Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


As some of you know, I’ve been taking a fairly brutal online course called The Gatekeepers: All About Agents and Editors—Getting them, working with them, and growing as a career author. The instructor has published twelve non-fiction books on subjects as diverse as throwing the perfect party, raising a helping hands monkey, and criminal law. She’s been around the publishing industry long enough to know what’s what, and whenever I mention an author I love, she’s invariably a close personal friend or at least an acquaintance of that person.

Every week I get hit with about forty pages of material that I must read, followed by a lengthy assignment. Last week’s was the most time consuming. I had to write three versions of my query letter and a synopsis, among other things. Almost all of Saturday (day and evening) and Sunday morning were taken up with homework, but hopefully I’ll have a brilliant query letter when the dust settles. That would make it all worth it.

Still, here I am, in the last week of the course, and I’m no closer to deciding which approach to take with my new novel. Author Dean Wesley Smith has some very convincing arguments about why a new author should submit directly to publishers and only approach agents once an offer is in hand. Another author, J.A. Konrath, is a huge believer in the potential of e-publishing–so much so that he recently turned down a traditional print deal to go with Amazon e-books. He also has a convincing argument that e-publishing is putting the control and money back where it belongs–in the hands of the author.

My instructor, however, will have none of this. She strongly believes that traditional publishing–that is, finding an agent and hoping the agent will be able to sell my book–is the right way for me to go.

As I draw nearer to the end of my novel, I’m approaching a fork in the road. A three-pronged fork: editor, agent, or e-publisher? Anyone out there have any opinions on the subject? Or any experience?

I’m considering a radical approach where I try a little of each, but perhaps that will dilute my efforts too much. I guess only time will tell.

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1 Comment

  1. TS

    I’m not in the industry, but can say the way the print industry is going (from newspapers to books) is the way of the dodo.

    On my last trip I couldn’t believe how many people who had eReaders.

    And considering the cost to get to “print” would be less for an eReader, wouldn’t the odds be better to get signed with them? (Coming from a stats person here)

    So I guess the question you need to ask yourself is what your primary goal is of being published? Is it to get your word out to the public? Or is it to earn an income? I ask this since musicians have been asked the same thing, facing a similar plight. And how many CDs have you bought lately? 😉


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