Agents or Publishers?

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E.G. Gammon

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I am working on my novel series and I like to plan far ahead. I was curious whether I should send my finished manuscript (when I finish it) to an agent or a publisher? Having an agent will put all the legal stuff on them, but it could take twice as long for the book to be published (because you have to find the agent and then the agent finds a publisher). But, if you send off your ms to publishers (who accept unsolicited material) you may get it published faster (but is it necessarily better)? Advice, anyone? I just want an idea of what I should do once the ms is finished (so I can gather a list of addresses, now, that I intend on sending my ms to, of either agents or publishers).
 

fallenangelwriter

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the idea is that getting an agent will let you sell your book faster, actually.


first of all, unlike publishers, agents can usually be sim-subbed (or so i hear), so one can send the manuscript to several agents at once. then once you have an a gent, the agent will take over submitting your book, and they'll know where to send it, how to market it (to a publisher) and so on.
 

brinkett

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What genre is it? For some genres you might be able to bypass an agent, but for others, it'll probably take longer if you don't have an agent. Sure you can send it to publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, but it might sit in a slush pile for more than a year and in the meantime, you can't send it anywhere else because most publishers don't accept simultaneous submissions.
 

E.G. Gammon

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It's kind of hard to describe (because it fits into so many genres). I kind of explained what the series is about here (from another topic):

My main WIP is hard to describe or put into just one category/genre. It's a story I've been working on for over seven years. It was originally a soap opera until recently, when I decided I would convert it into a novel series. I call it "The Soap Novel Series" on the internet, but that's not its real title. The only description I am giving out at the moment is this:

"'THE SOAP NOVEL SERIES' explores the lives of the inhabitants of a small town, infamous for its supernatural occurences, after a serial killer suddenly emerges."

The story will unfold over seven novels, and will have those two umbrella stories (the supernatural and the serial killer mystery), 80+ characters (sounds like a lot but not all of them are introduced in the first book, others come along later, and obviously if there is a serial killer, characters must die), and all of the characters' subplots and how they work into the two umbrella stories.

So, I don't really know what genre it is. There's the supernatural stuff, the soapy/drama stuff, the serial killer "mystery," and a lot that's in between. But, that's what I'm currently working on.

What genre would you give something like that?
 

bpmwriter

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EG,

I know it goes against the grain of popular opinion, but you don't need a publisher or an agent. The Do It Yourself cause has become a bit of a personal mission for me because I hate to see us, the artists, running in circles trying to please the middle man ...we already see agents as a middle man (or woman!), but the publishers fall into this category too. They're standing there between you and your reader like the 300 pound gorilla. At the end of the day, you don't really need them. To me, self-publishing is not just an option, it's the preferred way to fly!

I see you've already begun marketing your novel yourself with the new web site. It's really only a short jump from where you're at to publish. I would suggest you have all the resources you need at your disposal right now, this very minute.

Before self-publishing my first novel, I spent a year under contract to an established lit agent in New York City. He sent my novel to exactly one publisher during that time before copping to being too busy pursuing his new calling as a film producer to effectively represent me. Hypothetically speaking, if he had placed the novel with a publisher, I would've spent another 12-18 months waiting to get published and even then, all the marketing would've been my responsibility, which is a lot of sweat for a tiny royalty. The only thing a publisher can offer you is distribution (many of them don't even staff editors anymore!) and maybe some attention from the pre-publication rags (don't even get me started on that relationship) But the Internet has made distribution a viable option for anyone, and believe me, the big houses are scared, because they're fated for extinction. There's even one company opening a franchise where you can stop in right on any street corner downtown and have your novel self-published in a couple days!

Don't buy into the mentality that you need the validation of a big house.

Artist Empowerment!!!!!

ok, vaulting off my soapbox now

Eddie B.
 

veinglory

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Umm, sounds to me like your 'agent' was a scam artist. One publisher? Why did you stick with them so long?

The best way to make money and build a writing CV is to be published by a publishering company/press.
 
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E.G. Gammon

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I have put self-publishing on the table as an option. Believe me, I would LOVE to have my series published at some huge publisher like Random House, but it may never happen. I accept that. What will make my novel series even harder to find a publisher is the fact that Book One isn't a stand-alone and it ends with MAJOR cliffhangers and character deaths. (I'm just asking for Uncle Jim to come in here and hit me over the head, huh?). But, what can you expect from a novel series that used to be a soap opera? It's basically a soap opera in novel form and what kind of soap opera doesn't have a cliffhanger ending? Oh well. But, thanks for that post. I am keeping every publishing option out there open for consideration (except for POD, e-book, and PublishAmerica).

