Thursday, August 4, 2011

My e-Eureka! Moment

I think I’m a pretty quick learner, and know I'm impatient, so all it took for me to rethink my debut novel strategy was the response, or lack thereof, to the query letters I recently submitted to three literary agents. One polite agent informed me it wasn’t “right” for her. One automated agent response informed me if this was the last time I heard from him, I should assume he passed. And the last agent’s response -- *crickets.* It’s been almost two months, I think I should stop waiting.

After "only" three rejections, some writers would have started re-reading all the “how to write the perfect query letter” sites. Been there, done that and thought I had nailed the perfect query letter. This time I checked a book out of the library, which not only delved deeper into the elusive key-to-the-kingdom letter, but included listings of agents and book publishers, all very specific in what they expected in a query letter, as well as their “likes and dislikes” of life in general. I would hope that if an agent dislikes something I like or vice versa that wouldn’t matter, or, say if they saw a horrible picture of me on a blog taken from a while ago when I was in my “what were you thinking?” phase, or, seeing my dopey mug shot from the column I used to write, would have no bearing on deciding even a partial read, but I’m not convinced. I've met enough people in my life to know just one little thing could irk someone so much that I could be totally misconstrued and my words would not get a peek.

As I compiled my list of agents to check out further on the internet (the book was from a year ago and you’d be astonished at how many agents are no longer at the same place) I pondered the stress I felt having to rewrite my query letter. Just thinking about writing another query letter felt worse than writing and editing my book five times had. Why would I subject myself to this? How could I know who my book would be “right” for? How can a couple of sentences determine if my book is “right” for anyone? I don’t believe it can. But that’s the system. And that’s fine, but I don't believe it's a productive way to spend my time.

I don’t want to spend weeks, months, and years searching for an agent. I don’t want to spend weeks, months, and years having that agent search for a publishing house. Then wait more years to see my book on a shelf. Frankly, I don’t have a year to spare. And let's not forget the rewriting requests. After spending years on my words, fine-toothed by my chosen editor, I would have a hard, if not impossible, time revising it to make it “right” for someone else. It may not be “right” for some agents and/or publishing houses, but I know it's "right" for me, and I believe it will be "right" for my audience. And all I want is to give that audience a chance to read it.

sweet Pictures, Images and Photos

I think I had my e-Eureka! moment while reading a couple of book reviews in "Entertainment Weekly." True, they weren’t glowing, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that a popular magazine had reviewed self-published works. This is wonderful news for independent authors, and just the final push I needed to self-publish.

So, what will this debut author be giving up by going independent? Well, I doubt I’d be giving up a tidy advance. I know I won’t be giving up much publicity and marketing bucks. And seeing my name bound on the back of a book on a shelf in the last remaining book store? Not as important as it once had been.

As I grow older I realize my goals have changed. I no longer feel the only way to be a “real author” is to see my book’s title as a best seller in The New York Times. I have no illusions I will sell a million copies. It would be nice and I certainly wouldn’t mind that, but my real desire is to get my story out to as many people as possible. The best way for me to do that, and to have total control of my book, is to e-publish. I’m already working on the cover design, which I would have no control over if I used a traditional publisher. I’ve already got quite a few ideas regarding marketing and promotion. And while my editor continues working I will be reading whatever I can regarding e-publishing. I feel like streams filled with gold are before me. It's up to me to sift through the silt and find the nuggets.

When I was young and Studio 54 was the hottest place to be I refused to step up to the velvet rope. I preferred dancing downtown where everyone was welcome. By e-publishing I’ll be able to dance wherever I choose to dance. No matter how quick or slow I want to move, I’ll be leading the dance of the deadlines.

So here I go. I’ve started this blog at my initial e-Eureka! moment and hope to document the journey before arriving at the final destination, publishing an e-book.


  1. Best wishes on your new blog and also your e-publishing journey, Elana!

  2. Thanks should be quite a trip ;)

  3. Looks good Elena. I like your thinking with writing and the old Studio 54.

  4. I have several friends you have e-published and done well. Good luck!!!
    Connie T