Author Topic: Talk to me about publishing fiction.  (Read 2575 times)

HP

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Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« on: April 17, 2015, 08:28:44 PM »
I'm a story-scribbler in my spare time; sort of as an escapism device. My SO keeps telling me to look into publishing something eventually; started going on about side hustles and whatnot, irreverent 'stacher that he is. ;)

So I'm kind of intrigued by the idea, but know nothing about it. What are the pros and cons of publishing vs. e-publishing? How does one go about getting things publisher-published (I'm already semi-familiar with self/e-publishing, friends with someone who did that)? What are things to look out for? Is there some sort of process that is good to be aware of? Pitfalls? Traps? Interesting little tips? Personal experiences? Tell me your story, or just what you've learned. :)

I realize this is a very broad line of inquiry, but am not sure how to be more concise.

I will be doing some general internet-sleuthing as well.

Misstachian

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Re: Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2015, 08:16:27 PM »
Have you written a really amazing book yet? Because that is truly the first step! :)

Assuming you're talking about book length fiction, it's hard to write and finish a great book. Most of the other stuff is very secondary. The important thing is to write the book. (And rewrite, and edit, and polish, etc.)

I don't know much about self-publishing, but for traditional publishing, the big side hustle pro is that the author gets an advance. This is an advance on royalties, so basically a % of expected sales moneys. Other pros: you generally get an editor, a production team who takes care of things like copyediting and cover design, a marketing and publicity team, distribution into stores, etc. Even if the book doesn't sell many copies, you will have your advance. Cons: other people are in charge of your work. If it's a huge success, you'll continue to make royalties, but the publisher will also make a lot money. If you don't like the decisions your publisher makes about your book, there isn't a lot you can do about it.

There's a lot of info on the hows out there, but a quick primer: to be publisher-published, the first step is usually getting an agent. Lots of tips that you can google, and Writer's Market is generally the industry recommended book, although you can find most of what you need on the internet and I've never actually seen a copy so YMMV. If you are writing genre fiction (such as romance and sci-fi), you can submit to some publishers directly so you may not need an agent; some small houses also will read unagented submissions. Most large houses will only read agent-submitted work. An agent should never charge you fees, should only get paid if you get a deal, and she'll take 15%. The agent will submit to publishers, so you'll ideally want someone who has a proven track record of sales to major houses.

Personal experience/story: In the last 6 months or so, I have had almost 300 novels submitted to me. Out of those, I have been interested in 8. I bought four, one in a competitive situation, with advances ranging from low five figures to six figures per book for various rights. I told two authors that I was interested in working with them if they were interested in rewriting their books from scratch. One of those sold his book somewhere else as it was, so he didn't need me, and one did not sell his elsewhere, so he and I have discussed revisions. The seventh book I'm still discussing with the agent. And the last was preempted by another editor for an unholy amount of money. After I read 30 pages of that one, I sent it to my boss and colleagues and asked everyone to read immediately because I could tell it would sell really quickly, and it did. Many of the books I turned down sold somewhere else; personal taste is very subjective. Most have not sold. Great books that sell quickly for lots of money are rare.

Good luck! (And it may sound silly, but worrying about all of this too early can fracture focus and distract from the actual writing. I'd suggest trying not to get too caught up in the details of publishing (and the daydreams of bestsellerdom and glowing reviews) until you've written the book. :) )

obstinate

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Re: Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2015, 11:52:46 PM »
Start writing and work-shopping short fiction with a local writers' group. Impress people, and find good editors. Once you have something your group believes has real promise, begin asking for references to Real Authors or others who can connect you to actual publishers.

Most serious writers do not sell a novel before selling some short fiction.

There are plenty of blog accounts of authors who got their start and shared about it. Just be aware of the selection bias in this group. You are likely going to have to work harder than they did, and have less success. But I firmly believe that anyone who isn't terrible and is willing to work crazy hard and smart can eventually be published. Just don't do it for the money, because there ain't any.

goatmom

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Re: Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2015, 04:35:44 AM »
There are two moms at my kid's school who tell me that they have written books and self publish on Amazon.  One writes trashy romance novels under a pseudonym.  The other wrote what looks like a book that is an attempt at a legit novel and had a few reviews - but they could have been her friends and family - lol.  Both tell me they make some money but aren't about to quit their day jobs yet. 

carozy

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Re: Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2015, 05:08:41 AM »
If you are interested in self-publishing, kboards is a popular hangout for other self-publishing writers.  Specifically, the Writer's Cafe link.

www.kboards.com

Good place to learn from other authors who are doing it.

They are very pro-self-publishing over there, obviously, since it's a kindle forum board, but also because the authors make more $ and keep more $ in the royalties compared to what you'd get as an unknown from the publishing industry.  You can find out more about that if you poke around there.  There are also a number of success stories you'll find there, which can be inspiring and clue you in what strategies to copy their success.

A number of famous and successful novelists have been or are members of kboards, so it'd be a good idea to check it out.  They can also recommend good books to read or answer your questions to help you.

I've found it a very helpful place.

HP

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Re: Talk to me about publishing fiction.
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 12:03:46 PM »
Thanks, guys. Very helpful, lots of food for thought.

I appreciate the advice about not getting ahead of myself. I do have two novel length stories I am working on; one currently progressing nicely and one on the back burner awaiting some clarity. They are not awesome yet even with my own bias at play, but decent in concept, I think. I'll get them to awesome before taking any meaningful next steps, but at the same time I'm the type that has to think things through way ahead of time, to the point where if I were to actually publish anything in the next 5-10 years, now is the time to start becoming comfortable with the idea and educating myself.