1. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    My novel is ready! Now what?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Aspiring novelist, Jun 4, 2012.

    This is my first ever posting on any writing forum, and it’s to say that my first novel is finished and ready for the world. Now what?

    It’s a mystery drama. I don’t know how good it really is, but people I respect (not just close friends) have said, “This is like a ‘real’ book. I would buy this in a shop.”

    Literary agents don’t seem to agree. I’ve tried that route without success. Now I’m ready to self-publish digitally. I know that some writers regard this approach as a defeat, but I feel life’s too short to keep on waiting and hoping.

    I’ve built my own web site to showcase the book, complete with a blog section, and I’ve uploaded the first few chapters to it. I’ve also created a Facebook account focusing just on the book. I haven’t actually published the book itself yet, but that’s the plan.

    What I haven’t done until now is engage with the writing community. You might think I’ve been either short-sighted or just plain arrogant! I hope not. I conferred offline with people I trust during the writing, and I’ve modified the book quite a lot in response to their comments. I suppose I’ve skipped past the critiquing that I might have had in forums, but anyway, this is where I am now.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for generating some interest? How should I attract readers to the web site and blog, and actually get them to read the sample chapters? Am I in fact going down a the right path? I’m not expecting easy answers to these fundamental questions! I just felt maybe someone would have some thoughts, or feel inclined to share their own experience. I’m happy to provide more details.

    Thanks for any feedback.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you attempted to get reviews, or blurbs from established writers?

    Getting noticed with all of the noise out there is a challenge for every author, especially one going the self publishing route.

    How about solid cover art, especially a thumbnail that will stick out?

    Some authors believe blog tours help. What about interviews? What about the local paper or radio shows?

    Posting interesting comments on other author's blogs sometimes will spark interest in others visiting the commenter's blog. I guess there is also paid advertising.

    If there was an easy answer, a sure fire method, all authors would use it.

    The best way of generating interest is word of mouth--and the best way to have a chance of generating that is to have an excellent story. In a way, once the novel is out there, that's out of the author's hands.

    Sorry can't be of much specific help.
     
  3. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    Hi TWErvin2 - Thanks for writing the first reply to my first posting! You've raised some useful ideas already. I know there are no easy answers to this question, but I felt it would be instructive to see what suggestions would come up, and yours seem very sound.

    I have what I feel is a strong cover (my partner is a designer), but of course that will only attract people once they find it, so I'm still a step behind that point.

    Reviews of course would be great, but that raises the question of how one gets them. I've read quite a bit about how difficult it is to stimulate interest among reviewers, so this aspect alone seems quite a challenge.

    I wonder if there were any obvious online steps that a new writer should take as a matter of course. By way of parallel, if one is announcing a new web site to the world, there are routine steps to take, such as creating a Google sitemap. Are there any equivalent steps in the world of creative writing? Your blog ideas seem like an a good example. I wonder if there are any others?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    are you going to publish/sell it as a 'real' book, or an e-version?... or both?
     
  5. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    At the moment I'm just looking at self-publishing the novel as an e-book. I've looked into self-publishing printed copies, but it seems to me that this raises the stakes massively by incurring serious costs, and also raises all kinds of distribution issues.

    I suppose if goes without saying that my first choice would be to find a publisher and get the book out there in print. But I at the moment I don't see that happening.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you cannot sell the novel to a publisher, it is worth your while to determine why.

    The harsh truth is that the reason is usually that your novel is not yet good enough to succeed, although it is also possible you aren't doing a good job of selecting the publishers you approach.

    Self publishing isn't a short cut to success. It's a place to sink your own money and time instead of focusing on making the writing better. And if you cannot get a publisher to take it on, it probably means you won't have much success through the do-it-yourself route either.
     
  7. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    Hi Cogito - Thanks for those harsh but realistic words! I'm sure there's a lot of wisdom behind them, and believe me, I've already reflected long and hard on the core point that you're making - that my book may simply not be good enough to publish.

    The question is, good enough by what standard? Over the years I have bought many novels that I feel in hindsight were not as "good" as mine: cliched plots, lack of insight into character and motivation, trite dialogue, you name it. Yet demonstrably someone felt they were worth publishing ... and I bought them (more fool me!). I know I probably sound conceited when I say that, but I assure you don't mean to be. I certainly don't think my novel is perfect: far from it. I just feel I owe myself a modicum of self-belief.

