Getting Published - Your Questions Answered

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Tim Stretton, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,623
    Likes Received:
    197
    Trophy Points:
    198
    So the people at Champagne Books work for free, then. That's a very useful business model to have.

    I'm sorry that you think I'm lying about what happened to the print market in the 1990's, Kerry. I'm sorry that you think large publishers give out loads and loads of six figure advances (they don't.)

    But the simple reality is that the large publishers had to build large Champagne Books imprints of full and part-time employees to add to their existing companies and staff and have that imprint digitize thousands of books coming out that year and thousands and thousands of backlist titles as quickly as possible. That costs money, whether the people and companies involved work at the publisher's home office or are spread out across the country. Unless people are self-publishing, people do not do this work for free. Many small print publishers will be happy to tell you that digitizing their lists was an expensive cost, which is why a lot of them have had to do it slowly or wait quite awhile. I don't know if your Canadian publisher has a government subsidy grant to help out, but even with that, they do have expenses including electronic accounting expenses and the like, which are overhead. E-books are not made and managed by magical fairies who work for flower nectar.

    Consequently, there was a large capital outlay that had to be made to get e-books off the ground in the oughts. Which is why Amazon sold e-books at a loss. Which is why publishers spent that money to get staff and production in place when e-book sales were only 1% and thus lost them money. Which is why your publisher, which produces trade paperbacks, started with only four e-books in 2005 and built from there. They are now in the black on e-books, but that didn't mean that they started in the black or had no start-up costs for it. And they are continuing with a mix of e-books and trade paperbacks, which allows them maximum selling opportunity. If they go to e-books only, they should still do okay, as a small operation, especially as they have no mass market paperback audience and are only selling their wares to the top 25%. But that isn't a one size fits all for all of publishing. And it doesn't deal with the issue of access.

    As sales increase and costs go down after initial outlay, then the e-books on the entire list of publishers -- not just bestsellers -- lose less and less money and more of them start earning more and more money. This is what has occurred over the last seven years. This has effected print, but the bigger problems for the print market occurred some 15 years ago. A print book is not the same as a record which has to be played on a record player.

    But a book may become like a record over and over again if the market is only electronic and must be run only on equipment. That again means that people have to keep buying new and updated versions of equipment and new versions of e-books because their old e-books (records) won't work on the new equipment (MP3 players.) That's a significant cash outlay over time, and millions of people can't afford it. So if it happens, that is going to effect things and it's going to shrink the total audience, even if some e-publishers do well within it selling to the top 25%.

    I do not know why pointing out that labor, new hires and new infrastructure cost money and that millions of people cannot afford e-books are such threatening statements of fact. I am a big cheerleader for e-books. It's a greatly successful emerging market. But this insistence that e-books are utopia, that issues like fossil fuels-electricity issues, educational access, etc. are forbidden to be discussed or unimportant is getting old. And the statement that e-book sales are simply shifted print sales is factually incorrect. As has been pointed out many times by many people, price is not the sole factor -- hardcover sales were not cancelled out by cheaper mass market paperback sales over the last century. And again, the initial outlay needed for an individual to buy one e-book is fairly high over simply buying print. So the market factors are far more complicated than me Tarzan, you Jane. Which is presumably why your publisher still does print books for now.

    I believe that e-books greatly enrich society and grow the market for books. But I also believe that an electronic only market at this point in society and in the near future in the current economy and educational situation would greatly impoverish society and shrink the market for books. If you have an argument about that issue that is more than simply calling me a liar, or saying that your own publisher is doing fine so there, I am as always happy to hear it.
     
  2. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Hi Kat! Always a pleasure (tipping hat).

    Did I say that? No. Of course they get paid. How much, and in what manner, is probably going to be less than a full time staffer up in NY me-thinks.

    Whoa! When have I ever accused you or anyone on this board of lying? We still have manners out here in Texas. What I do is disagree with your views some of the time. You don't have all the answers any more than I do - but that's the fun of debating. We all learn, right?

    Such is the pain of your working off of a false assumption (still trying to figure how I suggested any of those folks worked for free.). No grants, Kat. No freebees. Everybody gets paid - which sort of takes the wind out of your sails with this argument.

    The business model is the business model - with all inherent advantages and disadvantages. The very concept of "print runs" is heading out the window along with those who depend on them - leastwise for the mass market. Most e-pubs will do both e-books and POD through a third party vendor. The only advantage for traditional publishing is that they have succeeded in keeping most independents out of the remaining book stores, but the stores themselves are having to diversify from books in order to survive. This advantage will shrink over time, me-thinks. Access? Bah. You have a cell phone, you have access. Those few who don't - they're not the market anyway (and libraries can fill that need).

