Is it harder for new authors to get published today in the traditional way, as many agents proclaim? If so, why? Are less books being printed? Has it become ineffective costwise to try and sell a new, unknown author? Are the alternative means of getting published - small presses, POD, E-books etc. - the only viable choices left? Does anyone have any idea what's going on in the publishing world?
July 11th, 2002, 01:48 PM
what do i know about the publishing world? they hand out a lot of rejections!
my last two rejections were not very painful ones. the publishers told me they thought i wrote well, and liked my work but said that they werent doing new fantasy authors at the moment - just books where they were assured of high returns.
of course, bottomline is that these are rejections too.
dont really know what to do.
soldier on, everyone....
July 11th, 2002, 02:31 PM
There are two (at least) things that I do not understand about publishers today. Some require no simultaneous submissions. Firstly, how would they know if you sent manuscripts out to other publishers at the same time. secondly, how can they expect authors to wait 6 months for a response and ask them to refrain from sending out other solicitations all that time?
Some publishers seem so author friendly and others are so negative. those that do not accept unsolicited submissions worry me. It really means, if you think about it, that they only accept submissions from agents that they know! Otherwise, anyone could call themself an agent (and sometimes they do!) and send in manuscripts on your behalf.
This type of thread always leads back to another one - what really happens to our manuscripts?
July 11th, 2002, 06:16 PM
I think manuscripts go to a big wharehouse (I picture the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark--where they put the Ark). In the wharehouse, they are put on a big moving belt that proceedes very slowly. Any manuscript that falls off the belt gets read (kind of like those quarter games at the casinos...), but the others are processed (re-packaged) and returned.
But seriously. I was looking through the Market yesterday and saw a no-simultaneous, etc. publisher that expected us to wait for a year.
July 11th, 2002, 08:55 PM
>Firstly, how would they know if you sent manuscripts out to
>other publishers at the same time.
>secondly, how can they expect authors to wait 6 months for a
>response and ask them to refrain from sending out other
>solicitations all that time?
Firstly: SF publishing is, from what I've heard, a very insular kind of business. Word can get around.
Let's say you're an editor at Tor. Manuscript comes in from some guy you've never heard of. You read it, and...it's fantastic. Awesome. You want to publish it right now. While you're convincing your bosses that it would be profitable to publish it, you get into a conversation with your brother-in-law's best friend who works at DAW. He mentions that he just picked up a fantastic manuscript. Turns out....it's the same manuscript. And you have to tell your bosses, "Um, guys? You know that manuscript I've been trying to talk you into buying for the last week? Well, um, someone else already bought it."
Or, if your brother-in-law's best friend doesn't work at DAW, you get your bosses to agree to buy it...you call the author to tell her she's been accepted...and she tells you, "Sorry, I already sold the manuscript to someone else."
This is why publishers don't like simultaneous submissions.
It *is* harder for new authors to get published. Why? Publishing companies are losing money. Most people, once they get out of high school, only read two books a year that aren't work-related. Almost all novels by new authors lose money--a lot of money; even the people who do read obsessively are more likely to buy the more well-known "brand names." When there's a new Robert Jordan novel (assuming you like the guy) and a new novel by some unknown in the store, which do you choose to buy? When you're choosing between two authors you haven't read before, do you pick the one who's won a World Fantasy Award or two, and has good reviews on the net, or the one whose biggest endorsement is an Anne McCaffrey quote on the cover?
But...two year ago, I'd never heard of Jacqueline Carey. But her first (I think?) book was published in hardcover, it sold really well, and now she's got a sequel out too. So there's still reason to be hopeful. And I think that the publishing industry will improve. Eventually. Maybe by the time I become a half-decent writer.
July 12th, 2002, 07:54 AM
well, that still doesnt make much sense, yes? I mean, look at Bloomsbury. They werent big names in the publishing field until they took on J.K.Rowling. Gambling on new names is the only way to move ahead.
And if publishers dont like unsolicited submissions because of the brother-in-law effect, they should make sure their reading mechanisms are efficient - Why should an author wait 6 months per publisher?
besides, the established authors/agents do submit copies to different publishers - how else could bidding wars for manuscripts (such as Artemis Fowl, where Puffin outbid everyone) take place?
as for publishers not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, thats disheartening, but at least makes sense from an economic point of view. what annoys me more is publishers who play both sides - accept submissions, but dont read them anyway. pointless pain for all concerned.
July 12th, 2002, 10:20 AM
I agree with Manticore completely! I am a businessman and it would be outrageous of me to expect prospective clients to not solicit other similar companies in the industry while they wait for me to make a decision whether or not i want to work with them. the world does not stop because people in positions of power would like it to! to me, it just seem arrogant and it serves only to make every author feel insignificant and victimized.
It seems to me that publishers have built this house of cards around themselves with the agenting network and all the restrictions. I understand that they cannot possibly read all the submissions that come in so they farm that job out to agents, hoping that they will screen the thousands of books that get written each year. but the agents have even smaller staffs and less money to work with, and they therefor have to do the same thing that the publishers do: read only what they solicit or authors they already know! So the circle is complete! where is there room for the unknown who has written the book of the year?
POD? Get the book out there and hopefully get some attention that way?
One well known agent actually said to me that the fact that I published my first book with iUniverse made it impossible for him to represent me even though he thoroughly liked what I wrote. He said that the 'industry' opposes authors who go that route and it would be difficult for him to sell anything else of mine afterward. It made no sense to me at all!
I think that the traditional publishers are running scared now and the agents as well. It may be that no one will need them soon, like typewriters and record companies!
July 13th, 2002, 01:41 AM
I think they should all have a sub-division for unsolicited manuscripts. They can sort through the not so good ones and hand the good ones up to the main company, so they don't miss any rare gems.
September 22nd, 2002, 11:19 PM
I tried the unsolicited route ten years ago and the Post Office is the only one that made out.
My first attempt to get published by using an agent worked!
Here's my read on it. The agent develops a reputation with his/her publishers. The agent has a couple of friends that read a particular brand of fiction: fantasy, SciFi, horror, cook books. These are the unseen people that are channeling the flow of books in this country right now.
The agent's friend give thumbs-up to the good manuscripts, the agent forwards them to their list of publishers, and one or two of them bite, take on the new name, and the book gets made.
This does not mean that an unsolicited manuscript never gets into print. It means that it could take a lot longer.
So, I think, an agent can be a very good idea. Necessary evil? Something along those lines.
Now I'm sure that publishing houses are about as forward thinking as insurance companies. Look at how the record industry reacted to Napster. No one is going to "reinvent" the company in uneasy times, and I'm sure the advent of the PC has made things only more uneasy for publishers. Certainly more people are cranking out bad text thinking they are the next Stephen King. So you have an increasing signal-to-noise problem in getting your manuscript to print.
My 2 cents worth for today.
September 23rd, 2002, 01:47 AM
Getting short stories publsihed in magazines is like Napster. You get some exposure.
I think the problem is that the big publishers have enough good authors bring home the bacon for them. They only want more authors if you are the next Jordan/King or if you come highly reccommended.