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View Full Version : Mentioning POD, but not as pub credit



Chris P
04-05-2010, 06:56 PM
I posted this in an existing thread, but it didn't get any responses so I'll start fresh.

I have a POD novella from you-know-who. I've seen advice elsewhere saying that it's okay to mention it, just don't call it a publication credit. How does this work? Is this even a good idea at all?

In a recent query, I listed my published short stories, and then said: "In addition to these credits, I have a POD novella and about 50 scientific articles in scholarly, trade and popular journals."

How does that sound?

Gillhoughly
04-05-2010, 08:06 PM
My choice ain't up there.

"In addition to these credits, I have a POD novella and about 50 scientific articles in scholarly, trade and popular journals."

THAT would impress me as an editor. It tells me you can sit down and put some real time into your writing and might know how to put a sentence together.

I like it even better if other editors paid you for your words.

Forget mentioning the novella or who printed it. That's like saying on a job resume, "I did chores around the house that gave me valuable job experience!"

Mention of it will only get you, "Good grief, not another one who thinks that counts."

I know you put a lot of effort into its writing, but at this point it could be an anchor holding back the new work.

Anything that pays stays, all else goes.

Chris P
04-05-2010, 08:44 PM
My choice ain't up there.

"In addition to these credits, I have a POD novella and about 50 scientific articles in scholarly, trade and popular journals."

THAT would impress me as an editor. It tells me you can sit down and put some real time into your writing and might know how to put a sentence together.


Thanks! So non-fic pubs (even produced in the course of my day job) should be mentioned as shown in your example? That was another thing I was unclear about.

Gillhoughly
04-05-2010, 09:24 PM
Technically it's paid work, even if it was part of your paycheck. Fifty pieces is good body of work!

You can have non-fic credits and sell fiction. All I had starting out were five pieces for a gaming magazine with a narrow audience. But five checks went with them.

The first thing my editor asked was "Have you sold anything else?" not "Have you got anything else in print?"

I could truthfully say "____ Magazine bought everything I sent them."

If your non-fic work has any link to your fiction, great. If not, they're still a solid credit.

Forget the POD. Maybe down the road you can dust it off and turn it into a novel to sell, but first things first.

wheelwriter
04-07-2010, 07:10 AM
My choice isn't up there either. From what I understand, it's best not to include any POD work unless it sold close to 5000 copies (which is unlikely for a POD). I wouldn't include it in a query letter, but if an agent offered representation, I would mention it because it might influence how they market you (might not advertise it as your debute novel). So, don't list it, but don't pretend it didn't happen. I hope that helps. Good luck.

triceretops
04-07-2010, 07:46 AM
Now wait a minute...are y'all saying that a print-on-demand small press or indie (university press) publisher who pays over a couple hundred bucks advance is a POD? I've had a couple of those. What about a small press who uses print-on-demand and and has paid you substantial royalies? Not good enough for a credit either? Then e-books shouldn't count as a credit, either.

So only NYC houses and major slick mags in your credit bio, eh?

I kind of thought vanity and self-published books shouldn't be used as a credit, but you could slide with some good small guys.

Tri

Gillhoughly
04-07-2010, 09:20 AM
Tri-- the POD book is with "you-know-who" which I interpreted as being a notorious reverse vanity house we all loathe. If not that one, then another from the Top 20 Thumbs Down List.

Mention of THAT in one's resume is never a good idea!


A substantial, legit, POD house or university press that pays a small advance is a different matter, but most e-books that pay royalties only still do not count as a professional credit, however well they sell.

Some houses ARE gaining ground, but for the present you deal with how things are. Agents and editors will not be impressed unless the ebook got you a guest spot on Oprah.


So only NYC houses and major slick mags in your credit bio, eh?

PAYING markets of any kind: a local paper paying for a stringer piece, a small magazine paying a penny a word for a story--it counts.

These days I could have a dozen titles selling well at a reputable e-house, but a single short story to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine will trump that with most editors and agents.

