Once upon a time, there was a lovely author. She was smart, and sexy, sassy and…okay, okay, I said it was a fairy tale, remember? Anyway, she’d been writing her whole life, and finally finished her first novel. Now, this gorgeous author was alive back in the days before there was internet. Yes, I know, that was a very long time ago. You probably weren’t even born yet! But such a time did exist. Ha, ha, very funny. Yes, there was electricity. And typewriters. You’ve probably never seen one of those, have you, smarty pants?
This voluptuous writer, her dream was to have her book represented by the William Morris Agency in New York City. She sat in their waiting room when she was 15 years old, just watching the goings on. It was a magical afternoon in the city that never sleeps. She believed it was her destiny. How could she be denied?
Fast forward to the 1990s. The author’s first manuscript was complete. It was an action-adventure novel which would rival Ian Fleming and definitely kick Clive Cussler’s far-fetched ass. She was ready. She contacted William Morris. They wanted it. Months went by. The vice president had taken an interest. Three readers read it. Things were happening, indeed.
Then, the letter came. The book was “lively and entertaining” but they couldn’t take a chance on an unknown. Despite this, the stunning author was determined. The vice president had even written in the letter that “this was just one opinion,” so someone else had to want it, right? Remember, this was back in the day of no internet, no self-publishing – no eBooks and no print-on-demand. Yes, dark ages. Sure, thanks. Okay, I’m not continuing until you stop laughing.
How would this ravishing author find new agents? She went to the library and looked in reference books. A library? That’s a building that has lots of books. Yes, I know, also before your time. The author copied down, with paper and pen, all the agents which handled action-adventure. She queried them via U.S. Mail, one by one. Seriously? You have to buy stamps and envelopes. It’s complicated.
And one by one, she received back form letters stating they didn’t have a use for her book. A few agents did request her book, and after reading the 391 pages that she paid to mail (yes, that post office thing again), those agents responded with “it’s better than most of what’s out there today, but you’re an unknown and we can’t take the financial risk.”
The incredibly beautiful author was growing frustrated. She was following all the rules, and going exactly by the book. Perhaps that meant it was time to do something drastic. But she knew, back in these days of yore, that one wrong move could get her blacklisted. These agents, they didn’t want you to query multiple places at once. They wanted to know that someone else wouldn’t possibly get her book if they were spending the time reading it. (That’s called simultaneous submission, even still today.) And there was no way to query a publisher directly. You had to go through an agent. No, I’m not making this up. This is what is known as “traditional publishing.”
Many years passed. Letters went out. Rejections came back. The brilliant author had run out of options. What she didn’t know, however, was that the industry was evolving. There would be a huge shift in power, when the authors would gain control of their own destinies and would no longer be forced to deal with the roadblocks imposed by traditional publishing. The phenomenally beautiful author would be able to find a small indie publisher who appreciated her, and produce book after book without having the evil agents of the east in her way.
And she lived happily ever after, well, mostly, except for the starving part. What? Well, yes, traditional publishing does still exist. Why do you ask? Seriously? I can’t imagine any author wanting to be given the run-around like that when they could just self-publish or find an indie publisher. You still want to give it a shot? You’re really stuck on that, aren’t you? Well, don’t just take it from me. Here are some traditionally published authors who hopped onto the Indie bus: Jordan Dane and John Barlow, to name two. Click on their names for articles they’ve written. I mean, it’s a free country and all, so do what you want, but I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll end up in your own Frustrated Fairy Tale.