Should I find an agent or continue with small presses?
July 16, 2014 8:16 AM Subscribe
I've had some success this past year in publishing through small presses. I'm seeking direction in my literary career. A lot more details inside.
posted by dances_with_sneetches to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've been writing for a number of years now, mostly accumulating trunk novels. After years of failure in trying to find an agent or big publisher, (I'm estimating about 400 queries between various projects) about a year and a half ago, I decided to take my most recent efforts and send them to small publishers. My top three projects were fairly quickly accepted by three different publishers with one novel now in print, a novella coming in August and a novel set for June of next year. An anthology collection which I assembled is also due out in September. In the past year I've finished another novel and another novella (middle grade fiction).
The experience with the small publishers has been good/bad to different degrees. Two of the publishers provided a reasonable edit (the other edit is pending). One publisher has not been very communicative or professional and I imagine I will be mostly on my own for publicity when the work comes out. One has been very professional and the June 2015 publishing date is due to working out proper publicity in advance.
Which leaves the one other publisher. I've enjoyed my experience with the third publisher. They put out my novel, A Predatory Mind, last October. They are really nice people. They performed a fine edit, but the publicity was fairly lacking. I know, I should mostly expect that from a small press, but by those standards, I thought it was less than expected. I've written a sequel to A Predatory Mind and sent it to them in February. Due to internal politics, they hadn't offered me a contract until this past week.
Should I put this offer on hold and look for an agent? Maybe because I've spent so much time agent-hunting in the past, that feels like a black hole. One problem regarding finding an agent is that I jump around in genres between books. Are agents generally unimpressed by people who publish in small presses? My total income for my literary career right now stands around $3000. Not that wonderful, but I suppose there are a lot worse.
Or is it better to keep with small presses, work on the publicity and build a presence? Or is that guaranteeing that my efforts will remain unseen (and disrespected by agents)?
I generally haven't made the writer's conference scene. Haven't had the money. A number of agents say that is where they hunt. Should I try a writer's conference?