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  1. #16
    The Writer of Fantasy Fred Gallney's Avatar
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    Congratulations, Tim, for your success!

    I was wondering if anyone here thinks publishers would be interested in a series that is based around the common titanic theme of the battle between good and evil. However, in order to show a unique voice, the story explores and is centered around a "twist" if you will in the battle between good and evil. Not going to give anything away, but it is very much different in the bigger picture than the hero vanquishing a dark lord.

    More importantly, if there are any editors, agents, or publishers around here, what's your opinion on my question?

    The battle between good and evil intrigues many people if the success of series such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Wheel of Time are anything to go by. But I think what the genre really needs is a break from the usual hero going to defeat the dark lord who wants ultimate power while still centering around the theme of good against evil. In the bigger picture, of course.

  2. #17
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    1) Again, publishers are not all one entity and editors aren't either, so there's no way to say whether "publishers" would be interested in the book or not.

    2) There are plenty of fantasy novels where it is not about a hero facing off with a Dark Lord.

    3) That being said, there's no reason they might not be interested in it, but they have to be interested in various details of it, the emotional conflicts within it, etc., and then if they read the ms., they have to like the writing. Having a plot twist alone is not what makes the decision.

    You're not going to know if you can get anyone interested unless you go out with it into the marketplace.

  3. #18
    Neyska said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Neyska View Post
    I am in the middle of the second edit of book one of my trilogy. Book one does stand alone. If you were going to start looking for publication, do you think a publisher/agent would be positively influenced if you said in the letter that you had three books in a trilogy already written, or do you think they would rather only look at one book as a stand alone to begin with?
    Publishers and agents are looking for writers who will continue to produce work for them, and so earn them money. If you've got more than one book, particularly in the same series, that can only help you. That said, the first book has to stand on its own merits, because that's what you'll be using to start building your audience.

    KatG said:
    However, the no advance plan that some major publishers are trying out is not, overall, going to be advantageous for authors. It means that authors have to wait a year and a half before receiving any money on their work. Essentially, Macmillan New Writing is operating along the lines of category romance publishers (though those often pay small advances.)
    The no-advance model is certainly controversial within the industry. Most first-time writers aren't going to make a lot of money out of their book, and if you can't make enough to write full-time, the cashflow delay is not too significant. The only time you really need an advance is if it's big enough that you can afford to quit work for a while and write full-time.

    The worst aspect of the MNW contract is that the royalty is based on net sale price, not the RRP. So if Waterstones buy my book from Macmillan, they'll typically demand a 40% discount, and my royalty is discounted by 40% too. On the other hand, when I self-published, and kept 100% of my royalties, I soon learned that 100% of nothing is nothing... You're better off with a smaller slice of a bigger pie. (And the reason we write is because we want people to read our stuff, right? Having your book in Waterstones is sure as hell a good way to make that happen).

    Most SFF authors these days are seeing a lot of their income come from foreign rights sales; Tim is at the mercy of Macmillan's rights department, which may not bother to pursue sales even though they have World rights
    This is a really good point, Kat. The foreign rights for a new novelist, whose actual sales may be very limited, will often outweigh the Uk royalties. Macmillan have been pretty good at selling foreign rights (MFW Curran's books have sold into the German and Spanish markets) so I think I've just been unlucky so far!

    I'd strongly suggest Tim that you try to get a literary agent on the third book or the second if Macmillan rejects it.
    Absolutely right. Once the second-book clause expires, then an agent can really earn their commission. And of course, with a track record of sales it should be easier for me to bag an agent than as a complete unknown.

    @ Fred Gallney
    If a book's good enough, there's a market for it. You certainly don't need to follow the well-worn paths. The only advice I can give you, and it's a bit of a cliche, is not to worry about the market. Write the book that interests you; if you love it, the chances that someone else will are that much higher.

  4. #19
    Hi Tim,

    I'm really looking forward to reading your book, I'm a big Jack Vance fan. I've added it to my, admittedly very long, Amazon wishlist but will buy it ASAP.

    I wanted to ask you a couple of questions:

    1. did the editor of your book make or requested many changes? And if so were they small or big changes?

    and

    2. did they base their decision to publish your book on any kind of data or research or is it more of a 'hunch'?

  5. #20
    Hi Nickbjorn,

    I still get a thrill at coming across another Vance fan - although after six years on the Vance Integral Edition you'd have thought I'd be used to it by now

    1. did the editor of your book make or requested many changes? And if so were they small or big changes?
    My editor suggested about 400 changes, most of them very minor. He wanted to change one plot point, half a dozen small continuity errors and one character's name, all of which I agreed with. The rest were really just line edits, although he had an issue with some of the high-toned Vance-inspired vocabulary. But if I didn't want to make the change, we'd discuss and I had the final say. It was a good working relationship and a surprisingly enjoyable part of the process. I'd say I took on board 80-90% of the suggestions.

    2. did they base their decision to publish your book on any kind of data or research or is it more of a 'hunch'?
    Very much the latter. Macmillan New Writing has a single commissioning editor. Luckily enough, he loved the book and managed to sell that enthusiasm within the company. If there was anything more scientific behind the scenes I never knew about it.

    On my second book, there is more hard data to go on - the sales performance of the first book. They've deferred a decision on whether to take that up until they get more sense of how the first one is selling "in the trade" (i.e. to bookshops rather than actual retail sales).

    I've added it to my, admittedly very long, Amazon wishlist
    No hurry - I don't think they're selling out any time soon

  6. #21
    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 by Nickbjorn; June 26th, 2009 at 05:53 AM.

  7. #22
    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.

  8. #23
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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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.

  9. #24
    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.

  10. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Nickbjorn View Post
    One thing I've picked up in just a short time on this forum is the sheer volume of fantasy out there.
    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.

  11. #26
    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?

  12. #27
    The Writer of Fantasy Fred Gallney's Avatar
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    2.) How much harder is it going to be to get published for someone whose writing is geared more to fantasy noir than mainstream?
    Fantasy sells very well. Especially epic high fantasy stories.

  13. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by bwthomason View Post
    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by bwthomason View Post
    2.) How much harder is it going to be to get published for someone whose writing is geared more to fantasy noir than mainstream?
    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.

  14. #29
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwthomason View Post

    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.
    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.

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

  15. #30
    The Writer of Fantasy Fred Gallney's Avatar
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    KatG, are you an editor or agent? From your well-written posts, I seem to come to that conclusion.

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