1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    How to do it right?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by zilly, Jan 7, 2011.

    Ok, my friend and I have been writing this novel for almost an entire year now. And we are thinking that we may finally be ready to start sending it out. However, we've heard so many different things from so many different people concerning how we should go about this.

    Initially, we heard from a lot of authors that a lot of people start submitting their story before they finish. We head that the proper thing to do is submit the equivalent of a trailer for a movie about the story. However, as time went by, it seemed like this is not what to do.

    Now, it's seeming like the proper thing to do is just submit the entire story.

    So, I have several questions about this whole process. Firstly, are we supposed to send a few chapters, a synopsis (more or less), the entire story or some combination of these? Secondly, are we supposed to get this printed as a book and submit that or do we send an electronic copy and, if so, how should that electronic copy be formated? Finally, I've recently read that it takes an average of twelve weeks to hear a response from a publisher. How true is that? And, as a result of this, is it smart to send it to several publishers at the same time, one at a time, or every publisher at once?

    Finally, as I've mentioned many times, this is not a typical book at all. There's cursing, poop jokes, and things some people may find offensive. Among other things, we've been worried from the start that this could severely limit both our audience and potential publishers. Should we rule out Random House, Penguin, and Simon and Shuster? Should we target mainly small publishers?

    We've several people read small parts of the book and a few people have read the entire thing most of which are people we don't know and everyone says more or less the same thing, "I really like it. It's one of the most interesting things that I've ever read. But, I don't know if it will get published because..."

    We feel exactly the same way, so we want to make sure we do things right. I would really appreciate any advice you can give.

    Thanks,
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first and foremost, you MUST have a 'collaboration contract' in place!... to even start writing with a co-writer without having one signed and sealed is suicidal...

    if you don't have one yet, DO IT NOW!... no agent or publisher will touch you if you haven't got one... go here
    [ http://www.wga.org/uploadedFiles/writers_resources/contracts/collaboration.pdf ]
    and use the one provided... it's for screenwriters, but works just as well for any writers, with just a few words changed... and it's the best one you'll find anywhere...

    co-writing may work during the writing process, but believe me, it can lead to horrible situations later, if money is in the offing... i've had new writers come to me in tears, having had their work yanked right of their hands by a trusted partner who sold it as his/her own... and with no contract in place, couldn't even be sued or made to give the aggrieved party a writing credit...

    ...only if that's what is specified in the agent's or publisher's 'submission guidelines'... always check those first, for each venue you are going to query, since most want only a query letter first and will let you know if/when to send the ms or sample chapters... you can email me and i'll send you tips on writing query letters and all the other stuff you need to know...

    ...no, you don't print it as a book... you only send the ms [manuscript]... or sample chapters, if that's what they want...

    ...not very... it can take as little as a few days for an electronic query to be responded to, or as much as 6 months to a year...

    ...why are you going directly to publishers, instead of trying to get an agent, who'll do all that for you and get you a better contract deal than you can get on your own?... very few publishers will even accept queries for a novel... and most won't accept unagented submissions... if you do query publishers [or agents] it's customary to query all you can find who take what you have to offer...

    ...however, when/if you're asked to submit the ms or sample chapters, many [if not most] will want an exclusive submission... meaning if you submit it to them, you must wait till they accept or reject the book, before you can submit the work to anyone else...

    ...you should try to get an agent, who'll know who to shop the book to and who not to... but if you insist on going to publishers directly, why limit yourself at all?... just query all who publish the genre you have to offer... same goes for agents... their listings will tell you what genres they accept and what they don't...

    ...'because' what?...

    email me if you want an assessment of your book's chances and/or any help with getting an agent/publisher...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Regarding timelines, I've found the 12 weeks (or whatever they say) means very little.

    My cousin just got back a response from a publisher after over a year.
    Too little, too late...

    Good luck with the book. :)
     
  4. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    Yes, waiting times to hear responses from agents/publishers can vary greatly. I have waited anything from two weeks before to three months. It really is impossible to put a time frame on it.

    Many of the questions you asked Zilly are questions that are individually different with every agent/publisher you might contact. One might require you to email only two chapters of your book. Another might request the full book by postal mail.

    The same goes for your manuscript formatting: some will ask you to have a certain font type and size. Others will say as long as it's clear to read anything is fine.

    So to give you an answer to these is hard.

    All I can recommend to you is to go through your book, make it as good as it can be. Once it is ready, you can start to find out the names and conact details of agents/publishers and ask them how you can submit your manuscript....Only THEY can tell you how/when they want to see your work.

    Good luck :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    standard ms format details are well-demonstrated by bill shunn... use his format guide for all instances where the agent/publisher does not specify something different...

    http://www.shunn.net/format/
     
  6. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Maia, thanks for helping us out so much again! Hopefully, I'll be able to get the update to you tonight. I'm not at the computer with the document on it still.

    Thanks Fiona and VM80 for the input about the time frame and everything else.

    From what I've heard, this seems so overwhelming. It seems like getting an agent is the smartest move for us. However, we don't know anything about agents either.

    How will I know if I've found a good agent? It seems like agents would work with certain types of books. Our book is very different as I've mentioned many times. Are there any good agents that anyone knows of that like books that are comical/satirical/out there?

    It seems like this is as complicated as the music industry. I feel like we need a manager =/ But, you guys help out so much, maybe we don't =]

    Thanks!
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Go to agentquery.com. They have a list of agents based on the genres they represent. I'm sure there are several agents out there who can represent your type of book.

    In regards to finding a good agent, you'll have to do some research here. See what kind of success the agent has had with past writers, and look at what others have to say about a particular agent or agency.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for fiction, definitely...

    go here [ http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/pubagent.htm ] and read up on agents and what to look for, what they do...

    ...you need to browse the agent listing sites and find the ones whose list of preferences includes what you have to offer... i have several good listings i'll be happy to send you if you email me with a request...

    ...whatever you do, don't be suckered in by those who call themselves 'managers' in the literary world!... that's a relatively new wrinkle used by the unprincipled, to separate unknowing, unwary newbies from the contents of their pockets/purses...
     

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