    Your premise in the paragraph above is way off base. If your device can support a browser, you can read an ebook TODAY. Kindle ebooks included. That's not going to change just because a new reader comes out.
    Because they are not statements of fact - they are your opinion which you are presenting as fact. Millions of people can not afford a lot of things, but from a business viewpoint who cares? It's the millions who can at least afford a cell phone who are the market. New hires? Infrastructure? Hell, the traditional publishers have been shedding staff that they could have turned to this transition, true? Again, the smaller outfits will have the advantage on the electronic field of battle because they can get by with less. Fair? No, but that's part and parcel of why you don't have Encyclopedia Britannica in print anymore. Creative destruction.

    I never claimed everything is rosy in e-book land - it's hard as hell to make money as an author when your book sells for less than three bucks. While we can argue all day about which media is/is not impacting the other, the sales figures do not lie. Ebooks rising. Paper mass-market falling. The trend, for what ever reason, is inevitable. Still, there is the record industry as an example and the answer was clearly written for you how digital media destroyed them. Why would this be any different in the slightest? My argument is that is isn't.

    Again, I never called you anything but "Kat" (grin). Sorry if you've felt backed up against the wall, but there are educated viewpoints in this forum that are bound to clash. No sense calling names or getting personal, eh? Now, of course, where you come from the term "baloney" might mean "liar". Not here - it simply is a derivative of "your position is questionable". If you thought otherwise, then please accept my heartfelt apology. I truly enjoy our exchanges when they happen, and would never seek to offend.

    Kerry
     
  3. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,623
    Likes Received:
    197
    Trophy Points:
    198
    Yes, because they are a smaller operation. Your insistence that there's no difference in comparing small press and large press operations and that they face the same market factors is part of the problem we're having here. It's also not understanding that the bulk of staff that New York publishers are hiring additionally to do e-books are not in New York. Labor is still always a cost.

    My interpretation of you calling what I said baloney was apparently incorrect. :) You dismissed the information I provided about what happened in the 1990's as false. That's usually what we term calling someone a liar. However, since I'm saying you're stating various facts wrong too, we'll concede the point.

    No, it proves my point. You're running around saying that there are no costs and no additional costs to producing e-books (i.e. that people work for free.) I'm pointing out that people do not work for free as you are presenting the costs, that you are disregarding labor costs that are specific to e-books and had to be added to sell e-books. You're also trying to claim that the labor costs to your small publisher which does a mix of print and e-books with its smaller list should be the same for large publishers with larger lists, more e-book clients and a great deal more work to get done by paid labor. You claimed that I lied that publishers (and Amazon) lost money on e-books. I'm pointing out that like a lot of self-publishing and small press authors, you are not being realistic about business and labor costs involved in making e-books and thus ignoring that financial data in preference of numbers you think should be the cost rather than are actually the cost. If you mean that you think big publishers are stupid to lose money on e-books, say that, rather than that big publishers didn't lose money on e-books.

    Which again has costs and then there is the issue of number of vendors. There are a number of different business factors involved in the e-book market.

    Okay, so we're not going to talk about the actual market here. We're going to talk about fantasy Star Wars.

    You mean the libraries they're more and more closing and slashing budgets on? The key part here is "they're not the market anyway." It's true, they aren't the market. The top 25% are the market. But that means that the audience for books shrinks with electronic only and the number of new readers and book buyers continues to decrease. And lower income schools become at even more of a disadvantage. Obviously, worrying about other people's kids is not an obligation of anyone, but excuse me if I don't particularly like that outcome. Especially as a mix of print and e-books has the opposite effect -- even greater access of more people.

    How old a version of a browser and for how long? Can you play your video tapes? Your floppy disks? Can you operate the original Microsoft Windows software to get everything you want? My computer works peachy, but I can't open docx files. To do that, I have to buy a new version of Word. Right now, e-books is an emerging market and so the emphasis is on building infrastructure and tech to make it easy as possible to get people into the market. But tech doesn't make its money over making it easy for people to hold on to old equipment, software, cellphones, etc. for the long term. They want to force you to get the new version, the new type of machine, to upgrade all your files. Think about how much money you've spent on tech over the years, how often you've needed to upgrade or switch. That all increases the cost of being able to buy e-books for people over time, even if you don't always buy the latest thing in tech.

