1. Miss Red
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    Miss Red Member

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    Traditional 'Real' Publishing - Beginner's Questions!

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Miss Red, Nov 6, 2014.

    Hello!

    Some general beginner's questions about the different types of publishing, and what to look for in traditional publishing. I asked this a while ago, and I learned some really great stuff. Other new readers can skim through the answers below.
    I'm grasping more of the basics, (now that I know what i'm doing,) so here is a cleaned up version of the questions I asked.

    ---

    THINGS I DON'T GET

    Who to hire and why:

    - What's an editor? And do I need one?
    (Depends on the author, situation, length of the novel(s), and the expenses you're willing to pay. You can usually learn to edit your own work, and your submission may be edited by the publishing company's editors. Just don't submit your first draft, or partially finished work; be ready to edit and edit and edit. Read below for details, and whether or not you should get one before you submit your manuscript.)

    - What's an agent? Do I need one of those as well? And how do I get in touch with one?
    (From what I can understand, agents are people you can hire who send your manuscript to publishing companies. On average, they negotiate better, and some publishing companies only accept manuscripts that were submitted too them by an agent. See below for details. Some publishing companies take unsolicited submissions.)

    - Are there other kinds of people that I'll meet in the process of publishing my book? And that I'll have to pay, or take a cut of the book sales?

    What does this mean:

    - What's an advance? What are royalties?
    (An advance is an estimation of how much a book will sell, and it's paid to the author up front. This will be paid off little by little through the book sales, which are called royalties. Not all publishers give first time authors an advance.)

    - What's a pitch? What's a cover letter, or a query?

    Do I need... How do I...

    - Do I need a college degree in something?
    (Most answers below say nah. It's not necessary.)

    - Is there a proper way to contact a publishing company online?
    (All answers strongly suggest to read the publishing company's guidelines.)

    ---

    THINGS I'M WORRIED ABOUT

    Money Issues:
    - Do I need to pay a publishing company?
    (NO. Traditional Publishing companies do not charge authors to publish their work. Only a venue called Vanity Publishing will do that, and most seem untrustworthy, according to some of the answers below.)

    - Do I need to pay an agent? Or an editor, publicist, etc?
    (From what I can tell, these guys will get a cut of the sales from the book. Reputable agents shouldn't charge Authors up front.)

    - Do I have to pay income taxes? Do I need a business license?
    (Depends. Look below for details and ALWAYS check up with your local laws.)

    Legal and paperwork
    - Should I have other people write my cover/query letter?

    - What's a contract, and what can I expect from a contract?

    - Can I re-use my pen name even if I published with someone else?
    (Online, independently, etc... seems to depend, but most seem to say yes.)

    - How much say do I have in the contract?

    Misc

    - What are vanity publishers? Are they safe?
    (Answers below say no. It's usually a quick way to get published fast, but some companies can be sketchy.)

    - How do I tell if an agent is safe to trust?
    (DO RESEARCH.)

    - How do I tell if a publishing company is safe to trust?
    (DO RESEARCH.)

    - Any tips or pointers to keep me on the right track?
    (ALWAYS RESEARCH.)

    ---

    OTHER STUFF

    - Can I make my own cover art?
    (Depends, but most likely no.)

    - Any recommendations?

    - Am I supposed to find a publishing company near me, where I live? Or can I publish anywhere, as long as the company I find can handle it? (I.E, through mail or email.)
    (Answers below say nope. Go for nation/international wide publishers.)

    -----

    Read through the thread to learn more!
    Please try to keep debates on topic and minimal to keep the confusion down. : )

    -------
    Notable Answers
    (In order of appearance)
    The thread conversation is very helpful and has lots of great information in it, but below are some notable (and quick) posts that really helped clear up a lot, right away.

    By Third Wind:
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282586

    By Bayview:
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282679
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282719
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282872
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1283146

    By ChickenFreak:
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282716
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1282966

    By CuteCat on Taxes and Licensing
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/real-publishing-beginners-questions.135475/#post-1283003

    ---

    All answers, insights and conversation will be greatly appreciated. :D
    (And thankies so far for all the awesomeness.)

    Hello!

