As you know if you read this blog regularly, I find a lot of good advice on Bob Mayer’s blog. Today was no exception. He ask and answers the question: If I were an unpublished author, would I self-publish? He advises trying to get an agent and publish traditionally while you work on a second book and a third book. Then, and only even then if you have really tried to perfect your book, does he think you should self-publish. He says:
… If I had gotten positive feedback from agents (but no sale) and beta readers and made the corrections. I’d put all three titles up. Then spend 50% of my time promoting while writing my fourth book.
The problem right now is too many writers are putting their first manuscript up and spending 75% of their time trying to promote as they try to write their second book. The focus isn’t on the writing, it’s on the selling. …
The more I think about it, the more I feel for a new writer with no backlist, the most important thing to do is write three manuscripts first, before investing heavily in promotion. The investment is time. That is our most valuable resource. It needs to be spent on learning the craft of writing.
He talks about how much he has learned over the 20 years he has been writing, asserting that he has learned more in the last 2 years than in the first 18. At my age, I don’t have that kind of time, I’m afraid. But what he says is true. The more you do this, the better you become at it. And I aim to keep getting better.
This advice about writing three manuscripts before you try to self publish actually reinforces something I have been thinking. I want to finally finish this first book and try to find an agent. Meanwhile, we’ll keep writing. And when the second book is finished, we will try again to get an agent. And work on book 3 at the same time.
Until I read Mayer’s article, I felt guilty about wanting to try to get an agent. Now I don’t. I want to make sure that what I publish or get published is the best I can produce. That takes time. If an agent and traditional publisher like it enough to want to publish it, great! I will know what I have produced is pretty good, at least. If no one wants to touch it, then I have to decide if I think it is because it is no good or because no one wants to take a chance on it. If it is the former, I need to keep improving the books. If it is the latter, then I will try self-publishing.
Anyway, I always enjoy reading Mayer’s blog. Why not check it out?