    Which you already acknowledged, Kerry. You said who cares if these people have access, they're not the market. The reality -- the fact -- is that these people cannot afford e-books. But they did sometimes buy mass market paperbacks. And we would lose them as book buyers if the market is electronic only. You may not care that we are losing them, but it is still factual that those sales are lost and will not necessarily be off-set by e-book sales, meaning that the market is likely to be smaller with electronic only than with a combined print and electronic market. Are you saying that the market being smaller is wrong when you've just agreed that it's correct, that millions of people who have access to print don't have access to e-books and so could not buy in an electronic only market?

    "labor, new hires and new infrastructure cost money" -- This is not a fact? You just said that you agreed that people don't work for free. Now you are saying that it's a fact that they do work for free?

    "that millions of people cannot afford e-books" -- This is not a fact? Oh wait, you just agreed it was:
    So no, it's not my opinion or interpretation. It is a fact that labor and infrastructure cost money. It is a fact that millions of people can't afford e-books. And I presented them as facts.

    But that number is less than the number of people who can afford computers and/or cellphones and the number of people who can't but can at least afford print books. That is a fact, which you are agreeing is a fact. You are simply saying that you don't feel that outcome is important. I am saying that in terms of authors making sales, it has a less beneficial effect to have only an electronic market than to have an electronic and print market. And you agreed with me.

    Nope, false. Publishers let go staff in the wake of the Great Recession which occurred right before e-books really started growing and were only 1-2% of the market. A lot of the staff they let go were executive, and in any case the staff they had could not be turned into tech people or tech companies needed for e-book production, the sales people may be able to sell to e-vendors, but reps who work in the electronic industry were needed, and the accounting people to deal with the complications of the e-book market had to be mostly added. They were not simply adding a print imprint. They were building an entirely new industry that has in the last five years become more and more streamlined and more and more profitable and large. But it didn't spring into being fully that way in 2008 or 2009. There were costs. There are still costs, which again is why many smaller presses are only now being able to afford to turn their list to e-books.

    Well first of all, it's not a field of battle. Your insistence that there's a war between electronic and paper is why you're having trouble dealing with market factors. And second, no, small outfits don't have an advantage over big ones and they won't. Small outfits seldom do unless they get bigger, at which point they are usually swallowed up by bigger outfits. That doesn't mean that small presses can't do very well, including e-presses. It does mean that the big publishers already have better deals in place with vendors than the small presses, and with more control. This has actually helped the smaller presses out because some terms trickle down. But Amazon, while having lost its monopoly with the bigger firms, still has an almost monopoly with the e-books for small presses, and small presses are very dependent on larger firms like Amazon and Apple and their good will -- and Amazon has decided to make itself a publisher. It has bought up other e-book vendors who've done well, reducing the number of vendors. It did the same thing to the small press distributor group that it did to Macmillan -- but that was a lot more risk of damage for the small presses.

    So again, for both large presses and small presses, it's not a matter purely of shifting everything from paper to electronic, but of dealing with developing the electronic market and getting more vendors for more sales and better terms and conditions.

    And the fact that mass market was falling in the 1990's due to several factors that had nothing to do with e-books and that still effect the mass market today is one that you are again choosing to ignore. That Borders going under had nothing to do with e-books is a fact that is deliberately ignored. The facts are that the bulk of the mass market buyers were middle class. The e-book market are the people who bought hardcovers and trade paperbacks mostly. It's not that there's no correlation at all. It's that your claim that it's the only and principle correlation by which things are occurring is not correct by the actual numbers and market history.

    Digital media did not destroy the music industry. The music industry used computers from the beginning when they were the size of rooms. However, it is true that because people cannot afford some of the digital tech to be able to buy and play music that is transmitted only by computer and to be on the Internet, that music sales have gone down, and not just albums, and it is harder for performers to make a living from music, even as the Internet has opened up some sales and promotion opportunities to sell to the top 25%. However, the music industry has not gone only limited access because it is audio and because there are live performances, street performances, radio and music is still available at lower tech. It's not a digital delivery only industry yet, which is why it still works widely. An only e-book publishing industry, however, would have a much bigger access problem than music does.

    Well first off because it's not a logical comparison, because we're talking about entirely different forms of product -- written documents versus audio recordings, delivery systems, retail sales, etc. but the point is that you're arguing something that I'm not arguing. My argument was that an electronic only industry would have more downsides than a paper and electronic industry right now and in the near future, chiefly a smaller audience. And also that e-books are not produced for free except by self-publishing authors to a limited degree. And you agreed with both of those points. So you're arguing someone over there somewhere mostly.

    1) Fact: The market for a mixed paper and electronic industry is bigger than for e-books alone, including creating new readers.

