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Jewel101
04-19-2005, 09:08 AM
Exactly how smart is it to self-publish? What are to benefits? What are the disadvantages? What exactly do you do when you self-publish? Is it better than the publishing houses? I've heard mixed opinions about self-publishing. I would like to hear what you all have to say about it.

wurdwise
04-19-2005, 09:15 AM
My opinion is that it is the last resort of a writer who can't get traditionally published. The only good reason I see to use it is if you have a very specific type of book with a target audience and you have a marketing strategy of your own.

HConn
04-19-2005, 09:26 AM
Some books are traditionally and sensibly self-published. If you give seminars and want to sell books at a table in the back, if you have compiled an extensive list of resources for expentant mothers in the Savannah, GA area, if you have written an indepth treatise on a local historical figure, then consider self-publishing. The book you've created may not sell well enough to make it worth a publisher's attention.

If you've written a novel, or a book that ought to have a wide audience, don't bother self-publishing. A self-published book faces lots of obstacles when it competes with professionally published books.

If you've written the type of book you see offered by major publishing houses, you should try to place it with them. If you've written the type of book you see offered by small presses, you should try for the majors and then the small presses. If you've written the type of book you never see offered by anyone, send it to the majors, then small presses, then, once everyone else has given you the ixnay, consider self-publishing.

Huh. Maybe I should delete everything but the third paragraph, but I'm not going to. I'm self-publishing this post, and I don't have to do rewrites! (whoo-hoo! :hat: )

Jamesaritchie
04-19-2005, 09:33 AM
Exactly how smart is it to self-publish? What are to benefits? What are the disadvantages? What exactly do you do when you self-publish? Is it better than the publishing houses? I've heard mixed opinions about self-publishing. I would like to hear what you all have to say about it.

By and large, self-publishing fiction is a fool's game. You'll hear success stories here and there, but they're so rare you'll be better off playing the lottery. And nearly all successful self-published novels have two things in common: 1. They're very well-written. 2. They were never given a legitimate chance with real publishers.

There is no money at all in it for 99.99999% of all self-published writers. The average self-published novel will sell around 100 copies, mostly to friends and family.

And darned near 100% of self-published novels stick on ice. The world of self-published novels makes what you find in slush piles look like Tolstoy. When you self-publish a novel, even a good one, it's buried under a mountain of other novels so bad it will make your teeth hurt to read the first page. In fact, the world of self-published novels is primarily made up of the sludge left over from slush piles. It's the stuff there at the bottom that no one wanted to touch.

And your competition is all the traditionally published books out there. Your competition is the chain bookstores. Your competition is people who can really write.

You can sell some of anything. Package snail poop, hustle enough, and you'll sell a number of bags. This is the world of the self-published novel. It's all about hustling horribly written novels to people who don't want them and don't need them.

The only people you'll hear mixed opinions from are those who were silly enough to self-publish their own "novels," and those who run the various self-publishing companies.

If yu can actually write well enough to make people want to read your novel, you don't need to self-publish, and no matter what anyone tells you, you will always make far more money with a traditional publisher. You'll also get respect, something no self-published novel I've ever read deserves.

There are no advantages to self-publishing a novel, and anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing smoke up a place where you don't want smoke.

Seriously, look around and read some samples of self-published novels. If you can do this without laughing out loud, or losing your lunch, you're a better person than I.

On the other hand, self-publishing can be good for niche nonfiction where the traditional market simply isn't large enough to support the book.

Simply put, if you can actually write, there's no logical reason on earth to seff-publish, and a thousand good reasons not to. And if you can't write, why would you want to self-publish and hustle something that's no good?

Galoot
04-19-2005, 09:55 AM
...Simply put, if you can actually write, there's no logical reason on earth to seff-publish, and a thousand good reasons not to. And if you can't write, why would you want to self-publish and hustle something that's no good?
Change a few words to reflect a particular vanity P(A)ublisher and this entire post would be a good copy and paste candidate for a certain thread I know of.

maestrowork
04-19-2005, 10:09 AM
If you write non-fiction and if you are a guru/expert on something, you might consider self-publishing. You sell books through seminars, conventions, etc. and you keep the profits of your sales.

For fiction writers, it's usually a better idea to find a traditional publisher.

sgtsdaughter
04-19-2005, 10:14 AM
what maestrowork and galoot said, and . . .

I WANT MONEY TO COME TO ME!

yes i am selfish, self centered, broke, dying for cig, and in need of a "big break."

seriously though, i've said it before and i'll say it again--paying upfront for a standard market novel is a bad idea. good books will find agents and publishers, just as bad books will find . . . well we know what they find.

Vomaxx
04-20-2005, 04:04 AM
The chief benefit of self-publishing, as opposed to not publishing, is that with self-publishing you have books that people might read, and even like, while if you don't publish you have a book that you alone will read.

Don't self-publish if you can be published traditionally.
(I cannot agree with the fanatical hatred of self-publishing fiction shown by Jamesaritchie, which seems, here and elsewhere, a hysterical reaction.)

Daughter of Faulkner
04-20-2005, 07:38 AM
And what he wrote was filled with the truth and nothing but the whole truth!
:Thumbs:
Good job.

People, if they learn, learn by example or by failure. I hope the readers of his post learn from it and don't make the mistake of self-publishing.

In the literary world, for the most part, people that self-publish are not thought too highly of. Of course, there are exceptions to every thought...even this post!

:Trophy:
I hope everyone here is a winner and gets published. If you write a good story, find the right agent who can get your work in front of the right editor / publisher then they will gladly invest their money in you. Again, when you self-publish it is not thought to highly of. What it says to the world and publishing community is this: No one thought enough of my work to publish it. And believe it or not, it is about money when it comes right down to it--all the way around.

Good wishes to you to find the right agent then publisher! And if you choose to go another route, all good wishes for a HUGE success.

brinkett
04-20-2005, 08:03 AM
What it says to the world and publishing community is this: No one thought enough of my work to publish it. And believe it or not, it is about money when it comes right down to it--all the way around.

A few points (note that I haven't self-published and don't have plans to at this time):

1. If someone can't find a publisher, it might be because the publishing community doesn't think their work is marketable. It may have nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story being told. You said it yourself - it's all about money.
1a. It may also be because the author can't write a decent query letter. It's often said that a publishable (and marketable) manuscript will find a home. I believe that was probably true when full manuscripts could be sent to any editor, but these days I'm not entirely convinced.

2. For some authors, money isn't the primary motivation for publishing their work.

3. For some authors, earning respect from the publishing community isn't the primary motivation for publishing their work.

4. Yes, a lot of self-published novels are dreck. Traditional publishers also publish dreck.

5. I don't get the over the top reactions to self-publishing. I agree that authors should try to go the traditional route first, but if someone chooses to self-publish with their eyes open, what's the big deal?

Galoot
04-20-2005, 08:52 AM
Heh.

Hey James, you're an over-the-top fanatic filled with hate! When did that happen?

There's an easier way to make a buck than by juggling chainsaws. Some people manage it, but only a very few. Saying so isn't hateful or fanatical, it's just the way it is.

soloset
04-20-2005, 09:48 AM
[/size][/font]4. Yes, a lot of self-published novels are dreck. Traditional publishers also publish dreck.

Compared to standard publishers, a vastly larger proportion of what you find via self-publishing is dreck. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I've bought something from a standard house that has turned out to be poorly edited.

A browse through a self-pub ebook archive shows that there's a sea of dreck out there -- someone might have a great novel buried in there, but the vast majority of readers will never find it.

So, sure, if it's a market with a limited work, self-publishing might be the way to go. If you want people who're more than once or twice removed from your sales pitch to purchase it, probably not.

Ps. Galoot! I hate it when I go to dinner and come back to finish a post and someone's said what I wanted to say only pithier and better. I need a cookie now.

Daughter of Faulkner
04-20-2005, 05:10 PM
if you want to be a published author--book, novel, whatever in hand and before the world. And being a successful money-making author is what you do with your life, gifts, talents, give back or to the world and so forth. That's all.

That's the great fortune about being a writer is that: You can do anything with your life that your heart desires.

All good wishes I send your way!
:)

brinkett
04-20-2005, 05:12 PM
Compared to standard publishers, a vastly larger proportion of what you find via self-publishing is dreck. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I've bought something from a standard house that has turned out to be poorly edited.
Yes, but the attitude seems to be that by default, a traditionally published novel is good and a self-published novel is bad. But really, you have to judge each book individually. I agree that the odds of finding a book that's not well written are greater if you surf a self-pub archive than go to a bookstore, but I don't know what that has to do with the question "is self-publishing a viable option?"


Saying so isn't hateful or fanatical, it's just the way it is.

You can say the same thing in different ways.

wurdwise
04-20-2005, 07:06 PM
You can say the same thing in different ways.

Yes, isn't it grand that we don't all say things the same way?

brinkett
04-20-2005, 07:42 PM
Let's just say some ways of saying things are grander than others. When a reasonable question is asked, I'm more likely to listen to (and take seriously) responses that don't unnecessarily put down the work of others, but that could just be me.

wurdwise
04-20-2005, 07:49 PM
Variety is the spice of life. See, I like James Ritchie's style, he tells it like it is, doesn't candy coat his words, and I'd rather hear the truth anyday than be coddled to. But that's just me. And I went back and read his post and saw nothing that was insulting, only honest. We all look at the world through different lenses, and I still call that grand.

brinkett
04-20-2005, 08:04 PM
I'd rather hear the truth anyday than be coddled to.
Me too. But you can tell the truth without putting down others. I don't buy the "but I'm only being honest" excuse for being mean.

cwfgal
04-20-2005, 08:27 PM
As others have mentioned, if you have a nonfiction work you want to self publish that has a built-in audience then it might well be a viable option. For fiction it's not likely to be viable at all. I have a mystery novel I wrote that I decided to self-publish so I could see what was involved. I went at it in a very business like manner and spent a lot of time exploring the options, comparing methods, and weighing the pros and cons. I developed a business plan, a budget, and a marketing plan. I was a multi-published novelist (by one of the NYC big guys) going into this venture, so it's somewhat safe to assume that my writing is halfway decent and I also had a bit of a built-in audience since my other books all sold between 60,000 and 100,000 copies.

I detailed my experiences, including my plans, budget, market analysis, and actual results, and have shared them in an ongoing column in my bimonthly newsletter. (I am also organizing it all into book form and may very well consider self publishing it -- it stands a better chance of selling, I think, than my fiction.) Anyone who is interested can sign up for the newsletter at my web site (it's free and you can drop it at any time) and access back issues. Bottom line, self publishing is a tough row to hoe and the likelihood of selling anything more than 50 - 100 books total is pretty slim.

Beth

wurdwise
04-20-2005, 09:20 PM
Me too. But you can tell the truth without putting down others. I don't buy the "but I'm only being honest" excuse for being mean.

Brinkett, you are the only one who seems to think he was being mean! I don't know why you making a big stink out of this, for one, you haven't self published, and two, the person who started this thread wanted people's opinions, they didn't say, "I have already self published, now tell me how foolish i was." James gave her the unvarnished truth, but WHO is was he being mean to? You are a party of one in this thread, and this is the last I have to say on the subject, grow thicker skin and stop taking something personal that has nothing to do with you. James is an invaluable asset to this board, so stop doggin him, it's beginning to get on my nerves. YOu can have the last word, by the way.

James D. Macdonald
04-20-2005, 09:25 PM
Self-publishing might possibly make sense if you've written:

a) poetry
b) specialized non-fiction
c) niche fiction

Otherwise it probably doesn't.

If you've written a book where you will either know all of your potential readers by name, or reasonably expect to be looking them in the eye when money changes hands, then self-publishing is probably your only choice.

HConn
04-20-2005, 09:39 PM
I agree that the odds of finding a book that's not well written are greater if you surf a self-pub archive than go to a bookstore, but I don't know what that has to do with the question "is self-publishing a viable option?"

It's the central point in the self-publishing question.

Not every reader has the time or inclination to judge each book individually. If there's a way to quickly winnow out products they are not likely to want, they'll take it.

Most self-published fiction is slush pile stuff, and I'm not going to search through the dross for Jewel's jewel. I have better things to do with my time. Sure, some professionally published fiction sucks, but I'm much more likely to find what I want in the professional books.

If you self-publish fiction, even if your work is good, it will be mixed in with a lot of self-published crapola. It's pretty rare for that stuff to be discovered by the reading public at large.

Me, I'm in this for the readership.

brinkett
04-20-2005, 10:48 PM
Brinkett, you are the only one who seems to think he was being mean!

I doubt it.

You are a party of one in this thread.
Read the thread again. Even if I am the only one holding the opinion, does that mean I shouldn't express it?


grow thicker skin and stop taking something personal that has nothing to do with you.

I didn't take it personally. I don't see any posts where I came across as emotionally distressed by the whole thing. All I said was that I think an honest answer could have been given in a kinder fashion.


James is an invaluable asset to this board,

I agree, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything he says and the way he says it.

so stop doggin him, it's beginning to get on my nerves.

