1. Iwanabeone
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    Iwanabeone Banned

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    What is the possibility of finding an agent after self-publishing?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Iwanabeone, Dec 30, 2012.

    I completed the first of a three book action/adventure series several years ago. I went through an early round of editing with a 'professional', spending a few thousand dollars for the service. I next went through a round of working with a beta reader. After countless rejections from agents, I decided to self-publish on Amazon. Another author read my story and told me it had problems and needed to be copy-edited for spelling, grammar and punctuation. I hired one person who did a first round of editing and then was never heard from again. I hired a second person who edited the story in about two weeks, at a price I have discovered to be well below what a 'real' editor would charge. Back to the fellow author, who re-read the story. He found about 100 errors not caught by either 'editor'. Some of these errors were more of a stylistic nature than copy-editing errors. However, there were many simply errors like a missing period or close quote, as well as issues like the use of 'to' instead of 'too'. The fellow author sent me all the corrections and now the book is again out on Amazon. Thinking about all the corrections that have been made, I am now wondering if it might be possible to attract an agent with this now 'polished' book. Except that now the book is on Amazon and, no doubt, a Google search will turn up this little tidbit of information even if I, once again, unpublished.

    Have I killed any chance of finding a real agent?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    For this particular book, probably yes.
     
  3. Iwanabeone
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    Iwanabeone Banned

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    Well, that's a particularly 'pregnant' remark. Do you care to elaborate?
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It has already been published, so there's little reason why any publisher would be interested in this particular book.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishers, and therefore agents, are generally not interested in trying to market/sell/represent something that is already out there and available. If you've sold over 20,000 copies of your self-published book, they *might* consider it, provided they don't feel that those 20K represent the entire universe of people who would be interested in your book.

    Publishing is a business. The people involved are looking for stuff that's fresh, new, marketable, well-written, etc. They lose almost all interest if it's already been available in the marketplace. They have limited time and resources to spend on books. If the book is already available, that's a huge barrier for them to look past to view your stuff as fresh, new, marketable, well written...

    Unless you can show that the reason you're now going the traditional route is that there's so much demand for your book you can't keep up with it, it's going to be an extremely tough task to get a publisher (and again, therefore an agent) interested in allotting their finite resources to your book.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    First-run rights no longer exist, so there is little for an agent to sell to a publisher. Moreover, if I read your post correctly, you went ahead and self-published with SPaG errors and that would be a major turnoff. Frankly, it is inconceivable to me that any serious writer would have done such a thing.

    As Chicagoliz points out, publishing is a business. A writer who comes off as unpolished has virtually no shot at attracting either an agent or a publisher.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that this book is "used up"--the first publication rights are gone. I'd suggest starting a new book, getting it polished, and starting your agent search process with that book.

    If you're thinking that you can't afford to spend all that editing money again, the good news _and_ bad news here is that you shouldn't need to hire someone for editing; you should be developing your own writing skills to the point that you can do the polishing yourself. I realize that this sounds like a great deal of work, but until you can do that work yourself you're unlikely to make much of a profit on a book even if it's traditionally published.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as liz sez, unless your book has sold tens of thousands of copies, you can certainly 'find' one, but definitely won't get one!

    as for all that bad editing, that's one reason why it's a major waste of money to hire an editor... the good ones cost much more and even with the best of all editing, you still have no guarantee the book will ever snag a publisher... if you want to be a writer, you have to be able to edit your own work... it's an integral part of being one... and if you don't write well enough to be able to edit what you turn out well enough to result in a polished, marketable ms, then you need to either improve your skills, or seek a different career...
     
  9. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    You're right in that it is an important not to do these mistakes. For that reason I hired an translator instead of trying to do it on my own, well, she is far from perfect either, but by doing this in the Czech Republic and Slovakia without any editor's help, I realized one important thing.

    Most of the people doesn't mind about few typos there and few mistakes there as long as they're enjoying the read! They say to me: "Hey, I totally get this stuff! Well, you have some mistakes in there, you know that, right?"

    Most of the writers will give up on their dream when they realize they can't have perfect language, that sucks. And I don't see other writer as a competitor, but a helper in my wish to make some people read!
     
  10. Iwanabeone
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    Iwanabeone Banned

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    While I must agree that improving my skill is important, I also have to ask a question.

    Why are there so many professional editing services available? Preditors and Editors list hundreds. My understanding is that most, if not all, publishers also make sure that manuscripts are reviewed before going into print. I have to guess that there are a lot of people writing that feel the need, and are willing to spend thousands of dollars, to make sure their work is polished enough not to be embarrassed when submitting to agents.

    I simply cannot accept your implication that all published authors are experts in editing and deliver manuscripts that do not need to be reviewed and have, at least a few, corrections made to their work.
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess that depends on who's reading it. It would bother me, and I suppose if the writer were a friend or even an acquaintance, I'd gently point it out if they were looking for editing. But if I were reading the story because I was looking for something to read, and I obtained the story from some online source (even if it were free), I'd be particularly un-impressed by the lack of professionalism displayed by having so many typos, despite the fact that I can sympathize with how easy it is for them to occur. If I were an agent, seeing those sorts of things would bother me even more.
     
  12. Iwanabeone
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    Iwanabeone Banned

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    If I remove my book from Amazon, thereby making it unavailable, will it be considered to be unpublished and therefore capable a receiving attention from agents/publishers?
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    No, it would still be considered published. The first publication rights have been used up. If you really want to take the traditional publishing route, you're going to have to approach agents/publishers with an entirely different book.
     
