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MPCotter9751
03-25-2013, 07:42 PM
I have an important question:

If one self-publishes a book, is it still possible to get an established publisher interested in publishing it, assuming that the writer takes their self-published copy off the market?

I ask this because I have self-published three books already, getting few sales in return; and would like to attract the notice of an established publishing house. However, I just received an email from one such publisher who said that they would not review a self-published book with the idea of republishing it themselves (albeit with editorial changes). This publisher told me that was because "the biggest sales on a book are when it is first released".

And yet, my latest book has only been on the market for a couple of weeks and so far I have not had any "sales", aside from some people downloading it for free. Is it too late for me to have a publishing house consider it? If that is true, I feel very let down.

Mark

kaitie
03-25-2013, 08:16 PM
Usually, they only consider it if you've sold a lot of copies (say over 10,000, but I've heard the number has gone up since a few authors have sold very well. Different people give different numbers).

It's partly that most books do sell best in the first few weeks, but also a book that doesn't sell well might be a sign to them that it won't sell well published commercially, either. Similarly, a commercially published author with few sales has a harder time getting published later. It's also already been published, so rather than selling first rights, you'd be selling reprint rights.

Generally speaking, if you want to be commercially published, you have to try that route first. It's much more difficult to get a book that's been self-published published commercially.

That being said, the easiest option you have is to write a new book and submit that one. If you've had a lot of rejections, it could be that the writing isn't up to professional standards yet, so working on craft could help you. You might need help writing a query letter. Both of those are things you can be helped with here.

I've had a look at your books, and if you don't mind my saying, part of the problem might be your covers. They look handmade to me. Covers are the first things a reader sees. That means they have to rock. If the cover doesn't look professional or high quality, why would the contents inside the book be high quality? Does that make sense? If it looks like you skimped on the cover, readers are likely to assume that you skimped elsewhere, too.

Keep in mind you're competing with professionally made covers and books. You aren't just competing with other self-published authors. Your book is on the same virtual shelf as a new Stephen King book.

You might do better if you hire a professional to design your covers. One of your reviewers also recommended editing, so that's something to consider as well. Even a great cover and good editing and good writing don't guarantee a self-published book will sell, but they're pretty necessary to have a chance.

MPCotter9751
03-25-2013, 08:58 PM
Thanks, Kaitie. I am on a very tight budget as far as professional covers go, but I appreciate your comments.

Mark

Roger J Carlson
03-25-2013, 09:11 PM
Is it too late for me to have a publishing house consider it? If that is true, I feel very let down.It depends on how you define "publisher". There are people out there who call themselves publishers who would take it, but most likely they'll ask YOU to pay THEM*. Anyone who asks you to pay them to publish your book is not a publisher. Please be careful. Before you sign, check any publisher out on the BR&BC board here on AW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22).

I know it's disappointing, but letting that disappointment lead you into a scam will be far worse.



*ETA: Asking YOU to pay THEM also includes "co-publishing" where the "publisher" asks the writer to pay part.

J. Tanner
03-25-2013, 09:16 PM
In addition to what Katie said...



And yet, my latest book has only been on the market for a couple of weeks and so far I have not had any "sales", aside from some people downloading it for free. Is it too late for me to have a publishing house consider it?

That's published regardless of the number of sales, so generally yes it's too late. You would have to disclose that it was published when submitting it, and should not submit it to publishers looking to acquire first rights because those are gone.

turningpoint
03-25-2013, 09:50 PM
Well this comment may or not be what you are looking for, but it might help. I wrote a book and obtained an agent for it but it was not picked up by a publisher. After that I self-published via createspace. My book is well edited and I believe well-written. Later I approached a magazine and had a couple of chapters accepted for publication in the magazine. I was honest with the magazine that the essays I submitted were only very slightly modified from chapters in my self-published book. The magazine liked my work and was fine with its history. So in that sense, my work has had publication after my self-publishing. The book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Art-Beauty-without-illustrations/dp/1467923702/

kaitie
03-26-2013, 01:01 AM
There are also more agents willing to look at self-published work now as well. I saw an agent a few months ago say that ten percent of the submissions they're getting now are for books people self-published. A lot of agents still won't look at them, but others will.

