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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Landing an Agent Lands You Nowhere: Rick Daley’s Story

While I’m immersed in revision hell with two books and hopping around the Interwebz trying to promote two others that just came out—in case anybody wonders, this isn’t something I’d recommend—we’ve got a fascinating guest post.

Meet Rick Daley, the man behind the Public Query Slushpile, and author of the Middle Grade fantasy, THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS

When I heard that Mr. Public Query Slushpile—the man who has helped so many writers to learn to query and land an agent—chose to self-publish, I had to find out more. I knew he had an agent, so what was up?

It turns out Rick had an experience similar to mine: I’ve had four different agents, but none of them could sell my books. Two dropped me after a round of submissions and two left the business.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster that can break your heart. That initial acceptance by an A-list agent is such a high—then there’s the slow slide into disappointment when the editorial rejections come in—then, sometimes, an exhilarating spike when an editor loves it and agrees to take it to a meeting—then another kerplunk when the marketing people nix it. This can go on for a year or more. With me, all the agents dropped me when the first book failed to get a place at a big house.

But Rick’s agent suggested he write another book, hoping she’d have better luck with a two-book offering. In the meantime, unfortunately, she took on way more clients than she could handle (with today’s fast-sinking advances, agents have to sell a lot more books for a lot more clients to make a living.)

So Rick finished the book and waited. And waited. And waited. Nearly a year after he sent the manuscript to her, she still hadn’t even read it. 

He knew he had a fabulous, unique idea that was just right for the Christmas market. But he didn’t want to wait for Christmas 2013, which would be the earliest it could come out, even if the agent loved it and was able to sell it immediately.

So he fired her and went indie.

I think I probably would have done the same. But it must have been tough for him to give up that agent/Big 6 dream to go off to publish on his own.

Here’s his story--(plus some info on what sounds like a perfect gift for any MG-ers on your Christmas list.)

Where is The Man in the Cinder Clouds?
by Rick Daley


A team of climatologists stationed in the Artic reported a startling discovery: part of an ancient book found embedded in an ice core. After days of digging, they retrieved the rest of the book from deep within the ice. The book’s age and origin are unknown, but its title and text have been successfully translated, and it’s a story you have to read to believe. THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS reveals new truths behind one of the world’s most extraordinary legends, and exposes the roots of age-old traditions that are still in practice today.

Back in 2003 I came up with an idea for a story: What if the melting ice caps revealed a book…a very old book that was chock full of ancient secrets. A book that told an intriguing tale about the origins of western culture’s most well-known figures…

I came up with a whole mess of ideas. I clung to them, and jotted them down, pulling them into a semi-cohesive narrative. A mere page and a half, but within in it, the central piece to a tale that would grow to be a story-within-a-story (within a story). I saved it in My Documents and went back to work on my first novel, a paranormal thriller.

Fast forward to spring 2010. The first novel had been completed, but I stalled mid-way through a much-needed re-write.  I had other irons to tend to in my literary fire. I had an agent, and a kids’ chapter book (RUDY TOOT-TOOT) just went out on submission. I needed to decide what to work on next: my re-write, a new kids’ book, or that end of the world satire that is most definitely NOT a kids’ book.

I went with the new kids’ book. It made sense, because I was sure to get some offers for RUDY TOOT-TOOT. My agent had been an editor for 20+ years. She was well-respected and connected, not to mention a published author herself. It had to happen.

I waited confidently.

While I waited, I lost my job. The financial stress was difficult, but fortunately I did have some savings to fall back on. I hammered away at a new manuscript while searching for new job opportunities. This story had been in my head since 2003, and once I started writing it, it just flowed. Then moments of pure inspiration hit (Thanks Muse!) and the story became a special tale about the man in the cinder clouds, and his search for his true family one Christmas long ago.

I read through it and edited it, then emailed the finished manuscript to my agent and five trusted critique partners. I also sent it to my family and friends, including a 5th grade girl who is an avid reader. I read part of it out loud to my son’s third-grade class. All (save my agent, who did not respond) said they liked the concept, and had varying levels of criticism ranging from “This should be published” (opinion of the 5th grader) to being torn apart, shredded, and spat upon (figuratively, of course) by one critique partner.