    2) Fact: Millions of kids will lose educationally from an e-books only market, decreasing the lucrative educational market, the currently lucrative kids/YA market and decreasing the number of new readers. This is a critical business interest for both small and big publishers, which is why they actually pay attention to it.

    3) The record player talking point remains a highly faulty analogy (also strange.) Paper books were never electronic and neither paper nor print are outdated technologies. Print is in fact necessary for e-books to exist. E-books have existed for thirty years; it is not a new or revolutionary technology. It's simply that they found the top 25% would pay for it in a retail market if they built good, cute delivery gadgets. And the money is mainly in those gadgets -- tablets, readers, cellphones, etc. E-books is just a nice decorative ribbon there.

    It would make more sense to say that e-books are like microwavable plates, especially designed for cooking in microwaves (the gadgets.) But people continue to use stoves, hot plates and open pit fires (barbeque,) to cook as well. That way, you get everybody, including the microwave users. Whereas only microwaves significantly limits and effects the cooking. Those are real factors that business people have to deal with, especially when it comes to printed text because printed text is not just about entertainment and entertainment is not books' only market.

    4) Fact: Labor to do anything costs money. Big publishers have larger lists that take more time to digitize than small presses.

    5) Fact: Vendors like Amazon and Apple and many publishers large and small lost money on e-books willingly to build the market. Those losses are declining or gone, depending on the publisher and situation, as the market grows, but they occurred, still do occur and e-books is still an emerging market. People do not work for free, so saying e-book has no costs or additional costs is not factual, even for small presses.

    E-books is an emerging market, not without cost, and a successful one. It is my hope -- not my contention -- that we remain a mixed market of paper and electronic for the near future instead of an electronic only market because that has the most upsides, whereas an electronic only market has significant downsides, chiefly a smaller market that excludes more and more kids and people, which is something that books will survive but not thrive on.

    Now, you may not agree with that hope. You may not see removing books from millions and millions of people's lives -- effecting their education, livelihoods, future prospects, etc. and restricting and controlling information thereby in society as very important. You may not be concerned if it becomes significantly harder for authors to get sales in an electronics only market to a more limited audience. But it's a concern I have about an electronics only market and which you've now agreed exists. :)
     
  4. THEM

    THEM Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Kat G, quite seriously, I wonder why you are trying so hard to flog life back into a quite dead, and very smelly horse?

    All revolutions occurred (partly) as a response to the repression of an underclass which perceived its rights to have been violated. The evil overlords of the print paradigm have kept the talented writers of the world unpublished due to their microeconomic manipulation of expenditure and risk and the connivance through pricing structures of allied industries (like bookshops, distributors and printers).

    That manipulation made it uneconomic for the industry to invest in new voices and now, via new technologies, they are paying the price.

    Get with the program Kat G...or are you a printer in disguise?
     
  5. Taramoc

    Taramoc Author and Game Designer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Messages:
    873
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Oh boy, I have to agree with KatG on this one.

    All she is saying is that at least for the foreseeable future, an hybrid of printing and digital distribution will be around, and gives some good reasons why and some even better reasons why it's beneficial to have both for the general public and the writers themselves.

    Quite frankly, I'd be very sad as a writer if the old way of publishing is completely gone. As a stay at home dad of three young girls, the time I have to dedicate to my books is very limited, and I haven't write a single line of new material since last November. Why? Because I've been setting up my website, prepared a bunch of short stories for self-publication, worked with an artist to come up with a cover, research where I should self-publish or which e-publishers I should submit my stuff too, editing the sh*t out of the countless marketing blurbs I need, and a lot of more stuff I need to do to jump on the e-book opportunity and promote myself. In a nutshell, everything but WRITING.

    I did it because I have to, not because I enjoy it. I'd love to have an agent that negotiates a contract for me with one of the big publisher, gets me an advance (no matter how puny, my wife is going to be the main bread winner around here for a while anyway), brings in an editor, some marketing, and everything else that being part of the publishing machine entails, so, once again, I can concentrate on WRITING.

    That is way I'm still going to submit my fantasy novel through the traditional channels, after five years of working on it to bring it to the standard I believe is necessary to at least have a shot.

    I do realize that the odds are overwhelming against me, but it would be simply stupid not to try given the possible reward, once again just spend my time WRITING. And if in two years, after hundreds of rejections, I don't make it, I will still have the opportunity to go indy or self publish if I decide to give up.