    I'm very new to publishing actual books. I've researched the ins and outs of digital ebook/self publishing, but for 'real' book publishing, have no idea what the process is.
    Whether or not if I have to pay, or pay over the course of several years, whether or not if I can ask a publishing company questions with out getting charged or obligated to publish with them, whether or not if i'm obligated to keep publishing with them forever after publishing, what I exactly I should expect in the long run, whether or not if I can still self publish digitally in different pen names while I'm publishing real books with a company, etc...

    There are a lot of questions that I'd like to ask, and I'll try to cover most of them here.
    First and foremost, though, is that I'm not 'new' to writing. I've written a lot and I know about proofreading, editing, drafts and book covers and images. I'm deciding on using three pen names (two for online self-publishing, the other for local 'real-book' publishing) and I'm a self taught artist, and I'm trying to improve my drawing and graphic editing skills.
    I've picked out two differently aged audiences to target, and around three or four genres to explore. (Romance/Drama for the first age group, Fantasy/Adventure for the second.)

    Again, I've already done plenty of research on how brand myself and build a reliable social media presence, (learned this when I was researching self publishing online,) I'm just not focusing on that at the moment. I want to get actual content done first, before I try yacking on the social media platforms or publishing digitally.

    If you really have any good advice on this, or any recommendations, you can add it, but I'm really looking for advice and answers to publishing books that people can touch and hold and give as holiday presents. You get the idea.

    -------

    QUESTIONS TO THINGS I DON'T GET
    1- Do I need a college degree in something?

    2- Do I really need to hire an editor? Do they really just read through manuscripts and help authors proofread? Do they do anything else exciting other than this? (Like do backflips?)

    3- Do I really need an agent? What do agents actually do?

    4- How do I get paid? What's a royalty? What's an 'advance?'

    5- Commercial Publishing or Local-Company Publishing? Does it matter?

    6- What's a pitch? And what exactly do I send? Some people say a seperate few pages describing what the book is about, others say it's a letter saying why the book should be published, others say it's sending a few chapters, a letter and a bunch of other stuff.

    7- Is there anything else that goes to contacting a publishing company?

    8- What is the proper way to contact a publishing company through email? Can I attach a "Sample Document" and a pitch-like email in the email section? Or would it be better to attach the whole story file? Any better ideas?

    THINGS I'M WORRIED ABOUT
    1- Do I have to pay for them to publish the book?

    2- I assume that I need to stick with the same publisher to publish a series. But, am I allowed to publish a different series or title with a different publisher?

    3- Follow up question; Is my pen name that I give them branded to them exclusively? Or do I have full rights to my pen name, and I'm still allowed to use it for self publishing or other publishers?

    4- Can I still write other books and book series independently online, using a different pen name? Or am I obliged to write with these publishers forever once I sign up with them?

    5- Do I need to write a lot of books with set-in-stone release dates? Do the publishers control what and how much I need to write, for them to publish and on what dates, or can I control that?

    6- Do I have the right to say what parts of my writing can be used, and when? (Such as in blurbs or in promotional stuff?)

    7- Do I need a local, independent business license as an "author," for things like taxes and such if this becomes long term? (I'm assuming I better check my local laws for that first.)

    8- How do I tell if a publishing company is safe to trust? This is my biggest issue. I feel weird and uncomfortable knowing that it's less flexible in physical book publishing, and that I can't change something if I want to edit something, or change the price, switch publishers, etc.
    Plus, I don't want them stealing my work.

    OTHER STUFF
    1- Can I make my own book cover? Does it depend? Do I need to pay for the artist who does the book cover, or is that covered in the book sales?

    2- What should I expect in the long term?

    3- Any recommendations?

    -------

    Side Notes....

    I did a little research and I found a publishing company that was founded in my state here in Alaska. They have a broad genre list and they're very professional website, and have a very forward and concise brochure for download. (Which is free.)
    I'll read through their brochure, and see what else I can dig up. I'm very new to this, though, and I don't know if it's a good idea to go with a local publisher, and I don't know if I can (and if it's better too) send my manuscripts (when I have them) to a more commercial, well established publishing company from a different part of the US.

