After recently reading a post by well-read blogger and literary agent Nathan Bransford about the future of publishing, I was giving some thought to this gated world of publishing and to Bransford’s POV on the subject of the changing face of publishing. In a nutshell, he argued that (indirect quote; please read full post):

self-publishing digitally will allow more writers to circumnavigate agents & editors, go straight to the published form, and, when their works are of a high quality, be “driven to popularity by passionate readers” – readers who somehow find these needles in haystacks and promote them (i.e., download them).

It strikes me as strange, though, that one might regard The Digital as capable of causing this sort of dramatic change… for writers. As if writers, in their desperation to be published and their exasperation at the querying/rejection process, will simply say, Forget it – I’ll publish it myself. Why would they turn to self-publishing now? Because it’s less expensive than it used to be? Yes, the tech allows it, but is self-publishing what writers want? Read the rest of this entry »

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an unpublished writer in possession of a manuscript must be in want of an agent. In desperate want, in most cases. And that want is made all the more desperate when we unpublished writers read countless blog posts that rupture our already thin skin and rub salt in the resulting wounds with this simple, endlessly repeated message:

It’s very hard to get signed with an agent…
and it’s impossible to get published without one.

Our fates are, quite simply, in the hands of literary agents. If we want to be published, and we do, we need to be represented by an agent. Agents are our go-betweens, our priests taking our confessions (i.e., manuscripts) and prescribing acts of penance (i.e., edits) that will get us closer to the very thing they are created to separate us from. The literary agent – whether good or bad, proven or not – is shrouded, cloaked, steeped in this sacred power that makes the unpublished writer wilt and quiver at the very notion of approaching an agent with a query letter. (See the comment from Jamie on this post) Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a lot to the title of this blog post. To get anywhere near bootstrapping, first you need an idea. And there is no shortage of ideas. Recently it’s become apparent that a lot of smart people are happy to post their ideas for new businesses on popular sites like Hacker News. I grew up thinking that a good idea is precious, and that it must be kept hidden from others at all costs, until it’s ready to be launched to the world. But as the debate about ‘idea versus execution’ rages in small circles of would-be entrepreneurs, I’ve come around in my thinking… to where I believe a good idea is important, but the execution of that idea is what’s truly precious.

Finding an idea that you believe in… that is the hard part. How do you assess the quality of an idea? What makes something worth ‘believing in’? Read the rest of this entry »