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  1. #1
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    New novelist needs help

    Hi, just completed my first scifi novel and in tandem started a wordpress blog in a vain attempt to get noticed. My question is, as old as it probably is, is, just how do you get a book published outside of paying for it yourself.
    Ex project manager, 62 yrs retired & have wanted to write scifi since childhood......be gentle but constructive
    Bob

  2. #2
    Wirt's Fourth Leg Cirias's Avatar
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    Well, if you're talking traditional publishing, then that route usually involves submitting to agents and seeing if one bites. If they do, the road to getting published by an established publishing house is laid out before you, however bumpy it may be. As for self-publishing, you have a lot of options these days. You can submit your manuscript to various websites such as Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble and have it published in e-book format. In tandem with this (or instead of) you can also print on demand physical copies of your book to sell. Some websites like Createspace allow you to print single copies/small batches of your book.

    Regarding promotion, if self-publishing, you'll want to get your name out there as much as possible. Good start with the Wordpress site. Get on Twitter/Facebook at the very least. Go seek out communities where scifi readers/writers alike hang out and take part in discussions, getting yourself known. You could also check out conventions and scifi events as a promotion exercise for your book. Also, hop onto Goodreads and fill out your profile; it's a great community and a place where people can easily find your writing.

    I'm by no means an expert. I've not been through the publishing process myself yet, but I've spent years reading about it and learning from others on these forums. Perhaps someone else may come along in a sec and provide you with a far greater insight than I can give you, but there's my two cents.

    Best of luck with your novel. I'd be interested to learn more about it and your WP site. I'm always keen to promote new SFF authors on my own blog

  3. #3
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    WP site

    Cool. First site I've encountered with a rapid response rate. impressed & grateful here's the WP site URL. Please bear in mind it is in its infancy
    https://transgalaxian.wordpress.com/...pter-1-teaser/

  4. #4
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Cirias's comments sound good to me, but (and bear in mind that I'm also unpublished on any meaningful level) I think you need to seriously revise what you have on that sample page you linked to. Having a place where potential readers can check you out is a good idea, but I think what you've put up is going to drive them away, not lure them in.

    The opening paragraph strikes me as a highly confrontational way to introduce a reader to your text. I don't mean it (or you) is "aggressive", but it is very dense with raw information and, with no context or reason for me to be interested yet, that's somewhat unappealing. Then the third paragraph is enormous. The second one was so big I didn't even attempt to read it, so the monster that followed had no chance at all.

    It's a harsh truth that readers will turn away from a text that puts them off just based on it's shape - for all I know every word on that blog post is solid gold, but people won't stick around long enough to find that out unless you present it to them in the right way. What you have there is not the right way, and it's damaging to your objectives to draw attention to it. Doing so here (and in other places where writers, rather than readers, are going to see it) is fine because you're going to hear what you need to so you can start fixing things; but if it was me in your shoes, I'd make that blog invisible to the world until the text has seen some major revision.

    Best of luck!

  5. #5
    LaerCarroll.com
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    I’ve just started to put my six self-published books up on Goodreads. I’ve heard good things about it as a publicity device.

    Be sure when you participate in social networks and forums like this that you can actually contribute something other than self-promotion. (A tad of the latter never hurts, but more than that quickly gets thought spam and ignored, or disallowed by the moderators.)

    Good start, Bob, on your web site. WordPress is the best blogging system, bar none. (I design web sites for personal use and for friends, and did it professionally while I was at Boeing.)

    But your site does need a bit of work. The way I did it was to make mine Private and asked a few friends for advice. Then after several great suggestions I re-designed it and made it Public.

    First, use the capability that WP has to be both a blog site and a web site. That is, use the blogging portion only to introduce brief announcements, which WP calls “posts.” Long entries should go in the “pages,” the entries which will change little such as chapters or your bio or series background.

    Bottom line, your full excerpt should go in a page all by itself, with a short post pointing to it. This has the advantage that visitors to your Home page (the blog part of your site) can see on their screens several short posts, some of which may interest them though the rest won’t.

    Also, your site is pretty drab, just black and white. And, UGH, white text on black background is hard for most people to read. (Lots of usability studies backs this up. Skim the following web site on issues like this as an aid to designing your site: http://www.usability.gov/.)

