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chracatoa
01-12-2017, 07:58 PM
Many us will end up self-publishing our first books, and for that we also need a platform on twitter, a blog, etc. I intend to publish the first chapters online in the next six months or so in my blog.

I've read in a post here that agents may not like that part of your MS is already published, even if it's partial and in blog form. Is that true? (Unfortunately I can't find that post anymore.)

Marlys
01-12-2017, 08:24 PM
I'm confused. If you intend to self-publish, why do you care what agents think?

But in general, posting the first chapter to drum up interest is considered fine--I know a lot of writers who've done that (including me, and both my agent and publisher were cool with it). I don't know that I'd go as far as three. One should be enough to showcase your story.

chracatoa
01-12-2017, 08:47 PM
I'm confused. If you intend to self-publish, why do you care what agents think?

I'd love to have an agent, but I have a self-imposed deadline to publish it and move on to the second book of the trilogy. As long as it's not yet published, I can stop the process anytime.


One should be enough to showcase your story.

That makes sense, thanks!

Old Hack
01-12-2017, 11:09 PM
Why are you working to this deadline if it's self-imposed?

Some agents will object to you putting your work up online like that, some won't. MOST won't, I bet. So long as it's only a small amount.

Aggy B.
01-12-2017, 11:58 PM
So, I sometimes post snippets of stuff I'm working on (usually only about 300 words or so, though I might post multiple bits from the same work). My agent doesn't seem to mind. My current publisher doesn't seem to mind.

There are some things though, that I consider when deciding if I want to post something and from what project.
If it's something that's not finished yet - is it a good example of my writing skills and will it still be a good example by the time I finish the project? (I write pretty fast and usually have more than one book written in a year, but one of the more recent ones took a couple of years - with a long break between starting and finishing. When I picked it back up I had to go back and revise the earlier chapters because they were not as good as the later ones. This is true of most of my novel length projects, in fact. Even the ones I write in a few months. I learn and refine my craft while writing.)
Finished or unfinished - how long will it be between posting the excerpt and publishing it? If you are posting a chapter with the specific intention of growing an audience for that particular book, then what happens if there's a delay in releasing it? (This could be you realize it needs further edits. Or there's a delay in getting the cover or layout. Or you do get an agent so the manuscript goes out on submission.) Growing an audience can be tricky, especially if you are only posting a little bit of a project. If you don't keep them interested they may not come back when the full book is published.

I've self-pubbed a few things. And plan to do so with a few others over the next year or so. But I don't do it because of a deadline to get anything out or because my agent isn't interested. I do it because it's the right thing for that particular project. Self-publishing just because you haven't secured an agent in X number of months does not strike me as the best plan. Neither does looking for an agent when you really have intentions to self-publish. (I can understand having a time frame to search for an agent. But don't be searching for an agent and going through all the work to self-pub at some predetermined time if you haven't "yes" from an agent at that point. Querying is a lot of work. Prepping a book for self-pub is a lot of work. You don't want to be cutting either effort short by doing both at the same time. And agent time is not quite like author time - someone could be really interested and still not get back to you in under a month.)

I would suggest if you are wanting to build an audience to do so with short stories, not a part of your novel.

Toothpaste
01-13-2017, 12:06 AM
Self-imposed deadlines are dangerous beasts. It can lead people into making rushed decisions. I know your question is about posting pages, but you have answers on those. I'm more concerned that you seem to be rushing through this process based on some arbitrary deadlines you made for yourself. I'm also concerned about your assumption that most authors will self publish, as if that's just par for the course now. Of course my concerns don't really matter if your plan all along was to self publish but it's clear you want an agent so I think such an attitude is going to shut you down before you even get started. Why not instead assume you WILL get an agent/publisher? It's not like winning the lottery, it's not close your eyes and hope. Getting an agent and a publisher has steps, and it can be hard, and it can take a long time but I can tell you from my own experience and having watched so many others, it is very doable.

If you take your time.

Publishing takes time. And time isn't a bad thing. Have some patience, slow down, query, etc. Really put the time and effort in to research. Those of us who have been here a long time have seen many an author in their haste to get published sign with bad publishers or self publish when the book really wasn't ready to be out there. Slow down. Forget about the deadline. Focus on this book, on the query, on selling it. There's no rush. There's no timeline. Do it right the first time.

chracatoa
01-13-2017, 01:05 AM
This discussion is taking an unexpected turn, but I love it! Keep it coming.

