Well, Now What The Hell Do I Do?

I finished my latest book last week. Just shy of one hundred thousand words, it wrote pretty quick. It's a detective novel, nothing like Who Is Olivia Green, but I like it.

I like it a lot.

I've started self editing, and hope to finish that up in the next couple weeks. From there I'll reach out to Brandi, see if she is interested in editing it for me, and then I guess I'll...shit...I don't know what I'm going to do.

I've got three options. I could self-publish, either with a company or on an e-book but that will cost me out of pocket money. Even if I only do it as an E-book, that will force me to put up some money, more than I have. If I self-publish through one of the hundreds of self-publishing companies and get an actual book, I'll be out at least a thousand dollars.

I can draft a query letter and query literary agents, which I think is still considered the traditional method. Publishing has changed an awful lot over the years, thanks to Amazon and e-books. But, there are still thousands of literary agents who are actively seeking new clients. Once a writer signs with them, they approach their contacts with the publishing companies and push the book. I tried that with, "Who Is Olivia Green," and I didn't succeed.

Or I can go back to Annaphora Literary Press, the publisher that put out Who Is Olivia Green. The only cost there is that I have buy the first fifty books, but, then I can sell them. Of the Olivia Green books I bought, I only have eight or nine left. I'm assuming she would publish me again, just based on interactions she and I have had since my first book published.

So, those are my three options. I'm not really considering self-publishing. It's just too costly. So that leaves me the second two choices, literary agent or Annaphora, and I'm really torn. I've completely avoided making this decision, probably because I don't want to.

I'm worried about querying agents for a few reasons. Firstly, it takes a long time. I didn't hear back from some agents almost six months after I queried them. And, it sucks getting told "no" over and over again. The eight or nine months I tried to get representation for Who Is Olivia Green, I was living and dying by the email alert on my phone. I queried over fifty agents, and I got over fifty rejections. Only one or two of the rejections, I think the agent actually read past my query letter and read some of my book, and they both said that my writing was sound, the book just wasn't for them. The other rejections were pretty standard one or two lines, nah thanks though. I don't think it had an affect on me personally, but getting let down once a week when an agent finally finds two minutes to read a two paragraph letter only to send back, No, just kinda beat me down.

So, the next option is Annaphora Literary Press. She accepted my submission the night I sent it in. She doesn't read the entire book, she only reads excerpts to make sure it will meet her standards. (I have no idea what those standards are) Then she sent over the contract and she and I discussed how I wanted the cover, formatting, e-book, ect. Once I signed the contract I was locked in for a certain amount, and she went to work formatting the book, designing a cover, and getting an ISBN number assigned. About a month later, she sent me back the cover and I almost cried. For those who have seen the book it's the same cover, (different font) but it had a girl wearing a white blouse with a purple and white skirt with her arms crossed. The girl dominated the cover, didn't really look how I described Olivia, (definitely the way she was dressed) and reminded me of the teenage love story book covers. I emailed her that night asking if she could remove the female from the cover, that I didn't think the cover was a good representation of the theme of the book, but I did like the dark shadowy figures in the background and the bullet holes. She emailed me back something like this: "I routinely have authors want to change my covers. They do this because they think they don't understand what actually sells books. The female is staying."

Well, you can imagine my response. I kept trying to keep it very business like and we ended up getting into a huge email argument. The last email I sent her was something like, "I don't understand why you won't listen to me on this. You haven't even read the book, I think it would be more important to listen to the author on what he wants on this type of issue." I had asked her how much it would cost me to get out of the contract at that point and she pretty much told me to either pay her to leave, or move forward with her cover.

I'll never forget getting that email sitting next to my daughter on the couch and I really did start to tear up a bit. Laney was so concerned for me.

I spent the next week completely obsessed with what I was going to do. I reached out to one of my closest friends, Tommy, and he pushed me to go forward. I was heading that way, called Brandi, (who also hated the cover) and tried to convince her that we needed to go forward with it. I was even going to market it with, "Don't judge a book by this cover!" Brandi asked if she minded if she contacted the publisher and then emailed her. Ten minutes later Brandi called me back and said, "I've got her to remove the female, change the font, and some other stuff.

I never saw but often wonder what was in those emails. Either way, I was pretty happy with the cover in the end thanks to Brandi.

And that is why I'm hesitant to go back to her. I can stipulate that I'll do the cover design, which she offers in the initial contract, but I am worried about working with her again. She never formatted my book for Kindle, which she puts in her contract that the decision to e-book is hers, and I've wondered if she did that because she was upset with how I reacted to her initial cover design.  

So I'm really kind of stuck. And I really don't know what to do. If I go back to Annaphora I go back with a lot of lessons learned. And while she did meet me half way on the cover, which I'm grateful she did, it's hard to forget that week when I was debating about paying to get out of the contract with her. And she is an independent publisher. So, if I want to a shot at going with the "Big 5" the publishing houses that dominate the book stores, I'd need a literary agent.

I feel like my choices are limited and now I have to make one. And that is no fun.

All I want to do is write and tell a good story that people can get lost in. It's too bad when that is all I want to do, it's pretty damn hard to do it.