Bob Mayer now says on his blog, in a post talking about writers who decide to self-publish, that (as I understand him) basically you should write three manuscripts before worrying about promotion. He’s implying that a backlog is a good idea. The conventional wisdom has always been that you should turn around and start on the next book after finishing a book and getting it sent out. This also implies keeping a backlog going.
However, now agents are telling us not to query again right away. Say that a new agent hangs out a shingle and we send her our newest book. She rejects it. The new word is that you should not turn around and query that agent with the previous book, the one you just finished and started sending out six months ago, because it will be considered a “trunk novel” and you will be written off as one of those people who queries with all her junk from the trunk.
But what if my three newest books are not trunk junk? Won’t someone be missing out on the good novel that simply hasn’t found the right home?
How are we to reconcile the “write another one and send it out” with the “don’t send me anything else for a while”?
No wonder authors are turning to self-publishing and e-books and POD. There are just too many heads bobbing in the water and competing for the few spots in traditional publishing.
On the other hand, I heard the other day that only about 12% of Americans have an e-reader. The reading public must constitute more than 12% of us . . . must it not? Do they count iPads and iPods in that number? I know that I am not adapting well to the idea of an e-reader, simply because I like to have something to show for my money other than bits. What I mean is that I’ll either keep a book on the shelf to re-read or refer to, or just because I loved it and its author, or I’ll give it to the local nursing home for their lending library or take it to the used book store. I no longer just keep them all and stack them up. With an e-book that I didn’t care for, I can supposedly “lend it out” to one person at a time (if I knew anyone with an e-reader, I mean), but I can’t sell the book or just give it away. Elderly people often have visual infirmities that mean they prefer to read on paper, despite the improvements in e-ink. All of this means that there still must be a market for paper books.
Where I see the advantage is in textbooks. If students used e-readers, then every year they could get the most updated textbooks and they wouldn’t get back pain from a heavy backpack full of texts. That’s IF students could keep from breaking those e-readers. Would school districts save money if they issued e-readers and got licenses for textbooks for all the students in e-format? Perhaps. That’s the next big change that I sense is coming. Readers in general may convert, but it’ll be later than schools.