1. K. A. Solo
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    K. A. Solo Member

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    Just got discouraged!

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by K. A. Solo, Mar 21, 2012.

    I was starting to prepare my agent query information when I came across some of the info from when I tried to contact publishers a decade ago for the same manuscript. I took note of the rejection comments, and there was a definite pattern to them.

    One wrote that I had a great idea, but that he couldn't sell it. Another wrote that what I had sent was very good, but that he didn't think there was a market for it. The 'no market for it' was repeated a few times elsewhere in the rejections.

    I think there is a market out there somewhere because I have written about one of the most famous men in history. Unlike a manuscript with completely unknown characters, people know about this man, and I believe he comes with a built-in readership of tens of thousands around the world. I've also polished this thing, and it's a lot better than when I first submitted it, with a much lower word count.

    There are new novels about him published each year, so someone out there is certainly buying them. On Amazon, I've come across several reviewer comments for other books on him, stating that these readers will buy any book on him that they can get their hands on. I'm included in that group. Fiction or non, I have dozens and dozens of books about him, and am always looking to add to that collection.

    My manuscript falls between genres, to complicate matters. Finding a agent/publisher who would be willing to blur the genre lines for what I've written is going to be a tall order. This is what will probably push me toward self publishing. If it's good, but there's no market, then I would be willing to put it on Amazon myself and let the chips fall where they may. Some of those same devotees would likely buy it, and maybe it would catch on from there.

    Thank you for reading this far and letting me vent; I *really* needed to get this off my chest.
     
  2. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    So you feel discouraged that all your rejection letters from ten years ago said your story was good, but unmarketable? Because 10 years is a long time, and things have changed, either for the better or worse. Also, you might get thirty rejection letters saying it's unmarketable, and then one that says it is; "marketability" is a subjective concept.

    If you have concerns about your query letter, why don't you post it in the writing workshop? (make sure you've done 2 quality reviews first).
     
  3. K. A. Solo
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    K. A. Solo Member

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    Hi funkybassmannick, thanks for responding. I felt a bit better after my kvetch. The industry has changed a great deal over the past decade, and not necessarily for the better.
    One of the things I neglected to mention above is that there are far fewer publishers out there that would even consider my mixed genre manuscript. So many of the publishers that were on my list back then that I didn't get around to contacting aren't around anymore, so there are fewer avenues for me to go down. I may have painted myself into a corner because of my story, but I sure don't want to change things now. I have three serials almost completed, and a fourth nearly half done (easily more than a million words typed), and I would hate to see all that effort go to waste.

    I'll give myself a year, try for an agent, and see what happens. Anyone know of an agent willing to look at a mainstream manuscript that has historical and sci-fi undercurrents? Just kidding. :p I'm loopy from lack of sleep.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Are you sure your book is "mixed genre" and not steampunk, which is (often) historical science fiction?

    I haven't read it, but my brother raves about Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, which is an alternate WWI history with science fiction elements. This sounds similar in concept to what you've described.

    Even if you don't entirely agree that your work is "steampunk," if you say it's that genre, you will definitely be able to find agents and publishers interested in your work. Maybe your work was ahead of the times, because now steampunk is quite popular! So start pitching!
     
  5. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I can't really comment on the marketability issue unless you explain who you're writing about - what's the big secret? Why are you scared to name the historical figure your book is about?
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know about Canada but here it can take around three years to find an agent. (sometimes longer). It can be a long haul. It is oft quoted that it took JK Rowlling fourteen months. Which is fairly quick.

    I've the same issue. My fantasy is borderline urban/high fantasy and my detectives are gay. Both are giving me trouble with agents. Apparently my basic style is 'highly marketable', 'my character's are exceptional'. However the basic is can I make my fantasy medieval (My Gandalf character texting is difficult to take apparently and my prince shouldn't be wearing low slung jeans) and can I make my detectives straight.

    I'm not prepared to do either, so if the agents I want don't accept me by the deadlines I've set, I'm going to get an editor to edit it and self publish it. I've got one review site waiting to review my fantasy and my detectives I thought may stand a chance if Gay Times/Pink News or something liked it.
     
  7. Faust
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    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

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    You shouldn't feel so discouraged, while publishing via Amazon is at least an option to consider, I'd only do it either a) as part of a publishing contract or b) as a last resort, as publishers can set the prices higher than you can. While it isn't always about the money, if publishers at least 'liked' the idea, than there should be some marketability, do your research, try to find some smaller publishing houses that have multiple niches, I'm sure Google has some that are focused in the sci-fi realm, maybe they can at least point you in the right direction.

