For years I have written as a hobby, only recently deciding to get something published. My query letters to publishers were invariably met with a stock response: “We are not considering manuscripts unless the author is represented by a literary agent.” Since my mother did not raise any dumb children (though at times I wondered about my brother), I sent query letters anew to a host of literary agents. The stock reply (from those who bothered to respond): “We are not taking on clients who have not previously published.”
Trying to break out of this catch 22, I next enrolled in a writer’s workshop which boasted access to a dozen agents. Each of the twelve seemingly came out of a cookie cutter and said they were only looking for paranormal stories (except one intrepid woman admitted she would accept a story involving zombies.) It was early in the conference but I was ready to put knitting needles in my eyes. Is it any wonder publishing is in the state it is in today? How often have you perused the new books section at your library or book store and there was nothing interesting. The choices, celebrity tell-alls, diet books, how to manuals, fiction with the same characters if not plot, oh and of course paranormal stories involve no choice at all. The same voices dulling readers’ senses.
In any event, frustration coupled with the conviction in my own work (certainly as compared to the crap on the best seller lists) led me to take the plunge and self-publish. Fortunately Amazon digitally and in print format makes such an enterprise affordable. That plus the staid nature of the traditional publishing industry has led many new voices like me to go it alone. New voices? I am not aware of any recent fiction dealing with the chess world. Though I admit I labor under a handicap. Knight to King 4: The Fischer-Kasparov Match is not a paranormal fantasy.