Yesterday I received a letter from an agent I had queried about a month and a have ago. I won't give a name of the agent or the organization he worked for, but I do want to take a moment to mention what was said and my reaction to it.
This agent's response began very positively, stating that my first novel, "The Legends of Galria: The Shadows of War", was a solid entry into the high fantasy genre. I was also complimented on the "novelty" of having a side of the story that focused on the growth of the antagonist. (Hurrah for small victories huh?)
For a little perspective, "The Shadows of War" focuses on the growth of the protagonist, Dane Trueshot, as he deals with the aftermath of his hometown's destruction. The other side of the story follows an orc child named Xellik Fleshgorger as he grows into a powerful antagonizing force. Both stories set the stage for the next two books in the series, and the novel is no where near as interesting when it lacks one or the other perspective.
That was the strength that this agent felt I had. However, he declined my manuscript in the end. Why would you think that is?
Its because I lack a social media presence. I don't have an active Facebook, Twitter, or tumblr account designed solely to sell my book. And why would I? I honestly believe that having social media connections before having a product is putting the cart before the horse. No one I know is going to search or read about an author or his book when there is no book to read. Writing is not an art like video game development where there's tons of hype over 2 to 3 minutes of unfinished gameplay. I think the idea that someone needs a social media presence before they can be considered for publication is flawed.
And I'm not the only one who thinks that. My literacy professor at the University of Manitoba agreed with my sentiments, and encouraged tat I simply self publish to show that there is a market for my work and to build a social media presence that way.
We're living in a time where self publishing is taking off and authors are taking power away from agents and publishers. These folks should be willing to take a risk with a new author if the writing is sufficiently strong enough. At this point, the response has pushed me more towards self publishing my works. I would have more agency over my works and I won't need to deal with agents or publishers.
Maybe self publishing is my generations road to professional publication. Back in the day, many writers would need to submit to magazines and gain a viewer ship before getting published. Who's to say? All I know is, I've got a new book I'm writing to give self publishing a try and to build my reader base. I'll show people that my books will be successful.