think small?

So, having no luck with agents (at least so far), I’m considering querying some small publishing houses directly. I’m going to continue querying agents and hoping for a contract with a large publishing house that will put my novel in bookstores from coast to coast, net a big advance — and sponsor a small author tour, to boot.

But small houses are attractive, too, for different reasons. I would likely have more control over my work and how it’s presented. The book would still be available in many bookstores and via websites like amazon. There would be much less money up front. Smaller advance, smaller press budget. But the biggest thing for me is that I want the damn book out there. I want people to be able to read and enjoy my work. Or read it and criticize it. Or wear it for a hat in a rainstorm. Whatever.

But at the moment the biggest draw for small houses is that they don’t require authors to use agents. At big publishing houses, agents are a necessity. They are required to get your foot in the door. And at the place I’m in mentally, I have begun to loathe agents with every fiber of my being.

I’m going to close today with something a friend left on my Facebook. His name is Tom Ensey, and he ought to write a book himself. Or ten. Tom’s a great guy and smart as hell, and he wrote the most helpful thing I think anyone’s left on my FB in forever. Here it is:

The Sound and the Fury was rejected by 27 publishers. Confederacy of Dunces didn’t get published until the dead author’s mother went to Walker Percy’s office at Tulane every single day until Walker agreed to read it and said “Day-um!” The Great Gatsby, the best American novel ever written, sold fewer than 25,000 copies in Fitzgerald’s lifetime. Dave Eggers, who sucks, could get his laundry list published. The Gospel of Thomas is better than anything else in the Bible, but it didn’t make the final cut…Larry Brown was the best American writer of the last half of the 20th Century and nobody ever heard of him. Breece D’J Pancake wrote one book of awesome short stories and blew his head off. Charles Bukowski worked at the post office until he was about 60…. Need I go on? You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Keep sending queries. Barring that, publish it yourself and sell it out of the trunk of your car. You’ve got to be a mean son of a bitch to be writer. Arrogant, too. And being an asshole is a big plus. Kick ass.

Thanks, Tom.

2 thoughts on “think small?

  1. I think that’s a great note except for the bit about publishing yourself. No matter how down you get with the agents and the querying DON’T DO IT. No one in publishing takes self-published stuff seriously – you don’t want to damn yourself before you start.

    I have faith that it won’t come to that, though. Lots of writers sell their first work to a small press, get a bit of attention, and are then able to net the huge advances and the books sales (I actually watched this exact thing happen in real time, from reading an author’s livejournal).

    Good luck!

  2. Hey, Bobby. Don’t give up – you know the book’s good. Have you checked out Alan Rinzler’s site ( Fulla good info on querying, rewriting, hiring a freelance editor, and just good insider pub info all around. Check it out if you haven’t yet already 🙂

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