    I could clutch at straws, and agree with you that maybe I have so far picked the wrong publishers' agents; but they were definitely in my field, and seemed appropriate enough at the time. I suspect that they are constantly inundated by speculative work, and kind of assume the "slush pile" is exactly that. They all took between six weeks and six months to respond, which suggests that a successful work would really have to astound them in order to attract their attention.

    Also, several of them made it plain in their submission guidelines that they would not be impressed if I submitted my book to a lot of other agents at the same time as them. I can see the logic of this from their point of view, but that's really why I've started looking at self-publishing. If I submitted to them consecutively, I could wait a lifetime before getting a favourable response (or in fact any response other than no). I want to move on!

    Quality is fundamental to success. I competely agree with you on that. But I don't feel quite ready to abandon this conversation yet, or retreat licking my wounds! Before I do, I hope to glean a little more about how to take matters into my own hands on the self-publishing route. If you really do feel it's a lost cause by definition, I don't want to ignore that advice, but if there's some merit in it, I'd like to go about it the right way.
     
  8. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    I'm going to assume that you're book is great. I'm going to assume that it is well written, interesting, and free of grammatical errors, and that the only reason you can’t get an agent or publisher is because you just don’t have any readers and they just don’t want to risk promoting an unknown author.

    Because if it’s not for that reason, then there is no point in publishing it, and in fact you could be hurting your future success by doing so. But I’m going to assume it’s a good story and well written.

    You will need a good cover (or at least one that looks professionally done and not cheezy…they all ultimately look cheezy, but I think you know what I mean.). You will need to publish it in paperback and in e-book. It’s not expensive to do through the popular print on demand publishers out there. You’re e-book version needs to be formatted well and look like it came from the big dogs. You would be amazed how jacked up most self-published e-books are.

    Then you need to let people know it exists—and that’s the brave new world of publishing. If you self-publish, it’s not going to sit in bookstores, but that isn’t the way to sell books anyway, you’d just end up in the old-school paradigm of print runs, shipping, and returns.

    If you self-publish you gamble: if you do it well, hopefully you can start to build an audience. The few people who’ve read Caretakers of Eternity are asking me when I’m putting out another novel—I think that’s a good sign. If you do it badly, no one will even click on a link you put out there for your next work.

    Now, you say you have a homepage. I went to your name, clicked on it and I don’t see any homepage? There's no photo of you, no name, no bio information. I don't even know the title of your book. If you're going to be an author, you need to get used to the idea of giving up being anonymous. Maintain your privacy by controlling what information you put out there, not by hiding. For instance, I want everyone on this forum to be my facebook friend. Just go to http://www.facebook.com/#!/edgordonrn. I control my privacy by controlling the information on my facebook page. I don't want to be private.

    I do book reviews at my website, and I love to find a new author who’s self-published a quality book. If it's quality, I don't even care what genre it is (so long as it's not erotica). I’d jump on reviewing such a book in a heartbeat. I hate reviewing popular crap novelists and then having nothing but bile to report about them. If you have a quality book, then you have everything. Publish it right, though.

    The ball’s in your court. Let me know when there’s a paperback I can get.

    Good luck to you.
     
  9. Chris Williams
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    Chris Williams New Member

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    Keep going with the agents AN. I went from A to S on the Predators and Editors website before getting lucky with Sullivan Maxx. Personalise your emails to show you have done some research on them, give them the synopsis, why they should bother picking you up from 100s of others that come across their desks each week. Don't make it come across as a form email. Then put the first 10,000 words into the body of the em. Make sure they are the best 10,000 words you can write. Talk about the next project, is it linked to first. Agents and publishers want longevity, someone who can pump out books quickly, not sit on them for five years.

    Agents filter the crap out of the system and publishing houses rely on them. Relationships are very important in this business.

    The ebook market is 40% and growing very fast and the idea of printing and holding inventory is old. You can still buy paper backs, but increasingly, they are printed and bound only when a buyer has paid their money.