    Here's their website:
    -publicationconsultants.com-
    Original Poster's Note: I nixed the link. This isn't what new authors are looking for. Go read below to find out why.

    Also, sorry if this is the wrong section to post questions like this. : )
    Awesome-shmawesome People can take time with their answers, and my apologies before hand if I don't come back right away to reply. I usually stalk online forums at night.

    Any advice and insights are deeply appreciated.

    -------
    - Posted November 5th (Alaskan time) at night time, 2014 -
    If it's been a month, assume the topic is resolved. Read the thread to find more answers!
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
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  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Sorry, I don't have time to answer each of your questions, but as for the Side Notes I think you'll find the consensus here is to never, never, never pay to have a book published. The company you linked to is what's known as a 'vanity publisher' and I can assure you that the vast majority of their customers have boxes and boxes of unsalable books in their respective garages.
     
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  3. Miss Red
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    Miss Red Member

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    Great, thanks for the information and the warning, Stevesh! I'll keep that in mind.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    FYI, what you call "real" book publishing is what most folks would call traditional publishing. I'm mentioning this because it's good to know the lingo. :agreed:

    Nope. Your manuscript will speak for itself.

    No, you don't need an editor. Good editors charge a lot, and chances are that you'll never earn back that money. If your manuscript is picked up by a publisher, an in-house editor will work with you to improve your piece.

    Some publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts. In that case, you need an agent to submit the manuscript on your behalf. Agents also have connections in the industry, which might make it easier to get published. For publishers that do accept unsolicited manuscripts, an agent isn't necessary. You can submit your manuscript yourself. One thing to note is that agents are paid around 15% of anything you make. On the flip side, agents can often negotiate a better contract for you (i.e., better advance).

    An advance is what the publisher pays the writer upfront. This advance is basically an estimate of what the publisher thinks the book is going to earn in sales. Usually the advance is split into multiple installments. The first payment may be given when the contract is signed, the second one may be given when the manuscript is accepted, etc.

    Royalties are given for each book sold. However, royalties are only given after the advance has been earned out. So if the writer was given a $1,500 advance, he must first make $1,500 in sales before he can earn royalties. Keep in mind that authors only get 15% or so of the cover price for each book. So if each book sells for $10, the author must sell a 1000 books before he can earn any royalties.

    Bigger publishers will most likely offer bigger advances and will also have more resources at their disposal. Aim for good/reputable publishers when possible.

    Always follow the guidelines on the agent's/publisher's website. The first thing you want to do is submit a query letter. This is basically a cover letter that tells the agent a little bit about yourself and your book. If the agent likes it, he/she will ask for a partial. This means he/she wants to see the first X number of pages (I think 30 is the norm). Sometimes they may request to see the whole manuscript (this is why it's important to submit only after you have a completely finished and polished manuscript). If they accept your manuscript, great. If not, repeat the process. Also, you can query multiple agents at once.

    This is just a general example of what the submission may look like. Remember that some agents/publishers may do things differently, which is why it's very important to look at the guidelines.

    An agent will handle all the big things like negotiating a contract, etc. If you don't have an agent, you can always get a literary attorney to look things over if you aren't sure of something.

    As I said above, always follow the guidelines. They will usually contain all the info you need when submitting.

    No reputable publisher is going to charge you anything.

    Yes, you can. This is sometimes done when a publisher only publishes books in a certain genre but the author has written something in another genre.

    It's your name, so you should be able to use it anywhere. There may be a few exceptions, though, and that's something you would have to discuss with your agent/publisher.

    Unless you signed some kind of contract with the publisher (i.e., for a series), you can publish other works anywhere you want.

    This depends on the publisher. Some publishers except manuscripts by a certain date (this may be included in the contract). As far as how much you need to write, again, it depends on the publisher. Novels by first-time authors typically fall in the range of 80-120k words. For subsequent novels, it depends on the particular publisher and editor you're working with. It also depends on things like how popular you are as a writer, how marketable your book is, etc.

    The publisher will most likely write blurbs in such a way that it attracts the most readers. I don't think you as a writer are going to have much say about this kind of stuff, though I'm sure you can always discuss any concerns with the publisher.

    Nope. Being an author isn't owning a business.

