If you’ve not heard the news, I’ve parted ways with my agent. Many people have messaged me asking questions, so I thought I’d write a blog post to explain.

Now, when things like this happen, people often wonder if there is some drama behind it. Publishing is full of scandal and people acting inappropriately, so I understand the interest, but there’s no drama.

I’ve been with my agent for 8/9 years and she’s been amazing. I got her through sheer luck. Close to a decade ago, a group of friends and I were at an Eastercon, hoping to break into the market. One or two of us were just breaking in, getting their first agent and readying books for submission. It inspired the rest of us, so we made a deal that we would all return from that Eastercon and submit to agents.

I think because this was a challenge, it made me a little braver than usual. I took a list I had from Publisher’s Marketplace of the best agents in the world and applied to the top 5. And then I forgot about it.

Over the next few weeks, I moved on with my life, occasionally getting a rejection. Probably because I had stepped outside of my comfort zone and gone for the very top, these rejections didn’t sting. I was expecting them.

But then, about 2 months after I submitted, I got a message from one of them saying she’d like to speak to me. I was in Oklahoma at the time, chasing storms, and the fact I had an agent who was interested floored me.

Roll forward to a few weeks when I was home, I had a twentyish minute call and, at the end, she offered to represent me. I couldn’t believe it. I had just secured one of the best agents in the world.

“How did you manage that?” my friends asked me.

“I have no idea,” I replied, as much in shock as them.

Of course, there were going to be edits, and when they came back early that summer, they were extensive. That was when my imposter syndrome really kicked in. It sent me for a real loop. I don’t think I ever really got over it.

The result was that my edits were very slow, and being the bottom of her priorities, responses were as slow. Requests to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite compounded this. I spent eight years rewriting that novel, and each rewrite just compounded my imposter syndrome. That was no fault of my agent.

We finally went on submission in summer 2020 and the book failed to sell at the last hurdle. Again, these things happen, and I gave myself time to be upset with it. But it left me with a feeling of unhappiness with my writing.

It wasn’t until I wrote other books that I realised what was killing my love of writing was the prospect of potentially spending another 8 years editing, while some of that original friend group has gone onto publish 9 novels.

When I went quiet 2 years ago, it was to try something in secret. I wanted to find my love of writing again, but I wanted the space to fail in private. At the same time, I watched the market intensely.

I reached a tentative conclusion back at Easter, where I met up with friends again and had a long chat about our collective experiences.

The conclusion was that I wanted to go the Indy Publishing route, but I’d said I would wait until the end of the year and then make a firm decision.

I know some people will be surprised. Some will think my motives are purely to spite those who rejected me, or that I can’t get over the rejection of the book. I honestly have no issues with Traditional Publishing and I’m not saying I won’t ever go back.

Nor is this just a plan to publish Black as Knight. Indeed, the first book I intend to publish is an entirely different world.

Instead, my justification is purely a business one. We’re approaching a time of incredible upheaval in publishing. Publishing is always on the verge of dying, and I don’t see it going away. But big six-figure deals are going to become rarer. In the meantime, I know authors who are pulling in 6 figures a month self-publishing.

It’s not all about money. Deals are getting shorter. It used to be 3 book deals were commonplace, then it became 2 book deals and now it’s book by book. Likewise, unless your book is a huge release, your book will not get a lot in the way of marketing.

By self-publishing, I get more control. I also get more risk. It’s not easier, it’s just different.

It’s a completely different market as well. Some authors make the mistake that it’s about production and stock, when it’s really about sales funnels, KU vs wide, targeted marketing, and sell-thru. I have amassed a lot of knowledge in the last 2 years and still I’m learning. Heck, I was speaking to someone today about email open rates today.

I also look at the big writers like Brandon Sanderson who, with his kickstarter, has become a publishing company.

It used to be that a publishing company could produce and market a better book than anyone could on their own. I honestly don’t believe that’s true anymore.

So ultimately it came down to a business decision for me. And with two years of data in front of me, the answer was obvious. Didn’t make it any less scary, though.

However, with this change in direction, I have no need for an agent. Maybe if I do well and want to license paperback or movie rights, but I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it. For now, the focus is on getting books out.

So I ended our relationship. There’s no malice or ill will; no drama or shenanigans. I’m just moving on, and we’ve wished each other every success.

This will not be quick. I estimate it’s going to take me 3 or 4 years to find my feet. But that’s 3 or 4 years of building backlist and revenue. And I’m going to make some huge mistakes along the way.

I’ve had quite a few people tell me that what I’m doing is incredibly risky, and they’re right. But the last time I felt this confident was back in the early days of running AF, when I decided to shift the tone. Then, just as now, people told me I was wrong. People told me that a site based out of the UK could never compete with the US. I always remembered that when I was swamping superbowl numbers and burning out motherboards from the sheer level of traffic.

Maybe this endeavour won’t be as successful, but I’m excited about writing again and relishing the challenge.

I’ll post another blog in the next few days on what I’ve done over the past two years in order to reach my decision but just know, I anticipate releasing novels in 2024.

I’ve not yet finalised how I’m going to document my progress, but it should be a wild ride.