Saturday, January 29, 2011

Intuition vs. Self-Doubt

Sound weird? I think there must be a fine line between the two. Why, you ask? They both come through as faint whispers in my mind.

As I go through the typical aspiring author role, accepting rejection as my inaugeration--the humility I must  endure to earn my ultimate goal--I can't help but wonder if it's really my natural path. Okay, now you're totally confused, right?

What I mean is, I'm a non-conformist by nature. If there's a way for me to alter tradition, I do it. I love putting my own twist on things. That's why I'm a writer. So knowing what the alternative to finding an agent and a traditional publisher is, grows more and more appealing each day. It's reachable, attainable. I could have my work out there right now for people to read. That's the true ultimate goal, right? Having readers for our stories??

There are risks, of course ... like losing the "debut author" status if I ever find publication with a traditional publisher. But I'd be losing royalties that way, anyway. If I self-pub on Amazon, B&N, etc, I'm keeping most of the royalties myself. I just have to be willing to market my stories, which you're exepcted to do now anyway with traditional pubbing. PLUS! If I self-pub, I make my own deadlines and am my own boss. That is so me.

However, even though I've been writing for five years now, I'm still a newbie to the publishing scene, and I'd really love the guidance and support of an agent. I feel like it makes sense. AND I write mostly YA, so I don't know how successful ebooks will be in that market yet. Ereaders are still mostly adult oriented (which I strongly believe will be changing in the near future when kids use tablets for school.)

So this is where the intuition vs. self-doubt comes in. I can't distinguish the two when it comes to this topic. The rejections I receive in the search for agents has nothing to do with the actual stories, only that they don't feel passionate about them or they just didn't "love" them enough. And I get that. I read stories sometimes that are decent, but I don't "love" them.

The thing is, others may. And agents read SO many stories that how can you possibly be able to dazzle them anymore? A perfectly good story can fall to the wayside because it just didn't sparkle quite enough in that agent's eyes. And the funny thing is that there are stories out there that STILL don't sparkle and have been traditionally published.

Long story short, the whispers I hear tell me I should put this effort I'm expending into finding an agent, into marketing the work I've already written. You know, building an actual website, uplaoding stories to Amazon, promoting, promoting, promoting, etc. Getting out there so readers can access my stuff RIGHT NOW. But I can't tell if these whispers are my intuition speaking to me, or my self-doubt that I'll ever actually secure an agent.

Either way, I'll keep writing and I'll keep honing my craft with each story.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Any experiences to share? Advice? Lay it on me....  


Tracy said...

Good thought and I think it depends on what your goals are...I am in the process of being published from a smaller publisher called Strategic Publishing. It's not Random House or one of these huge markets but my goals is to get my writing out there for people to notice and that is not going to happen waiting for a big name publisher. I figured I have to start somewhere and how did these 'big' publishers get started but to be a small fish in a little pond?
So I think it depends on what it is you desire and veering from the path and are you willing to do that?
keep me posted~

Lydia Sharp said...

About a year ago, I had very strong feelings that I should just self-publish or e-publish my work instead of going through the rigorous process of finding an agent. Then I ended up querying two different projects last year with starkly different results. Neither resulted in an offer (yet), but the response I got on the second project as compared to the first one, really helped me see agents in a different light.

Since then, I've also joined an "in life" book club in which 90% of the group are agented authors with debuts coming out this year. Hearing their stories firsthand has solidified in my mind that it is well worth it to have an agent in your corner. There are things about this business that don't get talked about on the internet (blogs, twitter, etc), and there is no way I'd try to take on the world of publishing on my own now that I know these things.

Just one example...

Marketing is tough, even when you have an agent and an editor and an assigned PUBLICIST from a MAJOR publishing house. A publicist's sole purpose is to promote you and your work, and sometimes it still flops. Sometimes there are still unexpected snags that affect your sales. They have entire teams of people who work together to make sure your book is released at the best possible time for maximum sales. The only way they can do that effectively is because they have insider knowledge about upcoming releases. Book cover art is outrageously important, and requires a team of artists with a solid plan for targeting the correct audience. Book titles have been changed, not because they aren't snappy enough, but because they are too similar to another book that is releasing the same year.

And there is plenty more, but I think I've written too much already. The point is, I, personally, would much rather have a professional team of people working with me, who all want my book to succeed, rather than try to do all of it myself. I just don't have the professional experience behind me that the people at these agencies publishing houses do. But that's just me.

Mary said...

I was considering self-publishing through a POD (print on demand) place a little over a year ago. I have to say, I'm glad I waited on it as my work certainly wasn't ready for the eyes of the world.

I would still consider POD, but I want to give finding an agent a fair shot. In my first go around, I didn't find one--because my story still needed work and I was marketing the wrong age. (YA when it should have been MG.)

Good luck!

Pk Hrezo said...

Thanks, ladies .... all valid points. I really do prefer having an agent. I guess I'm just doubting the process. I know it takes time as well as connections. There are many successful indie authors out there too. Who knows what the future holds? At least we have options. :)

A. Lockwood said...

Yeah, as Lydia said, publishers have marketing tools that self-published authors could never dream of having. They also have editors to help writers not make stupid mistakes in their books.

But I think agents are important beyond helping you achieve success with a publisher.

Imagine for a moment that despite all the challenges to self-publishing, you *were* successful. Imagine the reviews piling up, both positive and negative. Imagine other people coming up to you and trying to cash in on your success. Imagine trying to organize book tours and conferences all on your own with guidance. Could you handle that? Could you keep your head and keep on writing and not become a total hysterical mess?

If so, kudos to you. If not... you need an agent.

erica and christy said...

