1. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Should I send my book to publishers, or just self-publish?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Chiv, Sep 25, 2014.

    So, I'm getting toward the point where my first book, a novella of under 30,000 words, will be ready for publishing. I'm wondering whether it's worth sending the manuscript into some publishers, and see what happens, or should I just self publish online, as an ebook? I'm just worried that I could be taken advantage of due to inexperience and age. But is it worth a shot, and see what happens? If so, what are some good publishers to send to?
    Thanks guys.
     
  2. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    Even if you are a good author, it can be very hard to break into the publishing world. Personally, I plan to save myself that headache and self-publish. That doesn't mean you should sacrifice on quality, though. Get some solid feedback and spend adequate time on revisions before publishing.
     
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  3. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    That's what I've been thinking. I know that even some of the most famous authors had trouble finding a publisher, and just self published at first. Starting to think it's just not worth the time and rejections. Of course, quality comes first. I plan on editing the crap out of it, and having a fair few beta readers.
     
  4. Joshua A
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    Joshua A Member

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    I am not speaking from experience here, but it's a logic value I apply to most things concerning "should I do x or y?"
    Your current situation, where you publish or self-publish, could be looked at a simple way. The goal being to publish. The best-case scenario is that they take the book with no reservations, publish it, and joyous things happen. The worst-case being they don't take it. The worst case is the same situation as if you had not even brought it to them. So, the worst that can happen if you bring it to a publisher is that they can't. And so, you go the other route of self-publishing.

    that's just my personal, non-professional, humble opinion of course :)
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Most publishers aren't going to be interested in novellas because there's really no market for them. So self-publishing is probably a better bet. That being said, make sure you understand the pros and cons of both approaches. When you self-publish, you're taking on the responsibilities of a publisher, which includes things like marketing.

    If you really want to go the traditional publishing route, turn that novella into either a short story (which you could then submit to magazines) or a novel.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are plenty of good publishers out there that if you were published through them your sales would potentially be better than self-publishing. Your novella would receive good editing and a good cover. Of course, competition for slots with those publishers is very competitive.

    Also, you would have to research publishers, based upon the genre of your story and also if the publisher publishes novella length works. Yes, there would be a contract to read and understand and sign. But that's part of the business. Agents would not represent novella length works (in most cases).

    Self-publishing, while it may avoid some of the research and waiting, there is a whole additional skill set you need to have...editing, formatting, cover art and title work, etc. You could always hire out to do it, and that would be money out of your pocket. And just because a work is 'out there' doesn't mean it will be noticed, let alone read. That would take effort on your part (although even if you find a publisher, you'd still have to do some work on that end).

    Really, there isn't a simple answer. It really depends on the writer, the particular work being considered, and the writer's goals.

    Whatever you decide, good luck.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure if you're worried that you'll be taken advantage by an agent/publisher, or by a self-publishing outfit?

    At first, I assumed that you meant that the agent/publisher might take advantage of you, and my immediate mental response was, "You're afraid that someone will steal your money, so you're going to set fire to it yourself before they get the chance?"

    Yes, yes, occasionally someone makes money with self-publishing. It's not impossible. But giving your work a genuine chance to make money through self-publishing will be more work than submitting it to an agent (usually you don't go straight to a publisher), and even then, it's still burdened with the bad reputation of self-publishing.

    I know that I don't have the editing and marketing and design and promotion skills for self-publishing, much less the basic ability to tell when a book is ready. If I self-published a work, I would essentially be throwing it away, because once it's published in any way, the odds of selling to a publisher are drastically reduced. So if you do consider it, I would recommend thinking long and hard and doing a lot of research on self-publishing, reading the opinions of both the "for" and the "against" sides.
     
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  8. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    There's also the time factor. How patient are you?

    Try submitting to traditional publishers first and then go for the SP route if you get nowhere with TP but set yourself a time limit otherwise you could be waiting for a very long time as not every house you submit to, will even get back to you.
     
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  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with most points here. I'd also add that 30k is probably too short for any traditional publisher to be interested in publishing it as a stand-alone piece. But you should research marketing for self-published authors (it isn't easy), and really make sure your writing is up to scratch (even harder) if you want to give your work best chance of success.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What genre are you writing in? There a quite a few e-first publishers that take novella-length romance and erotica.

    In a different genre, self-pubbing might be your only option.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would still argue that without skills and a plan and the ability and intention of doing a whole lot of work, self-publishing is not a good option. A new author isn't likely to get a novella published, but to me that just means that the novella should be put away until the author sells something else, or maybe a bunch of something elses. It's better to let it sit idle than to throw it away.
     
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  12. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    The genre I'm writing in is fantasy. I know that there aren't many fantasy novellas. Originally I was planning on having it as a larger book, but recently I decided that what is coming up is going to be very different to what I have written so far, so the plan is to do three or four novellas. I suppose the other option is to split it into parts.
     
