Getting Published - Your Questions Answered

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

  1. robbietherobot

    robbietherobot New Member

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    Kat, love your website. Full of fun and funny stuff! When do you find time to do it all? I think the world is a poorer place since you left the publishing biz. What new writers like me need is an agent like you. I've added your site to my favorites. I'm your new fan.
     
  2. djjaes

    djjaes New Member

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    Advise

    I am a newbie in more than a few ways.

    I have read the posts on this forum and in particular this thread. They have been a valuable resource. Thanks to all who have posted their professional and real-world experiences.

    Before I ask my question, I need to explain why I have reached this forum and thread. I am current in a 3-4th revision on my novel, and I have been writing since an early age, 'bout 12 or 13; although in the 2nd grade I wrote a one page story using a vocabulary list for the week that got my parents called to the school. It was a positive call, thankfully, and one memory that I'm fond of. Also, I am finishing a Master's of Arts and Sciences in Spanish, which by the way takes most of my time. I believe I have written more in Spanish in the last 2 years than in English. :) I am slowly but surely getting close to finishing my best manuscript, and need some advise.

    The story takes place in the rural mid-south (USA, where I am from), and in an alternate reality/world. The two main characters are 18 to 20 years old with many other characters of varying ages and walks of life. As my studies have included many linguistics, sociolinguistics, phonology and phonetics classes, I have created an 'in-story' language with at least 3 distinct dialects from the main tongue. In addition to the language and its offshoots, I have written down (in note and outline form) the mythology and legends of this alternate world. The language and mythos all play a part in the evolution of the story from Earth to the alternate plain of reality.

    With the brief explanation of the project out of the way, my question is: since my revisions have extended the story to the 50-60k range with the potential of 80+, and since the main characters are in the 18-20 year old range, and, let us not forget, I have never had a work published out side of a school paper, would it be more beneficial to look at submitting this work to agents/publishers that specialize in young adult works?

    I appreciate any comments and advise.
     
  3. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Hi djjaes--

    If your book remains in the 50k-60k range, it's probably closer to the young adult size. Up around 80k-85k it eases into adult length.

    Probably more important is theme. If it's all about finding a new boyfriend, then it's definitely teen, and if the themes are about death and dying, then it's adult.

    Of course, that leaves a whole lot in the middle. When you were writing the piece, what age group did you envision as readers?

    Welcome to the forum.

    -- WB
     
  4. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Welcome new people!

    Djjaes: At 18-20 for the characters, you can market the work to YA. However, it's not mandated. YA has a lot of opportunities still because it expanded over the last ten years and because it is selling well. There are quite a few agents repping YA. There are also additional marketing opportunities with YA -- going to schools, libraries, etc.

    Dark, serious content is not necessarily a problem for YA. Even a sex scene, depending, may be workable. But you do need to look at the content with an eye for a reading audience that is roughly 11-16 years old. If the themes of the work and the main story illuminate teen coming of age issues, then YA might be a good fit if that's where you want to be. There is also the adult general fiction market which publishes fantasy titles. Being in that market does not cut you off from the category SFF market. So you have options.

    What you might want to do is start by going to agents who handle fiction, YA fiction and SFF fiction. Then if the agent likes the book and offers to rep you, you and the agent can discuss whether it would be best in the YA or adult markets, depending on your career goals, and if adult, whether it should be marketed to the category imprints or general fiction ones.
     
  5. djjaes

    djjaes New Member

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    I would say that my audience that I have envisioned were a younger group of people in the 16 to 25 range. The themes seem to be, not just a type of coming of age, but the acknowledgment of truth and the impact that it has on the lives of the main and subordinate characters. The main character has lived a life that up to that point has been shrouded in lyes (well not exactly lyes, but the truth until now {current book timeline} would not be appropriate to tell a child). Some of the other characters have hidden the truth to protect the main character, however. In the alternate reality the main character gets to explore his true origins and eventually has to fight to save his own life and that of his new friends.

