1. David Tice
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    David Tice Member

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    Self Destructive Tendencies: Things That Can Hinder Publishing...

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by David Tice, Mar 21, 2016.

    Im not sure if this has been touched on but I along with a lot of other authors I'm sure am looking to perhaps publish and self publish my work and was wondering if there are some things that an anxious and maybe over eager author can do to darken their chances of being published.

    My main worry is that in my eagerness to get my book read and critiqued as a whole I might post too much of it here on this site or other places and turn a publisher away from it due to the fact that it isn't new anymore. My question to anyone who has already been through the rollercoaster of trying to get published is how much of a novel is too much when it comes to putting it out there for review or should you even bother posting your work for fear of plagiarism or just scaring publishers off??
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Good question.

    As regards getting your book traditionally published, yes, posting a significant amount of it (or all of it) on a site like this or similar site can have an impact on whether a publisher will consider your work or not. Publishing costs money. Why would a publisher invest money in something that can be gotten elsewhere for free? We always recommend posting only small excerpts of your work, or work unrelated to items you intend to publish, as regards getting feedback on the general quality of one's writing.
     
  3. David Tice
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    David Tice Member

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    That's kind of what I was scared of, I think I might ease off the gas a bit Wreybies because if someone didn't stop me I'd post every single novel I ever wrote. It's hard when you write more for the response you get both positive and negative for your art and money isn't your main motivator. Though I'm starting to see that money is a necessary evil and in most genres artists find themselves compromising their work or doing somethings they don't really want to just because they have to make a living off of it.
     
  4. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have any experience with regard to publishing (not being far enough along myself), but I always was leery of posting even exerpts of it anywhere. The farthest I have gone was to have a 'Letter to my characters' posted on my blog, and chapter one given out to two or three Alpha's.

    With regard to writing style that should suffice to give you some indication if you make major mistakes in style and characterisation and/or worldbuilding. I guess I will have to pay for some editor later on, but for that a whole lot of water will have to flow down the Jordan before.

    I understand the urge to tell the whole world how wonderful your work is, but it is not what is required by publishers.

    Writing is a lonely business, no way around it ;)

    edit: and don't forget to learn and correct prior chapters every step along the way!
     
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  5. Alex R. Encomienda
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    Alex R. Encomienda Active Member

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    Where do you usually publish your books? Anywhere online?
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Posting a chapter or even two on a site like this is unlikely to be an issue, especially if you revise them following feedback and don't post the final versions.

    But you can send the whole thing to as many beta readers as you like. Publishers expect us to have done that. The only risk there is that an untrustworthy beta would post it all online, which is why you choose betas carefully.

    If you're going to self-publish, none of that matters.
     
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  7. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    It's still completely insane to me that publishers won't touch anything that's been put up for review. It's a regressive and overtly hostile attitude to creators that has no parallel in any other industry.

    In every other creative industry the way you build your career is by showing other people your work. Anyone. Absolutely anyone. If you're a musician you put your work on soundcloud. If you're a film maker you put your work on youtube. Not one song, not a trailer. You post every single thing you have so that the people you meet playing gigs or entering festivals can go see more of what you have to offer. They can tell their friends. They can virally share your crap. But for writers they want you to feel like you're wrecking your career by saying essential 'can anyone please tell me if this is good?'. Aside from anything else I have heard agents say so much about how much crap they get sent and how tedious it is to wade through their slush pile. Did they never think that this is because they tell writers that seeking out a large amount of of opinions on their work will annihilate any potential career they might have?

    The argument they make about 'well we can't sell it if it's out there for free' in this day and age is ludicrous. Video games, music TV shows, movies, comic books and even just regular books are all pirated so casually that it's insulting to suggest that a paid product being available for free in some unregarded corner of the internet torpedoes it as a commercial product. Are there that many people out there who, while browsing books in a store (online or real life) who would hit google to see if they can track down a poorly formatted, non-final draft on a forum but wouldn't go as far as to hit bittorrent? Come now.

