1. Jak of Hearts

    Jak of Hearts Active Member

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    At what point do I consider self publishing?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Jak of Hearts, Dec 6, 2017.

    I wrote a novel. I sent it to many literary agencies. None wanted it. I shelved it. 2 years later I edited the crap out of it and resubmitted. I'm getting rejections again. Do I re-edit and try again in several months? Or do I self publish and just chaulk it up to not being good enough yet, in hopes that maybe my 2nd or third or fourth does get picked up? Steven King said that it takes 12 full length novels before you write one worth publishing. How much truth is there to that?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I got more game than Parker Brothers...

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    That's probably overstated but there's kernel of truth to that. He had his fourth published I believe, and I think I heard Brandon Sanderson say he had written twelve but it was his sixth that was published first. Not sure about that. There's also plenty of authors that have their first books published, but I tend to subscribe to the "first million words are just practice" maxim for most of us.

    Sadly, yes, probably... not good enough. Don't feel bad... I had my come-to-Jesus moment with that years ago and am no more worse for wear. Are you working on something else? It would seem to me that you've probably gotten as far with the first one as you're going to get, so it would be a better use of your time to focus on the projects. Not like the first one will be going anywhere. You can always revise later if/when you publish something else or evolve as a writer to a point where you can revisit it in a more constructive way. Or self-publish it, depending on how you feel about that.
     
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  3. Jak of Hearts

    Jak of Hearts Active Member

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    I think it feels a little like giving up, but I'm starting to accept that maybe my writing career is just starting. I've advanced so much just in the past few years. I' currently working on a sequal which unfortunately would mean it would have to be self published too.
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I don't see that "not good enough yet" leads to "self publish." Especially if you're still pursuing traditional publishing, it seems more logical to put that novel aside and write the next one. It may be that the things that you've learned aren't being fully realized in the current novel, because they weren't influencing you from the beginning.

    If and when you get a novel published, you may have acquired the knowledge that you need to get this one published. Self publishing it, on the other hand, is likely to essentially mean throwing it away. Even the advocates of self publishing don't seem to argue that a novel that still lacks quality is going to be a self publishing success.

    Also, I'd suggest looking at all the possible reasons for your lack of success so far. I don't know enough to produce a remotely definitive list, but thoughts include:

    - Is the novel a marketable topic/genre?
    - Is it a marketable length?
    - Is it too similar to other works on the market?
    - Is it possible that the query, not the novel, is failing you?
    - Have you had any feedback other than generic rejections?
    - What have you done to deal with quality issues? Who's seen it?
     
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  5. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

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    Firstly, don't take Stephen King's word as gospel. Ironically, it's King's short fiction I enjoy so much, and his novels that have never really impressed me.
    There are several great works of fiction produced by writers who did not ply the trade for years and years before finding a publisher, and who never had success thereafter. I'm sure you know of Andy Weir and his first published book, The Martian. Great read, and a pretty good movie. I bet he didn't write a dozen full length novels before hitting it big. I'm currently listening on audiobook to his second novel, Artemis... and it's perfectly dreadful!
    If you believe in your work then get it out there to the people who matter most, the readers.
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If you think the novel isn't good enough to be published, why would you self-publish it? The likelihood is it will only sell a dozen copies (this is true of most self-published books) but the best case scenario is that lots of people buy a substandard novel with your author name on it. Is that going to help when you write a novel that IS publishable?

    It's rare for an author's first novel to be publishable. It's not a failing and it's not a sign that you aren't good enough. It's just a fact of life that it takes time to become very good at anything, writing included. :)
     
  7. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Weir
    "Weir began writing science fiction in his twenties (He's now 45) and published work on his website for years. He also authored a humour web comic called Casey and Andy... he also briefly worked on another comic called Cheshire Crossing ... The attention these gained him has been attributed as later helping launch his writing career,[11] following the failure to publish his first novel attempt called Theft of Pride. His first work to gain significant attention was "The Egg" (2009)"

    So, not a dozen full length novels, but nearly two decades of writing.
     
  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with this.

    I think that you shouldn't see self-publishing as what you do if you can't get into traditional. It's an option, and a direction you can take, but it's not a dumping ground and it shouldn't be your second option. You have to really commit to self-publishing to make it work, and just putting out material just to have it out there isn't a wise move.