    I'd like to know more about the story myself, and I wish you luck with your manuscript :-D
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it Young Adult ? If it is type Strange Chemistry in. Angry Robot are only looking for classic fantasy this year, but Strange Chemistry their new imprint are looking for any sci-fi/fantasy YA. They accept mixed genre books as long as they have a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal element.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    alexander the great?
     
  10. K. A. Solo
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    K. A. Solo Member

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    No intentional secrecy, I had revealed the subject of my several manuscripts before, so I didn't know if it was appropriate to keep doing it. It is Alexander the Great (mammamaia, you're awesome!). It isn't set in ancient history, it's set about 30 years in the future, and (here's where the sci-fi comes in) his tomb is found, his remains are cloned by a British geneticist trying to make the perfect political leader in troubled times. That's pretty much the extent of the sci-fi. The problem is, Alexander remembers his ancient life, he's still Alexander, so there are historical aspects to his recollections as he slowly rises to prominence again, all with the world not knowing who he truly is. The first manuscript deals with him growing up in England and trying to fit into our world, but not without problems.

    As I mentioned. it's mostly mainstream fiction, with that small sci-fi aspect, and historical flashbacks. This is why I might have trouble with a publisher not knowing what genre to place it in, and how to market it.
     
  11. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Have you read 'Gods Behaving Badly'? Your story reminds me of that, so if you haven't read it I'd highly recommend you do. It's about the Greek gods living in modern day London. I believe that was marketed as mainstream fiction, and it seems to me that's where yours would sit too. The sci fi element is really only a plot premise device, the rest seems to be almost high concept ficiton.

    As for market... I'm an historical fiction writer, a classicist and an ancient Greek reenactor to boot, and I am very intrigued by your story, HOWEVER... I wouldn't be so quick to assume that everyone who likes Alexander will like your book, or that you can automatically plug in to the ready made historical fiction readership. Hard core HF fans want their history played straight, and many will be quite annoyed/offended by a twist like yours. To be honest, I think you're looking at a completely new readership, with maybe some crossover from the HF market, but it isn't a straight sell.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It could be science fantasy/magical realism/urban fantasy. Which if it is, it is very trendy right now. I personally, think if you label it Science Fantasy or just sci-fi you will be fine.

    Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (which I know isn't exactly the same and is a movie), is classed as Science Fiction Comedy.
     
  13. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Out of curiosity, how is your story 30 years in the future but isn't primarily science fiction/science fantasy? Science and technology are advancing exponentially. Some renowned scientists such as Michio Kaku and Ray Kurzweil are projecting that, compared to the 20th century, the 21st century will see not 100 but 20,000 years of progress. Perhaps it would be easier to set it in today's world, since cloning technology now is close enough that it could still be believable that he could retain his memories.
     
  14. K. A. Solo
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    K. A. Solo Member

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    I've heard of 'Gods Behaving Badly', but haven't had a chance to read it yet. It's on my to-do list.

    And it would have been much easier to set it in the present day world, but in striving to keep it as realistic as possible (cloning ancient DNA and memory retention aside) Alexander's tomb has not been found. If there had been a corpse out there, as with Rameses II or Seti I, that would have worked. I've written in some technology that doesn't exist today, but the primary focus isn't the sci-fi aspect of the future, it's a personality driven story. The 30 year in the future setting is squishy, as I give no dates in the manuscript. Instead, I've left it up to the reader's imagination to decide when the action is taking place, but if a publisher was really unconfortable with that, then I would make it more concrete.

    There's also a lot of historical Alexander fiction out there, and no one comes close to Mary Renault's wonderful Alexander trilogy. Because of that, I wasn't even going to attempt an historic retelling of his life. Instead, I wanted to do something different. Some fans of Alexander may or may not like where I went and what I did with him, but, if published, it will breathe new life into his phenomenal life, and he deserves that.
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your story idea sounds awesome and wacky - and incidentally, there should certainly be a market somewhere. You just have to wait til you find the right agent who's willing to take a risk, which could be hard to find but they're out there somewhere! Don't give up! I was watching an interview of an agent online once and the guy said he was helping publish a manuscript that had been submitted over and over for the past 17 years. The author waited a whole 17 years! And at last, one agent accepted and now the book's getting published. So don't lose hope.

