I have a query letter on the way to a literary agent and have my book in a traditional novel manuscript format.
(In case you are interested, that means using a 12-point, standard monospace font such as Courier, Courier New, or Liberation Mono, one-inch margins all around the text, double spacing, half-inch indentations for each new paragraph, underlining words you mean to be in italics, using a # symbol to indicate white space,and adding page numbers, chapter headings, etc. If your final product looks as if you wrote it on an old typewriter, you have probably done it correctly.)
I have no illusions about how thin my chances are of getting published by the traditional route. Big publishers are in financial trouble and would prefer to publish only established authors who have already made money for them. New authors make them very nervous.
However, I am going to give the traditional route a try.
What I’m seeing in the self-publishing world is something akin to grade inflation in schools. In case you have been living in a cave for the last few decades, I should explain that, for a lot of complicated reasons I won’t go into here, many teachers now routinely hand out an A for work that once would have gotten the student a C or D. If a student has a 3.85 grade point average out of a possible 4.0, it doesn’t necessarily mean she is a good student. It doesn’t mean much of anything. It’s become impossible to distinguish good from bad students on the basis of GPA.
Getting published through the traditional route means that experienced professionals—who might lose their jobs if they are wrong—believe that real people will be willing to put down cash to read your stuff. That is a tough hurtle to get over. I will probably fail.
But the more I learn about self-publishing, the less impressed I am. Self-publishing allows writers to assign themselves an A grade ( “I published online!”) for work that may or may not be any good at all.
I don’t doubt that there are some gems buried in the giant avalanche of self-published books, but how on earth do you find them?
Before I try self-publishing, I’m going to see how I do in a contest run by people inclined to turn me down. I’d rather make an honest C than an inflated A.