The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

RaggyCat

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Harlequin - Ooh, no, I hadn't thought of the 2021 publishing groups (I could do with a 2022 one, too). I've seen a few around, but they always seem to be for debuts. Are they on Twitter, or other platforms?
 

Fuchsia Groan

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Congratulations on the new release, Raggy!!!! I’m so excited for you!

I think I’m not supposed to post the cover myself until it goes up on vendors, but I will be doing a lot of that when I can!

I only know of groups that are for debuts, Harlequin! I did get a ton of support from my debut group and made friends with some wonderful writers who remain friends. Maybe if I ever sell an adult book I can join one of those debut groups. :)
 

Carrie

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Congrats Fuschia and RaggyCat! Great cover, Fuschia!

No news other than continued encouragement from my mentor / unofficial new agent. My book is getting better and I've had more genuinely helpful feedback from this agent who hasn't signed me than I ever got from my current agent, so I am just feeling super fortunate. I hope to have a full revision back to him by early November. Happy writing!
 
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Elle.

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Congrats on the publication Raggy and love your cover Fuchsia!!

I’m in a Debut 2022 group and it’s been a great experience so far, everybody has been very supportive and helpful.
 

A.P.M.

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Congrats, Raggy and Fuschia! It must be so fun to have new releases.

I'm still waiting and hoping and writing. I hope I hear something before the holidays hit.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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I hope you hear something soon, too, APM!

I made some book-related TikToks. I’m a million years too old to be doing that, but I enjoyed it! Maybe I’ll continue until I get laughed off the platform. :)
 
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Carrie

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I hope you hear something soon, too, APM!

I made some book-related TikToks. I’m a million years too old to be doing that, but I enjoyed it! Maybe I’ll continue until I get laughed off the platform. :)
Ooh! You are brave and I'll bet they are great. I am not on TikTok but I don't know how I would have survived the pandemic without all those sea shanties!
 
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RaggyCat

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Thanks, everyone!

I hope you hear soon, APM. We've all been there with the waiting and it can be soul-destroying. And I hope everything carries on being positive with your unofficial agent and that it works out, Carrie!

Fuchsia, I don't really understand TikTok, but good for you trying it out. I'm just too shy of my face, I think!

Question for you all... how helpful do you find Twitter for brand building and book promotion, really? I'm trying to put quite a bit of effort into it at the moment, to build relationships, gain followers and get a wider reach, but I seem to be really unsuccessful with it! I'm not being annoying (I don't think) and I'm trying to promote other people's books and engage in conversations. I'm sort of at the point where I'm honestly questionning myself, and it's having a negative effect on my headspace. So I guess the question is, do you find it helpful? Is it worth persevering? Is it slow work to gain followers and build relationships? What's worked well for you?
 
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Harlequin

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On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being cautiously hopeful, and 5 staring the bleak abyss in the eye, how honest of an answer would you like? 😂

The effectiveness of author self promotion is something sparverious and I have obsessed over for the last couple years.

Here is my bulletpoint list, as I have come to understand things:

  • The biggest determining factor in book sales is how much money your publisher invests into your book
  • Often, a book's chances are determined from acquisition, where budget and advance are laid out.
  • Compared to what big presses can do, authors are relatively ineffective at the high end with no statistical impact on book sales for their sins of being active on sm
  • However, the smaller the press, and or the less support they get, and or the more influential the author, the murkier that gets.
  • Basically self promo caps out at how much it helps you sales wise. Say you manage to sell 100 extra copies by clever self promo—that's a lot more relative to your 3k print run of (sample number) if you're with a smaller press, but statistically insignificant if a lead title at a bigger press.
  • But exceptions always exist and things like this are hard to predict, so while it's best to assume you won't rock the boat, you might as well try. Just don't sacrifice your health and sanity thinking everything is riding on you. Because it definitely isn't or shouldn't be.
  • I concentrate on connections with booksellers and bloggers since they're a) easier to reach and b) much more inclined to interact with authors than usual readers. They're looking for new things and want to be "in" with what's getting published, and they're already doing the legwork of attracting interested consumers since they need them for their own blog.
  • Basically it can matter but often doesn't, and if you do it then concentrate on influences and reviewers rather than readers (I would say).
  • Nota bene: this is also what publishers do. They can't sell direct to readers and neither can we. The entire ecosystem is folks at the top selling a product too the next person in the chain until eventually, the sales staff on a store floor are the ones flogging copies on your behalf.
  • Hope that helps! Sorry was so long
Thanks, everyone!