I don't think I was dogging him. Demanding that someone stop posting an opinion because it's getting on your nerves is a little unreasonable, I think.

YOu can have the last word, by the way.
Thanks. I agree that it should be dropped at this point.


Most self-published fiction is slush pile stuff, and I'm not going to search through the dross for Jewel's jewel. I have better things to do with my time. Sure, some professionally published fiction sucks, but I'm much more likely to find what I want in the professional books.

That's true. The good stuff would get lost in all the noise. But as Vomaxx said, if for some reason a person does have a decently written novel on their hands, but traditional publishers won't touch it because it's not marketable or their lists are full or whatever, then it might be better to self-publish than to have it sit in a drawer where it's guaranteed that nobody will ever read it. Like everyone in the thread, I agree that self-publishing fiction should only be considered when the traditional route has failed.

wurdwise
04-20-2005, 11:20 PM
:sleepy:

soloset
04-21-2005, 12:25 AM
I agree that the odds of finding a book that's not well written are greater if you surf a self-pub archive than go to a bookstore, but I don't know what that has to do with the question "is self-publishing a viable option?".

As I quoted in my post, I was mainly responding to your earlier point #4, "Yes, a lot of self-published novels are dreck. Traditional publishers also publish dreck."

It applies in that it's not very smart to publish via self-publishing if your work is going to be buried among thousands upon thousands of other works that are largely crap.

A lot of the other points made in this thread are also good ones to consider, but that's the main one I was discussing.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 01:00 AM
Gathered that from HConn's post. One question would be whether a self-published author with a decent book could somehow make it stand out from the crowd, but from Beth's post, I gather the answer is that it's very difficult to do so. The exception might be when you know the book will appeal to a specific group of people, but even then it would probably be difficult.

Julian Black
04-21-2005, 01:19 AM
Yes, but the attitude seems to be that by default, a traditionally published novel is good and a self-published novel is bad.The reason for that attitude is precisely because most self-published fiction is bad. Yes, there are probably some excellent self-published novels out there. The overwhelming majority, however, are awful.

If you have written a really good piece of fiction, why let it be tarred with the same brush as all the garbage out there?

But really, you have to judge each book individually. I agree that the odds of finding a book that's not well written are greater if you surf a self-pub archive than go to a bookstore, but I don't know what that has to do with the question "is self-publishing a viable option?"It has everything to do with it.

I read fanfiction, and to that end I spend an absurd amount of time wading through online archives, looking for good stories. It's infuriating, frustrating, and depressing because so much of it--an easy 95%--is pure crap. Even on the more selective archives, most of it is so deeply flawed in some way that I quit reading within the first three chapters.

I expend that effort because I really want to find more stories set in that specific world, with those characters. I'm willing to do look at a lot of crap to find the good ones. But would I go to these lengths to find original fiction? Absolutely not. In fact, I've used fanfiction as an example because I've never gone looking for original fiction or self-pubbed novels online.

I don't surf self-pub archives, looking for the good stuff among the bad, because I don't have to. There are too many good books I haven't yet read, published by trade publishers, and there's no way I'm going to go wading through an online slushpile looking for the few self-published gems out there. There's no reason for me to expend that kind of effort. That's what trade publishers do for me, as a reader.

If you want people to judge your novel on its own merits you have to get it in front of them, which means getting it onto bookstore shelves. You may have self-published a masterpiece, but if it never makes it into my local bookstore I'm never going to have the chance to judge it at all, and therefore I'm not going to buy it. It's that simple.

And the chances are that even a good self-published novel will never make it into my local bookstore. Unless it is by a local author who has managed to get the papers to review it (and they have reviewed it favorably), the bookstores just won't stock it. There are a lot of good reasons for that, too many to go into at the moment.

The reason people here come down so hard on self-publishing most fiction is because it doesn't work. Bad books still won't sell, and neither will good books. Since the bad far outnumbers the good to an astronomical degree, self-publishing a good novel nearly always dooms it to obscurity. However it gets said, that's how it is.

HConn
04-21-2005, 01:38 AM
But as Vomaxx said, if for some reason a person does have a decently written novel on their hands, but traditional publishers won't touch it because it's not marketable or their lists are full or whatever, then it might be better to self-publish than to have it sit in a drawer where it's guaranteed that nobody will ever read it. Like everyone in the thread, I agree that self-publishing fiction should only be considered when the traditional route has failed.

I think the book should definitely go into a drawer.

First of all, every self-published writer thinks they have a "decently written novel on their hands." That's why they go to the trouble of paying and promoting their work. They love their books and believe in themselves. If they had the discernment to know their work was subpar, they wouldn't have gone to IUniverse or whatever.

They are Unskilled and Unaware of it. (http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf)

Second of all, the much-rejected book should slide into a quiet place in the writer's bottom drawer for several very good reasons. The book may not be as good as the writer thinks it is, for one. For another, the writer may need to publish their second book, or their third before they get that drawer novel onto the market.

Once you have a readership, it may be time to bring out that early, unpublished work. Then again, you may look back on it and be glad it never saw the light of day.

It's typically a waste of time and money to self-publish a novel. That time would be better spent writing another book and becoming a better writer.

zeprosnepsid
04-21-2005, 02:55 AM
All i know is that I've never bought a self-published book....not even from people I know who have self-published their book.

I do know one person who personally had money who self published his book and gave it away for free because he just wanted people to read it. I did read the free book.

Julian Black
04-21-2005, 03:01 AM
[/size][/font]
A few points (note that I haven't self-published and don't have plans to at this time):I understand that (just so you don't think I mean "you" specifically in my answers below)...
1. If someone can't find a publisher, it might be because the publishing community doesn't think their work is marketable.There is no "publishing community" that decides whether a book is unmarketable or not--it's not a hive mind. There are publishers, thousands of them, and each one of those publishers looks for and knows how to market different kinds of books.

Somewhere out there is a publisher that knows how to market books like yours. It may not be a big publisher. It may even be a publisher you've never heard of. But if your novel is good enough to publish, there is someone out there willing to buy it. The trick is finding that publisher.
It may have nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story being told. Usually rejection is due to the quality of the writing or the story being told. If you haven't read Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html) yet, do (and read the comments, too). 1a. It may also be because the author can't write a decent query letter. Then it would behoove the author to learn how to write a decent query letter. It's not that hard to do. If you can write a publishable novel, you can write an effective query letter. It's often said that a publishable (and marketable) manuscript will find a home. I believe that was probably true when full manuscripts could be sent to any editor, but these days I'm not entirely convinced.Editors don't have to read a full manuscript to know if they will be interested in a book or not. Three chapters is more than enough to make a decision--three pages is often more than enough. If a book is a dog, it will bark from the very first page. Same thing goes if it's good, but just not right for that publisher at that time. They only need to read the full manuscript in order to decide if they are going to buy the book or not.
2. For some authors, money isn't the primary motivation for publishing their work.

3. For some authors, earning respect from the publishing community isn't the primary motivation for publishing their work.If the primary motivation for publishing your work is to hold a bound copy of your book in your hands and be able to give copies to friends and family, then using a service like Lulu.com to print and bind copies is a perfectly fine way to go. You can even post a sample chapter on a website, and maybe you'll make a couple of online sales. You won't make any money, but you won't be out very much either, and you'll have something tangible for your efforts. That's perfectly okay, if that's what you want.

However, if you want a career as a writer, and if you would like to be able to make enough money from your writing to pursue it full time, that would be a disastrous choice. You'll do far better with a tiny publisher than you will by pursuing any of the self-publishing options. And if you want a career as a writer, then money and respect had better become part of your motivations for publishing. It's not all about making Art and self-actualizing and all that jolly rubbish.4. Yes, a lot of self-published novels are dreck. Traditional publishers also publish dreck.But do you write dreck? And do you want your book to be automatically associated with dreck? 5. I don't get the over the top reactions to self-publishing. I don't get how you think these responses to self-publishing fiction are "over the top." It's a genuinely bad idea, and people here are trying to tell you that. Sure, James didn't sugarcoat it, but the substance of what he said was dead on.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 03:55 AM
There is no "publishing community" that decides whether a book is unmarketable or not--it's not a hive mind.

I know that. But publishers, agents, editors, etc. make up the publishing community. It doesn't mean they're all drones and think the same. We all belong to several different communities. Doesn't mean we're all clones.


Somewhere out there is a publisher that knows how to market books like yours. It may not be a big publisher. It may even be a publisher you've never heard of. But if your novel is good enough to publish, there is someone out there willing to buy it. The trick is finding that publisher.

Agents don't sell all of the books they take on. I read a statistic somewhere that said they sell on average 50%. That could be bogus because I don't know how reliable the source was, but obviously they don't sell everything, or an author could break out the champagne as soon as they sign an agent. So there are books that someone in the know thinks are well-written and marketable, but don't sell. I don't buy that every good manuscript finds a home. I think it's nice to think it's true, but nobody's convinced me yet. However, I'll keep an open mind.


Editors don't have to read a full manuscript to know if they will be interested in a book or not. Three chapters is more than enough to make a decision--three pages is often more than enough.

Sure. But without an agent, many editors won't read three pages.


However, if you want a career as a writer, and if you would like to be able to make enough money from your writing to pursue it full time, that would be a disastrous choice.

Of course. My points 3 and 4 referred to people who don't want a career as a writer.


I don't get how you think these responses to self-publishing fiction are "over the top." It's a genuinely bad idea, and people here are trying to tell you that. Sure, James didn't sugarcoat it, but the substance of what he said was dead on.
I've never said the substance of what he said wasn't dead on, just that he could have been a little nicer about it. My impression is that people tend to respond to queries about self-publishing with a little more vehemence than they do when responding to other types of queries. That's what I meant.

I'm not arguing for self-publishing. I've said several times that for fiction, the traditional route should be tried first. Self-publishing fiction should be a last resort.

James D. Macdonald
04-21-2005, 04:06 AM
One reason you get to hear added vehemence when the question of self-publishing comes up is that the question comes up a lot. It sounds like, "Yes, I know, self-publishing is usually a bad idea but ... hear me out now ... suppose I were to self-publish?"

One can get very tired of the self-publishing enthusiasts.

The thing that writers mostly want is readers. Readers in general have rejected self-published works. (If the readers hadn't overwhelmingly expressed their opinion by way of keeping their wallets in their pockets, the bookstores would be filled with self-published works.)

Agents and editors are just another class of reader. If you can't convince those readers that your book is worth reading, how are you going to convince anyone else?

This is without getting into vanity publishing at all. Vanity publishing fills that grey area between a Very Bad Idea and an Outright Scam.

If you don't want readers -- go with God. Your path and mine are different.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 04:15 AM
The thing that writers mostly want is readers. Readers in general have rejected self-published works. (If the readers hadn't overwhelmingly expressed their opinion by way of keeping their wallets in their pockets, the bookstores would be filled with self-published works.)

That's the best argument against self-publishing I've heard so far, because yes, even writers who don't want a career as writers usually want readers, otherwise why publish at all. It's not always about money and respect.


Agents and editors are just another class of reader. If you can't convince those readers that your book is worth reading, how are you going to convince anyone else?

That's true. However, there are some stories that would appeal to specific target groups. An editor/agent might pass because they don't think they'll sell enough copies to be profitable (and they won't). What you referred to as "niche fiction" in your other post. For people hoping to sell fiction to the masses, though, I agree that a traditional publisher is a must.


This is without getting into vanity publishing at all. Vanity publishing fills that grey area between a Very Bad Idea and an Outright Scam.
Agreed.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 05:05 AM
But really, you have to judge each book individually. With all the GOOD books out there published by traditional publishers -- and many of them still suffer from poor sales -- who has to time to go through all the books to judge "each book"? Unless the author has written a book that fits a unique niche (e.g. pregnant grandmother with alien babies...), chances are no one would want to go to the bottom barrel to fish out that one book just to hope that it's not a dud.

I mean, when you go grocery shopping, with thousands of brands out there, do you go for the bottom shelve generic/no-name brand just hoping that jar of spaghetti sauce is any good, or do you go with the brand name on the top shelve?

Worse, the no-name brand is gonna cost you $10 instead of the $2.99 for the name brand. What would you choose?

It's really that simple. Why should I buy a POD/Vanity/Self-pub book (fiction) if I can buy something from a name author from Random house for a discount price of $10.50 at Barnes and Noble? -- unless the self-pub book fills a niche, like I said earlier... (in case I AM looking for some about pregnant grandmas with alien babies...)

brinkett
04-21-2005, 05:48 AM
I mean, when you go grocery shopping, with thousands of brands out there, do you go for the bottom shelve generic/no-name brand just hoping that jar of spaghetti sauce is any good, or do you go with the brand name on the top shelve?

To be honest, I usually buy generic. I spoke to a guy at a party who works in the grocery store industry. He confirmed that most generic products are the brand name products with a generic label slapped on. But I don't live in the US, so I don't know what it's like there. Could be generic brands are inferior. Getting back to topic, unlike traditional vs. self-published books, the generic brand is usually cheaper than the name brand, so it's an apple and oranges comparison.

