1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Preferences in Publication Routes

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Wreybies, Sep 25, 2016.

    This discussion originally came from the following thread:

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/so-you-wrote-a-novel-and-want-to-get-it-published.148510/

    Since the information given in that original thread is a valuable resource, I think it's best (and others in this discussion would seem to concur) that the resource itself remain seperate and accessible to the forum as a reference and a tool. This discussion - now pruned into its own thread - will serve as a venue for members to offer other information that the OP of the original thread is hoping to also add to what has already been graciously provided.
     
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  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, Bavyiew, will archive this magnificent piece of work off-line so it doesn't get lost. Tons of resources here.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a start, but if anyone has other ideas/links/whatever, I'm happy to add them...
     
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  4. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    Agree w/@Lew wow what a treasure of information.

    Wish I needed it. ! Maybe I will someday.
     
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  5. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    It's never too late to write a novel, right? Someone told me about an author who wrote her masterpiece at 80. How cool is that?
     
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  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Note, with respect to agent agreements, they often have terms that are very bad for writers. Your agent cannot advise you as to the agency agreement (or should not, because it is a direct conflict of interest). If you feel you need an agent (which you probably don't, strictly speaking; it's up to you to decide whether having one is worth what you're giving up), know what you're looking at with respect to the agent agreement or else find someone who does and have them look it over.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmmm... I don't know. "Often" kind of jumps out at me... Like, reputable, well-vetted agents very rarely have terms in their contracts that are bad for writers; disreputable agents should get caught at the vetting stage. So I'm not sure that agents who have passed the vetting process will often have author-unfriendly language...

    Do you have a link or anything to someone discussing the issue? I could include it, but I think I'd want to include a disclaimer similar to the above.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There are a few that are quite common. I've dealt with reputable agencies who try to couple their agency with an interest in the work. That's extremely common in publishing, and something you want to try to negotiate out of the contract as the writer because it is not good for you. There are other terms regarding payment, what provisions survive after termination, dealing with new works, and so on that tend to disfavor the writer. These contracts were drafted by the agency's lawyers, and their job is to protect the agency's interests. These are legitimate agencies. The idea that legitimate agencies would never include terms bad for writers gets a lot of writers into trouble. I've seen the coupling with an interest so often I think it is standard boilerplate at this point.

    But before you even get there, you have to decide whether you really want an agent or not. That decision can go either way, but it shouldn't be assumed.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that you have to decide whether you want an agent - did you feel that wasn't reflected in the original piece? I mean... if you want Big Five, I think an agent is really important, and I think most writers should try for Big Five, so I'm pro-agent... but I didn't mean for the post to suggest this was the only way to go...
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think it is clear enough. You don't strictly need an agent, even for the big publishers, but for many (most?) people it's probably going to help. If you can get a deal with out one, that's better in my view. I just wanted to make the point about agency contracts, because people often focus on publishing contracts and just assume the agency contract is automatically going to be fair to the writers. I've seen a number of them, both before signature and after, that have problematic clauses. So it's just a heads up.
     
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  11. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    Excellent post, BayView! Thank you!
     
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  12. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    Amazing post, @BayView !
     
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  13. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Bay,

    Also a hybrid author. But I have a bias towards indie publishing.

    To my mind the biggest advantage to going indie is that you can be published. You can thus choose it. You cannot choose to be trade published. You can only choose to try to get a contract. The vast majority who try for a trade publishing deal will never get one.

    Also this is not an either / or thing. Many who go trade later choose to publish indie. And more and more often those who go indie are later picked up by trade publishers if they make a good fist of it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's kind of defeatist to start with self-publishing, though, isn't it? Like, if you'd genuinely rather self-pub, then start there for sure. But if your preference for self-publication is based on assuming it's the only avenue open to you? I don't know--I guess I'm fairly comfortable with failure, so I'd rather try and fail than not try at all.