    You want to know the only other industry where there is this kind of abusive relationship between the creator and the middle man? Prostitution. That is the only other industry where a middleman will tell you that your product ain't shit, can be copied wholesale by the next jackass on the street and that your artistry has no tangible value whatever; that in fact you should be thanking them for taking you on. What do you mean you want to try and get better as a writer? I tell you how to be a better writer; and that means selling more product not offering something better.

    It's been a decade since the smartphone and social media revolutions. How can it still be so utterly verboten for me to post a link my draft on facebook instead of having to personally approach a bunch of people? Literally no-one has ever read anything I've written. It's not for want of trying. It's because I literally can not find anyone to do it. Oh people have said they'll do it, but they don't see it through and that's that. Because they are busy people with lives and stuff to do that's more important to them than reading my books. I've never even seen a forum that has a beta reading board where people can go to find each other; where people who have the time and inclination can present themselves.

    It's all an incredibly toxic culture. It pushes writers apart and almost ensures that no writer can ever actually know for sure if their work is actually worth anything. My daytime gig writing voiceovers sucks to an extreme degree but it's got nothing on the publishing business. At least writing VO I know my time is worth something, even if it's not much.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dude, give me a break. I'm not going to address the drama, but in terms of the concrete...

    It's not verboten for you to post a link to your draft on facebook. Go ahead and do it. Possibly link to somewhere that requires a password (which you can put on the same facebook post) in order to keep your draft from being easily searchable, and you're fine. (And even if you weren't, it still wouldn't be verboten--publishers don't have the power to compel you to do or not do a damn thing. Just like you don't have the power to compel them to accept a book they don't want, for whatever reason they don't want it.)

    Also probably accept that if literally no one has ever read your writing, the first thing you've written probably isn't going to be super-appealing to publishers anyway--in which case you can blaze it all across the internet with no consequences. Posting writing online doesn't mean a writer can't get anything published, it just makes it more difficult to get the exact same thing published.

    OP - I think other common errors include thinking of a single project as being "the one" and being reluctant to let go of something that may not work; rushing to self-publishing without fully understanding the implications; not experimenting with different styles/genres/approaches; getting too caught up in being a writer without actually writing much...
     
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  9. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    You should see the US patent laws on roses--brutal!
     
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  10. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    My point all along was predicated on '...if you want to get published.' My problem isn't that this behavior is physically impossible, it's that by doing so you renounce any value your work might have had. And you should know better than most of us that spending six months of your life working on a book only to be put in the position of having to choose between selling it ever and getting good feedback on your writing is bullshit.

    The point about posting stuff online is to get wide feedback from as many people as possible. But if I do that it'll never get bought by anyone. That's not just time wasted either; that's a good idea wasted. That's an idea that was worth pursuing for six months or a year or more that's gone and won't come back. That's why this is bullshit.

    It's easy for you to blithely say 'Eh, the first thing your write is probably crappy anyway so just publish the next one' (I'm on my sixth book since you ask) but the idea that I would throw something I am certain is good on a fire and be content getting feedback and nothing else as a result of that project is, frankly, insulting. I'm not expecting my first project to make me a millionaire, I'm not even necessarily expecting it to get published but I'm not burning the concept either. I keep it to myself because one day when I'm more established I want to see it in print. And until then I can't even post it up here and ask anyone passing to look at it. Because if I ever want it to make a dime I simply cannot do that.

    I am not wedded to any one idea or any one anything but I think they're good and putting them up anywhere drops any value that idea might have had to zero in an instant. I don't believe they are worth zero. I believe they are worth something and whether I am right or not if I even suspect it then there's no way in hell I could just drop that value to nothing.

    Aside from anything else; if you aren't going to be the guy to come read my stuff, please don't tell me the horrible effects of not having people read my stuff. It just kinda underlines my point here. It's radically harder than it should be to get criticism of your work before it's published, assuming you want it published. It's very easy to say how important it is to get your work betaread; we all agree it's important. It's something else entirely to actually make the time and effort to do that. That's my point exactly.