    Do some research. See what others say about them. Check to see which books/authors they've published. One of the best sites for this kind of stuff is Preditors & Editors.

    This is taken care of by an artist at the publishing house. I think the author will have some input, but how much depends on the publisher.

    Assuming your book gets picked up, you may have to do things like book signings and giving interviews. Basically, your publisher will want you to do anything that gets you noticed and boosts sales. This isn't compulsory, however (unless stated in the contract). You will also have to work on writing other books.

    These questions are actually really important. Maybe this should be stickied?
     
  5. Miss Red
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    Miss Red Member

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    This is awesome, thanks for all of the great information ThirdWind! Straight forward answers was exactly what I was looking for. :D

    Thanks for clearing up the advance and royalties thing. It's good to actually understand what all that means. I feel a lot better about perusing publishers in the future. I'll try to find a publisher in the next year or so, maybe next summer after I sort some of the digital half of my career in the next few months.

    I did some research earlier today, and I found a database on traditional book publishers. I'm not sure if these are safe or reputable publishers (I looked at the websites of like, 3 of them,) but the database owner claims to have over 1000 entries. It could be useful to some.
    (And for other readers; just remember to do research on the publisher before contacting!)

    My Perfect Pitch Database By Brian Grove
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with most of these answers, but just wanted to add a bit to some of them:

    Depending on the contract with the publisher, the agent may also do a lot more selling - audio book rights, translation and foreign rights, etc. Some publishers do a 'rights grab' where they want pretty much all the rights associated with your MS - this is fine if they're going to USE the rights, but annoying if they aren't going to. So your agent can, yes, negotiate a better contract, but also negotiate extra contracts for the extras associated with your MS. They can also negotiate less tangible things, like promotional placement, etc.

    I think royalties USED to be an estimate of what the publisher thought the book was going to earn. But now I think they're more 'whatever can be negotiated, how little the publisher can pay and still get the book'.

    I think the OP had the better idea - check your local laws, OP. This varies between jurisdictions
     
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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think you mean advances.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have experience, but I've read a fair bit from people who do. So there's a fair to middling chance that my answers are correct. :)

    Then go read the blog "Author! Author!" by annemini, and if she disagrees with me, believe her and ignore me utterly.

    > 1- Do I need a college degree in something?

    No. I won't say that brilliant writing education credentials will make no difference at all when you're trying to impress an agent, but it's not a prerequisite to being published.

    > 2- Do I really need to hire an editor?

    Don't hire one. A good editor may very well cost more than you would make from the book if you got it accepted. A bad editor is a bad editor. You should be able to edit your own work. When you've edited it to a high enough polish that an agent takes you on and then a publisher accepts it, the publisher will then also edit it.

    > 3- Do I really need an agent? What do agents actually do?

    I believe that most publishers (with perhaps the exception of some science fiction publishers?) no longer accept direct submissions from authors. Therefore, yep, agent. My understanding is that a good agent guides your book and your career and has the connections and knowledge to know the best way to get your book published. And that publishers want to deal with agents because they want someone else to deal with sifting through all the manuscripts written on construction paper in crayon, so that the publisher only sees the good stuff. But I'm fuzzy on agents myself.

    > 4- How do I get paid? What's a royalty? What's an 'advance?'

    An advance is what the publisher pays you up front for your book. Royalties are a share of the price of the book, that you get paid for every copy that the publisher sells. The advance is an "advance against royalties"--you won't get any royalties until the amount of royalties that you're entitled to exceeds the advance that you already got. Not all new authors get an advance these days.

    > 5- Commercial Publishing or Local-Company Publishing? Does it matter?

    I don't know what local company publishing means. I suspect it matters and that local company publishing is not a good idea.

    > 6- What's a pitch?
    > 7- Is there anything else that goes to contacting a publishing
    > company?
    > 8- What is the proper way

    Go read Author! Author!

    > Do I have to pay for them to publish the book?

    No respectable publisher or agent will ask for a single penny from you. The publisher pays you. The agent gets a cut of what the publisher pays you.