The point in your post has already been made several times, anyway. However, it has been interesting to read the same points expressed over and over again in different ways. I can tell I'm on a writing site. ;)

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 06:02 AM
Well, this topic has been debated over and over and over, with the same arguments. ;)

SRHowen
04-21-2005, 08:30 AM
Getting back to topic, unlike traditional vs. self-published books, the generic brand is usually cheaper than the name brand, so it's an apple and oranges comparison.

But most self-published books cost more than the traditional ones. And on generics--yes they are from brand name manufactures, but they are the class b and class c products. (I work in retail, can you tell?)

Take corn, class a is the nice, not to ripe, not to green product, picked and sorted to be the most tender and sweet. Class b is the sorted stuff, yeah the class a is taken out, mostly, there may be a few class c kernels in there--the bugs have been washed away. The you have class c--that load that came in that was overripe so not as sweet, the kernels are larger and tougher, and hey if you open a can and find a grasshopper--well, what can I say?

Apply that to self publishing.

Most are not edited, or if they are they are not edited very well. And with a big house publisher you get not just spell check, you get an editor who helps you make your work a commercial work that will sell.

So do I want class a, class b (store brand) or class c (that stuff with a black and white generic label that wasn't gone over too carefully?)

HConn
04-21-2005, 08:30 AM
It's not always about money and respect.

Money=Readers.

Not directly, obviously. There are readers who use the library, who borrow books, who buy used. But the simple truth is that readers buy books. That's what "Money flows toward the writer" means. It means a writer should be getting readers.


However, there are some stories that would appeal to specific target groups. An editor/agent might pass because they don't think they'll sell enough copies to be profitable (and they won't). What you referred to as "niche fiction" in your other post.

What would be an example of niche fiction? I'm not being contentious; I'm genuinely curious. Are we talking _Turner Diaries_ here? A Hare Krishna coming of age story?

Because it seems to me that, barring despicable belief systems, I can't see a type of story that would not appeal ot a large audience if the characters and plot were compelling.

Just curious.

HConn
04-21-2005, 08:32 AM
Mmmmm. Grasshoppers.

Mark Anderson
04-21-2005, 08:58 AM
To be fair, an example of a niche self-publishing is suitable for is Geneaology. I'm writing a family history, and while I think it's a great read, and I'm sure my extended family will as well, I don't think it will interest anyone else. It might sell 100 copies, if that.

OTOH, all my fiction goes the traditional route. I must confess that while I write because I must, I submit traditionally because, deep down, I'd like some admiration for my stories. And some money. Okay, a lot of money. :)

Fans of self-publishing should appreciate the work folks put into convincing them to go traditional. Personally, I'd prefer more folks to try the self-publishing route and get the heck out of my slush-piles!

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 09:34 AM
There are many ways to Nirvana. But trust the proven wisdom. There have been self-published fiction that had good track record and went on getting deals from traditional houses (Richard Paul Evan's The Christmas Box is one of the most famous, but rare examples)... but the end goal is still "traditional" because they sell books by the tens of thousands, if not millions...

Note On
04-21-2005, 10:31 AM
I don't buy that every good manuscript finds a home. I think it's nice to think it's true, but nobody's convinced me yet.

I think it's obvious that it isn't true. However, I'd say most exceptionally good manuscripts probably do find homes.

I'm not arguing for self-publishing. I've said several times that for fiction, the traditional route should be tried first. Self-publishing fiction should be a last resort.

I think the fact that it's considered any kind of acceptable resort at all--last or otherwise--is a testament to the marketing efforts of vanity presses.

Any time I say something like that, I get a little tickle of guilt because I do know a few people who self-published and saw it work out. But it's such a long shot, and the quality of most self- and vanity-published stuff I've read is so dreadful, that it's almost accurate to speak in the very absolute everybody bends over backward to avoid:

Most self-published stuff stinks, and there's no incentive to dig through all the crap just to find a good book--because if all you want is a good book, your local Barnes & Noble has shelves full of them.

pianoman5
04-21-2005, 11:27 AM
Personally, I'd prefer more folks to try the self-publishing route and get the heck out of my slush-piles!

That's a telling comment from Mark. Most of the frustration encountered by wannabe-published authors is caused by the monumental scale of slush piles. As we speak, forklifts around the world are shifting them around offices so that hard-pressed agents and editors can get to their meagre coffee-making facilities. I've no doubt that the single finest wish those latter parties could be granted is that the flow of incoming manuscripts should falter to a mere trickle of highly-marketable gems.

It's all our fault. If, at the same time as we are developing our skills in story telling, novel structuring, sharp dialogue and deathless prose, we writers could also acquire the most useful skill of all--the discernment and self-honesty to know when our work is substandard--the problem would go away.

On these boards we even invite one another to subscribe to the ugly process with the popular recommendation: "Finish it, polish it a bit, send it out to all and sundry, then get cracking on your next book." This on the basis that overworking a piece leads to madness, therefore we should rely on overburdened readers to act as the quality-control officers and gatekeepers at the front end of the publishing process, rather than being personally scrupulous about making sure a piece is up to snuff before whacking it in the mailbox.

That being the case, I'll venture the following suggestions to all would-be's (including myself.)

1. Don't bother anyone important with your crap until you've received an opinion from someone (not a friend or relative) who knows what they're talking about that it's not crap.

2. When you are absolutely satisfied that not only is your work not crap but that it's rather good (be honest now!), and others agree, send it to a modest number of the right people who might conceivably help you publish such a thing.

3. Learn to ignore the dejection of rejection. It's character building, and the slips can be used to paper a wall of your study.

4. Take heart from any personal notes scribbled by readers, even if they're on form rejection slips. You're on the right track. Keep taking the tablets, keep improving your writing, and keep sending out those submissions. What! You've got an acceptance? Use your advance to settle your account at the liquor store and go immediately to 10.

5. If your rejection count gets up to 50 (max) without a single word of encouragement, take a good look at yourself. And your work. Try to be honest (again). Buy a piggy bank.

6. Keep sending your submissions out if you must, but in smaller quantities, and each week take some of the money you would have spent on postage, paper, envelopes and ink, and put it in your piggy bank.

7. When you have a few hundred dollars in your piggy bank (it won't take long--less time than waiting for replies to some of your earlier submissions) call the nice people at Lulu and do what's necessary to obtain a few nicely bound copies of your pride and joy, to keep for yourself and to give to those friends and relatives who assured you it was terrific.

8. Comfort yourself with the fact that you are a writer who has written, and you have the book to prove it.

9. If, in taking a good look at yourself you were still convinced that you are a fabulously talented writer who has been overlooked by the tasteless, jealous hacks of the publishing world and all you need is a break, there are a number of publishers prepared to pander to your vanity and self-delusion in exchange for money.

10. Congratulations! Either your book is flying from the shelves of happy booksellers, or your crap is no longer infesting the slush piles of the world (although it could be taking up a fair proportion of your garage.)

Traditional publishing lives by quality, self-publishing prospers from despair, and vanity publishing thrives on vanity. It's only a matter of deciding where you fit.

Galoot
04-21-2005, 11:41 AM
Heh. Cynical much?

You left out the "write something completely new because, maybe, that first one just wasn't your ticket, it was your trunk novel" step. But otherwise...Heh.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 12:00 PM
Heh. Cynical much?

You left out the "write something completely new because, maybe, that first one just wasn't your ticket, it was your trunk novel" step. But otherwise...Heh.

What do you mean? Every writer knows their works, even the first, are masterpieces deserving to be traditionally published. Thank heavens for PublishAmerica!

;)

brinkett
04-21-2005, 05:34 PM
But most self-published books cost more than the traditional ones. And on generics--yes they are from brand name manufactures, but they are the class b and class c products. (I work in retail, can you tell?)

Not according to the guy I talked to, but I don't live in the US. The rules might be different here.

The points in the rest of your post have already been made. When I said it was an apples and oranges comparison, I was talking about the price analogy. I understood the comparison he was trying to draw.


Money=Readers.

Sure. But it's possible to just want the readers and not care much about the money. The fact that money will result if you get readers doesn't mean money is what's driving you (you being the generic you). When I think of niche fiction, I think of something like a fictionalized account of a family coping with some rare childhood illness, with the intention of helping families cope with the rare illness, therefore it might be a little contrived. A book like that wouldn't sell enough copies to interest a traditional publisher, but has an identifiable target group that could be very interested in it.


I think the fact that it's considered any kind of acceptable resort at all--last or otherwise--is a testament to the marketing efforts of vanity presses.

If it's really, really, really important to someone that they have a bound book and that it's for sale somewhere, I just can't get upset that they might self-publish, as long as they know they're not likely to sell many copies. As long as they're not spending huge amounts of money up front and have realistic expectations, I'm not going to begrudge them uploading their manuscript to a POD. This is assuming they've tried to sell it traditionally first.


5. If your rejection count gets up to 50 (max) without a single word of encouragement, take a good look at yourself. And your work. Try to be honest (again). Buy a piggy bank.

Love the rules. I'd amend this one to 50 rejections of the actual work. Query letter rejections don't count toward the total. Sample chapters count.


It's all our fault. If, at the same time as we are developing our skills in story telling, novel structuring, sharp dialogue and deathless prose, we writers could also acquire the most useful skill of all--the discernment and self-honesty to know when our work is substandard--the problem would go away.

I think it's also the fault of editors and agents. When they get atrocious work, they'll usually send a form letter. Often the form letter contains a standard paragraph encouraging the author to continue submitting. Perhaps if more authors got personalized responses, even just a "this is complete crap", they'd stop sending, but the problem is that often nobody tells them, even those they might listen to. Yes, I understand they don't have the time and won't do it. But I see it as part of the reason why people with substandard work continue to send it out.

Christine N.
04-21-2005, 05:51 PM
Oh, I agree with that last statement. I think most agents/editors should have a standard check off form for rejections.

a)Not our specialty/genre
b) Well written, but we've filled our slots for the next __ months/years.
c) Well written, but not right for the current market
d) Moderately well written, needs editing and rewriting. Resubmit after fixing it.

e) this stinks, please burn it while I wash my eyeballs.

Obviously I'm kidding with the last one, but it would be helpful. Heck, the photocopy those stupid form letters on half sheets and stuff them in the envelope, why not at least make them helpful.

James D. Macdonald
04-21-2005, 06:02 PM
It's probably time to recommend Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html) again.

HConn
04-21-2005, 06:25 PM
The fact that money will result if you get readers doesn't mean money is what's driving you (you being the generic you).

C'mon, brinkett. Money is not what's "driving" anyone here. If it was, they should move to San Francisco and get into real estate.

And the reason people keep repeating their arguments to you is because you keep missing the point. Money indicates that a book is getting readers. Readers who are strangers. Readers who are interested enough in the story to plunk down the cover price.

The money is a measuring stick.

When I think of niche fiction, I think of something like a fictionalized account of a family coping with some rare childhood illness...

Fictionalized family accounts of *anything* are not niche fiction. Fictionalized family accounts are called "novels."

If it's really, really, really important to someone that they have a bound book and that it's for sale somewhere, I just can't get upset that they might self-publish, as long as they know they're not likely to sell many copies. As long as they're not spending huge amounts of money up front and have realistic expectations, I'm not going to begrudge them uploading their manuscript to a POD. This is assuming they've tried to sell it traditionally first.

No one "gets upset" with self-publishing writers. No one "begrudges" them anything. The thread-starter asked if it was a good idea, and others are answering.

wurdwise
04-21-2005, 06:59 PM
Can you say "would argue with a fence post?"

brinkett
04-21-2005, 07:23 PM
And the reason people keep repeating their arguments to you is because you keep missing the point. Money indicates that a book is getting readers. Readers who are strangers. Readers who are interested enough in the story to plunk down the cover price.

I know. I think we're talking at cross purposes. The point you quoted is my assertion that the primary motivation for some authors to publish isn't money. "money=readers" doesn't refute my original assertion, is all I was trying to say. If your point is that authors who primarily want readers will get more readers if they traditionally publish, I agree. And as a side effect, they'll make more money too, but that doesn't mean money was their primary reason for publishing. I'm not disputing that someone will probably make more money and get more readers if they traditionally publish.

Anyway let's review. The points I've garnered from this thread so far:

- a self-published novel usually costs more than a traditionally published one
- readers have voted against self-published fiction with their wallets
- readers are more likely to buy a traditionally published novel because somebody with an opinion that counts decided it was worth publishing (i.e. they don't have to sort through everything themselves to find the cream)
- most self-published novels will only sell to family and friends
- everyone should try the traditional route for fiction
- Few bookstores or ID racks will carry self-published works, and that's where most strangers will buy a book.

If the point you're trying to make is the same as these, I get it, and it's just repeating what's already been said.


Obviously I'm kidding with the last one, but it would be helpful. Heck, the photocopy those stupid form letters on half sheets and stuff them in the envelope, why not at least make them helpful.

