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Medievalist

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First time authors often copy the latest fad (vampires, the Tudors, P&P rip-offs)

This is a sweeping generalization; moreover it has nothing to do with what publishers actually contract for.

If a commercial /trade publisher doesn't think a book will sell, the publisher doesn't publish it.

Moreover, the average "first time" author has already completed one or more books that they didn't sell.
 

Lily of Ulster

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I would say that bad writers jump on trend bandwagons, regardless of how many other things they've written. Skilled writers tend to gravitate towards stories that speak to them in really personal ways, and those books tend to feel original, even if they tread on familiar ground.

I hope I don't sound like a snob here (okay, maybe I am a snob - it takes all sorts), but when you go to the YA section, all you see titles like "Deadly Game", "Forbidden Game", "Dangerous Game", "Hunger Game", etc ... You see the same tween chick on the cover, with terror in her eyes and lip gloss. Need I tell you about the P&P ripoffs? They spread like metastatic cancer! "Mr. Darcy this", "Mr. Darcy that". See a pattern here?
 

Lily of Ulster

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This is a sweeping generalization; moreover it has nothing to do with what publishers actually contract for.

If a commercial /trade publisher doesn't think a book will sell, the publisher doesn't publish it.

Moreover, the average "first time" author has already completed one or more books that they didn't sell.

It's not a sweeping generalization. It's an observation. Will you deny that there is an overflow of vampire, Tudor and P&P fanfic out there? Big publishers used to have the so-called mid-list for works of literary value that were not expected to generate a lot of profit. Well, that is almost gone. The mid-list is moving to the small presses. I really see no point in beating chests here. I have browsed through the topics on small presses, and I'm yet to see anyone say anything positive about a small press. It's like if you're set on condemning working moms, you'll do it no matter what.
 

paulcosca

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And I would wager (making broad generalizations that really have nothing to do with this thread) that a lot of those people probably are not first time authors. Of course there's derivative crap out there. Some people make very well paying careers out of writing derivative crap their whole lives.

But regardless, as Medievalist said, all this really has nothing to do with the subject originally at hand. Publishers take on works they think will sell. First book, 100th book, whatever. If my goldfish Hoover write a really great Cold-War era thriller, and a publisher thought it would sell, they would pick it up.
 

Bicyclefish

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Big publishers want a sure thing. I have several friends who got rejected by big publishers just because they "had no track record with first-time authors".

This is absolute nonsense. Where do you think first time authors come from? Publishers want books they think readers will buy. End of story.

First time authors often copy the latest fad (vampires, the Tudors, P&P rip-offs)

I have no numbers to back it up. I only have personal observations, which may not even be worth two cents. That being said, I don't think there's statistics to prove first time authors "often copy" fads, aka the Flavor of the Month (FotM). However, are we talking published authors or anyone who's written something? If the latter, then I'd agree first timers probably do copy. I think it's how a lot of people learn. My first story of decent length was basically a fanfic of my favorite book. Thankfully this was pre-internet and never escaped the confines of my computer.

I see it a lot in the visual arts. Even unintentionally, people copy what they enjoy, gradually (hopefully) finding their own style or, in the case of writing, voice.

Even if a person "copies" an idea, isn't it the execution that really matters? There's a bazillion and one -- that's totally a real statistic (I made up in my head) -- variations of Alice in Wonderland; are those considered rip offs?
 

Bicyclefish

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I'm published with a small press and there's a lot of positive remarks about Samhain on its particular thread.
Before recent troubles, didn't people say good things about Musa? I think Ellora's Cave and Liquid Silver Books have been generally positive too. There are a few others I can't recall off the top of my head.

I think it /feels/ like there's nothing positive said because there's just so many (See http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8230080) small press popping up regularly that most folk here approach each new one with justifiable caution.
 

Medievalist

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It's not a sweeping generalization. It's an observation.

An observation is marked by language like "it seems to me," or "I think" or "in my opinion."

Will you deny that there is an overflow of vampire, Tudor and P&P fanfic out there?

This isn't a fanfic forum, and frankly, I don't much care what people are writing about in fan fic. I write for money.

Big publishers used to have the so-called mid-list for works of literary value that were not expected to generate a lot of profit. Well, that is almost gone. The mid-list is moving to the small presses.

This is another assertion that is simply false. First of all, you're misusing a term with almost a hundred years of history. "Mid list" refers to those books that are in the middle of the publisher's list or catalog; they are not new releases (front list) or books that are essentially timeless and always in stock and in print. Most of any publisher's books are in fact "mid list."

Mid list has nothing to do, at all, with sales ranks or income or anything else.

I really see no point in beating chests here. I have browsed through the topics on small presses, and I'm yet to see anyone say anything positive about a small press. It's like if you're set on condemning working moms, you'll do it no matter what.