  13. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Agent/publisher. Probably silly thinking, but it was just something I thought of. I love the analogy though :D
     
  14. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    First off - is this the first book you've ever written, or the first book you feel is of publishable quality? If the former, you're probably not going to have much luck either way. If the latter, you need to take off the writer's cloak and put on the business person's jacket. Research. Find out exactly how both trade and self-publishing actually work, what each entails, and what you're prepared to do. Along that line, if you do proper research, you'll be contacting reputable agents who know how to negotiate a fair contract; you'll also learn to have a literary attorney look over a contract from a reputable publisher so you understand exactly what the terms mean and what you need to negotiate. If you choose self-publishing, it will be because you know how to be a publisher and are willing to do all the work involved.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alternatively, given that e-books remain available indefinitely, the self-pubbed novella could sit IN THE STORE until the author sells something else and THAT brings interest to the novella.

    I'm not a rabid self-publishing proponent, but I do think it's one of the many tools a serious author should consider using. I'm hybrid, and I've had hits and misses from both self-published AND conventionally published books. There are no guarantees in any form of publishing.

    I agree that when possible, trade publishing is more likely to get good exposure and sales, but I think this is at least partly because books that are trade published are dramatically more likely to be 'good' books. If we start with two books of equal quality and publish one trade, one self? I've done that, and the self-published book hasn't gotten quite the sales, but it's made enough to be worthwhile, and it's continuing to sell fairly steadily, while the one with the publisher has dropped down the charts faster. (The advantage of hybrid, of course, is that once you're established in your genre or sub-genre via publisher distribution, you're more likely to find an audience for your self-published books. So a first-time fantasy novella isn't likely to find a publisher OR an audience, really.).

    Given that a fantasy novella isn't likely to find a publisher now, and quite possibly not ever, this could be an opportunity for the poster to learn the skills of self-publishing (or learn who to hire to perform the skilled tasks).
     
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  16. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    Do you have a marketing plan for this book? No one gets rich (and rarely famous) off one, regardless of the publishing method. In indie publishing, your first book paves the way for your next book. If you don't have plans for a 'next book', then Indie publishing might not work for you.
     
  17. tjackson4661
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    tjackson4661 New Member

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    Self-publishing services offer some incredible tools these days. Even if you don't feel up to creating the cover yourself, there's lots of professional graphic artists out there who could potentially help you. Try to browse deviantart for graphic designers who take an interest in fantasy reading. Maybe you could get them to do the work pro bono. Try to think of self-publishing as a self-development process. Once you figure out how to get things done the first time, they will get much easier the second time.
     
  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Shelve it for a year. Then read it again and see if you want to publish it. If no, edit. If yes, publisher. If they say no, which is likely, self-publish.
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This sounds draconian, but I support this view. It's just too easy to rush to online publication, which is why there is so much bad stuff out there. Bad, not because it doesn't have potential, but bad because the author was in such a rush to get it published that he/she didn't edit properly.

    You will NOT see what needs to be kept and what needs to go from your story until you've given the story time to settle in your own head. Give it some distance. Wait until you can pick it up and read it as if it were brand new to you. AND, if possible, run it through several beta readers as well. There is no headway in publishing something that's awkward and in dire need of a scrub-up and clear-out. Do you really want the reputation that you are an amateur author? That will be hard to overcome.

    I'd say Selbbin's suggestion of 'wait a year' is a good one. Meanwhile, keep writing and learning and building up your body of work. The more you've got to choose from, the better your chances are of getting published.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That made me laugh out loud!
     
  21. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Double, double check (you can find lists of agents and publishers on-line) as I once approached and agent who wouldn't take my book on because he only dealt with MS's of less that 80k words.
     
  22. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    A lot of good points here. I'm just gonna comment on a few, but I appreciate everyone's advice.

    My girlfriend is actually an aspiring animator, and she is really talented. She's done a few drawings based on my novella, and they look really good. So if I went self publishing, I'd probably get her to do a cover.

    That's actually a really good idea. I am giving it some time off to work on some other projects; I just have to make sure that it's long enough that I can look back at it with a new pair of eyes.

    I'm a member of a lot of writing groups on facebook, and oh gosh the quality of some of the stuff just makes me cringe. Believe me, if I'm going to self-publish, I'm going to do it right. It's currently going through several beta readers now, and I intend to do at least a few more edits myself before going through even more beta readers. Like I said, I intend to get it right if I go down this path. I will NOT be like these other amateur authors that I see all the time. I'm building a legacy--not digging my own grave.
     
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  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're working that hard, then it makes no sense to me not to try to submit to agents for traditional publishing. No matter how great your book is, the odds are strongly against you breaking out of the ocean of junk if you self-publish.

    That may change someday, and, yeah, it won't change without a lot of good self-published books, but I think that other resources needed--such as a much more robust review mechanism than that available at Amazon and various self-publishing sites--don't yet exist. I think that self-publishing MIGHT start to break out by the end of this decade.
     
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  24. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    That's why after reading many of the replies, and doing a bit of my own research, I've decided that I will indeed send it to publishers. If I fail to get it published, I will then have a look a what I can do--whether it's extending the novella to novel length or self-publishing remains to be seen.
     

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