Yeah, it would only take a second to tick one off. There will always be folks who won't be swayed from the opinion that they've written a masterpiece, but I think most of us are pretty reasonable and if we kept getting a form letter with "revise this" or "this sucks" ticked off, we'd stop sending it out and either revise, or toss the thing altogether.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 07:37 PM
Yeah, it would only take a second to tick one off. There will always be folks who won't be swayed from the opinion that they've written a masterpiece, but I think most of us are pretty reasonable and if we kept getting a form letter with "revise this" or "this sucks" ticked off, we'd stop sending it out and either revise, or toss the thing altogether.



That, my friend, is called "perserverance." And it's what sets "wannabe" writers apart from the big boys. Revision is good (but only after you realize the agents/editors are RIGHT!), but to toss the whole thing means you're not confident or skilled enough to know if you have written a trunk or publishable novel.

azbikergirl
04-21-2005, 07:38 PM
1. Don't bother anyone important with your crap until you've received an opinion from someone (not a friend or relative) who knows what they're talking about that it's not crap.
Unless they've been traditionally published themselves, or are an editor or agent, how do we know that they know what they're talking about any more than we do? Blind leading the blind. Read the paper whose link HConn posted, if you haven't already.

2. When you are absolutely satisfied that not only is your work not crap but that it's rather good (be honest now!), and others agree, send it to a modest number of the right people who might conceivably help you publish such a thing.
How do I know I'm not deceiving myself? My biggest fear is that my story is crap and I just don't know it yet. How do I know I'm not right except by sending it to editors and agents for their consideration?

7. When you have a few hundred dollars in your piggy bank (it won't take long--less time than waiting for replies to some of your earlier submissions) call the nice people at Lulu and do what's necessary to obtain a few nicely bound copies of your pride and joy, to keep for yourself and to give to those friends and relatives who assured you it was terrific.
I would suggest using that few hundred dollars to take a writing course instead. Getting feedback from a published professional writer can be invaluable. Those who are already incredibly great writers can get confirmation of it through the instructor's feedback. ;)

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 07:47 PM
Unless they've been traditionally published themselves, or are an editor or agent, how do we know that they know what they're talking about any more than we do? Blind leading the blind. Read the paper whose link HConn posted, if you haven't already.

Find someone who is either traditionally published (and preferrably in your genre) -- there are plenty of published authors on AW, btw -- or someone who reads a lot and generally knows crap vs. gems. The "super readers" if you will.


How do I know I'm not deceiving myself? My biggest fear is that my story is crap and I just don't know it yet. How do I know I'm not right except by sending it to editors and agents for their consideration?

If you don't know yet, then you're not there yet. ;) Seriously, if you're a good writer, you WILL know. Also, if you have found good beta readers, trust them.


I would suggest using that few hundred dollars to take a writing course instead. Getting feedback from a published professional writer can be invaluable. Those who are already incredibly great writers can get confirmation of it through the instructor's feedback. ;)

Writing classes can be a blessing or a curse. They'd teach you the skills you need, and feedback is usually helpful. But unless the professor is a published novelist, you have to question the validity of his assessment anyway. And forget about fellow classmates... As for confirmation, there's a point in your writing life when you no long need "confirmation." Then, you already know you are "great."

;)

brinkett
04-21-2005, 07:50 PM
That, my friend, is called "perserverance." And it's what sets "wannabe" writers apart from the big boys. Revision is good (but only after you realize the agents/editors are RIGHT!), but to toss the whole thing means you're not confident or skilled enough to know if you have written a trunk or publishable novel.
I meant toss it if after honestly looking at it (having received repeated letters that say "it sucks!"), you decide it can't be salvaged. :)


How do I know I'm not deceiving myself? My biggest fear is that my story is crap and I just don't know it yet. How do I know I'm not right except by sending it to editors and agents for their consideration?

Exactly. It's all well and good to read slushkiller and comments, but as HConn pointed out, people have a hard time judging their own competence. We all think we make it into the final cut before that rejection letter is sent. Until a few people actually read the thing and say it's good or bad and why, how to know? You can't rely on beta readers - as JAR has pointed out, everyone's beta readers think it's good.


If you don't know yet, then you're not there yet. ;) Seriously, if you're a good writer, you WILL know. Also, if you have found good beta readers, trust them.

But everyone thinks they're a good writer, otherwise they wouldn't be sending it out. As for beta readers, I agree with JAR on that one.

azbikergirl
04-21-2005, 07:54 PM
Heh. My problem is that I think I suck, but my beta readers think my novel is ready. One might concur given I'm on the 6th revision, but I still wonder. I think my story is better than many published novels I've read, but again, how do I know I'm not deluding myself? How do I know I'm not one of those incompetents who's a poor judge of the competence of others? Anyway, that's another topic.

For the serious writers among us, even AZ Impatient Girl agrees that self-publishing is a last resort.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 07:57 PM
But everyone thinks they're a good writer, otherwise they wouldn't be sending it out. As for beta readers, I agree with JAR on that one.
There's a difference between "enlightenment" and "delusion." ;)

But I know what you mean.

If TEN agents write back and tell you "it sucks" -- perhaps you should really believe it.

Note On
04-21-2005, 08:57 PM
Yeah, it would only take a second to tick one off. There will always be folks who won't be swayed from the opinion that they've written a masterpiece, but I think most of us are pretty reasonable and if we kept getting a form letter with "revise this" or "this sucks" ticked off, we'd stop sending it out and either revise, or toss the thing altogether.

I'm not an editor, but having spent time in my editor's office (and listened to what he had to say):

It's not true that it "only takes a second."

First reason: While many times, a manuscript has an easily identifiable problem, usually that problem is "You can't write." That's not a helpful thing to tell someone.

Second reason: The number of writers who respond with abuse or an argument is much higher than you might think.

Third reason: Any useful and insightful critique takes time. Not only does an editor not necessarily have time to put one together for you (even a few paragraphs takes some work, and some time spent referring to the manuscript), but it's not her job.

By sending a manuscript, you have said "Here is a product ready for market. Your market." All a rejection means is "In my estimation, this product is not not right for my market."

More detailed rejections would carry obvious benefits for the writer--though even then, writers scratch their heads and try to eke out more meaning than is really there--but what's in it for the editor?

brinkett
04-21-2005, 09:24 PM
It's not true that it "only takes a second."

First reason: While many times, a manuscript has an easily identifiable problem, usually that problem is "You can't write." That's not a helpful thing to tell someone.

It's more helpful than not offering any reason at all. If a writer gets enough "you can't write" responses, they'll hopefully stop sending out their work until they've improved their craft, improved the work, whatever. I'd rather get a letter with a "you can't write" box ticked than a form letter that gives me no indication at all as to why the work was rejected.


Second reason: The number of writers who respond with abuse or an argument is much higher than you might think.

Just toss it in the trash.


Third reason: Any useful and insightful critique takes time. Not only does an editor not necessarily have time to put one together for you (even a few paragraphs takes some work, and some time spent referring to the manuscript), but it's not her job.

We're talking about ticking a box for manuscripts that obviously need lots of work before they'll sell, not useful and insightful critique.


More detailed rejections would carry obvious benefits for the writer--though even then, writers scratch their heads and try to eke out more meaning than is really there--but what's in it for the editor?
It could potentially cut down on the crap they receive. And remember, we're not talking about more detailed rejections. We're still talking form letters, but with some indication as to whether the manuscript should really be sent elsewhere, or needs work before anyone will buy it.

Remember the context--reasons people continue to send out crap. One reason is that nobody tells them it's crap.

James D. Macdonald
04-21-2005, 09:39 PM
An editor's job is finding publishable manuscripts for the publisher who signs their paycheck, then shepherding that manuscript through to publication. It isn't teaching a bunch of random strangers how to write.

How to tell if your manuscript is ready:

The sound of rapidly turning pages from your beta readers. Your beta readers hand your book to their friends without your having to ask. Your beta readers bug you for your next. Your beta readers' friends bug you for your next.

Christine N.
04-21-2005, 09:57 PM
What's in it for the editor? I can see, over time, a reduction in slush, perhaps? Heck, that would allow editors more time. I think they all agree they could use that. Telling people that they just don't have talent, while it seems harsh, is reality.

Heck, if someone doesn't have the aptitute to be a brain surgeon, or even a mechanic, you want someone to tell them, prefereably before they cut open YOUR head or look at your car.

I don't think an in depth critique is necessary, if all that's wrong with it is it doesn't "fit your specialty like a glove" (sorry, couldn't help myself). If it's unintelligble gibberish, say so. Get the slush off the desk.

And I think you're going to get angry authors no matter what.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 10:21 PM
An editor's job is finding publishable manuscripts for the publisher who signs their paycheck, then shepherding that manuscript through to publication. It isn't teaching a bunch of random strangers how to write.

Ticking a box that says "you're delusional if you think this'll sell to anybody because you couldn't write your way out of a paper bag" isn't expecting an editor to teach someone how to write.


How to tell if your manuscript is ready:

The sound of rapidly turning pages from your beta readers. Your beta readers hand your book to their friends without your having to ask. Your beta readers bug you for your next. Your beta readers' friends bug you for your next.
I think it depends on the beta readers. Everyone will say their beta readers loved it. I posted in another thread to do with self-editing that after I'd made the round with my betas (who enjoyed the story and want to read the next one), I still had more editing to do. The manuscript wasn't ready. I find that the typical reader is willing to overlook errors in writing for a good story, errors that an editor isn't willing to overlook. Unless betas are editors/agents/published authors, I don't think their approval means the manuscript is at the point where it's publishable. As someone else said, it's often the case of the blind leading the blind.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 10:34 PM
Editors have no obligation to tell you that "it sucks" and risk death threats by psycho writers. An editor's job is to find an ms suitable for publication, so her company can sell a gazillion of it and make $$$$$. That's all. Everything else is a "no, thanks" -- it doesn't matter to the editor, who gets paid by the publisher, not the writers. If a writer is looking for an edtior to validate whether he is a good or bad writer, then I think he has a long way to go...

There are other ways to get validation: crit group, professional book crits, other writers, etc. A serious writer should always on the lookout for getting honest, no-nonsense critique of his work before sending it out (that means your adoring mother's kind words don't count). If an editor sends you a note of advice, say "thank you." But don't expect that as a given. It's not their job.

HConn
04-21-2005, 10:41 PM
Wurd, that fence post was wrong! Wrong, I tell you!

Brinkett, your list is fine, but I would change one item and add another. The addition: Few bookstores or ID racks will carry self-published works, and that's where most strangers will buy a book.

The change: Delete the word "first" from "everyone should try the traditional route first for fiction" and we'll be in agreement.

Also, I don't want editors to spend their time creating helpful rejection forms. I want them to spend their time publishing good books for me to read. Let the writers fend for themselves, and let the slush pile up if that's what it takes.

Besides, I've heard the contents of some of those abusive letters and emails. "Throw it in the trash," doesn't really address the toll that crap takes.

How do I know I'm not deceiving myself? My biggest fear is that my story is crap and I just don't know it yet. How do I know I'm not right except by sending it to editors and agents for their consideration?

Az, when you buy a book, can you tell if it's good or not? Can you tell if the writer has consistent characters, a pleasing style, an interesting story?

Of course. Why, then, do so many writers have trouble applying the same critical facilities to their own work?

I think beta readers are useful and I would never say they shouldn't be used, but writers should learn to judge their own work they way they can judge others'.

The main problem is that we see the words on the page when we read someone else's books, but when we look at our own, we see the words in our head. We see the story and characters we *meant* to write, and can't see the difference between what's on the page and what's in our heads.

That's why putting work in a drawer is so useful--because much of what we *meant* to write has fallen out of our heads. Also, when we pick up stories we wrote years ago we see how terrible they are because we've forgotten what we were trying to do and can only see what we did.

Number one skill for rewriting: Judge your own work as clearly as you judge the work of others.

Galoot
04-21-2005, 10:54 PM
I went to the mall yesterday to visit the bookstore. As I passed all the other stores that didn't serve my needs, I yelled "you suck!" through their doors. At a few I yelled "I don't need your product today, but I may in the future, so keep your doors open!"

I think everyone should be so helpful. It only takes a moment.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 11:02 PM
...we'll be in agreement.
Done.


If a writer is looking for an edtior to validate whether he is a good or bad writer, then I think he has a long way to go...

We're not. We all think our work is the next bestseller. And if nobody tells us otherwise...

wurdwise
04-21-2005, 11:07 PM
I don't believe that. That we all think our work is the next bestseller. I think there are many writers who know their work is good enough to be published, and hope to actually make some money, maybe, as a long shot dream, make a living from writing, but very few I doubt are that deluded. We are in this with eyes wide open.

Note On
04-21-2005, 11:21 PM
This preamble was added a few minutes after I posted what follows. I think I may have you confused with another poster, so forgive me if I'm exasperated with the wrong person. I won't change the wording that follows because I hate it when people do that--but please consider the content of what I'm saying. Unpublished writers (and sometimes published ones) often seem to have no interest at all in the needs of the very people they want business partnerships with: Editors, agents, and publishers.

- - -

OK, Brinkett.

Despite having no experience as an editor, you know what editors should do.