It won't really hurt to approach agents, but I would take the books down first and make sure you were up front with the books' background. The biggest question, though, is whether or not it's worth the time and effort when it's going to be harder to succeed with this book than a book that you haven't published yet. That's something you'll have to decide.

Querying takes a lot of time and effort and research. If you have the time and don't mind doing the work, it won't hurt to try. The worst that happens is you get a no and move on. But if you have to give up writing time or editing time to do it, it might be worth just working your hardest on a new book and have that ready to go.

As for the budget, it is a problem, but it's still (in my opinion) something to be considered. The main reason I haven't self-published yet is because I don't have the money to do it well, so I know how it is.

It might be worth it to save up and at least get new covers for the ones out there and focus on submitting a later book, but only do it if you think it will make a big enough difference in sales. Self-publishing is a bit of a gamble because you have to put your money up front and there is no guarantee of making it back. If you're on a budget and don't think you'll sell that many copies to make up for it, it's probably best to just leave them as is and put your focus onto new books.

Old Hack
03-26-2013, 01:16 AM
Is it too late for me to have a publishing house consider it? If that is true, I feel very let down.

Who do you think has let you down here? Publishers, for not being willing to consider work that someone else has already published? Or yourself, for not researching publishing fully before you went ahead and self published?

shelleyo
03-26-2013, 10:42 AM
Who do you think has let you down here? Publishers, for not being willing to consider work that someone else has already published? Or yourself, for not researching publishing fully before you went ahead and self published?

"Let down in general" wouldn't be out of line.

Mark, large publishers are only interested in a book that's selling like mad, and they, or more likely an agent, will typically be the one to reach out to the writer if interested. This isn't common, it's just that when it happens it's such a big deal that it's all over the forumsphere. I think too many people mistakenly believe that it's a sure shot. It's not.

I think it's more common for someone to have some self-published work up that sells very well to get a deal on a new work, since it can't hurt to have stuff readers are enjoying when you query that unpublished manuscript. But people who haven't even put a poem up on their blog still do get publishing deals, so there is no one right way, no matter what anyone says.

A book that's not selling much at all isn't like to attract anyone. You could pull it now and rework it, then be honest when you query that a much different version was on sale for a couple of weeks. If you're not willing to make such changes, just go the query route with your next book.

Good luck with whatever you do.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:39 PM
Who do you think has let you down here? Publishers, for not being willing to consider work that someone else has already published? Or yourself, for not researching publishing fully before you went ahead and self published?
What a nice response to my question! You must write children's books.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:41 PM
It depends on how you define "publisher". There are people out there who call themselves publishers who would take it, but most likely they'll ask YOU to pay THEM*. Anyone who asks you to pay them to publish your book is not a publisher. Please be careful. Before you sign, check any publisher out on the BR&BC board here on AW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22).

I know it's disappointing, but letting that disappointment lead you into a scam will be far worse.



*ETA: Asking YOU to pay THEM also includes "co-publishing" where the "publisher" asks the writer to pay part.
Thanks Roger! I have seen some of those and would never use them.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:43 PM
Thanks. You are right.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:44 PM
Thanks, Turning Point. I am looking into much the same process with magazines.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:47 PM
Kaitie, I understand what you mean. The main reason I have self-published is that I could not find a publisher who would consider me without an agent; and I couldn't find an agent who would work with me without my being an established author. A kind of "Catch-22". And I did a lot of querying, sent out lots of emails and snail mail.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:48 PM
Kaitie: I also used CreateSpace's design templates to create my book covers, for what it's worth. But I regret I'm not a professional illustrator.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:50 PM
Thanks, Shellyo. I absolutely agree with what you said.

MPCotter9751
03-26-2013, 10:50 PM
Thanks, JTanner. You are correct.

Terie
03-26-2013, 11:13 PM
The main reason I have self-published is that I could not find a publisher who would consider me without an agent; and I couldn't find an agent who would work with me without my being an established author. A kind of "Catch-22". And I did a lot of querying, sent out lots of emails and snail mail.

Actually, agents don't care whether a writer is an established author. All they care about is the manuscript. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth. Every published author was once unpublished.