    And your idea reminds me of some Chinese dramas I've watched. One was about a guy who travelled back in time and had to adapt to ancient Chinese living (originally a series of novels). Another was about an ancient Chinese emperor who got teleported into the future and no one knows he was the emperor. So this whole idea of someone from the past or future having to adapt to a lifestyle from another century altogether and trying to fit in, find his identity and where he belonged within it is certainly popular and certainly used, and sold - these 2 stories I mentioned above were both immensely popular in Hong Kong.
     
  16. Wordhacker
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    Wordhacker Contributing Member

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    Don't go the self-publishing route. Richard Dreyfus tried to self publish years ago and he spent ten million on advertising his book. It was a complete flop. Plus self-published books are frowned upon by publishers unless you can sell at least ten thousand units. The only success story I've heard of from self-publishing is John Grisham.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like you may be assuming that science fiction is never personality driven? I don't think that's an accurate assumption.

    I think that it's a mistake to assume that because you had trouble selling this book ten years ago, with a particular pitch or pitches, you can't sell it in a different decade with a different pitch. There's no law, in fact, that says that you can't approach one group of agents pitching it as straight fiction, and another group pitching it as science fiction.

    it is, IMO, extremely premature for even considering self-publishing.

    ChickenFreak
     
  18. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I'm not disputing that it's an interesting and original twist, but I was responding to this:

    Well yes, millions of people have heard of Alexander. Tens of thousands read about Alexander. BUT that does not equate to a ready made readership for your novel - that's a false marketing calculation.* If an agent thought every Alexander fan was going to rush out and buy your book, they wouldn't have been so sceptical of being able to sell it. I'm not trying to put you down because you have a very interesting idea there, I'm just trying to instill some realism. This is not historical fiction, and it's not Sci-fi. It is probably high concept or mainstream fiction. If it's good enough, I see no reason why it can't find a market. You just have to find the agent who has enough vision and belief in it to take it on.

    * Incidentally, a friend of mine has recently written an epic Alexander novel, at the REQUEST of his publisher because they said there was a big demand for it and it was going to catapault him onto the bestsellers list. When he'd written it they then refused to promote it, because a year on they were no longer as confident the market was there and they wouldn't spend any money on advertising. It had a glowing review in the times and everyone I know who has read it would rank it as not only his best work, but the best historical novel published for several years. So why no support from his publisher? Go figure.
     
  19. Hollowly
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    I actually think those rejections sound encouraging. They complimented your work. They just weren't the right ones to buy it. You need to look for agents/companies that have put out books similar to yours and try to query them. I do really think that getting a non-form response with positive feedback is great and this was years ago, you've probably improved a lot since then. :)
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is no reason why a sci-fi can't be character/personality driven. Slaughterhouse Five is classed under: Dark comedy, Science fiction, War novel, Metafiction.

    Maybe part of your issue is misclassification. I know initially (when I was getting no response) calling mine a high-fantasy was a mistake. My next round is sending it out as straight YA Fantasy.

    I do agree you should look into all your options, also I think with the popularity of dystopian and urban fantasy right now it is worth you sending it back out to agents/publishers.

    Beatrix Potter, Amanda Hocking, Janey-Louise Jones, Moriah Jovan, GP Taylor ? Not to mention the ones that are making more with their self published works than they have done from royalty checks. They may not be huge success stories but they probably wouldn't have been under traditional publishers either. I don't think a self publishing story even if it is Beatrix Potter, GP Taylor, Amanda Hocking, Janey-Louise Jones ;) from years ago counts. The situation has changed drastically in the past twelve months - one of the sites I am on has a self epublisher from those past twelve months relating his story. Others join in from time to time. There is also now a lot more industry supporting it, it is possible to get a really good edit for about £500 and a cover professionally designed for about £250. Which is a greatly reduced investment if you are doing just an epub than it would've been doing print.

    It is not the only option, but I do think it can be AN option and a much more viable one than it used to be. For an author who is struggling, or for whatever reason doesn't want to go down the traditional route. There are also published authors that do a mixed route. Put up short stories inbetween their traditionally published books for free or 99 cents and they act as publicity for their main work. (one sci-fi romance author increased her followers by putting a piece of fan-fic up on a fan-fiction site).

    Setting my own deadlines, having full creative control and being able to write what I want is what attracts me to the idea.
     
  21. K. A. Solo
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    K. A. Solo Member

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    I'd like to thank everyone for their encouraging words, and I'll keep trying to go the traditional publishing route and see what happens. I've just come across a listing for an agent who is "interested in books that cross genres and reinvent popular concepts with an engaging new twist (especially when there’s a historical and/or speculative element involved". Sounds promising! :)
     
  22. Hollowly
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    That's good to hear. Keep at it and good luck. :)
     

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