Unfair, probably, but for the present, that's just how it is. We deal in craft--they deal in money. They like to know your craft has was worth enough for someone to buy it from you, not just sell it for you.

While a track record of sales is fantastic, they are always going to look at the work in hand and make a decision based on IT, not the resume or the cover letter.

I write terrible cover letters. Never could get the hang of the danged things. The one that went with my first book was the worst, but I shoved it in with the sample chapters and hoped the rumors were true that most editors skip the letters and go right to the writing. Then maybe they would miss my tiny list of sales to a magazine I was sure they'd never heard of.

It's what I do! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif

triceretops
04-07-2010, 08:49 PM
Oh, I see now. I didn't read into it. Yes, I definitely can see where e-books are not recognized as solid credits. I think the e-book v.s. print controversy will go on for years. E-books, in my opinion, are a great way to get edited first time out--kind of helps breaking some bad writing habits. Other than that, they can, when placed right, make a few bucks.

Tri

Mr Flibble
04-07-2010, 08:57 PM
Some houses ARE gaining ground, but for the present you deal with how things are. Agents and editors will not be impressed unless the ebook got you a guest spot on Oprah.

Why did I read that two minutes AFTER I sent the query?

Ah well...

DeleyanLee
04-07-2010, 09:05 PM
My understanding is that the moment you mention a previous publication, the agent is going to look for the sales numbers. If the sales numbers aren't over at least 5K, then that's BAD for your chances. It means it's "proven" you can't sell your way out of a wet paper bag.

Why invite that kind of reaction?

I was published by a small-press/e-pub and even got a damned good review in The Romantic Times. Regardless, I can't use that because my sales numbers sucked dirty duck butt. As far as any agent/publisher is concerned, it might as well have been printed off my computer and handed out at family reunions.

Chumplet
04-07-2010, 09:33 PM
Oh, well... I hope that doesn't render my first 50 queries useless because I mentioned my 3 books from e-publishers.

scope
04-07-2010, 11:55 PM
Chumplet,

All kidding aside, IMO that's a real problem. I don't know how you can get over this (maybe someone has an idea), but I suggest you write a new query letter for submissions to others.

Chris P
04-08-2010, 12:05 AM
What about a small press who uses print-on-demand and and has paid you substantial royalies? Not good enough for a credit either? Then e-books shouldn't count as a credit, either.

I kind of thought vanity and self-published books shouldn't be used as a credit, but you could slide with some good small guys.

I think it has to do with acceptance standards. I don't see why small presses would by definition have looser standards, but with so many small presses out there, how in the world would an agent know the standards of the editor?


Oh, I see now. I didn't read into it. Yes, I definitely can see where e-books are not recognized as solid credits. I think the e-book v.s. print controversy will go on for years. E-books, in my opinion, are a great way to get edited first time out--kind of helps breaking some bad writing habits. Other than that, they can, when placed right, make a few bucks.

Not to pick on you, but you seem to be referring to a point that bothers me but nobody has explained: the idea that self-publishing or epublishing is a good way to get your first ones out of the way, to build up a readership, and whatever. How does this differ from POD? Don't vanity presses hear this suggestion and wait for the manuscripts and money to roll in? I know ebooks are not quite "anything goes" in the way a vanity press or PA is, but I fail to see how the two differ if this is the intent. There's a lot about this business I don't understand, and how this idea is being taken so seriously is one of them.

triceretops
04-08-2010, 12:14 AM
I wouldn't suggest that small press or e-pubs are the first line of submission. Always start at the top and work down. That's what I did. I didn't make the grade on some books--never got the agent to sell them, or I was rejected from those who accept un-agented submissions. My last agent didn't rep my Gate Walker, so it was up to me to send it out. It landed with an e-pub, so I took it.

Tri

Gillhoughly
04-08-2010, 01:45 AM
a point that bothers me but nobody has explained: the idea that self-publishing or epublishing is a good way to get your first ones out of the way, to build up a readership, and whatever. How does this differ from POD?

