Thursday, October 9, 2014

Indecision about POD


HOW MANY REJECTIONS add up to a realization that you’ll probably never get an agent? Conventional wisdom tells us to stick with the query letters even when there’s a floodtide of rejections. Even after months or years of submitting to publishers and agents.

I recently completed a coming-of-age manuscript and sent over forty query letters to agents (only those with an interest in young adult novels). If you take the word of agents, only the rare query receives a positive response. As soon as my rejections arrive, I discard them. However, this one was still in my trash and it’s typical of the emails I get: “We receive over 300 manuscripts a week and can only take on a handful of new writers every year.” (Vicki Le Feuvre of the Darley Anderson agency)

This means a handful of accepted writers from 15,600 queries. It’s to the advantage of agents that their email accounts hardly accommodate the overflow of queries. That we writers continue to query in spite of devastating odds gives them a plethora of choices. This is not meant to disparage hard working agents. They have a difficult function in the best of times, and this isn’t the best of times for books, especially novels. Publishers who are feeling the heat of competition from movies, Netflix, YouTube, etc., pass along the stress to agents.

The internet is packed with advice for us writers to keep querying until we get an agent. Don’t self publish. However, the odds are overwhelming that I’ll never get an agent. Given the advances in computer technology, publish on demand (POD) provides a way to bypass having an agent. The logical choice for me is not whether to query agents, but whether to self publish.

POD has the potential to breathe fresh air into the industry. Whether this will challenge traditional publishing remains to be seen. However, as insistent warnings against self-publishing grow strident, it sounds like traditional publishing is worried.

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