    Even if you were really open to beta reading right now the only way that you find my project instead of anything else is if I personally hand it to you, something that it'd be extremely rude of me to do without you inviting me to. I'm the one who needs a beta and the onus is on me to get my project read. But before I can do that I have to find the subset of people who are already disposed towards doing so. And of course it's a breach of etiquette to do something so crass as actually ask other writers to read your stuff.

    Contrast with our very own critiquing forum where if the mood takes you you can see a bunch of different projects, find one to your taste, see if any projects in particular have been ignored for a while, etc. You can see immediately who wants their work critiqued and who has the most need of your eyes right now.

    We clearly do not work like this because it's efficient. We work this way because the industry forces us to. For that reason and that reason alone. The only reason I ever even came to this forum was because I wanted to post up a couple of my finished books and get some feedback on them. I didn't want feedback from random internet people (no offense) but in the end I said 'it's better than nothing'. And four months later it's just literally nothing.

    Since I have to choose between feedback from you guys and trying to sell my books I'm going to try and sell my books.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2016
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But you can get your work published even if you post a link to it on Facebook. You shouldn't post the entire document on an un-protected site, but... that's probably not something most of us would want to do? I mean, even if publishers didn't have an issue with it, why do it? I wouldn't post something I wanted to self-publish online in its entirety because I don't think it would make sense for people to buy a book that had been available for free. This isn't because I, as the self-publisher, am "overtly hostile to creators", it's just because it doesn't seem like a good strategy.

    It just feels like you're ranting against reality. You can say/think it's bullshit all you want, but... ?

    Yes, you can do it. You wouldn't post an entire novel here anyway, so... post an excerpt. Publishers won't care. It's fine. Post a link to the entire work at the end, with the link going somewhere protected. That's fine too.

    But it's really not that hard. You seem determined to make it more complicated than it needs to be, and determined to blame it on publishers. I don't think that's helpful.
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But this is a false dichotomy because you can do both of those things. :S

    You can show it to 50 beta readers and get 50 sets of feedback and publishers won't care OR penalise you for it. You just can't make your entire novel available for anybody with an internet connection to read for free and then expect publishers to invest their time and money in making it available for sale.
     
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  13. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    It's worth noting that many publishers have no qualms about acquiring manuscripts that have already been posted in full online, if they reasonably think they can still make a profit by publishing it in book form, or making it available through other channels.
     
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  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    50 Shades and Amanda Hocking come to mind.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. People don't realize this part of the industry has transformed in large part, and I think it's going to keep transforming. If the publisher thinks they can make a lot of money on your book, the fact that it was already published isn't going to matter to them. See, e.g., 50 Shades, The Martian, etc.

    EDIT: Yes, there are still those who don't want to consider anything like the above. But they're not the only games in town.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
  16. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't this how everyone ever has found beta readers?

    I'm fairly firmly in the it-doesn't-matter camp. If you want to get comments by posting the thing online, just post the damn thing. Even if every publisher then decides they wouldn't touch it - which I doubt will happen - you've got five other novels. Use the fact you got a following from the public stuff as a way of getting publishers interested in them.

    But if you're still worried and want comments, then seriously, just ask people to beta for you. Send me a copy, I'll do it.
     
  17. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    You can doubt whatever you like; agents specifically tell us that they will not touch a manuscript that has been posted online. It seems faintly ridiculous that I have to say this here but books are not intangible lumps of clay. Sure, I have other books I'm looking to sell. And what if the book I post is my breakout idea? What if that's my bestseller? And what if being posted online means that it never gets published? Oh but I can just write another book, right?

    Can you name another book by J D Salinger? By Nabakov? By Salmon Rushdie? Douglas Adams never got the same magic back after hitchhikers. You think J K Rowling is going to come up with another Harry Potter scale idea? Sure, I can write another book and try to get that published instead. But if I think my work is good (which I do) then why would I just discard the possibility of any particular story being the one that makes my career? Or even just that being the one story that stands out to an agent that gets my foot in the door?