    But I'll add a note about this choice being one that has to be repeated for each successive book--I think that's an excellent point!
     
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  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's not being defeatist at all, if you check current requirements and realise your story doesn't fit with any agent out there. Why waste time chasing something you really are NOT going to get.

    You're an experienced author. Tell me. What chance has somebody got, getting themselves 'traditionally published' when they don't write within a recognised genre, are not 'literary' in their approach, and their first book is around 200,000 words long?

    Don't say 'cut it' just to get looked at. That would truncate my story out of all recognition. Any story can be 'condensed' but that doesn't necessarily improve it. (Cut out the fat, yes, absolutely, but shortening a story just to achieve word count? No. Anyone who assumes that a 200,000 word story contains 100,000 words' worth of cuttable fat is pre-judging the writer.)

    Telling a story takes as long as it takes. Many famous novels are 200,000 words or longer. Length doesn't indicate quality. Short books can be crap as well. It's just down to 'cost' and risk to the publisher. Fair enough, it's a business. I accept that. It's easier for THEM to sell short books at a higher profit. But why bother chasing agents if your book is automatically going to be either rejected for its length, or the agent will require you to cut it in half? Going for self-publishing instead isn't defeatist. It's realistic.

    Folks who happily write genre stories within the required perimeters will have a much easier time selling their work to traditional publishers than those of us who write outside the box. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but it is a mistake to assume that what works for one will work for another, and that the only thing separating the two is a positive attitude.

    I have bought yearly writer's publication guides on both sides of The Pond, have a long-standing subscription to the best-selling writer's magazine in the English language, and have searched at great length, only to find NO agent who is looking for the kind of thing I've written.

    My writing is not fashionable at the moment, and I accept that. That's not defeatist. That's pragmatic. I want to get what I wrote published, so I'll do it myself. I'd say that's being positive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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  16. Manishtusu
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    Manishtusu New Member

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    I checked the websites of Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Penguin Random House: neither of them accepts unsolicited manuscripts from authors, and they all recommend getting an agent...
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I am aware of that. Unsolicited doesn't mean unagented, and recommending isn't the same as requiring, so if you read what I wrote you'll see my point stands. Writers without agents do sell manuscripts to publishers who don't want unsolicited material. I've met some of them and discussed this very topic.
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert I agree it is not defeatist, and it isn't defeatist even if you're writing mainstream commercial fiction. Even if you want to do traditional publishing, a hybrid approach makes more sense than focusing solely on traditional, and the hybrid approach includes self-publishing by definition. It's just a smart way to approach writing in modern times.
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. There are so many ways to get your book out there these days. They all have advantages and disadvantages. I think there has never been a time when there are so many possibilities.

    When I first finished my first draft (and it was a LOT longer then than it is now) I had assumed I'd go for traditional publishing. Even though I was nowhere near ready to approach anybody at the time, and had just begun the editing process, I started researching. Yikes. I was so dismayed to find that NO agent or agency 'fit,' for either subject matter or length.

    It's set in the old west, but it's not a western—and several of my specific locations are fictional to serve my plot. It's set in the past, but it's not a historical novel, in that it doesn't deal with a famous person or a political/social situation pertinent to the time. It's just a fictional character-based story that happens to take place in the past, because it's a place and period I have always been drawn to. It's not a mystery. It's not a thriller. It's not a romance, although it does contain a love story. It's not 'contemporary fiction.' Nor is it fantasy or science fiction.

    I had assumed I would categorise it as 'historical fiction,' but then I researched the current characteristics of the historical fiction category...and mine doesn't fit. Basically, it's set in the period, but it's not ABOUT the period. Never mind the length.

    And now the requirements as to length are even tighter than they were then, so even though I've cut the fat out of my MS (a considerable amount of fat) I'm still nowhere near. I mean I'd have to cut more than half of it away. And that's even if I could hook it in to some category or genre. There is simply no chance for my book in traditional publishing at the moment.