A month passed. No word from my agent. I emailed her, politely asking about RUDY as well as the new manuscript. Nada.

At least I got a new job. 

I digested all the criticism and went back to the manuscript. I read and revised obsessively. Once a month I reached out to my agent. No response.

After six months I sent my agent an email to let her know I was going to look for a new agent and needed to know which editors had received RUDY TOOT-TOOT so I could let the new agent know the book’s history. After a six-month void in contact with my agent, I finally received an apologetic reply via email and a follow-up phone call. It seemed we might be able to work it out. She hadn’t read the new manuscript because she had been bogged down. She had taken on too many new clients too fast, and had to deal with an illness in the family. She was still fond of my writing, and disappointed RUDY didn’t fetch any offers.

I won’t lie…I didn’t want to go down the query path again and have to find a new agent. The lack of communication was concerning, but she was great to work with when she was engaged. I urged her to read my new manuscript. It was early December…the perfect time to read a bold re-imagining of the origins of Santa. She promised to read it before Christmas and get back to me the first week in January.

She didn’t call or email in the first week of January. I reached back out to her the following week. She acknowledged her tardiness, and asked for one more week. I gave it to her. I understand being busy, especially around the holidays. A week passed and again she hadn’t read anything and asked for more time. Shortly thereafter, we parted ways professionally. She never read a single page.

My new book was good. I knew it. I had to decide: Go the traditional route and try to find a new agent, or self-publish?

The traditional route would take a couple years. First getting an agent, then submitting to a publisher. I would be lucky if my book hit the stores by Christmas 2012. Most likely 2013.

Self-publishing I could have it ready for Christmas in July 2011.

While I contemplated the decision, I read the book again. A tweak here or there. (How can there still be typos after dozens of readings? It boggles the mind.) I read it again and made some more adjustments, adding nuances, grace notes to character revelations. I came to the realization that more changes would make it different, but not necessarily better. A very trusted critique partner agreed with me.

Decision time.

I chose self-publishing. I’m looking at this venture as a start-up company (something I have experience with), and the idea is exciting. I think the timing is right…for me personally, and for The Man in the Cinder Clouds.

So where is The Man in the Cinder Clouds?

He’s waiting for you, dear reader, at Amazon.com and BarnesandNobel.com.The Man in the Cinder Clouds is there to show you what really happened that Christmas long ago…To show you how the legend of Santa began.

About the Author:

Rick Daley has been writing professionally for over 15 years. His experience includes marketing copy for print and web, press releases, business proposals, training and technical manuals, and whitepapers. His essays, ranging from family life during the holidays to his first skydiving experience, have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch. An experienced public speaker with a background in music and theater, Rick has also authored and delivered numerous training seminars and workshops. Rick lives in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife and two sons (and a neurotic schnauzer).   

You can read more about Rick in a great interview on Susan Kaye Quinn's blog. And do visit Susan’s indie book fair on October 25, which will include my new mystery with MWiDP, THE GATSBY GAME. 

 What about you, scriveners? Would you have done what Rick did? Have you ever been disappointed by an agent? Have you reached the point when you realize that any more changes to your WIP “would make it different, but not necessarily better”?

Want to win a FREE copy OF my romantic comedy-thriller FOOD OF LOVE? They’ll be giving away three at Chick Lit Central, the Blog from October 17th through October 23rd.

Don’t forget that our November guest will be superstar mystery author, MWA Grand Master and legendary writing guru: Lawrence Block  He’ll be right here on this blog on November 13th!

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Blogger Rick Daley said...

Anne- Thank you for featuring me on your blog and letting me share my story with your readers (and I guess the story-behind-the-story).

"The Man in the Cinder Clouds" has gotten great reviews from kids and adults. If you ever believed in Santa Claus, you'll enjoy this tale of his first Christmas, and challenges he faced in his quest to find his true family.

If anyone has any question about the book or my experience with my agent, just comment on this post and I'll stop back by and answer for you!

October 16, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Michael Offutt said...

