1. Anonymous Writer
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    Anonymous Writer New Member

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    Questions from a would-be writer - is this a good ideea?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Anonymous Writer, Feb 18, 2011.

    Hi!

    I am an unpublished writer and I am ready to submit my first work.
    I have read many tutorials on the net about how to properly write, submit your work to an agent and get published and about what follows afterwards.Yet, the information I could gather was diverse and contradictory.
    This is the reason I made this post, so I can get advice from real people, prefferably people wich had books published and have a good experience about writing, agents and publishing.
    Starting from those tutorials, I want to follow some advice and get the process started.One of those advices is to submit your work to as many publishers and agents you can.And what I intent to do is to submit my work to as many agents as I can - but is this a good ideea, based on your experience in the field?
    I am from Romania and here the means to promote myself are scarce and what I can do so far is exclusively submit by e-mail.I know it is not the traditional way and that is usually frowned upon, but I have found a few agents that accept e-mail submissions.
    I need your opinion, what is good and what is wrong in what I am going to do?Any other advices?What should I look for?
    Without bragging and false modesty I can say that my work is quite good and that is has potential - especially inspirational potential for others - wich is why I am afraid for my work not to be stolen in the process (an agent can refuse my work and send to someone else my ideeas, right?).Also I do realise that my work is not yet perfect and that will need a lot of polishing together with the editor chosed by the publisher that will decide to publish my work.
    My main genres are fantasy and science fiction and I have found a few agents so far for those genres.
    I have not done anything so far regarding this matter, as I thought best to ask professionals before doing anything.
    Here it is what I thought I should do and what follows next, based on the tutorials I have read :
    - I finish my work (not perfect, but in a presentable state) - what exactly is a presentable state?
    - I find myself an agent - one source states I should have many agents as agents are unreliable persons and most of the time won't do their job properly so you have to switch from one to another in other to finally get your book published - is that true? won't the agents be mad at the writer for having more than one agent? especially for a beginner writer? (I am pretty sure J.K. Rowlings can have asa many as she wishes)
    - after I find a suitable list of agents, then I start submitting - some say that I should submit just a synopsis with only the main ideeas (won't be this too few and unconvincing for the agent?), while others say that I should submit the whole work (with some tips about how to make that work more appealing - page placement, fonts and so on) - but this won't allow a charlatan posing as an agent to steal my work, while at the same time refusing my book? In many of those tutorials I was made aware about charlatan agents that will do a lot of bad things to you.
    - if I have to submit just a synopsis, what is exactly a synopsis and how much developed it should be - can you post a few books and their synopsies so I can guide myself as to what should I include and what should I not include in my synopsis? Because otherwise, my synopsis would get either very long, either very short and out of spectrum.
    - another advice is to get as many agents rolling for me and accept the best offer - but I should take care that the best offer currently might not be the best in the long term - in other words, offers that look worse in the present might look better for the long term, due to the contractual terms involved.
    - supposing at least one agent finds a publisher for my book, what happens next?
    - do I have to be present physically there (travel from my country) and make a presentation so the publisher can know me in person? Because this might pose a problem for me as I canot afford to travel due to the high expense involved (I am quite broke now and jobless for the past 4 months).
    - do I need an advocate present in order to sign the contract?
    - am I selling my work to the publisher or just giving the right to be published, being able to give that right afterwards to as many publishers as I want - I give again the example of J.K Rowlings - she had her books published by many publishers, and I could not understand how is that possible without reatining the rights over her works (without selling them to the publishers in other words).
    - what else is a publisher expecting from me aside from my work? Also language might pose a problem - as you can see I am pretty cursive in writting in english, but the situation does not stay the same when I have to also speak english, as I wrote much more english than I talked.
    - should I worry about how should I present my work to the publisher or the agent will do all the job of submission for me?
    - considering the publishers is satisfied with my work and wants to publish it, what follows next?
    - I have learned that it takes between one and two years for a work to be published (considering you are done with the editing and corrections in time), but that you can get money from your work as soon as your work is accepted, in the form of an advance against royalties, wich also, can be paid in full or not.From your experience, what should I expect?
    - considering my book is mediocre but still publishable, what kind of advance should I expect? Considering my work good, what kind of advance should I expect? For me this matters a lot right now, maybe more than the reccurent royalties that will follow afterwards.
    The first book I want to publish is around 200-250 pages (depending on the font and page placement) and no, I do not intend to publish it on a pay per word basis.The book's genre is fantasy.

