Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rules were meant to be broken

I like to think of myself as a rule follower. Don't laugh. I really do. I guess I should re-phrase. I like to follow the rules when I feel they are fair and appropriate. Otherwise, I toss the rules out the window as far as I can and make my own. Of course, the way I see it, most rules are ridiculous and therefore meant to be broken. So why not make my own rules in the first place? That's a fine solution, indeed.

I am contemplating rules today as it seems these pesky, thorny things are constantly getting in my way on the path to publication. And I must continually find a way to either a) get around them or b) just ignore them as if they didn't exist. A lot of the time I choose answer b as I find mostly it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. (I got that bit of sage wisdom from my adoring Mother.)

Today's irksome rule has to do with agents and multiple submissions. Here's the first rule as I see it: First-time writers of fiction length work either a) find a small publishing house interested in your work (which I did with book number one) or b) find an agent to schlep your work all over creation to get it published with a bigger house.

Now, I have been a diligent submitter the last few years, writing perky letters and sending partial manuscripts to potential agents. I've done my homework. There have been a few nibbles, but no all out bites for my fiction written wares.

This leads me to the next rule on multiple submissions. This is a no no to many agents. Many would like what they call 'exclusive' submissions and be given time to look over the work and make a fair decision. Okay, I get that. So, like the good girl that I am I have waited (somewhat) patiently up to eight weeks for ONE agent to tell me whether or not he/she even wants to see more than the query, synopsis and 10-30 pages I have sent.

I've done this 'one at a time' thing for more years than I can count. Let me put it this way, I've been chatting up agents since my teenager was a toddler. That's a lot of wasted time (or shall I say contemplative time?) But, as I said, I am a rule follower and I want to do the right thing.

Lately, though, the answer c keeps popping up in my head. You know, NONE OF THE ABOVE. Maybe I don't want a small publisher. Maybe I don't need an agent (shhhhh, my perfect one might be listening). Maybe I can do this thing called publishing all by myself with no rules or regs.

My wonderfully supportive spouse sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal recently which discussed such a thing. Rule breakers from all over the country are flocking to places like to upload their stories for all to read. Gadgets like the Kindle and the iPad are making it possible to bypass publishers and agents all together.

So, what is a rule follower to do? Do I continue on my present path to publication? No. I think it's time for some soul searching and good old fashioned research. I'm gonna get my work out there one way or another - even if it is one download at a time.