Wow. What an inspiration you are to writers everywhere Rick. So much of publishing seems to be a cloud of endless limbo...floating around...no communication...is this thing even on? Your experience with agents and disappointment and the candor in which you tell others of this experience is sobering. If anything, it teaches us writers out here to plant our feet firmly on the ground and to make sure that we view the entire process of "how a book is made" as a business.

October 16, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Thanks Michael. I think if I have to boil it all down to one motto, it would be "Don't give up!"

As writers, we spend so much time with our heads in the clouds dreaming up stories, and daydreaming about what-could-be as often as confronting reality head on, keeping a toe on the ground is as difficult as it is important. And trust me, I am no exception to getting lost in the imaginary realms!

Ultimately you have to take control of your future, one way or another. For some, that involves querying extra hard and breaking through the traditional industry. I don't have anything against those that do, or traditional publishing in general, but my current path took a different direction.

Time will tell if it was the right one...

October 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Sarah Pearson said...

Well done for for doing what you knew to be right, Rick. It must have been so hard to jump. You are living proof that sometimes it really it is better to 'just do it' :-)

October 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Spook said...

Wow Nick, that's a brave thing to do! Thank you so much for the inspiration :)

October 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of waiting. I didn't even bother with an agent and went straight to querying publishers. It was seven months before I got an offer, but much faster than if I'd tried for an agent I'm sure.

October 16, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Kamille Elahi said...

Congrats on making the decision to go indie. It must have taken a lot of guts to go indie and fire your agent at the same time. I hope it works out for you!

And that's a lot of waiting. How on earth did you cope with it?

October 16, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Sarah- Thanks! I took time to look before leaping, that made it easier. In taking my time to decide, I knew I was ready and fully motivated when I finally made the move.

Spook- Glad you found my story interesting, thanks for letting me know!

Alex- I wanted to try it by the book first. I made decent progress, and I am confident that if I tried that route again I could make it successful eventually. But this is more appealing on many levels...speed to market, but also the challenge and the sense of reward if I succeed doing it myself.

Kamille- I am not a patient person. As I mentioned to Sarah, a big part of the wait was deciding which route to take. While I was waiting for my agent, I read several self-published books by friends, and followed the stories of their path to publication on their blogs. In a way it was a detailed research program!

By the time my agent and I parted ways I was ready to go indie, that part wasn't hard. It was disappointing to have to break the agent relationship, because she did have a very good editorial eye. I learned a lot from working with her on RUDY TOOT-TOOT...which I will self-publish in the spring.

It wasn't a brutal firing there was a professional ending to our relationship. I don't hold any grudge, I'm happy with the way things have turned out.

October 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Good for you Rick. I feel your pain. I never got as far as an agent, but the waiting part was killing me so I too, took the bull by the horns and decided to self-publish. Once I made the initial decision, a weight fell off my shoulders and a whole new world opened up to me.

I loved Rooty - Toot - Toot and hope that someday, that story will see the light of day. And THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is on my to buy list for my daughter.

I wish you all the success in the world!

October 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Danette said...

Dropped by from Susan Quinn's blog. Cheers!

October 16, 2011 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Anne- Thanks! I'm planning to self-publish Rudy Toot-Toot in the spring. I hope your daughter likes The Man in the Cinder Clouds. Make sure you read it, too ;-)

Danette- Thanks for stopping by!

October 16, 2011 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

For an agent not to respond for a YEAR is inexcusable. Not to mention unprofessional. They've had too much power for much too long—not healthy for them, for you or for publishing.

October 16, 2011 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Angela Brown said...

Thanks to both of you, Anne and Rick, for this post. Sometimes, we get caught up in the thought that being agented immediately means access to the leprechaun's pot-o-gold.

As in this case, and probably lots more than we'll ever really know, the truth is there. Sometimes it's all about timing. And it looks like you've taken the smart path to time yours for a great season.

I wish you the best of luck as I go check it out. I'm sure I've got room to add another wonderful ebook to my kindle app :-)

October 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Ruth- It was about 6 months of no contact, but still, that's way too long. It's a tough decision, because it's so hard to get an agent to begin with that I'm afraid there are other writers like me who hang onto hope, regardless of the suffering.