Despite not being published--or, in fact, finishing your novel--you know what readers will buy.

Despite asking for opinions, you argue when experienced people tell you what they've seen first-hand.

A cliche comes to mind: In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they're not.

An editor owes you nothing, and pumping out personalized rejections for thousands of crappy submissions takes a lot of time with no benefit to the editor or--more to the point--to his employer. (And no, a reduced slush pile would not be the result. Slush pile writers listen to the voice of experience about as openmindedly as you're listening to it right now.)

The fact that you don't understand this doesn't make it untrue. Do you want to understand, or do you just want to insist on how it should be?

Christine N.
04-21-2005, 11:29 PM
If you don't know yet, then you're not there yet. Seriously, if you're a good writer, you WILL know. Also, if you have found good beta readers, trust them.

Woo Hoo! I am there :) LOL. I've read some stuff by people who think they're "there" and are not. Really not. One particular writer comes to mind. He does nothing but self publish because publishers "don't get his unorthodox style". Yeah, he's delusional. Potential? Yes, he's very creative, if you can get over the style issues and grammatical errors enough to figure out what the story is. But he refuses to take crit, any crit, not even about grammar, so he's doomed to Lulu forever.

And I guess you're right. It was just a dream, having editors tell you what they really think. I can see how it just wouldn't work. Ah well...

BlueTexas
04-21-2005, 11:32 PM
Just to add my 2c, I bought a self-pubbed book on Amazon, not realized it was self-pubbed. I had to force my way through the first chapter, and then promptly traded it at the used bookstore. I was a beta-reader for a novel that ended up being self-pubbed, too, and it sucked.

I did self-pub my own genealogy book, but it was family specific, heavy on the photos, and useful only for an upcoming family reunion. I had no expectations of making money or finding a large market. I did make back my research fees, but that was a bonus.

I buy a lot of novels by authors I've never read. I will never buy a self-pubbed novel. If I'm your market, you're doomed.

Innocent01
04-21-2005, 11:32 PM
I have self-published, but there's only one reason for that. Perhaps it has already been mentioned, perhaps not...

I can't afford to send my novel(s) to agents/publishers at this point in my life.

If I could afford it, then fine. I would. But the fact of the matter is that I can't. I am currently unemployed and living at home, with parents who believe that I live in a dream world for wanting to be an author. When I've found work and saved a bit of money, then perhaps I will try going the traditional route. Buying a stamp may not cost much to begin with, but it all adds up over time. And when you have less than $100 to your name, you need all the money you can get. Self-publishing is pretty much the only option open to me right now.

Note On
04-21-2005, 11:50 PM
Seriously, if you're a good writer, you WILL know.

Yeah... but I sure wish I knew a book was good when I was writing it.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 11:53 PM
OK, Brinkett.
Despite having no experience as an editor, you know what editors should do.

All I said was that people might stop sending out crap if someone told them it was crap. This was somehow translated into editors giving everyone detailed feedback, validating them, and/or teaching them how to write.


Despite not being published--or, in fact, finishing your novel--you know what readers will buy.

I finished my novel. Quote where I said I know what readers will buy.


Despite asking for opinions, you argue when experienced people tell you what they've seen first-hand.

Many of the responses have been about editors giving thoughtful and in depth critiques, which wasn't on the table.


An editor owes you nothing

I'm not suggesting editors have to do anything. Just that they don't do each other any favors by popping a form letter into an envelope that encourages writers to send crap to one of their colleagues, when they know darn well nobody in their right mind will buy the manuscript.


The fact that you don't understand this doesn't make it untrue. Do you want to understand, or do you just want to insist on how it should be?
I pay attention to responses when people respond to what was actually said.

brinkett
04-21-2005, 11:59 PM
This preamble was added a few minutes after I posted what follows. I think I may have you confused with another poster, so forgive me if I'm exasperated with the wrong person. I won't change the wording that follows because I hate it when people do that--but please consider the content of what I'm saying. Unpublished writers (and sometimes published ones) often seem to have no interest at all in the needs of the very people they want business partnerships with: Editors, agents, and publishers.

Well, you certainly came across as exasperated, whether it's at me or someone else. ;) I only read this after making my last post. I do have an interest in the needs of editors, agents, and publishers. The original suggestion was made with the thought that perhaps it might reduce slush for them because it might cause manuscripts to be taken out of circulation that have no chance of ever being published unless they're significantly revised.

Note On
04-21-2005, 11:59 PM
Well, first, let me say again that I think I got you confused with someone else, and I apologize for that.

All I said was that people might stop sending out crap if someone told them it was crap.

Yes--it sounds nice. It'll never happen.

I'm not suggesting editors have to do anything. Just that they don't do each other any favors by popping a form letter into an envelope that encourages writers to send crap to one of their colleagues, when they know darn well nobody in their right mind will buy the manuscript.

They also know darn well there's no up side to saying so, both because most writers won't listen and because who knows what someone else might buy?

soloset
04-22-2005, 12:00 AM
I think it's also the fault of editors and agents. When they get atrocious work, they'll usually send a form letter. Often the form letter contains a standard paragraph encouraging the author to continue submitting. Perhaps if more authors got personalized responses, even just a "this is complete crap", they'd stop sending, but the problem is that often nobody tells them, even those they might listen to. Yes, I understand they don't have the time and won't do it. But I see it as part of the reason why people with substandard work continue to send it out.

Actually, from what I've read and seen, being told "this is crap" only works on people who are self-aware enough to suspect there's something wrong with it already (in which case, it may be fixable), or on the extremely oversensitive. The rest usually flip out on the messenger and then simply move on to the next slush pile -- obviously, the last reviewer "just didn't get it" or was "working from an agenda".

Take a look at some of the rejections under "Publisher" on that rejection archive site listed in the Slushkiller article.

A quote from one "Rejection Queen"; "I sent off my memoir for the first time on 11 April 2003. Today is 1 Jan 2004 and I have since sustained over 1,000 rejections!"

An agent responded with a polite letter explaining a few flaws in what she calls a "carpet bomber" approach, and her response was that he was obviously arrogant and afraid of her since she was the new kid on the block.

Sure, it's an extreme case, but look through some of the other rejections. Some people can never be told often enough or harshly enough that they need to start over and learn how to write before they attempt a career at it.

I don't think it's fair to ask agents and editors to expose themselves to that sort of vitriol in the interests of reducing the amount of slush my manuscript has to slosh through -- and besides, that's what query letters are for.

azbikergirl
04-22-2005, 12:06 AM
I've read some stuff by people who think they're "there" and are not. Really not.
Yes! That's my point. I could have a bunch of beta-readers who love my story, but how do I know they're good judges of quality fiction? I'm taking the Writer's Digest advanced novel workshop now. My instructor is a 5-times-published novel writer. I put more stock in what she says than my unpublished classmates :) (but she has not yet expressed an opinion on its suitability for publication).

brinkett
04-22-2005, 12:12 AM
Well, first, let me say again that I think I got you confused with someone else, and I apologize for that.

Thanks. :)


Yes--it sounds nice. It'll never happen.

I know. When I suggested it, I said I understand they won't do it.


They also know darn well there's no up side to saying so, both because most writers won't listen and because who knows what someone else might buy?
True, but I've always been talking about manuscripts that are so terribly written that nobody would buy them, not the ones that just need a little work or don't fit a particular publisher's list.


A quote from one "Rejection Queen"; "I sent off my memoir for the first time on 11 April 2003. Today is 1 Jan 2004 and I have since sustained over 1,000 rejections!"

:)

Rejection Queen, huh? Not a title I'd want or flaunt!


Sure, it's an extreme case, but look through some of the other rejections. Some people can never be told often enough or harshly enough that they need to start over and learn how to write before they attempt a career at it.

Yeah, I guess I'm assuming that most people are reasonable. If I received letters telling me my work sucked, I'd stop sending it out until I figured out what was wrong with it and improved it. But I guess not everyone's as reasonable as I am. ;)

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 12:18 AM
[/font]
We're not. We all think our work is the next bestseller. And if nobody tells us otherwise...


I think that's just not true, or the author is TRULY delusional. I for one don't think I'll be the next Dan Brown or Stephen King. I'll be happy to just get published.

I don't need someone to tell me I suck. I know I suck when I do. I also know I do well when I do. The lack of ability to understand that would not serve any writer well...

HConn
04-22-2005, 12:18 AM
Innocent, what self-publisher is cheaper than sending out a manuscript?

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 12:24 AM
Yeah... but I sure wish I knew a book was good when I was writing it.

Would you read the book you just wrote? ;)

That's why we suggest writers put their new draft in a drawer for at least 3 weeks. Then get it out and read it like someone else has written it. Put on your reader's hat. Would you, the reader (not the author), shell out $12 for this book?

It's not easy to drop the author's hat and don the reader's. But you must, if you want to be objective about your own work.

And that's why you need to find betas who do not have any vested interest in you (no love, sex, money involved, please), who can judge your work honestly and objectively.


We don't really know if the book we're WRITING is any good until it's done. After that, you read it, then you let some betas read it, then you ask for some professional opinion (if you want)... by then, if you still don't know if your book is good or bad, maybe you need to try something else for a career...

James D. Macdonald
04-22-2005, 12:25 AM
A Fable
Once upon a time there was an editor at a major publishing house. It seemed to this editor that there was always a manuscript in the slush from one particular writer. This writer was bad. Monumentally bad. Stupendously bad. Spectacularly bad. Spork-out-your-eyes bad. Every time the editor saw a manuscript from this writer she rejected it.

This continued for years. The writer kept writing novels, and kept submitting them. They all stank on ice. They all got standard rejections.

Finally, the editor could take no more. She took a piece of paper and wrote, "You're hopeless! Your books are all crap! It's time you found another hobby!"

This rejection went out. And with lightning speed a new manuscript appeared. The cover letter said, "After years of trying I was about to give up. But now that I've received a personal rejection I'm going to redouble my efforts!"

The editor never again sent anything but a form rejection.

======================

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 12:27 AM
Yes! That's my point. I could have a bunch of beta-readers who love my story, but how do I know they're good judges of quality fiction? I'm taking the Writer's Digest advanced novel workshop now. My instructor is a 5-times-published novel writer. I put more stock in what she says than my unpublished classmates :) (but she has not yet expressed an opinion on its suitability for publication).

If you can't trust your own betas, there's nothing you could do. ;) Get professional help. ;) (obviously you are doing so by joining a writing class taught by a published novelist) There are other ways to secure qualified readers, though, that do not require taking classes...

HConn
04-22-2005, 12:27 AM
If I received letters telling me my work sucked, I'd stop sending it out until I figured out what was wrong with it and improved it.

Hah!

You'd tell them that not every writer was driven by money.

:P

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 12:29 AM
Actually, from what I've read and seen, being told "this is crap" only works on people who are self-aware enough to suspect there's something wrong with it already (in which case, it may be fixable), or on the extremely oversensitive. The rest usually flip out on the messenger and then simply move on to the next slush pile -- obviously, the last reviewer "just didn't get it" or was "working from an agenda".


Bingo! We have a winner. Those who keep sending out their crap are the least likely to listen when someone told them, "This is crap." Those are the delusional writers who think they're the next best thing since Grisham or Hemingway.

They will continue to send out their crap.

brinkett
04-22-2005, 12:34 AM
I think that's just not true, or the author is TRULY delusional. I for one don't think I'll be the next Dan Brown or Stephen King. I'll be happy to just get published.

I was exaggerating when I said everyone thought they had a bestseller. Next time I'll remember to use one of these... ;)

UJ: Enjoyed the fable.


You'd tell them that not every writer was driven by money.

:) Ah, but I do want readers...

James D. Macdonald
04-22-2005, 12:35 AM
A quote from one "Rejection Queen"; "I sent off my memoir for the first time on 11 April 2003. Today is 1 Jan 2004 and I have since sustained over 1,000 rejections!"

How in the hey do you go about getting 1,000 rejections in just over forty weeks? That's better than three a day, including Sundays and holidays. Even if she included a dead trout in every envelope that would be amazing.

(Actually, over at the website/writers' discussion area I run (http://www.sff.net/) I regularly get submissions from assorted writers. I write back to them, as kindly as I can, "Please be aware that we are not a publisher." I wonder if I'm one of the 1,000 who rejected her? )

The ability to send queries/manuscripts by e-mail, it seems to me, only encourages folks to send their stuff to places that aren't even marginally appropriate.

Note On
04-22-2005, 12:36 AM
Would you read the book you just wrote?

Always. I never write anything I wouldn't want to read. That's why I don't have a career as a nonfiction magazine writer.

It's not easy to drop the author's hat and don the reader's. But you must, if you want to be objective about your own work.

The last thing I want to be is objective about my work. I have no interest in reading it "as a reader." My sole criterion is whether every last thing about it feels right--which may sound sloppy, but is actually more demanding than any other approach I can think of.

I don't believe objectivity is possible, so it's not worth pursuing. What is worth pursuing is ongoing education, self-challenge, improvement, and accomplishment.