    Use graphics to add color. But only your own photos and paintings, and public domain stuff. Most images on US government sites are public domain; NASA.gov has literally millions of them. So does wikimedia.org, all of which are either public domain or usable if you credit the images (usually in a separate preface in your book or separate page on your site).

    I use a WP “theme” which allow me to put an image at the head of each page and a background for the entire site: Twenty Ten.

    Here are two examples of the 2010 theme. The first example is the Home page. The second is the page pointed to by the top post in the Home page. The starry background of the site came from NASA. So did the image at the top of the Home page. The desert highway on the second page came from wikimedia.




  6. #6
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    There is partner publishing where you try to persuade a publisher to partner with you and carry the costs and labor of publication, and there's self-publishing, which you can do only electronically or a combo of electronically and in print and in which you would have to cover the costs and do all the labor. But my understanding is that it doesn't necessarily have to be horribly expensive to do this to start. Amazon does try to make it as easy as possible as do some other sites.

    But before you attempt either, do you think it's ready to shop, or are you looking for feedback to finalize it?

  7. #7
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    Firstly thank you all for your comments some of which I intend to take on board, others, well, I see them as a matter of opinion. For starters Laer's comments I found the most constructive although I'd like to point out the artwork was put together by me using CorelDraw utilizing touch up & cloning tool techniques to morph public domain pictures to bring to life my idea's of what the characters in the book looked like. If they breach any copyrights they will be removed. Similarly, the black background is my personal taste and yes I agree with you that it is well documented that darker sites get less visitors than light ones. Now, the block text point Noumenon commented on is the first job I'll tackle on the site. Even my Wife agree's with you so you have a fan there although I cannot think of a book I have read in the last half century that didn't have large segments of text so I'm assuming your point is directed at the webpage. I will however do something about it, thank you.

    KatG, My book is complete & up until recently only read by my Wife. Yesterday I forwarded the first Chapter to our daughter who after reading it asked for the second chapter. I found that encouraging so I will, for the time being only circulate the transcript around friends & family. Am I looking for feedback, well Yes.
    Thanks again & keep the comments coming

    Bob

  8. #8
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
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    Bob,

    You don't need an agent if you're not aiming for the Big Five publishers - most of the smaller presses will consider your work directly. Just follow their guidelines. I am not a fan of new writers attempting any kind of self or partnered publication. Too much trash being dumped out there, making it damn difficult for a good writer to shine through unless they have a great network to begin with.

    If you think you are good enough for others to enjoy your work, then submit to a publisher and see if they agree with you. There are a BUNCH of smaller presses out there looking for fresh material. Just make sure you do your research before submitting - there are also a lot of scam sites and author mills out there too. Two bits of advice would be to follow Yog's Law (money only flows TO the author) and head on out to the Absolute Write Water Cooler site and check the publisher against the list out there too.

    Kerry

  9. #9
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    Thanks Kerry, sound advice I'll take on board.
    Bob

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    But my understanding is that it doesn't necessarily have to be horribly expensive to do this to start. Amazon does try to make it as easy as possible as do some other sites.
    You can release an e-book and print-on-demand book through Amazon for $0, though it's not recommended. That requires finding a free image or images for the cover, doing all the formatting and cover design yourself, finding people willing to beta-read the story for free (most likely by agreeing to do the same for them in future), and not buying a print copy to check that it's OK (probably the biggest risk).

    More realistically you're talking tens of dollars if you want to buy a decent cover image and get a print proof to check, and hundreds to thousands if you pay a cover designer, editor, formatter, etc. Print formatting in particular is painful the first time and there are a zillion ways to screw it up if you don't buy a proof.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Mr Grant, but cover images are the least of my concerns based on the fact as an artist myself I've been fortunate enough over the years to be accomplished enough to make a little money out of my work, hence I'd most likely do the artwork myself. Realistically, from my point of view accounting for the hours spent writing the book it would be less than satisfactory to consider Amazon print on demand or anything similar. To quote a real example even Author House stopped emailing me when I told them that under no circumstances would I go down the vanity publishing path in any shape or form. Its not because I'm so convinced my own work is that worthy its just that if it cannot stand on its own merit then it doesn't deserve to be in print. However, that being said, you have a valid point so I thank you
    Bob

  12. #12
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Self-publishing and vanity publishing are not quite the same thing. We have always had a self-publishing market. Now it's quite large with e-books and has established itself in that venue over the last six years. The books that are self-published do stand on their own merit and they find an audience or not. Some of them have done quite well; others, just like books from publishers, do not. So it's an option, but clearly not what you are interested in, as it does involve a big time commitment.

