I have always wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid, I wrote stories, and when I was a preteen and young teenager, I attempted my first novel. It was pretty bad. I made other attempts as I grew older, but finally succeeded in hammering out my debut novel last August. The College, written during my summer off, is a mid-length political thriller and satire of higher education. Immediately after I wrote it I set out to find a literary agent who would be willing to represent my novel.
I sent queries to as many literary agents I could find who, according to the Internet, were accepting new submissions. At first I was hopeful. Someone would see the amazingness of my debut novel and want to represent it, and me, creating a fulfilling, long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Instead, the form letter rejections began to roll in, carefully crafted to say that they either did not represent my type of novel or that they did not believe the current market was particularly favorable toward my novel. I didn’t know what to do.
Unable to find a literary agent and unwilling to turn to a publishing mill, I decided to self-publish. I began researching online to find the best possible venue for my novel. Should I create my own site, go with a large existing on-demand publisher like Amazon, or try to hawk my novel on social media? At first I opted to go with Amazon’s KDP Select, hoping that going exclusively with Kindle Direct Publishing would lead to more sales. Unfortunately, I sold few copies: The minimum allowable price, $2.99, appealed to few readers despite my best marketing efforts on social media.
After my exclusivity period with KDP Select was over, I moved my novel onto Smashwords, where I found things to be more user-friendly. I enjoyed the control I had over pricing and learned how to edit my novel for e-reader compatibility. Once my book was successfully edited it received “premiere” status and was available, via Smashwords, through other sites like Barnes & Noble. Trying to create buzz for my second novel, which will be completed soon, I chose to release The College for free, allowing anyone to read.
It’s been a tough go trying to offer my book through social media, but hopefully it will show publishers that I have the ability to go the distance.