    Overall, the themes are exploring the truth of who you are, fighting for something just, friendship and loyalty. I believe that these are important themes for YA's and adults.
     
  6. djjaes

    djjaes New Member

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    Thanks for the incite. Very helpful. After reading yours and another person's comments, I feel that maybe this novel has a more YA feel to it.

    The basic themes as I told the other commenter, Window Bar, is "Overall, the themes are exploring the truth of who you are, fighting for something just, friendship and loyalty. I believe that these are important themes for YA's and adults."

    As for a sex scene there are none in the novel, however. There is sexual tension between the two main characters. Only a few curse words (damn is used a few times, but is used by a character and represents her speech pattern, language usage, etc. Yet it can be reworded to fit appropriate audience. I also use other dialogue and word usage for that character to establish accent without stereotyping or cliche.) There are a few scenes that deal with death and severe injury. The antagonist to the main characters both minor and major is killed quite gruesomely and another main character is stabbed. All are a part of the development, climax and resolution of the story's problems, etc.

    In some ways the journey of the main character is like the main character's journey in "Becoming Naomi Leon." A great YA novel, yet although my story is remotely like "Becoming Naomi Leon," the theme of discovering one's self through the discovery of the truth is apart of both my main character and the one in "BNL".

    As I continue to revise and revise, I will look into finding representation that deals with both YA, SFF, and the adult SFF too.

    KatG, you're very knowledgeable. Thanks for your input.

    Also another question (for anyone). I have many notes on the languages that I have created for the novel, myths/legends etc. I would like to include this in the novel as part of its presentation to agents/publishers.

    Good/bad idea? Or something to be used later if published as a companion piece to the novel itself?

    Also, the older characters in the book have a similar journey to that of the younger main characters. For example, in the novel itself, the main character finds his aunts manuscript for a short story-like journal that chronicles their own journeys and adventures in the alternate reality. The importance being it serves as a bridge to the past that the main character was too young, or not born, to remember; it explains the origins and connection with Earth and the alternate reality.

    I have the notion to include the journal mentioned in the main novel as a separate short short. Again, Good/bad idea to include in the submitted manuscript, or save it as a companion piece for later publishing?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  7. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Save them, because that material is about production costs for whether the publisher wants to include it in the product. Your language notes might be used as an appendix at the back of the novel, but that's something to discuss with the publisher when you have one. The language notes and the short story re the journal are things that you could also use for promotion -- stuff for teens or other readers to explore on your website, etc. You can mention to agents/publishers that you have ancillary material that can be used as enhancement and promotion, but the first thing they are looking at is whether they are interested in the main story usually.
     
  8. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Young Adult? Yes, it sounds that way to me, too. With any luck, you'll have crossover adult readers anyway.

    BTW-- Given KatG's background, her insights will be based on deeper experience than mine.

    Make certain you get several outside people (a professional editor, if you can afford one / some erudite friends if you can't) to edit for you. We all make spelling, typing and syntax errors. There is a world of difference between insight and incite, and the word processor's spell check won't be enough. Without a thorough clean-up, no one will read to the end.

    Enjoy -- WB
     
  9. djjaes

    djjaes New Member

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    Great info and advice. I am a horrible speller. Usually my mind works faster than I write. I'm sure that happens to us all. I have a few friends and family that help proof read. I will look into an editor as well.

    Thanks KatG and Window Bar for your help.
     
  10. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    Getting Publishished Part Deux: More questions answered.

    I just started reading Tim's post on getting published and thought it was a wonderfully generous thing for him to do. But I also found that his path was much different than my own. And publishing is changing so much right now that I wanted to bring to light some other alternatives. I didn't want to hijack his thread so I thought I might start my own.

    Okay...a short background...and I'll try to make it short. I wrote 10 (or 12 can't remember) novels in my "adult years" and tried to get an agent with no success. I finally got "really serious" and studied the market, worked hard to carefully craft the prose, and wrote what I think was the best thing I was capable of (it was literary fiction). I got many agents saying how good it was but that there was no market so I finally threw in the towel. I quit writing and vowed never to write creatively again.

