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How have those who have published stories or books, published them?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Avadyyrm, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. Samantha England

    Samantha England Scribe

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    That's interesting, as I'd been pointed more towards the explanation that, should your manuscript get purchased by a publishing house, it also gets handled by an in-house editor. That is, of course, after it's already been revised and edited before it even gets seen by a literary agent who would then solicit that manuscript to said editor of XYZ Publishing House. Revising and editing is always a good idea even if you don't plan to query a literary agent and instead send it straight to the publishing house (though I do know that the majority (I think) of major publishing houses won't accept manuscripts without a literary agent to solicit them just because of the sheer number of submissions.
     
  2. J.W. Golan

    J.W. Golan Scribe

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    When I was accepted, I was assigned to an in-house executive editor. That means they were not expected to do any actual editing. They told me who I was going to be in contact with (who the copy editor would be, who the cover artist was and so forth), what the schedule was for each step of the process (like index preparation), where to find a proof editor if I needed one (at my expense of course), and what the contract details entailed (I negotiated a couple of contract edits, for example, to cover me in the event the publisher went bankrupt or something like that).

    The executive editor isn’t expected to edit the manuscript. They’re a coordinator, not an editor in a classical sense.
     
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Umm, who the hell was this publisher?

     
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  4. J.W. Golan

    J.W. Golan Scribe

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    They were an imprint of a university publishing house, and again, my first book was non-fiction.

    I have heard similar stories, however, from fiction authors who hooked up with a smaller publishing house. Unless it’s one of the big five, the author is being asked to shoulder more and more of the up-front burden.

    I have no regrets about going traditional for my first book. For that particular genre (a history text), I needed the connections that only a traditional publisher could provide. I know it’s not “fair”, but university libraries and bookstores don’t shelve indie books.

    When I turned to writing fiction, however, it was pretty clear that I would be better off publishing as an indie.
     
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, I don't consider University Press "traditional". Small House is (too me) indie publishing. My current editor owned a "small house" publishing business for years and she always called it indie publishing, so that's probably why I see it that way. We had lots of fun because we both meant something totally different when saying "indie", heh heh. I was talking author, she was talking publisher. She did work with Piers Anthony on a book, so, she was doing something right. Said he was real nice to work with, and she said good things about Donald Maass as an agent... the only agent she said good things about.

    To me, trad is Big Five and their enormous number of imprints. There might be some non-big 5 out who are serious players, but they've mostly been swallowed up from what I can tell. At least in the US. Although, Tor's acquisition editors supposedly hold an unusual amount of individual power and leeway despite being owned by Macmillan.

    I have things broken into this:

    Trad (Big 5+)
    University Press
    Indie/small house Publishers

     
  6. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

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    wow, this is absolutely not true in my experience. two rounds of dev edits, one round of line edits, copy editing and proofreaded were all provided by me publishers.
     
  7. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    I've spent plenty of my own money on advertising (with small trads) but haven't had to pay for anything else...with one very annoying exception. The mid-sized publisher I referred to in an earlier post - after accepting my book but prior to contract - thought the book a little bit long so asked me to get it looked over by a fiction editor - a freelance editor recommended by the publisher, at my expense. I wasn't happy with the idea, not least as I've been writing for 25 years and I really know my stuff (about my stuff, at least).

    So, against my better judgment, I contacted the editor and she undertook the (rather expensive) task with a main objective of suggesting ways to cut it down. The report came back - absolutely glowing - but with no suggestions for shortening other than removing one of the main characters, which would have taken a year to write and completely changed the book.

    It was about this time that the publisher contacted me to say they were in trouble, and regrettably, were dropping everything in the pipeline that wasn't already in production. I was, as you might expect, disappointed - especially disappointed that they had obliged me to spend my own money and then dropped me.

    I would enjoy watching them go out of business but this is happening too much in Australia. Trad publishing isn't quite dead, but it's coughing up blood.
     
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  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    My publishing story...
    Self-published, all the way, for better and for worse.

