Is this the right publisher for my book idea?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Writer’s_Magic, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    If I had my story finished, I would publish it. I don’t like self-publishing. So, I wanna send it to a publisher. My dream publishers are Tor or RandomHouse. But I don’t know if they would publish my work. You know my idea already. So, do you think they would do this? If “no!” do you know other publishers, which publish science fiction and fantasy?


    P.S.: For all newbies, my idea is: a woman has to run away from furious North gods, who want to see her dead.
     
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    If your story is good enough, and if they think it would sell enough to make it worth the investment, they'd publish it.
     
  3. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    SvrtnsseSvrtnsse What’s meaning by "good enough"?
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    That's a much trickier question.

    For the specific case though: "good enough to be published by Random House or Tor" would be slightly easier. Essentially, the person at the publisher who decides whether the book gets published must think it's good enough. They must think it's good enough that people will want to pay to read it, and they must think it's good enough that a lot of people will buy it.

    Publishing a book - putting it in book shops all over the world, is a massive investment. Your book needs to convince the person who makes the decision to do it that it will make the money back for them, and ideally with a significant profit.

    In other words, the book not only has to be awesome - it also has to be better than all of the other books the publisher is getting asked to publish.
     
  5. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    SvrtnsseSvrtnsse How do I reach that? Ok. Except, "Yo! Your book must as awesome as an Oscar-winning movie." That’s impossible! I mean I either got a good contact, following the time-trends or know what’s the publisher likes.
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Yep. All those things help.
    If you've got the right contacts, and you're writing the kind of thing that's popular with people who buy books, and know what the publisher likes, that definitely increases your chances of getting published.

    It's not impossible. There are people who write those books too. That's your competition.
     
  7. Writer’s_Magic

    Writer’s_Magic Mystagogue

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    SvrtnsseSvrtnsse So, how do I reach it? You know I haven’t any resources. I have just my writing skills.
     
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Reach what?

    To obtain the skills necessary to write and amazing book: write - lots.
    To get the right contacts: network with people - online or in the real world.
    To write something that sells: study the market and see what's popular, learn the tropes, and write the story.
    To figure out what the publisher likes: read the books they've published.


    Full disclosure: I'm not traditionally published, and I have no desire to be - at this time. I don't have any significant experience with the business side of publishing, and I could very well be wrong. I don't believe I am though, or I wouldn't have posted. EDIT: It's fine to think of me as a grumpy old cynic, it's not entirely wrong.

    I know my answers aren't encouraging, but they're also not meant to be. It's okay to dream, and you should go on doing that.
    However, you should also be aware that just dreaming is not going to be enough.
    There's a nice quote on the matter by Terry Pratchett, here: Quote by Terry Pratchett: “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in you...”

    This isn't to imply that you're lazy, but rather to encourage you to start writing your book. There are plenty of others who are dying to have their books published, and who have already written them. If you don't have a book for the publisher to publish, there's no way you'll get a deal.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  9. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    How do you get that good?

    Write. Write. Write some more. It will NOT happen with your first novel. Or your second. Or even your fifth (maybe). But you have to write them. Get them done. Write short stories and submit them to Tor. They publish shorts. If they like your shorts, they may like your novels. If they don't, submit them to other magazines. See if other people want to pay for your stuff. Do the story contests on this site (I think a lot of people have said that already). Take a course at your local University. Google "Writing Books" on Amazon and buy some, and read them. Keep a writers Journal and write in it. Everyday. Everything you think of. Poetry. Shorts, Flash, synopsis.

    The thing is, Tor or Random House do not publish ideas. What you have right now is only an idea.Everyone has ideas. Lots of people even have great ideas. But can you take that idea and turn it into a great novel? No one can say whether they would publish your idea or not. No one can know until you have an entire, finished, story. And it has to be good. Really good. The best of the best.
     
  10. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Like Svrt says, not impossible. You have to be that good. That is your competition. That is who you are up against. Can you write as well as them? If no, then you better start practicing and learning as much as you can.
     
