Your novel is ready. You’ve worked really hard and come an amazing distance. Some would call it the hero’s journey through the primeval forests of the subconscious where you’ve met with all sorts of tricksters, goblins, gremlins, to say nothing of the few dragons you’ve slain along the way. But the novel has been born and you’ve raised it with all the energy you could muster. Now it’s ready to meet the world.
Did you know that an essential part of the hero’s journey is returning from your conquest with the booty and presenting it to the world? Now’s your chance!
You try to find an agent. Most advice books I have read are really quite amusing. They tell you that you should be careful about your choice of agent—as if agents were lining up outside your door clamouring for your book.
I can only speak of my experience. At the outset, [many years ago] I tried to learn about the publishing industry by actually contacting it. I tried to call as many agents as I could find. The response was “Have you been published before?” My answer was an honest “no”. I sensed a coolness settling over the conversation followed by a haste to get off the line.
I took advice on writing query letters to publishers, thinking I knew how to avoid sliding into the slush pile. Months later, my inquiries led to the “not for our list” response letter. By this time, I had developed a clear mental image of the publishing industry—very much like a Norman castle, with moats filled with alligators and a drawbridge which never opened.
This is not everyone’s experience. There are a few writers, who send in a manuscript and shortly thereafter receiver an eager call from the publishing house. This is rare. This happens in movies far more frequently than in real life.
So what did I do? I was absolutely committed to Harry Jenkins, the protagonist of the three novels in The Osgoode Trilogy, Conduct in Question, Final Paradox and A Trial of One. Harry deserved to meet the world. In 2005, I began my research of POD companies. These are companies [you’ll find them all over the web] which will publish your novel. And they provide the services that the traditional publishing houses have, such as editing, copy-editing, proof reading and cover design. But, it is the author who pays for these services. Because I had long since given up the fantasy of martini lunches with an editor ready to give me a six figure advance, I was ready to consider this route. And hundreds of thousands of authors do exactly this.
So many industries are engaged in “downloading” costs. In the world of POD [print on demand] these costs land on the shoulders of the author. Many writers are offended by this. But the reality is that the traditional publishing houses simply cannot afford to invest in a new writer. And so, I thought, why shouldn’t I invest in Harry Jenkins? Let him meet his public.
I continued sifting through the myriad POD companies. At last, I decided to investigate iUniverse, which seemed to me to be the only one with a “staged” program. If you get to the various levels, editor’s choice, reader’s choice, Publisher choice, you may get to the Star Program where your book is introduced to a traditional publisher. And so, it seemed to provide me with another route to the promise land. In the meantime, Harry gets out into the world and into the hands of quite a number of readers.
I hope you’ll visit my website to read about The Osgoode Trilogy now that you know more about how it all came to life. Another day, I’ll write more about the POD route.
Conduct in Question, Final Paradox, and A Trial of One.