The Kindle Store: The New Slush Pile?


We have spoken on this blog several times about what the future holds for agents in a world where publishers are disintermediated by the dominance of e-books and the marginalisation of bookstores.

Some agents are responding to the fall in advances and the collapse of print by seeking alternative revenue streams: editing services, creative writing classes, and, worst of all, becoming publishers.

However, it’s now becoming very clear that some agents have decided that the time spent dealing with the fire-hose of submissions would be better spent scouring the Amazon rankings for indie writers.

When I suggested this on a writing forum, I was told to “get real”. Some people are so scared of the changes occurring in the publishing industry that they are willing to go on record and deny basic, provable facts.

Noah Lukeman has been closed to submissions for some time. That in itself is not surprising, a simple glance at the list of awards his clients have won will tell you that this an agent in demand. What is notable is that he is now signing self-publishers.

The powerhouse agency Trident Media Group have been extremely vocal about what a terrible idea it is for agents to become publishers. What are they doing instead? They have signed five self-published writers this year.

To anyone who still doubts that this is occurring, or that it’s becoming more common, here are a list of self-published writers that have been approached by, and signed by, New York agents in the last twelve months: Mel Comley, LC Evans, Victorine Lieske, Scott Neumyer, Amanda Hocking, John Locke, Linda Welch, Lynda Hillburn, Christopher Smith, Nancy Johnson, Colleen Houck.

On top of those eleven writers, several more have been approached by publishers directly (both foreign and domestic), or have been approached by agents but haven’t signed anything yet. Over half were signed in the last three months.

This is far from an exhaustive list. This was an hour’s research on one self-publishing forum. I’m sure there are lots more. It doesn’t include indie writers who snagged an agent through querying with their impressive sales numbers, and it obviously doesn’t include successful indie writers who have no interest in retaining an agent.

I’m not sure why anyone would argue against this. It makes perfect sense. If a self-published writer is in the Top 200, they have something special on their hands. They have built a huge audience, often with no expenditure other than time.

Smart agents will realise that even though they have sold thousands of e-books, they haven’t come close to saturating the market yet. After all, over 70% of sales are still in print, and most indies either don’t bother with a print version, or haven’t been able to get it into stores.

And even if you go further down the rankings, and the quality becomes a little more uneven, it has to be better than looking through the dreck that makes up most slush-piles. On top of that, there is always the chance that you will catch a rising indie star before they have fully broken out.

I don’t want to get into the discussion now about whether writers should have agents at all. That’s a whole other can of worms, and I’m not opening it today.

Let’s just assume, for the purposes of this discussion, that any writer who’s smart enough to get a self-published book into the Top 200 is smart enough to make that decision for themselves, and to educate themselves about all the pitfalls surrounding contracts and whatnot.

That said, this development raises a number of questions for self-publishers. First is, do you even want a publishing deal? This might seem like a stupid question, but for writers that have been through the trade publishing mill, and have switched over to self-publishing, this is a real question.

They are enjoying the creative control, the reduced time to market, the lack of restrictions on titles released per year, the freedom to write anything, and, of course, the far superior royalty rates. Also, they have built an audience in print, and a trade deal wouldn’t have the advantage of exposing them to as many new readers.

However, for indie writers who haven’t been trade published before, there is at least 70% of the market they haven’t tapped yet. For them, a print deal with a large house that can get their books in stores across America, and boost their profile with a promotional push in mainstream media, is a very attractive proposition.

The main question for these writers is, what are you willing to give up for a print deal? Reduced royalties are a given. But are you willing to take your e-book off the market before a deal is signed? Are you willing to restrict your output? How much control are you willing to cede over the creative process? Can you still self-publish other work, and what restrictions will there be on that?

These are all tough questions, and each indie writer in this position will have to answer them for themselves. Obviously, the terms of the deal will be a big factor. But it’s not all about money. Would a big cheque be enough for you to risk losing the audience you have carefully built up by having no new work out for at least a year?

Ovolution & Other Stories by JJ Toner

Fellow Irishman – and all-round good egg – JJ Toner has released his first e-book, a collection of ten fun, humorous science-fiction shorts (although you get a lot of story in each one).