    If you want to get out there now, gain a following, go for it. But it is a gamble.
     
  10. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    It’s exciting to get so much useful and varied feedback here!

    In response to Egor, I’m smiling at your opening questions, which really hit the basics. The answer, assuming that you’re prepared to take my word for it, is yes, my novel is well written, interesting and free of grammatical errors. Absolutely! It’s also punctuated meticulously. I have some experience of writing, though not in the world of fiction. And yes, I think it’s an engrossing story. What can I say?

    Also yes, I imagine that I have failed to attract agents partly because their resources are often limited, and I’m an unknown. Maybe the subject didn’t appeal either, but that’s a bigger issue.

    Regarding e-book formatting, I’ve already learned how to convert the text to Kindle format, and in fact I’ve supplied the book to a few people to read in that way. I think it looks fine.

    You asked about my web site. I do have one, truly! As I’m a newbie to this forum, I didn’t want to start off by putting links in it and appearing to be using the forum just to attract visitors to my own site. I suppose also that I was hoping to attract some feedback on the merits and principles of self-publishing before diving into the specifics of my own book. But I’m not attempting to hide my identity! Is it legitimate and reasonable to point people to my web site from here?

    Thanks also to Chris Williams for the advice to persevere with agents. Maybe you’re right. I just found myself thinking it was going to be a forever process. I did personalise all my submissions, at least to some extent, and supplied sample material in the format they stipulated, yet I felt that the polite one-line rejections were exactly the opposite: template responses. The end result was a lot of effort, a lot of time, but no meaningful feedback, and no progress.

    I know that many big-name writers went through countless rejections before finding a publisher, so if you’re asking why I think should be exempt from that process, I can’t really answer that! I suppose I just feel that time is passing, and I want to take control.
     
  11. emperorauthor
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    emperorauthor New Member

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    I've just read a sample chapter from 'Aspiring novelist', it is well written and sounds good :)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Wise choice. Advertising is strictly prohibited on this site.

    Under the circumstances, no.
     
  13. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    Hi Cogito - Thank you for clarifying those procedural points. I'm glad I went with my instinct.
     
  14. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    Just so you know, I didn't ask a question; I stated an assumption, so you don't really need to smile at anything. Because you realize that your opinion on the matter is not really the one that counts. You say your story is interesting, but will others say that? You say it is well edited, but what happens when someone else reads it? Nevertheless, you believe it is, and that's the best anyone can say, I suppose, before going on to take the gamble of self-publishing.

    I mean, there is a risk to self-publishing that goes beyond the financial aspects. Most authors who self-publish novels don't really mind spending the money and they don't really mind if they don't make a profit. So, that's not where the gamble lies. The gamble lies, in my opinion, in publishing a novel (that is making it available for sale to the public) and that novel being received poorly on its merits (i.e., bad editing, bad formatting, and the multitude of mistakes that can be made in the craft of creating fiction). Popular writers can get away with bad stories because they already have devoted fans. New authors have to be better than popular authors because they're trying to build an audience. If you put out a poor novel, you may ruin your chances as a novelist, even if you write good stuff in the future. The books I have reviewed by new authors that are bad completely bias me against ever reading anything they write in the future.

    Yes, and if that's the reason, there's nothing to be done about it. The publishing industry misses all the time. That's when indi-publishing and building your own audience makes sense.


    What is allowed though is to put your homepage in your profile. If a person wants to go to it, all they have to do is click on your name and there's a link for it. But you don't have your homepage in your profile.

    I hope I'm right in saying that, Cogito. If not, please clarify it. :confused:
     
  15. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    I’m still smiling, Egor! But in agreement, I hasten to add. I completely understand your point that my opinion about my own writing is not important; it’s readers’ opinions that are ultimately important. Yet as a newbie on this (or any) forum, I felt I had a hurdle to negotiate: finding a way to convey that I have the basics of writing reasonably well nailed down, whilst not sounding conceited about it!

    As to whether I’ve written a well formed, compelling commercial story with the right balance of component parts and grasp of character, plot and so on, that’s a different point, and you make some very shrewd observations about the dangers of sullying one’s reputation by rushing to market too eagerly.

