Find a Literary Agent or Self-Publish my Books?

Three books of the Dukarian Legacy are written, but none are published.  There is nothing available to read on line yet.  There is no paper version to order.  So what’s next?  Publish it, of course.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  How do I publish it?  Do I pursue a literary agent again?  Do I try submitting directly to publishers such as Tor (as suggested by one of my blog followers)?  Do I self-publish online?

Benefits of Getting a Literary Agent
By having a literary agent represent me, I save a lot of work and can focus on writing more books.  I have many more stories in my head – The Guardian of Destiny, Hunt of the Darkblood, and at least nine more idea sequals to the Dukarian Legacy.  A literary agent will work on getting the publisher who will then work on the promotion of my books.  I won’t have to read up on self-publishing or marketing.  I won’t have to worry about the technical side of the book such as ISBN numbers, the book cover illustration, and so on.

Disadvantages of a Literary Agent
Lesson learned – do not pay a literary agent up front.  What else do I not know?  What other hard lessons are there for me to learn?  Literary agents and publishers also get a big cut.  That can be worthwhile if I don’t have to deal to much with the technical issues and marketing.  The biggest disadvantage of a literary agent, however, is finding a good literary agent to begin with.  I’m sure there are a lot of good ones out there but competition is stiff.  I am not the only person out there who has written a book that they want to get published.  I could have the best synopsis and my first three book chapters could be flawless.  But agents and publishers have to look through hundreds of them.  They may not even look at most manuscripts because perhaps they are not interested in my particular genre at that particular moment in time.  Then, what if I do get an agent and a publisher for my book?  They may want to make changes.  They know best about what will sell but do I really want to change the story to fit the masses?

Benefits of Self-Publishing
I can have 100% complete control over all aspects of my book.  I can design my own cover, keep the story just the way I like it, and keep all my own profits.  I have to admit that this has great appeal.  I am an artist so I can work on designing my own cover.  If that doesn’t work, I can save up to hire a graphic artist.  And I am already familiar with online marketing and social networking.  Also, since there is no guarantee that I will even find a literary agent or publisher, self-publishing guarantees that I get my books published.  What good are they doing right now sitting on my shelf?

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing
Self-publishing sounds really good until I consider all the aspects that have to go into self-publishing.  Do I self-publish online?  Do I build a website to sell my book or sell through e-publishers?  Do I get a paperbook published from sites such as Lulu.com?  If I do paperbooks, I have to worry about storage and finding distributors.  Building a website and online marketing may be easy for me but other aspects of marketing such as getting trade reviews, news releases, book fairs, etc.  All this will cost money up front.  And if I fall short in my marketing, I could stand to lose money instead of make money.  It doesn’t just cost money, it also takes time.  Finding the time is really difficult.

Can I do both?  Can I market my book online in PDF format while also looking for a literary agent or publisher?  Some sources say no while other say yes.    I’ve heard that some publishers prefer you have a fan base before they take the risk of publishing.  But I’ve also heard that others don’t want any version of your book out because they want all sales to go through them.  The world of publishing books is changing dramatically with the Internet.  Can I self-promote an e-book, then remove it for sale if I find a publisher?

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