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bing
May 21st, 2001, 01:48 PM
I've been scouring the forums and this site for a few hours, and please forgive me if this question has been aswered before. However, I'm a little curious about the publishing process.

There seem to be a few basic approaches to getting published.
1. Sending your novel to a publisher / agent
2. Writing short stories for contests and hoping to get noticed.
3. Go to a conference and act as a salesman for your book.
4. Self-Publishing (website)
5. Go to a publisher with low standards and pay them a small fee.

To me, it seems the first alternative is perhaps the one with the fewest flaws. If you have a good book, certainly eventually a publisher/agent will pick up on that. However, is there no way to get in contact with these agents and publishers other than going to conventions? How can you ensure that your ideas remain your own and not suddenly some other author's?

The second alternative, writing short stories for contests, seems a little suspect in my mind. It seems to me that contests do not judge works by the same standards most readers would, and the short story is limited as compared to a full novel. Have there been success stories for authors starting out in short stories?

Can anyone reccomend any information sources on steps to getting published?

It seems most the responses to this question tend toward the extrordinarily ambiguous. "Don't give up" and "Learn to handle rejection" seem to be the most prevalent, but that's not exactly the type of information I'm looking for.

Erebus
May 21st, 2001, 05:19 PM
Bing, there's no easy answer to your question, in my opinion at least!

Trying to convince a mainstream publisher that they should take you on is probably one of the world's greatest quests! "What have you already published?" they ask - well, if no one has given you the opportunity yet, how can you be published? It's the same old Catch-22 scenario; a publisher usually only wants to publish a known author, but if you haven't been published, how do you get known?

Well, for me, after going down the mainstream track and finding that no one was really interested in taking on "new authors", I decided to try the POD publishing venture, and, I'm happy to say it has worked out quite well. My second paperback is due to come out next month and I have sold copies of my first book all around the world. While it's true that sales aren't yet setting the world on fire, at least I'm out there now and can honestly say that I am a published author!

If you're like me and write for the enjoyment of it only, then Print on Demand self publication is a great way to start. I know of a best selling, fellow Australian author who self-published his first two novels and then had his third picked up by a mainstream publisher who is now re-publishing his first two!

It can happen - but you have to be out there first, I guess!

Cheers,

Neil
www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/ (http://www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/)

[This message has been edited by erebus (edited May 21, 2001).]

KATS
May 23rd, 2001, 09:08 AM
First of all, I have not been published so my advice may not carry much weight. A few years ago I spoke with some published authors and they encouraged us newbies to do both 1 and 3 on your list. Basically they suggested that you sell the book then once the publisher voices an interest in the book then you seek an agent to finalize the deal. I havenít come close to finishing my books and I can honestly say I donít anticipate finishing anytime in the next few years. So I doubt that I will have the opportunity anytime soon to test the advice myself.

As far as short stories go . . . What contests are you talking about? There is a booming market for short stories. And many of these magazines boast about publishing first time authors. This is how I intent to (at least attempt to) have my first publication, in one of these magazines.

There are several books available that list publishers for these various markets. Check out the reference section of your local bookstore.

As far as paying for your own publication, for me it doesnít feel right. Several years ago I entered some poetry contests. They all came back saying that although my poems didnít win first prize they wanted to include them in the anthology. ALL I had to do was purchase the anthology. I felt like turning in an awful poem and seeing what they would say. At any rate, I didnít like that process. I guess it felt like I didnít earn the publication. I donít want to pay someone to publish my stories, I want someone to pay me. But again, this is just how I feel. I know some very talented people may disagree completely with me.

bing
May 23rd, 2001, 11:18 AM
Hey Thanks Erebus and Kats,

I am not published, I haven't even begun to write. I was just looking for some information about how to get started. A plan of attack so to speak. For those others who are interested, there's a great info site at:
www.sfwa.org/writing (http://www.sfwa.org/writing)

pooh
May 23rd, 2001, 11:37 AM
I've found it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to break in with my book which is being serialized at this site. I will not deny that several of its earlier chapters need to be edited/condensed, but Dag's read the whole thing and seems really to like it--and many readers have emailed me w/praise about it.

