Wednesday, 8 September 2010

When to give up?

I've seen a few of these posts lately on the many boards where I lurk.

"I've spent forever on my book, sent it to every agent and publisher in the English speaking world, got nowhere with it. Should I attempt yet another rewrite or give up on it and start something else?"

Some are even more profound. After years of trying the poster is wondering whether to throw in the towel altogether.

Tough questions. And they're not the sort there's a simple answer for.

Time was when publishers and agents were the acid test of what was publishable - if they didn't want you it was a fair assumption you weren't good enough so maybe you should call it quits. But the times, they is a-changin'. How do you measure your worth when the publishing industry is in a recession and even previously published authors are finding themselves on the scrap heap? You could drive yourself mad endlessly rewriting a book that's perfectly acceptable in the mistaken belief it will bring a book deal closer. All the time the book deal isn't there, however good you are.

I've read a couple of interesting blog posts this week which touch on the changes happening around us. The Book Deal touches on the issue of self publishing as a real prospect for getting noticed by mainstream publishers. He speculates this may be the source for publishers' mid list in the future. It's a controversial suggestion - a couple of years back no industry insider would have entertained the idea. But it's indicative of the way the landscape is shifting.

And here is an interesting interview with Writers' Digest publisher Jane Friedmann about how she sees the role of agents changing in the future. Food for thought.


K R Weinert said...

Interesting point about self-publishing. The only novel that springs to mind is The Lace Reader and that seems very much in line with what you've said.

Since it's release in the USA in July 2008 its benefited from a strong marketing campaign. The novel was inspired by a dream the author had had . Brunonia Barry and her husband Gary Wardd decided to self-publish the novel. The pair set up their own publishing company and distributed the novel to local independent bookshops in Salem. It proved such a success that it was soon bought by a major publisher. The marketing already done and local support (Salem) garnered, it gained acclaim and went on to become a New York Times bestseller!

I've read it and think it's okay. I'd have said it needed an editior to cut out at least 100 pages, but since she didn't have the luxury of an editor at the self published stage the points moot.

Lexi said...

If (and I know it's a big if) an author can sell thousands of self-published books on his own, why would he want to sign with a publisher and make a smaller percentage of each sale? Just for foreign editions and film rights, maybe.

Publishers may find themselves in the position of the man who finally asks out the girl who's had a crush on him for years, to find she's gone off the idea.

Sandra Patterson said...

Lol Well put, Lexi!