Posted by Angelica R. Jackson
In case you missed the update on my One of Those "How I Got My Agent" Stories post, it now has an addendum:
I have since parted ways with this agent; although we like and respect each other, it turned out our business and communication styles did not match up. I sincerely wish him and his clients the best, and am leaving this (slightly edited) version of this post up because it represents an important part of my writing journey. Hopefully, other good news will follow this somewhat regretful news!
It was of course a difficult decision to make, and not one I'm going to rehash here. But what this experience did make me do, was to take a much harder look at what I want for myself and my book.
Do I want to try for another agent? I know several agented writers, and agents, and this experience has not made me anti-agent. But it has made me want to take the time to ponder the pros and cons of being in a contract with an agent.
Do I want to submit to publishers open to unagented writers? For this route, I'd definitely want an attorney on my side to handle the actual contract negotiation. One of the big reasons I'd wanted an agent was a lack of confidence that I knew the important parts of a contract to fight for. Meaning, I could fight for something that's actually relatively minor, and give up something that's actually more important for the long run. So by hiring an attorney, I'd be putting some money out, but also putting a lot of doubts to rest.
Do I want to take on the control myself and self-publish? Having control, and keeping a larger portion of the profits, are certainly attractive--but all the risk will also fall on my shoulders. There are so many options and sources of information out there, it's nearly a part-time job to sort through all of it. But I have to admit, my skillsets are genuinely suited to self-publishing, so the decision will ultimately rest on whether I could make a realistic return on my investment.
So, I obviously have some decisions in my future, at a crossroads in my publishing journey. I've been doing quite a bit of research online and here are some resources I'd like to share:
Joel Friedlander has a blog called The Book Designer with tons of information for the self-publisher: everything from the nitty gritty of formatting, to cover design, to promotion. The "Self-publishing: Carnival of the Indies" roundups he posts on Sundays are particularly helpful, since he highlights great resources across the web.
J.A. Konrath is a promoter of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, with an almost religious fervor for the subject. An interesting conversation about rights and traditional publishing started up last week with Konrath and an executive from Kensington publishing. The tone gets needlessly aggressive in places, but it's an excellent crash course in some contract clauses.
I also purchased a book called Deal Breakers 2013: Contract Terms Writers Should Avoid by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which had a lot of helpful details, and the author maintains a website with the same kind of information.
I'm not going to link to arguments either for or against getting an agent, because there are just too many! A simple Google search will turn up plenty, if you're still looking for data to play a part in that decision. That's true of whether or not to self-publish, whether to try for a big publishing house or a small press, etc. But I wasn't intending to do an exhaustive post at this point, just to share a few places with information that fit where I am in my decision-making process this week.
So wish me luck that the next fork in the path gets me where I want to go!