I was speaking with an agent a few weeks back, and we got on the subject of self-publishing. As has been recorded here, my opinion on self-publishing has evolved as self-publishing itself has evolved. I won't say it's changed, because that loses the nuance of my progress. The majority of self-published work I read is tear-your-eyes-out bad. Sure the gatekeepers have been tossed aside, but for all their difficulty, those gatekeepers added a degree of value. Bad stuff still gets through, but not so much.
Conversely to that, good stuff also comes out of self-publishing and it can be an avenue for certain circumstances that best benefit the author. That's my position (and will remain my position going forward): do what's best for you and your career. That does not require me to pick one side over the other. I pick both sides. (Likewise, the DOJ is incredibly on the mark and off the mark at the same time with its anti-trust case. It's shocking how much I agree with things they say but for totally different reasons and how much I disagree with their proposed solutions, but that's a different conversation.)
Anyway, (I haven't had a lot of sleep over the last week. I apologize for rambling), I was talking to this agent and we discuss self-publishing and whether I have considered it, which I have. The second time THE TRIAD SOCIETY came a hair's breadth away from getting me representation, I was heartbroken. It's good enough! I cried. I know it's good enough! I'm so tired of being rejected! Why is this so hard?
And that is why I don't self-publish. Because it's easier to publish (not to be successful at it, but to publish it, it is sooo much easier). And once it becomes that easy, why would you ever want to do it the hard way again? My goal is to gain representation and publish with an established publisher. I will self-publish a couple titles, most likely, in the future, but that is not my goal. So if I self-publish now, that goal is over and lost. I will never endure rejection after rejection when I can snap my fingers and have a book appear (and I make ebooks for a living, so before you say "it's harder than that" keep in mind I've been making them for close to a decade now).
Also, said agent with whom I had this conversation asked to read THE TRIAD SOCIETY. In between heartbreak and now, another agent asked to read my best work. Given how close I had come before, I obviously chose this one. I tweaked a chapter I was dissatisfied with and sent it off. She dropped the truth like a hammer. "This is not your best work." End stop.
I determined a rewrite from her feedback and began said rewrite for this request. My scope for the rewrite flopped right away. As soon as I revised the setting, the actual plot fell apart. It couldn't happen the way I envisioned with my new constrictions. But as I went over content, I saw two things. I LIKE this story. I like it the way it is. I don't want to change the scope or lose the plot. Also, it was NOWHERE NEAR MY BEST WORK. What the hell was I thinking? What a lost opportunity. I have truly grown as a writer because I'm looking at this and I want to reach through space-time and slap myself. What was I thinking sending this to agents in such a state.
Which makes me hopeful for this time around. It's better. It's significantly better than it's ever been before. If she turns it down, will I self-publish? Probably not. The last time I said "It's good enough!" I was wrong. Perhaps I'm wrong this time too. Perhaps I have more growing to do.
To quote Kima Griggs from The Wire, Sometimes you gotta play it hard.
And with that, I'm going to go drown myself in coffee so I can get through the work day. Night night.