What do you think is the best strategy for hobby writers who want to get their stuff out there
From what I've heard, nobody in the main publishing industry is interested in "hobby" anything. If you're not "writing professionally" they do not
want to know you. The reason is because, if they do decide to publish your manuscript, you're expected to be very
actively involved in the promotion of your book. That means appearances and book signings. Something that can be hard to arrange if you can't get time off from family responsibilities or your regular job.
There are success stories that are exceptions to this, but those are pretty rare. Most times you're either "all in" or you're out.
I was just talking to a writer friend of mine, who has an agent, and she basically said you are committing career suicide by not going the agent-publisher route. If you self publish, you will be ostracized from the industry. I immediately thought "what if the music industry is like this too?"
Since literary agents vet the writers they take on as clients, there's a certain assurance felt by publishers when somebody has an agent. Non-agent submissions to major publishers generally don't
get read. Many publishers simply return them with a letter stating they have not not read them. That's because somebody is always suing somebody else for "stealing" their novel once a book hits the best seller list. Some publishers are nice enough to tell you they only buy through an agent they work with and return the manuscript to you postage due. Most just say "thanks - but no thanks," state they haven't so much as looked at what you sent, ask if you want the manuscript returned to you (at your
expense), and warn that if you send another unsolicited manuscript, it will be shredded unread.
Smaller publishers throw unsolicited manuscripts into what's called the "slush pile" where they sit unlooked at unless somebody is bored or there's an intern sitting around with nothing to do. Your odds there are about as good as they are hitting the lottery.
The reason self-published writers are such a problem is because people tend to do stupid things when they self-publish. Many times they sign contracts or assign copyrights to e-publishers, or vanity presses, or some company they set up with a "friend" or family member. That can sometimes prevent a major publisher from getting clear legal rights
to publish your work. If you have a contract or "arrangement" with somebody else - even a fairly informal one - the big guys won't waste their time trying to undo your
So yes, an agent is a good thing - as long as you get a good
Music, I think, is a little different. A person's talent and skills can be easily determined in less than 5 minutes of listening, whereas you'd need to slog through a book or two worth of output before you could determine if a writer is good enough to be worth an agent's time and effort.