    The only thing in my interest is things that raise the odds of my getting published. Anything that even slightly decreases my chances of getting published is bad for me. The chances are already staggeringly low; why would I give up anything else?

    If you seriously want to read anything I've written then feel free to get in touch; I'm happy to listen to any critique I can get.
     
  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Say what? When I'm done my drafts I'm so going to post a thread on this site asking for beta readers. If I don't get any - no harm no foul. I might even PM a few members. But I don't find that a breech of etiquette. I'd just make sure to include what the books about. No sense in having people agree to read something they normally wouldn't find interesting. And then to return the favor I let them know I'm up for reading their book when it's done.


    Nabokov - other than Lolita? Pnin, Invitation to a Beheading, Ada, Pale Fire - to name a few. I'm not saying Nabokov doesn't have a few duds but for the most part a lot of his books did well.
    Good gravy, never hitch your wagon to one star. Be prolific - let the readers, and critics sort out which one will be the best.

    To the op. I'm on several other sites and they'll post whole novels. Chapter by chapter. They don't come up in the search sites though so that could make a big difference. Also some writers use pseudonyms, change their characters names, and retitle their projects to avoid people knowing too much about it. Some have had their work published by small presses or published on internet zines or self published. I don't find it the big issue it's been made out to be. I think posting things on blogs though - especially final polished drafts could be a hard sell. I'd be shocked if a publisher didn't understand that writers need help through writing sites.
     
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  19. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some agents probably won't, but I doubt it's all of them.

    J D Salinger wrote Nine Stories, Nabokov wrote loads - Lolita was something like his third book. Salman Rushdie wrote both Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, and I'm not really sure which one of those you consider his breakout since they're both stupidly famous. Personally, I rate Adams' Dirk Gently books higher than Hitch-hiker, which itself started as a radio series and so was in the ecosystem before it became a book. Of all those people, only Salinger really counts as a one-book wonder, since his later stuff wasn't anywhere near as popular. The 'one breakout idea' is a myth in most cases. It probably is in yours too.

    Anyhow, point is - I don't think it lowers your chances of getting published. It could increase it just as easily, since agents and editors can see examples of your work and think maybe you're someone they want to represent. No saying that'll actually happen, of course, but I think it's more likely than someone seeing a copy of your work online and thinking 'this is brilliant, but this guy clearly can't have written anything else good so we shall never publish anything he writes'.

    And yes, I'm serious. PM me a Dropbox link or something.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If it were, you'd get such a massive following that publishers would contact you to buy the rights. That's what happened to 50 Shades of Grey, wasn't it?
     
  21. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just shut up and write a good book.
     
  22. Sack-a-Doo!
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    It really depends on a lot of things. A number of writers have gone the whole way and published their novels online and still ended up being traditionally published. Take Andy Weir for instance, author of The Martian.

    Until the cards are all dealt and all bets are in the pot, you don't know how it's going to shake out.
     
  23. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There certainly are self-published authors who've then published the same stories traditionally, so I'm not disagreeing with the posts that have pointed that out, but I do think a word of caution needs to be added. The number of authors who've done that is astronomically low compared to the number of self-published books out there. By far the likeliest scenario is that by publishing your whole book on the web in any form, you destroy any chance of a traditional publisher being interested in it.

    You might be one in a million, but personally I think you'd be naive to hedge your bets that way.

    Anyway, are we still discussing this with the false dichotomy of getting feedback OR being traditionally published? Because anyone with any kind of knowledge about the publishing industry knows that you do both.
     
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  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Tenderiser I don't think that's right. Some traditional publishers still care about this, but some clearly don't. The fact that not many self-published authors end up with traditional contracts for their works just tells me that those authors wouldn't have got a traditional contract regardless. Apart from high profile cases like 50 Shades, The Martian, and others, there are authors at a lower tier of self-published success that get traditional contracts for their same works. You are assuming causation where there is no reason to assume it (and good reason not to).
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The above assumes we are taking about self-publishers who submit those same works traditionally, which I doubt most do to begin with.
     

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