Have you entered your ms in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest? I recommend it - read the rules and see if you're interested (the link is on the sidebar of our blog). They also have the forums that gives a ton of information on self-publishing so you can make an informed choice. Karla Brady has some excellent information on her road from self-publishing to getting a 3-book contract from S&S (and an agent) and going from adult to YA fiction. Check her out at and good luck!

DL Hammons said...

I have broached this topic myself numerous times and always come away stuck between intuition and self-doubt, just like you. I have serious issues with the publication process for debut-novelist and feel the whole system is set-up to make agent & publishers job easier and not to get the best manuscripts onto the bookshelves. (Can you tell I'm a bit negative...and I haven't even began querying yet).

I guess my bottom line is that if I really believe in my book (which I do) and I've exhausted the tradtional publishing avenues, then I have no problems exploring self-publishing.

T. Anne said...

I've been tempted to toss stuff up on Amazon, but I don't really want to travel that route. How about just tossing one story up to quell your desire to get your stuff out there? I don't see a problem with that. I wouldn't give up on traditional though.

Nas Dean said...

All great advice in the comments. Keep us posted on what you decide.

Haleine said...

I really enjoyed this's a conversation I've been having with myself for a while now. I really think I'm going to be headed down the self publishing road. But, ask me tomorrow and maybe I'll have changed my mind...

I have to echo Nas Dean when I say keep us posted on what you decide.

Paul Joseph said...

I'm not as far in the process as you are, considering I have yet to finish my first W.I.P. What I can say is that I've been told repeatedly self doubt is a natural part of the process. I would not let it push you into the self-publishing route just yet. Remember, there are thousands of agents out there, and no matter how many rejections you collect, you'll never go through them all. And for what it's worth, if I were you I'd be feeling the same way. Finding an agent is too much like a complicated puzzle - the two pieces have to fit together PERFECTLY. There is no wedging anything together that doesn't quite work.

Tanya Reimer said...

Here are my thoughts, and I've been thinking about this a lot. Too much. I'm driving myself nuts. (well, more so than normal)

There is no right or wrong answers here, just what works best for you, at that time. Have fun with it, and one day you'll be able to laugh and tell us how your bestseller saw xx rejections!! Imagine how good that will feel, eh?

Thing is, if you don't get out there, you don't stand a chance-- you're just a writer with binders of really cool stories. So at least you're out there trying, either via agents, publishers, or self-publishing. It'll get you someplace, who knows where, but the journey should be a blast, or it's not worth it.

Have fun!

Julia Smith said...

Hi - I've popped over from Elana's blog. I'm also still seeking publication, but several multi-published authors from my writers' group have taken the self-published Kindle route, even though they currently have agents/publishers/contracts/deadlines. All of them are very excited by their new e-book experiences.

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey PK, you've got some great advice here already. I'd just add, if you think you want an agent, perhaps make sure you try that avenue to the max before you go down the self-publishing route. I wonder if self-doubt has the upper hand right now. You might feel so differently tomorrow :)

Hugs to you, can't wait to hear what you decide.


Pk Hrezo said...

YOu guys are so great... it helps to have support from other writers. I'm not making any sudden decisions... I'll still trudge on with hope and see what happens. :)

Short Poems said...

Hi PK, I like your page ,great work :)
Keep writing...
Marinela x

Elliot Grace said...

...battled through the same channels as the rest of you. Accepted an offer from an Indie-Pub, specializing in the type of theme's I write about. The experience has been hands on, personable, not promising me ultimate sales and an early retirement from the dayjob, but realistic and simple, with hope. I've enjoyed every moment, "South of Charm" debuting in late spring.

Great post:)

Florence said...

The bottom line is that most of us want to go the traditional route. It takes longer and it does terrible things to your head, but in the end it is what we want.

I've also begun to think of alternatives. I want to publish traditionally,and I am also looking for an indie pub. (remember that there are good publishers like Keningston that take unagented work ... Midnight Ink and two others). Indie pubs also sign you and often recommend an agent. A writer in one of our groups was signed because her book was picked up by Midnight Ink.

Yes, they can take up to eight months. What, you had something else to do in the mean time?

The third alternative is to publish mainstream or indie and do smaller novellas and novelletes, through Amazon's Kindle. It is a market that has never been available to authors who write short stories (the novellete). Since most of these authors have only been pub through literary mags who do not retain your copyright, you can take a page from there as well.

Don't think of any of this as a black and white issue and look to the gray areas, the avenues that do not get as much talk.

Thanks for the thoughtful post. As the little Belgium says ... "keeps our little gray cells active..." :)

Melissa Bradley said...

I think you should hold out for an agent because they can help you immeasurably in the long run. I'm not familiar with your fiction, but your blog posts are thoughtful, intelligent and engaging. Talent like yours will find an agent, it can't be denied. Self-doubt is a dragon that never dies. As a published author myself, I can tell you I battle it all the time. Onward and Upward, You WILL find the right agent and be wildly successful. :)

Kindros said...

I asked this on my old blog and there is no real answer. Both have their good and bad points. It's been done successfully both ways. If you are ready to put in the hard work, I would say go for it. I believe in you. :)

Regina said...

My husband keeps telling me to do the same thing by self publishing. I am up in the air over it. I do own a Nook. I do read both ebooks and traditional paperbooks supporting both formats of my favorite authors. I have found some ebooks that I really enjoyed and would have missed out on otherwise if they did not epub them.

I think that we have all been there where we have read a book and wonder how in the world they found an agent and publisher to get the mediocre stuff out there and then read some other stuff that has been rejected and our opinion is that it should have been published. I guess that is when the phrase "opinions vary" comes into play.

Whatever your choice, no matter what...I support you 100% and will do what I can to help promote you or whatever else you need. Just say the word.