Agents and publishers and editors, oh my!

If you’re reading “My Grave Is Deep,” or planning to read it, thank you.

If you’re an agent, or publisher, well, I have other words.

I’ll come right out and say it. I hate agents and publishers.

At least some publishers. All agents.

Here’s why.

I published my latest Noah Greene mystery myself. My previous publisher, whom I loved, went out of business a few years back.

Word Branch was an independent publisher out of North Carolina run by a wonderful woman, Cathy Trobaugh, who loved books, and writing, and writers. And her stable of writers loved her.

She cared deeply about quality and did her best to help make our books a success. But it wasn’t easy. You’d think that independent booksellers, like Joseph A. Beth and others, would welcome independent publishers and authors.

You’d be wrong. The issue is a buy back policy. The big publishing houses, that ones that publish books by Stephen King, or Michael Connolly, agree to buy back unsold books from bookstores. A small independent publisher such as Word Branch can’t do that. So, they’re not welcome at Barnes&Noble, and Books-A-Million. If a book isn’t physically in a bookstore, it severely undercuts sales opportunities. Which is why it’s nearly impossible for an independent author to be a breakout success. It happens – Andy Weir managed it with “The Martian” – but not often.

So, while I’d love to see “My Grave Is Deep” atop the New York Times bestseller list, I’ve got as much chance as that proverbial snowball in hell.

Knowing Word Branch wouldn’t be available to publish my novel, I went in search of another publisher and/or an agent.

I sent out many, many queries, got many, many rejections. Most of the rejections were very nice. Told me that my writing was good. Loved the ideas. But … there were lots of buts.

The decision to publish the book myself on Amazon’s KDP platform was made after one publisher, who specializes in thrillers, told me my novel was “too thrilling” and an agent wrote me saying, “I’m thrilled to be reading your novel. Is it still available? I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the passion for it.”

Well now.

I decided that I didn’t need an agent or a publisher.

But I did need an editor. I was lucky to find two, Fran Allred and Michael Johnson of We Edit Books. Both are former journalists who know their stuff. They challenged me, pushed me, asked pointed questions, criticized (nicely) and made me a better writer and “My Grave Is Deep” a better book.

I’m working on a fourth Noah Greene mystery and unless Ben Affleck calls wanting to buy the movie rights, I’ll be publishing it myself.

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