1. pmj714
    Offline

    pmj714 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Publishing my first Novel this year looking for some advice.

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by pmj714, May 15, 2013.

    Hello all, my name is Paul Johnson. I grew up writing short stories as a hobby. I always wanted to become a professional novelist. Last year I completed the longest fiction story I have ever written at 41,219 words in the unedited version of the manuscript. I can't afford a real editor so I hired my sister who is an English teacher to edit it for me. She's in the process of editing the last three chapters as i type this out. When she's finished with the last three chapters, I'll have a more accurate word count but I'm confident that it won't drop below 41K. Since it's below 50k is the fiction story that I created even considered a novel? For the moment that's what I'm calling it since I don't know what else to call it. I didn't focus on word count, just telling the story.

    My novel is very weird and sort of a misfit when it comes to classifying it. I personally call it a Gothic/Christian/Horror/Fiction Novel, lol. A professional editor(who i had read the manuscript and give me a quote on how much it would cost to edit it) told me over the phone that he had a hard time putting the book into just one category. He said it might be considered Christian/Horror/Faction/Allegory since the book is designed to have the reader learn Biblical principles as the main character of the story learns them.

    I doubt any sane publisher would touch it with a ten foot pole at the moment and here's why:

    I'm not ashamed of my story, it's just that the content of the story could just as easily anger the Christian/Conservative crowd as the Liberal/non-religious crowd). I'm not out to tick people off, I just write what's on my heart and what comes out isn't always nice, lol.

    Anyway, I had the idea of improvising through publishing my book through an independent publisher FIRST called "Xulon Press" for 2,000 bucks. I got a deal with them where they'll publish it with a professional cover(that i designed myself and they perfected it via photo shop). They'll also give me a copyright to the book, give it an ISBN number and they will also arrange it so that anybody can purchase my book via amazon.com, barnesnnoble.com, ebay and a few other websites. You can read all you want about the 2,000 deal they give to writers on their website at xulonpress.com.

    The reason I'm planning on going this route(even though it's gonna cost me a lot) is so that I can get my proverbial "foot in the door" in the writing industry. My theory is that I might have better luck with my 41K'ish novel getting published via main stream if I presented an "already finish product" that is "already being sold".

    One of the biggest reasons my book is so "short" compared to 60K+ novels I've seen is because the novel is designed to be a "prequel" to an entire novel series that I'm working on. I'm already in the process of writing the sequel to this novel and I'm pretty confident that it's probably going to be around 80K because I'm going to have a little more than twice as much “happening” in the story than the first book. I can't tell the future or anything, I just know this because I basically create a "solid-story outline" before proceeding to completely write a story. It's just a technique I developed on my own that has cured "writers block" for me.

    Anyway, I'm throwing this up here as sort of a self introduction to this forum and also because I'm not comfortable spending the 2 thousand bucks on Xulon Press until I've researched any other options I can find. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Hey Paul,

    I know from experience that Self-Publishing is frowned upon around these parts and when a company charges you 2 grand then you should probably be suspicious. If that's the way you want to go then maybe take a look at Lulu.com - they do the same as Zulon but only take a commission, no upfront fees.

    I don't think self publishing will get your foot in any trad publishing doors as it doesn't really count. There was a woman there a couple of months back who went the self pub route and sold over 200,000 copies/downloads, made it into the NYT best sellers list and still couldn't get a traditional publisher to take her on - not even her sequels

    I think first time novels are between 80-120,000 words. And I also believe if you're unpublished, and have a series in mind, keep it to yourself. Let your first book be self standing and if it gets published then surprise your agent/publisher with an amazing follow up, then another :)
     
  3. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    That service is a scam / not required and a complete waste of money. They prey on people who crave a career, much like photographers who charge average people thousands of $$$ for headshots using the lie that it will guarantee them a modelling career.
     
  4. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Not unless you sell over 20,000 copies or so. Even then, it would still be a long shot, especially with the length of your story, which would really be considered more of a novella.

    There are many people who happily self-publish. It's just that you need to decide which route you really want to pursue. Because if you self-publish, it is very unlikely a traditional publisher will publish that novel (again, unless you sell A LOT of copies, in which case it is possible you might not want to go that route).
     
  5. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    What do you mean by this?
    PS, your theory is completely misplaced.
     