The fact that you couldn't interest an agent in the manuscript is, simply, because the manuscript wasn't good enough to interest them.

Sheryl Nantus
03-26-2013, 11:15 PM
Kaitie, I understand what you mean. The main reason I have self-published is that I could not find a publisher who would consider me without an agent; and I couldn't find an agent who would work with me without my being an established author. A kind of "Catch-22". And I did a lot of querying, sent out lots of emails and snail mail.

First, a note - you may want to hit the "quote" button so people can see what you're responding to. Otherwise the posts seem to make little sense to the casual observer.

Second, don't be nasty to Old Hack.

All of us have started from the same spot. I don't have an agent, I submitted directly to publishers and sold my books. Others work with agents and there are plenty of agents out there looking for new authors.

I still don't know what you meant by "let you down". Please elaborate.

cornflake
03-26-2013, 11:17 PM
Actually, agents don't care whether a writer is an established author. All they care about is the manuscript. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth. Every published author was once unpublished.

The fact that you couldn't interest an agent in the manuscript is, simply, because the manuscript wasn't good enough to interest them.

Well, or the query wasn't what it should have been. There are people with great manuscripts but craptastic queries that don't get any responses, same as someone can polish a query that will get requests but the ms. will sink their chances.

I don't think it's fair to say not being able to find an agent necessarily means the ms. were the problem - could have been the query.

I totally agree agents are just as willing, if not more so, to work with debut authors.

shelleyo
03-26-2013, 11:29 PM
First, a note - you may want

I still don't know what you meant by "let you down". Please elaborate.


If that is true, I feel very let down.

He's disappointed. I don't see 'let me down' anywhere.

I'm interested why this particular phrase is being pulled out and examined the way it is, though. Why does he have to elaborate? It seems he now realizes that more research and different expectations could have helped.


.

Sheryl Nantus
03-26-2013, 11:34 PM
He's disappointed. I don't see 'let me down' anywhere.

I'm interested why this particular phrase is being pulled out and examined the way it is, though. Why does he have to elaborate? It seems he now realizes that more research and different expectations could have helped.
.


I stand corrected. However, "I feel very let down" seems to imply that someone had control over his situation, someone other than himself. Who let him down? What let him down? If he were discussing PublishAmerica, for example, it'd be understandable that he would "feel very let down".

I guess I'm trying to understand how you can self-publish and let yourself down.

It's the writer in me.

:)

Old Hack
03-26-2013, 11:41 PM
What a nice response to my question! You must write children's books.

Thank you for your interest. I have written several children's books, a couple of which have won prizes.

I strongly urge you to read AW's Newbie Guide, which is linked to at the top of almost every page here, and consider what AW's one rule of "respect your fellow writer" means. I'll give you a clue: in the Newbie Guide it's summed up as "don't be a jerk". You're failing in that regard and if you continue to do so, you won't last long here.

Now, would you please answer my original question?


Kaitie, I understand what you mean. The main reason I have self-published is that I could not find a publisher who would consider me without an agent; and I couldn't find an agent who would work with me without my being an established author. A kind of "Catch-22". And I did a lot of querying, sent out lots of emails and snail mail.

Agents don't care if you've never published anything before, so long as your work--your query letter and your book--is good enough. If agents did refuse to represent anyone who wasn't already established, the market would very swiftly dry up.


don't be nasty to Old Hack.

Thank you for your concerns, Sheryl.

I'm overlooking MPCotter's rudeness because he's new here, and doesn't yet understand how this place works. But this is the only free go he'll get.

Roger J Carlson
03-26-2013, 11:44 PM
I'm interested why this particular phrase is being pulled out and examined the way it is, though. Why does he have to elaborate? He doesn't, of course. And nobody has to answer his question either. Not even someone as knowledgeable about the publishing world as Old Hack.

shelleyo
03-26-2013, 11:48 PM
I guess I'm trying to understand how you can self-publishing and let yourself down.

It's the writer in me.

:)

I let myself down all the time. But it may be the neurotic in me. :)

In all seriousness, I make a living self-publishing now, and I've felt let down a number of times. In almost every case, it was my fault. I can own that, but it was harder at first.

