At the time, I thought those first two books were good, but with some distance and a few more years of working on my writing, I see that they need a lot of work (and one is basically a hot mess, even though I had readers who said they loved it). The thought of those being self-published and out in the world with my name on them is pretty terrifying. I don't know what your situation is, how long you've been writing, etc, but I'd say just tread very carefully. The fact that you're looking to hire an editor seems like a good sign -- make sure to get one with lots of experience and good references. And best of luck, no matter what you choose to do!

Thanks! Sounds very straight forward. Also, is there a section on the forums that recommends how to find a compatible editor?

Putputt
06-12-2015, 10:54 PM
Before paying for an editor, have you looked for beta readers? They've been a key component to me being able to get my work up to a high enough standard to attract agents, and they're free, so if they don't work for you, you won't have lost anything other than maybe time.

AderuMoro
06-12-2015, 11:33 PM
Before paying for an editor, have you looked for beta readers? They've been a key component to me being able to get my work up to a high enough standard to attract agents, and they're free, so if they don't work for you, you won't have lost anything other than maybe time.

I have! And they have been wonderful, fun, and extremely valuable. I just don't know how "professional" edits I ought to consider here :P

Niiicola
06-13-2015, 05:35 AM
Thanks! Sounds very straight forward. Also, is there a section on the forums that recommends how to find a compatible editor?
I don't know of any specifically, but maybe try the self-pub section (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?47-Self-Publishing-Print-Digital-Papyrus-or-Clay)?

Old Hack
06-13-2015, 11:27 AM
There's a brief list of editors in one of the threads in the Publishing FAQs section, I think.

I see you've worked with beta readers: have you also had your work critiqued in our SYW rooms? And spent time critiquing the work of others? Because those are great ways to improve the quality of your work, and to realise the faults which lie throughout your book. Do it. It'll make a world of difference.

Mellanah
06-15-2015, 07:02 AM
I can only speak for myself, but there are maybe three small presses on my list that I am considering submitting to. Without solid marketing and distribution, to me, a small press wouldn't be a better bet than doing it myself. And, more and more, a lot of small presses than I would consider submitting to are going agent-submission only.

Would you mind mentioning which ones (if only in a private message?) I'm considering looking at small publishers, but it seems fairly risky.