Also, I have actually started a small savings account that's growing all the time, that I plan to use just in case I have to self-publish. The money will go towards a huge ad in some magazine (an entertainment one, Soap Digest would be my first choice, since the readers of the magazine are the perfect demographic for my novel series), so that I can promote the book well enough to make a little money.
 
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Jamesaritchie

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bpmwriter said:
EG,

I know it goes against the grain of popular opinion, but you don't need a publisher or an agent. The Do It Yourself cause has become a bit of a personal mission for me because I hate to see us, the artists, running in circles trying to please the middle man ...we already see agents as a middle man (or woman!), but the publishers fall into this category too. They're standing there between you and your reader like the 300 pound gorilla. At the end of the day, you don't really need them. To me, self-publishing is not just an option, it's the preferred way to fly!

I see you've already begun marketing your novel yourself with the new web site. It's really only a short jump from where you're at to publish. I would suggest you have all the resources you need at your disposal right now, this very minute.

Before self-publishing my first novel, I spent a year under contract to an established lit agent in New York City. He sent my novel to exactly one publisher during that time before copping to being too busy pursuing his new calling as a film producer to effectively represent me. Hypothetically speaking, if he had placed the novel with a publisher, I would've spent another 12-18 months waiting to get published and even then, all the marketing would've been my responsibility, which is a lot of sweat for a tiny royalty. The only thing a publisher can offer you is distribution (many of them don't even staff editors anymore!) and maybe some attention from the pre-publication rags (don't even get me started on that relationship) But the Internet has made distribution a viable option for anyone, and believe me, the big houses are scared, because they're fated for extinction. There's even one company opening a franchise where you can stop in right on any street corner downtown and have your novel self-published in a couple days!

Don't buy into the mentality that you need the validation of a big house.

Artist Empowerment!!!!!

ok, vaulting off my soapbox now

Eddie B.

Yeah, right. I don;t think there's a single fact anywhere in your post. You obviously don't know anything at all about commercial publishers, be it teh way they market, the way they pay, or anything else. If you want to self-publish, go ahead, but you really ought to learn at least a few basic facts about commercial publishers before talking so much about them.

I mean, it's just plain weird how far off base, how totally not based in the real world, your post is.

And what's the silliness about many of them not even staffing editors anymore? Name a few, will you?

Yeah, the inetrnet makes distribution ever so easy. That's why so many self-published writers who use it are so rich. That's the silliest thing of all in your post.

You'll just have to trust me on this, but not only are big publishers NOT fated for extinction, in a few years the big publishers will also be the big internet distributers and the big e-publishers.

And, obviously, you've never actually had a novel published by a commercial ppublisher, or you'd know you don't have to do all teh marketing yourself, and that teh kind of distribution commercial publishers can give you IS highly effective marketing. The best marketing there is, in fact.

And the sad truth is also that 99.9999% of all teh self-published novels out there are absolute, complete, utter crap that no one alive should have to read, or would ever want to read. The few, the extremely few, good self-published novels are almost always buried under a mountain range of novels that should only be approached by someone wearing a bio suit and carrying a large can of powerful disinfectant.

Much has been said about how horrible the writing in a slush pile is. It's true. The vast majority of everything that comes in is horribly written. But anyone who wants to see just hos truly horrible it is doesn't have to read thrugh a slush pile, they just have to read a few self-published novels.

"Empower the artists" is a nonsense phrase. The power should always be in the hands of the consumer, and this is exactly where commercial publishers place it.
 

Christine N.

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Publishing on the small scale...

I tried agents, but just couldn't fine one to take me on. I write middle grade fantasy, so the options are somewhat limited. Most of the few agents who do rep such stuff already have their hands full.

So I went the small publisher route. I spent some time on P&E, looked over a bunch and picked out two or three that looked promising. Some didn't specifically say they take children's books, so I asked. Some did, some didn't, some said let's take a look.

Most of the small ones I looked at DID accept sim-subs, as long as you tell them it is being done and alert them immediately if you place the work somewhere else.

I decided on three publishers, then pulled my sub from one after I found out it was not what I really wanted. Both of the other two gave me requests to read, and the first one to make the offer got the book.

This is my own experience, and so far has been pretty darn positive. I may seek representation in the future, as I have about another 8 books just rolling around in my head, but for now I'm happy where I'm at. It may not be Random House, but it ain't PA either, and it's definately not self or vanity published.

I have seen this particular publisher grow just in the last few months, and by the time my book is ready for release I think they'll be some big things happening for them.