We don't really know if the book we're WRITING is any good until it's done. After that, you read it, then you let some betas read it, then you ask for some professional opinion (if you want)... by then, if you still don't know if your book is good or bad, maybe you need to try something else for a career...

Makes sense, and I don't doubt it's true for some; but that's not exactly how it works for the writers I know personally (including myself) who are published and get good reviews.

Every time I re-read one of my old books, I have a different reaction. It varies depending on how long it's been since it was published: The book before last is always awful. The book before that one is always pretty good. The one I just finished yoyos between sheer brilliance and sheer crap. The only exception is my first novel, which used to follow those rules but now has its own category: I think it shows talent, though it also has some embarrassing things about it that I'd do differently now.

Uncertainty is one of the ways I know I'm on the right track. If I'm sure it's good, I'm probably plagiarizing.

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 01:05 AM
Every time I re-read one of my old books, I have a different reaction. It varies depending on how long it's been since it was published: The book before last is always awful. The book before that one is always pretty good. The one I just finished yoyos between sheer brilliance and sheer crap. The only exception is my first novel, which used to follow those rules but now has its own category: I think it shows talent, though it also has some embarrassing things about it that I'd do differently now.



I don't think it means your books are bad, especially if they have been "traditionally published." It just means your standards have changed. As we grow as writers, our standards go up with every book we write. We all have those days fluctuating between "sheer brilliance" and "pure crap." Right now I am going through the "everything I write is crap" phase. But deep down, I really do believe, you know whether you have it or not. It's just part of being an artist.

Maybe Hemingway once woke up and re-read "Old Man and the Sea" and thought, "What utter crap!" I'm sure Bruce Springsteen thinks some of his earlier songs are awful... we all do that as artist. Our objectivity about our own works comes from those moments when you don't have anything to gain or lose, when you can step back and really, really, think of a piece of writing as "a piece of writing at that time, at that place, with that mindset," and not something you slave over for the past 2 years... When we take that self-congratulating/self-loathing emotion out of the equation, that's when we can judge the work on its own merits.

But that's just individual work. A lousy game doesn't a bad player make. You have to look at your career as a whole.

Note On
04-22-2005, 01:16 AM
Right now I am going through the "everything I write is crap" phase. But deep down, I really do believe, you know whether you have it or not. It's just part of being an artist.

Yeah--but to resplit an already halved hair, that's not the same as knowing what you're writing is good.

When we take that self-congratulating/self-loathing emotion out of the equation, that's when we can judge the work on its own merits.

Sure, after it's done and ten years have gone by, but that won't do me any good while I'm writing it.

You have to look at your career as a whole.

Oh, I hope not.

wurdwise
04-22-2005, 01:18 AM
..here we go 'round the self-publishing bush.....the self-publishing bush.....the self-publishing bush...:snoopy:

Christine N.
04-22-2005, 02:23 AM
Spork-out-your-eyes bad

OMG, that's funny.

Christine N.
04-22-2005, 02:28 AM
I don't think it means your books are bad, especially if they have been "traditionally published." It just means your standards have changed.

And if it didn't you'd still have big '80's hair and think parachute pants are cool.

My new book/series is already better than my first book. But my first book is being published, so it can't be crap. I was in love with that story, and now I'm in love with this one. If the writer doesn't improve from book to book, then there's something wrong. Either that, or they managed to write the most brilliant book ever on their first time out.

James D. Macdonald
04-22-2005, 02:33 AM
Exactly how smart is it to self-publish?

Not very, unless it is.

soloset
04-22-2005, 02:52 AM
How in the hey do you go about getting 1,000 rejections in just over forty weeks? That's better than three a day, including Sundays and holidays. Even if she included a dead trout in every envelope that would be amazing.

Apparently, from her other post on the rejection site, she uses the term 'carpet bomber' to mean "people that shoot out copy & paste proposals to any vaguely publisher related email".

"I am definitely one as I am a rejection junkie in a super-hurry: through the carpet-bombing technique, I have MAXED out a number of email addresses - i.e. got accused of spamming and locked out of the account!!!"

Um, yeeeah. Wait, why do most editors and agents prefer that writers don't use email to contact them again?

cwfgal
04-22-2005, 05:10 AM
I believe I have some talent as a writer. That doesn't mean all my writing is good. Some of it is hideous. Some of it is brilliant. Most of it falls somewhere in between. I do nonfiction very well. But I prefer fiction and I think my best fiction requires a fairly high level of emotional output and commitment from me and that aspect of it is what makes it hard for me to judge my own writing.

Picking beta readers is a talent. A good beta reader is someone who isn't afraid to tell you what they think, who has no big emotional or financial ties to you, and who has the talent to recognize good writing from bad. A good author seeking beta readers will openly accept any and all criticism from said beta readers and thank them kindly for their time and effort. This is very hard for most writers to do. Over time a writer will learn which criticisms to consider strongly and which ones to disregard. It isn't magic and there's no secret to acquiring this ability. You either develop it or you don't. It takes practice and time. It's all part of the writing apprenticeship.

I've had over 200 nonfiction works and 3 novels published. And I have accumulated over 200 rejection letters in the process, including the one I got from an agent who suggested I not give up my day job. I'm about to start collecting some more.

Beth

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 05:24 AM
Sure, after it's done and ten years have gone by, but that won't do me any good while I'm writing it.


You know... if you really, really can't tell, then perhaps you should go back to school and have something TELL you how good you are. Because, obviously, you haven't reached that point in your life that you know you are good at something, when it becomes second nature to you.

Also, really, you don't know until you're done writing it. If it's really that bad, start over or write something else. But until you're done with it, you DO NOT know.

SRHowen
04-22-2005, 05:41 AM
Everything I write --SUCKS. I know it's good when my beta readers or others say--WOW

Note On
04-22-2005, 06:21 AM
Because, obviously, you haven't reached that point in your life that you know you are good at something, when it becomes second nature to you.

Um...no, actually, I know how good I am.

What I don't know is how good it is. Two different things.

Also, really, you don't know until you're done writing it.

Right. That's pretty much what I said.

soloset
04-22-2005, 06:36 AM
Everything I write --SUCKS. I know it's good when my beta readers or others say--WOW

I'm in the same boat on the first part. Unfortunately, my original beta reader was, by nature, extremely terse.

He liked to say things like "I liked it" or "It was great." Naturally, I heard "I'm just saying I liked it because I don't want to hurt your feelings" or "It was great -- for work by a loser like you!"

I asked, though, and he really meant "I liked it" or "it was great". So I decided to give up on running my stuff by anyone else until it was absolutely completely and thoroughly finished. Given my stick-with-it issues, I haven't had to deal with the problem since! :D

Julian Black
04-22-2005, 07:55 AM
How in the hey do you go about getting 1,000 rejections in just over forty weeks? That's better than three a day, including Sundays and holidays. Even if she included a dead trout in every envelope that would be amazing....

The ability to send queries/manuscripts by e-mail, it seems to me, only encourages folks to send their stuff to places that aren't even marginally appropriate.I wonder if that carpet-bombing memoirist did most of her submissions via email? And, on top of that emailed them to multiple editors at each publisher? If she's clueless enough to do that many simultaneous submissions, it wouldn't surprise me if she was sending them that way.

[shrugs]

Edit: Ah, I see soloset has answered the question, already. [Emily Littella voice] Neverrr miiind...

Innocent01
04-24-2005, 10:01 AM
Innocent, what self-publisher is cheaper than sending out a manuscript?
Well, Lulu (http://www.lulu.com) for one. I published my novel Never To Leave Me through them a couple of months ago. So far it hasn't cost me a cent, and it won't until I decide to buy a couple of copies of my book to give to friends and family members. I would have liked to publish with CafePress (http://www.cafepress.com), and I was all set to go, but of course they charge a fee. So yeah... *shrugs* Until I can find a job and save up a bit of money, self-publishing through Lulu is my one and only option.

azbikergirl
04-24-2005, 07:35 PM
Innocent01, why not send out a query letter or two first? If you get a positive response, then borrow the postage money to send the ms. or partial. Surely a friend or family member would be supportive enough to help you that much? If Australian postage rates are about like ours, mailing a query letter is pocket change.

Innocent01
04-24-2005, 08:41 PM
Therein lies the problem. None of my relatives (especially my parents) are willing or able to fund my journey to be published, and believe me, I would ask them if I could. Not to mention it would show to them that I can't stand on my own two feet. As for my friends, I'd rather not have to mooch off of them for any reason, not to mention that they're all university students. Not even if it means possibly seeing my novel in print.

And believe me, while stamps don't cost a lot here (50 cents the last time I checked) it all adds up pretty damn quick. 50 cents here, 50 cents there...I don't mean to sound pessimistic - I'm just being realistic about it. :Shrug:

Richard
04-24-2005, 08:57 PM
Maybe you could find other ways if money's tight. Do a couple of freelance bits here and there when you've got the spare time and fund it that way - heck, even AW pays $5 a shot. That's enough to send out quite a few query letters.

wurdwise
04-24-2005, 09:30 PM
I don't think settling for Lulu right out of the chute is being realistic at all, I think it's being pessimistic. You could submit to only agents or publishers who take email queries, and like the person above just said, you could work for content sites, anything to make the cash you need to do the things it takes to get your novel traditionally published. If you publish through Lulu, where are you going to get the money for all the self promotion you will need to do? None of this makes sense to me. Are you just trying to hurry up and get published so you can tell all the people who dont' believe in you, "See, nana nana boo boo?" Hell, give it more time and you might be able to tell them that on the radio!

azbikergirl
04-24-2005, 09:31 PM
Therein lies the problem. None of my relatives (especially my parents) are willing or able to fund my journey to be published, and believe me, I would ask them if I could. Not to mention it would show to them that I can't stand on my own two feet. As for my friends, I'd rather not have to mooch off of them for any reason, not to mention that they're all university students. Not even if it means possibly seeing my novel in print.

And believe me, while stamps don't cost a lot here (50 cents the last time I checked) it all adds up pretty damn quick. 50 cents here, 50 cents there...I don't mean to sound pessimistic - I'm just being realistic about it. :Shrug:

"Where there's a will, there's a way."

Sounds to me like you've decided and that's that. Well, good luck.

maestrowork
04-24-2005, 09:34 PM
It you are truly passionate enough to do something, you will find a way. If you're not, then you will always find an excuse.

Carol Burnett went to New York to be an actress. She scrambled for food, a part-time job, a shelter, and she shared a dress with her roommates for auditions... she was DIRT poor but she did everything to go to every audition she could. She wouldn't eat so she could have cab fares to go to auditions or buy sheet music or take dance classes...

Well, we all know who Carol Burnett is....

Richard
04-24-2005, 09:55 PM
Er...I've never heard of her.

azbikergirl
04-24-2005, 10:04 PM
In the USA, she's an icon. Google for her name. You'll see.

Richard
04-24-2005, 10:21 PM
(Hits IMDB) The only one of those I remember seeing listed over here was Mad About You, and that was on satellite ;-)

maestrowork
04-24-2005, 10:24 PM
I think Carol's pretty famous in England, too? No. She and Julie Andrews used to do stuff together. I think she opened "Noises Off" in London? I'm probably wrong...

Innocent01
04-24-2005, 10:26 PM
"Where there's a will, there's a way."

Sounds to me like you've decided and that's that. Well, good luck.
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteWha.gif

Pardon me, but I have not decided on anything. I am just doing this the best way I can for now. I'm only twenty years old - I have plenty of time left.

I don't think settling for Lulu right out of the chute is being realistic at all, I think it's being pessimistic. You could submit to only agents or publishers who take email queries, and like the person above just said, you could work for content sites, anything to make the cash you need to do the things it takes to get your novel traditionally published. If you publish through Lulu, where are you going to get the money for all the self promotion you will need to do? None of this makes sense to me. Are you just trying to hurry up and get published so you can tell all the people who dont' believe in you, "See, nana nana boo boo?" Hell, give it more time and you might be able to tell them that on the radio!
I don't think it's being pessimistic. And NO, I am not trying to 'hurry up and get published'. As for self-promotion, what do you think signature links are for? *raises eyebrow* Just because it doesn't make sense to one person doesn't mean another can't figure it out.

It you are truly passionate enough to do something, you will find a way. If you're not, then you will always find an excuse.
Excuse me, but I am passionate about my writing. I take it quite seriously, probably more so than anything else I've ever set out to do.

I haven't been a member here long enough to become acquainted with you all, but I have just one thing to say: to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?

Self-publishing is by no means a cop-out, an excuse or the easy way out. And before anyone brings up the issue of first publishing rights, that's what a second pen name is for...

wurdwise
04-24-2005, 10:34 PM
[QUOTE=Innocent01]http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteWha.gif Just because it doesn't make sense to one person doesn't mean another can't figure it out.QUOTE]


You can always tell when the truth hits too close to home, that's when people start resorting to insults.

Enjoy your delusions. Good day.

maestrowork
04-24-2005, 10:45 PM
I haven't been a member here long enough to become acquainted with you all, but I have just one thing to say: to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?


No need to get all freaked out. You don't have to listen to us if you don't want to.

