Thursday, December 30, 2010

The world of "No"

So I've been thinking about what a game changer this self-publishing revolution is for writers like myself. To give some idea of what it is like for me and tens of thousands of others like me who were never able to garner the interest of agents or publishers, I've been looking back at lists that I keep of my submissions. For this latest novel, No Cure for the Broken Hearted, I sent queries to 128 agents and 138 editors at publishing houses. I was rejected by them all. I've sent similar numbers of queries for six other books, which brings us to a total of roughly 1,800 rejections. I've also written six screenplays. I sent queries to about 300 agents each for those, which adds another 1,800 rejections. For two of these screenplays I paid $85 each for a query e-mail service that sent messages to roughly 5,000 contacts each time. So over twenty years or so of writing, and querying and revising, and querying again, it has meant roughly 13,600 rejections. Sure, most of those people didn't actually say no, they just ignored me, but you get the idea.

Now suddenly for the first time I don't need to get past these gatekeepers to get my work out there. I'm not the only one. Every day I read in writer's forums of writers who got tired of all of the rejections and decided to try this new outlet. What a relief it is to finally escape the world of "no!" Some of these writers are now selling 10,000 copies of their works a month, after being constantly rejected by the publishing industry.

Of course there is some potential downside looming. What happens when tens of thousands of rejected writers all put their works up and start jockeying for attention? How does a reader muddle through all of those choices, including many that were rejected for good reason? Well, maybe it's better if the market figures this out than some harried agent or editor intent on finding the "next big thing." So far I've had 115 sales in my first month, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this new game. I'll breathe a sigh or relief knowing that those rejections are all behind me. Now I just have to finish revising some of those other works that are sitting on my hard drive!

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