I bought it the other day, read the first one yesterday, and will enjoy dipping into the rest over the next week. If you like surreal, absurd stories, if you like science-fiction that’s not afraid to crack a smile, or if you like Douglas Adams or Grant Naylor (Red Dwarf), then you are sure to enjoy these.

Check them out at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords, and follow his blog here.

Let’s Get Digital

I still haven’t sent the manuscript off to the editor, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been playing around with the structure, but I think I’ve got it now.

The first part will be called “The Digital Revolution” and will encompass a lot of the themes I have been writing about on this blog: the challenges facing the publishing industry, piracy, the future for agents and booksellers, Amazon and so on.

This will be followed by a brief section on how you can make money in this changing climate with information on submitting to agents and publishing houses, short story magazine markets, and, of course, the various places where you can sell self-published work.

Next up is the heart of the book, a hands-on guide to digital self-publishing. This will be familiar to any of you who have been following my series INDIE PUBLISHING FOR INTERNATIONAL WRITERS, except all the information will be updated, rewritten, professionally edited, and put in a slightly more logical order.

The final section was a last-minute addition, and it’s called “Success Stories”. First, I thought of writing about 10 or 20 indie writers who have all achieved success in one way or another. Then, I thought it would be much better if we heard it from them directly, in their own words.

I have some amazing contributors who have generously agreed to take part, but I can’t reveal their identities just yet. But trust me, these stories are going to look amazing side-by-side, and I can’t wait to show them to you. The release date is pencilled in for the last week of the June.

And, as I mentioned before, the whole 50,000 word e-book will be available free in PDF format here on this blog. If you want a version that will work on your e-reader or smartphone, you will have to pay $2.99 for it.

I’m aware that this might be unfair for anyone with eyesight difficulties, and I am trying to come up with a solution. I’m toying with the idea of relying on the honesty of the general public, and asking those with eyesight difficulties to email me, and I will send them the mobi or epub file free of charge. If anyone has a better idea (and there’s got to be a better idea), please let me know.

I think the free version has a very good chance of being popular, especially considering that it’s based on a blog which has had over 11,000 views in its first two months.

I’m hoping that those that find the free version useful, will either spring for the paid version, gift it to someone else, or purchase on of my other titles. I will have costs to cover, and I may end up making a loss on it.

But if the free version is hugely popular, that will be its own reward.

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time he spends outside. He writes fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

32 Replies to “The Kindle Store: The New Slush Pile?”

  1. Hey, David. Thanks for that great plug for my book.

    It sounds like “Let’s Get Digital” will be a blast of fresh air. Including contributions from other authors sounds like a great idea. I’m looking forward to it. My eyesight’s failing as I type this, btw. (Is there no way to adjust font size in PDF?)


    1. James – PDFs don’t work well on phones and e-readers because they can’t be resized – if they did we wouldn’t have to spend our time pulling our hair out over mobi and epub formatting!

      I decided to make the PDF free and the EPUB and MOBI only as paid versions to try and recoup some of the costs (such as editing), as well as, of course, for the time put in on my side. But it doesn’t take much to keep me fed and watered, so if the paid version is a success, I will look at making it free on Amazon too.

      One solution could be just to have all three versions available for free download on the blog. However, this might completely kill the sales of the paid version, plus, one other thing I have to keep in mind is that the purchasers of the paid version could be annoyed if the exact same thing is free on my blog. At least if it is a different format, with the extra work going into the epub and mobi files, I have some justification.

      I could be convinced either way by a strong argument though.


  2. I actually used to hang out on and, and even half a decade ago, I remember hearing about a few writers who agents contacted to offer representation. The number of reports I’ve heard of agents tracking down self-publishers has only increased in frequency, since.

    …PDF file readers do have a “zoom” function, for anybody with eyesight issues, so I don’t get the problem. *shrug*

    I’ve noticed that the self publishers most vehemently against trade publishing are often the ones who aren’t exactly ready to publish. Which makes me wonder about the defensive vehemence against self publishing.

  3. I’m also someone who has done a 180 on self-publishing over the last several months. Admittedly, it was the Amanda Hocking rise that caught my attention, but that wasn’t what changed my mind. When I started looking into Amanda’s case, I discovered information from quite a few other writers. Then I started talking to a couple of people I know in the trad publishing industry. I started seeing more instances of published authors who were unhappy with their Big 6 publisher, and these authors weren’t changing houses, they were self-pubbing. The final straw was that discussion with the agent about how bad the industry situation was right now.

