Monday, September 9, 2019

The Perception of Self-Pub Authors = Question from a Writer

How do agents and main stream publishers feel if you are self pub? Also, self pub doing well but looking for that boost into main stream? I heard publishers steer clear of self pub authors. Thanks for any insight!

This is a great question, and I really wish there was an easy answer for this one, but, like everything else out there, it is all subjective.I do want to look at this from a couple of different angles.

I remember talking to a fellow agent a couple of years ago and we both came to the same conclusion about self-publishing. It was not an issue of not liking this approach, but a frustration. We each had authors who had worked with us, taken our advice, used our insights, gotten contacts for editors, and then ditched the agency approach and went out on their own. Sure, they would be successful, but, financially, the work we put in on that author and those manuscripts was just not there. Both of us did feel that authors were not doing this intentionally, but it was frustrating. Remember, as an agent, we are putting in the work BEFORE the book sells and we only get paid when that book sells.

Now, let's look at it from the perspective of a writer coming to us for the first time. Again, remember that this is entirely subjective. 

If an author has been highly successful, this is always a plus! These people are already coming in with a following so establishing that name recognition is one hurdle we don't have to worry about. The key is "highly successful"!!!! Is that self-published author selling as much as he or she would in the traditional setting? We aren't looking for success in terms of review or ranking on Amazon. We want to see $$$ statistics and units sold. 

If an author has taken the self-pub route and the story is not selling, but they want us to sell it, this is where it gets difficult. We have to examine if the lack of sales stems from poor marketing or poor writing. Personally, I have only seen the fact that the writing has been the reason for the poor sales. Many of these authors tried the traditional approach, were rejected, went out on their own, and were then slapped in the face with the reality of poor sales. 

I will also add, and again, this is a personal opinion, author egos often get in the way. Too often, when someone comes to me as a self-published author, they proclaim themselves to be the next "Great American Author." Confidence is one thing, but....

I have also found that too often, self-published authors are harder to teach and work with. They have, for so long, done it their way, that seeing a new approach is really difficult. This is understandable. It happens to all of us when we know one approach.

I guess it comes down to this. There is not dislike, but we often have a lot of potential "red-flags" were are looking at. We aren't holding authors who took this approach to a different standard. We are just cautious.  

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