    Also, people keep mentioning the music industry. Well, with a little research (e.g. Google), you can find out that only this year downloaded music is projected to outsell physical CDs, and not by much. Also, go figure, vinyl is making a come back. Yes, you read it right, as for a not insignificant portion of the market (mainly passionate listeners, you know, those that spend a lot of money in their hobby) still thinks the the mp3 sound quality is not at par with CDs or vinyl (something I do agree with, btw).

    I do realize that it feels good to be ahead of the market and doing well with ebooks, to the point of dismissing traditional publishing, but there is a reality out there that is not going away no matter how much you choose to ignore it.

    Taramoc
     
  6. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,623
    Likes Received:
    197
    Trophy Points:
    198
    LOL, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse. All that happened was I expressed a view based on the facts as I know them -- facts which so far no one has actually disputed. Apparently, it was the viewpoint that I am not supposed to express and that is outrageous and problematic to some people, which is why I've found myself in another of these strange conversations where people act like I've insulted their religion.

    The facts -- again which no one has actually disputed as facts -- are that a market of combined electronic and paper will be larger and more available to more young people than electronic alone and also that the electric market needs to get many more vendors (I believe this will happen,) to continue its long term growth past the emerging market stage. Therefore it was my view that I hoped -- not that I insisted happen, but that I hoped -- in the near future we did not switch to an electronic only market which would shrink the market.

    Again, you would not think that saying I hope we don't lose paper completely in the near future so that we have more people and kids read and buy books, not less, would be a controversial statement. I did not say that small presses were evil. (I think they're great.) I did not say that I wanted e-books to go away. In fact, I said I love e-books and they add sales. I did not say that every publisher should do a mix of paper and electronic. (I love e-publishers.) So the controversy seems to be that I brought up that there would be an undisputed, factual downside to an electronics only market, especially due to current economic strife, and you would prefer nobody mention that. Or you seem to think that a paper market still existing would somehow be a threat to the electronics market, which is a reasoning I don't get, so maybe you can explain that to me if that's the case.

    I don't really see, also, how you can frame this as a revolution of the underclass if one of the principle goals of your revolution is to "destroy" paper and remove access to books from the underclass and say essentially "Let them eat cake." I don't get how it's launching new voices if you insist that it be electronic only and so the new voices get heard by a smaller group of people and authors have a harder time making sales. Doesn't it make more sense for the electronic market to expand as much as it can among those who can afford e-books and the paper market serves all the rest who can't? Again, factually, this is the maximum number of readers and buyers.

    It may happen that we will eventually be an electronic market only, if we solve the fuel issue, etc. This would be a perfectly good thing if economically populations would then still have access to books. But if not, there is a downside, and as publishers make decisions about what would be best for their particular operations, large, small, e-pub, mix, POD, audio, etc., these are among the factors they look at. Pointing that fact out takes no skin off of electronic publishing's nose.
     
  7. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Going to have to agree with Kate - with both paper and ebooks, the market is larger (and many people get a choice as to format too!)

    Just a small comment here:


    Which explains all those debut authors every year...oh wait, no it doesn't :D It makes no financial sense for pubs to turn down wonderful authors, unless said wonderful authors are writing books that not many people want to read.

    [note: All 'you's in this post are generic and not aimed at any poster]

    There are many, many valid reasons for wanting to epub yourself. Because you're sticking it to the man, or because no one understands your genius aren't often among them.

    Publishers are not trying to hold anyone back - they are in the business of making money though. They take on books they think enough people will love that it's worth them doing a print run. A book might be perfect, but if only a hundred people are interested in reading it, it makes no financial sense for them to publish it.

    Self pubbing isn't a revolution. It's been around for decades. It has gotten easier with the advent of ebooks. That just means there's more books hanging about that are only ever bought by the author's family. Yes, some do exceptionally well. Note the 'exceptionally'. Most do not.

    If people want to self pub, then that's fine and dandy if they know what they are getting into. But it's not going to take over the publishing world any time soon.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  8. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Here's something to chew on before painting with that broad brush. Less than one percent of anything sent to a traditional publisher gets looked at. Or, to quote an old article from Piers Anthony - Only one in one hundred submissions will ever see an editor's desk (and this was years ago). Agented submissions.

    Other than that, I would agree that it makes no sense to not accept new authors. Unfortunately, things are not as simple as that. Imagine yourself part of big bucket of great authors. Imagine these houses collectively as a thimble. Pour.

    I wouldn't hesitate to suggest a traditional publisher to anyone - provided they understand the odds. The issue now for many is whether or not any publisher, e-book, or traditional, is necessary. I still think they are, but there are folks out there who made their fame without either. In any case, thinking that "only those whom readers want to read" get published by the big houses gets all wet when that big bucket comes pouring down.

