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View Full Version : Moving from POD to traditional help



paladinb
08-07-2007, 11:21 AM
Hi all this is my first time posting on here so first helo to everyone. Anyway my question is I have already published my novel here but I am considering approaching traditional publishers/agents. This is mainly as I was given conflicting advice regarding POD and it's only know (after speaking with a manager at a Waterstones branch) I realising some of the downsides of having go down this route(I had planned to POD while looking for a traditional publisher).

Does anyone have any advice about going about it. i.e do I mention the fact up front in the initial query that the novel has already been self published or wait to see if they request a manuscript first and then mention it?

Judging by some of the posts here I may have shot myself in the foot by POD self-publishing first but I'll still going to try.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot

Barry

http://www.lulu.com/content/482945

JAGiunta
08-07-2007, 06:03 PM
I've been debating that issue myself. I've been told to just go ahead and submit the manuscript with full disclosure. Any interested agent/publisher will take it on if they think it will sell. The only difference now being first printing rights have been used.

I still haven't submitted mine, though. It's the first of a trilogy, and I'm half way through the second book. I suppose I'll submit once I've finished all three.

paladinb
08-07-2007, 06:23 PM
wow that's really scary as mine situation is exactly the same. Mine is the first of a trilogy as well. Can I ask where you got your advice from? As the advice I've had so far has been been pretty much you can kiss goodbye to anyone taking the book on.

Are you still marketing your first POD book?

JAGiunta
08-07-2007, 11:44 PM
The advice came from others here on the board, as well as writer friends of mine who are also seeking publication and attend conferences, etc. I'm aware of the stigma associated with self-publishing (strike #1), and then there's the additional problem of a first time writer trying to pitch a series (strike #2) rather than a stand-alone book that can lead to other stories.

In the end, though, a well written story will garner the interest of someone. I've been putting off submitting, because an agent once told me that it's easier to sell a trilogy if it's already completed.

I don't really market my book at all. I barely have time to write. I've sold a few hundred copies, but they've all been through friends (online or otherwise) and family. People who read it suggest it to their friends, so I guess word of mouth is my only platform. :D

veinglory
08-08-2007, 03:40 AM
I would say absolutely mention it is self-published, probably withdraw it from sale and also disclose how many copies sold. High numbers is a selling point and low numbers supports the proposition it is not substantially published. Just my 2c.

J. R. Tomlin
09-01-2007, 02:06 AM
Well, Eragon has sold something like 10,000 copies as a self-published work (an exception, to be sure) when a major press picked it up. So it can happen.

LloydBrown
09-01-2007, 07:46 AM
We really need a FAQ to fix all the self-publishing urban myths. Especially that Eragon one.

Stijn Hommes
09-01-2007, 07:51 PM
Are you saying it's not true? In that case I have a tale that is true. Mark Jeffrey podcasted his novel "The Pocket and the Pendant" and got over a million downloads of the audiobook. And since he is in the Lulu Bestseller he's probably sold a fair share of print copies. His story is great, but those numbers are definitely selling points.

Self-publishing before contacting agents/publishers is indeed shooting yourself in the foot unless you sell a large amount of copies.

Retracting the book from distribution might be an idea, but it's going to cost you every penny of profit to make it available again if you want to do that later, should the agent hunt fail.

I'd come clean with the agent that it is self-published. If you spring it on them as a surprise, I can assure you it's a bad start to your relationship.

P.S. You forgot some capital letters in the rights owner field.

james1611
09-03-2007, 09:05 AM
Are you saying it's not true? In that case I have a tale that is true. Mark Jeffrey podcasted his novel "The Pocket and the Pendant" and got over a million downloads of the audiobook. And since he is in the Lulu Bestseller he's probably sold a fair share of print copies. His story is great, but those numbers are definitely selling points.

Self-publishing before contacting agents/publishers is indeed shooting yourself in the foot unless you sell a large amount of copies.

Retracting the book from distribution might be an idea, but it's going to cost you every penny of profit to make it available again if you want to do that later, should the agent hunt fail.

I'd come clean with the agent that it is self-published. If you spring it on them as a surprise, I can assure you it's a bad start to your relationship.

P.S. You forgot some capital letters in the rights owner field.

I don't believe it takes as many books sold as you might think to be in the Lulu bestseller list. Jeremy Robinson, my publisher with his company, Breakneck Books was the no.1 fiction bestseller for Lulu for quite awhile and he had sold maybe a couple of thousand of The Didymus contingency. Those are shy of great for a large publisher, but great for POD.
If Mr. Jeffrey's book was doing as well as you might think, he would probably have a major contract by now...

Scott Sigler is a podcasting legend by now and he used that fanbase to garner a no.7 hit on amazon.com on the release day of his latest book from Dragon Moon publishing, ANCESTOR. That sold somewhere over 3,000 copies in a week from what he told me at the time. He got big publisher attention with that stunt and got a CROWN contract for three books. It wasn't self published like Mark Jeffrey's novel, maybe not even POD, but Dragon Moon is a small independent nonetheless.