I confess I'm having a hard time with the timelines of publishing. I'm a software engineer by trade, and we ship every month. In truth, it took me a month to write my book and it was crap*. The following year was when I improved it, learning a lot from places like here and also querying. In hindsight I should've wait longer to query, now it's too late. (In my defense I had a third-party review my work and they said it was ready; it wasn't.) I stopped my second round of queries in September and since then I'm editing the book. I consider the money I'm spending in editing as tuition to improve my writing skills.

Anyway, my decision to go for broke was based on what I see in the industry. Scalzi, one of my favorite current authors, gave his first novel for free in 1999 (before self-publishing was available). The novel is not on par with Old Man's War, but it probably helped him improve his skills. The Martian was also self-published at first. I suspect that the changes in person and tense might have scared off any agent (it's in 1st and 3rd person, present and past tense). It's not that agents are dumb; a bad decision may hurt their business, and since the pool of work they have is so large they can get the best of the best, and be safe-ish: books flop all the time even though they looked good on paper :)

I've read somewhere that 1 in 500 novels make through agents and publishers, and I assume most of them are real writers or people working on the craft for most of their adult lives. I'm not a writer, so my odds are lower. This is not just a guess. Based on querytracker, I should've had between 5-10% partial requests but I had none. The only requests I got were from a writing conference, and they asked for the first three chapters. The queries went nowhere.

It's been almost a year and a half! I know this is nothing when compared to what most people go through (I met a woman in the conference that was trying for 30 years!), but I truly want to end my trilogy. I have this urge to write the second and third book: my characters are waiting for me, and my wife, who's my #1 fan, keeps bothering me to finish it because she wants to know what happens! :) But I can't start them because changes in the first novel will affect the others. And, I'm learning during this process.

*I did say that to an agent at a conference and he still requested my novel! :)

mayqueen
01-13-2017, 02:21 AM
It seems to me that the path you take should depend on your goals. If you want a career as a novelist publishing with commercial/traditional presses, you should not post snippets online, you should devote time to learning the art of the query, etc. if you want a career as self-publishing novelist, there's another set of skills to learn there. If you just want to write and post it for people to enjoy, there's yet a third set of skills there.

Whatever you choose, learning the craft of writing is a lifelong pursuit.

Aggy B.
01-13-2017, 03:12 AM
It seems to me that the path you take should depend on your goals. If you want a career as a novelist publishing with commercial/traditional presses, you should not post snippets online, you should devote time to learning the art of the query, etc. if you want a career as self-publishing novelist, there's another set of skills to learn there. If you just want to write and post it for people to enjoy, there's yet a third set of skills there.

Whatever you choose, learning the craft of writing is a lifelong pursuit.

Yes. This.

I'm doing a little workshop on query letters (from a writers perspective) and the first thing I'm going to talk about is figuring out what your goals are. It took me eight years of revisions and almost a year of querying to secure an agent. (And during that year I wrote almost nothing because querying takes a lot of time if you want to do it well.) But my goal is trade publication and I would much rather have an agent handling submissions and negotiating contracts than doing it myself. So the time to get a MS up to snuff to where an agent wanted it, the effort of writing a query letter that got requests, the time put into sending the emails out every two weeks or so was worth it for me.

Old Hack
01-13-2017, 12:35 PM
This discussion is taking an unexpected turn, but I love it! Keep it coming.

I confess I'm having a hard time with the timelines of publishing. I'm a software engineer by trade, and we ship every month. In truth, it took me a month to write my book and it was crap*. The following year was when I improved it, learning a lot from places like here and also querying. In hindsight I should've wait longer to query, now it's too late. (In my defense I had a third-party review my work and they said it was ready; it wasn't.) I stopped my second round of queries in September and since then I'm editing the book. I consider the money I'm spending in editing as tuition to improve my writing skills.

Be very careful who you ask to edit your work. There are lots of editors out there, and many of them are incompetent.

Also, consider if paying others to edit your work is the best use of your funds. If you want to write more books then you would probably be better off paying for a course which would teach you how to edit your own work more effectively (I'm thinking in particular of the self-editing course taught by Emma Darwin and Debi Alper a few times each year, which is apparently very good indeed), which would then affect all your future works rather than just the one under editorial advice.


Anyway, my decision to go for broke was based on what I see in the industry. Scalzi, one of my favorite current authors, gave his first novel for free in 1999 (before self-publishing was available). The novel is not in par with Old Man's War, but it probably helped him improve his skills. The Martian was also self-published at first. I suspect that the changes in person and tense might have scared off any agent (it's in 1st and 3rd person, present and past tense). It's not that agents are dumb; a bad decision may hurt their business, and since the pool of work they have is so large they can get the best of the best, and be safe-ish: books flop all the time even though they looked good on paper :)

If the changes in POV and tense were well written they wouldn't have scared off any publishing professional.