    However, I'm so lucky in that there are other avenues out there just now.
     
  20. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think for me the difference between going indie initially as I did then doing a trade pubbed book and now going indie again, is in the control aspects.

    Going trade required me to accept some editorial things I didn't feel completely comfortable with - like losing thirty thousand words. I'm not saying that that damaged the book particularly. Who knows, maybe it even helped to an extent. But it did make the book feel less "mine". In addition to that I had certain ideas in mind regarding the cover that were rejected and the book ended up going "a different way".

    I think once you've gone indie and worked out your style of writing, story telling, covers etc, it's an adjustment to switch back.

    Also to echo Jannert a little. It's not defeatist to go indie at all. It is to a large extent simply acknowledging the realities of the trade publishing system. As a simple fact you could write the best book ever written and be rejected by endless agents and publishers. Writers want to believe that it's a pure merit system and that the books that are accepted and given contracts, are the best. The truth is that there is a hell of a lot of luck involved, and the quality of a writer's work is only going to overcome a certain amount.

    Also even if a newby author does get a book accepted right out of the blocks it'll likely be two years before it's published, whereas if he goes indie he could have half a dozen out by then. And then there's the non-compete and options clauses in contracts which could completely stuff a writer's career up.

    My thought is that as a writer either road has pro's and cons. And if you don't think you can do cover, editing, promotion, format etc etc, then trade is your only option. If you don't want to try that's another issue. But if you as an author are willing to master the steep learning curve of self publishing, then your better option is to go indie these days. And if as Janert points out you don't want to write cookie cutter then indie is your only option.

    But I freely acknowledge that I have a bias.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm welcoming the discussion, but can I ask...

    I worked pretty hard to avoid value-laden language in my original post. If I missed something and you'd like to point it out, I'd be happy to make changes.

    I guess "defeatist" is one that some object to - I can't really change it now without making a lot of the following posts seem nonsensical, but I acknowledge that it may have seemed a bit judgmental. Sorry 'bout that.

    In return, can people work to avoid value-laden language in their discussion posts? Can we avoid "cookie cutter" in reference to anyone's writing? Sooner or later a literary writer is going to show up and want to talk about genre writers "churning out" novels and I'd love to avoid that term as well.

    Alternatively - I'm noticing that, as usual, the discussion is centering around self-publishing vs. trade/traditional publishing, and I honestly have no interest in getting into all that for the millionth time. If people wanted to start another thread on this I'd happily link to it in my OP and even more happily stay the hell away from it, because I don't think we have any new voices or new perspectives or new data to make the conversation fresh or useful.
     
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  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's probably, at least in part, because of your parenthetical relegating self-publishing to secondary status (which you point out is your opinion). Merits aside, since there are a lot of opposing views in the forum, as soon as you take an otherwise factual presentation and toss in an opinion advocating for one side of a somewhat contentious issue, you're going to get people countering that.

    The OP is quite good, and I think it is a valuable post that should be stickied separately in a thread devoted to presenting factual information to users of the site regarding the publishing process. I can see you put a lot of work into it, and you've done a service to the forums by taking the time to do it. If you'd left out the parenthetical and just stuck to a factual presentation, it probably wouldn't have been derailed into the interminable self- v. traditional-publishing debate. I'll try to leave off now, and let the discussion get back on track. But I really would like to see that post in a new thread that just provides facts about publishing as a resource to the forums :)
     
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  23. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    IMO the first post should be re-posted and immediately locked, as a sticky. There's no other way to avoid the inevitable debate.
     
  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree. Took me a second to figure out the best way to prune the existing discussion away from the prior thread while still keeping some sort of continuity.
     
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  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you have details you think should be added to the self-publishing section?

    I'm not comfortable with pretending that I think it's a good idea for new authors to self-publish under most circumstances, but as I said I'd be happy to link to a balanced discussion of the pros and cons, if we can ever manage to find/create one of those...
     

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