Tons of research from a variety of sources and reasonable expectations can go along way toward saving a person grief. OP, reading this forum should be the start of your research, not the end.

WeaselFire
03-27-2013, 12:37 AM
If one self-publishes a book, is it still possible to get an established publisher interested in publishing it, assuming that the writer takes their self-published copy off the market?
Absolutely Not! No way would they publish anything by Amanda Hocking! Or any Fifty Shades of anything! Can't happen! The world would be in turmoil! Cats and Dogs under the same roof! Oh, the horrors!

Obviously, it happens. Provided your self-published work becomes a runaway hit, of course.

Jeff

MPCotter9751
03-27-2013, 01:10 AM
Actually, agents don't care whether a writer is an established author. All they care about is the manuscript. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth. Every published author was once unpublished.

The fact that you couldn't interest an agent in the manuscript is, simply, because the manuscript wasn't good enough to interest them.
First, I don't believe what you say is true, Terie. Agents will flock to work with an established writer regardless of the fact that they are now writing crap and resting upon their laurels' while at the same time they will put a manuscript by Joe Blow in their slush pile. Usually: there are exceptions. Second, you can't say my manuscript wasn't good enough if you didn't read it yourself.

cornflake
03-27-2013, 01:16 AM
First, I don't believe what you say is true, Terie. Agents will flock to work with an established writer regardless of the fact that they are now writing crap and resting upon their laurels' while at the same time they will put a manuscript by Joe Blow in their slush pile. Usually: there are exceptions. Second, you can't say my manuscript wasn't good enough if you didn't read it yourself.

Agents don't have slush piles, mostly.

Regardless - no, agents won't just flock to established writers. There are many agents who'd rather not deal much with established writers. The few who have consistently strong sales over a long period and many books, sure.

The rest are going to be examined by any house, scrupulously. A writer with a record is a writer with a record you can pick apart. Someone had bad numbers on the second book in a two-book deal, it's not cake for an agent to get another multi-book deal. Someone didn't earn out an advance even if the sales were good, but there'd been a kooky bidding war? That might get the author yelling in one ear while the houses yell in the other. A debut author has no history to assail. Also no history of working with a house but it's a trade off.

MPCotter9751
03-27-2013, 01:18 AM
Well, or the query wasn't what it should have been. There are people with great manuscripts but craptastic queries that don't get any responses, same as someone can polish a query that will get requests but the ms. will sink their chances.

I don't think it's fair to say not being able to find an agent necessarily means the ms. were the problem - could have been the query.

I totally agree agents are just as willing, if not more so, to work with debut authors.
Could have been a lot of things, Cornflake. I don't like to sound bitter, but I find the phrase "the query wasn't what it should have been" puzzling. What SHOULD it have been? You could say "one that worked", but what would have worked? I read several authors' directions on how to best structure a query letter, possibly even some from AW. So what did I do wrong, if it wa sthe query? It could have been the subject, or the story, or maybe my writing just sucks. I'm constantly trying to improve. Maybe I just haven't found the right agents.

cornflake
03-27-2013, 01:25 AM
Could have been a lot of things, Cornflake. I don't like to sound bitter, but I find the phrase "the query wasn't what it should have been" puzzling. What SHOULD it have been? You could say "one that worked", but what would have worked? I read several authors' directions on how to best structure a query letter, possibly even some from AW. So what did I do wrong, if it wa sthe query? It could have been the subject, or the story, or maybe my writing just sucks. I'm constantly trying to improve. Maybe I just haven't found the right agents.

Do you not see the word 'or' in there?

I have no idea what your query said, or if it got requests. If it got a good request rate and then rejections, then it's likely not the query. If it didn't get a decent request rate, may be the query, may be the story. How the hell do I know, I can't see it.

However, a LOT of people read things online and come up with a query that is a hot mess covered in nacho cheese.

Once you have 50 posts, if you care to, you're free to post excerpts from your work, or your query, or whatever, and ask peoples' opinions.

cornflake
03-27-2013, 01:43 AM
Also, seriously, dude, many of these posts sound like you've got a chip on your shoulder.

