If you click on this blog from time to time, you'll know that I've submitted my first novel manuscript to a publisher. I'm still at that fairly optimistic stage, because it's only been a couple of weeks since I mailed the envelope. I've decided against simultaneous submissions to publishers. I've found four of them that are appropriate for my book, and which don't require agents. So assuming I get rejected by all of them (and I don't necessarily think that will happen, although I do acknowledge the possibility), it'll be two years from now. I'll probably have another manuscript or two finished.
So what do I do then? I'm not expecting any advice in rejection letters -- just form letters. The plan after that, if it comes to that, is to start sending to agents.
I don't know how I will feel in two years. Will I be giving self-publishing a second chance? It could happen.
I do know what I won't resort to, and that's a vanity press like Publish America. I've been reading about them lately; they're responsible for Night Travels of the Elven Vampire which I mentioned yesterday. (They'll claim they're not a vanity press, but it sounds like they're running a scheme similar to the one in Foucault's Pendulum where most of the would-be authors get sent to the vanity press around the corner.)
So I should mention that when I was deciding which publishers to send my manuscript to, I went into my bedroom (where I keep my fantasy novels) and looked at all the spines. I wrote down the publishers on the spines, then looked them up on the internet, including their submissions guidelines. From there, I chose the ones that didn't require agents.
Here's the thing. I mostly get my books at bookstores these days. I have a few from fairly small, niche publishers. I DON'T have any from Publish America. Because the truth is, they don't get books into bookstores (with rare exceptions -- there is one picture of a guy on the site standing next to his book at Barnes and Noble -- although I suppose he could have carried a stack of books in there and set them on the shelf, then taken the photo before store employees caught on).
Anyway, here's what some other people have had to say about Publish America. Pretty easy to find with a Google search. The moral of the story is that you should research before committing to anything. The information is out there. High book pricing, shoddy or nonexistent editing, and silencing opposition from people they have contracts with, are all tactics they've reportedly employed.