Let me get this out of the way up front: to me, “published” means “for sale to the public”. It doesn’t mean good or important or priced appropriately or printed on paper. Money has to change hands at some point, either with me being paid directly for my words (up front or in percentages of sales) and/or the publisher being paid for my words.
As I write this, I’m chewing through comments from my beta readers on my novel. By the time this blog post goes live, my novel WIP should be finished. As I discussed last month, this doesn’t mean it’s without flaws, but it’s time to get it out the door. I was going to spend a while chewing over all the options in an angsty, dithery state. Format for a self-pub via Amazon? Craft a query letter and start shopping for an agent? Try direct subs to the slush pile at Tor, Angry Robot or Baen?
Then I saw an opportunity that looked pretty good. I described it all in a blog post I wrote back in September in which I said I was going to submit this book to Harper Voyager. They announced that from October 1 – 14, they would accept unagented submissions. The books they wanted included interesting and fresh sci-fi, 80 – 100K words. If accepted, it would be an e.book deal under the Harper Voyager banner, with a not-very-likely print run as a possibility. It sounded OK to me, for reasons that I went into in greater detail in the blog post.
Curiously, though, there was one commenter who was vocal, even Wendigian in his opposition to this idea. The only thing a big six house (or any house, for that matter) could offer beyond what you could do yourself is a print run that appears in stores, online and brick-and-mortar. Without a print run, the commenter said, this was a deal to run screaming from. Other commenters offered rebuttals, nuances and other viewpoints. Mostly, the advantages of being under a major banner are related to accepting a smaller slice of a bigger pie, and doing it without big upfront costs. I’m not opposed to exploring the traditional publication route. In fact, I’d more or less decided to go that way with my Grammarian WIP. This open window from Harper Voyager pushes the timeline, but not all that much.
I’m under no illusions here. I know that adding my book to this slush tsunami is like buying a lottery ticket; I’m not counting on anything coming from it. While this review process runs its three-month course, my intention is to continue polishing the book, re-crafting the query letter, subbing to agents and other outlets.
By the time you read this, that road of opportunity will have almost closed. I wonder if I went through it?