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James Barclay
September 22nd, 2001, 05:41 AM
Apologies if this has been covered before but I thought I'd pass on the views of an SF&F editor I know.

It's been noted on other parts of the forum that competition is very tough, making it ever harder for new writers to get published. What that means is that every part of your communication to a publisher has to work for you. If you haven't heard this before, maybe it'll help. The editor I know likes an initial submission to be as follows:

Covering letter - introducing you, your novel, where you think it might lead (ie, are you planning a series?) anything else you've written (shorts, poems, just a hint at the breadth of your experience).

The first three chapters.

Outlines of key characters - who is it that will poplulate your novel?

Synopsis of the whole book (don't keep the ending a secret!)

All this work is important - this editor says that he has so many mss to read that he will often reject work if the letter is no good, assuming that if you can't write a letter, the chances of you being able to write a novel are much lessened.

That may sound unfair but so much work is being submitted that available time per submission is very small. Of course, if you want an editor to give your work deeper consideration, going through an agent is good, but of course, getting an agent is a trial in itself...

Hope that helps.

September 23rd, 2001, 04:55 PM
Thanks, Nom, all great info - in fact, I know the process well! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

James Barclay
September 23rd, 2001, 11:53 PM
Me too...

Rob B
September 24th, 2001, 11:28 AM

All this work is important - this editor says that he has so many mss to read that he will often reject work if the letter is no good, assuming that if you can't write a letter, the chances of you being able to write a novel are much lessened I received the same advice when I was sending out my resume.

September 24th, 2001, 11:24 PM
All that you say is true, however, the publication business has changed. E-Publishing has created some fears among the traditional publishers and is affecting submissions. Also, the POD print-on-demand outfits are taking a big toll because good writers who get tired of rejection notices can resort to this means to get their works out. New writers are facing a multitude of choices that never existed before. The biggest hurdle is marketing. Witness Steven King and his big E project. He did that because his publisher refused to pay for the marketing and he got disgusted. There is much more to this business than there once was. Submissions may someday be a thing of the past, possibly the near past.

September 24th, 2001, 11:43 PM
Well said, Penumbra!

I too have seen first-hand the problems with mainstream publication, but have since found some moderate success with POD. As someone who writes from the heart purely for the fun of it, POD is an excellent stepping stone for a new author. For me, POD and the Net has opened up many doors and enabled me to sell books in many countries of the world - and that can't be a bad thing, right?

Welcome to the Forum!

[This message has been edited by erebus (edited September 25, 2001).]

James Barclay
September 26th, 2001, 03:28 AM
I don't entirely agree with you, Penumbra. The internet, e-publishing and POD are all opportunities, but I don't see them replacing traditional publishing for a long time, if at all.

I think you'd have to change the nature of readers first - people have been reading off paper for thousands of years and simply having technological alternatives does not mean they'll take over. People love the feel of a book. Book sales are actually increasing in the UK, despite the internet 'revolution'.

POD is a difficult are contracturally too as it means a book will never be officially out of print which throws up all sorts of issues around reversion of unsold rights.

Are you sure about the Stephen King thing? From where I was sitting it appeared more like he was trying to cane more money from his readers by charging them $1 a chapter. And it didn't work, which is very interesting. If King can't swing it, what chance less well known authors?

And the man doesn't need marketing - his name on a book is enough to sell numbers the rest of us can only dream of. Disgust? Perhaps. Greed? Probably.

I think e-publishing is a terrific advance and a great boon to otherwise unpublished authors who can make their mark and see their talent speak for itself. But I think it will have to take its place beside mainstream publishing.

This is a fascinating subject - think I'll delve deeper and start a new thread sometime...

Rob B
September 26th, 2001, 03:53 AM
eBooks haven't really been figured out by the publishers yet, there are too many different eBook readers and they are too expensive. They are great ideas, but I'll agree with NOM, that people are too accustomed to the idea of a book as a bound set papers rather than an electronic screen.

Am I correct in assuming that POD publishers and Vanity (The Writer pays the Publisher a fee for ISBN and to publish the book) publishers are pretty much the same thing?

September 26th, 2001, 05:07 AM
As I understand it, FF, Vanity Publishers are more about selling books to authors who wish to see their books in print, rather than actually marketing them to the general public. I've heard of some terrible VPs out there charging thousands of dollars for printing up a garage full of books, which the author, after departing with bucket loads of cash, must then try to sell by himself.

Thankfully, this has not been my experience with POD publishing, but you maybe right in your assumption that some POD publishers may be little different from those dreadful Vanity publishers we all hear about. It pays to be careful, I guess!

James Barclay
September 26th, 2001, 07:44 AM
Definitely beware Vanity Publishing. Anyone who wants to charge you for putting your work in print sould be treated with the greatest suspicion. It preys on those who don't think they can publish any other way. Fortunately, the internet could be the answer for many while they await the lucky break we all need.

Not sure about POD - I need to know more on the subject.