    Well as other writers know...as much as you hate writing sometimes you also can't stop the ideas from coming so ten years later I decided to write something "just for me". I had no intention of publishing. I promised I would keep this short so the condensed version is I eventually did decide to publishe and a small press picked it up, had financial problems and then I was more or less "forced" into self-publishing (to meet some deadlines for the 2nd book that fans were waiting on).

    I published 5 books (of a six-book series) releasing one every six months and sales slowly grew to about 1,000 a month (across 4 titles) when my 5th book came out it jumped to 2,600 a month and I started thinking maybe I should try New York again. I thought it would take years to get any nibbles but had 7 publishers interested immediately. (I'm sure the fact that at the same time as I was "shopping" the series the books went viral - 10,000 - 12,000 copies a month didn't hurt ;-). But still...for the most part my sales were still very much on the "respectible" end when I was talking to publishers.

    So...here we are about a year later and my six-book series is now coming out from Orbit (Fantasy imprint of #2 publisher Hachette Book Group) in just over a month. They fast tracked the project and the books will be released as follows:

    • Theft of Swords (Nov 2011)
    • Rise of Empire (Dec 2011)
    • Heir of Novron (Jan 2012)

    I received a much higher advance than most "first time" authors (typically $5,000 - $10,000 a book and I got six figures for three) and have now done it all (self publishing, small press, big-six) so I can talk a bit about the pluses and minues of each. (None of them is the "right" path -- there is only "right for you") ...

    So just as Tim did - I'm going to offer up my brain for picking. The lanscape has changed a great deal recently and I think I'm a bit more "plugged into" the "out of the box" approach that is working for quite a few of the authors I'm familiar with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  11. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    I just finished reading/sometimes skimmming the whole post...It seems like Tim dropped off and Kat graciously stepped in. She is right on the money about how traditional publishing works.

    My intention is to "stay with this post" so hopefully we won't have to drag Kat into it - but as I'm more from "grass roots" and she is more "traditional approach" I'd love to see her comments as we go along.
     
  12. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Hello Sullivan,

    Which thread are you referring to? And are you opening this thread for us wannabes to ask questions?
     
  13. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    We merged you. :) We stickied the thread to be a general topic of interest to writers, so they could ask publishing questions.

    For me, having worked with self-publishing authors long before the e-book market took off, the recent distinction of the indie field as grass roots and publishing as "traditional" publishing is not really there, I guess, but that doesn't mean that authors aren't facing different factors coming into the market from different directions. You are pretty much running the whole gauntlet, Sullivan, so I'm sure people will find it very helpful.

    One thing to keep in mind re Sullivan's interaction with publishers for reprint: 10,000 copies sold in total, much less 10,000 a month, from a self-published author is not considered "respectable" or medium sales for publishers. It's considered extremely successful and reflecting the potential for really large audiences in a published edition. The sales levels they are looking at for authors on their lists and self-published authors are not the same. Just thought I'd throw that distinction in there as we have writers doing every kind of publishing here at this point. (Basically, I'm saying that Sullivan is being too modest here.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  14. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    Yeah, saw those numbers myself and nearly sprayed coffee. I suspect most folks publishing with the small e-pubs won't see anywhere near those kind of numbers.

    Kerry
     
  15. InfinityKgt

    InfinityKgt Newbie

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    Congratulations on your success, Sullivan. From where I'm sitting as a newbie author who only just started querying for his first book, your story makes it sound like I am standing at the bottom of a mountain range looking up your trail, Many miles above. What advice can you offer a newbie author like myself that has no literary credentials? (to make the hike up the mountain less difficult)

    Second question. When you were writing a manuscript who was your most helpful person for you to turn to when you had a question about the direction of your plot, or just editing in general, and why?

