1. Horcruxer

    Horcruxer New Member

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    Traditional First-time writer confused about the publishing process

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Horcruxer, Dec 5, 2013.

    Hi everyone,

    I'm working on my second novel (my first just keeps getting rejected by agents) and I was wondering exactly how to go about securing an advance to finish a novel?

    I thought all writers had to finish their book, then submit to an agent, wait to hear back, then the agent would send it to publishers. But I've read a few times now about first-time authors who, before their work was finished, approached publishers directly with a book proposal and got paid to finish their book. Some have never even had an agent.

    How exactly does this work? How exactly do I know which publishers to send a book proposal to? If a publisher says 'no unsolicited manuscripts', will they still accept book proposals? Do many first-time authors manage to snag a deal before they've completed their book?

    I've researched publishing before but it all sounds very confusing and I very often come across information that conflicts with something I'd previously read.

    Thanks for replying!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  2. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

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    This almost never happens with novels -- what, exactly, did you read? Advances are usually for non-fiction books, where there is a significant amount of research required, and therefore a lot of work required before the writing even begins. These authors also have to have some credential that shows that they are particularly well-positioned and equipped to write this sort of book. Because they're giving up a lot of time, and they're doing it in lieu of some other income-producing activity (for example, a professor or a reporter who would otherwise be doing research, teaching, or reporting on less-deep stories), they need the advance in order to undertake the research.

    This might happen with a celebrity, who has some unique and appealing story, and publishers are vying for the rights to publish that story, because they believe it will have wide appeal. But again, it's rare for a work of fiction.
     
  3. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The only first time writer I've heard about receiving anything in advance of completion was Elizabeth Kostova, who won an award before The Historian was completed. Given that it is impossible to gauge how well a first time novelist will do, I'd be stunned if any corporate-owned publishing house would pay out an advance to one.

    If a publisher says 'no unsolicited manuscripts', you can still send a query letter if it looks like your book would be a good fit. If they are interested, then it becomes a solicited manuscript.
     
  4. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, getting a novel accepted/getting an advance before completion almost never happens unless you're an established author already. With a first-timer, the publisher would have no reason to think the book would even get finished, let alone that it would be good enough to publish. Nonfiction is a horse of a different color.
     
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of the above...

    sorry to say, you will have to complete your book, edit it and polish it to a faretheewell and then query agents [and/or publishers who accept unagented queries] and hope you'll get lucky...

    the only alternative is to self-publish it as a paperback or e-book...

    love and consoling hugs, maia
     
  6. lex

    lex Member

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    Book proposals sent by first-time book authors to publishers are for non-fiction only. For example, a well-known economics professor who has written plenty of papers and articles, and done some public lectures, might send a book proposal to academic publishers for a book on almost any economic subject, and could possibly get a commission on that basis (though even that's far from a certainty, these days). But an unpublished writer of fiction needs a completed manuscript in order to approach either an agent or a publisher.

    (Here's a thing: why are they still called "manuscripts"? They're not hand-written, are they? Shouldn't they be "typescripts", really?)
     
  7. Horcruxer

    Horcruxer New Member

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    Hi guys. Thank you all for replying and clarifying things about the publishing process. I guess I've been guilty of wishful thinking!

    Once you get an agent, what then happens? How long does it usually take from getting an agent to actually getting published? Once you've been published, are you then more likely to be able to get an advance for an unwritten book?
     
  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd really suggest you ditch the idea of ever getting paid for an unwritten book. Sounds like you're looking for an easy way to make money, which unfortunately doesn't really exist in the writing/publishing world! Even published authors sometimes struggle to get a second book deal from their publishers, because while their book did well, it didn't do "well enough".

    Be content to write your books and celebrate accordingly as and when you get published :)
     
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  9. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You'll have plenty of time to figure ot out. It will take plenty of time to write (and rewrite, and re-rewrite...) your novel before you are ready to begin submitting for publication.

    There is a wealth of information on this site about the publishing process, enough to answer most questions you will come up with.
     
  10. JayG

    JayG Banned Contributor

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    You've gotten some good advice, but since you are new, let me hit you with some things might want to think about:

    Publishers aren't looking for "as good as." They have lots of such people. And since you have no fans who are seeking your latest work, you need the publisher to believe you'll get great reviews from the pros (as against customer comments on Amazon). What that means is that when your work hits the editor/agent's desk, if it was mixed with the work of ten people who have a book in your local book store, the reader should not only not be able to tell that you're the one new writer. In fact, yours would have to be be the best from that editor's point of view. In other words, you need to hit them with what looks like a top seller.

    When your work hits the desk it does so with a hundred others, some of which come from people who have been published. Others have been honing their skills for a decade or more. And of that hundred only one will get a request for the manuscript. And only one of them will make it to print.

    Not happy news, I know, but that is the world we live and work in. So, aside from deciding to write, and asking questions on sites like this, what steps have you taken to prepare yourself for that particular game of musical chairs? Some thought given to that, and steps taken to be certain that you are the best prepared player may help a great deal. You don't want to lose out to someone who has half your talent, but worked twice as hard.
     
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  11. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...the agent shops your ms around to all the publishing houses s/he has connections to that publish your book's genre...

    ...from getting an agent to snagging a publisher can take anywhere from virtually instantly [a week] to a year or more... or even never, in many cases...

    ...from the moment you sign a contract to publish, till the book is in bookstores generally takes 18 months to 2 years...

    ...only maybe, and only if your first one was a runaway bestseller... otherwise, you will still have to have a completed/polished ms to offer...

    ...and whether you get an advance at that point, or not, depends on how well your first book sold and what you have to offer next, as well as whether your publisher offers advances at all... many [most?] of the smaller houses don't...
     

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