    Still, because I don’t have book length fiction published yet, I am considering querying the novel I’m working on, thinking of it as a platform-building move. Assuming I could get a contract that would also let me continue self-pubbing.

    (And WOW to that mess over at AW. It’s hard for some of the people involved to say they don’t have anything against self-publishing considering the blogs/websites they run aside from AW. I backed away slooowly.)

    1. Hi Margo,

      I think we are in reasonably similar positions. I decided to self-publish some shorts to test the market, gain practical experience of digital self-publishing, and to see if I enjoyed the experience. It was positive on all three metrics.

      But that’s not the only factor that led me to withdraw my novel from the agents who still had the full and self-publish.

      Now, my logic here might be a little simplistic for some, but this is what I did. I wrote down a number. This was the amount of money I thought an agent could get me in terms of an advance (and that’s all that most writers, especially new writers, will see). Then I figured out how many books I would have to sell to make that money on my own. Then I estimated whether I could cover my costs, plus sell at least that number of books. I guessed that I could.

      And that’s not even getting into whether I could have got an agent or not. I’m guessing I could have, eventually, given the request rate for fulls, and getting as far as the phone conversation twice, and having one agent that wanted to represent me then suddenly (and inexplicably) cut all contact.

      But in the end, it was pure numbers. Now, I could be wrong in my estimates (on either side), but that’s how I decided.

      Oh and that whole AW thing – yeah staying away for a while. Maybe things will cool down. Maybe not. Maybe it will just become more of an echo-chamber.

  4. New here. Reading all your great insights to indie publishing and ebooks. I’m about to take the plunge. I too have noticed the tone of stridency and even outrage against using this new technology. I can’t believe a respected publisher got tossed off AW. That makes no sense.

    My solution to the pdf no zoom issue on my kindle is to make the font huge in the source file -like 18 to 20- you can play around with it to find a decent size that everyone ought to be able to read.

    Thanks for your posts.

    1. Hi Jolea,

      Welcome aboard! I’m trying not to talk about the whole AW thing, but it aint easy. You can guess my views.

      Thank you for the suggestion on the PDF file. Maybe I can put two up there – one with standard font and one with large font for those with eyesight difficulties – good idea.


  5. Kristine Kathryn Rusch with her series, The Business Rusch of Publishing asks for a donation. There’s a paypal tab inserted at the end of the blog post. There’s no price tag, just a request to donate what the reader thinks is fair. I chipped in $5 so right there, you’d make more money off people like me, lol.

    1. Hi Jolea,

      I’m looking into a PayPal Donate button to go alongside the free PDFs. I think that’s a great idea. There are some complications with the free WordPress setup I’m currently on, but nothing that can’t be fixed.


  6. The vehemence against self-pubbing coming from some quarters amazes me–and not necessarily from those IN the industry, but just from guys sitting at their desks, banging away on the keyboard, as yet unpublished themselves and deriding those who have chosen to take advantage of the new technology.

    I saw yesterday that Robin Sullivan had been banned from Absolute Write, and when I read the particular thread that got her (and another) into such trouble, I sat back and just shook my head. Those defending the establishment were very angry in their tones, and yet the moderator came down cursing at Robin and co! I was flabbergasted.

    I look forward to the full version of your publishing guide, especially the success stories. It’s always insightful to read how others became successful. Kudos, sir, for your hard work here–and for suffering the abuse of those on the forums.

    1. Hi Brondt,

      This is the problem as I see it. The internet is disintermediating the entire publishing industry. Authors can self-publish for low cost and sell direct to readers or through a retailer like Amazon. Publishing houses do very little marketing towards readers, and very little market research on them either. They are geared to sell and market books to bookstores. Ebooks are exploding and bookstores are failing, and the USP of a trade deal – printing lots and lots of books cheaply and selling lots and lots of them to bookstores nationwide – becomes worth less every day.

      If you have been slowly working your way up the trade publishing food chain, with one small deal with one small press after another, what you are seeing now is the prize that you have been working towards for all these years disintegrating. Same for people who have spent years querying agents. Same for people who have been just about earning out their advances and getting slightly bigger print deals with each book.