In the end, though, all it cost me was time, and I took advantage of it to make sure the story was rock-solid.

Angela- Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I hope you enjoy the story!

October 16, 2011 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Roni Loren said...

Wow, Rick, what a story. I kind of want to send my agent out to kick your former agent's butt for you. That's crazy and like someone said above, completely unprofessional. My agent has a stable of clients and gets back to me within 24 hrs for email and that's how it should be.

But hopefully it was a blessing in disguise and your book will find a great place in the indie market. I wish you all the luck on your new journey!

October 16, 2011 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger J.M.Cornwell said...

Too many times to count and too many agents and publishers as well. I've been through the mill with agents and publishers for a very long time. I would have fired her sooner, but that's just me. When someone tells me they have taken on too many new clients that tells me that they aren't pushing my work. Done deal. Thank you and goodbye.

Congratulations on going Indie.

October 16, 2011 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I'm pretty good friends with Rick, and I've known his story for awhile. It's disheartening that agent relationships don't always work. It's even more disheartening when I see that the relationship isn't treated like a partnership - as it should be. Unfortunately, I have a feeling part of it is how the industry is right now.

I think Rick is wise to follow his instincts and heart. He's done a fabulous job with his book, and I enjoyed it immensely. :)

October 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I'm pretty good friends with Rick, and I've known his story for awhile. It's disheartening that agent relationships don't always work. It's even more disheartening when I see that the relationship isn't treated like a partnership - as it should be. Unfortunately, I have a feeling part of it is how the industry is right now.

I think Rick is wise to follow his instincts and heart. He's done a fabulous job with his book, and I enjoyed it immensely. :)

October 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Sherrie Petersen said...

Great post. I'm looking forward to reading this story with my kids this Christmas.

October 16, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, as Anne already knows, I leave comments as "anon" not to struggle with google who hates wordpress I suppost. This is Florence from Ramblings ... you were kind enough to guest on my blog and more than once you also gave me valuable feedback on queries.

Each of us needs to find the right path to take to that illusive dream. While writing, rewriting and editing, I also completed a stream of consciousness I have begun to send to small press.

It is an exciting time for writers if they can keep their wits about them. I am so sorry a talent such as yours had to endure such terrible set-backs. I know from Anne, that often this is what makes a writer stronger and more determined. I am certain your books will be a major success.

For myself and my genre fiction, I have no intention of putting a dozen eggs in a basket I am unsure of. While I send out the novella, I prepare to send direct to publishers who take unagented work, send to agents, send another novella to small press and keep on writing and sending. LIke Anne has said dozens of times here, when you keep at it, something is bound to work. As for indie, I have a collection of older stories about a bunch of mis-fits from the streets of Brooklyn. That has always been targeted in a different direction.

Anne, do not put my name in the drawing since I have already happily bought Food Of Love from Kindle.

Rick, I intend to to do the same with your books. Not only do I think you are talented, you are a generous man and I believe in "paying it forward." All the best :)

October 16, 2011 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

It's a well known fact that no matter how many times a MS is scoured, there will always be at least ONE typo missed!

Congrats on going commando!

October 16, 2011 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Laura Pauling said...

I do think Rick was right in self publishing. I keep hearing more and more stories like this, but I also hear about agents that are true gifts and awesome. So it all depends. Sounds like a great story!

October 17, 2011 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I've read Cinder Clouds and it's an outstanding story! I'm glad kids (and parents!) will have a chance to read it this Christmas. To me, this is one of the best reasons to go Indie - to get your work out there, so people can enjoy it.

October 17, 2011 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Roni- I do believe that things happen for a reason, and after this ordeal I am more resolute in my current path, so ultimately I see it as a good thing. Also, I can't take for granted what I learned from my time working with my agent while she was actually engaged. It made this book better, even though indirectly, and the knowledge I gained will be evident in all my future works. It made me a better writer and storyteller, and for that I am thankful.

J.M.- Thanks! Indie just feels right, I'm content with my decision.

