This last week or so I have been hiding. Under the festivities of the holiday. Under the weight of my thoughts. Behind the screen of my computer– uncertain of what to do next.
I am again at a turning point on the journey with my book-or is it now books? And again, I feel a bit lost at sea and uncertain as to what is the best thing to do next. (Oh the joys of being a sensitive, intuitive entrepreneur in the arts. At times all this intuition I have can leave me feeling a bit like I am short circuiting.)
My book, Build a Blue Bike has not sold. The economy is in the tanks (in case you had not noticed) and publishers are merging, folding and buying only those books that seem like sure-fire slam-dunks. After all, Build a Blue Bike is a book that is an entreprenuerial risk. The artist as entrepreneur? Huh? Do artists even care about how to evolve into this blend of artist and entrepreneur?
So one of the strategies I created to help demonstrate the value of this book and its worthiness was to build The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide as proof that there are a lot of people, programs, products and interest in this seemingly esoteric topic. The guide offers great information and also proves to publishers that there are a growing number of artists out there marketing to other artists on how to become more entrepreneurial, quite successfully.
So the issue now lies in the long journey I have been on with my agent Susan Schulman. Agents sell books to publishers. That is their job. Susan has told me that she sells everything she takes- eventually. It has been a year, almost to the day and we have had lots of positive rejections from big houses- but only ten in total. (A positive rejection means that the editors who buy books for these publishing houses thought the material was worthy, interesting and valuable but that it was not a fit for them in the end.) Other agents who I have queried about my situation have told me that “it can be 30 or 40 responses before a book gets sold, so toughen up!”
The latest thought is to combine Build a Blue Bike with The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide, which Susan thinks will sell. To do this means re-writing a very lengthy book proposal to resend to publishers. Of course there is always the option to simply self publish. There are some incredibly successful self published authors. A couple I personally know are Peggy McColl and Bob Baker.
As a true entrepreneur part of me says to hell with waiting around for a publisher to recognize the value of my material– if an agent like Susan Schulman did, that is proof enough and I should just move along and self publish. And another part of me says, I need the credibility of a named publisher, if I can get it, to help me shape the future of the arts in universities and corporations. Certainly part of the problem has been the economy in getting my material sold.
What do you think? Should I wait and see if I can get it picked up by a big publisher under this new format? Or should I go ahead and self publish? Sometimes publishers come back to you after you self- publish and ask to publish the book. Tama Kieves book, This Time I Dance, was picked up by Tarcher/Penguin-Putnam in exactly this way.
Entrepreneurship and artistry are a complicated blend of business like actions, intuition and creativity. Intuition is the lever that brings both together and at the moment mine feels a bit overloaded with too much information.