Aren’t you excited?!
[Side Note: Have you ever wondered what a *squee* actually sounds like? Here’s your chance. Watch this video… watch the WHOLE video….. I’ll wait……….
Now, every time you read “Jamie McGuire,” I want you to think of BookBashGuy’s voice. Ha! Love it!]
JM: Very few publishing companies (if any) accept unsolicited submissions. If you query, you must query an agent first, and agent will shop your book to publishers. I sent out 15 queries for Providence. I got 14 form rejections back some very smart advice from agent Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass agency: Cut it in half. The book is too big.
I did what she suggested, but when it was time to query again I just didn’t want to. Writing a three paragraph query letter to “sell” myself and my book just wasn’t appealing to me. I followed Jennifer Jackson’s blog, and she mentioned several times that she sometimes received 500 queries a week. Every agent was looking for something different in a query. I just wanted my book out there, on my time, and not having to wait for someone else to tell me that I could. Looking back, I wish I would have published to KDP, Smashwords, and Pubit! first, but I didn’t know about them. I formatted my book, my brother designed the cover, and I took it to a printing company. 1000 units of Providence sat in our spare bedroom for months. Sure, I sold several hundred copies via book signings and Hastings’s consignment program, but I still had a lot of books taking up a lot of space in our home. I took to Facebook, and began to sell signed copies on my website. It wasn’t until author JR Rain offered me advice in January of 2011 to publish an eBook on KDP. Instantly my book was available to hundreds of thousands of people. I uploaded the print version to Createspace, and readers would read the eBook, want the physical copy, and order it from Amazon. Once Beautiful Disaster hit the bestsellers, it was much easier to find an agent, and the publishers began contacting us. I can’t imagine going through the query process and having an agent shop my book to publishers now. It seems really unnecessary.
KK: Are you surprised by the fierce and loyal following you’ve amassed since you began writing novels?
JM: I am so grateful. Time and time again, my readers show their love and enthusiasm for my writing. I’m very proud that Travis has a special place in the hearts of so many, and that a love story doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated. I love that characters can be flawed and still be accepted. Tolerance is a beautiful thing.
KK: How did you market your first few novels? Did you hire anyone to help?
JM: Facebook and word of mouth. I was lucky in that one reader, Nikki, mentioned Beautiful Disaster on the Amazon romance forums. It really took off after that. I would never pay to market my books. There are too many free platforms out there. Writing a book that readers like to discuss, good or bad, helps, too.
KK: What are some of the pros and cons between self-publishing and getting picked up by a publishing company?
JM: The pros of self-publishing is the freedom. I can release when I want, post spoilers when I want, choose the cover I want, and set the price point at whatever I want. The 70% you receive from the online retailer is also wonderful. The con? Getting books on the shelves. Self-publishing has come a long way, but book stores are slow to catch up. Even if you find yourself on the New York Times, getting your book on the shelves is not going to happen. Book stores are the only retailers that expect to return merchandise that doesn’t sell, and unfortunately publishing houses have molded this line of thought. Self-published authors don’t have the capability to do this. Once book stores start marking down and discounting books that don’t sell just like every other retail entity, that will change.
The #1 pro to having a traditional publisher is getting your books on shelves. That is still the only thing a publisher can do for me that I can not do for myself. #2 is the team you have behind you. The editing and cover resources are fantastic. Some publishers like Atria understand the mind of a self-published author, and we have a lot of input in most aspects of the process. The cons? No matter how much a publisher understands you, it’s still not self-publishing. You don’t have the freedom to do most things. I’ve heard before that publishers really want to free successful self-published authors to focus on writing, but that’s not necessarily true. I spent a lot more time on marketing than I ever did as a self-published author, and much of it is not what I consider efficient marketing. You will still have all of the headache of a small business, because a publisher doesn’t take that over for you. You will still be responsible for an accountant, taxes, government licenses, a tax advisor, filing, shredding, insurance, phone calls, faxes. You’re still a business owner, manager, and secretary, and a writer. Having a publisher means you don’t have to stress over finding freelancers that will do the job you pay them for, but publishers don’t put a dent in any of the other time consuming, business-related tasks.
For more on self-publishing, please visit my website: jamiemcguire.com
Amazing, right?! Check Jamie out on Facebook, and keep an eye out for Walking Disaster, which is set to release on April 2nd. Jamie is hosting “Travispalooza” this month on her website to celebrate my favorite bad boy in fiction.