Looking for a Fantasy Publisher. Help Me!

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Matthew Bishop, May 21, 2017.

  1. Matthew Bishop

    Matthew Bishop Journeyman

    Hey Scribes!

    I self published my first novel five years ago, and the sequel three years ago. I have six more scripts waiting to be put into production.

    I made that choice because I thought I'd have time to market and distribute the books myself. Turns out I was absolutely wrong.

    I've finally accepted that I just don't have the time in my work week to be both a novelist and a publisher. I'm on the hunt now for a publisher who can take over my self-published titles and will take over the novels I have scheduled for the future as well.

    I was hoping some of you fellow Scribes might have good insights and recommendations?

    I already work for Barnes and Noble and I am well keyed-in to larger distribution groups like Ingram and Baker. I'm willing to do a little extra leg work with Barnes and Noble for any serious publisher willing and able to distribute my works nationally. I just absolutely do not have the time to market, publish, and represent myself the ways successful self-published authors do. I'm willing to sacrifice some royalty and maybe even some rights if there's a quality publisher out there who can pick me up as a career writer and work with me and my networks to get this off the ground.

    ALL opinions welcome. I want to be certain about the choice I make.

    Thanks friends!
    Keep writing!
    A Land of Our Own: Matthew R. Bishop: 9780615674773: Amazon.com: Books
  2. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Shadow Lord

    Are you suggesting that traditionally published authors don't have to market themselves just as heavily as self-published authors? I can't speak from experience as to the truth of that, but that's not what I hear from those involved in traditional publishing. I've heard that if you want to be a career writer, you need to exercise your own platform, even if you're traditionally published. I've heard you're not likely to get all that much marketing help from a traditional publisher unless you're already a high profile author.

    As for distribution, I've only dealt with POD and ebook outlets, and they handle the distribution. If you're looking to get your work distributed in brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries, I can only wish you the best of luck, no matter how you're published.
    Rkcapps likes this.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istari

    Unfortunately Matt, most traditional publishers don't buy work that is already self published unless it has a very good sales record.

    I don't know what your numbers are but unless they are strong you will be limited to some very small regional publishers if you can get them to buy.

    IF you have finished unpublished books you may wish to consider the traditional get an agent for them route.
    Rkcapps likes this.
  4. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Mystagogue

    Russ has voiced my understanding too. Traditional publishers won't touch anything published even on the internet, I've heard this too. Somewhere like here, for instance. There are exceptions to that rule but given how tough publishing is, you'd need excellent sales to make an exception. The only book I've heard "published" (on the net, I heard) taken on by a traditional publisher (there may be others) is Fifty Shades of Grey.

    A traditional publisher does require an author to manage their own platform. I'm unfamiliar with distribution. Enjoy not sharing your royalties but I feel if you want the career of an author, traditionally published or self published, you need to market yourself. At least, that's what I've heard. My agent is shopping my memoir around publishers at present, so I'll experience the "traditional publishing" route once it sells and will know more about what publishers do.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    An indie publisher might take you, but probably doesn't have much they can really offer you.

    What have you done to try and market?
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I disagree regarding traditional publishers not taking anything on that has already been published. If they like it, and they want it, they'll take it on. The idea that they just won't touch them was true a number of years ago, but from what I've been told by agents and editors it's not really the case anymore (however, they will of course expect you to remove the work from wherever you've published it).

    I had an agent a while back interested in my self-published book. She never asked what the sales were like. I know one author personally who received a traditional publisher contract (Harper Collins) for her self-published fantasy work, and she didn't have much in the way of sales.

    If you have tons of sales, then of course that's a mark in your favor. If you're not selling many copies, it may well be that there are other problems with the work that would cause a traditional publisher to reject it.
  7. Russ

    Russ Istari

    The first thing an acquiring editor asks when anyone tries to sell the a book that has already been for sale for three or five years, is "what were its sales?" The very first thing.

    Based on what I can see on Amazon I don't even see how you jump the slush pile with your query letter.

    Run it by that agent that Steerpike was talking to. It least it will cut a couple of years out of the submission process for you.
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    She only handles children's fiction.
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I should note that a former editor who acquired books for Random House and Simon & Schuster spoke about this (in part) and didn't think stellar sales were a necessity. More and more agents and editors don't care about the self-publishing angle. If you've sold a lot, that helps (unless you've sold too many copies). Terra Chalberg at the Susan Glomb agency feels that sales figures on the extremes are issues for her.

    On the other hand, Rachel Gardner, who I think is also on her own, said she looks at a self-published book in the same way she looks at any other submission, namely: Do I think I can sell it? Do I believe in it? Do I think I'd be a good fit with this author? Does the author have an appropriate platform to be able to market this book?

    The last factor, platform, can be linked to sales but it doesn't have to be linked to sales, and even when it is it doesn't have to be only sales. It is important to note that she takes platform in consideration not only for self-published authors but for ALL authors.

    In addition to editors and agents these days actually saying they don't care so much if someone has been previously published, it makes rational sense from a business perspective that this wouldn't be a dispositive factor. These people are there to make money, and if they read a manuscript that they think is going to sell and make money, they're not going to turn it down solely because it was self-published.

    People can agree to disagree, I suppose, but I think the statement that self-publishing absolutely precludes one from going forward is outdated advice, and I think it is going to become more and more outdated with each passing year.
  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

    And the other day I listened to an agent say to not even mention a self-pub'd book when querying unless sales figures were stellar. Nothing specific on repping a book already self-pub'd, however. But, I don't think this agent would consider, unless again, stellar.

    I think that while nothing is certain, having the book self-pub'd is an extra hurdle. And in submitting for publication or to get an agent, you want to have as few hurdles as possible to clear.
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Sure, there are some agents like that. I think they're becoming fewer and fewer. However, given cases I know of personally, and that there are other agents and editors who don't feel that way, the absolute language used in posts above (e.g. "[t]raditional publishers won't touch anything published even on the internet" and "you'd need excellent sales to make an exception") is empirically false. I believe such statements should be corrected when made. There are doubtless agents and editors who still follow that hard line with respect to self-published works, but there are also those who do not.
  12. Russ

    Russ Istari

    Actually I don't think that anyone has said that self-publishing absolutely precludes one from moving forward with a traditional publisher. That seems to be something you are duelling with but nobody else here has suggested.

    You are correct that every agent or editor looks at books trying to analyze "can I make money with this." One of the ways to understand if one can make money with a book is to see if it has made money before. No one on this thread has suggested that prior self-pub is dispositive. But the OP should be realistic in knowing that an unsuccessfully self pubbed book being picked up by a traditional publisher for national distribution is a very rare event.

    I think in the circumstances that apply to the OP the odds of his book being picked up by a traditional publisher are very, very low.
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I quoted direct language from earlier posts.

    An unsuccessful book may not get picked up, of course, for the same reasons that it wasn't successful. Don't confuse causation. As for odds, if you look at the pool of aspiring writers, the odds of any of them being picked up are very low.
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    The OP is conspicuously absent from this discussion. Is there benefit in untangling our rhetoric for an empty room?

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