    I definitely agree that you'd be better served by staying unpublished and trying your luck with the next book. It's hard to get published, and it takes time and persistence. Especially it can take some work to find your voice and your niche and your audience. And sometimes you just need to mature as a writer.

    I know it sucks. I wrote six books before I had any idea what I was doing in terms of publishability.
     
  9. Jak of Hearts

    Jak of Hearts Active Member

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    I think I am overcoming a bias, that during my time obtaining my English degree it was drilled into me again and again that "self publishing isn't real publishing". I think the novel is good enough and god knows I've spent enough time editing it and my writing skill increased ten-fold during the 3 years I worked on it; but something about it just doesn't appeal to professionals in the field. I've also been told by a few of my other writer friends that because Sci-fi/Fantasy is so constantly flush with new material that it can actually be harder to publish in that genre contrary to what people may think. I guess I just don't want to spend any more time editing and fixing this novel when I think its done, I want to move on to new projects... but I also don't want to let it fall by the wayside and die in my harddrive. I also (as a few have mentioned) don't have any intention of coming back and rewriting it several years down the road when my skills develop even further.
     
  10. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    In which case I'd suggest that you just start working on other projects. I hate to say it but, well, they can't all be winners. It is a rare thing to sell your first book. It doesn't mean you've failed or that you're forgetting it. Very very few people get their breakthrough with their first book, you can try selling it again once you have more stature and proved you have an audience.

    I'm not giving up on any of my earlier works. But I had to move on.
     
  11. Jak of Hearts

    Jak of Hearts Active Member

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    Losttheplot, so did you just shelve your earlier works then?
     
  12. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    In a sense yes. I stopped trying to sell them, I stopped trying to work on them. I still fully intend to one day, I still think they are good, but they weren't going to be the one that broke me into the industry. And yeah, that sucks. They're my babies! But you can go crazy forever trying to fix a book when you don't know what the problem is in the first place. Maybe it is genre, maybe it's subject matter, maybe, maybe, maybe.

    In the end; don't stop writing. work on something fresh and use the lessons you learned to make that better instead of one existing book.
     
  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Why?

    What's the hurry?

    Why do you think it's preferable to put out a work that professionals don't think is publishable than to wait until your skills develop?

    I just don't get it. And if you want to ever be properly published you need to be able to revise. Legit publishers don't take manuscripts and publish them without changes.
     
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  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The only thing about this is that some very good stuff gets rejected purely because trad publishing is a numbers game where supply vastly outstrips demand, so being rejected doesnt necessarily mean the work isn't publishable.

    The only sell a dozen copies thing is an average distorted by a lot of dross selling nothing - if your book is good and you market it effectively you can make as much money in Indy publishing as most trad deals (Joanna Penn springs to mind as an example ... shes making a six figure income this year)
     
  15. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    The point when it’s worth considering self-publishing is when you value having a book with your name on it more than you value the money and time you’ll have to spend in making it happen.

    You almost certainly won’t get the reach you would have if you’re successfully traditionally published.

    You almost certainly won’t be able to get that book traditionally published later.

    You almost certainly won’t make money. You can - and should - expect this project to leave you in the red.

    You WILL get a book with your name on it. This is what you are paying for. If that’s what you want, go for it.
     
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  16. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    There's also a lot of good books making nothing in self-publishing too. Yes, there is some terrible dross but it's extremely difficult to stand out in the self-publishing marketplace. I can understand why people would choose either one, but I don't think it's really fair to say "If your book is good you'll make good money self-publishing". You can make good money, you might make good money but even if you do you'll have spent a lot of time marketing yourself too.

    Self-publishing is real publishing but there's absolutely no guarantee that your first book will make you anything at all there either. And personally I would rather save my other books until I've got a proven audience that will buy them.
     
  17. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    In general I agree with this. I understand why people self publish and why they like that approach, but I think if you have aspirations of trad publishing the self publishing won't make you feel better. I think it really is either/or.
     
