A long time ago, in a country far, far away, I wrote a book. It was my first book and I was really proud of it. But as it happens with many first books, it wasn’t good enough. If you want to know more about the whole experience, you can read it here.
But back then, I had no idea my book sucked. So I queried some fifty agents (okay, maybe it was seventy) and ALL of them replied with form rejections. All.of.them.
Here’s how I felt: You know horse shit? Think about one of the trillions of atoms that constitute horse shit. That’s me. If you’ve ever gotten more than a few rejection letters, you’ve probably felt the same way.
After a while, I told myself, “You know what? You’re NOT giving up.” So I wrote a few short-stories, and two of them got accepted by small presses. It was awesome, and I learned a lot. You know how Superman must have felt as he carried Lois Lane into the sunset? Yeah, that was me.
One year later, when I re-read my first book, I realized I shouldn’t have queried it. Not because seventy agents said “Thanks, but no thanks”, but because as I read it, I told myself “Even I wouldn’t self-publish this load of crap.” And if I wouldn’t bet on it, why should anyone else?
So I wrote a second book. This book was waaaay better than the first one. It was a book I’d be proud to self-publish. The feedback I received from writers and readers was fantastic. Seriously, these were strangers who owed me nothing, and they were really enthusiastic about my story. So I told myself, “This is it! You’ll finally make it!”
Not really. I’ve queried my second book to some five agents so far. All of them replied with form rejections. All.of.them.
You know horse shit? Yeah.
So why am I sharing this with you?
I guess that if you’re going through the same, I want you to know you’re not alone. I guess that we all have times when we feel like horse shit, and we need someone to say “Hey, it’s not over yet.”
So here are a few facts to cheer you up: Facebook just bought Whatsapp for some 19 billion dollars. But you probably already know about that. Did you also know that a long time ago, Facebook said “Thanks, but no thanks” to Whatsapp co-owner Brian Acton?
And here’s to making you feel even better (it’s old news, but still worth mentioning): Click here to check this awesome post by self-publishing rock star Hugh Howey. This guy makes 70% royalties on his sales, and he has sold more than one million books in a really short period of time.
All by himself.
Let’s do some calculations, shall we? Let’s say he sells every book at 3 USD. That means his gross sales amount to three million dollars. Now, let’s calculate 70% of that. It’s 2,100,000 USD. NET. Which means into his pocket (before taxes).
All by himself.
That’s pretty flabbergasting.
Meanwhile, the average royalty with a big five is around 12-20%, and 15% of this 12-20% goes into your agent’s pocket. Make the calculations and see how much he would have earned if he had taken a traditional publishing deal. Yeah, that’s pretty flabbergasting too, but not in a good way.
Now, I’m not saying by any means that we’ll EVER sell as much as Hugh. By God, we have better chances of being struck by lightening while running naked in the city on a perfectly sunny day. But there’s a good number of folks making a decent amount of money with self-publishing.
So, I guess what cheers me up, and it should cheer you up too, is that everyone gets rejected, and a lot of people find another way. In the end, your fate is in your hands and your hands alone.
So what will you do with it?