    The publishing bit has been painless for me, but I've spent a stupid amount of money on advertising compared to what I've made back in sales. So while I have some experience and opinions on that, the probably should be taken with a pinch of salt.
     
  9. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Everybody here's probably sick of hearing this story but the short of it is, I tried the traditional route for about 15 years and had several manuscripts rejected.

    One of them, my last one before I quit writing, was held by a publisher for about 18 months. They said they loved it, they asked me for synopses for the entire series (which was five books back then) . . . and then . . . nothing. Crickets. They finally passed with a form letter. Including querying, partial, synopsis, and full manuscript submission, it was nearly two years out of my life.

    I gave up writing for about five years.

    I rewrote that manuscript later, and it got turned down like ten more times. I finally self-published it, starting my own small press and hiring Big 5-caliber talent for editing, layout, cover design, website, artwork, publicity, and so on. My goal was to put it directly head to head with Big 5 offerings, gunning for mainstream critical acclaim, list appearances and mentions on fantasy websites next to household names, award nominations. I wanted to skip the entire "indie" scene and publish as a boutique small press turning out commercially competitive books. I had hardcover jackets made up, and I put it out to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play, and indie bookstores worldwide. I do B&N signings across the country.

    My thinking was that, if a big publisher had held it for that long, it must have been competitive but just needed work. So **** 'em; I did it myself.

    I would absolutely not, under any circumstances, invest this kind of money to hire this caliber of talent for a first novel, and sure as hell not a first draft of a first novel. I'd been writing for 30 years and probably had ten books under my belt including the first crappy one I wrote in high school, plus an English degree (not that it's necessary, but it gets ~90% of rookie mistakes in mechanics and usage out of the way) when I released my "debut," and I'd also had the aforementioned suggestion from the industry that this manuscript might have a shot at the title with a little work, albeit more than they were willing to put in.

    Point being: this is one way to do it. It won't work for everyone.

    It went pretty well; I hit a point in 2017 and 2018 where literary agents were approaching me. (It was admittedly weird having to write rejection letters to agents. I couldn't do it; my wife had to write them.)

    I did end up having a drink at WorldCon last year with an agent who'd passed on my first novel. I don't think she knew. I didn't mention it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
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  10. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I used to be go trad or go home. For years. My mom was a professional writer before me and taught me everything she knew about the business. But my wife and writing partner (both of them, actually, there are three of us on Team Lowan) discovered indie publishing and lured me to the dark side with two words: creative control. We're writing a long-running urban fantasy series and were worried about losing control of it a few books in just because it might be a little slow to gather steam, which urban fantasies often are. So, we launched Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding in April of 2017 and didn't look back.

    Indie publishing isn't cheap, and it isn't easy, but if it was everyone would do it. As it is, something like 1.36 million books were published in 2019, and more will be published in 2020. Standing out is a full time job. If you chose this route, do research and be prepared for a long, hard slog. But, the rewards are great and the freedom is phenomenal.
     
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  11. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Great story Malik, but the one thing I don't get is: how did you go from nowhere indie publisher to dominating all of those platforms?

    That's the really hard bit.

    This means a lot to me as I've developed somewhat of a following and am looking hard at doing exactly what you did, and without sparing the dollars.
     
  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    I don't have any direct experience publishing, so I might be completely wrong. But from what I gather from pretty much everywhere, this part is not true in most cases. If you're a big name or if you got a huge advance then yes, the publisher will do the marketing. If you can get several publishers to bid up against each other for a 6 or 7 figure advance then the publisher will do everything they can to make sure your book will be a success. If not and you got the default $5.000 or so advance then they will do very little to no marketing for your book.

    The book advance is only very loosely tied to the royalty rate. In traditional publishing you get a lump sum of money up front. Your book then starts selling and the publisher starts counting how much royalties you have made on those books. Once that amount becomes higher then the advance the publisher starts paying you royalties.