  11. SeverinR

    SeverinR Valar Lord

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    Been away for a while, so I don't know if this is still common knowledge. I believe a literary agent once spoke at a class, he said 90% of submissions never make it past the mail room table. IE they never are even opened and a word read. The "requirements" must be followed perfectly. One error and it gets tossed into the return or trash pile. The next intern opens the submission and looks for reasons to reject it, still on the set requirements. They don't read much if any. The next intern reads some and determines if it should continue up or gets sent back to the mail room for disposal. Just following every requirement will get past most submissions. make sure you know what they want, don't give them more then what they want, don't give them less. I am not published but I went to a speaker on getting published. Polish up your story, then begin studying the publishers or literary agents to find the best one for you/ your story.
     
  12. Mytherea

    Mytherea Master

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    This is going to be a ridiculously long post.

    Thirding Svrt; not impossible, but something that requires time, effort, and dedication. And seconding Heliotrope: write lots (but I'll get back to that).

    First and foremost though: read. Or, rather, immerse yourself in and learn the patterns of storytelling. This can be done through reading prose, but also watching TV/movies, playing story-heavy video games, and listening to storytellers around you--humans tell stories (and if we're going to get into an anthropological view of it, our obsession with story is thought to be a necessary survival adaptation allowing us to communicate potential dangers/benefits to each other; we're hardwired for story, essentially, and we really like patterns and boxes or, viewing it from a storytelling perspectives, tropes and cliches--but I digress). To become a better writer (and to use an RPG metaphor) and, thus, eventually, become "good enough" for publication at one of the big houses, level up as a reader. The more you experience story, the more you familiarize yourself with the patterns, the weave, of storytelling, the more you hone your innate understanding of how and what to do to achieve an effect and, thus, create stronger fiction. Analyze story. Don't just sit and passively enjoy the entertainment, break it apart, try to work out why a writer or filmmaker or storyteller did this or that, and what effect it has on you, the receiver of the story, and why they chose to do this or that, and if they went down a different route, what effect would that have, and so on and so forth.

    But, the more you study, the more you learn, the more attuned you become to the pattern, the less stories will surprise you. You'll get better at anticipating. I argue that the common complaint among writers that publishers are putting out hackneyed, cliched stories and the quality has gone down is a misnomer. The books, I say, haven't changed; the writer simply has gotten better at anticipating. Also, side thing, but agents and editors are also accomplished readers. They are at least as good as you, if not ten times that. Meaning, it's unlikely your story idea will surprise them--and that's okay. It's not the story idea alone that sells a story. It's execution, it's voice, it's setting, it's character, it's a combination of all of the above. Also, I do recommend reading, if not primarily, then up there on your list of story consuming, if only 'cause, since you're writing prose, reading prose will teach you not only story tricks, but also prose ones (what words look like on the page, new words, new ways of phrasing ideas, descriptions and patterns of dialogue, and so on), which you likely wouldn't get if you consumed, say, TV alone.

    Secondly, write. Write a lot. Write and write and write--journals, short stories, flash stuff, vignettes, random lines and poetry and whatever takes your fancy, novels and novellas and broken things which don't have names or definitions, but you needed to get 'em out on paper. But, more than that, finish what you start. The more you finish, the more you hone that understanding of what a complete story feels like, but, also, you can't sell something that isn't done. Fiction publishing works on (for the most part, at least in the beginning) on selling the completed product (when your career is established, that's a different story; established writers can sell manuscripts on what's essentially a pitch) (and I specify fiction, since nonfiction is a different beast with different rules, and since you're here and judging on your pitch in your comment, you're writing fiction). Still, finish things--even if they don't work. And, btw, by exposing yourself to as much story as you can, you end up learning different ways of approaching a problem, so therefore, even if something doesn't work the first time doesn't mean it can't ever work. Sometimes, you just need a break, fill up your repertoire with new stuff and new tricks and, suddenly, sometimes, stuff clicks and you see an answer you couldn't see before. AND (important) when you finish a (or the) thing, ask other people to read it. Commercial writing (whether trad published or self-published) is all about communication, and it's hard to judge if you're getting your ideas across when you're an island. So. Ask other people to read it, ones who you trust to tell you in no uncertain terms when it just isn't working. And if it isn't working? You can choose then to revise or to abandon the (finished) thing (for now).

