Getting Published - Your Questions Answered

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

  1. Nickbjorn

    Nickbjorn Registered User

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    Thanks Tim, that's really interesting. it's great that they gave you a lot of creative freedom and the final say in the matter. It seems as though publishers are aware that one of the things that appeals to readers of the fantasy genre is something different rather than the formulaic. I guess escapism isn't escapism without some surprises.

    I'm writing a book myself that does fantasy a little differently (although there definitely a touch bit of Vancian picaresque in there), so I'm very glad to see that publishers can be open-minded.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009
  2. Tim Stretton

    Tim Stretton Macmillan New Writer

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    Good luck with your own book, Nickbjorn.

    A lot of top-drawer writers have acknowledged their debt to Vance--GRR Martin, Gene Wolfe, Dan Simmons, John C. Wright spring to mind--so we're in good company!

    While publishers naturally like to bring out "standard" fantasy because they know there's an audience for it, there's always scope in fantasy for something a bit different - Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex springs to mind among recent works. One of the things I love about fantasy is that it's such a broad church.
     
  3. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Tim's relationship with his editor -- which sounds like an excellent one -- and the way he was acquired are the normal, routine procedures of fiction publishing.
     
  4. Nickbjorn

    Nickbjorn Registered User

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    My only experience with publishing is of my friend who works at Profile/Serpents Tail and my wife who has an agent but no deal as yet. In both instances these are non-fiction, which I guess works a bit differently to fiction.

    I've picked up the Scar Night, which I enjoyed a lot, I have the second book waiting in an ever growing pile next to my bed. One thing I've picked up in just a short time on this forum is the sheer volume of fantasy out there. I'm glad I'm a pretty fast reader.
     
  5. Tim Stretton

    Tim Stretton Macmillan New Writer

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    A great time to be a reader - there's certainly a lot of fantasy out there, and a lot of it good. Not such a good time to be a new author: how's anyone ever going to find your stuff! ;)

    But to make a less parochial point - readers often hark back to a Golden Age of sf/f. But I doubt that there's ever been more books being published in the genre than today, even with a recession. Some of it's derivative and conservative, sure, but there are tons of really good fantasy writers working in the field today who are delivering challenging and imaginative fiction. Joe Abercrombie, Richard Morgan, Alan Campbell and China Mieville spring to mind, but there are plenty of others.
     
  6. bwthomason

    bwthomason Registered User

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    Thank you to everybody that has contributed to this thread. It is more beneficial than you know for an aspiring writer. I am currently working on my first novel and a short story. The short is related to the novel (as one character’s background) but is intended to be completely stand alone. The short is almost done and I plan on submitting it to some new writers contest and/or emags.

    I have a couple of questions:
    1.) Any advice on self editing? I want to put the best product in front of whoever reads it, but with the exception of the critiques of the other member of my two man book club, I am left to self edit.

    2.) How much harder is it going to be to get published for someone whose writing is geared more to fantasy noir than mainstream?
     
  7. Fred Gallney

    Fred Gallney The Writer of Fantasy

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    Fantasy sells very well. Especially epic high fantasy stories.
     
  8. Tim Stretton

    Tim Stretton Macmillan New Writer

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    That's an excellent question, and it goes to the heart of being published as a first-time writer. It was the last part of the jigsaw for me. I went on a creative writing course run by Greg Mosse at West Dean, near Chichester. The right sort of professional tuition - i.e., by someone who's trained to teach, and emphasises the practical rather than theoretical aspects of the craft - can be invaluable. I certainly came away from that course with some fresh intellectual equipment to use in the business of being objective about my own work -- and a year later I'd signed a contract with Macmillan.

    I don't think it matters. Good work is more likely to sell than bad (although sometimes I wonder), but there's a strong market for dark fantasy: look at the critical and commercial success of writers like GRR Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan. I myself prefer to read the darker fantasy so I wish you every luck with your own work.
     
  9. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Study writers you like. Figure out what it is you like about them, then break down their text to determine how they do what it is you like -- how they set up characterization, use language, describe action, etc. It will make you see your own stuff in a different way. Essentially, you have to go from being a reader who simply has a reaction to a writer who notices the machinery behind the curtain producing the reaction. (This may curtail some enjoyment in reading for a tiny bit, but then you get fascinated with it and adjust.)

    Get more readers than your two man group. Other eyes are going to notice what isn't down on the page that you might not because it's in your brain. A class may help with this. A teacher who isn't trying to teach you about a bunch of rules as the correct way to write is preferable, but even if you have one who is, or classmates who have that notion, you can learn about options and different techniques as long as you don't regard anything as rules. Remember, like W, you are the decider.

    Put stuff aside for a few days and then read it again. You are more likely to catch things than continually re-reading.

    Everything you put in a story becomes part of the story logic. Everything you have a character do, learn, think, feel and observe becomes part of the character logic, which is part of the story logic. Seventy-five percent of the problems authors develop in their stories that editors are trying to catch are when an author contradicts and otherwise violates his own character and story logic, particularly character logic. An author will forget that a character knows something or doesn't know something and have the character act illogically. An author will forget that a character was upset last scene and suddenly the character is strangely calm, that sort of thing. So authors have to run over their own logic, and if there are errors, figure out if they are going to fix the errors or just change the logic throughout to reflect the new reality they want. One way to do that is post-outlining, where you outline what happens and what characters think in each section or chapter. This may be particularly helpful for the organic writers who don't outline beforehand.