  6. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    My advice, first try the trad publishing road. I agree your books an odd length, hitting somewhere between novella and novel, but if it's good and you go through the agent road you may get some good feedback at least.

    If you choose to self publish, well and good, but DO NOT use this boutique publisher. It's a scam. You can put your own work out on Kindle for free. If your sister's good, and I use my sister for my editing for the same reason, and you're happy with the product then you should be confident enough with the editing / formating of the text. All you need then is a cover, and you can get photos for free from a variety of sources - Photo Morgue for one, play around with them and put out a respectable cover yourself. Alternatively you can hire someone for a lot less than two grand.

    As for ISBN's you don't need one if its only going digital. If you want one, you can publish digitally with Smashwords although that ISBN would not be transferable to the kindle version. And you can if you decide to go the paper route, do that for free through CreateSpace.

    As for copyright. The moment you publish anywhere, it's yours. Period.

    Finally regarding the foot in the door bit, return to the begining. Self publishing will mostly not do much for your getting agents and a trade publishing deal unless you sell oodles. And if you do sell oodles, why would you want to go that route?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    My advice, first try the trad publishing road. I agree your books an odd length, hitting somewhere between novella and novel, but if it's good and you go through the agent road you may get some good feedback at least.

    If you choose to self publish, well and good, but DO NOT use this boutique publisher. It's a scam. You can put your own work out on Kindle for free. If your sister's good, and I use my sister for my editing for the same reason, and you're happy with the product then you should be confident enough with the editing / formating of the text. All you need then is a cover, and you can get photos for free from a variety of sources - Photo Morgue for one, play around with them and put out a respectable cover yourself. Alternatively you can hire someone for a lot less than two grand.

    As for ISBN's you don't need one if its only going digital. If you want one, you can publish digitally with Smashwords although that ISBN would not be transferable to the kindle version. And you can if you decide to go the paper route, do that for free through CreateSpace.

    As for copyright. The moment you publish anywhere, it's yours. Period.

    Finally regarding the foot in the door bit, return to the begining. Self publishing will mostly not do much for your getting agents and a trade publishing deal unless you sell oodles. And if you do sell oodles, why would you want to go that route?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    If this is the reason, stop now. Agents and publishers are not impressed with self-published works. In fact, they're so not-impressed that you'd be better off hiding the fact that you've self-published, rather than advertising it. And, it's rare for a publisher to pick up a book whose first publication rights have already been used up--and this would use them up. And, most self-published books sell very, very few copies.

    So you would likely be spending two thousand dollars to destroy the future of your book.
     
  9. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    That "publisher" Xulon Press is a SCAM. Run fast. You can put your ebook up on Amazon and Smashwords and other sites by yourself for free, and it's not even difficult from what I've heard. You do not need an ISBN for ebooks and I'm pretty sure you can get that yourself for cheaper than $2000. Copyright is yours the moment you publish it anywhere, even on a forum or Facebook - there's no need to "buy" copyright, no one can "give" you copyright when you already own the copyright. The copyright is yours to give away, not for someone to give it to you.

    It's true that if a self-pub book is especially successful, there's a chance a trad publisher would want it, but your self-pub book would need to be as successful as something like 50 Shades of Gray, and that is a one in a million jackpot. How often do you hear of successes like that even via the trad route, where there's teams of marketing staff and sales staff promoting your book on various platforms and bookstores? Not many. How likely do you think it would be to happen to you, when you do it by yourself, without the marketing and sales team and without the bookstore contacts and front-page advertisement? Next to zero. Yes, self-pub successes are around, but they're more like the lottery. If you're self-pubbing in the hope of nabbing a real publisher, then don't do it. Self-pub because it's the best route for your book, or because for personal reasons you would rather keep full rights to your work, or because you don't care about the financial success or indeed how wide you can cast your net in terms of getting readers. There're many reasons - good reasons - for choosing to self-publish. But trying to nab an actual publisher isn't one of them. I'd only self-pub for the express purpose of getting a trad publisher if I've already tried the trad route and failed, because in that case, you've nothing to lose.

    Self-pub books, again, unless it's successful on the scale of 50 Shades, are not worth mentioning in your query to agents in the future. They don't count in the literary world and self-pubbed books continue to have stigma attached to it - it means your work wasn't good enough to get a professional to take it on and in your vanity you've chosen to get it out there anyway, without any professional editing, cover designing and etc. That may not be true, but it is how many people see it. In fact, mentioning a self-pub book could actually be a point counted against you in the literary world.