There are in fact any number of small presses that authors and readers are enthusiastic about; see for example:

Samhain Publishing

Angry Robot

Apex Books

Tyrus Books

These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
 

justbishop

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I hope I don't sound like a snob here (okay, maybe I am a snob - it takes all sorts), but when you go to the YA section, all you see titles like "Deadly Game", "Forbidden Game", "Dangerous Game", "Hunger Game", etc ... You see the same tween chick on the cover, with terror in her eyes and lip gloss. Need I tell you about the P&P ripoffs? They spread like metastatic cancer! "Mr. Darcy this", "Mr. Darcy that". See a pattern here?

As a YA writer, I have to say...wow. Way to make friends.

It's like if you're set on condemning working moms, you'll do it no matter what.

I've seen many a Mommy war. I modded on a cloth diapering forum, for Pete's sake. Diapers, baby led weaning, circumcision, breast v. formula, stroller v. carrier, I've seen it all. This, my dear, is no Mommy war. Stop trying to make the Mommy war thing happen.
 

Lily of Ulster

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As a YA writer, I have to say...wow. Way to make friends.



I've seen many a Mommy war. I modded on a cloth diapering forum, for Pete's sake. Diapers, baby led weaning, circumcision, breast v. formula, stroller v. carrier, I've seen it all. This, my dear, is no Mommy war. Stop trying to make the Mommy war thing happen.

Mmmm... Did I say that there is anything wrong with YA in general?
 

Lily of Ulster

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Before recent troubles, didn't people say good things about Musa? I think Ellora's Cave and Liquid Silver Books have been generally positive too. There are a few others I can't recall off the top of my head.

I think it /feels/ like there's nothing positive said because there's just so many (See http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8230080) small press popping up regularly that most folk here approach each new one with justifiable caution.

How big a small press should be, and how long should it last before it's off probation?
 

Lily of Ulster

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I'm published with a small press and there's a lot of positive remarks about Samhain on its particular thread.

Yeah, I've heard of Samhain. Apparently, it's the new Mecca where every fantasy writer wants to be accepted. That and Tor, of course. There is not a single thread about Tor.
 

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Yeah, I've heard of Samhain. Apparently, it's the new Mecca where every fantasy writer wants to be accepted. That and Tor, of course. There is not a single thread about Tor.

There's a thread about Tor.com (apparently a division of Tor/Forge books) here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188657

and another for Tor UK, part of Pan MacMillan here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=263235

Is there another Tor you're looking for?
 
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Wisteria Vine

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Mmmm... Did I say that there is anything wrong with YA in general?

While you didn't actually spit on YA, your tone does come across as absolutely condescending. I know - you're a "snob - it takes all kinds right?" but it's still off putting.

You've pretty much insulted every other genre but historical nonfiction since you've arrived...and you started by attacking a publisher of historical nonfiction. (Not that they didn't do anything wrong.)

Maybe you can't see how you're coming across, so maybe you should take some time and then come back and re-read your posts. It might give you some insight as to how you're being perceived.
 

Marian Perera

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Yeah, I've heard of Samhain. Apparently, it's the new Mecca where every fantasy writer wants to be accepted.

It is? I just checked Samhain's submission guidelines, which state "We only handle fiction: romance, erotica and fantasy/science fiction/urban fantasy with strong romantic elements". That doesn't mean all fantasy. I have fantasy manuscripts with little to no romance that I would not send to Samhain.

Samhain also publishes horror, but I didn't see anything on the website to suggest that they were competing with the major fantasy publishers like Tor.
 

Lily of Ulster

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While you didn't actually spit on YA, your tone does come across as absolutely condescending. I know - you're a "snob - it takes all kinds right?" but it's still off putting.

You've pretty much insulted every other genre but historical nonfiction since you've arrived...and you started by attacking a publisher of historical nonfiction. (Not that they didn't do anything wrong.)

Maybe you can't see how you're coming across, so maybe you should take some time and then come back and re-read your posts. It might give you some insight as to how you're being perceived.

Sheesh, I didn't realize there were so many feathers to ruffle. I understand that writers are sensitive and imaginative people, and they see perceived slights everywhere. But honestly, where did I insult any genre? All I said was that the cover should fit the content.

And, speaking of taking offense, yes, I can't help but take offense to this constant bashing of small presses just because they don't try to squeeze books into bookstores. I have a hard time believing that a book sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom has such a great chance of being noticed. I get a feeling that the whole POD/e-book model is being dismissed as dysfunctional. In that case, all small presses that use this model will be automatically condemned.
 

veinglory

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Many of us publish with small presses. We aren't against them. We are just pragmatists and know there are some things they can't do. And not being able to do these things is not a virtue, it's just a fact of life.
 
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Round Two

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I have a hard time believing that a book sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom has such a great chance of being noticed. I get a feeling that the whole POD/e-book model is being dismissed as dysfunctional. In that case, all small presses that use this model will be automatically condemned.

You're right that a single copy of a book sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom probably doesn't do a whole lot.