    So you're looking at partner publishing. But first you have to feel that your work is ready to go out on the market. It doesn't sound like you're in that stage yet. You are in the beta reader stage, where you are getting feedback and refining.

    Several of our Sticky Threads at the top of the forum menu might have some info of use to you, though you will be combing through years of discussions. You can try: Getting Published: Your Questions Answered, The Infamous Query Letter thread, Questions for Robert Dinsdale, Literary Agent, and How-to Discussion of Promoting and Marketing Novels and Written Works.

  13. #13
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    To add to KatG's last post, we have a restarted the SFFH Workshop a few months ago where we have a great group of forum-ites (some have even posted on this thread) who critique and review each others work from flash fiction and short stories up through novel length. We definitely need new members in the group who want to have their work looked over and are willing to look over others. We're all writers, and there is even a professional editor amongst our number. Comments are constructive, sometimes hard to receive but never harsh. If you're still interested, do check us out!

    Quote Originally Posted by kmtolan View Post
    Two bits of advice would be to follow Yog's Law (money only flows TO the author) and head on out to the Absolute Write Water Cooler site and check the publisher against the list out there too.
    I'm just curious, do we have a publisher list here on SFFWorld somewhere? I'm on lunch at work and time is running out so I don't have the chance to do a search but, it seems kind of odd to send folks over to another forum when we could do the same thing here. And, admittedly, I'm not ready for publishing so I haven't checked out the publishing stickies yet so, maybe, such a list is in one of them?

  14. #14
    Registered User Sam James's Avatar
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    Speaking frankly the website title/logo and character designs are extremely dated and amateurish, to the point that it is detrimental to the overall presentation of your website.

    If you are going down the self-publishing route, it could be argued that this is not a problem. (Although I think a book cover designed in the same way would be off putting to any potential reader.)

    However you mention that you want to pursue professional paths, so my recommendation is you get someone else to design your website and characters. Or you spend more time enhancing your skills and getting updated to current design trends in SF in 2013.

    I also think Transgalaxian is an incredibly boring name. You need a name that pricks the imagination and has some spice to it.

    Sorry if my words sting, just an honest opinion with the intention of help.

  15. #15
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    My comments are just opinion, so too all the others - but then every reader will form one, including the professionals. Mine and Sam's were put strongly perhaps, but you'll hear worse. I'm about to crit quite harshly next, so please believe me when I say this is not done out of a desire to discourage.

    Having now checked out the "profiles", I have to say that I agree with Sam: the pictures scream DIY author, and they appear at the expense of any meaningful text about each character; it feels like you are showcasing your Photoshop skills and, while they are certainly better than mine, being brutally honest they are not up to scratch if you imagine your self-produced cover isn't going to look like exactly that - the work of an enthusiastic amateur.

    I'm almost startled to have to say this now, but: No, when I talked about the giant block of text I was not just talking about the website version. Why on earth would I be? There is a difference between every novel ever written containing big chunks of text (because, well, duh) and a particular big block of text being a symptom of clumsy writing. Anyway, I see you have broken up the giant paragraphs of the sampler a bit, and that's a start. However (and here I'm still ignoring the unwieldy info-dump at the beginning) they desperately need splitting further. The first one alone could be divided several times, such as before (and/or after) the character's internal dialogue.

    Even ignoring this, which is of course your perogative, the nuts and bolts of the text are lacking with regard to basic punctuation. Just adding a few commas to delineate the end of a thought and the beginning of narrative description would make a big difference. I also agree that the general appearance of the blog isn't helping you; putting aside issues of light versus dark, it just doesn't look like a reader- or writer-friendly set up. All your internal or non-verbalised dialogue would be much clearer if it was italicised, for example, but at the moment the font is so small it's a bit of a struggle to read even when it isn't.

    However, the fact that you are putting the text out there in what is clearly too rough a state is worrying. If you shop it as it stands you'll get knocked back without so much as a "thanks but no thanks". No-one, not a friendly proofreader and certainly not a professional editor, is ever going to do the drudge work for you, not for a short story let alone across the length of an entire novel.

    Knocking out a draft is admirable. Now it's time to seriously work on your craft, and that is no quick piece of work itself.
    Last edited by Andrew Leon Hudson; July 13th, 2013 at 05:13 AM.

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