    Try the trad route first - there're many small and cult publishers who're willing to publish non-main-stream things like yours. My advice is to categorise your novel into 2 main categories, and then start googling for real publishers/agents, not vanity scams.
     
  10. pmj714
    Offline

    pmj714 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cool, thanks to the imput I found here along with some general internet research I'll be calling Xulon Press tomorrow and dumping them. I had no idea that self-publishing was a bad way to go. I just like doing things myself. I even built my desktop gaming PC myself last year and ended up saving loads of money on it,lol.

    I've only been aware of this forum this week(due to using ask.com) so I'll continue to browse for more info. When it comes to editing, i'm very confident in my sister's english/grammar abilities so I'll be fine in that department.

    Of course i'll be browsing the forum for the answers to the other questions i have below but thought i'd leave them here and again thanks for the help! :)

    1. When it comes to designing the cover art, should i do that before or after finding a mainstream publisher?

    2. Due to the fact that my story is "already been told" and only at about 41K words, thus most likely classifying it as a novela will this cripple my chances for publication?

    3. What's the best way to go looking for a main stream publisher? How do i know which one to go after?

    4. I've heard a rumor a while back(can't even remember where i heard it) that when going mainstream, if a mainstream publisher takes on my story they might try to "change" the story. Is there any truth to this? This is also one of the reasons i considered self-publishing.
     
  11. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    It's ok to publish yourself, just not through that group, or any like them.

    None of the above. They will design the cover and you will have no input whatsoever.

    That is a very tricky length and many publishers won't use it, unless for ebooks. This is why self-publishing (for free) on ebook is a viable alternative.

    Read their websites and carefully look at the kinds of books they distribute, and what they are looking for. Different publishers like different material.

    They'll do a real edit for sure, more than just technical corrections. But real edits are rarely a bad thing and ALL mainstream books have gone through the process.
     
  12. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    First if looking for an agent publisher check out the listing for them in "Preditors and Editors". They're usually pretty good at telling you what's bogus and what's not. And as a general rule of thumb you're the author, that means you don't pay. That's why you need to be wary of any agent who charges a "reading fee" or any publisher who charges. They should get their money off your sales.

    As to artwork if you go the trade route you don't have to worry about it. If you go self pubbing, then it's all yours. But the good news is that it's not too hard to make a good looking cover. Hey if I can do it anyone can. However, and you didn't hear this from me, there's an excellent program called cover creator on CreateSpace. Simply enroll your book on their system to go through the uploading for paperback system, and when the option comes up hit - create your cover on line. You don't actually have to publish the book, and you'll also have an ISBN. The other excellent thing about CreateSpace is the helpful community who can answer most problems. I recommend them highly.

    Hope that helps, Greg.
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    as a full time editor of many decade's standing, i have to point out that grammar isn't the only thing a good fiction editor needs to be good at, since a piece of fiction written with perfect english grammar would not be a good read... that's why fiction is considered 'creative writing'... so, as willing and helpful as your sister has been, it would behoove you to post an excerpt or two in our workshop section, to be sure the grammar editing hasn't left you with a stiff and stilted ms that will be less than a 'good read'...

    traditional publishers don't allow the author to design the cover art, though they may let you approve of it and perhaps honor your wishes to some extent... they will have a professional do the actual design... the details are what you would work out during the contract negotiation... having an agent shop your ms around and do the negotiating for you is the best path to take...

    what do you mean by 'already been told'?... if you mean you'd self-publish it first, then that scotches any chance that a paying publisher will take it on, unless it has already sold in the tens of thousands...

    as for the length, novellas do not interest most print publishers, because there's not enough of a market for them and it's not worth their time and trouble to print such a small book... bookbuyers want more book for their money, too... the only exception might be a small christian press, if it fits their parameters...

    if you can't bring it up to the most preferred 80-100k, then your best bet would be to seek a publisher that puts out e-books and will take on a novella...

    if/when you have a full-sized novel ms to offer, it's best to get an agent first and let the agent do the work, as many publishers won't even look at an unagented query, much less a ms...

    if you can't get an agent [they won't take on a novella unless it's so brilliantly written it's a sure-fire literary award winner], then google for publishers that accept unagented queries and then check out their websites to see if your ms fits what they publish... but with the size ms you have, see answer to #2...

    any legit publisher will assign an editor to your book, to correct typos and grammar goofs, etc.... if any major changes are needed, you will be consulted and they won't be made without your consent... which you'd be wise to give, unless you have a very good reason for not doing so...
     