For your genre, I'd probably call it.. heck, I don't know... is there a Romantic Supernatural Thriller genre? LOL.

Good luck!
 

E.G. Gammon

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Christine N. said:
For your genre, I'd probably call it.. heck, I don't know... is there a Romantic Supernatural Thriller genre? LOL.

Good luck!

I love that (Romantic Supernatural Thriller)! Ha ha. I may use it... It's the only thing that really describes what it is. Thanks for the good luck. I have a feeling I'll need it. Good luck back at ya. I hope your book takes off!
 

zeprosnepsid

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I think you should start at the top, supposing you want your books to be read by anyone. Go for an agent first, try to get your book published at a major publishing house. I would always say try an agent first.

If you can't get an agent or get a bad agent then sure, try to publish at one of the smaller houses or self-publish.

Saying your book won't get published at Random House is like saying it's not good enough -- why are you writing it if you don't want the most possible people to read it?

But go for the brass ring I say, why would you ever want to settle? I find that sending directly to publishers is just for books with specific audiences (non-fiction about a specific region, some genre stuff).
 

E.G. Gammon

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The reason why I am ruling out the major publishers is because of the whole "novel SERIES with the first book not being a stand-alone, with cliffhangers at the end." I believe so much in my story and want to tell it (that's why after seven years of story development I converted it from a network soap opera to a novel series, because I was sick of waiting for something that may never happen: it becoming a network soap in an unfair television business). I just keep hearing (especially on these forums) about one of the biggest rules in a novel series, is to make the first book a stand-alone, and mine isn't. The story is so well developed and complex that I couldn't think of changing it. It's just that little diversion from the "official" novel series' rules that may hurt my chances at landing a publisher like Random House.

But, as I said before, it's a soap in novel form. What's one thing you expect from a soap? CLIFFHANGERS. And that's what I plan to deliver (even if it's against the rules). I always strive to be unique.
 
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brinkett

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EGGammon said:
The reason why I am ruling out the major publishers is because of the whole "novel SERIES with the first book not being a stand-alone, with cliffhangers at the end." I believe so much in my story and want to tell it (that's why after seven years of story development I converted it from a network soap opera to a novel series, because I was sick of waiting for something that may never happen: it becoming a network soap in an unfair television business). I just keep hearing (especially on these forums) about one of the biggest rules in a novel series, is to make the first book a stand-alone, and mine isn't.
Don't assume the worst. Why not try to find an agent first? If you can't interest an agent, then fall back to plan B. If you don't try to find an agent, you'll always wonder if you could have.

As Christine pointed out, at the same time you're querying agents, you can start submitting to publishers.
 

E.G. Gammon

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Yeah, I think that's a good idea, to look for an agent first. I've spent all this time researching publishers and I didn't even research agents. Well, now's a good time to start...
 

mistri

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EGGammon said:
The reason why I am ruling out the major publishers is because of the whole "novel SERIES with the first book not being a stand-alone, with cliffhangers at the end."

But, as I said before, it's a soap in novel form. What's one thing you expect from a soap? CLIFFHANGERS. And that's what I plan to deliver (even if it's against the rules). I always strive to be unique.

It may be harder to sell a series with a cliffhanger ending, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying if it's what you believe in. If the writing is good enough, and the publisher believes it will sell, they'll buy it anyway. Give it a go!
 

cwfgal

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EGGammon said:
I am working on my novel series and I like to plan far ahead. I was curious whether I should send my finished manuscript (when I finish it) to an agent or a publisher? Having an agent will put all the legal stuff on them, but it could take twice as long for the book to be published (because you have to find the agent and then the agent finds a publisher). But, if you send off your ms to publishers (who accept unsolicited material) you may get it published faster (but is it necessarily better)? Advice, anyone? I just want an idea of what I should do once the ms is finished (so I can gather a list of addresses, now, that I intend on sending my ms to, of either agents or publishers).

You can do both if you like, but if you do find an agent, they are going to want to know (and should be told) which publishers you've already submitted to. As for timing, an agent will likely get a publisher to read your ms months ahead of what you'll get on your own. Recent typical waits that have been reported from folks who go the publisher route are from 6 months to a year. Also, a good agent will provide you with feedback on your work and may suggest some tweaking that will make it more appealing to publishers. Personally, I'd recommend the agent route but which ever option you choose, the important thing is to do your homework so you don't get scammed.

Good luck,
Beth
 
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HConn

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EGGammon said:
The reason why I am ruling out the major publishers is...

Jumping in here...

Don't rule out major publishers. It's not your job to reject yourself.

