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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

World Enough, and Time

Eye-Opening Research

Several Friday Challenges back, we were tasked with writing a children's story.  I had one on the back burner at the time, and the Challenge gave me the kick in the pants I needed to actually finish it.  "Quinn in Trashland" received high marks, has gone through some revisions, and just might be ready to release to the wild.  At least, that's what the First Reader, Final Reviewer, and Chief Editor all agree on (and who am I to argue with Her?).

I shared the story with a handful of test readers.  One of those, an online friend and substitute teacher, claims that every time she returns to sub for the class she read it to, they beg her for a copy of the book and demand she read it to them again.  All of the test reader responses came back with glowing encouragement.

So.  Then...the big question.  Traditional publishing or self-published ebook?

I admit, I was leaning towards the traditional route.  I still read to my kids at bedtime, even though they're all more than old enough to be reading to me instead.  I just couldn't quite picture curling up on the couch with an e-reader or laptop instead of a book, and Quinn is definitely a story that begs to be read aloud to younger kids.

I grabbed my 2011 copy of "Short Story and Fiction Writer's Market" and a highlighter, and started my research.


Quick summary?

A fairly large portion of the children's book listings simply say something to the effect of "if you don't have an agent, you're not worthy of our attention."

The general overview of the rest?

  • Generally only accept submissions the old-fashioned snail-mail way.
  • "Please cool your heels for six months" waiting for a response from us, and then--
  • "We won't even bother to contact you unless we want to publish your stuff."  Because, after all, they receive "more than 1000 submissions per month."
  • Receive payment on publication--which, in general, is eighteen months to two years after acceptance.
Okay, I admit, these aren't a huge surprise.  Perhaps I've been spoiled by Stupefying Stories, or I'm just totally and completely clueless about the publishing world  (which is true, I am).

...but the idea of putting Quinn on a shelf for the next two to three years is not a pleasant one for me.  And that's assuming a quick acceptance, first or second try; if five or six companies reject it before it hits that two year wait for printing, none of my kids will be young enough to enjoy it when it finally hits the bookshelves.

I do not understand how the publishing world can function this way, in the days of the Internet.  Sure, the writer is lining up a paycheck two or three years down the road, but what does he do about next month...?  I just don't find this to be an acceptable, functional business model.

If I were to go that route, it would mean giving up three years' worth of sales opportunity.  Granted, I lose the big "super publisher" logo on the side of the book...and the odds of my seeing it on a store shelf next to Curious George or Willy Wonka are fairly slim...and I'll have to do all of the advertising and sales myself, just like with the other ebooks I've got in mind.  Is there a huge difference between the two?  Would I really be passing up a huge opportunity by doing it myself rather than wait three more years to see it in print...?

Okay.  I give.  

The Writer's Market goes back on the shelf, to collect some more dust.

I am contacting some artist friends I know to work out a deal on illustrating "Quinn in Trashland" for a self-published ebook.  If anyone knows of any poor starving artists...send them my way.  

If it sells enough copies, perhaps it will work its way to a self-published print-on-demand project...?  Or one of those big-name publishing houses will come to me...?

Regardless...wish me luck.  I hope you're all interested in curling up on the couch with your kids, and Quinn, and your digital e-reading device of choice.

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