I hope you hear soon, APM. We've all been there with the waiting and it can be soul-destroying. And I hope everything carries on being positive with your unofficial agent and that it works out, Carrie!

Fuchsia, I don't really understand TikTok, but good for you trying it out. I'm just too shy of my face, I think!

Question for you all... how helpful do you find Twitter for brand building and book promotion, really? I'm trying to put quite a bit of effort into it at the moment, to build relationships, gain followers and get a wider reach, but I seem to be really unsuccessful with it! I'm not being annoying (I don't think) and I'm trying to promote other people's books and engage in conversations. I'm sort of at the point where I'm honestly questionning myself, and it's having a negative effect on my headspace. So I guess the question is, do you find it helpful? Is it worth persevering? Is it slow work to gain followers and build relationships? What's worked well for you?
 
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Woollybear

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In terms of traction on social media: Taking a unique approach can sometimes work in surprisingly good ways.

In the self publishing community, I've seen one star reviews leveraged to excellent effect for sales.

For example, one author leveraged a one star review that said something like: "This book should come with a warning on the cover that the lead is homosexual." She made a quick but fancy image of that and spread it on social media and saw like 100 extra sales within a week. Which is a great little bump in the self-publishing world.

Also, for whatever it's worth, the tweets of mine that gain the most visibility are often those rare tweets that respond to a much more impactful tweet from an influential account.

For example: A famous SF author tweeted something that a republican congressman had said about climate change, and this author asked for opinions from climate scientists. The stars aligned for me that day and I had a quick and pithy response, one of the first replies to his tweet, and mine then saw a large number of retweets and likes. Like ten percent of his retweets and likes, but you get the idea.
 
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Carrie

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In terms of traction on social media: Taking a unique approach can sometimes work in surprisingly good ways.
I agree with this. I do virtually nothing on social media but keep a steady dribble of sales coming in from my last (2018) book purely from my column byline which includes the title of my memoir.

I self-syndicated before I was picked up by a syndication service and I gave the column away to papers that did not have the budget for columnists -- all to get readers. When I negotiated my contract with the syndicate, I stipulated that I got to keep these little papers (around 200) because 1) I love them and 2) their readers buy my books. My first book did not sell in NY, and so I have a pretty small (read worthless) indy publisher. My percentage isn't bad, but marketing is nonexistent, so virtually every sale I've made has been to newspaper readers. I'm not getting rich, but twice a year I get a nice little check! It's a start.
 

litdawg

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On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being cautiously hopeful, and 5 staring the bleak abyss in the eye, how honest of an answer would you like? 😂

The effectiveness of author self promotion is something sparverious and I have obsessed over for the last couple years.

Here is my bulletpoint list, as I have come to understand things:

  • The biggest determining factor in book sales is how much money your publisher invests into your book
  • Often, a book's chances are determined from acquisition, where budget and advance are laid out.
  • Compared to what big presses can do, authors are relatively ineffective at the high end with no statistical impact on book sales for their sins of being active on sm
  • However, the smaller the press, and or the less support they get, and or the more influential the author, the murkier that gets.
  • Basically self promo caps out at how much it helps you sales wise. Say you manage to sell 100 extra copies by clever self promo—that's a lot more relative to your 3k print run of (sample number) if you're with a smaller press, but statistically insignificant if a lead title at a bigger press.
  • But exceptions always exist and things like this are hard to predict, so while it's best to assume you won't rock the boat, you might as well try. Just don't sacrifice your health and sanity thinking everything is riding on you. Because it definitely isn't or shouldn't be.
  • I concentrate on connections with booksellers and bloggers since they're a) easier to reach and b) much more inclined to interact with authors than usual readers. They're looking for new things and want to be "in" with what's getting published, and they're already doing the legwork of attracting interested consumers since they need them for their own blog.
  • Basically it can matter but often doesn't, and if you do it then concentrate on influences and reviewers rather than readers (I would say).
  • Nota bene: this is also what publishers do. They can't sell direct to readers and neither can we. The entire ecosystem is folks at the top selling a product too the next person in the chain until eventually, the sales staff on a store floor are the ones flogging copies on your behalf.
  • Hope that helps! Sorry was so long
Tremendous list, Harlequin! Thanks for crystallizing the insights you and Sparverius have come to. I've come to similar conclusions, but I'm still active on Twitter because I enjoy the connections I've been able to make there--some accounts that I follow, some IRL connections I only communicate with through sm.
 

