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My experience with indie publishers


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So, I thought I'd provide a little feedback about my attempts to publish my book.

 

Going the agent route:

  1. 49 Submissions,
  2. 43 Rejections (6 submissions still outstanding)
  3. 2 Requests for Manuscripts.
  4. 3 personalized replies.

 

Targeting Indie publishers that accept direct submissions:

  1. 5 submissions,
  2. 2 Rejections,
  3. 1 request for manuscript.
  4. 2 personalized replies.

 

I'm looking at a list of 21 available indie publishers open for submission.  Most on my list are closed to submissions.  Not sure exactly why.

 

Right out the chute, direct submissions to indie publishers has yielded quicker responses, and better feedback than going with agents.  One indie publisher looked at my entire manuscript in roughly 3 months, and provided feed back on what was good, and why they passed.  Two of my submissions got a response in a week (one rejection, and one request for manuscript).  In all cases, the responses I got were not automated rejection letters.

 

Contrast this with submitting to literary agents.  About half never bothered to reply to my submission.  Those that did, the majority of the responses were automated replies.  Those that used the QueryManager portal always replied.  The one outlier was an agent whose assistant sent me a rejection.  Then, the same agent found my submission, read my manuscript, loved it, but had no contacts in the market I was targeting.  So, the same agent rejected me twice by accident.  I only counted it once.  🙂

 

Now, timelines are a little different with the publishers.  One publisher I submitted to has an open period that runs from January to July.  They then start their reading period August 1.  So I don't expect to hear anything until near the end of the year.  Agents are a little more static.  When they are open, you should hear a response in anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks (if they reply at all).

 

This, in my mind, validates what @suspensewritersaid when he recommended looking to indie publishers as vehicle for getting published.  I'm not even in double-digits before I'm getting feedback.

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Yes, thanks for sharing Jeff.

 

The fact that both groups have resulted in some positive responses i.e request for the full MS and personalized responses - is an encouraging sign that your MS and query letter works. 

 

The market at the moment for newbie author is hard. (as already discussed on this site). Keep going.  Your hard work I am sure pay off. Praying for you.

 

Now back to reject pile.......

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20 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

Then, the same agent found my submission, read my manuscript, loved it, but had no contacts in the market I was targeting.

Thanks for the breakdown, Jeff. Very interesting, indeed. 

 

Would you explain the above for me? I guess I'm not sure what was meant by 'no contacts in the market'. The fact that she loved it is great!

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28 minutes ago, Kazaza said:

Would you explain the above for me? I guess I'm not sure what was meant by 'no contacts in the market'. The fact that she loved it is great!

 

The agent represented Christian-specific works.  My manuscript is targeting the YA market.  The agent, however, had no publishing contacts in YA, so they had to pass.

 

This dovetails with the quote Johne posted in the How to Connect with Teen Readers thread, mentioning how Christian publishing isn't connecting with teens (the bulk of YA readers).

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Thanks, for the clarification.

 

1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

This dovetails with the quote Johne posted in the How to Connect with Teen Readers thread, mentioning how Christian publishing isn't connecting with teens (the bulk of YA readers).

It's a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least, since I write for the YA market myself. 😒

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On 4/11/2021 at 9:19 PM, Carol Peterson said:

Many folks who do "self" publishing through their own entity refer to themselves as "indie publishers."

 

Very true.  I have approached some 'indie publishers'  with my own work to discover they are in fact authors who have set up their own companies to publish their own work. Rather annoying. You also need to be careful of some companies that only do e-books and not print. 

 

I can understand why so many people decide to self-publish - it is so soul destroying trying to bag an agent or publisher these days.

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On ‎4‎/‎11‎/‎2021 at 4:19 PM, Carol Peterson said:

This looks great. You can endeavor to persevere.

 

By "indie publishers" do you mean small press? Many folks who do "self" publishing through their own entity refer to themselves as "indie publishers."

 

 

As I've discovered, that line is slightly blurred.  But to answer the question, it's "small presses."

 

As far as endeavoring to persevere...my thoughts at this point is that I'm just going through the motions, and that I'll be left self-publishing anyways.  This book is part of a series (strike #1), incorporates Christian themes (string #2), and I'm an unpublished author (strike #3).  Despite what some of these agents and publishers say, they want a sure thing, and this ain't it.

 

Before I started this process, my wife - who read the manuscript - thought for sure someone would pick it up.  I warned her then that no one was going to want to publish this.  Unfortunately, I'm being proven right...again.

 

That all being said, I will say that the "small presses" have been far more receptive, responsive, and helpful with feedback than the agents I contacted.

 

This whole process has pretty much soured me on writing and publishing.

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3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

I can understand why so many people decide to self-publish - it is so soul destroying trying to bag an agent or publisher these days.

 

Especially when you realize that most of them haven't bothered to read your query.

 

You want to know what more soul-crushing?  Submitting a manuscript, getting a standardized rejection and having the agent add, "You are very talented."

 

It only confirmed what I already suspected.

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I feel your pain 

 

On a webliner this evening with Reedsy, the person leading said that in some cases the agent's PA will be the reader for the slush pile and will sometimes not pass something on if they are unsure because they will not want to run the risk of getting it wrong with the agent.if that is the case- what is the point.

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On 4/8/2021 at 5:42 AM, Jeff Potts said:

So, I thought I'd provide a little feedback about my attempts to publish my book.

 

OK Jeff I will join you and add my penny's worth of rejections:

 

Agents

Sumbissions 21

Rejections/No replies 17

Request for MS 1

Personalised Replies 2

(one offer to be put on 'waiting list' if there really is one.)

1/21 outstanding

 

 

Publishers

Submissions 8

Rejections/No replies 2 (1 Christian publisher rejected it on the grounds it was not 'clean' enough)

Request for MS 4

Personalised Replies 1

 

1/8 still outstanding

In addition to above publishers two vanity publishers approached me via CBS which I declined.