    In conclusion, my work is good - I have read a lot and I have the ability to compare my work to other similar works in a realistic manner - altough I do know that the readers will be the final judges of my work and that even a work with potential might be underappreciated, just like Jule Verne's works were at their time.I do not expect wonders - I am just fighting to recover from bankrupcy and I see this as my last chance.I was planning on publishing anyway, only now I have rushed the process a little for some of my books so I can get them published faster than initially planned.
    Therefore, I humbly request your aid and the best advices you can give (prefferably tried and true, from your own personal experience).
    Thank you in advance!

    Best regards!
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    JK Rowling only has one agent his name is Christopher Little - what country are you based in and what country will you be submitting work in ?
     
  3. Anonymous Writer
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    Anonymous Writer New Member

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    As I have already mentioned, I am based in Romania, a country in the Eastern Europe at the confluence with the Balkans.And I was planning to submit to any/all agents of english language outside my country.In my country, the need for literature is scarce, if non existant at the moment.
     
  4. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Tell us a little more about your work.

    What is the genre?
    How many words is it?

    and, the big question...
    Have you revised the work and, if yes, how many revisions?
     
  5. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    OK, I have a short attention span. I see you already addressed these questions.

    "mediocre but publishable" This statement jumps out like a red flag. Now more than ever, you want to be sure your work is near flawless before you contact an agent. They don't want to see rough drafts. You should have at least 2 revisions of your work, and you should feel like you've done everything you can to make it as good as possible. I know of at least 1 published writer who does 7 or 8 revisions before he submits.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The requirements are different for each country - for the UK I recommend getting the Writer and Artists Yearbook 2011 - it will give you a list of agents and publishers an idea about the synopsis and covering letter. Then always check the agent/publishers website. Also I think it tells you which ones take international clients (not all do some still want face to face contact with clients), also says what the genres are etc that each agent takes.
     
  7. Anonymous Writer
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    Anonymous Writer New Member

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    I will try to adress all the questions to the best of my abilities :

    - the word count is roughly around 80000 words (many of my pragraphs do now contain phrases like "Phrase one ends here.Phrase two starts here." and because of that I have the two words "here.Phrase" counted as so, the word count is actually higher
    - the genre of the current book is fantasy with intermingled mystery, something like Bram Stoker's Dracula - only very different in subject and action, you can consider it a classic story with elves and dwarves and dragons, only written in a modern and not so classic manner
    - if by revisions you mean, if I rewrited the book, corrected it and changed the plots and the compositional sequences so they will fit in a seeming and fluent manner, then yes I did - I am currently taking an advice from a published author - "spend 20% of your time writing and 80% rewriting" - I hope that is good enough - anyway, right now I am still rewriting it and be sure I won't release until, as you have said, I did the best I could do - yet here comes the limitation - I am not a native english speaker, and altough my english might seem fluent, don't let yourself fooled - I have a lot of lacunes and I lack a lot of correct english terminology plus the fact that I am aquainted only with mainstream grammar, and if things get too deep and I have to express complex sentences, then I have troubles expressing them, especially the past tenses - and I canot do anything about this, as the Romanian - English manuals are not covering the translations on such a deep level (most of the words that I currently know and use in my works, I know from actually reading english literature, as they are non existant in manuals, and that is because those terms are too specific) - in conclusion, apart from doing my best, there will be a lot of grammatical corrections to be done by a native english speaker (possibly by the editor) and also some therms that I have used only substitutes for them and I need someone else to translate those mainstream substitutes to more meaningfull, more specific terms, as I will explain to him/her what I am actually trying to express there
    - I must apologise for not making myself clear, but when I said "mediocre" I was reffering to the actual quality of the overall work in comparation with other works of the genre, and not to the actual presentation of the work.Like for instance, most consider Carmilla as being worse than Dracula, altough Dracula is a well known plagiarism of the former
    - do not get me wrong, I do not intend to show anything in the next month, as I will work again and again rewriting, but I do need the informations so I can plan ahead, so I won't be underhanded and missinformed when I will make the big step
    - where can I get the book? can I get it for free as pdf on-line? or do I have to pay for it? all I was able to find on Google were just two sites and both were about winning a free copy in a contest