RaggyCat

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Oh, I'm all about honesty and staring the blank abyss in the eye! Thanks for a great post, Harlequin. I think you make very sensible and well-observed points that feel true from what I know of things. I have seen some authors significantly gain preorders and orders by their networking on Twitter, which is in part what I feel a bit agitated by, but pretty much all of those people already seem to have a platform for something else (e.g. someone who has an Internet famous cat who happens to write a kid's book, or someone known for lifestyle posts who pens a thriller). As in, they built their online following for a different audience originally, and that audience are happy to preorder/buy the book because they like the person for other things. This kind of builds on what Carrie said, actually.

But as you say, these people are exceptions.

Interesting insights too, Woollybear. I'm especially interested in your anecdote about being in the right place at the right time with your comment then getting retweeted - that feels true to what I've observed, too.

Some of the people I've found hardest to network with is other authors - some seem weirdly cliquely! Has anyone else found this? Maybe they look at my meague follower count and are put off :p It's got a little easier for me since my book was announced, but it still feels an awful lot of work for any engagement...
 

scarywicket

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hi folks! have been offline due to the autumn blues but i'm glad to see you all still trucking. in my experience in freelancing, social media has been most useful for networking, i.e. getting my work to eyes it wouldn't reach otherwise. friends i've made through twitter have put my essays in front of very established names in my field who have been curious about what else i have. that being said, like everything else it's a crapshoot, and it has its own opaque social etiquette. one thing i like about tiktok is that the algorithm, while obviously still an algorithm, can be a bit more democratic in my opinion than twitter's almost chain-email-style proliferation. i've seen authors make really cool, innovative videos about their process, their books, etc. that go beyond the sort of meme-y format that i think mostly younger writers are leaning on.

(ed: Raggycat I have found authors to be super cliquey too. YA twitter is an absolute nightmare!)

i've been feeling a bit demoralized recently because i haven't heard from my agent in almost six months. my manuscript is still sitting with a handful of editors, and so i figured when my agent said we were going to wind down sub on this one, we would still be checking in on those last few until we heard back conclusively. (before this, my agent was checking in with all editors every month to see where they were at.) we agreed that i would start thinking about my next project so i assumed at first that they were just waiting on me to email them first, but now a significant period of time has passed with no updates on that last handful of editors or anything else. i'm left wondering if we're still doing those monthly check-ins with the remaining editors or if we've more or less written them off. some stuff in the news recently has made my project feel timely again, as well, which has brought this all back to the fore for me.

i don't know. there were tensions around our last conversation and other issues with our relationship, but now i feel really in the dark and i don't know how to reach out. i don't have an update of my own to offer (i've been chipping away at that new project, but have been focusing on my day job and my freelancing mostly for financial reasons. i also don't want to share what i have yet until i've fully realized my own vision.) i don't want to ask "hey are we still checking in on those editors" if that's something i was already supposed to have taken away from our last talk. i also don't want to make it sound like i don't think they know how to do their own job—especially when i feel i haven't really done my job, either.

any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated <3
 

Woollybear

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Some of the people I've found hardest to network with is other authors - some seem weirdly cliquely! Has anyone else found this? Maybe they look at my meague follower count and are put off :p It's got a little easier for me since my book was announced, but it still feels an awful lot of work for any engagement...
Yes, I've definitely seen this, but I've also seen the reverse.

Authors (and people on twitter in general) have certain metrics that are very individualized.

Some play the F/FB game. (I play this game, mostly, with heavy curation against offensive or dead accounts.)
Some deride the F/FB game. They cast aspersions upon it and anyone who plays it. :)
Some say they are only 'in it' (on twitter) for the interactions. (This makes no sense to me ... because it is hard to interact with more than about a half dozen people on any given day.)
Some say they will never follow an account that only retweets.
Some say they never follow accounts with twitter handles that end in numbers.
Some say they never follow accounts in which the bio is a string of links.
etc.