      They are scared, and they are right to be. Change is coming faster than anyone anticipated. Fear does funny things to people. Last week some indie bookstore owners had a go at Blake Crouch and Joe Konrath, as if indie writers were the cause of bookstore’s woes. I don’t take it personally, but I do object to personal attacks. It’s unnecessary, and we can have a healthy vigorous discussion without it.

      I’m sure there are those in trade publishing which would object to every point I have made in this post and in this comment. That’s fine. I think I’m right, but I’m willing to debate. I don’t have a closed mind and a strong, logical argument can convince me to change my mind. After all, I did change my mind 100% about self-publishing. If you had asked me at Christmas, I would have said it might be okay for those coming from trade publishing with strong reverted backlists. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said it was a waste of time for all but a handful.

      But then the e-book market grew much faster than expected and all sorts of indie writers started selling well – most of them with no trade publishing background. Successful writers like Bob Mayer and Barry Eisler walked away from trade publishing. Agents and publishing houses started chasing indie writers.

      I was forced to examine my assumptions, and I found them to be flawed. So, I revised them.

      I don’t hold onto them as Truths. In fact, things are changing so fast that what is true today could be false tomorrow. I think that if you don’t want to get swallowed up by these forces that are disrupting the industry and causing massive change, you must be prepared to re-examine your assumptions continually, and act accordingly.

      1. Yeah, I made a complete turn around in my attitude towards self publishing since the start of the year as well.

    2. Brondt. AbsoluteWrite is a joke and cannot be taken seriously. i.e.: I’ve been banned twice. First, because as they said a newbie can’t have his own opinion (hint; I’m an award winning screenwriter / director). So when I thought something otherwise than the dear owner, I told a story what I experienced I got a week long ban there. Than the owner twitted to all her followers what an idiot I’m (Yes. One of the signs of a true professional. 🙂 Defaming professionals is a cool thing at AbsoluteWrite.). And the second ban came a month ago (This time forever) as I had a different opinion about websites than the moderator and she tried to tell me why my website sucks and she tried to defaming me after I was capable to defend my own work and the website of others as she gave false advices to people. So after they failed greately they deleted the whole conversation, even from my own profile, then I also got a ban, along with a “You’re a creep.” message, which is another sign of how professional AbsoluteWrite and the staff really is.

      Personally I would suggest to avoid AbsoluteWrite.

      1. This is the conversation I was hoping to avoid.

        I’m a member of AW, and I have had my own run-ins with certain people, but I feel compelled to inject a little bit of balance here, if you don’t mind.

        1. I have friends there. I don’t think we can attach a label to the whole group, that’s not fair. You can have a problem with individual members, for whatever reason, but you can’t label every member.

        2. AW provides amazing services to writers, including warning about scam agents and publishers, advice on how to query an agent, and an excellent online critiquing service.

        I don’t agree with their assumptions regarding the publishing industry, or their attitude towards anyone that is positive about self-publishing as a viable option for writers. I also don’t agree with the banning of the two members. You’re unhappy with your treatment there too. You’re not alone.

        I don’t think they are very friendly towards indie writers, in fact, you aren’t even allowed to use that term. Their house. Their rules, but as a result, some people don’t go there anymore. I can understand that.

        I would like to remain a member there. At least that might provide a different perspective to anyone considering self-publishing. The other option is that I stop going there, but then maybe people only hear one side of the argument.

      2. You’re right. Sorry. And I’m not speaking about the other members, just about the owner and the moderators. I also had friends there. But I don’t really agree with your second reason as I already saw with many false advices there, between the warnings (To hide a lie, present it between two truths.). Those advices rather seems to be controlled advices. to control writers (Be a sheep, follow the rules of traditional publishing, don’t ever has a unique thought, etc, etc…). In my opinion AW was created for one purpose; to promote one side, to teach one agenda. No more. AW is a forward post to brainwash naive and talented writers with unique thoughts and to turn them to mediocre or worse.

      3. Well, I haven’t signed up. I had been lurking for a little while, trying to see whether or not I wanted to jump in. I had pretty much already decided against it. I was just shocked at the rhetoric, though, and that really is why I don’t participate in forums much at all…

        1. There are a lot of self-publishers both on Kindle Boards and elsewhere who say they feel it is a hostile place. I can understand that, I have been on the end of some hostility myself (but only when I first started saying positive things about self-publishing).