No one here did anything. I get the responses to your question aren't what you'd have wished but don't shoot the messenger, you know? There are a lot of people here with a lot of experience, and a lot of people with very little experience and we all try to play together nicely and help each other out.

Terie
03-27-2013, 01:48 AM
First, I don't believe what you say is true, Terie. Agents will flock to work with an established writer regardless of the fact that they are now writing crap and resting upon their laurels' while at the same time they will put a manuscript by Joe Blow in their slush pile.

So if what you think is true, let me ask you this: How is it that first-time authors get picked up by agents every day? How is it that first-time authors' books debut every day?

To further challenge your logic: If agents are only interested in established authors, how did those authors ever get established in the first place?

Finally, why would agents flock to authors who are already represented by other agents?

shelleyo
03-27-2013, 02:24 AM
It's true that agents don't flock to established authors, if you're talking trade-published authors, because they probably already have an agent or submitted directly and negotiated for themselves. Agents aren't going to approach those people.

Someone who has self-published and done very well--and I mean outlier well--may be approached by an agent or three. It's no guarantee, though. I know a couple of people who broke out and never got an offer, and some who did. Some then went looking for trade deals and found agents, but most were approached.

Someone who is querying a new novel who has self-published and done very well (just mid-list well, not outlier) may get a longer look from an agent. If the query sucks, it's not likely. But the knowledge of a built-in audience of readers for past work certainly can work in the writer's favor down the line, especially with some small presses. It's not necessary, and it might not tip the scales, but it's ridiculous to think that it couldn't help. I wouldn't, however, self-publish in the hopes of this. If you want trade-publication, it's far better to pursue it directly.

Conversely, I wouldn't mention self-pubbed titles that don't sell anywhere in my query. I think if a current query and partial/full read makes the agent want to represent you, those poor sellers won't change his mind. But there's no point shoving them up front at the query stage when it's so easy for them to not request more.

I don't want to give some specific unsolicited advice, Mark. If you'd like some, PM me. It probably won't be magically helpful, but maybe a little. I don't think you'll find the answers you're looking for in this particular part of AW. Especially since you're planning on going the trade route next time, this thread is just spinning your wheels and arguing. Lesson learned, move forward, yeah?

Look at the Bewares, Recommendations, etc. sections for reputable agents and publishing houses, whether for a current or future title. Other sub-forums can also help you shape-up your query, synopsis, and all the rest. There's a wealth of information, but you do need an incredibly thick skin.

MPCotter9751
03-27-2013, 04:57 AM
I stand corrected and bow to the greater wisdom of the long-time writers on AW -- even Old Hack. Thank you all for your constructive criticism. I will keep it in mind when I make revisions or write new material. Clearly I am mystified by the world of publishing.

kaitie
03-27-2013, 05:07 AM
For what it's worth, I'm an absolute nobody and I have an agent. The book that got the agent (the second queried, the fifth or so written) had a lot of interest (fifteen or sixteen requests?) and two offers.

The idea that no one looks at unknown authors is a myth, but one widely believed. We're trying to tell you that it's a myth. It's untrue. They look at work by unknown authors every day. Now, I'm sure if you're multi-published, bestselling author, finding a new agent is a piece of cake. You can probably walk up to most anyone and say "I'm free" and they'll take you on. It's still tough for a newbie because you have to go through the process of query, request, etc.

Have you seen Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html)? It gives the reasons why manuscripts are rejected. If you didn't get requests in the first place, it's most likely a problem with the query. If you get requests and they don't pan out, it's a problem with the manuscript.

It's hard to know what the problem is, but this is something all writers have to figure out. Sometimes, most of the time, the books just aren't good enough yet. It could even be something as seemingly minor as word count. If your book is 300,000 words, you're almost certainly going to be rejected by everyone because the book is vastly outside acceptable limits for a first-time author. Are there exceptions to that? Sure, but most of us can't count on being the one in a million who pulls it off.

When you have 50 posts, you can put queries up in the SYW area and see if there's a problem there. You can also put up sample chapters for critique.

Getting a book published is a long, really hard journey for most of us. I have an agent and I'm still not published. It's not something that usually happens on the first book, or even the second book. Most authors spend years learning the craft before they're good enough. It's just all part of the game. We succeed by learning from what we did wrong and perseverance.