Your job is to write the best book you can, and to follow your muse. Your next responsibility is to put the book in the hands of people who might publish it.

Let the agents and publishers be the ones who decide to publish or reject you. That's their job.

Believe in your work, E.G., no matter what the rules. Start at the top and work your way down.

By the way, paranormal romances are supposed to be big right now. Check out Luna Books, for instance.
 

E.G. Gammon

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HConn,

Thanks for recommending Luna Books. I checked out their website and MAN would my series fit in perfectly with the books they publish. Supernatural with romance, vivid characters and a strong female heroine: my novel series exactly. They're going at the top of my list of publishers to consider.
 

cwfgal

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bpmwriter said:
EG,

I know it goes against the grain of popular opinion, but you don't need a publisher or an agent. The Do It Yourself cause has become a bit of a personal mission for me because I hate to see us, the artists, running in circles trying to please the middle man ...we already see agents as a middle man (or woman!), but the publishers fall into this category too. They're standing there between you and your reader like the 300 pound gorilla. At the end of the day, you don't really need them. To me, self-publishing is not just an option, it's the preferred way to fly!

Well, I can speak from both camps. I've had several novels published by a big NYC publisher and I have one that I self published (as a POD).

Here are my numbers:

Copies sold of each of the NYC pubbed books in their first year: between 60,000 and 100,000

Copies sold of the self-published book in 9 months: 112

Money earned from the NYC pubbed books: between $40K and $50K each

Money earned from the self-pubbed book: $0 (I did earn back my initial investment, which was only a few hundred dollars, but I have put all of it and then some back into the book for promotional efforts.)

bpmwriter said:
I see you've already begun marketing your novel yourself with the new web site. It's really only a short jump from where you're at to publish. I would suggest you have all the resources you need at your disposal right now, this very minute.

If you hope to sell more than about 50 - 75 copies of your self-pubbed book, you will need LOTS of time and money. To self-pub I had to commit money up front and wait for sales to make that up. I chose a less costly, POD route because I knew what my sales numbers were likely to be and didn't want to sink a ton of money into the project up front, knowing my chances of recouping it would be close to zero. But it also left me with sales- and distribution-killing issues such as non-returnability.

With my NYC books I received advances long before the books came out that ranged from $10K to $30K. I currently spend hours every week that take away from my writing time to promote my self-pubbed book. I spent a few hours over the course of a year with each of my NYC books doing booksignings, interviews, etc. and that was only because I wanted to, not because I had to.

bpmwriter said:
Before self-publishing my first novel, I spent a year under contract to an established lit agent in New York City. He sent my novel to exactly one publisher during that time before copping to being too busy pursuing his new calling as a film producer to effectively represent me.

Sounds like you had a bad agent. A bad agent can be worse than no agent at all. A good agent will not only get you the best deal possible for your book, she will earn you extra money by selling off the various rights to your work. In addition to the money my agent made for me on the initial sale of my books to the publisher, she also sold rights for foreign sales, movie options, and such. These sales added several thousand dollars to the numbers listed above.

bpmwriter said:
Hypothetically speaking, if he had placed the novel with a publisher, I would've spent another 12-18 months waiting to get published

Perhaps, but in the meantime you would have been paid an advance. Also, by the time the first book comes out, you can have a contract for (and maybe even have finished) a second book, perhaps even a third. Many times writers are paid advances for these subsequent books even before they are written.

bpmwriter said:
and even then, all the marketing would've been my responsibility, which is a lot of sweat for a tiny royalty. The only thing a publisher can offer you is distribution (many of them don't even staff editors anymore!) and maybe some attention from the pre-publication rags (don't even get me started on that relationship) But the Internet has made distribution a viable option for anyone, and believe me, the big houses are scared, because they're fated for extinction. There's even one company opening a franchise where you can stop in right on any street corner downtown and have your novel self-published in a couple days!

Clearly you have no concept of how traditional publishers work, what's involved in marketing a book, and the efforts the average publisher makes to do so.

Beth
 

Liam Jackson

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I submitted a story something similar to the one described above. I was told by one publisher it fits the "supernatural epic" category, and by another that it was a "romantic supernatural thriller." When the offer came, it was from the dark fantasy imprint.

I was left thinking genre tags are far more flexible today than in previous times. I don't think its unreasonable to simply describe the story in your outline/synopsis, without reference to genre, and allow the publisher tag it.
 

oswann

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Beth, it's generous of you and you too James, to take so much time to explain what can be found with a little clicking and research. I'm continually surprised by the lack of rigor of some of the people who bluster in.

But to you two keep it up, you are obviously more patient than I.


Os.
 

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