About two weeks ago I wrote a post about “Never, Ever Giving Up.” That post was inspired in part by my wonderful critique partner, Katie French.
Katie’s writing story has many twists and turns. She did her due diligence and queried her YA novel THE BREEDERS like crazy. When that didn’t work, she made the momentous decision to self-publish (which she wrote about here). But as will happen in life, things quickly changed when an agent approached Katie about representation. With a thoughtful heart, Katie pondered this decision and the changes it would mean to the road she had already taken with THE BREEDERS. She eventually agreed to representation and now works with Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary.
As Katie I talked about this decision, I thought about her journey and the momentous changes it would mean for her to go from being self-published to agented. Many writers I know have self-published, but are still trying to land an agent. I thought it would be helpful for Katie to share, in her own words, what the changes have meant for her writing and her career. While her journey is uniquely her own, her questions and concerns are universal when it comes to the world of publishing.
From Self-Published to Newly Agented: My Writer’s Journey
By Katie French
Life is a funny thing. Just when you think you are on one path, something unexpected comes along and WHAMO you are spun 180 and heading in the opposite direction. I feel like this is what my writing career has been like so far. But, let’s rewind, shall we?
I’ve been seriously writing for five and a half years. I wrote two books (one dreadful, one passably awful) and queried like a good girl should. Of course I was rejected, but I kept on keeping on. Then I started my third manuscript. This one felt different from the get-go. I was faster, more skilled and more dedicated. I knew the premise was worthwhile and the characters were working. I got great feedback from my CPs. I took it to New York and pitched my heart out to some big time editors. I got some full requests and held my breath. Unfortunately, doors kept slamming in my face. Ouch.
Now, I’m not one to take no for an answer. It just isn’t in my nature. I KNEW this book was good. I KNEW people would want to read it. So, I took a big leap, despite all my fears and self-published. It was the only way my words would see the light of day and I took it, jumping in feet first, eyes closed.
For those of you who self-publish, you know it isn’t for the faint of heart. For me, self-publishing was like querying on steroids (the nasty kind that make you grow hair in weird places). I spent hours researching HTML, I read books on marketing, I became a website designer and much, much more. When all that was said and done, I had to send my brand new book baby out into the world without the clout of an agent or publishing house behind me. It was as scary as the time I watched The Ring alone at night in my apartment.
And… it was amazing. The book is doing great (ranked right now in the 7000s on Amazon) and the fans have been fantastic. I love that people are reading and liking my book. I love reading the reviews. I was all set to navigate this publishing world alone with all the skills I had acquired.
Then came the WHAMO.
In December I was contacted by an agent I sent a full manuscript to back in May. (Yes, it can sometimes take that long.) Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary emailed to say she was finally reading it and was it still available. Imagine my surprise. I said yes and then disclosed that I had self-published. I thought this would be a deal-breaker and we would go along our merry way. Little did I know that Amanda would not let that sway her. She pursued me further with more emails and a phone call. A year ago I would’ve been peeing my pants and dancing in the puddle, but now I was self-published. What could an agent possibly offer me?
The bottom line is I liked Amanda, really, really liked her. She was young, energetic and in love with my book. She had a marketing background. The thing that sold me was that she was fine with me saying I didn’t want a tiny deal that took all my rights and control and gave me nothing in return.
So, I took a deep breath and signed. Our relationship is new and not a lot has changed for me yet. I’m still doing my thing, blogging, writing and marketing my book, but now I have a cheerleader and advisor to help me through sticky spots. Amanda plans to go out on submission in the spring and we shall see what awaits. Until then, I’m still happily self-publishing and glad I did it. Right now, I’ve got the best of both worlds and everything’s coming up roses.
What about you? What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher. In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English. Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.For more information about Katie you can check her out on Goodreads, Facebook or on her website, Katie French Books. Her recently released companion short story to THE BREEDERS, called NESSA, can be found here.