MPCotter9751
03-27-2013, 08:35 AM
For what it's worth, I'm an absolute nobody and I have an agent. The book that got the agent (the second queried, the fifth or so written) had a lot of interest (fifteen or sixteen requests?) and two offers.

The idea that no one looks at unknown authors is a myth, but one widely believed. We're trying to tell you that it's a myth. It's untrue. They look at work by unknown authors every day. Now, I'm sure if you're multi-published, bestselling author, finding a new agent is a piece of cake. You can probably walk up to most anyone and say "I'm free" and they'll take you on. It's still tough for a newbie because you have to go through the process of query, request, etc.

Have you seen Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html)? It gives the reasons why manuscripts are rejected. If you didn't get requests in the first place, it's most likely a problem with the query. If you get requests and they don't pan out, it's a problem with the manuscript.

It's hard to know what the problem is, but this is something all writers have to figure out. Sometimes, most of the time, the books just aren't good enough yet. It could even be something as seemingly minor as word count. If your book is 300,000 words, you're almost certainly going to be rejected by everyone because the book is vastly outside acceptable limits for a first-time author. Are there exceptions to that? Sure, but most of us can't count on being the one in a million who pulls it off.

When you have 50 posts, you can put queries up in the SYW area and see if there's a problem there. You can also put up sample chapters for critique.

Getting a book published is a long, really hard journey for most of us. I have an agent and I'm still not published. It's not something that usually happens on the first book, or even the second book. Most authors spend years learning the craft before they're good enough. It's just all part of the game. We succeed by learning from what we did wrong and perseverance.

Kaitie, thank you. I remember looking at Slushkiller once a while back. I'll look into it again. Sorry if I have acted like a jerk.

nkkingston
03-27-2013, 05:20 PM
The solution that's likely to work best is write a fresh book, sub that to agents and publishers, and if they like it and ask about other work, then you tell them about the self-published stuff and see if they'd like to rep that too, knowing its history.

quicklime
03-27-2013, 08:13 PM
What a nice response to my question! You must write children's books.


don't go there....what Hack said may sting, but it is absolutely true. you got bit in what's becoming a very common catch-22, but it isn't one that you couldn't have researched your way out of. We all make mistakes, if you snark your way into getting banned here instead of eating a bit of crow (and remember, this was YOUR screw up, not hack or anyone else's) you'll have only managed to make a second one.

Learn all you can here. write a new book. Do things the "right way" now and count this as a lesson learned. Sometimes that's about all you can do. Just move on and learn.

quicklime
03-27-2013, 08:25 PM
First, I don't believe what you say is true, Terie. Agents will flock to work with an established writer regardless of the fact that they are now writing crap and resting upon their laurels' while at the same time they will put a manuscript by Joe Blow in their slush pile. Usually: there are exceptions. Second, you can't say my manuscript wasn't good enough if you didn't read it yourself.
1. if you believe anywhere near a majority of "established" authors get to rest on anything, you are sorely mistaken. they get dropped all the time. Several folks here have because of diminishing sales, some of whom I would be quite happy to work with. Good folks, with talent. And who had book deals.

2. Unless you believe this authorship cabal includes immortality, you should see a minor flaw in your logic: yes, prior published books help establish that you can walk the walk, but the only way to keep the business going is to keep taking new talent. Which agents do. EVERY DAY.

3. We can't say we KNOW the manuiscript wasn't good enough, but if you can't see we are suggesting a simple possibility, and you refuse to acknowledge it, there's precious little anyone can do here to help you....and perhaps you don't even WANT the help. You seem more intent on pissing and moaning, which makes you feel better but only hinders any actual progress as a writer. Did you know Stephen King still uses his wife to beta every single book? He's willing to entertain his own fallability. As are most "professional" writers I know.




