In June, I sent the manuscript of my novel Cheer to dozens of agents and I was thrilled when I got some nibbles. None of those nibbles panned out, though. As I was debating whether to send submission materials to dozens more agents or to just lock the manuscript in a bottom drawer in defeat and try not to think of the hundreds of hours I’d devoted to it, I came across Jessica Park’s “How Amazon Saved My Life.” It was as if by stumbling upon that essay, the universe was telling me something.
Overnight, I went from frantically researching agents to obsessively researching the world of Kindle Direct Publishing. It seemed like the perfect option for Cheer. Here’s why:
— Trying to get the attention of agents, who seem solely interested in uncovering the next Fifty Shades of Grey, was proving elusive. Rather than beg an agent to take me on, I’d prefer to prove my novel-writing mettle directly with readers of women’s fiction. Case in point: one of the issues agents had with Cheer is that it’s short — a bit over 60,000 words. That is technically novel length, but most novels out there run 75,000-100,000 words. However, I am a journalist by trade, paid for my economy of words, and I knew the story was complete — just written tight. I didn’t want to manufacture inessential scenes just to hit a word count. And I suspect readers out there (especially lovers of beach reads) will appreciate that. With Kindle Direct Publishing, I get to find out!
— Even if an author is lucky enough to land an agent, between incorporating agent edits, the months it takes for agents to pitch to publishers, and the lengthy publication process, it typically takes years for a book to finally get to print. Once I decided to self-publish, I determined I could pull everything together — final, final edits, professional author photo, cover design — in about eight weeks and at a nominal cost.
— Being an indie author no longer has the stigma it once did.
— Whether 10 readers buy Cheer or 10,000 do, I can earn more by selling directly to readers than I can by relying on a traditional publisher to distribute my book.
Of course, I’m taking a risk. Without the benefit of an editorial and marketing team at a traditional publisher, Cheer may go absolutely nowhere. But given the low cost of self-publishing, I’d be foolish not to find out whether readers will love the story of Cheer as much as I do. Stay tuned…