    I suppose the only true way to test the value of a book is to find out what other people think. Those who have read mine so far have all said it seems like a published work, and that has given me some confidence; but I suppose the more people who read it, the more valid the sample, and the more right I have to feel any confidence.

    Regarding putting a web link in one's forum profile, if it is permissible, it’s an interesting suggestion. I guess I felt that I needed to start this thread going first and get some general feedback before actually putting my work in front of members. But I’m certainly not intending to hide the book from the world.
     
  16. lex
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    lex Contributing Member

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    Post removed, with apologies. :redface:

    I'm new around here. I thought a couple of potentially helpful off-site links to information concerning the available "self-publishing options" and how to make them work well for you might be appropriate, here, but it turned out that that wasn't the case; please excuse me. I'll learn. ;)
     
  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd be careful about uploading too much of your novel as "sample" on your website - I don't know much about copyright but making too much available for free online is definitely gonna hurt your chances of publishing, if you did still want to take it through the traditional route.

    Personally I'd wait for an agent/publisher to snap it up. I know, personally, I don't have the motivation to advertise my book so diligently - it's time-consuming work and not just a matter of posting a few bits and pieces, comments here and there on relevant blogs. You have to post real, interesting stuff onto your social platforms and blogs and websites to attract users and attract other bloggers and authors to link back to your site. That's basically a full-time job. I was once paid to do this as a full-time job (boring as hell too). I know I don't have the will or the contacts to do that, so I'd sit tight and wait, personally.

    Have you been to writers' conference and the like? I forget what these are called, but aren't there events where you can showcase your synopsis to a panel of agents within like a 5min slot? Or other events where you can personally meet agents?

    Another thing, if possible, why not go in person to hand in a MS, and then go in person to check up on it? Could show your motivation. Sometimes it's just luck - a matter of it you put your MS in the right hands who will appreciate your work. For example, I find Twilight utterly dire in writing and plot, but someone was clearly mesmerised by it (or they saw the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, in which case it was actually excellent judgement) and I find Kristen Stewart's acting equally dire, but someone saw her act and was mesmerised and picked her for Bella and now she's a star.

    It's just luck, really. Keep trying. Out of interest, what do you write?
     
  18. Aspiring novelist
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    Aspiring novelist New Member

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    Hi Mckk

    Thank you for those useful comments. On the point about not posting too much editorial content on a web site, I had wondered about this, but decided in the end that a few chapters wouldn't hurt. I could be wrong, but I'm talking about no more than say five or ten chapters at the very most out of eighty or ninety. Enough to interest potential readers, but by no means the substance of the story. I suppose you could argue that cynical publishers would prefer readers to pay for a book without having had the chance to read more than snippets in advance; then if the readers find they don't like it at chapter six, too bad - the publishers have had the money anyway!

    I felt I didn't want to think in that way - but I will certainly keep your comments in mind as well.

    Your points about the difficulty of attracting visitors to a blog make sober reading, and your own experience underlines it. I can't really argue with what you know from having lived it yourself. I'm still feeling my way in all this, and testing out various approaches, and blogs and social media are among the items on the check list.

    As to what I've written, well at the moment it amounts to the one novel - a mystery drama. It's set in the UK, and one of its basic premises is memory loss. I'm conscious that this is a much-visited theme, but I think I've found a fresh take on it, so I feel comfortable with that aspect. And enough people have told it reads like a "real" (i.e. published) novel for me to feel I've got the basics nailed. I already write for a living (niche business journalism), so in a sense I've had a lifetime's practice, but I've never before looked for opportunities in the world of fiction. The challenge is how to convince an agent or publisher to look at this - or even to get their attention.

    Your suggestions about taking the book "out there" in person make a lot of sense, and by saying this, in a way you're calling me in terms of the self-confidence I'm claiming! It's easy to sit at one's desk, feeling the world is failing to reognise one's great work, but what if it's ultimately fear that holds one back? Hm! Of course, I could convince myself that the day job keeps me too busy, but I wonder if I'd be fooling myself.

    The biggest frustration really is the waiting for agents' rejections, and all the time that gets eaten up during that process. I find that the older I get, the less patience I have. I want to move things on! But I suppose I share that aspiration with a large proportion of people on this forum.
     

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