    > 2- I assume that I need to stick
    > 3- Is my pen name
    > 4- Can I still write other books
    > 5- Do I need to write a lot of books
    > 6- Do I have the right to say

    I think that all of the above questions will depend on your contract. I don't know what's customary. Some of this may be addressed on Author! Author!

    > 7- Do I need a local, independent business license

    You'll need to pay taxes on the income. I've never heard of needing a business license as an author, but that would be local research.

    > 8- How do I tell if a publishing company is safe to trust?

    The question is probably, how do you tell if an agent is safe to trust, because you'll probably have to go through an agent. I dont know the answer, beyond the obvious ones, like, no agent should charge you money; they get paid by their cut from the publisher. If an agent wants a reading fee, or offers to edit your work for a fee, get nervous.

    > OTHER STUFF 1- Can I make my own book cover? Does it depend? Do I need
    > to pay for the artist who does the book cover, or is that covered in
    > the book sales?

    The book cover and all other editing, design, production, etc. costs are the publisher's problem. There is essentially no chance that they will let you create the book cover.

    > Here's their website: http://www.publicationconsultants.com/

    I'm very (very very very) wary of publishers that market directly to authors. It's the reverse of the usual relationship. I don't know that company, but I, myself, would not do business with them, or with any other company that markets to authors.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, yeah, sorry - typing too fast.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just wanted to add to this - the path I'd recommend is: do preliminary research about the agent/publisher (Preditors and Editors, AW Water Cooler, etc.) to eliminate the absolute worst options. Then submit your MS. If you get an expression of interest, contact a few of the authors currently working with the agent/publisher (you can find author names on agent/publisher websites) and ask them about their experiences. I've been contacted a couple times by people interested in my agent, and more often by people looking at different publishers, and it's really not a problem. You don't want to do this before you've got a strong expression of interest, because you don't want to waste your time or the time of the authors you contact, but it's a good idea to do it before you sign anything.
     
  11. Miss Red
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    Miss Red Member

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    Hi, and thanks for the added input and recommendations, Bayview!
    And that's a good point about business licenses and stuff. I'll keep all that, and the additional info, in mind.

    Hey there ChickenFreak, and thank you for the recommendations and for providing more insights!
    (I think I'll go ahead and clean up the original post, and make the answers easier to sort through.)

    These really compliment a lot of the other information, and add a smidge more (important) detail to the answers so far. This is good stuff to know. I'll keep this all in mind, and go ahead and take a look at the blog recommendations you mentioned later this weekend.

    Perhaps a better question would be "Do I need to publish with a publishing company near me when I start out? Or does it not matter?"
    I wasn't sure if it would be easier or more appropriate for a newer author to publish with a smaller publisher who was in his or her own home state. I was also under the impression that new authors don't publish country wide. (Just in their own state/province, or in my assumption, only in their own town, very locally.)
    I'm thinking that it doesn't matter much, and it probably depends.
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are loads of different paths toward publication, so it's hard to give you a firm answer as to the 'right' way to proceed, but in general...

    Assuming you want to go with a publisher instead of self-publishing...

    The best idea is to start your submissions big and then go small as needed - start with the "Big 5" (or whatever number that is right now) - Random Penguin, Hachette, etc. These companies will get you the most exposure, get your books into the most markets, and are the most financially stable. You need agents for submitting to all of these, as far as I know, so by suggesting you start here I'm essentially suggesting you start with getting an agent (and once you DO get an agent, you take your agent's advice about submissions, not mine!).

    But if you can't get an agent, there are smaller, but still reputable, publishers that will accept submissions without an agent. This depends a bit on your genre - I think Tor still takes unagented submissions, but they're mostly (completely?) SF/F. There are some reputable smaller romance publishers (Samhain would be my top recommendation, but there are others that are still worth working with). This is where you need to do a LOT of research.

    And then after that, you have a choice between a less-reputable small press, self-publishing, or not publishing at all (until later). This is a hard choice.

    If you go with a less-reputable small press, you probably want to use a pseudonym you'd be okay walking away from if things go poorly, and you want to take a VERY close look at the contract to be sure you're not tied into anything. I'd also recommend not putting all your eggs in one basket - if you write subsequent books, go back to the start of the process and submit it to the Big 5, but if you work your way back down to the less-reputable-small-publisher stage, go with a different less-reputable small publisher.

