It will hardly come as a surprise for any of Elizabeth´s readers that I found the inspiration for this guest post via one of her own links. Elizabeth, your blog is an invaluable source for the aspiring writer! And thank you for inviting me; it is a pleasure and an honour to be here.
In January I took the first, tiny step towards becoming a self-published author by sending out a collection of thirteen flash fiction stories. At that time I really believed I would continue searching for an agent for my humorous novel, "The Cosy Knave". And I did send off a handful of queries to various agencies in the spring, but without much success.
I know that some of you will think ´a handful is not many´, and you are right, of course, but one of the things I have learnt is that I absolutely, totally loathe writing queries. And the power of British & American agents and publishers also bothers me. Hardly any Danish writer uses an agent, and no matter which serious publisher we send manuscripts to, they will at least send us a standard rejection before or later. No one celebrates rejections, but at least you know where you stand. And honestly, how much would it cost the agent to send back a short ´no thank you´? (Some of them do, but it seems to be the minority).
So I don´t know exactly what happened when, but in April I sent off two queries and received this auto-reply:
"I have received your query/submission. You will not hear from me again unless I want to see more of your work. If you haven’t received another email from me within 8 weeks, assume that I do not wish to read more of your work at this time."
And somehow my eyes fixed on those ´8 weeks´, and I made up my mind I had written my last queries (certainly for "The Cosy Knave", possibly for ever).
Well, the eight weeks are history, and on the first of August I published my first full-length novel via Amazon and Smashwords. Now the big question is: do I still want an agent?
Honestly, I am not so sure. It would be nice to have a traditional publisher who would print and distribute paper books for me, someone who could add weight and credibility to the upstart from tiny Denmark, plus an experienced editor I could discuss certain manuscript points with, but an agent? Someone who could take 15 % of my income for doing things I have struggled hard to learn over the last six months? I have already learnt that though I prefer Smashwords in some ways, I definitely need Amazon (well, their customers that is). I have learnt the power of offering short stories and flash fiction cheaply or for free, getting some reviews in return. I have also learnt a lot about the generosity of blog friends, and which social media that seem to suit me. I can recommend Facebook and Goodreads, I am not quite so sure I really feel at home on Twitter yet.
If my debut novel turns out to be a total flop, I may reconsider the agent question (though it will probably be next to impossible to get one in that case), but on the whole I really like being my own master. I listen to the excellent advice I get from friends and fellow writers, but basically I can do exactly what I like whenever I want to. So even though an agent might land me more money in the long term, I am probably too stubborn to give up my independence now. And 15 % - forget it!
Dorte Jakobsen is a Danish teacher who lives in the beautiful region of Thy. In her spare time she reads and writes crime fiction. The Cosy Knave released August 1. You can find Dorte on her blog, and on Facebook. The Cosy Knave is priced at $3.99, but if you buy at Smashwords and use this coupon code: PN22N, you get a 25% discount. A synopsis: The vicious attacks begin when the prodigal son of Knavesborough returns to the sleepy village after forty years in Argentina with fame and fortune. No wonder that spiteful Rose Walnut-Whip is killed, but when the violence escalates, Constable Penrose knows he needs help from his fiancée, librarian Rhapsody Gershwin.