Writer Abroad has been following Alexis Grant for a couple of years now, cheering Alexis on as she tried to sell a travel memoir. Unfortunately, Alexis just blogged about failure. Although she landed an agent for her memoir about backpacking in Africa, it failed to sell to publishers. She mentioned that because it failed to sell traditionally, she feels there is probably still work to do on it if she wants to self-publish.
This might be possible. Writer Abroad is a perfectionist—so she would think the same thing. But there is probably another reason the publishers turned it down: they believed it had too small of a market.
|Too small a market for traditionalists? There are other ways.|
Writer Abroad is no stranger to this concept of small markets. She lives in and writes about one of the smallest countries in Europe—one that is a third of the size of her home state of Illinois. She’s been told by several agents and editors, "No one cares about Switzerland—oh wait, did you mean Sweden?"
Sadly, if you listen to some of the agents Writer Abroad has talked to, “they”—those pesky self-centered Americans we are trying to sell too—don’t seem to care about much beyond France, Italy, Afghanistan, Iran, and maybe China. And Writer Abroad admits she wouldn’t mind living in one of those places if it would make her writing more marketable.
But if most Americans don’t care about Africa, should Alexis Grant just forget her memoir? If most Americans don’t care about Switzerland, does that mean Writer Abroad should stop writing about it?
Writer Abroad doesn’t think so. After all, if she doesn’t write about Switzerland—who will? (Fine, Englishman Diccon Bewes will—he already has quite successfully). And anyway, despite the naysayers, Writer Abroad has published over 30 essays and articles about Switzerland to so-called traditionalists. To celebrate and to formally stake her little place in the middle of nowhere in the big American writing world, she’s putting together a Switzerland essay book.
Whoa. An essay book? These words might as well read, “death wish.” And a Death Wish about Switzerland? There’s a traditional publishing dead end with a capital D.
But Writer Abroad doesn’t want to go down a dead end. That’s why traditional publishing will probably be a road not traveled for this particular project.
Instead, the independent publishing route is looking better and better. Especially since the big publishers aren’t willing to publish true stories set in so-called "unimportant" places. All the more reason the independent writer should.