          It’s a real pity because there are lots of nice people there. I think I will just have to stick the parts of the forum I like – like the short story section – and just avoid the self-publishing section altogether.

    1. Yes, but I don’t think the text re-flows properly, and I think that leaves you with formatting issues.

      Plus, I don’t think you can change the font size of a PDF when you are viewing it on a phone or a Kindle.

  7. I blogged on this subject about a month ago, and your experience is confirming all my anecdotal evidence: the e-book is the new query. You ask a valid question–do successful self-pubbers really need agents or publishers? But as you say: tapping into the other 70% of the market is kind of a biggie. I think the specific audience should factor in. An older sales demographic might mean more sales in paper..

    Very interesting about Absolute Write. I’ve always trusted them, because real industry watchdogs like Victoria Strauss post there. But recently I found a legit small press had been maligned on the AW boards by a certifiable lunatic (who also threatened to kill Bill Gates over a faulty computer.) But that complaint alone got the press blackballed by RWA and other big organizations. Not cool.

    1. Hi Anne,

      Demographics is an interesting one. There is some research to suggest that boomers are actually leading the e-book charge. Because you can automatically resize the font on every book, suddenly those that were restricted to the small, expensive collection of large print books, now have a new world opened to them. Makes sense. Plus, many are retired and have plenty of reading time.

      I think genre demographics might be more important. It’s clear a lot of thriller and paranormal romance fans have made the switch to e-books. Can the same be said for literary fiction and historical fiction? I’m not so sure. We certainly haven’t seen any indie writers top the charts in those genres – not as far as I am aware – although Cheryl Shireman has been selling very well with her literary novel.

      I think it’s only a matter of time though. Millions of devices are being sold every month which can be used as e-readers – iPhones, iPads, android phones, and all sorts of tablets coming out. E-reader sales are booming, and e-books sales follow e-reader sales as sure as night follows day.


  8. As an editor and a trade publishing professional with more than 14 years’ experience, I can tell you that much of the opposition to self-publishing coming from traditional authors/agents/publishers is due to two factors: (1) fear and (2) assumption of poor quality. The first is in direct response to the crumbling of the traditional sales model, which, funnily enough, doesn’t actually benefit publishers or authors that much anyway because it is based on sale or return rather than firm sales. The collapse of major players such as REDgroup and the dire straits many publishers are in reflect the unsustainable nature of the industry model.

    The second holds true in part — there is some real dross out there in the marketplace — but I’ve found that the self-publishing market, rather than being awash with DIY vanity publishers, is really opening up to some great new authors who go about publishing their work with professionalism and pride. That’s not to say that there’s not some churning out rubbish that is unedited, uninteresting and a waste of even .99 c, but there are also some dedicated and talented authors who have chosen to bypass the time and heartache of seeking an agent or traditional publishing contract. End result is that all authors have to trust that readers are able to choose what they like and what they don’t. Reading free excerpts and doing some basic research will help readers weed out the dross, from the glib but glossy, from the real gems. Having said that, I’d rather spend $2.99 on a stinker than the $24.95 it would cost me in a bookstore. And I’m a “tangible” book person at heart (until they make an ereader that’s safe in the bath).

    I still wouldn’t recommend self-publishing for all authors. Some genres lend themselves to self-publishing much more readily, and not all authors have the technical or social networking skills to adequately publish and promote their own work. Having said that, if the choice is between a manuscript languishing in a drawer or being out there getting read by even a handful of “fans”, then maybe it is worth it for most budding authors. As for most aspects of publishing, it is about managing expectations. Anyone thinking that they will become a millionaire or overnight sensation through self-publishing is probably setting the bar too high, but if you want to make something out of your work, develop a fan base of readers (however small or large) and avoid the many rejection letters, grimaces and tears on the path to traditional publishing (which, by the way, still has no guarantee of stellar sales), then it might just be worth doing.

    I’d also advise authors not to close off any option out of narrow mindedness or prejudice. The savvy author will utilise as many different channels to readers as possible, and that includes using writers’ sites such as AW, etc, even if they appear slightly biased towards tradition — which too, will change as more self-published eBook authors achieve their dreams and share their stories, as Dave is doing.