I've read somewhere that 1 in 500 novels make through agents and publishers, and I assume most of them are real writers or people working on the craft for most of their adult lives. I'm not a writer, so my odds are lower.

Statistics like that are not worth worrying about. As I've said here many times before, each book has its own unique set of odds. Some books are so terribly bad that they are never going to be published legitimately; others are so very good that they are almost guaranteed publication so long as they're submitted to the right places in the right way. You ARE a writer, because you've written a book. Don't sell yourself short. That's more than most people manage.


This is not just a guess. Based on querytracker, I should've had between 5-10% partial requests but I had none. The only requests I got were from a writing conference, and they asked for the first three chapters. The queries went nowhere.

All that shows is that your query needed more work. Do not despair: queries are difficult. It can be done.


It's been almost a year and a half! I know this is nothing when compared to what most people go through (I met a woman in the conference that was trying for 30 years!), but I truly want to end my trilogy. I have this urge to write the second and third book: my characters are waiting for me, and my wife, who's my #1 fan, keeps bothering me to finish it because she wants to know what happens! :) But I can't start them because changes in the first novel will affect the others. And, I'm learning during this process.

*I did say that to an agent at a conference and he still requested my novel! :)

If you're desperate to write that next book, write it. But don't self publish because you feel it's the only option to you: self publish because you want to be a publisher.

As others have said, work out what you want and then do all you can to make it happen. Don't fall into something because you haven't had the results you really want.

Good luck!

chracatoa
01-13-2017, 08:45 PM
This is tough. Patience is a skill, and I definitely need to work on it.


All that shows is that your query needed more work. Do not despair: queries are difficult. It can be done.

Querying is an art on itself. I have already exhausted about half of the agents that would be a fit to my book (I never query random agents). And to make matters worse, I queried most of them at the wrong time (my MS wasn't ready) and with a bad query.


I'm thinking in particular of the self-editing course taught by Emma Darwin and Debi Alper a few times each year, which is apparently very good indeed

I'll keep an eye on it, and go to my second conference this year. I still didn't throw the towel, I'm just considering all my options.

Nonicks
01-13-2017, 11:57 PM
This is tough. Patience is a skill, and I definitely need to work on it.



Querying is an art on itself. I have already exhausted about half of the agents that would be a fit to my book (I never query random agents). And to make matters worse, I queried most of them at the wrong time (my MS wasn't ready) and with a bad query.



I'll keep an eye on it, and go to my second conference this year. I still didn't throw the towel, I'm just considering all my options.

Some agencies don't mind if you query them again. I decided to do this. What's the worst thing that could happen?

Fuchsia Groan
01-14-2017, 02:41 AM
It seems to me that the path you take should depend on your goals. If you want a career as a novelist publishing with commercial/traditional presses, you should not post snippets online, you should devote time to learning the art of the query, etc. if you want a career as self-publishing novelist, there's another set of skills to learn there. If you just want to write and post it for people to enjoy, there's yet a third set of skills there.

Whatever you choose, learning the craft of writing is a lifelong pursuit.

Yes. Self-publishing might well be the right path for you—I can't say—but be sure to go in with eyes wide open to everything it entails.

I say this because, in my job reviewing books for a newspaper, I hear from a number of writers who self-published without any sense of how to tap into a market for their work. Some are upset to find, for instance, that local stores won't carry their POD books, something they had counted on. Having failed to make their e-books into bestsellers, they ask me to give them a review or "promo" that they can then use to pitch their book to an agent or publisher. But it's too late for that (barring the extremely unlikely scenario in which a newspaper article would send their book rocketing up an Amazon list).

If you're reading Scalzi's blog, you probably already know this. But I can't help warning people to educate themselves on all the facets of self-publishing and consider their options carefully.

Soraya
01-24-2017, 07:00 PM
[QUOTE=chracatoa;10065607] Patience is a skill, and I definitely need to work on it.

I need that line framed on my wall. Good luck Chracatoa. Don't throw in the towel.

LuckyStar
01-27-2017, 07:17 PM
Many us will end up self-publishing our first books, and for that we also need a platform on twitter, a blog, etc. I intend to publish the first chapters online in the next six months or so in my blog.

I've read in a post here that agents may not like that part of your MS is already published, even if it's partial and in blog form. Is that true? (Unfortunately I can't find that post anymore.)

