The REAL World of Publishing

A while back I sent an essay to LIVES—stories about daily lives of unknowns like me, in what used to be the last page in the NY Times Magazine (before they went with their horrible new format for additional ad space). A few days later I got an email back from the editor of the column accepting my essay. Or so I thought, until I read it all. That's when I noticed it wasn't addressed to me. It was to a literary agent. The email I mistakenly received was chatty, congratulating the agent for landing the new author. “Happy to run the piece before her book releases,” the email said. It ended with, “Always nice to hear from you, and I'll update you when we schedule the essay for LIVES.”

This is the real world of publishing. I was under the delusion that LIVES was written by unknowns, about unknowns, not back door deals worked out with New York lit agents to promote their authors.

My first novel, REVERB, I published through an indie publisher. It did not go well. I blogged about it: The Problem with Indie-Publishers, in an attempt to warn other authors off of ending up in the same mess I did. Apparently, according to agents, authors aren't allowed to share their experiences if they are bad:

I always Google. Always. Usually at the query stage. I’m looking for how that person presents him- or herself online. Are sites updated? Are they sloppy or professional? Are they complaining about agents and publishing? (That’s a red flag.)”

"I’m not usually looking for something that may have been swept under the rug, but occasionally I do see something that makes me think, Okay, this is a pass.”

My novel REVERB was accepted by Bookbub last October. I did a free giveaway through Amazon. I got 26,000 free downloads, which, even for Bookbub was very high for their Literary section (their recommendation, and the only section they would list my novel). I was hoping that with the large response I'd do very well on the back end, after the promo, with sales. I never made back the $140 I spent with them to run my ad for REVERB. After the promotion, I was told by other Bookbub authors that their Literary section is a dud, and few make any money there.

Bookbub had an open forum discussion about their company, policies, how to get in with them, as so many authors are clamoring to be on their lists. EVERY post was laudatory. And I'm not just talking about, “You're great!” Authors posted how Bookbub turned their part-time writing into a career, launched them to stardom. I posted my experience with them on this forum, asking if it's typical not to make back your investment with them. The post was taken off the forum. When I posted it again, I got a note from the admin saying that my comments were “inappropriate,” and she would take down any post I put up regarding my experience with Bookbub. Now I get why ALL the posts were so positive.

You can guarantee, Bookbub won't accept me again. Neither will Laurie Abkemeier and Stephany Evens, or any other agent who is using the philosophy that writers should shut up and write fiction, not reality, ever, unless, of course, it's happy, sunny, successful. And I'd like to tell you I don't care, but that would be a lie. I WANT to be a famous author, just like most of you reading this. And I want the help of an agent or publisher to rep me to achieve the greatest reach. What author doesn't?

Thing is, I NEED to be a advocate for writers! Being one, I truly appreciate author's experiences, both good and bad, their insights, their failures to avoid, their successes to model. And while I realize the cost of confession is steep, it's better than being an automaton, protecting myself by towing the party line of the corrupt, rather ugly publishing industry.

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