Can You Come Back From Self Publishing?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous writers conference in Columbus, Ohio. It was my second trip there and I’m already making plans to return. If you are in driving distance, I highly recommend you attend in 2012. If you love YA as I do, you REALLY want to get there as the fabulousness that is Simone Elkeles will be in attendance as well *squeeee*

The conference kicked off Friday night with what every writer wants: A Q&A session with editors and agents. Let me tell you, the audience of writers had lots of questions. Top concern of the evening: What if I e-publish? or e-published in the past and it failed? Does that matter to you?

The resounding murmur told me, they didn’t love it. BUT as each member of the panel answered for themselves, they said – ultimately- if they love what you’ve sent them- and know they can sell it- they will work with any past publishing attempts that failed. The panel members said their first concern is your query, then your pages. If they want to sell it for you, they will. That’s the good news. Bottom line: you can go on to have a traditional publishing career IF you want to, even after a self publishing failure. With that said, I want to point out that more and more agents are eagerly representing authors with a good self publishing experience.

The other side of this is for those writers who self published a tome of yuk. Hey, we all think our first novel is the shiz-net. We send off those queries blissfully certain it’s the next BIG thing. Sadly, our first novel is normally nothing more than experience to build on and fuel to push us forward. But some writers, unwilling to be swayed by rejection, self published those novels or others like them, without really knowing all the rules and understanding the industry. As a result they sold 10 copies, one to each of their parents, grandparents, themself, and then they bought the others too and gave them as Christmas gifts, In those cases, more than one member of the weekend panel said “you can always change your name.” Ouch.

What to take away from this: If you choose to self publish, do it big. Make sure it is AWESOMESAUCE, read by betas, critiqued by as many as possible, polished to a reflective state. Then, prepare a marketing plan to push that baby into selllllll mode. I mean, you wrote a novel, now make it dance for you! Don’t just drop it and hope people find it and buy a copy. And if you are one of the many many many who are disappointed with a previous self pub, know it isn’t your defining moment. You can take it down. You can still change your path. Its never too late to either self pub again with all you know, or try the traditional route. The future – as always- is what YOU make of it. Decide what YOU want and shoot for it.

And remember, if you fall on your head, you can always change your name. LOL

2 comments to Can You Come Back From Self Publishing?

  • Hi Julie,

    Thanks for the insightful post. I agree (and laughed out loud) at making sure your work is “awesomesauce” prior to self-publishing. I have a friend who self published, which led him to a huge publishing deal with a traditional house. But his book was undoubtedly publish-ready. If you feel the urge to “blurt,” as my mom says, take a chill pill and sleep on it. ;)

  • “BUT as each member of the panel answered for themselves, they said – ultimately- if they love what you’ve sent them- and know they can sell it- they will work with any past publishing attempts that failed.”

    This. Any agent or editor who says otherwise is lying through their teeth, and it’s a big, fat, stinky, soul-sucking fail of a lie.

    A bad writer can be a self-publishing success. A good writer can be a self-publishing failure. Any agent with any brains knows this, and won’t care about a less-than-distinguished self-pub career if they think you and your work have potential.

    I’m also willing to bet that no agent is going to hold self-pubbing success against anyone. :-)

    I’ve been saying it for months: stop waiting around for recognition that may never come under the status quo and do something to get noticed. If you’re good, it can only help.


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