The point being, LULU is not a major seller for anyone, usually.

On the "how to approach the big leagues question" -- if you've self published you are in better condition to approach than if you are under contract with a POD. You still have the rights to the book, after all, and titles can be changed, etc. Take it to an agent in manuscript form. If they react, then let them know you rushed it out in self published form or you could bring that right out...if it's good, you still have all of the rights in your control anyway as the publisher. It's not like a big publisher would have to pay a small independent for your rights.

If it's that good, then the agent should still represent it. Agents like Jenny Bent have made it clear that even if they found a book self pubbed, they would still sell it -- if it was exceptional. And that's all they are looking for anyway.

James

james1611
09-03-2007, 09:14 AM
It seems like this is not the case. Paolini's novel was self pubbed by his family utilizing their own print business and they shopped the novel around schools with poor Christopher dressed up in a pirate costume or something. they may have sold some copies this way...maybe a good many, but I don't think it was anywhere near 10,000. Perhaps if you had the specific data for that?

Anyway, it wasn't big sales which got Paolini his Knopf contract. It was the fluke that a novelist's kid got a copy somewhere and liked it. That person brought it to their editor's attention and they liked it. I believe those are the facts, if I'm not mistaken. That was what got Christopher Paolini his shot at the big time, not his previous sales with the self pubbed version.

There is such a thing as being in the right place at the right time--remember though, Paolini makes it clear that he had to do major rewrites to Eragon before Knopf would publish the novel. Could it be they saw the premise and his age and thought they had a unique selling point? Could be or maybe not, but it is very interesting.

James

Stijn Hommes
09-03-2007, 01:40 PM
James, yes Jeremy or Scott would've been great examples too. But with 50 copies being the average number of POD books sold, a few thousand copies is a tall order. Not something to expect.

All of them have excellent books and all are great at promotion which is why they made it in that bestsellers list and why they had so many sales.

I'm not sure how Jeffrey's efforts are going, but I know he came close to publication a few times thanks to his sales and he had interest from TV production companies and Hollywood too.

My point was that with the wide discreprancy between average and bestseller at Lulu, I wouldn't recommend using it as a stepping stone to traditional publishing. They'll only take you on if you have exceptional sales. You have equal, if not better, chances if you submit to them straight away.

maestrowork
09-03-2007, 05:56 PM
Well, Eragon has sold something like 10,000 copies as a self-published work (an exception, to be sure) when a major press picked it up. So it can happen.

Eragon was not self-published, not technically. His parents owned the small press that published it, so it's technically traditionally published. Knoff bought the rights but not First N.A. (it's already been published).

Back to the OP's question: Yes, I think a full disclosure is the only honest way to handle it. Sooner or later, especially if an agent is interested, they will find out it's been POD'd. And you won't be selling First N.A. rights.

ResearchGuy
09-03-2007, 07:00 PM
Eragon was not self-published, not technically. His parents owned the small press that published it, so it's technically traditionally published. . . . .
LOL!

Nice fig leaf!

By that token, ANY author who owns a publishing company (business license is pretty much all that is required, and maybe a seller's permit) is a "traditional publisher." (BTW, "traditional publisher" is the term invented by vanity publisher PublishAmerica to describe itself.)

For example: Alton Pryor, Stagecoach Publishing Co. (www.stagecoachpublishing.com (http://www.stagecoachpublishing.com)); Bill Teie, Deer Valley Press (www.deervalleypress.com (http://www.deervalleypress.com)); Kark Palachuk, Great Little Book Company (www.greatlittlebook.com (http://www.greatlittlebook.com)), and others. Alton and Bill both have one-man companies (selling tens of thousands of copies of their books). Karl has a staff and other lines of business. Each publishes his own books. Each owns a publishing company. So I guess that makes them not self-publishers--"technically." LOL!

Oh, consider Stephanie Chandler (www.stephaniechandler.com (http://www.stephaniechandler.com)), whose first book was POD--Avantine Press--and who has gone on to be commercially published by a major publisher (Wiley). (I believe she has another on the way.)

I guess that if one wants to argue that a family-owned publishing company publishing the kid's book is not "technically" self-publishing, that is fine, but it is a stretch.

Sorry, but after years associated with self-publishers (ranging from rank amateurs who sell few books to accomplished professionals who have sold tens of thousands per title--in one case, over eighty thousand of a single title), I find the lengths that some go to to avoid recognizing that self-publishers can be both professional and successful amusing. (Most self-publishers are not notably successful, of course, but then, the vast majority of writers are failures by any rational standard.)

All, of course, IMHO FWIW.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
09-03-2007, 07:04 PM
. . .
Judging by some of the posts here I may have shot myself in the foot by POD self-publishing first but I'll still going to try. . . .
Not necessarily. First and foremost, be honest and direct with agents and publishers you approach. If you have a commercially viable product (read: a book they can make money on), it will stand on its own merits. BUT if you lie or mislead, you will have shot yourself in the foot or more vital body parts.