    Kerry
     
  9. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hmm not so sure about that. Perhaps. (Though years ago, you could sub straight to editors, so it was anyone who could hold a pen sending stuff in, so yeah, one percent might be all that was literate...). Even now, most editors (or the interns that read the subs) know what they are looking for. A large percentage might be not what they want (ie wrong genre etc) or what they think their readers want (their readers have been buying lots of FP UF, for ex, and the sub is TP epic or hard sf)

    Have you seen this? Scroll down to number three. This is what agents (and used to be editors in the time you're talking about) have to wade through.

    Thing is, it is not a lottery. It is not that each MS has a less than one percent chance. A good ms has a much higher chance of getting looked at, if not picked up. A poor one has much lower odds than one percent.

    If you can write a half decent plot, competent prose and use grammar correctly, you've just beaten 90% of the slush.

    In the end, perhaps only 1% are actually good. (And having seen a slush pile or two, that seems about right....)

    ETA: Sure, I bet some excellent work gets missed. No system is perfect after all. But it might well get missed in the plethora of self pubbed ebooks on the web too, because standing out from a crowd that big is hard. Again, I've got nothing against self pubbing - but (generic) you have to know what you are getting into, and what the pitfalls are. Same as you do for any form of publishing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  10. THEM

    THEM Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It strikes me there's a bit of subtle position shifting going on Kat G - you've slightly moderated your position on epublishing and you're using my own original argument against me. I started this part of the discussion by predicting that the standard (commercial) publishing model for the foreseeable future would be a blend of ebooks and POD paperback. I also said that I would hate to see print disappear, but also the outgoing paradigm had been its own worst enemy (for economic reasons I couldn't be bothered going back over, and I hear you all sighing in relief...)

    One point I will take up though, kissmequick said it makes no sense for publishers to turn down wonderful authors - and she's dead right, it makes no sense at all, but they do! Or at least they did, there's a new scramble for talent going on in case you hadn't noticed as publishers perceive that new voices won't cost what it used to cost to develop.

    As a person who was finally published in print in 2010, I have spent the last ten years on the brink of being published. Time and again I went close, only for someone at the relevant publisher to pull the plug at the last minute, and some of the reasons I was given were fascinating.

    "If you already had a following, we'd publish this for sure."

    "If only you were already famous..."

    "We love what you're doing and definitely think the market will want to go there eventually...but we'd rather go into that area with an established writer."

    (That last one really pissed me off.) In my many conversations with commiserating publishers (ie, those that had championed my work but had been knocked back) the pattern was consistent. In their constant chasing of 'growth' publishers were less inclined to take on risk - ie new voices. Every title is a cost centre and must maximise its revenue. For a long time the new voices had been subsidised by the established, but eventually it got to the point that new cost centres were only rarely and grudgingly let through in order to maximise investment already committed. One (disgusted) publisher told me they had been told to approach celebrities and suggest they write a book because those were new voices that could be relied on to generate some sales. I joked that maybe I could ghost write a novel for a celebrity, and you know what?

    She took me quite seriously.

    But all of this artificial manipulation of the market was caused by the following: the cost of paper/printing; the outrageous margins required by bookshops and the cost of distribution. Get rid of those costs and its no wonder the established publishers are falling over themselves to establish e-imprints and new online publishers are crawling out of the woodwork.

    Publishers will still be important - they add, quality control, editing, production values and marketing clout that a self-pub can't compete with - the new risk for publishers will be to reputation; ie, by allowing too many mediocre writers onto their island of quality during the scramble for talent.

    As I've said before, I think it's a really exciting time to be a writer - there has never been so much opportunity to be commercially published as ther is now.
     
  11. AZimmer23

    AZimmer23 Things Fall Apart

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've been enjoying and cringing at this debate but keeping my "mouth" shut because the publishing world and its paradigms are still fairly arcane to me. But I read something last night when my eyes were crossing with want of sleep and I wanted to share it (of course, I didn't bookmark it and couldn't find it today, sorry).

    It was a blog post by a former publishing insider and the gist went mainly like this: One of the quickest methods to getting a book printed (e or otherwise) by an established publisher is to self-pub and make a dent. Get a positive review on a well-respected site or a similar magazine or get a positive review from a well-established author. This will stimulate more sales and if a publishing house knows that you are already marketable, they will be far less hesitant to take you on because you've already laid a lot of the groundwork for them.