I tried sending to agents and received the same response: new writer, book too long.

Just recently I sent it to a publisher for the first time. I expect roughly the same response.

Honestly, today, given how condensed the market has become (at least in the U.S.) I think you have to know someone if you want to break into traditional print. There aren't so many sci-fi/fantasy magazines around these days.

So conferences may be your best bet.

Aleya
May 23rd, 2001, 12:53 PM
Bing, I quite like this site, and have found it helpful in my own work. http://www.drewes.org

The Sff.net news server is also a great source of direct help and advice on a load of different writing topics.

Pooh, your responses have come back with 'book too long'. Have you tried to condense it at all yet? From my own experience (which is admittedly limited) I come across comments on the importance of editing all the time.

People find it really, really hard to be edited at first, as each part of the story is almost a part of them and they don't see how to leave it out, but perhaps if you rewrite some parts to contain a little less detail and leave out a few of the subplots you might find it helps?

It's just an idea, and it's bound to be difficult to do, but if people have told you it's a good read it's certainly worth trying to mutilate it a little to get it to publishing standards. After all, then a wider audience will get to enjoy it, and if you're sucessful you can always re-release the 'author's original' version later http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

Just some thoughts.

Aleya - http://silver-oak.com

KATS
May 23rd, 2001, 02:18 PM
First of all please note that there is no offense intended by this response.

The first times I submitted my stories to magazines for publications I felt the responses were less than glowing. I was young and inexperienced. I took the rejections fairly hard. BUT I kept writing off and on over the years. I even managed to learn a few things. Recently I went back and reviewed the old rejections and to my surprise I found that they were really rather encouraging and rereading the stories that were submitted I agree COMPLETELY with their comments. Hopefully Iíve edited my stories to fix the problems pointed out by the editors. For instance Dreams of Decadence stated that my story was: 1. Not for us, 2. Plot was weak or nonexistent, 3. Not compelling enough / just didnít grab me, 4. Well-written overall, and 5. Please try us again with something else. And Marion Zimmer Bradleyís Fantasy Magazine wrote, ďI just canít believe your dialogue - read it aloud and see how it plays. We have enough long stories for a year - try something shorter.Ē I remember when I first read those rejections I was so upset. After all, all my friends and family loved the stories, so how could these editors not like them?!? LOL The truth is that these editors are professionals and if they say the story needs work on the dialogue more than likely they are right. Also, most editors have specific ideas of what stories they want for their magazine. Sometimes your story just doesnít fit in with the feel of the magazine.

My point? Hrmmm I know I had one. Give the editors a break. I think the big trick to getting published is simply having a GOOD story that happens to be appropriate for the current market. Just keep working at it and eventually you might get the right combination.

Bardos
May 24th, 2001, 12:26 AM
One thing I have to say here: Many books editors reject, or critics "bury", people love. Also many books they say are "right" (by their standards), people just hate them.
Why?
People like a good story; editors/critics have "rules" in mind.

From my experience, the problem with new writers (as I see in my older works, and others' works they give me to take a look, and help/comment, if I can) is this: They don't go deep into their characters and their worlds. In order to write something alive you must be in each characters head, at the same time; more, you must be the "all-seeing God" of your world, who goes from the plottings in hightest tower, to the fight in the darkess alley of town Nowhere.
If you acheave that, then all comes naturaly, including dialogue, for, if you are in someones head, then you know what he/she will say. Writers must be psycologist and sociologists to a great extenct.

[Excuse any typos; I wrote in a hurry.]

Bardos

"What rules? NO rules!... Just heart."

[This message has been edited by Bardos (edited May 24, 2001).]