POD (to me) is just a medium used to print a book, that's all. Perfectly legit small presses who pay (small) advances use it all the time. If sales go through the roof on a title, then they shop out to an offset press for a second print run and crack open the champagne.

But again-- whatever the medium, if there's no advance check, it don't count for squat for most agents and editors. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon9.gif They only care if some other editor thought your words were worth buying.

I admit it's tempting to "get your feet wet" by taking work to a smaller operation. They're not as scary as the big boys with the real money.

But if you intend to go to the big boys anyway, then totally yes, start at the top and learn to grow a thick skin.

A rejection from a small outfit hurts just as much as from a big one.

AND--there's always the possibility you'll get accepted.

I'd about given up hope. My first book was accepted by a small press---that went bankrupt the day after I got their letter. Fate was against me!

:insert cartoon of Gill beating head against wall. The small press CEO's head, that is:

Once I got over the anger and tears I put on my game face and decided to stop farting around and sent it to the biggest dog on the block. I knew it was ridiculous. They'd never find it in their slush pile. Never.

But what the hey--a month later they asked to see a full. A couple months later I had a contract. Whoa, baby!

Those two years of shopping around, rejections, rewrites, and feedback from brave friends got my book to a point where it was worth buying.


My understanding is that the moment you mention a previous publication, the agent is going to look for the sales numbers.I don't see how they could.

If there is a secret database that has the sales numbers on all books, e-books and print and e-magazines I would love a link. (I also want the secret handshake and who's going to the next midnight meeting just south of the town dump and if it's nekked dancing around the fire or a s'mores roast. :D )


If the sales numbers aren't over at least 5K, then that's BAD for your chances. It means it's "proven" you can't sell your way out of a wet paper bag.
All it "proves" is that that specific work didn't sell well.

They know full well that low numbers can be from a variety of reasons ranging from zero distribution to no promotion to stinky economy to less than perfect writing. (I've seen DREADFUL writing on the NYT bestseller list, so I discount that one.)

The *new* work the agent has on her desk could be the best thing she's ever seen.

Again--the agent or editor will judge what's in front of them, not your past record.

One of my pals had TERRIBLE numbers with a publisher. They didn't know how to market her, she got lousy promotion, the editor that loved her work left the company and the new editor hated everything the old editor left behind--including my pal's stuff. The publisher complained that she sold only 5K copies, ignoring the fact that they'd only printed 5k copies. It was a cluster**** and my friend threw in the towel and gave up writing for a bit.

But she went back to it and sold a new series under a new pen name with a new agent. She's on the NYT's bestseller list now and her Morganville Vampire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Caine) series is outselling Twilight in the UK.


They don't have time to look you up and check you out. They might do that after they decide to represent/buy your submission, but low figures won't change their mind about the new work.

Let's keep it simple, folks:
Publishing books is a business.

The agent and editor want to make money off the writer's craft.

The writer has to write something good enough for them to sell.

And that's pretty much IT.
If the writer has NO credits, NO sales, or crappy sales, they won't hold it against her. They'll look at what's being offered now and decide on it.

Stephen King had written three other books before Carrie. No one cared that the other three didn't sell. No one cared about his short stories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_fiction_by_Stephen_King).

The MS on the editor's desk at Doubleday was all that mattered.

They gave him a 2500$ advance against royalties. The hardcover sold about 13K copies, then he had to split the paperback rights ($400.000.00, yow!) with Doubleday. Better believe that got him out of the old trailer.

In a talk at the University of Maine at Orono, King said of Carrie, "I'm not saying that Carrie is shit and I'm not repudiating it. She made me a star, but it was a young book by a young writer. In retrospect it reminds me of a cookie baked by a first grader—tasty enough, but kind of lumpy and burned on the bottom."

But it sold.

I'll let you know that I'm not a fan of his writing. As it stands I stopped reading anything by him since 1983. But I respect the fact that he never gave up and just kept plugging. It's what inspired me to keep subbing stuff until I sold my first work five years later and my first novel 2 years after that.