    So the difference between traditional and indie is that in traditional you get a large sum of money up front (and often very little after that). With self publishing you get no money up front (and usually have to pay for stuff), but you get a lot more per book.To quantify the "a lot more" part. For a $4.99 ebook, you get something like 75ct from a publisher. Self publishing, you get about $3.50.
     
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  13. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    I'd suggest there is much more of a difference than just advances, bearing in mind that there is quite a spectrum of trad publishers from the mega to the niche.

    To my mind, the big thing with trad is industry acceptance. This is really hard to get, and may not be worth what it used to be worth, but it's still a big thumbs up in terms of your quality. There are a lot of terrible self-pubbed books out there so it's hard to establish your own independent island of quality and have people come in their droves.

    That's what Malik seems to have done, so I'm very interested in how he did it.
     
  14. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    There definitely are many more differences. Most I think have been touched on already. These were just the ones that triggered me :)

    Industry acceptance is definitely one of them. Another big one is reach. A traditional publisher can (and should) get you into bookstores. That's a lot harder as an indie author, where you're usually limited to online stores. A trad publisher can probably also get you a nice cover blurb from a more famous writer. And though creative control matters a lot for writers, I would think that most publishers know better how to chose covers and write blurbs on the back of books. At least they should.

    A saying I came across was that (assuming you want a writing career) being an Indie author is like having your own company. If you want to run a (small) company then become an indie author. If you don't then traditional publishing might be a better fit.
     
  15. Speranza

    Speranza Dreamer

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    I think Indie publishing is becoming more acceptable but it's not an easy route. It can be very lonely but I think all authors no matter how they are published all have to be more savvy with regard to marketing, which for me is the hardest part. I like the idea from Prince of Spires of thinking about yourself as a small company which you run, which I think could help with the different 'hats' you need to wear, thank you!
     
  16. Samantha England

    Samantha England Scribe

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    My research has led me to determine that getting traditionally published is a mixed bag with a lot of factors. Of course, if you have a novel that has gone through a bidding war with the massive numbers you've mentioned, then yes, I think the publishing house would do their very best to market your book into success. However, there is the whole thing with advance vs royalties and that muddies the water a little as well as what part of the arena you're tossing your manuscript into. The fiction area of this can get complicated quickly, especially when you consider YA. Now, I don't hate YA, but there is definitely a saturation of the market going on there and it makes it harder for new writers to stand out in. All in all, there is a lot to unpack concerning the industry and a fascinating study (for me at least :)).

    Regardless, I am not traditionally published, but I'm excited to see how well my new novel might do (after a round or two of revisions and editing, then I'll toss it into the arena).
     
  17. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    You didn't rub it in? What sort of a non-petty writer are you?
     
  18. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I didn't say it was easy.

    She wanted to know if we'd be interested in helping one of her authors launch a book that their publisher won't touch because it's "off-brand." They were working on getting around some kind of non-compete clause to release it on their own. This should also tell you a lot about trade-publishing contracts. Yikes.

    Anyway, she effectively wanted to give me money. I wasn't going to be a dick about it right then. If we develop a working relationship I might bring it up someday for a laugh.
     
  19. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Beautiful, beautiful money, Mammon be praised.

    That offer, unique as it sounds, does bring up the possibility for your personal publishing house to turn into a publisher for other people's work. Outside of this specific offer, do you ever think of taking that step? Sounds like a whole boat load of additional responsibility, but I suppose you'd already give a sufficient push to a story by just tagging it along with your own releases.
     
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  20. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    A lot of luck, decades of study, and sheer force of will.

    A bunch of things went right all in a row. I couldn't have planned it to happen the way it did. The important part, though, is that I had a business plan in place with a path forward for several different contingencies, anticipating anything from abject failure to world-rocking success. At every turn, I either had someone I could hire to help, or I had someone to call for advice.

    Also, I kept money in reserve, knowing this was a long game. You can screw up success by not expecting it. This business moves fast. A net-60 or net-90 payout doesn't do you any good when things pop off overnight.

    TL;DR: It took me 30 years to become an overnight success.
     
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