Generally speaking, a book is not "published" unless it has an isbn. For the purposes of an agent, what matters is if the writing has generated sales. So, if you have had chapters published in an anthology, that could pose a problem. Posting pages to your blog can actually help if you can tell an agent you have 100k page views. Otherwise I don't think an agent will care if you have a few chapters posted on a blog.

About your self-imposed deadline: the reality of how time consuming publishing is aside, my question is, why would you have to wait until you find an agent, to work on your second ms?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are waiting for the first ms to be sold in order to begin work on a second, STOP waiting. Write the second ms. Write a third ms. Write as many mss as your brain conceives. Finish each one, and send each one out to query. Publishing proceeds at a snail's pace. You have to keep writing. Keep having fresh mss ready. Agents ask "what else do you have?" Nothing else, I was waiting... Is not the answer they are looking for. They want someone who can continue to supply them with work. Also, you need to have more than one ms to query, because it is inevitable that the ms you are querying may not catch an agent's eye, but the next one, or the one after that could be a best seller.
Query widely and often. You will only get an agent through writing mss and offering them around.

chompers
01-27-2017, 07:35 PM
I'm also confused why the book needs to be published before you can write the second and third book, especially if you're self-publishing it? Sure, some people don't want to write the subsequent books so they don't waste their time if the first book doesn't get picked up, but other than that, there's nothing to be stopping you from continuing on. If you're afraid the story will change and affect the other books, wouldn't it be to your favor to be able to fix them and make them align before it's published? Too many people use self-publishing as a way to get feedback on their books, but by that time it's too late. That's not the purpose of self-publishing. A book needs to be complete and done with when it's published.

Old Hack
01-27-2017, 09:12 PM
Generally speaking, a book is not "published" unless it has an isbn.

Not true. A book is published if it's made available to people in some way. Lots of books don't have ISBNs, lots of calendars and diaries do. The ISBN is not pertinent to a book's publication status.


For the purposes of an agent, what matters is if the writing has generated sales. So, if you have had chapters published in an anthology, that could pose a problem. Posting pages to your blog can actually help if you can tell an agent you have 100k page views. Otherwise I don't think an agent will care if you have a few chapters posted on a blog.

Again, not true. Some agents don't mind if a book has previously been published, some do; some are worried if a book has sold before, and some are not. Most wouldn't worry if a chapter or two had been published in an anthology, so long as the rights remain available to that portion of the work. It's best to consult agents' guidelines and to ask questions when possible.


About your self-imposed deadline: the reality of how time consuming publishing is aside, my question is, why would you have to wait until you find an agent, to work on your second ms?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are waiting for the first ms to be sold in order to begin work on a second, STOP waiting. Write the second ms. Write a third ms. Write as many mss as your brain conceives. Finish each one, and send each one out to query. Publishing proceeds at a snail's pace. You have to keep writing. Keep having fresh mss ready. Agents ask "what else do you have?" Nothing else, I was waiting... Is not the answer they are looking for. They want someone who can continue to supply them with work. Also, you need to have more than one ms to query, because it is inevitable that the ms you are querying may not catch an agent's eye, but the next one, or the one after that could be a best seller.
Query widely and often. You will only get an agent through writing mss and offering them around.

It's generally better to not write a sequel until the first book in the series has sold. Because if you do write that sequel and the first book fails to sell, you'll end up with a second book with little or no chance of selling. By all means outline it if you want to, write a synopsis, but you'd probably be better off writing a completely new project until you know that first book in the series has sold.


I'm also confused why the book needs to be published before you can write the second and third book, especially if you're self-publishing it? Sure, some people don't want to write the subsequent books so they don't waste their time if the first book doesn't get picked up, but other than that, there's nothing to be stopping you from continuing on. If you're afraid the story will change and affect the other books, wouldn't it be to your favor to be able to fix them and make them align before it's published? Too many people use self-publishing as a way to get feedback on their books, but by that time it's too late. That's not the purpose of self-publishing. A book needs to be complete and done with when it's published.

If you're self publishing then yep, go ahead, write the rest of the series whenever you want. And yes, to the last three sentences of your post. Definitely.

LuckyStar
01-29-2017, 01:12 AM
Sorry, but I don't agree with your "not true".

I said generally speaking. I didn't say never or ultimate, which is what you're implying. It is suggested for books that are self-published to get an isbn.

Here's a link to Janet Reid's blog on the subject.
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/10/im-special-snowflake-i-am-i-am.html


Second quote, again, if it were "not true" we wouldn't use the words some agents, or most, it would be no agents, or none.