Plenty of people here are traditionally published authors: Uncle Jim, Victoria, James Ritchie, Liam, to name a few. As for my book? Good question. It's coming out later this summer, as a matter of face (read my sig) -- and yes, traditionally published. So please buy one!

Christine N.
04-24-2005, 11:30 PM
I don't think anyone's trying to put you down, Innocent. They've made some great suggestions for getting your work into the hands of people who can help you launch a career. Self-publishing, generally, will not do that for you.

Ask people how many books they've bought from a signature link. Not many, I'll bet. I have mine in my sig, but I also have my publisher's site listed. They're small, but traditional, AND they took my query and first chapter through e-mail. It's becoming more and more common, and won't cost a dime. (I also list it, b/c, well, I'm pretty proud of it) When the book does come out, I don't expect too many sales from my link, but I'll be sure and make sure everyone knows about it. My publisher will sell my book for me.

In the meantime, I'm sure you're writing a new and better book.

Um, no matter what name you use to publish it under, you're first printing rights are gone. Most contracts you have to use your real name, and they have clauses stating that you haven't made it available anywhere else. Not to fret, some places will do reprints, which is what it would be if you did sell it to a traditional house.

soloset
04-24-2005, 11:33 PM
As for self-promotion, what do you think signature links are for?
...
I haven't been a member here long enough to become acquainted with you all, but I have just one thing to say: to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?

Honestly, I almost never click on signature links unless the poster mentions them in specifically relation to the post topic. I'd be curious to hear if other people do? My eye just sort of slides past them by default.

My book is on my new flash drive. When I'm done with it, I'll send it around, and if it's good enough, it'll eventually be on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

With self-publishing, it doesn't matter how good it is. You're still working with an audience one or two degrees from yourself -- and I just don't know that many people.

If that's the route you've decided on for this book, that's good for you. I am curious, however, how having a separate pen name will help regain first publishing rights on an already published book? I might be misunderstanding that bit.

And, related to that -- does self-publishing count as 'first rights' for future contract purposes? I know in the various self-pub success stories I've read, the person usually ends up having their book re-published traditionally, but it always sounds as if the publisher is treating the self-pubbed copies as the first batch, not as a separate publishing run. Any thoughts?

Christine N.
04-24-2005, 11:37 PM
In most cases, yes. Heck, if you have it posted on the web, in its' entirety, that's considered first publication, I think. Some places are more strict than others about that.

I'm not a lawyer, this is just what I've been told. Jim might know better.

Note On
04-25-2005, 05:29 AM
to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?

Available online or in stores.

Self-publishing is by no means a cop-out, an excuse or the easy way out.

If you're talking about PublishAmerica, et al, it's also not being published.

As long as you understand that, no problem.

James D. Macdonald
04-25-2005, 06:09 AM
I wouldn't recommend self-publishing. Let me tell you what self-publsihing through Lulu has done for one book, because I know the real numbers: The infamous Atlanta Nights, which has been mentioned on TV and got a story on it in the LA Times, is Lulu's 23rd ranked book of all time.

It's sold under 350 copies.

By the time it had sold 30 copies it was already in the top 100.

As to where to get money -- did you ever wonder why the back-jacket-flap copy of so many books, in the author's bio say "Joe Author has been a toymaker, a grave digger, and a pizza-delivery man..."? Do you wonder where the phrase "don't quit your day job" comes from?

PA ... authors buy their own copies or no one does. 50 copies there will run you $500 plus shipping. If you can't afford the postage to submit to publishers that isn't an option.

Self-publishing requires a titanic amount of time and money. It would be my last choice, not my first. (To be perfectly frank about it, extraordinary circumstances aside, I'd leave a book in a desk drawer before self-publishing.)

The standard exceptions for self-publishing: Specialized non-fiction, niche fiction, poetry.

Where are my books? On the shelves of a bookstore near you.

HConn
04-25-2005, 06:20 AM
I'm only twenty years old - I have plenty of time left.

Then why didn't you put the book in a drawer until you got a day job and could afford stamps?

As for self-promotion, what do you think signature links are for? *raises eyebrow*

Oh, lower your eyebrow. There are professionals here (not me) who can help you, if you drop the attitude.

Signature links don't sell books, btw. Not many, at least. Good luck with it though.

I haven't been a member here long enough to become acquainted with you all, but I have just one thing to say: to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?

In the bottom of a trunk where it belongs.

And before anyone brings up the issue of first publishing rights, that's what a second pen name is for...

Actually, no it's not. The book has still been published, no matter what pseudonym you use. You plan to be honest with your publisher, don't you?

SRHowen
04-25-2005, 06:50 AM
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteWha.gif

I haven't been a member here long enough to become acquainted with you all, but I have just one thing to say: to any of you who knock self-publishing, as a fellow member of another writing board once said to me, where's your book? Hmm?


I do so love it when new BB members on any board come in and assume everyone on the board is as new to something as they are.

How much have you made on Lulu?

Galoot
04-25-2005, 07:14 AM
This is silly.

If someone doesn't want to return pop cans for the deposit money, eat generic instead of brand-name, wear last year's shoes, hang the clothes to dry instead of paying at the laundromat, walk instead of taking the bus or cab, or any of a million other ways to get the peanuts it takes to buy a couple of stamps, that's up to them.

To anyone else reading this thread, if you want to turn down an $80,000 job because you have to walk a block further to get there than you do for your $15,000 one, that's also up to you. Just don't be surprised when others look at you funny and ask "what the hell are you thinking?"

Good luck to you, Innocent. I sincerely, really, hope you do well despite the obstacles on your path.

Innocent01
04-25-2005, 08:54 AM
Good luck to you, Innocent. I sincerely, really, hope you do well despite the obstacles on your path.
Thank you.

As for the rest of you, I'm through with this. If anyone wants to argue with me further, they can email me. And believe me, I was trying my utmost not to insult anyone. You will know an insult from me when you see it.

Good day to you all.

Jewel101
04-28-2005, 11:31 PM
Thank you all for your opinions. It was really helpful

Tish Davidson
04-29-2005, 09:10 AM
Yes! That's my point. I could have a bunch of beta-readers who love my story, but how do I know they're good judges of quality fiction? I'm taking the Writer's Digest advanced novel workshop now. My instructor is a 5-times-published novel writer. I put more stock in what she says than my unpublished classmates :) (but she has not yet expressed an opinion on its suitability for publication).

You might also try submitting it to a writer's conference. They often have competition based on the first chapter and a synopsis. Sometimes you get feedback on the mss and if you go to the conference, there are often short time slots to pitch to agents who will invite them to submit partials if they are interestd. It's just another form of feedback that if chosen carefully can be helpful.

Maybe you are like me. Emotionally I never think my stuff is good enough, even though I intellectually know it is, and I've traditionally published more than half a dozen (nonfiction) books. Some of us are just insecure. I believe that it is better to be worried that your stuff isn't good enough than to think every word from your printer is a golden gem that should bless the reading world unchanged. But if you're in you're sixth revision, it probably is time to test the waters.

katdad
04-29-2005, 12:12 PM
I met a pal not long ago -- hadn't seen him in a year or so -- he has this forlorn spiel and it's about his self-publishing his short stories because he didn't find conventional publication for them.

Now he has a trunkful of books that he's trying to hawk for 15 bucks. He's sold about 30 copies total.

I didn't buy one.

(This was just after I had signed a representation contract with my agent for my 2nd novel.)

Mark Anderson
04-29-2005, 07:45 PM
Thank you.

As for the rest of you, I'm through with this. If anyone wants to argue with me further, they can email me. And believe me, I was trying my utmost not to insult anyone. You will know an insult from me when you see it.


As an aside about 'not quitting your day job', Ramsey Campbell still has to work crap jobs at places like Border's. Campbell, who has won dozens of Fantasy awards and the Stoker twice. He's written since the 1950's and published 20 novels and still has to scrape by for a living.

If you think it's hard now, just wait until you're 'successful'.

Vomaxx
04-30-2005, 03:09 AM
I met a pal not long ago...Now he has a trunkful of books that he's trying to hawk for 15 bucks. He's sold about 30 copies total.

I didn't buy one.

Now I see why you are a "registered curmudgeon."

Jewel101
05-13-2005, 12:27 PM
This piece doesn't not fit in with what all of you were saying but i found it a very interesting point.

"Many editors with large publishing houses report keeping eagle eye out for rising stars amoung self-published novels. In the last few years, several self-published novels found meteoric success. James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy and Richard Paul Evans parable, The Christmas Box, both inspirational novels, began as self-published ventures. Redfield had already sold 90,000 copies of his new-age novel before Denver sales rep Mary Ann Johnson brought the book to the attention of Warner editor Joann Davis, who bought it for $800,000. Although the first printing of The Christmas Box was only 20 copies , Evans' fans urged him to submit his book for publication. Rejections abound. Undeterred, Evans kept going back to press to meet local (Utah) demand, which soon became demand from across the West. From 20 copies to 700,00, Evans finally earned a mention in People Magazine, which caught Laurie Chittenden's attention at Simon and Schuster, eventually nettin Evans a $4.2 million deal."
The Sell Your Novel Toolkit
Elizabeth Lyon

oswann
05-13-2005, 01:07 PM
If you have at least a hundred pages written, Elizbaeth Lyon will take nine bucks a page to have a look at them, or seven a page if you've finished the book. So you pay her a grand, then pay someone to publish the thing for all the eagle-eyed editors scouring the sea of self-published novels, checkbooks in hand.

Sure, sounds like a good plan to me.


Os.

maestrowork
05-13-2005, 07:12 PM
You have to have a great book, first. Then you have to have to work your *** off, second, to promote it. And last but not least, for every Redfield or Evans, there are thousands and thousands of failed self-pub authors. Miracles do happen, but do you want to be a statistics?

arrowqueen
05-14-2005, 05:31 AM
Apart from certain niche markets that have been covered elsewhere, the general rule of thumb is that, if it's worth publishing, someone will pay you for the privilege of publishing it.

LightShadow
05-15-2005, 09:18 PM
I would never self-publish because I don't want to put out money when I know that someone, somewhere will not only publish my work traditionally, but also perform a much better marketing strategy than possible with self-publishing. There are a few success stories when it comes to self-publication, like Chris Paolini (Eragon), but I wouldn't do it. I don't have the time and the money to jaunt around the U.S. marketing my product with no outside help.

sgtsdaughter
05-16-2005, 12:50 AM
Apart from certain niche markets that have been covered elsewhere, the general rule of thumb is that, if it's worth publishing, someone will pay you for the privilege of publishing it.

My sentiments exactly.

LightShadow
05-16-2005, 03:16 AM
success can come through self-publication, but don't bet your future on it. I agree that if it's really good, someone will pay you for the privilege of publishing it.

gogoshire
05-16-2005, 03:48 AM
I concur. Self-publishing and trying to market something by myself is not an option for me. I'd rather spend my time finding the right publisher (who will pay me).

EelKat
01-27-2008, 12:41 PM
Exactly how smart is it to self-publish?

That depends on the author. Self Publishing is not for everyone. It's work. Hard work, and a lot of it. Very few people have what it takes to undertake a business start up, and starting your own publishing house is harder than the many other businesses you could start. Before you start any company you need to know how to manage the business first.

Most writers jump into self publishing with both eyes shut and hope for the best, but this method never works.


What are to benefits?


Well, you get to keep 100% of the profits. The downside of that is, that unless you are damn good at market research you will not sell very many copies of your book.


Traditionally published authors have no control over the title of their book, the cover art, the inside illustrations, and the final galley edits. Self published authors have full 100% control over those areas.

Traditional published books go out of print when your publisher says so. Self published books can stay in print for the next 20 or 30 years if you wish.


What are the disadvantages?


It is free to traditionaly publish. Self publishing requires you to foot the bill for everything: an average of $12,000 to $30,000 depending on the printing method, binding, and page count.


Not enough info it help you get started could result in you getting scammed. Unfortunatly 9 out of every 10 book claimed by the author to be "self published" is actually vainity press published NOT self published.

Vanity Press is NOT self publishing. If you hire a publisher than you are NOT a self publisher. Publish America is a publisher. IUniverse is a publisher. Tanton is a publisher. Booksurge is a publisher. They are vanity press publishers, but they are never the less publishers. If you used a publisher to publish your book than you did not self publish your book. Know this before you attempt to self publish.


What exactly do you do when you self-publish?

ask me again in a minute... I'll answer this one last cause it'll take a bit of explaining.


Is it better than the publishing houses?


I depends on what your veiw of better is. Usually it is not better, because most authors just are not cut out for the heavy duty marketing, distributing, designing, and networking required to get your book out in front of your customers.

For most authors traditional publishing is better.

and I'll quote this poster:

If you write non-fiction and if you are a guru/expert on something, you might consider self-publishing. You sell books through seminars, conventions, etc. and you keep the profits of your sales.

For fiction writers, it's usually a better idea to find a traditional publisher.


and this poster:

Self-publishing might possibly make sense if you've written:

a) poetry
b) specialized non-fiction
c) niche fiction

Otherwise it probably doesn't.

