1. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Completely Lost

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Masterspeler, Jan 14, 2016.

    Hey everyone! So I was happy when I finished my book, after countless reads and corrections and plot hole fixes, only to stand before the ocean (more like a whole galaxy) of publishers or agents.

    Anyone have any clue on where to start? Maybe a checklist. I write and will do my cover. I don't want to lose creative control. But other than that, I think I don't want anything, although I don't know if I can want things I don't know exist.

    My novel is a 120k word sci fi, not young adult, part of a series. I don't know how many there will be, but so far I have 3 sequels lined up.

    But that's far into the future. I'm not keen on waiting months to years for word from publishers either.

    Thanks,
    AB
     
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  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I'm not that clued up on the whole publisher/agent thing, but I believe you need a solid cover letter that sells you and your story. I'm sure there is a ton of information on the web about this stuff, and maybe even some publisher websites have some guidelines.

    From a business perspective, you should also look into what constitutes as a good deal. In case any agents do take the bait, you don't want to get ripped off or stonewalled with any deals or contracts.
     
  3. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    First, are you self-publishing or are you seeking a publishing house?

    If you want a publishing house, you will lose control of your cover, it is an unfortunate fact. But you also get an advance and don't have to pay for an editor, cover designer, formatting designer (if you want one-or you could do it yourself, but that takes more time and research), as well as the ISBN numbers and the bar code (which you will want if you want the thing to be found on places like amazon).

    The way it breaks down is, if you go traditional, you don't have the hassle of as much (note I said as much, there will still be some) self-promotion and you don't pay anything upfront.
    But you give up control, and that is scary to a lot of writers.

    If you go self-publishing, then you are going to have to invest a lot of time and some money into getting your book out to the world because, yes, you have almost all the opportunities that the publishers do, but now you have all of the responsibility that they would normally handle.
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can totally understand your desire to just get your book out there by self-publishing it. Indeed, that's the route I'm taking myself.

    However, my book is not a currently fashionable style or subject, does not fit into a particular genre, and is way too long for current agents to consider from a first-time author. Plus I'm 66 years old, and just want to get on with writing my next book. I don't care if the first book sells a lot. I'd just like to get it out there, and promote it as I see fit. No big deal.

    However, from what you've said, a 120,000 word sci-fi book (first in a series) may well be extremely marketable by a traditional publishing company. Sci-fi is very popular, isn't terribly formulaic, is always looking for new writers, and your length seems perfect. You might want to take a bit of time and attempt to get it published traditionally. If you're young enough to want a career as a writer, this is a good way to start.

    As far as losing creative control, you don't need to commit yourself to anything that will violate your principles. If what they offer you doesn't suit, just say no and don't sign! Be picky. It's your book.

    I do understand that if you go the self-published route and want the book to sell well, you will need to work your socks off getting it promoted. This will take up as much (if not more) of your time than attempting to court an agent/publisher. If I were in your shoes, I think I'd give traditional publishing a go. It won't be time wasted, because while you're waiting for replies, you can be writing your next book. If you don't get replies, or just get rejections, then you may actually have two books ready for self-pub when you finally decide enough is enough!
     
  5. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Thank you for the responses. I find myself latched on to certain ideas.

    One is the creative control. I'm still not sure what lack of creative control means. Do they have the power to change the content of my novel?

    Two is the submission process. DAW seems to want exclusivity. So while they review it for up to a year, I can't talk to any other publishing house. This seems unfair to me because its like a company asking you not interview anywhere else for a job, and they will let you know you're hired or not the following year.

    Three may seem silly but I will shred my book before I let somebody that hasn't even read my book design the cover. The composition itself is open to me, but I'll give an example. Star Trek books are aplenty. Now imagine somebody that didnt read the book in question and designs a cover with the Enterprise NCC-1701-D when the book is about a totally different starship, maybe not even one name Enterprise.

    My cover will have a starship that I designed, that will match (if anyone will follow along to that detail) decks, stairwells, rooms, etc. Not to mention that the name of the ship will be displayed on the hull, visible on the cover. I will be posting it, once Im done (long story, but I needed to "retrofit" the ships so they can actually render properly with lighting effects, better materials etc). Plus I need to create a good space background without using stock image or copyrighted material. NASA has some very nice nebula photos that are public domain and can be used as a template.

