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General Writing Discussion For aspiring writers of science fiction and fantasy to discuss issues of writing.

View Poll Results: what's your preferred option?
traditional 20 62.50%
e publish 3 9.38%
no preference 9 28.13%
Voters: 32. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 7th March 2012, 08:42 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

Interesting timing, but just saw the following article on BBC News.

War Horse bucks trend as print book sales fall
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The number of print books bought in the UK last year has fallen by 13%, amounting to roughly 15m in revenue, according to Nielsen BookScan data.
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Old 7th March 2012, 09:17 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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Originally Posted by David Evil Overlord View Post
A friend of mine is tempted to go the e-publishing route. Mainly because she's sick to death of agents who can't even be bothered with a form email rejection.
If she has the money, then paying a professional editor or book doctor for comments on part or all of the manuscript can be very educational. For sf and fantasy in the UK, John Jarrold is one person who provides that service.

In the US John Barnes is one person I know of (but haven't used) who is a book doctor. Is currently writing a blog called The Book Doctor's Little Black Bag (see thread on writing forum). Suggest you point your friend in that kind of direction so they start getting some ideas of where they are (or are not) going wrong.
He also has a blog called Approachably Reclusive about his writing and various things. I can't remember if it is the start of the Book Doctor blog or is in AR but he does describe the different things that Book Doctors and Editors do and what you can expect from them.
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Old 7th March 2012, 09:20 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
Really? Trawl 20 self-published books at random. They generally have been nowhere near a line or copy editor. They have probably not even had robust beta reads. They may have gone through few, or no redrafts. They are beset with cliche, pastiche and terrible storytelling.
I think self-published eBooks can be separated into two distinct categories, and those who dismiss all of it as vanity publishing are making the same mistake of blindly adhering to the old model that publishing houses are now doing.

Yes, there's eBooks that are vanity publishing; precious writers who think they're perfect and don't edit their trainwreck of a novel. But there's increasingly serious writers who self-publish but still treat the entire thing as a professional process. They do all of the editing work and beta testing that you get with a traditional publishing house, and there's zero reason to lump their work in with vanity publishers. And those people are making money. Some of them are making far, far more than any writer could dream of making through traditional publishing.

Sure, they're rare, one in a million, but even if you get published traditionally the statistical odds of ever making anything out of it are virtually zilch.


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To get a tradtional deal, you have to be good. You are up against countless thousands of competitors. Only the best, the luckiest and the most famous get through. I accept this last category might be a point against my argument!
I am not sure what criteria publishers use to select which books they'll sell, but I am pretty sure "good" isn't one of them, judging by the crap that's out there.



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Yes. And self published fantasy is generally significantly worse than very, very average.

Mainstream publishers won't be left behind. If e-books really are going to change the world - which I doubt - the big boys will get on board and exploit it to the max.

Well, they're trying, but that's why they're losing authors. They're trying to apply the same unfair terms to eBook sales, despite having zero justification for doing so. And authors are starting to go "why should I only get $0.50 per eBook sale when I could release it myself and earn $3.00 per sale?"
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Old 7th March 2012, 09:28 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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I wrote a book about exercise and fitness, published on the kindle. It appeals to a wide audience and it's extremely well produced (i.e., I spent a fortune on artwork).

Within the field it actually sells quite well

But I still have to satisfy myself with 20 per week income from it, and after working hard on the project for 3 years that doesn't feel so good.

I want more for my fiction, which is why my plan is to try and keep trying until I can find a way into traditional publishing. Many or most published sci-fi or fantasy authors are plugging away for 10 years (at least) before they get a breakthrough, so I'm prepared for the long haul.

Coragem.

If you can earn 20 pounds a week through traditional publishing you'll be doing well anyway. Most books sell very little across their entire lifetime. I think this is probably the crucial little detail people like to ignore when they contemplate publishing options. Whichever way you go, the odds are against you. No matter how your book is released, statistically you're unlikely to ever see it sell well.

The only way it's going to become a success is if people like it and that will happen regardless of how you release it.
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Old 8th March 2012, 12:11 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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The only way it's going to become a success is if people like it and that will happen regardless of how you release it.
I guess one prerequisite of success (or SUCCESS!) is people liking your work, but I'd suggest that getting a publisher behind you is at least as important.

Why did Peter V Brett and Patrick Rothfuss both shoot to fame after their first publication? Yes, their stuff was good, but so it a lot of work that's never such a huge success. The crucial thing was solid advertising, well planned signings, and general backing.

Equally, Joe Abercrombie's latest book was good, but it was a huge hit because Gollancz ploughed money in, getting the book everywhere including Tesco!!

I don't see how to get this kind of exposure with e-publishing, no matter how much your readers like the work.

Corgam.
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Old 8th March 2012, 12:57 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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If she has the money, then paying a professional editor or book doctor for comments on part or all of the manuscript can be very educational.