But, I've gotten some great connections on twitter with authors. Mostly these arise from the specific sub-genre we write in. We who write environmental science fiction rejoice every time we discover a new account writing in this space, and we all move over and make room and have a small celebration that our circle of environmental SFF writers has grown.

I suppose this looks cliquey... maybe it is ... it's not intended that way.

And, with that said, trade published environmental SFF authors want nothing to do with us. Oh well.

p.s. and during events like pitmad, there is an absolute anti-clique vibe where everyone is happily swapping retweets with everyone else. Strangers will always step up, to the extent that twitter matters, which is to say perhaps no much!
 

Carrie

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i haven't heard from my agent in almost six months. my manuscript is still sitting with a handful of editors, and so i figured when my agent said we were going to wind down sub on this one, we would still be checking in
Scarywicket -- You have a right to ask what's going on.

It's not your job to read your agent's mind or know the process as well as she does or have some offering in hand before you're allowed to ask. I say this because I was in this place for so long and it did not end and it didn't get better. I'm not saying it won't get better for you! But, if I had it to do over again, I would be the squeaky wheel. I would not let her ignore me for months at a time and slip to the very bottom of her priority list.

Honestly, I don't think I could have altered the outcome. But I feel I wasted so much time (when I could have been writing!) wondering and waiting and fretting over my agent's lack of communication. It's no way to live. I am now in communication with a new agent. He hasn't signed me but we've been chatting back and forth since August and he's committed (for whatever reason!) to making my new book better. The longest he's ever kept me waiting for a reply was two days and that was when he was reading my entire manuscript! Even if he doesn't sign me, I'll have both a better book and a better idea of how I should be treated going forward.

You have to decide what you deserve and what you will tolerate. Six months is beyond the pale, IMHO. Good luck!
 

scarywicket

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You have to decide what you deserve and what you will tolerate. Six months is beyond the pale, IMHO. Good luck!

thank you for saying this. your perspective is incredibly helpful--their communication used to be so consistent and then immediately dropped off when it became clear that we likely wouldn't sell this project. the tensions i mentioned started long before that though. i used to speak to a few of their other clients and i got the sense that many of the writers they have signed are young, relatively new, very grateful, and hesitant to push back on anything or have expectations; one person said to me they didn't want to be a problem client and i joked that i felt i already was a problem client. now i wonder if there was a grain of truth there. i don't say "yes" without research or from a scarcity mindset ("i have to go along with everything they say because they know best and i'm lucky to even have an agent etc etc etc"), i'm very direct, and i don't enjoy being talked down to about my own craft. so there have been tensions. i wasn't sure if my agent noticed at the time, but maybe they did. if i'm being honest with myself, i've been hesitant to email because that might open the door to a conversation that could end with us parting ways while my manuscript is still out and potentially active.

i'm really glad that things have been going so well in your conversations with this new agent! i feel like that's sort of what i was expecting going into this, but then i found myself constantly making compromises without being met equally in the middle. i guess the best thing to do would probably be to reach out about the follow ups but keep it tightly circumscribed to the matter at hand. ultimately i think we probably will part ways because my current project (and planned future ones) is outside of their wheelhouse, but that doesn't have to happen right away if it's avoidable, for the sake of the project still on sub. does anyone know what would typically happen if, for instance, we were to part ways and then an editor was interested after all?
 

Carrie

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does anyone know what would typically happen if, for instance, we were to part ways and then an editor was interested after all?
It's theirs.

Unless your contract is really unusual, if any publisher your current agent ever sent this project to is ever interested, it's theirs. And, if there is a sequel that's theirs too. This is the reason I was so certain I needed new representation. If I handed over this first novel, every subsequent novel in the series would also belong to my current agent and I would not survive it. I can write a rough draft faster than she can reply to an email.

The book she sold still kicks out royalties twice a year, so she will be in my life for the indefinite future, and I have no issues with that. In the meantime, I just heard back from my new, not-yet-official agent. He replied to a question I had about a character in less than an hour. My hunch is you can find someone better. Best wishes!
 