    This is an over-simplification and, like I said, I was a little bleary-eyed when I read it, but it makes sense. The only problem is, how does one get a review on such a site or by such an author? I have no idea. Spammers should be shot on site and the one successful writer I know personally takes it as a personal affront when people ask him to read their stuff (he can be kind of a jerk).

    Luckily, SFFWorld has that new promotion thread, and there are outlets like Critters who are very supportive, so it doesn't seem like quite the unreachable goal that I have in my head. Then again, I think I've submitted two short stories in my entire life (both of which were rejected and i understand why), so I don't have a lot of personal experience. And I should probably get over my fear of rejection because if I don't, I'll never get anywhere and the only people who will ever read my stuff will be me.

    Sorry if that was rambling and tangential. Like I said, I stayed up too late and I've been staring a my computer working on a story for the last five hours, so I'm a little loopy. :D
     
  12. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    That's actually a good point - I know of three or four self pubbers who have gone on to get book deals on the back of those self pubbed books.

    But the odds are actually less than one percent that it'll happen for you (If you consider how many authors are e-self-pubbing now, and how many are getting book deals from that).


    It IS a great time to be a writer - the range of options is phenomenal. My only thing is that people should go into every option thoroughly, to see what all the pros and cons are, and also to make sure what they have to put out is ready to go out.
     
  13. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Yes, this is the thought model touted by much of the industry's old guard - the suggestion that it's all the writer's fault if they can't make it with a big publisher. The truth is not so one-sided. Yes, you have to know how to write, and write well. No argument there. On the other hand, can you really suggest that the publishing process today is all sparkly and even-handed? How does being told by a major publisher that they won't be taking any new authors this year factor into your equation? Or the collapse of the mid-list and purging of editors and authors alike? I've heard lots of stories like this - and even experienced a few myself.

    It's not that the Big Six are evil - I'm not into conspiracies on this subject any more than others on the board. What folks lose sight of is that we're talking about business, and business isn't about being fair - or perfect. They will do what ever it takes to remain financially sound and competitive, and sometimes not to your advantage. Please don't dump it all on the writer.

    While I am not a fan of self publishing, I would remind you that there are success stories out there. There's also loads of crap from wanna-be writers. It doesn't mean you brand the entire enterprise that way. I suspect that in the end, a combination of promoting, brand awareness, and (of course) a great read will win the day in the electronic arena - more so perhaps than with the traditional industry.

    All just my opinion, of course.

    Kerry
     
  14. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I didn't say it was always the writer's fault.

    But then, it isn't always the pub's fault either. They can;t take on any new writers this year? Well, that's hardly them putting down new talent - they are just doing what they have to do as a business.

    It isn't personal. And the Big Six always have debut authors out, every year (AFAIA). Do they have limited space? Yeah, because printing a book takes money and quite a lot. Do they have to prioritise? Yep, that too. But the fact remains that a heck of a lot of stuff subbed just isn't worth publishing ('yet' perhaps). That's the main cause of people being rejected. Not that the publishing industry is broken (though in individual cases, yes, perhaps it seems that way) but that for the vast majority of MSs, they just aren't ready.

    OFC no one wants to think that of their novel! So (no one here that I've seen, but it's all over if you look) that becomes 'Publishing is dead' 'EVil pubs just want to put down talent!' etc etc. They don't. They really, really don't. They (editors etc) are in publishing because they love good books, so why would they oppress the books they love? Not because they think it's fun! Sometimes they have to turn a good book down. Sometimes we all have to do stuff we wish we didn't.

    I didn't think I had...(maybe I wasn't clear?)

    There are pros and cons all round. The trick is to know what they are,and I've seen too many people ignore the cons because of listening to rhetoric (not saying that of anyone here, just saying).
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  15. THEM

    THEM Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks, that was exactly my point. No-one would ever suggest there were editors sitting in dark towers and cackling maniacally as they trashed the dreams of inspired, brilliant new writers, but if the effect of business is to achieve the same outcome, it doesn't make the writer feel any better about it.

    Wouldn't you love to see a rejection slip that said: Dear THEM, you are a brilliant writer and must therefore be kept out of the citadel. We only allow the truly mediocre into the fold as we can control them and suck their juices dry. You clearly have far too much original talent for that and would threaten the evil hegemony we have put in place with other publishers.

    Far better than: Dear [name]. We read your submission with interest but believe your work would not be suitable for our list at this time. We wish you luck in placing your work with another publisher as, like us, they won't read it.
     
  16. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,623
    Likes Received:
    197
    Trophy Points:
    198
    No, I've been pretty consistent. I think the problem is that you misunderstood my position on e-publishing and assumed that I was in opposition to it. I wrote long posts and you clearly didn't read parts of them. (Nor are you obligated to -- I'm just pointing out that assessing my position does involve looking at what I say, even if I'm annoyingly wordy.)

