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Guest Post: Why I Chose to Go Indie with My Debut Novel by Lara Buckheit

I used to romanticize the idea of signing with an agent as if doing so would make all my author dreams come true.

Like every other writer, I made a list and queried all of my “dream” agents. Two of which requested fulls. Both of which ultimately rejected me. After I recovered from those disappointments, I queried more agents (over sixty).

And got zero requests.

Every rejection, every “closed, no response,” was a chip in my thick skin. With those rejections came this unbidden fear that maybe I wasn’t good enough. Not my writing, not the book that I worked tirelessly on throughout the #WriteMentor summer program, but me.

Somehow my brain took each rejection personally because if an agent didn’t want me or my book, then maybe no one would.

(Dramatic, I know.)

I didn’t know much about indie publishing or self-publishing during the time I was querying agents. I knew that A LOT of authors chose that route, but I couldn’t—and don’t hate young, naïve Lara for this ridiculous mindset—see either of those routes as something other than settling.

I specifically remember talking to my writer friends about querying indie publishers if querying agents didn’t work out for me. As if indie publishing was a last-ditch effort before I shelved my book completely.

Looking back, I think a lot of that mindset was built from online writing communities glamorizing signing with an agent and celebrating that achievement more than I’d ever seen indie/self-published books being celebrated.

But as my queries with agents neared 120 days with no response, I started researching indie publishers…

And, readers, I fell in love with them. More so than I ever did with the idea of being agented.

I loved the freedom most indie publishers give authors, the wider scope for input, the better royalties, the shorter production schedules, and the idea of working with a small but mighty team. And I loved how the indie author community is so supportive and uplifting of one another in SO many ways.

Indie authors really are all about community over competition, and that’s so beautiful to me.

As I was researching, it was like something clicked within me. I realized I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing. Just because Writing Twitter glamorizes/romanticizes getting agented doesn’t mean I needed an agent to deem my books worthy, to deem myself worthy.

I began querying various indie publishers, Sword & Silk being one. Within two weeks, I had a full request. Within three months, I had an offer of acquisition from Sword & Silk, which led to my book deal for A REALM OF ASH AND SHADOW.

And I couldn’t be happier with my choice, with this journey I’ve chosen, and the team I have behind me.

It’s 2022, friend. Signing with an agent isn’t the only way to share your books with the world. But if that’s the route you take, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope you make it out of the trenches soon.

A Realm of Ash & Shadow is coming Spring 2023. Add to your Goodreads today.

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