By contrast, self publishing gives you total control. There is no question about the book coming out, which means you can look ahead to the next one while you’re editing the first. You can do as much of the work yourself or hire editors, blurb writers and cover designers in exactly the same way a publishing house does.
So I sent out a few submissions back in May to test the water. I got one reply from an ex-agent, but it was weeks before any of the others got back to me. In July, I decided to take the reins myself. I put on my editor’s hat and immediately stripped out an entire subplot. This here is the big difference between self and trad publishing. Because you have no one to rely on (unless you’re paying for editorial services) the buck stops with you, the writer. You need to look at the whole story from a publisher's perspective and question everything. In my case, this subplot clashed genres with the main theme, and while I loved those chapters, they simply had to go.
At the beginning of August I was sitting with a final, edited manuscript and decided to give the traditional route one last go. I sent a sample off to an agent and received an automated response: “We hope to get back to you within twelve weeks.”
I checked my previous agent submissions, the ones that went out in May. Of the ten agents I sent samples to, only four got back to me. The get out clause is in their submission guidelines: “If you haven’t heard from us in x weeks, consider it a no.”
Do I really want to wait twelve weeks, just twiddling my thumbs wondering whether or not I’ll even get a reply? I can’t start work on a sequel because I have no idea how a publishing house will want to edit book 1. What if they want a major character cut? What if they want a different ending?
Sod that. All the work was in place. I’d even done the internal layouts while I was pondering. All I had left to do was grab a cover and upload the thing. And so, less than a week after getting that auto response, my book is published and promoted and even part of the Amazon Storyteller 2021 competition.
So what next? Book 2 - that's what's next, and best of all, I can get to work on it while I’m all fired up. I’ve got a bunch of characters I love, and they’re all set up to take on something new. I've got a few ideas, but not much else. I'm just going to dive in and see what happens. How's that for a plan?