  14. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    Yeah, but I'm focused on readers, agent can kiss my ass if he don't like my work just because of typos. You see, every blogger writing about how he makes a dinner is a writer and is getting more visitors not just because of a grammary.

    It is important not to give up on that, but spending money a reviewing one book all day long ... while I could write meanwhile like four books? Common.
     
  15. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    It's all about standards. If you are prepared to accept 'a few mistakes' where do you stop? No-one is likely to get through a 90,000 word novel without making a mistake or two, but you shouldn't be so willing to accept them. If you're not prepared to proofread and edit, and edit and proofread until you are as sure as you can be that you've spotted all the mistakes, then your finished work won't be up to standard and no matter how many (that would be few out of a potential readership) of your friends are willing to make light of your errors, your book will be a disaster. And that's where self published books get their bad name.

    As far as giving up a dream - well, it might just be me - but writing isn't a dream. It's hard work. It's every single day sitting in front of a sceen and wondering why anyone would volunteer to put themselves through the hassle. There are moments of pure bliss, of course there are, but generally it's as hard, harder, then any other job. I wouldn't want to do anything else, but I don't kid myself that I'm in the middle of a dream!
     
  16. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Typos and grammar mistakes make a work more difficult to understand and are distracting. Reviewing a book for glaring errors does not take as long as writing four books, or even one. It's not too much for an agent to ask you to edit your own work. That's how this amatuer feels anyway.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you'd be surprised. Most published writers are experts in SPaG, at least as far as they take it, and submit manuscripts to their agents/publishers that are free, or very nearly free, of SPaG errors. Let's face it: Proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is something we should all have learned and absorbed into our bones before we entered high school. Sure, we all still make the occasional error, but it's nothing that we can't take care of ourselves with a good dictionary and a usage guide.

    If you want to be a professionally-published writer, you have to be an expert at the basics of language usage. You are expected to deliver clean, error-free manuscripts. No two ways about it.
     
  18. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    Well, self published books gets their bad name mainly because every wannabe author can put there whatever he wants and that endup mostly way worse than few errors against language rules.

    I'm confortable in brainstorming the story really through, that's whats really important ;)
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I'm reading a book that has errors, typos, grammar mistakes, it's highly unlikely I'll accept another book from that author, free or otherwise. Not only because it's sloppy writing, but because it indicates (to me anyway) a bit of contempt for the reader. An author should never put a book out that they haven't gone over with a fine-tooth comb. (I personally hate this idea that if numerous errors are found in the first edition, it's perfectly fine to edit and revise and re-publish and keep re-publishing until it's right. Readers should not be guinea pigs. And no, it's not the editor's responsibility - it's the author's name on the book.)
     
  20. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    OK, I will forget about my opinion. People deserves good read one way or another.. but even if I do my best, isn't it a publisher's job to take care of formatting, editing and corrections? What else he might do for me? Send it to the printer and ship goods to the shop?

    I'm comfortable in being amateur my way, while still .. I'm getting two times more reads than bestsellers in our country ;)
     
  21. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When submitting a work to an agent and/or publisher, it should be the absolute best it can be, from dialogue and free from plot holes, to spelling and punctuation.

    Will it be perfect? No. But, consider that an editor has many, many other responsibilities beyond editing. The competition to find and agent/publisher is stiff. Given two possibilities that are equal in quality of story, the choice is easy if one is rife with spelling, grammar, typos, etc. and the other is not.

    As far as 'unpublishing' a work to try to find an agent/publisher, if the work didn't sell the first time or the second time at bat, why would an agent want to invest time and resources (same for a publisher) in a work that has proven not to be of great interest to readers? Again, the competition is stiff. Agents get hundreds of queries a week...far more than they could ever hope to represent. The same with publishers. They get far more submissions than they could ever place into the publishing schedule.

    The best thing for the original poster (Iwanabeone) to do would be to write a new novel, make it the absolute best it can be, polished to the best it can be, and then seek representation. If you find success with a few novels with a publisher, the chances of dusting off the first self-published novel to be published through the publishing house is much greater. There will be a proved sales record with a built in reading base/audience.
     
  22. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because there are lots of aspiring writers who will pay for them. Also, some people eschew the traditional publishing route and want to self-publish. Those people might engage the services of a professional editor.

    There are editors who work for publishers. When a big publisher is putting out a book, they want to be as certain as possible that it's free of mistakes.

    Well, if you don't care about getting an agent or a publisher, and you're okay with it, I guess that's fine for you. You'd lose me as a reader, but if you have others, no need to care about getting me. To each his own, I suppose.
     
  23. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Publishers handle marketing, which is huge, but they also have a really, really big printer.
     
  24. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    cool
     
  25. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Ignoring the errors business which is an aside, for the book that you've published, it's highly unlikely that any publisher would look at it. However, that will not stop them looking at other books you might have in process.

    What you have to realise is that in essence you've stuck a flag in the ground and said here I am, I wrote this. From now on whenever you write a book and submit it to an agent / publisher, the first thing they're going to check is how good your first book was and how well it sold. So if your first book sells oodles, yeah no worries at all. An agent will snap you up in a heartbeat. If it flops, you've got no chance. And if its mediocre in sales than you've got to compete with a whole bunch of other authors, some of whom will have a better quality / error free book.

    The best chance you have now of getting an agent / publisher is writing / selling more books and establishing a good solid reputation for yourself as a writer.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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