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litdawg

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Dang, Carrie--your not-your-agent-at-this-time sounds remarkable.

ScaryWicket--six months is too long. Squeak away!

I was hovering over the send button with a squeak today when I received an email from my agent. She'd been reading my revised and much expanded manuscript. To recap, she'd pitched the 90k version to about 25 publishers over a year. We had many full requests, one R&R, but no sale. Over summer, I pulled it back and turned my partial sequel into an expansion. I got that 144k version to her in early Sept. She got back to me last week saying she loved it and was excited about pitching it. Today I was hovering over the send button when she wrote to list the eight publishers she'd pitched it to. I replied with two more to pitch. Then I got a reply saying she'd already received a full mss request from one in her original list.

Even though I've been here before (our first time out, we got many full mss requests), I'm very excited since I was a afraid a long mss of 144k would turn off publishers. I'm grateful to get a new lease on life and an agent willing to pursue it.
 

Carrie

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now I am ready to get back into the world!
Howdy, NIYRAK! I was away for a while too. Yes, waiting for all manner of things occurs here. (You're not taking up the entire couch, are you?)
 
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RaggyCat

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I'm glad it's not just me who's found authors on Twitter to be super cliquely. This morning,I realised that there are quite a few authors (also UKYA, so we should support each other, right?) whose books I've shared and news RTed who've all never interacted with me unless it came from me first. Every guide on Twitter says sharing good news is a good way to make friends, and if authors were sharing my stuff I'd be delighted and want to reciprocate, so maybe there's something I don't get? Or maybe I've been unfortunate to try to get on with some unfriendly people? Rant over, because it's out of my control, I just guess I feel quite sad that quite a few of the relationships I've tried to build are a blow off,

I don't think your example is cliquey, Woollybear, since I know you're writing in a quite specific space, so it stands to reason you'd build good connections. I also know some of the follow/RT games you outlined do exist, but they really hurt my head! I don't think I have time to be tactical like that.

Scarywicket - I'm really sorry you're in the situation you're in with your agent, and I'm echoing Carrie: you have a right to know what's going on. I don't think any agent could consider you difficult if you checked in after such a gap, and said something like "I wondered if you'd heard back from any of the editors? It was my understanding on our last call that we weren't checking in month with them, as we had been, but please correct me if I made a mistake." If you being direct is a possible tension, then it may be that, personality wise, you and your agent may not be a great match. I had something like this with my first agent at points - she would be nice/gentle/sugarcoat things to the extent of being indirect, and there were points as a result of that where I was confused or didn't really understand what she was trying to say. (I value direct, even blunt communication!).

Sadly, I think it's not unusual for agent's attention to cool towards clients if a book doesn't sell, or that client isn't "hot" anymore. With my first agent, I get the impression that sometime after my fourth book didn't sell (the previous three did), she mentally moved on from me, to the extent that I wrote two books that she refused to pitch. It's true that I would have been a hard sell for her, for various reasons, but it caused me a lot of grief that she wouldn't even try. I felt unsupported and anxious. Each book I wrote I crossed my fingers that she would want to pitch it. Not a good relationship. I wish now I'd asked more questions and been more forthright, rather than being afraid to rock the boat -because even a brilliant agent is replaceable. I know you're not at the point of moving agents yet, but having an agent relationship that gets you down and leaves you uncertain is damaging. You deserve someone who champions you beyond one book, and appreciates your direct communication, and also someone who you don't feel wary checking in with.

On that note... litdawg, I'm so excited that yout agent has faith in your expanded book and also enthusiasm! Fingers crossed.

Also, hello to NIYRAK!
 

gtanders

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I'm glad it's not just me who's found authors on Twitter to be super cliquely.

I've had the same experience. I don't know if this is too much for this thread (LOL), but it feels like the authorial twitterverse really shifted over the last ~5 years. It feels like social outrage is the prevalent currency, and like, are we even talking about how we love literature for its own sake anymore?

Anyway... hello all. :p Just wanted to drop in and offer some solidarity re: Twitter being yuck.

Litdawg--glad to hear your update! I was thinking about you the other day and wondering how it was going.

Hopefully I will have rejections to share soon! Onward, literary soldiers!
 

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