Very appreciative of Bob Mustin's attentive finger on the pulse of the publishing game. Today he linked to a blog called The Millions with a heartfelt and revealing post on the neverending search for an agent who will sell an author's beloved manuscript to a traditional publishing company.
First, Coker's take, which is summarized on PowerPoint type slides:
Let's bust a dangerous myth
You were taught to bow subservient before the altar of Big Publishing
... taught you weren't an author until Big Publishing blessed you
...and until you were blessed, you were a failure
Publishers were the bouncers at the pearly gates
You were told to keep toiling and waiting
... you'd get a deal when you'd sacrificed enough of your soul...
Don't sell your soul
Q:What would happen if writers lost faith in the religion of Big Publishing?
I am fully aware that Mark Coker has a vested interest in selling authors on self-publishing: after all, that's how he makes his money. But I also appreciate Coker's approach in this slide show. He is using religious language and imagery to get across the point that a blind acceptance of Big (or Traditional) Publishing as the only way to go does not make sense.
Coker's contention is that indie publishing is a logical, reasonable method for authors to get their books to the public and to be happy doing it. And he goes on to outline why.
That makes perfect sense to me, even if in the end I do not go down that road for my books.
Now, back to The Millions post about getting an agent. The point of that post is that yes, it's devilishly difficult to land an agent nowadays-- you have about a 1 in 11,111 chance if you are querying randomly.
But, the post goes on to say, you can dramatically heighten your chances if you (as Mark Coker points out) work hard enough.
The Millions guy, despite having done a huge amount of work, still doesn't have an agent for his book. But he's optimistic, even though discussions with agents have led him to believe he needs to completely rewrite his book.
Still, he considers worthwhile the exercise of getting an agent and publishing traditionally. And he tells authors to stop whining and start working harder to attract representation.
My question: why would I do all that work?
The Millions guy, unlike Mark Coker, has left his motivations unexpressed for doing what he does.
He assigns intrinsic worth to the "small number of smart, hard-working people who live for the thrill of finding a talented author [i.e. agents]." It is worth it, though you can't exactly tell why, to get into the "incestuous little club [i.e. traditional publishing]" with these folks.
Mark Coker purports to know what the treasure of indie publishing is. He's expressed it in a very direct mail marketing type of way.
What is the treasure of traditional publishing? What are the compelling reasons to buy into the religion and become an initiate into the cult?
I'm still waiting to find out.