Monday, January 14, 2008

Publishing: A Leap of Faith

My first novel was published in July of last year and I've almost completed a second manuscript, with a third and a fourth already planned. Now, my dilemma: previous publisher has basically given the green light to send this new ms. their way, but I'm looking to both (a) improve marketability by going with a more "popular" publisher and (b) begin a more professional phase as a writer, producing at least two works a year, etc. I think this new novel, a period-piece crime drama, is the perfect vehicle with which to make this transition.

Any advice?

Writing is a wonderful expression of your creativity, thoughts, and feelings, but getting published is truly a leap of faith. The minute an author decides to enter the publishing world—by seeking an agent or a publisher—she takes a leap of faith that her work is good enough to compete not only with everyone else looking for an agent, but also with the thousands of published authors already on shelves. You’ve already taken that leap to find and retain a publisher, and now it’s up to you to decide if you’re ready for a next, bigger step.

My advice would be to put your previous publisher on hold and start querying agents the minute you have a partial of your next work (even if you are published by a small publisher you won’t necessarily need a full to grab an agent at this point). Include reviews of your published work with your package, and of course everything about your book should knock their socks off.

The only time I would solidly advise that you stay with the previous publisher, no matter how small, is if you are trying to continue a series. It’s extremely difficult, almost impossible, to move a series midstream to another publisher (unless you’re a bestselling author, of course).

It sounds to me like you’re ready to take that jump, you’re just afraid it will be a mistake. Trying, no matter whether you achieve the results you thought you wanted, is never a mistake. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? You end up going back and selling the work to your original publisher. It sounds like you’d be more disappointed if you didn’t try than if you tried and failed.



ORION said...

This is the part of your blog that is so very helpful to all writers. As hard as it is writing the novel and getting an agent and then selling your novel and getting published- the journey doesn't stop there.
My agent has been invaluable in helping me determine where I go next with my writing career- which manuscripts to market - and what the next step will be. I can't imagine doing it without her.
Thanks for a glimpse behind the scenes.

whimper1823 said...

I can understand how scary and exciting that might be. To finally get there, to have the first book published and now moving toward being a writer. If it were me, I wouldn't be so quick to move on. One book is great, two even better, three and I think you would be welcome in any agents eyes, especially if you've saved that one diamond as a spring board to launch with a different publisher. I think most agents and publisher's alike would rather see someone who puts out consistant, well told stories and the only way that is going to happen is if you pay your dues. It is my humble opinion. Good luck, what ever your decision.

Shaun Carney said...

I don't believe in letting "what ifs" ever get to me. It is almost always better to try and fail, than to not try at all and then wonder what might have been.

moonrat said...

one mistake, though, that I've noticed some unagented but successfulyl published authors make is hopping from house to house to house with each book. I have to admit that I regard any resume with too many different publishers on it with a lot of skepticism. Although the author might have been looking for a better fit or a better deal, I can't know that from the resume--I have to wonder if the author might be difficult to work with and got dropped, or was a very poor earner whose publisher couldn't commit to two consecutive books. So that's something to be careful of.

I would agree, Jessica, that this author absolutely should seek out an agent at this point. It would help prevent editors like me from wondering things like that.

Jim Schmidt said...

I'm so glad that this topic has come up. I've been thinking about it from more of a nonfiction slant, where queries/proposals are the rule rather than partials/manuscripts.

I think part of the frustration of any published writer is that it something of a "hurry-up-and-wait" dilemma, with so much time (a year-plus) between submitting a manuscript and actually seeing it in print.

My first book - an unagented history title - will be published this spring. I am anxious to get working on my next "big project." I'm wondering if I should wait to query agents until I gauge the reception of my first book, or if I should go ahead and start the process.

Any advice?

SurlyJason said...

Jessica, thanks for taking the time to tell us this. I end up taking a lot of notes.

Aimlesswriter said...

Just a thought; I was wondering if agents have some kind of unwritten code of behavior where you do not actively solicit someone else's author? Like if you met a great writer somewhere would you want to talk to them about this? Or is she/he off limits?
(I work in a very different kind of biz but its the code here. Of course if they come to us-different story.)
Sorry, just curious.