Study up on the writing of queries and book proposals.

--Ken

james1611
09-04-2007, 08:02 AM
My point was that with the wide discreprancy between average and bestseller at Lulu, I wouldn't recommend using it as a stepping stone to traditional publishing. They'll only take you on if you have exceptional sales. You have equal, if not better, chances if you submit to them straight away.

I would heartily agree, with your assumption...not a good stepping stone. The Best way is undoubtedly to go the "traditional" route, ie -- to get a reputable agent who will represent your previously unpublished manuscript to reputable publishers who have the financial resources and savvy to properly edit, produce, distribute and market your novel.

This is the best way to go about it. There are "right places in the right time" situations which may garner a person a "chance" at getting published outside of the box. But this may be like winning the lottery...they sell a whole bunch of losing tickets for everyone that wins!

My Scott Sigler example actually didn't garner a deal for the book, ANCESTOR, which had the no.7 spot at Amazon. He had that book published under contract with Dragon Moon and the deal was evidently for other unpublished works which he already had written...at least the first book, INFESTED.

My own experience at the moment has my first Chronicles of Soone novel published with Breakneck Books under contract. It is actually the second novel in the series which is under review by several large Christian Publishers--not the first. My agent decided to bypass the first one (which is under contract, but only available online) to take the second novel out which has no contract, never been published.

He felt a reader could jump right into the story the way I had written it and subsequently I've had to plot out two more books, in case one of the publishers wants to buy it as a trilogy. But the first book got bypassed because it was already in print -- or at least, because it was already under contract. If the series gets sold, I can only hope the first could be picked up when the original contract expires as some prequel special edition or something.

Wouldn't it have been better to have not published the first? Well, actually it was the first published book which got the review by the author who then referred me to my agent...so sometimes things happen outside of the box, but it's still not something to hope for -- just an advantage if you've already got something POD on the market and can get a foot in somewhere with it.

James

veinglory
09-05-2007, 03:06 AM
Eragon's first publisher was not a guy who called his book 'a publisher' --it really was a pre-exisitng press.

As for sales, Lulu in the entire history of the company has sold 1.2 million books, total. That puts a heft cap on what a best seller could be with them.

ResearchGuy
09-05-2007, 05:55 AM
Eragon's first publisher . . . really was a pre-exisitng press.
. . . .
Owned by his (the young author's) parents and that published their stuff, right?

--Ken

veinglory
09-05-2007, 07:28 AM
Paolini international republished Psychic Dictatorship in America by Gerald B. Bryan two years before Eragon. I'm not saying it was a giant leap away from self-publishing but it was a small press in existence before the kid even finished (started?) the book. I guess you could argue it was self-published by proxy through his parents if you don't count a republication and their co-authors.

I think there are better if more modest examples of self-publishing success by the author him or herself. e.g. the Rashi's Daughter's trilogy.

Stijn Hommes
09-05-2007, 02:30 PM
As for sales, Lulu in the entire history of the company has sold 1.2 million books, total. That puts a heft cap on what a best seller could be with them.

Are you sure that is a recent number? I've seen people cite old statistics even when new ones are easy to find (like the number of articles on Wikipedia).

veinglory
09-06-2007, 02:58 AM
That figure published in the most recent copy of Publishers Weekly in an interview with Mr. Young, Lulu's owner.

james1611
09-06-2007, 07:16 AM
That figure published in the most recent copy of Publishers Weekly in an interview with Mr. Young, Lulu's owner.

What I have to wonder is, how many books those figures are spread across?

There are tons and tons of books published through LULU. What would be the figures for the top ten novels? that might be more enlightening, as far as this subject goes anyway.

I know J. Robinson's figures for Didymus were a few thousand through lulu. He's since republished the book through his own Breakneck Books, but he was previously the no.1 fiction title...last year.

James

Vomaxx
12-30-2009, 08:27 PM
If Mr. Jeffrey's book was doing as well as you might think, he would probably have a major contract by now...

Mr. Jeffrey has announced (on his website) that he now has a contract with Harper Collins, and that "The Pocket and the Pendant" will be published in 2011.

ResearchGuy
12-30-2009, 09:36 PM
. . . better if more modest examples of self-publishing success by the author him or herself.. . . .
Consider Stagecoach Publishing (http://stagecoachpublishing.com/) (top seller upwards of 80,000 copies), Bridgehouse Books (http://bridgehousebooks.com/) (top seller upwards of 30,000 copies), Deer Valley Press (http://www.deervalleypress.com/) (top seller upwards of 30,000 copies), and Great Little Book Publishing (http://www.greatlittlebook.com/) (dunno sales, but with prices as high as $90 for his technical/business books, I'm sure he does well, with printings in the thousands). (None uses POD, except possibly for ARCs.)

--Ken