    Don't be afraid to play with words, sentence patterns and sound rhythms. Even if you feel you aren't much of a poet, much of what any writer is doing is about sound as well as content. It doesn't have to be flowery, but use of language techniques causes images and ideas to better sink into the readers' brains and stay there, so it's worth trying to play with. Again, studying writers you like can help with this. Studying writers you don't like to determine what they are doing to create a negative effect for you may also be helpful.

    Not hard at all. In the magazines, dark fantasy is always loved and there are some mags that are completely devoted to horror and dark fantasy. In the novel market, the horror category market is now up and running and includes large chunks of dark fantasy, plus dark fantasy is in the fantasy category market. There is also the general fiction market, where dark fantasy has an excellent shot.

    The idea that dark fantasy is an outcast, difficult for most people to take, its artists toiling in the gutter largely unrecognized except by those few discerning souls who understand genius, often turned away by uncaring publishers who only publish according to tapioca commercial greed is, well, a marketing technique. It's putting on the rebel leather jacket so that it looks cool. You can't be a rebel unless you have something to rebel against, after all.

    But dark fantasy has firmly and centrally been in the genre's history since the beginning and has always been considered a major style. Numerous bestsellers published by large SFF publishers over the past four decades write dark fantasy or dark style fantasy, and critics and reviewers always like it. So stop worrying.
     
  10. Fred Gallney

    Fred Gallney The Writer of Fantasy

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    KatG, are you an editor or agent? From your well-written posts, I seem to come to that conclusion.
     
  11. shevdon

    shevdon www.shevdon.com

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    Another way to learn to edit and critique your own work is to critique someone else's. This gives you the distance from the work to be objective and allows you to see work in development, rather than published work which has already been through the editing process.

    There are several online critique groups. My personal recommendation would be Critters which is well run, produces good critique, is focused on being positive and diplomatic, and is free. They also have a mechanism for getting feedback for longer work, such as novel length pieces, called a Request for Dedicated Readers (RFDR) which most sites can't deal with.

    It is a truth that it is easier to see someone else's mistakes than your own, but you will find yourself pointing something out to someone and then thinking, "Hang on, I do that." It's a great way to learn and it doesn't require a physical meeting or venue, which can sometimes be difficult to organise and can fit around shift patterns or other commitments. You do have to set a reasonable amount of time every week to do it, though. An hour or two should be fine for most weeks.

    Another way to edit is to work through the paragraphs backwards. This prevents you being caught up in the narrative flow and forces you to consider each paragraph as a stand-alone fragment of story. It can help you to tighten your style and pick up things you would otherwise miss, but it won't help with the character or story logic issues that KatG was mentioning.

    Dark and Urban Fantasy are very popular right now, but you do need to bring something new and fresh to differentiate your work. That can be in your writing, your style, a twist of character or plot or by writing an original character or setting. Preferably all of the above.
     
  12. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Used to be. Not no more. I get a lot more sleep now. :)
     
  13. Tim Stretton

    Tim Stretton Macmillan New Writer

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    KatG's points are excellent advice for developing your voice, imagination and stamina. The hardest part, for me and it sounds like for bwthomason, is that final stage of being objective about your own work: you've created a marvellous kingdom of your imagination, but how much of it does your prose convey to the reader? It's very difficult to assess this for yourself. I've never used a critique group of the sort that shevdon suggests, but if you have the right readers it's obviously a great help. The thing to avoid is cheerleaders--people who will praise your work without meaningful criticism. A serious and competent critique group should overcome that problem, but in the end developing your own self-critical faculty is essential.
     
  14. Neyska

    Neyska Creator

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    I've had the good fortune of knowing a few professional editors and also of being published so that I got to work with the editors for those magazines as well. I have learned a ton about editing my own work from these experiences. If you can find someone with the knowledge who is willing to give you a few cutthroat edits of your work, you can not only learn a lot about editing in general, but also about the kinds of mistakes you tend to make in your own writing. You also learn a lot about humility. ;)
     
  15. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    My writing is still in its beginning stages but I just read on another website that I probably shouldn't post anything on my blog that I think I might want to submit to a magazine or ezine (that's what they're called, right?). Is that still the case if I end up changing the story through edits and re-writes? Meaning, if I just put a rough draft on my blog (to elicit comments) and not the final, is that ok? I doubt anything I submit would get accepted but, well, you never know. I might get lucky. ;)
     
  16. Erebus-writes

    Erebus-writes Registered User

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    Congratulations Tim! Been looking for good advice relating to publishing and nice to see some useful comments
     
  17. Sterling13

    Sterling13 Registered User

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    Does someone know the official answer to this? One of my stories posted on this site has made it to the final stage of the submission process... I assume I should take it down from here, just in case it is accepted, correct?

    Or should I have taken the story down before ever even submitting?

    What about a story that has drastically changed from the original? For example, something that has been extended to 7,000-8,000 words from the original 1,000 word concept?
     
  18. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    You should have taken it down before submitting, least I would have done so.

    I would suggest you take it down if it is in the stories section or delete the posts if it is in a thread.

    If is an extended from the original, then I doubt you have anything to worry about.

    If it is the same then *shrugs shoulders* too late now to do anything about it, just remove it and keep your fingers crossed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2009
  19. kater

    kater Filthy Assistants!

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    Yes, Yes and shouldn't matter :) The rights are entirely yours as far as sffworld is concerned but depending who you submit your work to it may still be viewed as a negative. So recommendation is to remove it, as Hol said, prior to submitting the piece anywhere. It's not worth getting caught up in any confusion or hassle that would result from it. Fingers crossed for your submission :)
     
  20. kater

    kater Filthy Assistants!

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    Depends how big the changes and edits are, I'd definitely edge on the side of caution even with your own blog and just post snippets of stories. Like the lottery if you submit something, you have a chance, just not a big one :D