    Well, maybe we have multiple misinterpretations going on then. The original start of the discussion was not from your post but from Mike Sullivan's. He said:

    And I said in response:

    Which as you may note in no way denigrates e-books, and in fact, complains that players are deliberately trying to slow things down in the e-book market. And then you said in response:

    So actually, you were disputing the fact that the e-book market alone was smaller than the e-book and paper markets combined, at first. And don't you think it was a fair understanding of mine that you were saying that you agreed with Sullivan, that it would be an e-book only market, not a blend of e-books and POD? Because it doesn't sound like you're talking about a blend there. So we went from there, with me again pointing out that an only e-books market meant a lot of people would not have access to the market, and then Kerry came into the discussion, etc. So maybe we're simply talking past one another. It has happened before. :)

    While I agree with your thimble metaphor, Kerry, all submissions that a publisher agrees to accept as submissions do get looked at by editorial staff, and the same for agencies. You might not get on the desk of a senior editor, it's true, but you will if other staff like the work. If a publisher doesn't want to have submissions read by editorial staff, they simply don't accept submissions. If a publisher wants to pare down submissions, they simply limit submissions to agented submissions. If an agent has a full client list or wants to go through only referrals, they simply don't accept submissions. You don't pay for hours and hours of labor just to process mail or electronic mail that no one then reads. If you don't want the mail, you close submissions. There are many publishers who operate with only agented submissions. There are some who operate without any submissions. So you may go through the thimble, but if they say you can send it through the thimble, every drop going through does get looked at.

    But as you note, logistically, it's not possible for the small number of publishers to do that many books apiece. A start-up publisher might take 5% of what is sent and evaluated. An established publisher, large or small, takes 1-2% of what is sent and evaluated. So self-publishing does provide many opportunities to get into the market; it just provides them without a licensing partner. The market was and is a free market and can easily accommodate as many authors as want and are able to sell their wares through any venue in any format. So you get an ocean of books in electronic self-publishing selling only to the electronic audience, (but there's also POD which does well too,) and that ocean takes on the same pyramid shape of sales that publishers' sales do: small top, bigger middle, really big bottom.

    Publishers, large and small, do promote new voices because it’s the life’s blood of their growth sales. Debuting authors are easier to get booksellers to take than mid-listers and get a temporary reprieve on sales records in the computer (this is why many authors switch names for new series.) They are harder to promote but there is often more buzz for a new author if word of mouth develops. But because they are only working with a small percentage of authors, and because it's only physically possible for them to work with a small percentage of authors, that means many other new voices don't find a licensor willing to invest in them. And when economic times are bad, most publishers will do fewer new authors. So the self-publishing market does provide another, and now easier, market channel to float the books and maybe find an audience among those who can afford e-books. And this promotes all reading and all books, and especially as we’ve seen in e-books, fiction books. It's not the publishers' job to love or catch all the really good books. It's not possible for them to do that. It's a matter of them deciding what they need when and whether a work works for them and has enough in-house enthusiasm and, if so, if they can afford what the author is trying to get for the license. And most of the stuff they're going to decide is not worth it for them, even if another publisher is likely to take it.
     
  17. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stupid internet ate my stupid post :D
    meh, I may try later.

    But there have been some fandabibosy rejections. Few that say 'you're sop damn good. we don't want to show up our authors' though.

    But ofc, editors eschew great writers....:D They live to crush dreams
    - or they make the damn room if they love a book (yes, yes they do)

    If you aren't getting anywhere, in general check: your query - does it say what you want it to say? It it enticing? Are you showing your writing skillzors? Is it letting you down?

    If your query is getting requests. are your partial pages letting you down. Have you had an unbiased (not your mum's!) eye over it? Have you actually listened? ( sooo many times, writers ask for advice and them decide they were better anyway)

    Are you (again) generic - presenting your best all time ever work?
     
  18. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    118
    Trophy Points:
    98
    Anyone else having fun on this thread?

    Kerry :D
     
  19. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Actually, yes :D

    But ebooks will take over the world....no. The world that has access to them, they'll get a good share of the market I expect. But that isn't all the world. And those that don't, need print. It won't die anytime soon, if only for that reason (and I can think of others).
     
  20. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    6,706
    Likes Received:
    373
    Trophy Points:
    183
    I'm blown away that only 7.5% of India has access to the Internet. And we (U.S.) lags behind New Zealand. Very interesting stats. Thanks for the link.