I have been thinking a lot about the drama of changing publishing business models lately, since my manuscript is nearly ready to send out to agents. My husband surprised me last week by sending me this well-written article on how there could actually be a decent income for midlist authors using the new models for self-publishing. The article is encouraging, for sure, actually putting some math to the problem of how much an author can make if they can attract the same 10,000 readers a publisher would require to give them a chance. So should I send my novel to agents first and then self-publish if I don’t find a home and a good contract for the book? Or should I follow my husband’s advice and skip the traditional model altogether? After all, that is the model that has made it nearly impossible for new authors like me to make a sustainable living for the last 20 years.
I think the decision will come down to one thing.
The new self-publishing options still rely on minimal online marketing and storefronts that require readers to know which genre they’re looking for in order to find these new authors’ books. So, if my book can easily be funneled into a category like romance or sci-fi can, I may be able to connect with readers without spending my whole life promoting my books. But if my novel or future novels don’t fit into genres where readers always know they want more of the same, I may be stuck between the difficulties of the inefficient old publishing model and a new model that isn’t ready for every kind of book.
What do you think? Should I try agents first and then self-publish and get on with writing the next book? Should I skip the old-fashioned model entirely? I would love your thoughts on this as I will be charging into this issue head-on in just a few weeks or months. Wish me luck!