    Also, side thing that doesn't always happen for everyone, but it does for me and it might for you: the more you write and the more you finish things, the more you train your brain to like writing and finishing things. So your brain starts releasing happy chemicals that make it an enjoyable activity. Is it still hard? Yeah. Will you still feel frustrated, angry, and defeated? Sometimes. But the more you do it, the more your brain goes, oh, this is a good thing, so the more you'll start to crave doing it. And so, the more you'll do it anyway, because it'll start feeling good. This isn't true for everyone, but it might be true for you. So. Write lots. Your brain is wonderfully malleable. You can train it to want to write till it becomes something wonderful and comforting (if it isn't already for you).

    As Heliotrope brings up, schooling is helpful (if you have access to it). I'd say that most classes won't be able to teach you the magic secret to good fiction or anything like that, nor will they teach you anything you couldn't have found out for yourself via reading and learning and practice on your own, BUT they can artificially push you toward achieving those "level up" moments much quicker. You still get there, it's just at a slightly different rate. Same with writing books, which are kinda the in-between--it's like a class, but also like learning it on your own. Remember, though, all advice is subjective. If it doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It's just that the advice didn't fit and that's okay. Look at it, analyze it, and if it doesn't work, jettison it. In the analyzing and thinking, you might end up stumbling across something better, a further refining of that idea, all on your own, and one that fits you and your writing better.

    Now, back to the original thing about publishing. So. Aiming for a big publisher like Penguin/Random House or Tor are perfectly legitimate goals. However, the going might take you awhile, since you'll (likely) need to level up quite a bit as a writer before you're "good enough" (also, "good enough" is a dangerous, dangerous thing to get into your head; I've struggled for years with the whole "am I good enough? Will I ever be good enough?" narrative, and I'm still struggling with it; it's a good thing to strive for, not so great to have as the only bench mark for your own success). That said, if and when you're ready to submit a finished novel, it's important to note the difference between solicited and unsolicited manuscripts. If you're submitting directly to the publisher with no agent and no invitation, that's an unsolicited manuscript. Some publishers, like Tor, are open to unsolicited MSs, which then go into what's often termed a slush pile. Your novel may or may not find success there.

    However, some publishers, such as Penguin/Random House are not open to unsolicited manuscripts, only solicited. This comes (usually) in the form of an agent submission or an invitation, which are the two main routes to traditional publication of a novel (which are not the ONLY ways, just the most common ones). On the one side is having an agent. You get an agent via querying a completed (IMPORTANT!) manuscript using a query letter, maybe a synopsis, maybe the first few pages. If they're interested, they ask for a partial or a full manuscript. You send that and they might, then, offer you representation. You should never pay an agent directly. Agents should take a commission out of the final sale of your novel (or, the advance, also, royalties). The second route is invitation. An editor or some member of the publishing house (but usually an editor) asks you for your book. Don't bank on this. More often than not, this comes about after already making a successful career as a short story writer and, as you're at the dinner waiting for the announcement of your award, you're chatting with the people at your table, and one of the editors asks, "Hey, so have you got a novel?" And, thus, you pitch and, thus, they offer to take a look at it. Voila. Invitation. Do not rely on this one UNLESS you are already working hard on your short story career. Again, these are not the only two paths to traditional publishing, just two of the more common and well-documented. Oh, also, third option: be a celebrity. But, since most of us aren't, we have to settle for one of the other ways.

    First though, write it. Write the book. You can't sell what doesn't exist unless you're writing nonfic, but even that needs to have a basis in something. Write the book and see where you are when you've finished with it.

    Also, all of this is personal opinion based on stuff I've heard from others and my own experience. Like a lot of this industry, it's subjective. Except for the finishing part. And the learning and the practice, but that usually comes out of the doing and the finishing.
     
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