Could have been a lot of things, Cornflake. I don't like to sound bitter, but I find the phrase "the query wasn't what it should have been" puzzling. What SHOULD it have been? You could say "one that worked", but what would have worked? I read several authors' directions on how to best structure a query letter, possibly even some from AW. So what did I do wrong, if it wa sthe query? It could have been the subject, or the story, or maybe my writing just sucks. I'm constantly trying to improve. Maybe I just haven't found the right agents.

have you spent any time in QLH? I like King, and loved On Writing, but as far as how to get in, I think he was flat-out off-base, stuck in a model that worked for him in the 1970s. And I've seen "how-tos" on query letters that dissected queries which got representation 20 years ago. That's eons in terms of how queries have changed. So check out QLH, and QS, both of which are fairly "real-time." The internet can go out of date, and a lot of the query-writing sites I've seen I conside to be just that. Study the stickies in QLH, and CRITIQUE. Participate in discussions as you build post count, and when you hit 50, maybe sub your query. see what folks there have to say.


I stand corrected and bow to the greater wisdom of the long-time writers on AW -- even Old Hack. Thank you all for your constructive criticism. I will keep it in mind when I make revisions or write new material. Clearly I am mystified by the world of publishing.


just don't. There's a lot of folks here who can help, Hack is way up there on the list. Not all the advice you get will come wrapped in a heated egyptian cotton towel, some will be cold and hard, but you can learn from all of it, sometimes even learning the most from the things that hurt the worst. But not if you start turning away the folks who are offering to help.

J. Tanner
03-27-2013, 08:40 PM
I stand corrected and bow to the greater wisdom of the long-time writers on AW -- even Old Hack. Thank you all for your constructive criticism. I will keep it in mind when I make revisions or write new material. Clearly I am mystified by the world of publishing.

It's not all that tough to understand.

Some books that are good enough to publish don't sell (or don't sell quickly). Write ten good books and that likely doesn't happen to you ten times in a row.

There are also a gajillion bad books in the mix. Some of them might be yours (or mine if I ever choose to write a novel rather than short stories) but we typically can't draw the line ourselves about which are which without a lot of time passing.

So get on with writing the other nine books. Writing is in your control, sales aren't.

merrihiatt
03-27-2013, 09:23 PM
Writing is in your control, sales aren't.

I need to tack this up on the wall by my computer. Great reminder.

MPCotter9751
03-28-2013, 05:36 AM
The solution that's likely to work best is write a fresh book, sub that to agents and publishers, and if they like it and ask about other work, then you tell them about the self-published stuff and see if they'd like to rep that too, knowing its history.
Thanks. I will try that soon.

christwriter
03-29-2013, 10:39 PM
As a general comment, I think the whole "agents don't rep unpublished authors" myth got blown out of the water by Stephenie Meyer. (So did the "publishers/agents only want GOOD books" myth in my humble opinion). Publishers and agents only want books that will SELL. Skill level has nothing to do with it. If they don't think your book will sell at all? They're not picking up your book.

Stephenie Meyer got picked up with a 750K book advance. Everybody involved in Twilight knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

You should only self-publish when you have either exhausted your options in trade, or you've exhausted yourself trying to get into trade and you'd rather eat a spiky soccer shoe than send out another query letter. You should go into it having researched the subject as thoroughly as possible. You should have a plan, and the first stage of that plan should be "fail."

Not kidding. Not even remotely. You should start with the expectation that your first book will sink faster than the titanic, and you should have at least a couple ways to prevent this in play before you ever hit the publishing button. I just found my "we're self publishing" plan in an old notebook and the first month had a big fat "Zero" written after it. (I also realized I've met every sales goal on there, so now I have to come up with a new plan)

Now. Let me point out one huge big fat indicator that you might need a little help with your book:




I ask this because I have self-published three books already, getting few sales in return...And yet, my latest book has only been on the market for a couple of weeks and so far I have not had any "sales", aside from some people downloading it for free. Is it too late for me to have a publishing house consider it? If that is true, I feel very let down.

Mark

This could mean one of two things. First, that you're expecting the entire world to batter down your door to get their hands on the book, and this doesn't usually happen. You need to give people time to remember your book exists, get paid, and head off to buy your book. Also...are you on KDP Select? If you are, get off it as soon as you can and stop putting new books on it. Yes. It's a good tool for getting sales. But I've discovered that several of my blog readers REALLY want my books but neither have Kindles nor want to deal with Amazon. Limiting your potential reader pool like that is a BAD idea.

