H.P. Mallory, D.B. Henson, and now (I can finally officially announce) Michael J. Sullivan prove that if you want to get traditionally published - start with self publishing.
The "old way" of traditional publisher meant hundreds of rejections from agents, months shopping it around to presses, and then a production schedule of 12 - 24 months. All in all, from day one of the query until the book is released, could reasonably take 3 - 4 years.
For years conventional wisdom said, "Don't self-publish because if you do, no traditional publisher will touch you." Well, that's NOT the way things are now. Not only are publishers interested in successful self-publishers - they are putting them on the fast track to release.
I just completed a full interview with D.B. Henson - and I'll make this my next post but her story dovetails so nicely into this one that I want to point out a few things.
Published a single book Deed to Death in April 2010 at $0.99 and it hit the top 100 in just a few short weeks after publishing. It's been in the top 10 for 257 days. On the day after Christmas she got a call from Noah Lukeman (if you don't know who he is -- tune in to the next post devoted to D.B. exclusively - but he is "the agent"). He had read her book, loved it and asked if she wanted to go traditional. She signed with him January 1 and after a quick bidding war Simon and Schuster has green lighted her release for July 2011. To have a book pushed through in 6-7 months is unheard of.
Published 3-books on Kindle: Toil & Trouble, How to Kill a Warlock, and Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. She hit the #1 for Fantasy and was in the top 100 for a few weeks with Fire Burn. H.P. was approached by an agent in mid-December and after a bidding war Random House signed her to a multiple book six-figure deal for books that are not even written yet! They have already slated her for the Spring 2012 production time frame so another fast-track when you consider the books aren't even started.
Michael J. Sullivan (that wildly handsome and talented writer - kiss, kiss, honey)
Decided in Mid-October to "test the waters" about traditional publishing - his agent had 5 houses interested and Orbit (an imprint of Hachette Book Group) came out the winner. He also has a multiple book six-figure deal. While we "shook hands" in November we still don't have contracts to sign - but that hasn't stopped Orbit from fast-tracking the release of this series. story editing is done, covers should be ready next week, and copy editing is underway. Rather than releasing the books in a traditional 12 month or 18 month cycle they will be released in consecutive months - November 2011, December 2011, January 2012 - and we've not even put pen to paper.
There's a lot of people saying that if you are indie you should stay indie...and if all you care about is money, that is probably true. But each of these authors have weighed the pluses and minuses and decided that its worth seeing if the traditional publishers can make them household names. We'll be keeping our eyes on all of these people as their books are released and a year or so later we'll have a pretty good idea if they made wise decisions or not.
In any case, while they were self-published they each made tens of thousands of dollars, found tons of fans, and caught the eye of the traditional publishers without having to go through the humiliation of hundreds of rejections and years of waiting.
Food for thought.