    I hope I answered your questions clearly.If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask and I will provide the answers to the best of my abilities.

    Best regards!

    As a personal note, I write since I was 5 years old (2 years after I learned to read) - altough those canot be called real writtings, were just mere tries at adapting and modify with a new twist childern stories and fairy tales that I already knew.But I had the talent of storytelling since I was in kindergarden as, when we had the "storytelling hour", the teachers were putting me in the front of the class, and all, teachers and childrens allike were taking seats around me and simply listening to the new stories I had to tell, and this was quite entertaining for them, as I was always telling a new an different story that they have never heard before.Sometimes, they were even exceeeding the alloted hour and childrens were giving up to the break between classes just to stay a little longer and listen to me.And I think I got this gift from my grandmother, as she was also a great storyteller that was captivating and entrancing everyone around her when she was starting telling stories.Unfortunately, she is no more now, but she and her stories will be kept in my living memory forever.
    As I grew, also my storytelling and writing frew and changed once with me and became more mature both in nature and subject, yet even now, I am still writing some incipient children's tales, as I always like to return back to the years of the childhood, those magnificent years and their amazing stories!
    Also, as a side note, in the three different tests I have taken so far, my IQ has been rated 138, 133 and 140.
    I hope this helps to make a better impression about who I am and what kind of person I am - maybe some insight into my past too.I know some of the phrases might look like lack of modesty, but I did not find any other way to express what I wanted to say.Please bare with me...
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no... it would be beyond stupid for an agent to do that... who would they send it to?... they make their money by sending work to publishers and getting a percentage of what is paid to the writer, so why would they do that?...besides which, most work they get from new writers isn't even publishable, anyway...

    you're sadly mistaken, if you think a publisher is going to buy a ms that needs to be rewritten to be readable... as noted above, your ms must be as perfect as possible, polished to a faretheewell, before querying agents or submitting it to be read... if it's not, no one will even bother to read past the first page...

    and judging from the many problems i see in your writing here, i would have to conclude that it will be a very long time before you'll have a ms ready to be submitted, so you're definitely getting way ahead of yourself worrying about who to send it to...

    you may have a decent IQ and be able to come up with good stories, but none of that will matter if you can't write well enough in english to get them read by agents and editors...

    i mentor many aspiring writers who cannot yet write well enough in english, so if you want some help improving your skills, feel free to drop me a line any time...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. Anonymous Writer
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    Anonymous Writer New Member

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    Thank you for your reply! Very instructive!

