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Monday, August 13, 2012

Follow Your Dreams: a guest post by Carlie Cullen

 A guest post by Carlie MA Cullen

Follow Your Dreams

Every new author is faced with the dilemma of deciding whether to go the traditional, indie or self-publishing route. To be fair, it’s a very difficult decision to make if you are serious about carving a career for yourself as a writer and want to give yourself the best chance of success.
There is a plethora of information available, some brilliant and some not so good and it’s still difficult to make that decision. So I thought I would share my experience with you in the hope it might help.
When I finished writing Heart Search: Lost and had been through the several rounds of editing and beta reading, I had already decided which path I was going to tread. I was going to plump for the traditional route, get an agent and hopefully get a deal with one of the big 6. Isn’t that everybody’s dream? However, my decision was partially forced upon me. Let me explain.
Last year, my daughter and I attended FantasyCon UK for one of the three days in was on. Unfortunately I was taken ill mid to late afternoon, so while I was in the Ladies room my daughter had gone to make a special purchase and was introduced to an Agent from a prestigious literary agency in London. She got talking to him and being the wonderfully supportive daughter she is, she told the agent all about my novel. He gave her his business card, said he was very interested and asked if he could have first refusal. Of course my daughter said yes on my behalf.
So when the ms was ready, I carefully followed their submission guidelines, wrote my query letter and sent it directly to him with a note to remind him of his meeting with my daughter and his request for first refusal. And then the waiting began.
I was given help with my query letter by a wonderful author friend, Guy Saville, who also told me it was perfectly acceptable to chase the agent if I hadn’t heard from them in six to eight weeks. After nine weeks I sent an email requesting an update and never got a reply. I wasn’t too impressed by this point.
Sixteen weeks to the day that he received my precious ms through the post, I still hadn’t heard anything so I decided to try one last email. However the weekend before, I had an inkling of what was coming and as I’m a member of Myrddin Publishing (an author’s co-operative of self-published authors), I began talking to various people I’d got to know very well about the self-publishing process. They were all there ready to pitch in and help; someone is designing a book cover for me, another is going to make a book trailer for me, another is going to help me with formatting and uploading.
As expected the email reply the following day was a rejection and I was quite angry. Having stressed he wanted first dibs and making all the right noises about how interesting it sounded and how it was the sort of thing they were looking for, it then took 16 weeks and two emails from me to get any sort of answer. I have lots of people asking when the book is coming out and felt I was denying them the opportunity to read it. I could have self-published weeks ago!
So as of Monday 6th August, I have pushed the button on self-publishing under the banner of Myrddin Publishing and hope to have the book out as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’m still going to look for an agent and pursue my dream of being signed by a decent publisher.
You might be wondering why, if I’m self-publishing I still want an agent. It’s all to do with following my dream. A large number of agents these days are prepared to accept self-published authors and I believe (and only time will tell if I’m right), that if you can show an agent how well you’ve managed to sell your book and market it and yourself in the process, it will actually give you a better chance of success with securing one. It would also be a plus for any publishing company if your name is known a bit and you can demonstrate your skills of marketing and selling (the days of big advances and unlimited advertising budgets are over except for the super-powers like J K Rowling).
I hope by telling you of my experience, it will help you decide which way you want to go with your book. However, if you decide to self-publish, I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of getting a decent editor and having your novel beta read by someone you trust, but who can be totally impartial. There are too many authors who think they can self-edit and capture all their mistakes, and in the main, they are the ones who give self-publishing a bad name. You are too close to your own ms to be impartial enough to edit it properly and as many published authors will tell you, when you read through your novel, you see what you want to see and not what’s actually there!
Whatever path you decide to take, my advice is don’t be put off when youå hit a hurdle and to follow your dreams! Who knows where they might lead . . .


Visit Carlie's wonderful blog HERE (stop in and say hello) 


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1 comment:

  1. Great post! Carlie is an inspiration for so many reasons. I highly recommend you follow her blog closely.