Below I have pasted the rejection I received from literary agent [redacted] yesterday having read my full manuscript. I am not in the slightest bit bothered by the rejection in itself.
What bothers me a great deal is the link she sent me to a service that will edit, provide a cover and convert the whole thing into a Kindle e-book for just under £1000! Surely I could hire a proof-reader and do it myself for far less (or am I being naive?) I have studied their website in depth and it does not inspire confidence. I have no idea who they are or anything that gives me confidence in their abilities. It strikes me as amateurish and maybe even exploitative.
So what do you think? Is this value for money? And what do you think of this growing trend where agents seem to be "monetizing (horrid word) the slush-pile"?
Thank you. Your thoughts based on your experience of e-publishing would be appreciated.
I want to pick up on the other aspect, though: whether it's better to use a package or to handle each part of the process separately. It is my personal view that a self-publishing author is better served by keeping proper control and separately outsourcing each aspect that he or she cannot or does not wish to handle. I am against the idea of packages as I don't think they usually serve the writer best. I just think that if you're going to self-publish (as I have done) you are better off properly self-publishing, keeping full control and doing as much as possible yourself.
I would always want to commission an editor and proof-reader I trusted (which might be different for each book); a cover designer I trusted; a formatter I trusted (if I couldn't do it myself or didn't want to). I'd definitely insist on writing the product description on Amazon etc myself; and no way is it necessary to get someone else to upload for you - it takes no longer to do it yourself than it would to email the docs to the company. The company in question doesn't offer the marketing - and quite right, too, as this is best done by the writer, perhaps with some paid-for back-up publicity or the assistance of clued-up friends.
[Edited: I previously listed the costs I incur when I've self-published a book, but, following Meg's comment, I realised that because my editing costs are unusually low this was pointless, though it wasn't offered as advice and my advice has always been to get your work properly edited. My editing and proof-reading costs are very low because a) the books are short non-fiction and the final draft by me is clean and accurate and has been through beta-readers b) I have expert friends, including a fully-trained proof-reader who charges me "mates rates". I do not want to suggest that you shouldn't pay a proper rate for editing stages. However, even if you paid a substantial amount of money, I still believe that it is better to choose an editor yourself, rather than taking editing as part of a package from a company, when you haven't seen the editor's work. This is the point of my post - not how much it costs but how you choose who will help you.]
The only two hard bits are a) writing the book and b) selling it, and the company mentioned, and others I've seen, are not offering either. (Thank goodness!)
I would stress that it may well be that the recommended company does a fantastic job. I'm just saying there's nothing on the website that would lead me to think they will do a better job than an author outsourcing the necessary bits.
I'd be perfectly happy if the agent had said, "I think this is a book that could work well as a self-published novel, but I recommend that you go into this with eyes wide open and get lots of advice on the various parts of the process from those who have done it."