    1. Hi Karin,

      I was working for Google at the beginning of 2004 before most people in Europe even knew about internet advertising and pay-per-click ads.

      People didn’t understand the power of the internet and how it would inevitably destroy the business of any middleman who didn’t adapt. Travel agents were one of the first, but they weren’t the only ones. Anyone who was an agent or middleman in an import/export chain was just destroyed.

      Companies could now advertise direct to their customers at minimal cost.

      I see the same parallels in publishing. Writers can either sell direct to their readers, or through a retailer like Amazon, for minimal cost.

      They don’t need publishers anymore.

      Sure, publishers can add a lot of value to the product, and they can get you vastly increased distribution in print, but writer’s don’t need them, because publishers no longer have a monopoly on the distribution network.

      And as bookshops and print books continue their inevitable decline, the biggest value that publishers add (the ability to sell lots and lots of print books to stores), will disappear.

      As you pointed out, the model is unsustainable.

      Now, the writing has been on the wall for a couple of years but the large publishers have done nothing about it. In fact, the only big decisions they made were futile attempts to hold back the digital tide – directly harming their bottom line and that of their authors. DRM. High e-book prices. Hardback windowing. Low royalty rates. And, worst of all for publishers, incredible slowness in getting those backlists up.

      I think you are right that a lot of the hostility towards self-publishers comes from fear. And I think part of that fear is that you have a huge amount of writers that have been querying for years, writing new books that they hope have greater commercial appeal, and feel like they are getting closer and closer.

      You have another whole load of writers who have been working their way up the food chain from the smaller presses or e-publishers, hoping to get that Big 6 deal one day.

      Now all those guys see the dream they have been fighting for become worth less and less. As someone put it the other day, they have all been fighting to climb this long, long ladder, and now people are telling them that it is up against the wrong wall.

      That’s bound to generate defensiveness and hostility.

      But I also think there is an element of resentment. I think some see self-publishers as snotty-nosed kids who haven’t paid their dues, and that their success is unfair, because it should be them.

      Maybe they are right, but until they move that ladder, that’s not going to change.

      In terms of the amount of dross out there, yes, there is a lot. But they makes no difference to my bottom line. Each unprofessional looking book that is put on the market just makes mine look better.

      And in terms of the sheer amount of books, Amazon has had millions of books for years. It hasn’t effected their popularity, not anyone’s ability to find good books to read.

      People find them like they always have – reviews and recommendations. Nothing has changed there except the internet makes sharing that information easier.

      In terms of what I would recommend to someone, it really depends on the writer. The first thing I would recommend to anyone is to make absolutely 100% sure that their work is ready. If it is, and they think it is wide commercial appeal, and if that’s what they want to do, then by all means submit it to agents/publishers.

      The query process isn’t all bad, and you can learn a lot about how to present your work, and get good feedback on what needs to change to give it a little more commerical appeal.

      However, I wouldn’t waste too much time on it. If your work is as tight as you can make it, and you are not getting anywhere in your agent search, then by all means explore self-publishing.

      It isn’t right for everyone. It requires a hell of a lot of hard work. But that’s true of either path.

      I agree with your last point 100%. A writer should never close doors. Smart writers (right now at least) should consider having a mixed portfolio. Even if you are a successful self-publisher, there are things a trade deal can do for you that you can’t do on your own. And while print is still 70+% of the market, you would be foolish not to at least consider any offers that came your way.

      And for those starting out, why not self-publish a short story or two while you are querying? It’s not an either/or world. And it will give you something positive to do while you are on the agent hunt. Plus, if you then decide to self-publish your novel, at least you will have some experience under your belt. And if you bag an agent, you will have already started building an audience.