Michelle- You were a strong influence in my decision to self-publish, thanks for being a trail-blazer!

Sherrie- Thanks, I hope you enjoy the story!

Florence- It's great that you are investigating all of your options, and you recognize that different paths may be suitable for different books. This is a very fluid industry, where one current may send you racing but another may be swallowed up in its undertow. Thanks for your support, and good luck with your books!

Widdershins- I think there are computer gremlins that add them back in. They are the same gremlins that strip attachments off emails ;-)

Laura- Thanks, I hope you have the opportunity to read my story!

Sue- Thanks, your support means a lot to me!!

October 17, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger SBJones said...

I think you made the right decision. You already said the only thing you lost was time, but time is the one thing you can't get back.

Your book could have been selling for all that time it sat unread and rejected. Even if it was accepted. Waiting till Christmas of 2013 is still over two years from now. That is absurd. No one should have to SPEND significant portions of their life like that.

I hope you sell a million+ books.

October 17, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
OpenID williamdoonan said...

Great post. I had a similar experience - the joy of being taken on by an agent, followed by nothing happening. Given the new directions that publishing is taking, I'm not sure how much longer agents will be around.

William Doonan

October 17, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

SB- Thanks. It's nice to know there's support from other writers. At least I was able to take advantage of the time to make sure the story was solid.

I hope I sell a million+ books too! Partly because that would just be awesome, but also because I think the story is really good and deserves to be read by that many people. I really think The Muse gave me something special with this story. I only hope I can do it again!

William- It's tough, isn't it? You get an agent and think you won the game, but you find you only made the qualifying heat and the real game hasn't started yet...

I think agents will still be around. They are keen business people (most of them) and will find a way to revise their model to stay relevant. The publishers move slower than the agents do, so they'll have time to figure it out.

October 17, 2011 at 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Morgenroth said...

Yeah. I had my book, Not Low Maintenance, with my agent for about 10 months and he didn't read it. I begged this agent continually to do his job but he had just taken on another agency's client list so I guess didn't have time to do things like read projects and represent his original clients. I fired him, self published NLM and it sold over 10,000 copies so far this year at Amazon. And I was contacted by a Hollywood producer for the film rights. Pretty good for a book traditional publishing couldn't be bothered with.

October 17, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Barbara- You are my hero! Seriously, what a great tale of success. I've heard the majority of books sell less than 5,000 copies, so you are well ahead of the curve (and to get film options to boot is a secondary coup).

And to do it on your own means word-of-mouth is helping drive the sales, which speaks volumes about the inherent quality of your writing...people don't recommend books they don't like.

PS Feel free to mention my book to your producer friend, it would make a phenomenal movie!!

October 17, 2011 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous D. Robert Pease said...

I also have read The Man in the Cinder Clouds, and found it enthralling. What a great little story about the origins of Santa, just in time for Christmas.

I spent years with the goal in mind of finding an agent, getting that editor and publishing traditionally, and earlier this year, after just one too many stories like Rick's, I decided that it just wasn't for me.

Publishing is in a huge state of change, and the only people who don't seem to see it are those in the traditional publishing world, and those (like I was not too long ago) who are still enamored with the idea of a traditional publishing contract.

I've self-published my first book, just a couple months ago. It is still too early to say whether I'll make any money at it or not, but I do think I have a better chance at getting real readers than I would have if I had gone the old route. Time will tell I guess.

Thanks so much for your story, Rick. I wish your book(s) the best success.

October 18, 2011 at 6:00 PM  
OpenID petemorin said...

H'lo Anne, Rick -

Rick, your tale is becoming all too common.

I have a fabulous agent. She has an excellent sales record, and the average elapsed time between my email to her and the phone ringing is approximately 10 minutes. Miraculous, I know.

Our problem was with the seven editors she submitted to, people she'd sold to before and had regular contact with. After ten months, NONE of them had gotten to it yet. Ten months. It took me one month to publish it myself - with my agent's full support and advice.

October 19, 2011 at 6:06 AM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

I like the fact that Rick approached what he was doing as the start up for a business. If we're looking at writing as a business, there's no other approach but to be dedicated and persistent in getting the book/s to market.