Suggest you point your friend in that kind of direction so they start getting some ideas of where they are (or are not) going wrong.
Those first five words are her problem in a nutshell.
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Old 8th March 2012, 05:34 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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Originally Posted by Coragem View Post
I guess one prerequisite of success (or SUCCESS!) is people liking your work, but I'd suggest that getting a publisher behind you is at least as important.

Why did Peter V Brett and Patrick Rothfuss both shoot to fame after their first publication? Yes, their stuff was good, but so it a lot of work that's never such a huge success. The crucial thing was solid advertising, well planned signings, and general backing.

Equally, Joe Abercrombie's latest book was good, but it was a huge hit because Gollancz ploughed money in, getting the book everywhere including Tesco!!

I don't see how to get this kind of exposure with e-publishing, no matter how much your readers like the work.

Corgam.

It's true that ultimately to get exposure you need to market heavily, but the fact is publishers aren't going to spend much on marketing a new unproven writer, so even via the traditional route you'll have to do most of the leg work your self, and you can be screwed if your publisher makes stupid decisions like picking a bad book cover (as a new writer you'll get zero control over it).

Thanks to the internet, it's possible to get an enormous amount of exposure yourself. It will take time and effort and money, but it's possible.

Ultimately it's going to come down to what resources an individual writer has available to them. Some people have great resources that actually enable them to do things a publisher wouldn't do.

A good example for my own work is book trailers. Anyone can upload a book trailer to youtube, and having a good understanding of how keywords work will put your trailer to the fore.

If you check them out, most book trailers are terrible. Seriously terrible. Ones from official publishers really aren't any better. For most people, that's probably the limit of what they can pull off.

But I happen to be a filmmaker myself. I work in the film industry, and my friends count amongst some of the most talented technicians and artists in the world.

My book trailers have the potential to be far, far better than 99% of anything else out there - either self-made or from publishers. That's a unique resource I have at my disposal, and I'm going to exploit it to its absolute maximum. If I do it right, it has the potential to be enormously successful. This is particular relevant because my country seems particularly switched onto online media and social media; it's relatively common for viral videos to take off and become cultural memes, often garnering their own articles on the national news.

That's one way ePublishing benefits me more than traditional publishing. Another way traditional publishing is a negative is that New Zealand is a very small local market for traditional publishing. The choice for local publishers is very small, and the runs are tiny (HarperCollins is essentially the only option I have for local publishers). My options are the slow crawl from NZ to Australia and finally into the UK, Canada and US where I might make some money, or to try my luck at overseas publishers (which I am actually doing as well, incidentally). But overseas publishers generally don't look as fondly on foreign writers, and even if I do get accepted it essentially rules out the typical traditional method of marketing which is signings etc. as I have neither the time nor the money to travel to the US or UK.

A quick disclaimer, however:

It probably comes across like I think self-publishing is the answer but that's not really what I think at all. What I am saying is that the climate has changed, and under the right circumstances ePublishing your own work can be a better option that traditional publishing.

That's not going to apply to everyone, and every book. But it certainly applies to me, and it's only going to continue to apply to more and more people, which means if we want to keep up with the play we need to readjust our opinions on "vanity publishing".

Anyone wanting to automatically dismiss all self-publishing as vanity publishing should try make the argument to Amanda Hocking that she would have been better off spending a couple of years trying to get a publisher to accept her books.
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Old 8th March 2012, 07:00 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

In terms of publishing I would probably prefer traditional publishing... HOWEVER I do believe that e-publishing is an option.

Personally as a CONSUMER, what I would LOVE is for all traditional books to come with a code which, when entered in the amazon/kindle/nook/whatever e-book store, will give you a free digital download of the book you bought in print. This would be a huge plus for me to buy an e-book, as then I would get the traditional book I love to read in bed and by the fire, and the e-book which I can bring on trips with me, without having to individually buy both.
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Old 8th March 2012, 09:15 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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and those who dismiss all of it as vanity publishing are making the same mistake of blindly adhering to the old model that publishing houses are now doing.
I disagree. There is a tendency for people to see traditional publishing and e-publishing as different, as though the paper publishers have no interest in exploiting e-books, either now or in the future. To me, "traditional" is not about the medium so much as the model. The model is simple - the publisher pays you for the privilege of publishing your work and makes money if they sell it. If you are paying them for the privilege of publishing your work, you are in the vanity/self-publishing arena.

I have never said that all self published work is rubbish. For a minority, it is the right way to go. But good self published material is increasingly drowned in an ocean of rubbish written by folk who are desperate to see themselves as writers but who, for the most part, can't actually write.

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And those people are making money. Some of them are making far, far more than any writer could dream of making through traditional publishing.
A tiny number of them might be, but the same is true of Lottery winners.

Quote:
Sure, they're rare, one in a million, but even if you get published traditionally the statistical odds of ever making anything out of it are virtually zilch.
Are they? How come the publishing houses are still in business?

