Feb 22, 2011

Kindle self-publishing ... goodbye to agents?

Well guys, here I am at last. Having spent the last fifteen months chasing literary agents I have decided I am doing it no more. I am about to publish THE MESSENGER on Amazon Kindle instead. Publication is instant and worldwide. I will also achieve 70% royalties on sales in the UK and US and 35% elsewhere.

I have come to this decision not least of all because of the somewhat disturbing attitude of literary agents to new writers. I have researched around forty agents and written to twenty-three. Of these, three expressed an interest after receiving the standard opening chapters and asked to see the full manuscript. However, whilst that interest came to nothing I am grateful to those particular agents as it showed that they at least read their slush piles. I realise agents are busy people and understand that they need to advocate certain standards for submissions - double-spaced A4 sheets, synopses that can vary from one paragraph to six pages, enquiry letters with and without personal details, CVs and no CVs, return postage etc. We are also told quite bluntly not to contact an agent to see what is happening to our 'baby' until at least three months has elapsed. And we are warned that agents do not like us making multiple submissions - (which means if we stick to their rules we might have responses from four agents in any one year - if we are lucky). When agents do finally reply it is increasingly the case that the rejection slip is not addressed to us (Dear John) but rather contains a standard "this is not right for us - go away".


My wife, Jill, bought me an Amazon Kindle 3G for Christmas. Wonderful machine! It will store 3,500 books - anyone of which can be purchased and downloaded in seconds. But more importantly (to writers, who, like me, may have been chasing agents for years), the Kindle has a self publishing sector - which I have been investigating for the writing groups to which I belong. Briefly anyone can publish on Kindle. Write your book, upload it and put a price on it. Simples! And you get royalties. No printing costs - no waiting for agents to reply - no publishers telling you that your book will be out in two years. As soon as it's finished, critiqued, edited, proof read - in other words the most polished you can make it - you upload it and then it's up to you. Either sit back and hope it gets noticed or do some agressive marketing and make sure it gets noticed.

I hear you asking "If anyone can publish on Kindle doesn't it mean that there will be books which will not be up to scratch - not good value for money on the Kindle system?"

Yes, I suppose that could be the case - some writers will not take the trouble to have their stories critiqued, edited and proof-read and that's where the Amazon reviewers come into their own. They are not afraid to vent their spleen when they read rubbish. So, it's in the writer's own interests to get his /her story polished.

Anyway, enough from me for now. I will try to write regularly on how the process is going for me and my writing friends who are choosing to take the Kindle path.

If anyone out there has used or is considering using the Kindle publishing route and is happy to talk about the experience write to me on white4wordart@aol.com