October 19, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

With the changes in the publishing industry, we writers need to constantly evaluate our options. I chose to self-publish, and to look at it as my own business, because I have a business background. I'm fortunate that my life experiences have given me this foundation.

At the end of the day, though, what really matters is that "The Man in the Cinder Clouds" is a great book. I put years into making sure it was the best it could be. Agents, editors, traditional vs. self-publishing...none of it matters if you haven't done all you can to produce a quality book. That's still the most important goal.

October 19, 2011 at 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living said...

Thanks Rick for giving us new authors hope and encouragement to go Indie. All the best with book sales. What about distribution? That's my biggest fear with going the Indie route as far as book stores.

October 19, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks to everybody who has been commenting. A lot of your comments are an education in the failures of our current publishing system.

And many, many thanks to Rick for sharing this story. It's resonating with a lot of people. It got picked up by the Passive Guy's blog and mentioned in a couple of others.

Barbara, we love to hear success stories like yours.

Pete--I think smart agents are doing just what your agent did--helping their authors go indie. You make a good point: it's not the agents' fault the system shuts out newbie writers and discards midlisters. All Big 6 wants is Snookibooks (Snooki's two new novels were just sold in a big deal today. T.I. the rapper also has a big new novel coming out that he wrote in prison.) So reality TV and prison seem to be good roads to Big 6 publication. Getting an agent--not so much.

Sonia--Self-pubbed and small press books mostly won't make it into bookstores, unless you can get a local indie store to take it on consignment. Bookstores are locked into a kind of death-dance with the Big 6. Returns, paid placement and other out-of-date conventions are taking them all down. There probably won't be any brick and mortar bookstores except indies in few years. (See my post on The Way We Publish Now.)

October 19, 2011 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn Peake said...

Oh, my goodness, I’m so enthralled with this entire blog post, I don’t think I can type my response quickly enough.

Best of luck, Anne, with revising two books while promoting two others. That is a tough endeavor!

And I’m delighted to discover Rick Daley here! We met a while back on another popular blog. Rick, you’re one of the authors I’ve been rooting for ever since you first mentioned you were writing books, opened up the Public Query Slushpile and announced that you had signed with an agent. Your story about what you went through after signing with an agent is heartbreaking, but you aren’t alone. Recently, I’ve heard so many stories like yours, it boggles my mind. On the other hand, I’ve heard so many happy reports from authors who finally decided to self-publish, I actually see that as the best option for most writers in today’s rapidly changing market. Your book, THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS, sounds absolutely brilliant! You may have a really good chance of hitting the Kindle bestseller list as the Christmas season gets closer, especially since you have total control over every aspect of marketing and pricing, and you can experiment with all that as a self-published author. I wish you all the best!

Anne asked: "What about you, scriveners? Would you have done what Rick did? Have you ever been disappointed by an agent? Have you reached the point when you realize that any more changes to your WIP 'would make it different, but not necessarily better'?"

I did exactly what Rick did! I self-published three novels and four short stories on Amazon Kindle, and was so delighted with both sales and the overall experience, I recently published a fourth novel the same way.

Years ago, I signed with an agent who had been recommended by Writer’s Digest. She held on to two of my manuscripts for six months each, but never sold either of them to a publisher. Shortly after my contracts with her ended, Writer’s Digest stopped listing her as recommended, and writers’ sites posted warnings, saying that she continuously mailed so many manuscripts to publishers without ever contacting them personally, they were just throwing her packages into the garbage! Yes, I cried a little inside. :(

Last week, I self-published a science fiction novel after five years of writing, rewriting and editing it. I changed many things in the novel based on really great suggestions from a literary agent and an editor who read it; but, since they both disagreed on which characters they liked and didn’t like, I only changed some of the characters, finally realizing that changing more might make the novel different, but might not make it better.

October 20, 2011 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Sonia- I published through CreateSpace. They have an expanded distribution network option that will stock books through wholesalers so libraries and bookstores can order them. I have been talking to a local indie bookstore and they are able to order direct from their standard supplier.