    As for the menthoring process, as I suspect it is not free, I would hold on to it for later, as now I have other more important things to do now with my thinning economies, like buying food...
    As I have stated I have been jobless in the last months so I am in quite a desperate state.
    As for my writing, I never had the pretense it has a good english grammar - I know I don't, but I somehow hoped that for a brilliant (or almost brilliant) work it might be forgiven.But it seems that this was just my illussion...
    I personally do not have that much time to improve my grammar, as I have so many ideeas, I can barely keep up with writting them down, what can I say about expanding and developing them into something readable?And my heart hurts each time I have to give up on ten ideeas, so I can concentrate on just one...
    Sometimes soon, I might find the time to employ the aid of a spell checker, and I hope that would be enough to get me out of the trouble.
    And my usual writing is not as bad as the one from these posts, as I take more time to write and refine, and as I wrote these posts in a hurry, before loosing my ideeas.Altough I might have a high IQ, lately I had some massive short term memory losses, so the process of writing and actually remembering what I have written became even more challenging to me as of late.For instance, I remeber writting a good instance just a few days ago, and I can't simply find it anywhere, and repeated situations like this one is what makes me really worry.I wonder how much until I will have a complete loss of memory, maybe Alzheimer? But you see, this is a closed circle here - in order to do the medical tests, I need to get money from somewhere, somehow.And that's why I am so desperate to publish something.
    But as it seems such a thing is not possible on short term, my only option is to calm down and do the things properly.

    Best regards!
     
  10. colorthemap
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    Okay, my advice is relax!

    Take some days off and think of an idea and work it in your head. Make it too great to forget.

    Then type some notes about it on the computer.
    Save it multiple times in multiple places.
    Email the file to yourself.

    Finally get rid of all unimportant icons on your desktop, and save the file to your desktop and place it in the center so that when you log into your computer it is the first thing you see.

    These precautions should help you not forget any idea you come by.




    You may also want to see a doctor about your memory.
    Good Luck!
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you suspect wrongly... a true mentor does not charge a thing to help mentees learn the ropes in their field... anyone calling her/himself one and charging for it is a scam artist, not a 'mentor'...

    for instance, i've mentored thousands of aspiring writers over the past few years and never charged a single penny for what is in some cases, years-long assistance... i'm mentoring a dozen or so at any given time, none of whom have to pay for my help...
     
  12. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, just a couple of things that jumped out at me.

    First I'm not sure why you include unnecessary phrases in your ms (the "Phrase one ends here. Phrase two starts here." etc.) You need to take all that out to get a realistic idea of word count.

    Much more importantly, I also think you cannot put the cart before the horse. If you wish to write in English, and you aren't fluent yet, you really need to put in the hard work. Do you also write in Romanian?

    You say you have no time to improve your grammar because you have too many ideas. It's far better to have one idea that's developed properly than many ideas that will never lead anywhere.

    I'm sorry to hear about your medical issues...but, sad to say, you cannot depend on the idea that you will publish something soon because it's not a certainty or given for any writer.

    If you post an excerpt in the review section, I'll take a look at it for you - and I'm sure others will too.

    Good luck.
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I might suspect stress or overworking mind rather then some worse medical condition. You do things while thinking of something else, and when you want to find out what you did with "x" you don't remember, because you were thinking about "a-w" and YZ was about ready to fall into the mix too.

    When you work on one idea, focus on it, put it someplace you can find it again, then go on to something else. Focus on what you are doing now, and I think the memory problem might go away.
     
  14. Rayo
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    I'm not sure if this is great advice, but couldn't she hire a proofreader to help her? I don't know much about the publishing world but in her case I would think it would be quite beneficial to find help in proofreading. Or do you guys think there is no point, that as a writer, she needs to perfect her grammar first due to future rewrites, etc. I humbly admit that I need to tweak several areas in my writing, but was just curious.
     
  15. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Yes, if you want to be a professional writer, you need to learn how to do your own proofreading. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have someone else review your work. You should never pay for it though. You can send a portion of your work to someone for free and get a good idea of what needs fixed. Make sure you find the right person though.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that! ...with an emphasis on the last sentence...
     
  17. Rayo
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    Rayo Member

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    Thanks guamyankee and mammamaia for the advice. You two made valid points and I have to agree. I just bought a couple of books a few days ago to brush up on my grammar in addition to dialogue and other creative techniques that I am learning to incorporate into my writing. The life of a writer is so rewarding and I love it!

    Also, I'm glad you mentioned not to hire a proofreader. I wouldn't have known. Thanks.
     

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