Breakfast Of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut)I read the following fascinating story in Brian Marggraf’s excellent blog.  Apparently, a few years ago, Samuel Moffie submitted his book, The Perfect Martini to 100 literary agents. The Perfect Martini, in fact, didn’t exist. What Moffie had done, was to submit 90% of the first twenty pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, disguised as The Perfect Martini.  The success rate turned out to be somewhat less than you might expect.  In fact, only one agent responded positively, but that’s because they recognized the original author…  Which means that 99 agents not only failed to recognize, but actually declined to publish a seminal work of art.

I thought of this as I was reading the fascinating comments in Mike Shatzkins’s Files.  Mike makes some interesting points in an effort to debunk Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings report.  His basic argument is that Howey has insufficient information, with which I partly agree. He then questions Howey’s findings, based on that fact. This I’m less convinced about; I found Howey’s methodology to be sound and his data as accurate as realistically possible.

Finally, he questions Howey’s main point, that self-published authors are better off. This is when it hit me. Not all self-published authors will be better off, just like not all traditionally published authors will succeed.  But Mike’s arguments miss the main problem with today’s publishing: In a world where 99 agents passed on Kurt Vonnegut, what chance do the rest of us have?  The choice is not between Indie or trad publishing. It’s between being published and not being published.

Indie or trad?  What’s your take?

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