But, what that little dusty book says is that a publisher has sent books out to reviewers who reach the bookstore buyers. And/or it suggests that the publisher has a sales rep who visits the bookstores and has actively sold the line to the bookstore with pre-pub review copies and a catalog. And it's safe to assume that if a publisher is printing review copies, catalogs, has a sales rep, etc. that they are also promoting the book to the general reader market with more than just mentioning the book on a Facebook/Twitter level.

That the bookstore decides to order a copy(ies) of the book shows a level of professional validation of the publisher.

The distinction isn't along Big Five publishers and everybody else. It's not between large publishers and small publishers. It's about proven track records that make some publishers legit and others...not.
 

veinglory

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My Samhain book got very limited store stocking, I am not sure exactly how many books sold that way without checking my records. But it was hundreds. Maybe that is not worth is for some people but I'll take it, and happily.
 

Lily of Ulster

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Many of us publish with small presses. We aren't against them. We are just pragmatists and know there are some things they can't do. And not being able to do these things is not a virtue, it's just a fact of life.

That aside all of my publishers provided editing and none came within a mile of suggesting that I should pay for it. For me that right there is a big difference between a good small press and an inadequate one. If they are not carrying the cost of editing I sure hope their royalty rate is correspondingly generous.

Oh, I'm a pragmatist too. I am perfectly aware that my type of writing is not likely to attract an agent/publisher specializing in a particular genre. That's why I am with small presses, who are more likely to take on an author whose work is not genre-specific. A Christian publisher rejected me because I had a 12-year old girl having sex with a 20-year old man. They actually said they would publish the book if I bumped the girl's age to 18. Another publisher asked for a happy ending. Told told me they were "Victorianed out", and Penguin Canada told me that they loved the novel but they already had too many Canadian authors writing on the same subject. So along came Tom Grundner form Fireship, who just happened to specialize in depressing nautical novels.

As far as charging for editing goes, maybe something is lost in translation, but many authors do get their manuscripts professionally edited before submitting them to agents/publishers. It's common courtesy to present a manuscript that is not loaded with errors and typos. You would not go on a first date dirty and smelly. Whether you do your own makeup or get it done professionally, you want to look your best. It's not criminal on behalf of the editor to state that presentable manuscripts stand a better chance of being accepted. I have two novels with Fireship, and they never asked me to pay out of pocket for any editing. The editor did some additional historical research and pointed out microscopic inaccuracies, which I was all too glad to fix.
 

Lily of Ulster

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My Samhain book got very limited store stocking, I am not sure exactly how many books sold that way without checking my records. But it was hundreds. Maybe that is not worth is for some people but I'll take it, and happily.

Well I sold hundreds online and by doing author events at bookstores and libraries. You'll have to be more specific about "very limited store stocking". How many stores, and how many copies? I saw Samhain paperbacks on their site, and they are quite pricey. Fireship books are also pricey, but they are POD. Does Samhain do an actual offset print run?
 

justbishop

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I hope I don't sound like a snob here (okay, maybe I am a snob - it takes all sorts), but when you go to the YA section, all you see titles like "Deadly Game", "Forbidden Game", "Dangerous Game", "Hunger Game", etc ... You see the same tween chick on the cover, with terror in her eyes and lip gloss. Need I tell you about the P&P ripoffs? They spread like metastatic cancer! "Mr. Darcy this", "Mr. Darcy that". See a pattern here?

I read the above as "all YA book you see on store shelves nowadays are cheap/lazy imitations of a select handful of bestsellers, and all of the covers look the same."

If I'm misinterpreting anything, I welcome your clarification.

I have a hard time believing that a book sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom has such a great chance of being noticed.

All other things being equal in regard to marketing, yes, I believe that a book with the additional exposure of sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom in a bookstore has more of a chance of being noticed than one you may only order POD copies of online.
 

Lily of Ulster

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You're right that a single copy of a book sitting on the fourth shelf from the bottom probably doesn't do a whole lot.

But, what that little dusty book says is that a publisher has sent books out to reviewers who reach the bookstore buyers. And/or it suggests that the publisher has a sales rep who visits the bookstores and has actively sold the line to the bookstore with pre-pub review copies and a catalog. And it's safe to assume that if a publisher is printing review copies, catalogs, has a sales rep, etc. that they are also promoting the book to the general reader market with more than just mentioning the book on a Facebook/Twitter level.

That the bookstore decides to order a copy(ies) of the book shows a level of professional validation of the publisher.

The distinction isn't along Big Five publishers and everybody else. It's not between large publishers and small publishers. It's about proven track records that make some publishers legit and others...not.

Again, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here. If the sales rep did all that legwork just to get the book stuffed into a corner, was the result really worth the effort? Shouldn't the efforts be concentrated on something else? Okay, so you got through the gate-keepers, and the book actually ended up on the shelf. Then what? All that for a mere chance of getting noticed? And no, online promotion is not limited to Facebook and Twitter. What about getting reviewed in genre-specific publication?
 

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