The second thing the bolded bit can indicate is that your book needs work. Usually a free campaign equals at least one sale. Either you need to make a bigger deal about free books (Are you posting about it anywhere? Paying for it to be featured on its free days? Twittering?) OR people aren't interested because of flaws.

Edited to add: I think I found your books. This you? (http://www.amazon.com/Mark-P.-Cotter/e/B004X2ZIQW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)

If so, here's some specific advice. You need better covers. I don't get any sense of drama from either. Nothing attracts me. Nothing makes me go "OMG I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT" which is the kind of enthusiasm a new author NEEDS for their books. On first glance I figured one was some kind of radio tower guide book and that the other was a jewelry catalog (also, on The Sacred Stone cover, HOLY JPEG ARTIFACTS BATMAN. I sat there for like two minutes waiting for the cover to finish loading before I realized it was loaded. Buy good stock photos. You...did buy the rights to use that photo, right? Please tell me you did.). Go to Deviantart, find an artist whose style you like, pay them money, give them a story synopsis AND a copy of the scene you'd like on the cover, let them give you three or four thumbnails and pick your favorite. Don't tell them exactly what you want on the cover because I promise you, that first idea you've got is bad. Mine always are.

You need to hire a good editor who will do developmental editing as well as proofreading, and you probably ought to hook up with a good beta reader in addition to the editor. The beginning of both Sutro and Sacred Stone need a lot of work. I also had issues with the formatting of both ebooks (...did you seriously copy and paste your print book's Table of Contents for the ebook's TOC? Because that's...uh...not how the ebook is going to work) and there isn't really an excuse for that. You can do passable, bare-bones formatting in about two to three hours, and most of that will be building a functional hyperlinked Table of Contents. GOOD formatting will take longer, of course, but at the moment your ebooks are hitting every single one of my ebook pet peeves and all of them are things you can fix on your own with a couple e-book style guides, Word, and Calibre.

To be really frank? The basics aren't there. They're not there for a successful self-pubbed book, they're not there for a successful trade pubbed book. The best thing you can do for these two books is drop a couple hundred bucks on new covers and start revising. The best thing you can do for your career is stop treating self publishing like a dream and start treating it like a business. If you had opened a restaurant you'd learn basic food safety and hire waiters to serve customers while you cook in the kitchen, yes? You've opened a book restaurant. Learn basic formatting and hire the employees you need to do the jobs you can't.

Old Hack
03-30-2013, 12:34 AM
You should only self-publish when you have either exhausted your options in trade, or you've exhausted yourself trying to get into trade and you'd rather eat a spiky soccer shoe than send out another query letter.

Failure to find representation or land a trade publishing deal is not a good reason to self publish; and many writers have successfully self published without even considering a trade deal. Self publishing shouldn't be done as a second-best: it should be done with conviction, or not at all.

christwriter
03-30-2013, 12:46 AM
Failure to find representation or land a trade publishing deal is not a good reason to self publish; and many writers have successfully self published without even considering a trade deal. Self publishing shouldn't be done as a second-best: it should be done with conviction, or not at all.

True. But my point was not "this is the second best option". It's that self publishing shouldn't be approached as a short cut. Many of the "rules" for self publishing are the same as for trade, and the best way to learn those rules is to pursue trade publishing first.

And if you feel you've burned all your bridges with trade publishing, you'll chase self-publishing that much harder because you know damn well this is it, there's no safety net, there's no second chance. If you've always got that "Well maybe the trade publishers will want it" voice running in the back of your head, you might not try half as hard.

Old Hack
03-30-2013, 02:44 AM
True. But my point was not "this is the second best option". It's that self publishing shouldn't be approached as a short cut. Many of the "rules" for self publishing are the same as for trade, and the best way to learn those rules is to pursue trade publishing first.

If it's true that "Many of the "rules" for self publishing are the same as for trade, and the best way to learn those rules is to pursue trade publishing first", and trade publishing rejects your book, then isn't that an indication that your book has little or no commercial potential and perhaps won't work when it's self published either? In which case, wouldn't it be better to not publish it?