    Thanks for your time, Sir. -IK
     
  16. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    This thread - I guess :) I had a seperate thread because my path was different then Tim the OP. But yes, I'm hear to answer any questions about getting published (self, small press, or big-six) and what's going on in the industry...as least as I see it.

    There are many people who may have different opinions which is great. All I can speak to is what I've experience first hand as I've done all three and I see that the business is a lot different than when I started in this a decade or so ago.
     
  17. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    Many people point out, and correctly so, that self-publishing has alwasy been around. The difference today is that for the first time we now have distribution channels (especially fore ebooks). And as ebooks gain more and more ground it means that authors really can make a decent living with self-publishign wherein the past most could not.

    Well I can't speak to what the big-publishers consider a "good track record" as I have no experience being on that side of the fence. What I do have is some knowledge of what some other self-published authors have sold. I personally know people who have sold 300,000 books in a few months. And of course there are the Locke's and Hockings who sell 1,000,000 copies but I consider them Outliers like King and Rowlings. I guess my point is that in the circle I run in (the authors I know that self publish) my numbers were not nearly what theirs were/are.
     
  18. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    My wife runs the small press that I was with before Orbit picked me up and although on some months I was the "top seller" there were others when I was eclipsed. Examples:

    • Nathan Lowell - 3,600 copies of Full Share in the first week of release and 9,500 in a single month with half the titles as I had
    • Marshall Thomas: 19,500 copies in a single month (across six-titles)
    • Leslie Ann Moore: 5,000 copies across 2 titles in a month

    Then there are authors I know like H.P. Mallory who was selling 20,000 books a month when I was selling 10,000 and David Dalglish routinely sells about 11,000 a month

    I venture to say most people have never heard of any of these names because in many respects we are all "small frys" but the ebook revolution has been very good to us and we could have never sold at these numbers pre Nov 2010.
     
  19. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

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    Well the first thing is to realize that EVERY author in existence was where you are now. i.e. a newbie with a mountain to climb. Persistence is the absolute key. The only sure way to fail is to quit. But it can be difficult at times and you'll want to throw in the towel - heck I did for a decade. I think the biggest mistake new authors make is they can't wrap their heads around the "business side". You have to "think like a publisher" whether you are published through someone else or yourself. Major keys... (assuming fiction) is that genre is easier than more broad based work like literary fiction. And multiple books (i.e. a series) is really necessary to make "good money". I think most would be very hard pressed to do well with a single book. Frequent release dates (6 months or less) keep your name in front of your fans. Book bloggers are amazing people who work tirelessly to get the word out for authors - treat them with the utmost respect, and help them do their job...and always thank them as they are (IMO) the most important ingredient.

    Until you asked this question I didn't realize that I don't ever ask anyone about direction in plot etc while I'm writing. My process goes like this.

    • I outline - but very briefly and I'll deviate from it as the story develops if needs be.
    • Once I finish I take a few day to think is there any way that I can raise it another peg. In many ways I'm running the whole story through my head looking for how I can produce a bigger bang. This usually results in some fairly major changes
    • Once I have it the way I'm happy it goes to my wife. She is hands-down the best "story editor" I have ever seen. She finds plot holes...tells me what areas need expanding...which are dragging...if I started in the wrong place...missed opportunities where a slight change will take it to that next level that I didn't see. In most cases she may see a problem and present a solution...more often than not I don't use the solution but it will lead me to an "even better idea.
    • After we've got it the way we want it. I send it to beta readers and writer friends whose opinions I trust. This may lead to some more changes but they are relatively minor and usually just a tweak here and there - I don't think I've ever made a large scale change based on that feedback.

    Keep in mind this is what I do...and every author has a different approach it may not work for you, but you asked so I thought I should answer.
     
  20. InfinityKgt

    InfinityKgt Newbie

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    thank you. Thats what i wanted to know. I dont have the editor/wife. Nor many friends that read SF/F, or even read fiction :eek: Makes it difficult at times. I do appreciate your reply tho.