    Thanks again,
    AB
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I can't imagine a publisher accepting an author's cover. They might allow you to create a cover for their artists to consider, but at the end of the day it's a business decision - a critical one - and they aren't going to leave it in your hands. They want to sell your book and they believe they know how best to do that - you don't.

    If you're determined to go that route, then relistically self publishing is your only real option.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    All the publishers I've worked with have treated cover design as a somewhat consultative experience - most of them ask me to fill out a fairly detailed form which often has a question something like: what would your perfect cover look like? The bigger the company, though, the less input I've had - they have their own marketing teams and the goal of the cover is to sell the book, not please the writer.

    I think you need to look at your goals for publishing. If you want to see your book in bookstores, you're pretty much limited to finding a fairly large publisher (which may involve going through an agent rather than submitting directly to publishers).

    From the sound of your post, though, I sense you're going to decide self-publishing is the best option for you - it will satisfy your concerns about control and it will be faster than finding a publisher. It will also have the "advantage" of no gatekeepers, meaning your book will be published, regardless of whether someone else thinks it's ready to be published.

    My best advice, though - if you're thinking about writing (and, I assume, selling) a lot of other books in this series, you can't afford to treat the first book as a throw-away. The advantage of submitting to agents/publishers is that you get some idea of whether industry professionals think your work is up to standard. You're not bound to respect their decisions (ie. even if everyone rejects it you can still self-publish it) but I think it's still good information to have, especially for a new author.
     
  8. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    THAT is the best advice I've found yet on this board! Thank you @BayView ! :)
     
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  9. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    I will try to talk to a few agents at the very least. I get the feeling they might have a quicker turnaround, but seems like my options are limited. I guess I'm not the first to want to do my own cover, so until I get it done and get some feedback I wont know (just how had it is lol)

    Thanks again,
    AB
     
  10. Squeakyfiend
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    Squeakyfiend Member

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    Not to discourage the idea of coming up with artwork relating to a piece of writing (great way to get what's in your head down on paper), but as others have mentioned, get the story sorted first - send it to some agents and make sure it's up to scratch, because you don't need to worry about initial marketing of the thing, that's the publisher's job. Your job is to write a great novel.

    If a traditional publisher bites, I'm sorry to say this, but your input on the cover will be consultory at best. That is unless you're a great artist with marketing knowledge.
     
  11. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've also read (recently) that agents expect simultaneous submissions which means you won't be left waiting for one to reply before submitting to another.

    Someone correct me if this is wrong/not up-to-date info.
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some agents want exclusives once they ask for a full, but for the initial queries, absolutely, simultaneous is fine.

    It's probably a good idea to only send out ten or so queries at a time, though - if there's something wrong with your query, or if you get good feedback from someone that allows you to make your MS more sell-able, it'd be a shame to have already burned through all agents already before you have a chance to fix things.
     
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  13. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Ok, Im starting to understand what the deelio is. It's still scary, not because Im worried about rejection. (Rejection and I are close...friends/enemies lol). I'm more worried about losing certain levels of control.

    I also went on a fact finding mission to a few chain bookstores and I was sorely disappointed. It had been a while since I had the time to actually go in a store and not just order something online (forget about actually reading, since research can be a harsh mistress). Most books are Star Wars books, or Star Trek books. I would call them fan fiction if not for the fact that they are licensed by Disney, Paramount or CBS. So it's just a milking game.

    The rest of sci fi is just fantasy, with Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter and vampire romances. Maybe 10 actual sci fis there and displayed almost always in the back where one cannot see covers etc.

    So if that's the ego trip of being published on paper in a brick and mortar store, then I don't know if its worth it to me. Losing rights and mediocre marketing and display. I'm starting to lean towards online distribution, and self publishing.

    AB
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The first question I have is, have you found a beta reader or two to look at your work? Did you get much critique as you wrote?
     