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  18. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Active Member

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    Just out of curiosity, but what kind of rejections are you getting? If you're getting a lot of rejections at the query stage then it might be a problem with how your querying rather than the manuscript. If you're getting request for a full manuscript, then getting rejections, then it's more likely that they don't want your novel for some reason. Again, like has been said above, just because you've gotten rejections, that doesn't mean your manuscript is bad. If you haven't already, you might want to enlist some people to give it a solid critique to get an honest opinion as to whether it's publishable or not and maybe catch a few of the obvious problems we all seem to miss with our own manuscripts. If you do decide you want to self publish rather than continue sending letters to publishers but are worried it'll affect your name/reputation, then use a pseudonym. There's at least one writer on the forum that uses multiple pen names and not because their writing is bad, either.
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    There's never a guarantee that you'll make any money from a book (unless you are a best selling author getting huge advances - not many people are) but how will you get that proven audience if your work isn't out there

    Personally I'd rather get a small audience on book 1, a slightly a larger audience on book 2 etc and keep on building until i'm making good money on book 8 (and still be selling books 1-7 and making money on them too by then) than still be vainly searching for an agent 8 books later
     
  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    No that's vanity publishing

    With a self published book you might not get the reach a succesful trad book gets - depending on the trad deal ... the main difference being that its harder for indies to get into book shops , but on the other hand you'll get 70% or so of the money you do make

    I don't buy the "you almost certainly won't make money" arguments - the statistics there re dreadfully skewed by the thousands of people who just chuck their book on amazon as a kindle file and hope for the best (not to mention the people who didn't bother with decent cover art or effective editing)
     
  21. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    And that's fair enough. But that means doing marketing for doing books 1 through 7 for the next three years, and there is always the chance that you get lost in the noise and don't build an audience even with your work out there. It's swings and roundabouts. By going with trad publishing you can just focus on writing. By going with self publishing you can build your own audience. But there are no guarantees. There's just different kinds of risk.
     
  22. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    While not breaking totally new ground from what was said above...

    I think the decision to self-publish requires an honest look at the work.

    Is it really up to snuff? There are a lot of good works out there that were rejected by agents and publishers. Really, there are too many submitted to them that can be represented and/or fit into publishing schedules. But, if it's really not of sufficient quality, then maybe set it aside and work on a new project.

    What are you willing to do to help the work succeed, if you self-publish? Are you willing to have it edited and have cover art created? Are you willing to invest in that? And marketing? Just putting it out there for readers to discover without effort isn't likely to garner readership beyond family and friends.

    Sometimes the right thing to do is to set a work aside and start something new, instead of working and reworking the same novel. The next one is very likely to be better from the start, and you can learn new things and improve. Some day you might go back and revise the first novel...but many authors do not. It was simply a learning exercise that moved them forward.

    Just a few thoughts...hope whatever decision you make works out for the best.
     
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  23. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Active Member

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    If you're going traditional, you really should be focusing on building an audience as well. Yes, publishing houses will advertise and whatnot, but for a first time, unknown author their publicity budget is going to be a bit tight. There are a lot of things a traditional publishing house will do for you that you'd otherwise have to do as a self publisher, but when it comes to finding potential readers and building an audience, that seems like something that's best to combine your twin powers on.
     
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  24. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    But at least in trad publishing you are marketing around a release date and with support. You aren't trying to tangentially tie one of your books to whatever is topical today to justify making a Facebook post that plugs your work.

    I think it's a bit disingenuous to compare constantly marketing yourself and your books as you write to writing until you get a book someone else has faith in and marketing it.
     
  25. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I agree with this.

    As a writer it's easy to say that a book is finished and done forever and you are happy with it. But that doesn't mean it's publishable.

    To take from my own work; my first books were genreless and weird and appealed to me specifically but not to others. I felt they were finished, I felt I wanted to try and sell them. But looking back even though I feel they were the best I could make them that doesn't make them breakout ideas. And as I've zeroed in on what I'm writing and who for and what the world likes I've gotten rather more interest in my work.

    My older books are still good books, but they were always a long shot for, well, anyone to take a financial risk on. It's ok to put them aside and pick something up that is more commercial. It's not a dirty word. It's ok to apply your talents to something that there is a proven audience for until you can show that your style and your name are worth someone taking a risk on.

    In other words; people will take risks once you've made them money. Even if your book is great, if it's not something they immediately see dollar signs with then it's not an ideal first book.
     

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