Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

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aldentan
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Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby aldentan » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:58 pm

Hi all,

I was just wondering what are your thoughts on querying an agent about a book you self-published before.

One agent wanted to see my manuscript. Ultimately, she said she passed due to my low sales numbers.

I did some research and found that basically, if it was self-published before, and it didn't sell well, no publisher would be interested.

Even if you have legit reasons to back up the poor sales number, like you're a lousy marketer, you didn't advertise it back then or had bad timing, it's still a no-go.

What do you all think?

Can someone share their experience?

williamadams
 

Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby williamadams » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:03 pm

you can pitch it
they wont want it
especially when it didnt sell before
they expect you to do a lot of the promotion and marketing
and you failed at that with that book

there are no excuses that will make them change their mind if it failed already

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Brien Sz
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby Brien Sz » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:29 pm

It's all about sales at that point. You need to sell over 5000 books in a year to pique an agents attention for a self published book. Some may want to sales of 10,000 in a 12 month period. If you aren't in that atmosphere, I wouldn't bother.

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ostarella
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby ostarella » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:53 pm

Yeah, you basically have two things going against you right off the bat. You've already been to the well once (self-published), and you had low sales. No matter what reasons you might think you have for the sales, it doesn't matter. Actually, you're pretty lucky the agent actually asked to see it to begin with - a lot don't want to mess with SPs unless you had tremendous sales. It's just hard to find publishers for them otherwise.

That said, I wouldn't quit submitting to agents or what publishers take unsolicited ms. As I noted above, the fact that one asked to see it is encouraging. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But I'd also be working on the next book ;)

And just a note - agents don't ask you to do any marketing/promotions. Reputable publishers don't expect the authors to do most of the marketing/promotion. Smaller publishers may ask for more of the promotional work than the larger ones, but if you're doing most of the marketing, why do you need a publisher?

aldentan
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby aldentan » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:11 am

Yeah precisely. So that's the conundrum. If I sold really well in the first place, I wouldn't be querying an agent.

Yet, if it sold badly, they wouldn't want it.

Seems like self-publishing acts like suicide for a book, no matter how good it is, especially since we're writers, not marketers.

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ostarella
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby ostarella » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:24 am

[quote="aldentan"]Yeah precisely. So that's the conundrum. If I sold really well in the first place, I wouldn't be querying an agent.

Yet, if it sold badly, they wouldn't want it.

Seems like self-publishing acts like suicide for a book, no matter how good it is, especially since we're writers, not marketers.[/quote]


Well, it's not necessarily suicide, but without doubt, marketing is the key no matter which route one takes. And in that, trade publishers have a definite advantage, mainly because they have the distribution network that SPs don't (how many SPs get into bookstores nationwide, for example), but also because they have the finances to offer all mediums - print, ebook, audio book, translations, etc. Where SPs can work best is when the potential audience is smaller, more "specialized", where the larger scale needs of trade publishers just doesn't make it cost-effective.

williamadams
 

Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby williamadams » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:39 am

[quote="ostarella"]Yeah, you basically have two things going against you right off the bat. You've already been to the well once (self-published), and you had low sales. No matter what reasons you might think you have for the sales, it doesn't matter. Actually, you're pretty lucky the agent actually asked to see it to begin with - a lot don't want to mess with SPs unless you had tremendous sales. It's just hard to find publishers for them otherwise.

That said, I wouldn't quit submitting to agents or what publishers take unsolicited ms. As I noted above, the fact that one asked to see it is encouraging. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But I'd also be working on the next book ;)

And just a note - agents don't ask you to do any marketing/promotions. Reputable publishers don't expect the authors to do most of the marketing/promotion. Smaller publishers may ask for more of the promotional work than the larger ones, but if you're doing most of the marketing, why do you need a publisher?[/quote]
============

actually these days the trad pubs expect you to do all the marketing
they will do a little sales help but only as part of all the books they are pushing to stores

if your name is not rowling or patterson then you need to be prepared to do all the work to promote your book
which is why self publishing is a better deal
if you do all the work you should make all the profit

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ostarella
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby ostarella » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:52 am

[quote="williamadams"]
actually these days the trad pubs expect you to do all the marketing
they will do a little sales help but only as part of all the books they are pushing to stores

if your name is not rowling or patterson then you need to be prepared to do all the work to promote your book
which is why self publishing is a better deal
if you do all the work you should make all the profit[/quote]


To which I politely say "Bull hockey". Since they don't charge the author to publish, and since they cover all the costs of editing, cover art, printing, physically distributing, handling the financial requirements (like paying the authors and employees, taxes, etc) - just how do you think they stay in business if they don't also market the heck out of their books? That's why they have marketing departments.

You seriously need to learn about trade publishing - and not from self-publishing sites.

williamadams
 

Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby williamadams » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:59 am

[/quote="ostarella"][quote="williamadams"]
actually these days the trad pubs expect you to do all the marketing
they will do a little sales help but only as part of all the books they are pushing to stores

if your name is not rowling or patterson then you need to be prepared to do all the work to promote your book
which is why self publishing is a better deal
if you do all the work you should make all the profit[/quote]


To which I politely say "Bull hockey". Since they don't charge the author to publish, and since they cover all the costs of editing, cover art, printing, physically distributing, handling the financial requirements (like paying the authors and employees, taxes, etc) - just how do you think they stay in business if they don't also market the heck out of their books? That's why they have marketing departments.

You seriously need to learn about trade publishing - and not from self-publishing sites.[/quote]
================

true
trad pubs dont charge the author to publish
and many wont give advances if the author does not insist

but they do not spend a lot of money on promoting books from anyone but the big names

they do expect the author to do their own promotion
and if you dont have a social media following already your chances of getting accepted go way down

i know about trade publishing thank you
they stay in biz by making it big on rowling and patterson so they can afford to gamble with lesser writers
this is a somewhat long tailed phenomenon

look up the stats yourself
most books barely break even
many lose money

they keep going by the megahits taking up the slack

their marketing is only generic
salesmen go out with the new list to place books in stores from the catalog not to sell your book
and they are not going to advertise or promote your book any other way than that
you are not going on tour to do book signings unless you arrange it and pay for it yourself

aldentan
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Re: Proposing self-published books to agents- Yes or no?

Postby aldentan » Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:26 pm

Thanks for all the insights guys.

Speaking as a writer who focused on internet marketing, personally, self-publishing is a glorified medium that isn't all that.

The success stories you hear of people who made a ton of money self-publishing are either:

1) Lucky, to which they never knew what they were doing. That's why when you read some interview of successful person (in all walks of life in fact), they're always quick to say, "Oh I didn't expect it to be such a hit. I just did it for fun."

2) Pumping in a ton of advertising money from their own pockets, which they won't reveal.

3) Gaming the entire system i.e. focusing on the marketing rather than writing. This is when so-called writers talk about writing when in actual fact they outsource a ghostwriter for cheap. Or, they are only writing books or creating courses teaching others how to self-publish, and telling them why you should pay them to do so.

All in all, self-publishing isn't magic or a convenient method to gain a successful book. Publishing anything on your own is easy. For it to be a hit requires a ton of work.

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