Amanda Luedeke

January 9, 2014

Thursdays with Amanda: I’m an Agent and I Self-Published


Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

Hi. I’m an agent and I self-published. Nice to meet you.

It goes without saying that when you’re in a certain industry and then specifically choose to do something within that industry but without following industry expectations, it’s going to raise some eyebrows. I mean shouldn’t I be on the side of TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING?! Shouldn’t I HATE Amazon and CreateSpace?

Maybe. But I don’t.

I hadn’t faced much interrogation over my self-pubbing decision until I had lunch with an editor a few months ago. She looked me straight in the eye and asked me why I didn’t traditionally publish. And I knew the question was more than that. It was her asking me why I avoided giving her and her industry my business and instead hopped over to Amazon, the bully on her playground. Was I indicating that I didn’t trust their skills? Was I showing my true colors? Was I making a statement?

There are a number of reasons that I chose to self-publish. Sadly for all of you readers looking for a dose of entertainment, none of those reasons are malicious or argument-inducing. But still, it’s time to talk about it. It’s time to share why I published the way I published…

1. I needed it NOW. I began work on The Extroverted Writer last January. I had effectively established as an agent and deveopled a following, particularly with my marketing advice. But how long was this image going to last? Was I going to tire of it and want to shift to something else? I didn’t know. What I DID know was that had I drafted a proposal, shopped it around, and gotten a publishing deal, my book probably wouldn’t be out for another 6-12 months from today’s date. Would I have lost steam by then? Moved on? Maybe. Another factor was that last year, I did a LOT of conferencing. I’m slowing it down this year. So again, the timing was right to have it come out March 2013.

2. I have a niche within a niche readership. My audience are not only writers, but they’re writers who have written books AND are focusing on marketing. That’s a tiny market, and there are only a handful of publishers who’d ever be interested in a book. So already, the odds were against me.

3. I didn’t have enough to say. My book is 27,000 words, and at the time, that’s all I really wanted to say. To balloon it to 50,000 would have been difficult and I think the book would have lost some of its punch. So again, finding a publisher who was interested in a 27,000-word how-to book written to a niche market would have been ridiculously hard.

4. I didn’t have a real hook. The Extroverted Writer is a short, how-to manual, covering a variety of social media outlets and strategies. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t guarantee crazy results (like “Tweet Your Way to 50k!” or “Double Your Sales in Five Easy Steps”) . It’s just a collection of my thoughts on basic book marketing. There’s no hook there, giving it another strike against having a shot at traditional publishing.

5. I wasn’t confident I could keep a publisher happy. An author’s career is entirely reliant upon impressing publishers and keeping their publisher happy. They do this through selling lots of books and turning a profit for the company. I knew there was no way I’d be able to sell enough books in the first year to earn out a $10,000, $5,000, or even $3,000 advance. But I also knew I COULD sell enough to keep myself happy. WIN: Self-Publishing

6. I didn’t want to sink my career before it started. Building off of #5, let’s say I rolled the dice and did traditionally publish. And let’s say my book bombed. In a way, that would have been the end of my writing career. Bad numbers follow you. They attach themselves like some kind of disease and the next thing you know, publishers are keeping a safe distance and you’re being quarantined. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to have those bad numbers on my track record. (Again, I KNEW I could have good self-publishing numbers. Had I not been confident about those numbers either, I would not have published at all).

6. I WAS confident in my abilities. I’ve worked jobs as an admissions counselor (sales), copywriter, social media marketer, and more. I’ve interacted with designers and strategists, and I’ve tried my own hand at those things. So I knew I could produce a great product and manage its promotions without breaking a sweat. I was hands-on with everything, including the cover design. Most authors aren’t wired that way, but I am. So, it worked for me.

7. I liked the control. Much of this stemmed from #6 above. I mean, I love the way my book looks and reads. But I also like being able to run specials and promotions the way I want. Would I like some in-store distribution? Sure. But frankly, my book was available in ebook-only format for the first seven months of its existence. Since offering it in print, I’ve not noticed ANYONE clamoring to get it. This tells me that foregoing print for awhile was a good, cost-effective solution.

8. I saw this as a first step toward a bigger brand, a bigger career. No, I will never try to get THE EXTROVERTED WRITER traditionally published, but I will continue to grow what I have. And who knows, maybe someday I will be a fit for a traditional publisher.

You will have many talk about the money, but that wasn’t a factor for me. I mean had I wanted money, I’d have chased after the $10,000 advance regardless of whether or not I believed my b

ook would earn out. But I was (and am) after something much more important. I’m after a career. So, I make the decisions that I believe will best support a career. And right now, self-publishing is it for me.

Of course I’m hoping that changes. What about you? What works best for you?


LAST DAY TO GET The Extroverted Writer FOR $2.99!

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  • These are all great reasons to self-publish, Amanda. I truly believe that. I’m not a self-published writer who turned her back on traditional publishing, but I am a self-published writer who researched the business of publishing and how the genre I write was selling before deciding that 1) the market was ready for what I had written then, not two years from then; 2) I enjoyed the creative aspects of publishing my own; and 3) though I knew i wouldn’t win the lottery of royalties, I was very excited to connect with readers and begin building a readership.

    I actually decided to self-publish after meeting with Chip at an ACFW conference two-and-a-half years ago. (Shhh. He doesn’t know this.) He actually liked an idea I had pitched to him and told me to run it by you, but you know how conferences go — your appointments were full and I didn’t want to corner you in the bathroom. 🙂 Oh, and the story wasn’t fully written yet, so querying was out of the question. Anyway, by the time I had written the manuscript, self-publshing sounded fun and doable and my genre was going a little crazy, so, as they say, one thing led to another.

    I haven’t regretted it a second. I have definitely built a nice readership, so nice that I’ll probably be very torn whether to query my next novel – a standalone, with series potential – or self-publish it as well. I think self-publishers can build a nice career these days if they’re willing to do the work it takes to know the business and spend the money it takes to get good editing, covers, etc. I love the thought of having an agent to help with many aspects of the journey, but that’s a lot easier said than done.

    Love your posts, Amanda. Thanks!

  • I appreciate the admission that you weren’t confident in your ability to keep a publisher happy. In an ideal world/situation, I’m confident I could, but I have a family and responsibilities, which made me think long and hard about whether I could comfortably commit to a legal contract to produce books. I eventually decided, no, I can’t. It would be too much stress on me and my family at this point, so I decided to start my own venture (Provision Books), which allows me to set my own dates and workload. I suspect one day, God willing, I will be traditionally published, but the time and the terms will have to be right. I’m just glad I have the opportunity and resources (thanks to technology) to do it myself.

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