If you've written a book where you will either know all of your potential readers by name, or reasonably expect to be looking them in the eye when money changes hands, then self-publishing is probably your only choice.


As both of them said, self publishing works better if you are dealing with a small niche market.


I've heard mixed opinions about self-publishing. I would like to hear what you all have to say about it.


I prefer self publishing, however, I also write for a small niche` market, so mass production of my books is not something that I would bother pursuing.

and now to answer your question:

What exactly do you do when you self-publish?

The first and most important thing you need to know about self publishing is that first and formost you are starting a home business when you self publish, and you will need to know how to run a company.

Self publishing is: starting a small press publishing company, and investing your own time and money to design, print up, market, and sell your books. If you didn't start your own company than you didn't self publish, plain and simple. And if you think self publishing is anything differant than you don't really know what self publishing is.

And yes, most writers who self publishing did work in a marketing career prior to self publishing. VERY FEW have what it takes to self publish simply because the average person doesn't have the training to start their own business. It's hard work, damn hard work, and very few people can run a business.

That said, I'll repeat myself again: I do not recomend self publishing, unless you are able to handle running a business. Self publishing is not easy and it is not for everyone.

The best advice I can give to someone seeking to self publish is this:

1.) Be sure that you really have a passion for books.

2.) Know that running a publishing company is a full time job and once you start, you may need to quit your day job just to have enough time to focus on your publishing company.

3.) Know that for the first four or five years, you will be living off your savings, because it will take at least that long before your publishing company starts bringing in a profit.

4.) Most importantly, know that running a publishing company is work. A lot of hard work. Work that will drive you mad if you do not have the stamina to deal with a lot of hard work.

5.) Best advice of all: Do not start your own publishing company unless you have the will power to keep it running for the next 20 or 30 years. There are way to many fly by night publishers out there, you do not need to add to that list.

Okay. Moving on to actually getting started. How do you do it? Well, getting started is the easy part. Anybody can start a publishing company; there is nothing to it really. The hard part is keeping it running after you have gotten started.

The ten steps below can be used for both starting a Small Press Publishing House and starting a Self-Publishing Press, however, they are writing with the intention of starting a self-publishing press, and will need slight revisions to work for the small press publisher.

The Ten Steps to Starting a Publishing House:

Step one: HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN

The most important part of starting any business be it a restaurant or a craft shop or a publishing house, is to have a business plan. If you do not have a plan, than you could easily get side tracked from your original goals and lose your focus. So step one is to sit down and write up a business plan. This is easy enough to do.

Business plans will vary, but most will include a list of the goals you want for your business: immediate goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals, and at least one goal that says where you plan to be 5 years down the road. Once you have decided on your goals, next your need to make a plan as to how you should try to reach those goals.

Some businesses have a short five or ten page business plan; others may write up 30 or 40 pages, some may just have a one-page list. The length of your business plan is not important. What is important is that you have a plan that tells you where you want to go and how you will get there.

Step two: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

This step is all too often over looked by new business start ups and can quickly result in your down fall if neglected. First off, know that you cannot please everyone, you cannot sell to everyone, and not everyone is going to like you or your product. What you have to do is decide who your ideal customer is. Let's look at three big names in the fashion industry for an example: Wal-Mart, Macy's, and Nieman Marcus's

Wal-Mart focuses on the average income family of a $20,000 to $30,000 income and a family with an average of four children, who live in an apartment but saving for their own home. Their ideal customer shops on a budget and is looking for a bargain.

Macy's focuses on the high-income family with a housewife whose husband brings in an income of $75,000. She is the mother of two teenagers or college students. Their ideal customer now has more time to spend shopping for herself than she did a few years ago so she wants to splurge.

Nieman Marcus's focuses on the elite high income business couple. Both have jobs paying over $100,000, they have no children and live in a penthouse and attend high-class business-cocktail parties on a weekly basis. Their ideal customer has money to spend and wants one of a kind fashions straight from the Paris runways.

Each of these three company's caters to a different type customer. They are successful because they focus only on that one customer. If they tried to cater to multiple customers, they would quickly fall and go bankrupt. Learn from the big companies and focus only on your ideal target customer.

In publishing, you need to do the same thing. Do your research and find out who reads the type of books you plan to sell. What is their income? How do they live? How much can they afford to spend? How much are they willing to spend?

Step three: PLAN A MARKETING CHAMPAIGN

This will change over time and should be rewritten at least four times per year (quarterly). You need to plan a marketing Champaign if you want to be a successful publisher. Knowing your ideal customer is not enough; you must plan how you are going to get your business out there for them to actually become your customer. Research what other publishers are doing. How do they advertise their business? What bookstores carry their books? How did they get their books in their customers reach?

Step four: CHOOSE A NAME

What is in a name? Everything! A name can make or break your business. One of the biggest mistakes a new publishing company makes is not choosing a name. Sounds silly, but it is true. Most publishing company start-ups just use their own name: John Smith Press or Jan Doe Publishing House. Ask yourself, would YOU buy a book from a publisher called John Smith Press? Go to your local bookstore and take a look at a few of the publishing house names. Way do you see? Bantam Books. Scholastic Books. Twighlight Manor Press. Firebird Fantasy. Story Press. Writer's Digest Books. You get the idea right? Sit down and really think about what image you want to present. How do you want customers to see you? Than brainstorm names until you find one that fits.

Step five: ASSIGN JOBS

If you are starting a self-publishing company, than you will be doing most of the jobs yourself. However, if you are starting a small press company, than you will need to hire staff: editor, graphic designer, font setter, layout manager, accountant, etc. Someone has to read the submissions coming in. Someone has to proofread the galleys. Someone has to edit the manuscripts. Know that one person cannot do all of these jobs, and often you will need three or four people for each of these jobs.

Step six: FIND A PRINTER

As silly as is may sound, this is a step that many publishers overlook until the last minute and than they panic when they realize their local print shop cannot handle the job. Most new publishers assume that any print shop can print up all the books they will ever need. Truth is, very few print shops are able to handle a full print run of books. Most are only accustomed to printing up 16 page brochures. You may have to have your books printed up and shipped in from two or three states away. If you plan to do hardcover picture books, you should also know that there are only about a dozen print shops in the USA that have the equipment to do so. If you live in Maine, you could find yourself having to order books from a print shop in California, and the freight shipping charges could be higher than the actual cost of printing the books. Do your research and be sure that you can find a local printer that can handle your expected print loads. The printer will be your most expensive part in staring your business. Plan on $20,000 to $40,000 to print up 3,000 to 8,000 copies of you book. Make sure you see samples of their work before you dish out that kind of money, as most print shops do not accept returns or issue refunds.

One option you might consider is to hire a POD (print on demand) printer to print your books up for you. The cost of POD is more per book, but you do not have to dish out more than a few hundred dollars at a time. While there are several out there, the only online one I can honestly recommend as being a high quality reputable printer, is LuLu ( http://www.lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/) ).

Step seven: FIND A DISTRIBUTOR

Most publishers are not equipped with the ability to hire a sale representative to travel across country to visit each of the 100,000 plus bookshops and peddle your books to them. This is where a book distributor comes in. Distributors, take sample copies of your book and head out to shops promoting your books. There are dozens of book distributors out there. Some are huge national groups, other deal only with local bookshops, some deal only with libraries, while others deal only with schools. You job is to research each of the distributors and determine which one is best suited to promoting your line of books.

Step eight: THE ISBN

The sheer cost of the ISBN frightens many new publishers into thinking they can go ahead with out them. Not so. There is no bookstore online or local that will carry a book without an ISBN, and only a limit number of libraries will add a non-ISBN book to their collection. If you chose to go without the ISBN, know that you can than only sell your book via tailgate. Be prepared to go to local beaches, fairs, and craft shows, and sell copies of your book off your tailgate and be prepared to go out of business in your first year. No ISBN equals no sales.

Step nine: LEARN TO KNOW BOOKS

If you want to be taken seriously as a publisher, than be sure that your books LOOK professional. There is no bigger turn off to a buyer, than to open a book and see that there is no copyright page, no dedication page, no about the author page, no LCCN page, no ISBN, no table of contents, hard to read fonts, and a sloppy layout.
My advice: buy copies of today's best sellers: Harry Potter, Stephen King, etc. and do not read the books, but instead look at the pages. How many blank pages are at the beginning and end? How are the first 13 pages set up? Did you notice that there are always at least 13 pages of information before the book even begins? What do the margins look like? What font was used? What color is the paper? Is the paper smooth or grainy? Forget about reading the story; really get to know the book itself.

Step ten: LEARN TO BE AN EDITOR

If you are going to self publish than you are going to have to learn the art of editing manuscripts. This cannot be overlooked. If you cannot take the time to do this, than you must hire an outside editor.

IN CLOSING:

While this is by no means all there is you need to know about starting your own publishing house, it will certainly help get you on the right track. It is a lot of hard work and can be quite stressful at times; it is not a hard thing to do, if you have the patience and persistence to keep on plugging and never give up. Remember that it is a slow business to gain a footing in though, and be prepared to live off of your savings for at least three years. Once you do have a firm foundation and are making a profit, remember too, that the average income of a small publisher is less than $30,000 a year. This is not a career for anyone seeking to get rich, but rather a career of love. You become a publisher for your love of books not for your love of money.

I hope that you have found this information helpful in starting your new career.

Andre_Laurent
01-27-2008, 07:40 PM
IMO better to let work sit on a hard drive till hell freezes over than self publish a novel.

Stijn Hommes
01-27-2008, 08:42 PM
There are no advantages to self-publishing a novel, and anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing smoke up a place where you don't want smoke. Actually there is an advantage. When you self-publish you are in charge which means control freaks get to make all the decisions they want to. That's also an immediate disadvantage because they don't necessarily know what will sell.

Stijn Hommes
01-27-2008, 08:50 PM
Compared to standard publishers, a vastly larger proportion of what you find via self-publishing is dreck. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I've bought something from a standard house that has turned out to be poorly edited.

A browse through a self-pub ebook archive shows that there's a sea of dreck out there -- someone might have a great novel buried in there, but the vast majority of readers will never find it.

So, sure, if it's a market with a limited work, self-publishing might be the way to go. If you want people who're more than once or twice removed from your sales pitch to purchase it, probably not.

Ps. Galoot! I hate it when I go to dinner and come back to finish a post and someone's said what I wanted to say only pithier and better. I need a cookie now. Word of mouth is your friend. I've read 3 very enjoyable non-dreck self-published books (without laughing, James). Just make sure you are able to read previews before you invest any cash in them.

I definitely agree that since self-publishing means anyone can put their book out there, but I have yet to buy an utter piece of self-published dreck, so my intuition is keeping me from the bad work. Poddymouth even managed a blog on wellwritten self-published books for quite some time, a lot of which went on to become more succesful, so it CAN be done.

Also, whoever mentioned upfront cash, not every self-publisher asks cash upfront - look at Lulu. And there are also ones that do, but actually charge reasonable prices for things that are really done as needed.

SpeckyBrunette
01-28-2008, 02:14 PM
Haven't read the majority of the argument here, but I'd advise you not to self-publish - mainly for the reason that it will be, as someone else so greatly put it, lost among the dreck.

I've known of a few people who have self-published their fiction novels and they use every excuse under the sun to justify it when really we know damn well they've only done it because nobody else would take the work. 'I've self-published' smacks of 'my work wasn't good enough' and unless of course your work has a specific target audience that the big publishers won't take on anyway, that's what a lot of people are going to think about it, regardless of the self-publishing success stories which, I imagine, are very few compared to how many self-published authors are actually out there.

It will take a LOT of hard work to sell a self-published novel - because these publishers don't do it for you like traditional publishers do. You'll have to advertise yourself and do a lot of work (and spend yet more money) getting your book out there. And even then, you'll still find it hard.

Actually there is an advantage. When you self-publish you are in charge which means control freaks get to make all the decisions they want to. That's also an immediate disadvantage because they don't necessarily know what will sell.

Exactly. I've known people who say, 'yeah, but I want total control over MY book and by self-publishing I can have that!' A crap cover and a sh*tload of typos later, and ta-dah! Publishing is a business - they know what sells and they know how to market their books.

Again, as another poster mentioned, some people don't bother searching for great self-published books. I certainly don't. I won't spend an hour or two online trying to find a self-pubbed book that's overpriced (they are most of the time, right?) and praying that it's a decent read. Not when I can spend that hour or two in Waterstones browsing all the traditionally published books out there, knowing that even though some might not be my thing, they were all deemed good enough to be picked up by a publisher.

This sounds harsh, but it's true.

If I were you I'd either start a new novel, or work on that one again and continue to submit it to agents and publishers - anything but self-publishing. If the book isn't a specific genre or target audience, then really it'll be seen by many as a last-resort.

Linton Robinson
01-28-2008, 08:04 PM
IMO better to let work sit on a hard drive till hell freezes over than self publish a novel.

Why? That stands out among this commentary. You'd rather nobody ever read your work than to publish it? I have a really hard time understanding that.