Third quote, I never mentioned writing a sequel, my advice was for writers to begin work on a second ms while they are querying their first. Which is advice any agent or author would suggest.

In my opinion, self publishing is not something to be entered into lightly. It's a lot of work, time consuming and can be expensive. Often times the writer does not know what they are getting into when they begin the process. When you self-publish, you must be writer, editor, publisher, marketer, accountant, etc., all rolled into one person(unless you are paying others to do these things for you). However, some people love it, so of course it's up to the individual to make up their mind after careful research.

Old Hack
01-29-2017, 11:33 AM
Sorry, but I don't agree with your "not true".

I said generally speaking. I didn't say never or ultimate, which is what you're implying. It is suggested for books that are self-published to get an isbn.

Here's a link to Janet Reid's blog on the subject.
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/10/im-special-snowflake-i-am-i-am.html (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/10/im-special-snowflake-i-am-i-am.html)

In that link, Ms Reid is talking about a very specific case: someone who is producing a very limited edition of their book, designed especially for a few family and friends. It won't be made widely available. She asks if it will have an ISBN because if so, that would change the significance of that edition.

If books have to have an ISBN in order to be considered "published" then the vast majority of self-published books would not be considered published.


Second quote, again, if it were "not true" we wouldn't use the words some agents, or most, it would be no agents, or none.

I'm reporting the conversations I've had with various agents and publishers in the last six months. Their preferences are different to your opinion, which is why I advised writers to check agents' submission guidelines and requirements.


Third quote, I never mentioned writing a sequel, my advice was for writers to begin work on a second ms while they are querying their first. Which is advice any agent or author would suggest.

I didn't say you did. I did, however, clarify the problems inherent in writing a sequel to a book you've not yet sold.


In my opinion, self publishing is not something to be entered into lightly. It's a lot of work, time consuming and can be expensive. Often times the writer does not know what they are getting into when they begin the process. When you self-publish, you must be writer, editor, publisher, marketer, accountant, etc., all rolled into one person(unless you are paying others to do these things for you). However, some people love it, so of course it's up to the individual to make up their mind after careful research.

I wish more people appreciated this. Self publishing can be a wonderfully rewarding thing to do: but there's a lot of hard work involved to do it well and it should never be undertaken just because you couldn't find a trade deal.

chracatoa
01-29-2017, 10:51 PM
Be very careful who you ask to edit your work. There are lots of editors out there, and many of them are incompetent.

I agree. I did some trial edits before finding my current editor, and I trust her. Another reason for me to have an editor is because English is not my first language. I have a terrible time with prepositions (on, in), and I had the wrong one in one of my query letters even after I got some kind people to help me review it.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are waiting for the first ms to be sold in order to begin work on a second, STOP waiting. Write the second ms. Write a third ms.

If you're afraid the story will change and affect the other books, wouldn't it be to your favor to be able to fix them and make them align before it's published?

Next MS is the 2nd book of the series. But I'll start writing it as soon as my developmental edit is done. Meanwhile, I'm writing blog posts (and I know it's a different skill).


It's generally better to not write a sequel until the first book in the series has sold. Because if you do write that sequel and the first book fails to sell, you'll end up with a second book with little or no chance of selling.

But I'm invested in it :) I'm good in starting and finishing a project, but if I lose interest and move on to another project it's hard to come back to it. I can also use this trilogy to improve as a writer. My goal is to keep writing during and after I retire in 15 years or so (hopefully making this a full time job, or hobby), and having a couple of books out even if it's self published helps build my portfolio and experience.

As for cost (or time-consuming), I tell my wife this is my midlife crisis, and a Harley-Davidson would be way more expensive :) And, to be honest, I think editors should earn more than they charge. It's amazing how much a book changes for the better in the hand of a good editor.

Either way, this thread helped me decide to push my self-publishing goals to the middle or end of next year. I'm already at about 50 queries, query tracker only has 147 Science Fiction agents, and many of them are not necessarily looking for the type of SciFi I wrote (in which case I don't query them), so I have an extra 50 to send this year. The book and the query are in a better state this year, so I think my chances are higher, albeit still small. We'll see.

DancingMaenid
01-30-2017, 01:33 AM
There's no harm in writing the second book, or even the whole series, as long as you're okay with the uncertainty of publishing the series. That's something only you can decide. I would keep writing, but the possibility of not having something commercially published doesn't really bother me.

But either way, rushing the publication of your first book is likely to hurt, not help, your chances. If the first book does poorly because you rushed it, it's only going to be harder to sell sequels.