  15. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Ive had it read by several people that are not family, one a professional editor, or former editor since she was a student of mine. Everyone tells me the same thing as far as the content that it picks up slower that SOME (not most) books. That may be a problem for some readers, that expect instant gratification with 2D characters.

    It's why I'm tempted to a free sample type deal that reaches the first major cliff hanger. Not that the whole book will be pricey, but not too cheap either. This is the marketing stuff that I never studied and never had a knack for.

    AB
     
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  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I wouldn't be so quick to pin the blame on them rather than your book. If "everyone" tells you the same thing, then isn't it more likely that your book is too slow for the average reader, not just ones who can't appreciate developed characters?

    If I download a free sample and nothing seems to be happening, I'm not going to make it to the cliffhanger.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's an interesting observation, regarding the slowness. Was this a factor that your betas found to be a good thing, or were they trying to tell you something?

    I am a big fan of 'slow' books, but the slowness needs to be rich and absorbing, full of character, taking place in rich settings with many minor incidents to keep things interesting. I don't mind if the main plot doesn't rocket along (in fact I tend not to enjoy books that move between plot points too quickly) but if acres and acres of prose gets dumped on me at the start, and what this prose contains does not seem to be purposeful, then I'd say the story might still need some work.

    A book can be 'perfect' as far as SPAG issues goes, but it can also be turgid and/or repetitive. Editing is more than just correcting errors—it's also for unblocking flow issues, correcting pace, inserting things that keep the plot moving forward. Your story may move slowly, but if it's absorbing enough, nobody is going to notice. I'd say the fact that 'everyone' has noticed yours is 'slower than some' might be a warning bell you should heed.

    Is there any way you could make your story seem to flow more quickly? Without pulling out story threads?

    I've often found that the best way to do this is to make your character's POV as intense as possible. It's interesting for the reader to 'live' inside somebody else's head for a while. Even minor details can seem important if the character thinks the details are important, and communicates why they are to the reader. Getting the pace of your story to speed up might be simply a matter of tweaking things in that direction.

    You don't have to remove any incidents. Just make sure they are all portrayed through the thoughts and feelings of your characters. If there is a backstory event of historical importance, don't just tell it or show it happening ...make your characters reflect on it instead. They'll hate what happened, because— The event made them do—what? They walk into a bar and see—not a description of who they see sitting there, but how that person's presence and/or appearance makes them feel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  18. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    @jannert They all tell they like it, but they like you, tend to go for slower building. Each character has considerable backstory and since it involves alternate timelines where several characters start recalling things, they each go through a crisis, some good, others bad, depending on how far off they are in this timeline.

    I guess Im also a bit down because I had a "bad" review but there might be ulterior motives there (family member thats kind of meh with me) They were complaining that the story becomes too complex, and he couldnt follow. Again, a problem for a casual reader, doing it on the train of before bed. Temporal mechanics is tough to follow sometimes. Its why the go to line is always "I hate temporal mechanics" and the reader can use the hand wave (even though I do explain things fairly thoroughly)

    @Tenderiser You're right. I will have to find a way to get proper feed back. I have posted anything because its long, and while its at 113k words now, I may have to add a subchapter to clarify. I fear that maybe the end is too abrupt, even if there is a sequel.

    Honestly, at this point, I'm starting to think that maybe I wont be a great (or even decent writer) so I'll keep my day job and just say I published online...

    Time will tell. I do have a reading schedules with a few people so I will be getting "live" feedback and will be taking notes and see what happens.

    AB
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think one of the hardest lessons for a new writer to learn is to NEVER dismiss feedback ...any feedback... without giving it some thought. A lot of thought. You are quite quick to say that your bad review might come from ulterior motives (and you're right, it might.) But what they said to you sounds to me like genuine feedback. They didn't say the story was 'stupid' or 'juvenile' or 'a waste of time.' All of these things would indicate the person is just trying to get your goat and undermine your confidence. Instead, this person said the story was too complex and they weren't able to follow it.

    The correct approach here is to ask yourself : so ...what can I do to make the story easier to follow?