    If you self-publish, keep your expectations reasonable. You've already been told by quite a few industry professionals that your book is, in their expert opinions, unlikely to find a large market. (This doesn't mean it's low quality, just not currently marketable). And that was with their juggernaut distribution systems in place. You, on your own, will have even more trouble finding readers than they would have had. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but it means it's unlikely this book is going to take off.

    The third option is to not publish the book at all, at least in its current state/at the current time. Most authors write at least a few starter novels that never see the light of day. That's okay. Some authors go back to these later, rewrite them, and publish them later once the author has a better name AND a better idea how to write a sellable book. That's okay too.

    All that said, this isn't the path I took to publication, mostly because of genre limitations. I started in m/m romance, and there really isn't a strong market for that in the Big 5. So I started at the small-but-reputable stage, then once I got a name played with some self-publishing, then went back to the small-but-reputable publishers, then went to the Big 5. I switched pseudonyms for the Big 5 books.

    I think it's useful, at least for me, to think of publishing as a long-term game. I've tried to build a career, rather than get a single book published.

    Overall... explore as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. And never, ever, give an agent or publisher any of your money. (If you're self-pubbing and paying editors or whatever, that's different. But if you're pursuing traditional publication, it only costs you time and maybe postage.)
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that's accurate--I think that "real" publishing, as you put it in the title, would normally market nationwide. Even a small press would have no particular motivation to market only locally. A purely local press makes me think of the kind of self-publishing press that prints, say, the PTA cookbook and that sort of thing, and that, to me, takes us out of "real" publishing.
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree.

    I'd say the smaller the press, the more likely they are to be e-first or rely on the e-market, and that often means not just nationally but internationally. Keeping a book available only locally would be pretty hard, really, and there'd be no reason to want to do it.

    (The bigger publishers, in my experience, are more likely to break the rights down more - like, North American English rights vs world English, or whatever).
     
  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Hi there!

    Regarding writing as a business, I'm not sure what the tax laws are like where you are but here in the UK, any money made from writing (be it £2.99 or £265546757.99 or even a loss) has to be declared to the tax man as "extra income" which is taxable after a certain amount.

    You don't have to be registered as a business but you do have to fill out a relevant section of the self-assessment form and for that purpose, (I think) your pen name acts as your business name.

    As I said, it's probably different in every country so my best advice would be for you to contact your local tax office or book a slot with an accountant for a chat just so you know what to expect.
    x
     
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  16. Stephen Paden
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    Stephen Paden Member

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    Thirdwind and I disagree on this. You DO need an editor. Every writer needs an editor. Editors do more than proofread. They detect pacing issues, plot holes, stinted dialogue, anachronisms, you name it.

    If you think that a publisher is going to take any interest in your unedited work, you are wrong. They will throw it away.

    As for paying to publish your book, NEVER do it. They are all scams.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you saying that most authors who have been published, paid an editor to edit their work before they submitted it? If so, can you point us to a source for that statement? It's definitely contrary to my understanding.
     
  18. United
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    United Member

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    I'm a first time author (working on my first novel/piece). I don't have an agent/editor/publisher. And getting an editor would cost me money, which I don't have because I am a college student ---- broke college student....Anyways, I was thinking of going, for my first novel, for self-publishing on Amazon --- the eBook way. And then if traditional publishers see my piece online and like it they may contact me and pick my work up? Would this route work? Going with online self-publishing first? Considering that I'm a 20 year old college student who doesn't currently work. I'm a newbie, so I don't know how successful my first novel would be when I publish it ---- I probably won't have much marketing, since I suck at marketing. But, if you have a good story with good content, you'll eventually be recognized on Amazon/eBook websites, right? Even without any marketing/promoting?
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't need an editor. You do need to polish and polish and polish your writing until you can do your own editing--and you need to do that whether you decide to go with traditional publishing or self publishing.

    Traditional publishers are unlikely to see your piece among the countless others also online, not when they have agents coming to them with polished manuscripts for which the first publication rights are still intact. (When you self-publish, you've used up first publication rights.) It's about as likely as Pillsbury coming to you to say that they heard how great your cookies were at the school bake sale.