  9. Amusingly enough, it’s this trend which I’m trying to ride! I’ve always dreamed of having a ‘real’ deal in the publishing world, a Big 6 contract or something similar. I just want to walk into Waterstones and see my book on the shelf, i always have. But after a couple of years trying to interest an agent – similar to you Dave, getting close here and there (unbelievably close with a publisher called Summersdale) it just never quite happened. I’d never considered self pubb’ing, what with the stigma that used to be attached to it (and still was, when I first started querying agents several years ago). Now, seeing how the wind is bowing, I’ve made the decision to DIY – largely because, I have high hopes of it being a spring board to the print publishing deal I haven’t managed to secure any other way. As time moves on I’m starting to think differently again – that perhaps self publishing is an end in itself rather that a back door to legacy. One of the benefits of being Indie is just this – being able to change my view and adapt accordingly! So these days I’m only thinking about the results I can achieve myself, online, with an eBook and a marketing department of one. But… I literally work for peanuts, so I think I’m ahead of the curve there!
    Anyhoo, just thought I’d weigh in as there is still in the back of my mind a gleam of a hope that an agent or publisher will come knocking on my door once my sales go through the roof. The only difference now is, I’m not too sure what I’d say. I mean, if I’m making enough money by myself to interest an agent, is that agent going to be able to pull together a package which will guarantee better? 70% royalties and an interactive relationship with my (eventual) audience would be a hard combination to pass up. If a print deal required me not to self publish anything else… wow, that is a big ask. And I haven’t even pubb’d a thing yet! Imagine how fiercely defensive you’d be once you had a major hit on your hands and a loyal following – only to be told to ignore ’em from now on!

    1. Hi Tony,

      I don’t think UK agents are up to speed on this yet. Most of the agents searching for writers in the Kindle Store have been American. No real surprise there, the market is far more advanced in the US.

      I think we will see that change very quickly. Right now, 3 of the Top 5 books in the whole UK Kindle store are written by indie writers. 2 of them from a writing duo who tried to get an agent for years, failed, then self-published four months ago. An amazing story.

      If you do sell well, you will be in a much stronger position to talk to an agent. Look at it this way. If you sell 10,000 books, you are not some writer querying and hoping for any scrap off the table.

      You will have reams of sales data to show you what your book is worth, and what the potential audience in print is. You will know the financial value of your book. While you are querying and not self-publishing, that value is essentially zero – most writers would take any kind of deal.

      Your sales will give you leverage, and that will get you a better deal – if that’s what you want.


  10. An excellent post, David. I shared it everywhere I could.
    Personally, and I mean this in the nicest way, I couldn’t care less if anyone, anywhere, thinks badly of Indie publishing. I have seen great writers stumped by a limited publishing industry, and horrid, utterly garbage books published by that same industry. It’s about time that we had an advantage, however slight, in our favor.
    One more thing: I hear, again and again that authors who publish books through publishing houses have to do their own promotion most of the time. Since we have to do that anyway, why would anyone choose to go that route? If a publisher wishes to offer a large advance, and promise promotion and sales through their resources, that might make it worth the reduced royalties. For most, however, 70% on 2.99 being equal to 10% on $20.00 is reason enough to go Indie!
    –In that vein, I am trying to help as many Indies as I can get recognition and a chance to tell their stories. I hope, that some of them will help me also.

    1. I’m beginning to think that way too.

      And to anyone in trade publishing who complains about the quality of self-published books, I have one word: Snooki

      Not only did they publish that crap, but they gave her a hefty advance, spent a pile on promotion, and lost a ton of money. That money could have paid the advances of scores of good writers. Instead, they torched it on a Z-list celebrity. That’s publishing.

  11. Too right about UK agents not being up to speed. Last month I contacted five agents about ‘Replica’, two of whom had read ‘Remix’ and said they’d like to read my next book. I wanted to know whether the mainstream door was now open for me, and if so what the agents had to offer. I detailed my self-publishing success (two books in the UK Kindle top 100, over 29,000 books sold etc.).

    I’ve had four rejections, only one mentioning my Kindle sales. The fifth, one of the requested submissions, hasn’t got back to me in five weeks.

    I shan’t be approaching any more agents.

    1. Lexi,

      With numbers like that, they should be approaching you. The fact that they aren’t is testament to how behind the times UK agents are in this regard. They probably don’t even know that indie authors currently occupy three of the Top 5 books in the UK Kindle Store.

      If they would rather spend the time going through their slush piles than looking through the Top 100 that’s their loss. And, to be frank, if that’s their approach to business, you are far better off without them.

      I pulled my novel from four agents that were considering it a couple of weeks ago, and decided I was going to self-publish it. My numbers are miniscule in comparison to yours, but I decided I was done with querying, and that if an agent wants to represent me, they can come after me. I doubt that will change.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *