Agent Myths Debunked
Once I took an online course on how to write a blurb for your query letter. At the end of the course, the instructor brought in a very small e-publisher. I’d never heard of them, they had only a book or two in their inventory, and it appeared to be one person working on her kitchen table after she got home from her day job. Don’t get me wrong, most publishers start this way. Many good ones.
The publisher was there to provide feedback on the pitches we’d developed. She asked to see fulls of various people’s manuscripts. She provided me with useful feedback but I’d already been told that particular publisher didn’t take GBLT literature so I wasn’t expecting a request. When people got requests, they were delighted, thrilled, over the moon. “We’re going to get published!” they squee’d.
“But you shouldn’t take your first offer,” I posted to the loop. “Many of you have full-length, highly salable books. Why not shop them around to agents and big publishers first. You can always come back to XXX Press.”
On-list, several people informed me that that wasn’t how publishing worked. That you have to pay your dues. (Off-list, the instructor told me that I shouldn’t be so sour grapes just because I wasn’t in the running with this publisher. Huh? Later, I figured out she was trying to get books for her publisher either because she had buyers remorse for signing with such a tiny publisher, or she was getting kick-backs of some sort.)
So today, I feel vindicated. Awesome-advice-giving agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post debunking publishing myths. This is one of them:
Myth: If you want a big publisher, get published at small presses first and work your way up.
Truth: While this can work, it’s not the best strategy. With a small publisher, your books may have modest sales figures, which may make it impossible for you to get a big publisher later. However, sometimes a small publisher is right for you, and can be a good home for you long-term.
So I believe I was right. There are a lot of reasons to go with a smaller publisher, but “paying your dues” isn’t one of them.
Having said that, I did publish with several e-publishers before landing an agent. I don’t believe my prior publishing experience made any difference at all to either my agent or to Simon & Schuster. They judged me solely on the book I presented to them. (Which, by the way, comes out this June.)
Read the rest of Rachelle’s excellent post, here.