 

Agents/publishers are a mix of US & UK. 

 

As part of the process, I did 3 rewrites of my query package & 1 revision of my synopsis. What came through to me was the need to be very careful to submit your work exactly how they want you to (especially agents) and have your marketing plan ready to go. 

 

Publishers take longer to respond. A data base to keep track of when agent/publisher end dates are (usually around 3 weeks to 4 months) is useful. Interestingly, Publisher seem to happier to read the full MS which is good but also disappointing when they reject it.

 

I thought i had submitted to more than I have, which means there are still plenty to sub too 😂

 

 

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It varied - virtually all wanted to know who you thought you wrote like or what books were like mine.

 

Others wanted to know where I saw the book being promoted and to what type of reader.

 

Others info on the social presence and followings.

 

And some wanted all.  

I would a good half want most of this info while other want bit and pieces.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Ok, an update:

 

Going the agent route:

  1. 50 Submissions,
  2. 46 Rejections (4 submissions still outstanding)
  3. 2 Requests for Manuscripts.
  4. 3 personalized replies.

 

Targeting Indie publishers that accept direct submissions:

  1. 11 submissions,
  2. 2 Rejections,
  3. 2 request for manuscript.
  4. 4 personalized replies.

I've done another 6 submissions, two of three of them last night.

 

I got a request for a manuscript just a few minutes ago, from a publisher I queried last night.  I'm rereading the e-mail, because I can't believe that someone read my submission and requested a manuscript in less than 24 hours.

 

Edited by Jeff Potts
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  • 1 month later...
On 4/27/2021 at 8:25 PM, Jeff Potts said:

I'm rereading the e-mail, because I can't believe that someone read my submission and requested a manuscript in less than 24 hours.

Congratulations! Are you worried at all, that it may have been too quick?

 

On 4/15/2021 at 10:05 AM, Shamrock said:

Personalised Replies 2

(one offer to be put on 'waiting list' if there really is one.)

I noted Shamrock's response here... 

It's sad that we have to question this but a raw reality. 

 

Thanks for sharing, guys!

 

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On 4/14/2021 at 8:03 AM, Shamrock said:

I can understand why so many people decide to self-publish - it is so soul destroying trying to bag an agent or publisher these days.

I'm starting to see things a lot more different now. I know a writer who is self-published. Was given two book deals by two small publishers but didn’t think the returns would be worth it.

 

Yes, some people self-publish because of the above, but many because they want to have creative control over their own work, and bigger returns. 

 

It might not be such a bad thing in the long run!

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Seeing that people commented on the last time, I'll do another update:

 

Going the agent route:

50 Submissions,

48 Rejections (2 submissions still outstanding)

2 Requests for Manuscripts.

3 Personalized replies.

 

Targeting Indie publishers that accept direct submissions:

11 Submissions,

4 Rejections,

2 Requests for manuscript.

5 Personalized replies.

 

 

I have two agents who have not responded at all, and I'm about ready to write them off.  The submissions were done through QueryManager, and those almost ALWAYS give you a thumbs up or down.  I checked one agent's Twitter feed as to what they were doing.  They closed down their submissions to deal with the backlog they had - that was on April 16th.  So, I'm thinking this is just going to be a long delayed rejection.

 

The other agent?  Not sure what the holdup is.  I suspect my submission is lost under a pile of something, or down on the bottom of a list they never fully check.  Whatever.  As far as I am concerned, the door has closed on literary agents.  It is a pointless waste of my time - roughly six months of my life flushed down the toilet - for a crowd that's more interested in the attributes of the author than they are of their work.

 

I received two more publisher rejections.  One was from a publisher that required a full manuscript submission.  From them I got a standard rejection letter back.

 

The other - the publisher that requested my manuscript in less than 24 hours - loved the story, thought the writing was solid and so on, BUT...

 

Supposedly I used too much descriptive detail, and that could make the reader lose sight of Frankie as a character (I have no idea why you'd say this...the books focus on no one BUT the main character).  And then the "I'd like to see this world through Frankie's eyes," meaning: change this to First Person.  I really don't know why they didn't just come out and say, "This needs to be written in First Person."  In any case, that isn't going to happen for lots of technical reasons that I can't mention here.

 

I have 3 beta readers and an editor that loved the story - one of them even reached out to me to get their hands on book 2.  I have videos of book reviewers on YouTube telling me they want prose and descriptive detail.  If it comes down to listening to an editor or actual readers, I'll side with the readers every time.  They're the people who buy the books.

 

I half-considered responding to this latest rejection, and explain the reasons why I don't use First Person.  However, I don't think it's worth the time or effort.  This is an editorial bias, and they don't care about whatever reasons I may have.  Plus, I've resigned myself to the fact that no publisher is going to touch this book, based on their perceptions of the market.  So I'm just gearing up for self-publishing.

 

The Harry Potter series was written in Third Person.  And - to the shock of everyone - it actually sold well.

 

Normally, I'd ignore this rejection and just keep plugging away, however, the number of publishers open to me is really rather limited.  If I were job-hunting, I'd play the numbers game, knowing that someone would pick up the book.  But the numbers are mighty thin with indie publishers who will: 1) publish Fantasy, 2) accept unagented submissions, and 3) are open to submissions.  I have one more publisher opening up in July, and they'll probably be my last attempt.  Come January 1, 2022 I'm prepping to self-publish.

 

In a final sort of jab to the nose, I received am e-mail from Monster Ivy concerning their new releases this summer.  So, in addition to rejecting my book, they also used my contact information to try and push their lineup.

 

Pardon me while I go wash the salt out of that wound.

 

But I'm not bitter.  😄

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