The Adventures of an Independent Author

Mar 03, 2023 by James D. McEwan, in General Blog

A few years ago, after receiving multiple rejections for my fantasy work, I paid for the editorial services of a well-known UK fantasy agent. I wanted to know what I was doing wrong, and why dozens of agents were ignoring everything I sent their way. His guidance was immeasurably helpful in redirecting my efforts. In his own words, my prose was ‘not bad at all’, and I take that as a compliment. With my new found education, I rewrote the story, and submitted it again, only to be rejected. The agent in question did not love my story. And although he really liked the characters and the story itself, it wasn’t enough. Regardless, I continued on; if an agent thought my work was actually quite good, and my prose also ‘improved’ from being ‘not bad at all’, I considered myself at least a competent writer. So why did I choose to become an independent, or self-published author?


The probability of my work being accepted by a commercial publishing house is practically null. Why? Well, there are the stats for a start. The agent that critiqued my work also wrote a page about the publishing process. In it, he suggested that editors in chief rejected 99% of agent forwarded submissions. This was because a saleable book needed to match the current market, and if the publisher couldn’t pin it down to a money-making equivalent, it was difficult to push forward. That’s authors with agents being rejected. There was worse: of those that made the next step, only 10% would be considered as a potential commercial success when weighed up against marketing and print costs. Those odds suck.


I didn’t give up on agency submissions because of those numbers, though. My reasons are more profound. I don’t follow market trends. When I began writing, it was because I had an idea in my head. As in all my stories, a small idea, perhaps even a few words, can become something larger. Those strange thoughts and disjointed phrases have no synchronicity with the trending market. I’ve never aligned myself to a market trend, except where a trend coincides with what I like. I'm more similar to those folks you see walking down the street wearing the weirdest clothes (no, not goths, art-students and the ‘anti-consumer’ consumerists; they’re all following a template). I’m talking about independent thinkers who are unafraid to dress in a manner some might consider psychologically extroverted. Or unbalanced. They don’t care what you or I think; they like how they look. And that’s pretty cool.


Therefore, I push forward on my own. Many people tell me M7RRORS is much more likely to gain a wider audience, and that might be true. As of posting this, I’m awaiting two reviews from book bloggers on Instagram. Between them, they’ve got more reach than I can hope to achieve for quite some time. It’s a reflection of the irony, not lost on me, that very few people will even read this post. It’s as though I’m at the edge of the abyss, screaming at the oncoming storm. In independent authoring, nobody can hear you scream. But hey, I’d rather do this; build up a catalogue of work while I slowly increase awareness.


Next time you see a commercial for a new book by some famous author, or a new biography that definitely wasn’t written by a 3rd rate celeb who has infinitely more fame than me, just remember: the industry is telling you what to buy, not what you want to buy.


Don’t believe the hype: support your friendly independent author.


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