  14. pmj714
    Offline

    pmj714 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    What I meant by the story already being told is that there's nothing to add to the story. There is a list of reasons that my manuscript is small compared to a 80k'sh book. But the biggest reason is that there are three main characters to what I call the "story line" resulting in pretty much three stories. Basically the main character is a devout Wiccan. What I call the "first story" is about how he becomes a Christian and becomes an aggressive type of evangelist called a Soul Winner. The second story is basically how him influencing his best friend who is a Satanist into ultimately doing the same thing, and the third story is about his best friend influencing his wife. But I personally feel it's best to tell the "second and third story together" which is i was going to make it into a sequel.

    The reason I was planning on "splitting" my story line into two different books because I was facing a decision on either creating a really small book, and then a normal sized novel as the sequel...or create a novel that is about 80-100k words in size and I felt that would be too long of a story for someone to read. To be honest i didn't realize that 80k-100k sized novels is considered the "average size" until i started doing internet research the last couple of weeks in the subject of publishing. I've been reading novels all my life but I never paid attention to the "amount" of words in a book. I just sit down and enjoy reading whatever it is that I'm reading at the time. With the way things are going i think I might have to abandon my idea of "splitting the story line into two different books" and just make it one big book after all. No worries for me since I'm in no hurry to get the story published. Right now I'm just concerned with "doing it right".

    One thing I'm curious about...has anybody ever read a well put together novel to where when you sit down to read it you see the story split in sections? For example you go to chapter one in a novel and you have a page that says: PART ONE....and then ten or so chapters later you run into another page that says: PART TWO and so on? I'm asking because if since I'm going back to keeping my "story line" or "entire plot" all in just one book I might have to do that. Again thanks for all the imput, everybody. This has been real educational. :)
     
  15. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yes, there are plenty of novels that do that. The only one that I've read in the relatively recent past that I recall doing so is Justin Cronin's The Passage. I didn't finish that one, though. He has two parts, and skips ahead 1000 years. I loved the first 300 pages, but I couldn't get into Part 2, since almost all the characters were new. I kind of gave up after 500 pages. I'd like to try it again at some point, because many people loved the book.

    I know there are other books that are clearly delineated into parts. Off the top of my head, I just can't recall which ones I've read that fit into that category.
     
  16. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    Everything is Illuminated did a split story quite well, with four different stories told in four different styles (That of the Narrator in modern times, the Narrator's pen pal in modern times, the Narrator's Grandfather during WW2, and the Narrator's distant relative Brod in the 1800s), but all still connected by plot.
     
  17. pafjlh
    Offline

    pafjlh New Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is another way to self publish. Through Amazon, they have an e-book service and a program called KDP select. Also, the service create space is offered which will put you book into paper back. Yes, you will need to come up with the cover for the book, edit the book all yourself, and of course format it for downloading to a kindle but this service is free to use. The only thing that is expected is when a book sells Amazon gets a percentage depending on how much you charge for the book. The fact that you are considering making your book into maybe two or more books makes it as good fit for a program such as KDP select. The reason, this program puts a book out there for free for a certain amount of days, and if the other book isn't free at that time it can propel the sells of the other book.

    Now there are some things you will need to keep in mind. First of all with the notable exception of the KDP select program, promoting your book will be up to you. Also, to get the book into the proper formatting it could involve investing in a template. I have done this finding one that was about thirty dollars, and considered it a great investment because no matter how many books I write I can use the template over and over. Yes, there is work and some investment involved, but its nothing compared to what the self publishing company was costing you and odds are they were a scam. I know because I almost got involved with a similar company years ago, but fortunately stopped myself from doing so. The thing is the gate keepers are no longer there, stopping us from having our books out there if this is really what you want. Yes, it takes a whole lot of hard work and dedication on your part. But if you love writing as much as I do, then don't let anything stop you from going after your dream. Good luck to you.
     

Share This Page