    Instead of thinking temporal mechanics is tough to follow sometimes and walking away from the review, maybe you should revise your approach. After all, unless you are writing this story only for other students of temporal mechanics, you need to make your ideas accessible to folks who are not 'there' yet.

    People who say they like your story are easy to deal with. You like your story too, so it's all cuddly isn't it? IF they are being honest and not just making encouraging noises, that is. It's the people who don't like your story as much as you do, and are willing to tell you why, that you should pay attention to.

    What I'm picking up from what you've said here is that most of your readers think your story development is slow—some say they don't mind this, but they HAVE noticed it and pointed it out—and that one reader finds the science hard to follow. I imagine if you could lighten up your approach to portraying the science—pretend you are dealing with people who aren't science-oriented at all—you might solve both issues at once.

    I haven't read your work, but I'm wondering if you are stepping outside your plot and character interactions to 'explain' the science a bit too often? If you have to stop and explain things, that might be the problem. See what you can do to show the effects of the science instead, and you might find that comprehension is easier to create—oddly enough. Less explanation may equal better understanding. And the story will seem to read 'faster' as well. As long as your scientific principles are sound, what you do with them should stand alone (most of the time) without explanation.

    A simplistic example might be moonrise. You can go into a long explanation of how planets orbit around the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth, and when the sun is on the other side of the planet we get night, but the sun still illuminates the moon in different phases, depending upon its position vis a vis the sun, so we can see the moon when we are on the dark side of the sun, bla de bla. Or you can show somebody watching the moon rise over a huge lake, getting rounder and rounder and more brilliant as it rises. Which of these is going to make the deepest visceral impression on a reader? It's the same phenomenon, but one version is more accessible to the average reader than the other.

    Some of the best hard sci-fi writers ever have managed to produce this trick. I am not a science/physics sort of person at all, and I love writers who can make this kind of thing seem understandable to me. (Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, James Blish, Arthur C Clarke, etc.) It's got nothing to do with the science itself, and everything to do with how good a writer you are—or are willing to learn to become. Writing well is not easy, and there is a long and difficult learning curve to travel. If you want to become a good writer, you have to realise your first efforts are probably not perfect, and will need lots of insight and work. If you don't affect your readership with your story, you aren't quite there yet.

    If you dismiss the feedback you've received without taking an honest look at what might be a problem, you've more or less wasted your betas' time, haven't you? Don't do that. People who are willing to read your stuff and give you feedback are gold.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
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  20. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Well, the thing is that my father was the one that gave me the confused review. First he says not enough science, then too much. I had a falling out with him after he started reading it, so thats what I mean about leaning towards discounting what he says. Plus hes not keen on the idea of me writing, and wants me to stick with research.

    As far as the pace, I honestly dont know what's too fast or too slow. I never do more than a simple paragraph to explain certain scientific ideas, and usually its in dialogue where characters will interact.

    The biggest issue I have on a personal level is still dealing with the surgery I had, pain, and the mood of a wounded bear. So not exactly the most conducive state of mind to write or even think or a re-write.

    Next week I have a review session where I will be reading the thing with a few others, so we'll see how that goes.

    Thanks for the advice though, I do listen, even if I sound like I'm resisting.
    AB
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have no idea if your father is anything like mine was, but either way, he's likely to be your worst critic. Either he's gonna think everything you do is great, or that it's crap. Either way, it's impossible take anything useful away with you.

    At age 15, I told my father I'd realized what I wanted to do with my life and he told me he had my life all planned out. Knowing I couldn't fight him on it, I lived on the street for the next four years just to avoid his meddling.

    I'm not suggesting you live on the street, but do get as far as you can from your father's criticism.

    But then again, I'm a bit biased. :)
     
  22. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Im not far off from being on the street anyway. It doesnt matter if you lose your job unlawfully or not, by the time any claims or judgements kick in youre either so far in debt that you never get out of it, or out on the street.

    But he is biased big time. Right now Im not the favorite, not by a long shot.

    Still, that seed was planted so now Im questioning my work if it is in fact worth a damn. Oh well, chalk this up to yet something else Ive done that didnt bear any fruit.

    AB
     

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