You are up a creek without a paddle, and the boat is slowly filling up with water seeping in through the cracks. How do you feel?
Well, let me put it another way. The boat is your book/script etc., the creek is your dream of being published, and the water is the time, in years that you’ve spent on your craft and approaching either publishers or literary agents in the hope that at least one will bother reading your work prior to saying no? That paddle? Well, isn’t it obvious? The paddle is either the publisher or the agent who will help you navigate the choppy waters of the literary world.
Now, the reason this feels like you are up a creek without a paddle is because the Ping-Pong effect publishers and agents have on previously unpublished writers who are simply looking for equal opportunity. I don’t know about any other country and how publishers and agents work there, but over here, in Australia, they each have their favourite sayings.
Publishers: They won’t take any unsolicited works, and the ones that do, offer a very small window of opportunity that most likely from the multitude of unsolicited and previously unpublished writers out there, only a few manage to slip through the cracks and reach the other side.
Agents: They mostly won’t take on previously unpublished writers.
Hmm. So you see the problem, don’t you? Publishers won’t take unsolicited works and authors, and Agents won’t take authors who haven’t previously been published.
That’s the trickiest Catch 22 if ever I’ve seen one!
So what to do, what to do? Self-publishing comes to the rescue, especially online self-publishing costing nearly nothing, is almost instant, and no approval of publishers and agents necessary. And frankly, the reason more and more writers are going down this online avenue is simply because of this trap.
Now, as someone who is very close to self-publishing her own work, I am coming close to sounding like a hypocrite with the following statement I’m about to make, but I think it must be made. Not everybody should go down the self-publishing path without first preparing. I do not say this lightly. Why? Well, from some of the works that are floating out there in the ether, are to put it bluntly, in the rough. They scream for the careful eye of an editor, some scream for re-writes, and some scream for a lot of nip and tuck.
My decision to self-publish wasn’t an easy decision to make at all. I literally spent hundreds of hours editing, and rewriting, and nipping and tucking excess weight from the story. I sent it off to multiple editors and assessors to get opinions and advice, and fresh pairs of eyes to do the work I couldn’t any more because, lets face it, after countless hours spent pouring over your work, you become immune to its mistakes. I sent it off to publishers mostly, but the timing was all wrong, and most of them weren’t taking anymore works for the year. And, from some of the responses, I suspect it never made it as far as being opened and read. Because I was an unsolicited work, it was immediately discarded. All I can advise to potential self-publishers out there, do your homework. Write, rewrite and edit, edit, edit, your work. Make it the best it can be.
But yes, in my personal opinion, Catch 22 hurts.
So after all this time, I am just another writer wanting their work read. You can’t blame me, or any other writer for simply wanting to bypass the impossible loop set by publishers and agents.
What has your experience been like, from writing, to editing, to polishing and publishing? I would love to know.