    No, there's no assurance, not even any likelihood, that a good story with good content will be eventually recognized on Amazon. The odds of that happening without you putting a ton of time and effort and talent into marketing are just about zero.

    I'm sorry to be such a downer. Please don't be personally offended--this is not about the quality of your work. If your work is magnificent, it's STILL likely to sink without a trace in the ocean of self-published works.

    But if you put your heart and soul into a piece of writing, you don't want to essentially throw it away, and that's what you will be doing if you self-publish it without a ton of marketing. It's what you'll most likely be doing if you self-publish it WITH a ton of marketing. Your story has the best chance of being read if you polish polish polish it and submit it for traditional publishing, polishing it some more until you start to get some feedback, and polishing it some more until, maybe, somebody finally accepts it.

    You may not have time to do that now. If so, then the best thing you can do for your story is to keep it private until you do have time.
     
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  20. United
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    United Member

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    So, to become as prestigious and renowned as Stephen Hawking and JK Rowling, I would have to take the traditional route?

    Note: And no, I don't want to be famous for the sake of being famous. I want to be known because of my work, and because I know that it is stupendous work and that the world recognizes me as someone who created a truly remarkable and memorable experience (and obviously, all authors feel this way about their work....hopefully).

    And can you explain 'first publication rights'? I don't know what that means....I'm a newbie. :/
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you make your book available to the public in any way--by self-publishing, in your blog, any way at all--it's been published. It's no longer a new work. And most publishers want to publish new works. The right to publish something for the very first time is "first publication rights", and when those are used up, they're used up, and the work is far less valuable to a prospective publisher.

    You could take a brilliant work, one that you've poured your heart and soul into. You could self-publish it on Amazon and sell a dozen or so copies--which I've read is the average total sales for self-published works, though right now I can't find the source for that number. And that act has used up the first publication rights and drastically reduced your chances of selling that work to a traditional publisher who might be able to get it into the hands of a much, much larger number of readers.

    Yes, if you want your work to succeed--and I mean succeed in the sense of being known and read, not just in the sense of making money--I think that right now traditional publishing is the only realistic route. There are exceptions--just as there are people who are struck by lightning and there are people who win the lottery. Hoping to be struck by lightning is not a good strategy for your writing career.

    The day is probably coming when self-publishing is a viable route. It's not here now. It might be here ten years from now.

    Others will disagree. I strongly urge you to read and read and read about the pros and the cons of self-publishing before you use up those first publication rights.
     
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  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Compromise on the 'need an editor' debate - I think new writers need to learn to edit. They can do this by taking courses, reading a lot, figuring things out themselves, etc. But some of them do it by hiring an editor. It would be a bad idea, I'd say, to expect to hire an editor for every subsequent MS, but if you hire one from the first and learn as you edit, I don't think it's automatically a bad idea. That said, I've never hired an editor for a book I submitted to a publisher, just for stuff I've self-published.

    Re. using self-publication as a route to traditional publishing - I just read an article yesterday (and of course can't find it today) with a quote from one of the Big 5 saying they weren't likely to be picking up any more self-published blockbusters. They weren't getting the sales they'd hoped for from them, and had concluded that the market had been exhausted while the book was self-published (and probably selling at a much lower price) and there weren't enough new readers who were willing to pay the 'full' price after the book was re-issued.
     
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  23. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Part of becoming a writer means being able to revise and polish your own work. This includes correcting any spelling and punctuation errors and pretty much anything else an editor would look for. If you're worried about plot, characterization, or stuff like that, get some beta readers you trust will give you honest opinions.
     
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  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hiring an editor as an education expense, yeah, doesn't seem like an automatic mistake. It's the idea that of course every writer will hire an editor for every manuscript in order to have any hope of success, that I object to.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, absolutely, it's not necessary for every writer, and hopefully wouldn't be necessary for every MS from ANY writer.

    But I've learned a lot from editors I've worked with when the editors were paid by my publishers - I see no reason someone couldn't learn just as much from an editor they paid for themselves. (Obviously nice to have the publishers pay when possible, though!)
     

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