Convincing a major retailer to stock it is a different thing altogether...

October 20, 2011 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Marilyn- Great to hear from you! It's been a while since we had our deep back-and-forths on Nathan Bransford's blog ;-)

I'm glad you like the premise for my story, I hope you have the opportunity to read it and like it as well.

I would love to be a Christmas Kindle hit...for that I need people to read, review, and recommend my book in addition to my own marketing, so if you can help, I'd appreciate it!

Every voice counts...

And congrats with your own indie publishing!!!

October 20, 2011 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

What a great comment from Marilyn! Thanks. I recommend Marilyn's great interview on agent Sarah La Polla's blog Glass Cases. Sarah is definitely one of the good guys, and she ran a whole series on self-pubbing earlier this month. http://bigglasscases.blogspot.com/

October 20, 2011 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn Peake said...

Rick – I already purchased your book, THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS, because it sounded so fascinating. I’m looking forward to reading it! On Twitter, I linked to your interview here on Anne’s blog.

Anne – Thank you so much! And I agree with you that Sarah LaPolla’s one of the good guys. She’s such a nice person, and she really loves literature. I was very impressed when she opened a blog to publish literary work that publishers won’t buy, while still working as a successful literary agent.

October 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Marilyn- I really appreciate your enthusiasm and support!!

October 20, 2011 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger RaShelle Workman said...

Congrats on publishing your book, Rick. It "sounds" fantastic!

October 22, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Thanks RaShelle, it's been a rewarding experience so far!

October 22, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger m. christine weber said...

Cool and inspiring story, Rick! Thanks for sharing with us. And thank you, Anne, for hosting him. I love hearing from people who have the proactive guts to pursue their dreams down life's various avenues until finding what's right for them!

October 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

Thanks Christine, I'm glad to have this opportunity to share my path / past with so many people. I learned by watching others, and hope what I have shared can help guide someone else in the future.

October 22, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks so much Rick. People have really been inspired by your story.

And many, many thanks to everybody who has commented!

October 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca Burke said...

Another great blog post by Ruth--thank you! I appreciate this blog, Anne. It could have devolved into an endless series of promotional posts by you, given your recent successes (and Congratulations! Well-earned!). But it doesn't look like you are going to be lured down that path as so many have before you (won't name names, hah).

I am most curious about Florence's mention of her friend starting a writer's marketing collective for MG/YA books. Florence--are you still out there reading this?!--how could I get in touch with your friend. I've got two YA books self-published and am running up against a wall (might as well be frank). Honestly, I think one of the issues with these books is that not so many young adults have dedicated ereaders, yet. That will change, I am sure of it. Let me know how to find you/her, please. Thanks!

Rebecca Burke

October 24, 2011 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger rsquared said...

Be great to know the agent or his/her firm so we can avoid them in the future. From what I hear what the agent did is not uncommon, but that doesn't make it right.

October 25, 2011 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Rick Daley said...

rsquared- I'd rather not disclose her name or the name of the agency...they're not worthy of Writer Beware or Predators & Editors (i.e. they are not scammers).

The agency is reputable, their list includes the works of Franz Kafka and Dan Brown. Don't avoid them if you think and agent there would be a good fit for you. I had a bad experience with one of their agents, I don't think the agency operates in the same manner.

I think the biggest part of my agent's issue was that I signed with her 2 months after she switched from editor to agent, and she didn't have a sense of how to manage her workload yet. Unfortunate for me that I was the one who fell through the cracks, but I know she has sold many books so she is probably a good agent for some writers.

She did an excellent job as an editor when she was engaged with me on RUDY TOOT-TOOT. I think a lot of my willingness to forgive and forget is out of appreciation for what I did learn while working with her.

October 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger whymommy said...


Two sisters, one a friend of mine, run the new YA review site Teen Lit Rocks. They have a set of YA readers, both teen and adult, and Sandie is an experienced reviewer who has written for Common Sense Media for years. Check out the site and see if it may be a good fit for your YA work. There's a contact form, or you can tweet her at @urbanmama

Good luck!

October 28, 2011 at 3:51 AM  

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