Regards,

Peter
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Old 8th March 2012, 09:33 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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Originally Posted by David Evil Overlord View Post
Those first five words are her problem in a nutshell.
Can't agree. If someone really wants something badly they'll find the money for it.

Cut costs, save money, sell stuff, whatever it takes.

Otherwise she's in the "couldn't be bothered, but will self-publish an awful book, to be placed among the masses of other awful books the writers could not be properly bothered with" category.

Serious hard truth, and why the self-publishing industry has miniscule respect. Because those are the people driving it.

Those who make every determined effort to produce a polished piece of work, deserve every respect, regardless as to whether they go through the traditional print route or the self-published route. Trouble is, these people are few, and the ones who do try are more likely to succeed.

IMO.
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Old 8th March 2012, 09:51 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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Those first five words are her problem in a nutshell.
1. You can have just the first three chapters done if you can't afford the full book. We are talking hundreds not thousands.

2. The blogs are free. Would seriously recommend her going to look at John Barnes's Book Doctor Blog and trying the various tests and tools - there might be some nasty surprises in store for her regarding her book. It is one of the major skills for a writer to be able to stand back and see their own work clearly. Sometimes just reading and re-reading it doesn't work. One of the items in the blog is how to examine dialogue, another is on action scenes and a third is on what each scene achieves. (Which is pretty complicated). He makes the point that there are a lot of books out there which aren't quite good enough due to technical writing errors (which is what Book Doctors fix) and once those are fixed, with essentially the same stories and characters, you then have a saleable book. Whether it will then actually sell is another matter that depends on taste, fashions in the market and what vision and editor has for their list but she will then be a lot closer.
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Old 8th March 2012, 09:58 AM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

@I, Brian -- she is trying to get the money together.

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1. You can have just the first three chapters done if you can't afford the full book. We are talking hundreds not thousands.

2. The blogs are free. Would seriously recommend her going to look at John Barnes's Book Doctor Blog and trying the various tests and tools - there might be some nasty surprises in store for her regarding her book. It is one of the major skills for a writer to be able to stand back and see their own work clearly. Sometimes just reading and re-reading it doesn't work. One of the items in the blog is how to examine dialogue, another is on action scenes and a third is on what each scene achieves. (Which is pretty complicated). He makes the point that there are a lot of books out there which aren't quite good enough due to technical writing errors (which is what Book Doctors fix) and once those are fixed, with essentially the same stories and characters, you then have a saleable book. Whether it will then actually sell is another matter that depends on taste, fashions in the market and what vision and editor has for their list but she will then be a lot closer.
I think I'll have a look at those myself.

Of course, it's hard to sell just the first three chapters of a book. Readers generally want the whole thing.

P.S. One of the few responses she has had is from a UK agent (she's in the States). The agent said he would happily represent her in the UK...just as soon as she became a success in the States.
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Old 8th March 2012, 10:25 AM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

Yes, just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that everyone is able to afford a full novel line edit.

However, there are plenty of options - editing of first few chapters shows simple mistakes you can correct yourself; joining a critiques group helps with feedback; proper research of the story themes; proper research on how to write professionally; etc

Much of what people need as a writer is free or relatively cheap - an editor may cost, but that is probably the last thing on the shopping list.

The trouble with self-published writers in general is that they don't even start with a shopping list of things to do to make their MS a good standard!
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Old 8th March 2012, 10:42 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

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@I, Brian -- she is trying to get the money together.

Of course, it's hard to sell just the first three chapters of a book. Readers generally want the whole thing.

.
I was saying the first three chapters because

1. Its educational. If she has done absolutely everything she is able to do to make her book good, and then sends it off for comment and there are lots of things that the independent professional picks up on in the first three chapters, she then has a template/list of things to look for in the rest of the book, which up until then was the best book she could produce.

2. Its about the size of the sample you send to an editor or agent (Depending on chapter length. It is usually 10,000 to 15,000 words in the UK.)

3. If the start is cr*p then you have no hope of getting readers. The odd wobble later on may or may not be forgiven depending on how engaging the story is. (Not recommending wobbles but....)
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Old 8th March 2012, 12:37 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: publish and be damned?

I think I need to clarify a couple of things.

She had one novel published by Lachesis Publishing (a small press in Nova Scotia) in 2008.

She has an e-book of collected short stories (all featuring the same main character) up at Amazon right now.

She also has a story in an anthology out now from Pulp Empire/Metahuman Press.

So she can write. Not saying she's perfect, or that an editor couldn't pick things up that she's missed. I remember the first critique I did for her, she specifically said she had continuity down pat, so don't worry about that -- and the first thing I found was a continuity error.

Right now, I think whatever small income she gets from her writing is all the income she gets.

P.S. I think she'd love it here, and I've told her about the Chrons. But she has dial-up internet running off a chugging generator...
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