Author Topic: Getting Published  (Read 2906 times)

Mister Six

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2020, 07:13:57 PM »
Well done SMBH.  The other thing to take into account when you approach publishers etc is that you must figuratively have a second and even a third album up your sleeve.  I recommend reading literary agent, Jo Unwin's (Mrs Chris Morris)chapter in David Quantick's How To Be A Writer book for further information.

Is this just ideas/pitches for other books, rather than actual manuscripts/drafts?

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2020, 07:29:38 PM »
Is this just ideas/pitches for other books, rather than actual manuscripts/drafts?

Just the former, if I remember.

Mister Six

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2020, 09:19:06 PM »
Cheers. Got plenty of them. It's sitting down writing the things I have a problem with.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2020, 10:08:47 PM »
Cheers. Got plenty of them. It's sitting down writing the things I have a problem with.

Discipline and work, work, work...

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2020, 11:45:34 AM »
Sorry to keep hijacking your thread SMBH but I had one more query to shoot out into the ether -

I've got two weeks with my mate to try and knock this book into shape and we were originally planning on trying to produce a definitive draft of the whole thing, but as time goes on that seems ambitious - and I suddenly thought - actually maybe it would worth just choosing some sample sections that I might send out as an initial submission and getting them as good as possible, and the rest can come if there is any interest - working on the assumption most agents/publishers would only want to see a small sample of the work to begin with anyway (whilst being assured that the whole book has been written, which it has, it just needs a bit of work).

Am I correct in thinking pretty much anyone would want to see a synopsis and sample chapters first, so can worry about honing the totality of the thing later (either ideally having had initial interest, or failing that, in order to self-release in some way)?

icehaven

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2020, 02:03:34 PM »
Have you got the latest Writers & Artists Yearbook? It has all the contacts you'll need, plus articles on being published.  But mostly it's all about the agents, what sort  of books they publish and how to send them submissions.


Your local library should have a copy, but they might not be open at the moment with Covid. I've got the 2020 one here at work so if I can scan any pages for you let me know! (possibly not all 817 pages though...)

Edit: Actually we've still got 2019's as well, if that'd be any good to you let me know and I can probably drop it in the post.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2020, 11:00:46 PM »
Am I correct in thinking pretty much anyone would want to see a synopsis and sample chapters first, so can worry about honing the totality of the thing later (either ideally having had initial interest, or failing that, in order to self-release in some way)?

Individual agencies and publishers might have their own requirements (which can probably be found on their website, or if not then I think it should be under their listing in the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook) but as far as I know it'll be along those lines for most of them.

Sounds very obvious, but I'd really stress the importance of making sure that it's as good as it absolutely can be before you send anything off. The first person to set eyes on your manuscript is most likely to be an assistant - as mentioned, they have to wade through a LOT of tripe (and typically they work very long hours for not great pay), so probably aren't inclined to be overly charitable, and anything which might be considered a 'black mark' (e.g. accidental typos, obvious cliches etc.) may ensure your submission goes in the bin FOREVER.

(Not suggesting anyone here would make those mistakes, and I'm certainly no literary bigwig myself, but I wouldn't underestimate how thankless a task it can be to trudge through reams of terrible manuscripts/synopses!)

Not much that hasn't been said here already, but Penguin's website has a few tips on getting published here.

Cerys

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #37 on: September 24, 2020, 12:21:03 AM »
Nice one, SMBH.  I look forward to namedropping you in the years to come.

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #38 on: September 24, 2020, 12:33:12 PM »
Sounds very obvious, but I'd really stress the importance of making sure that it's as good as it absolutely can be before you send anything off. The first person to set eyes on your manuscript is most likely to be an assistant - as mentioned, they have to wade through a LOT of tripe (and typically they work very long hours for not great pay), so probably aren't inclined to be overly charitable, and anything which might be considered a 'black mark' (e.g. accidental typos, obvious cliches etc.) may ensure your submission goes in the bin FOREVER.

Oh yeah, absolutely, I won't be sending a single thing out to the big wide brutal world until I'm happy I've got it as good as I possibly can. I guess that I'm just saying that there is maybe no point in prioritising spending a lot of time getting the whole text to your idea of complete perfection ahead of just those bits you are going to actually send out in the first instance.The rest can come later (I've already revised the whole thing a number of times but it's just not quite there yet). I'm sure these people have a really thankless task wading through lots of shit. I suppose the flip-side is that if something is genuinely immediately entertaining that has surely got to help it stick out! So the simple secret I suppose is just make sure it's really good. Easy.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #39 on: September 24, 2020, 06:29:01 PM »
Congratulations on finishing your book - you must be thrilled (and knackered!) Your exhausted feelings about not writing another are common but I'd keep them under your hat for now...

Published author here! I don't think I've ever quite dox'd myself on CaB (though Serge was a fan of my books, which made my heart sing), but would be happy to give my view of things.

My advice, emphatically, would be to start with the Writers and Artists yearbook (after pushing your own book as far as it can possibly go, of course).

In terms of selecting agents to send out to, think about what kind of book you've written, and if there are genres or authors your work is similar to. Find agents who work with those genres and authors. This might seem tedious, but it's actually a test that you should apply yourself to passing. i.e. - Do you have some understanding of the market and your place in it? When I was looking at agents I made a list of interesting sounding people then googled them, read interviews with them, watched YouTube videos they appeared in, etc. You find yourself zoning in your type as you do so, and quickly discounting people who don't share your sensibility for whatever reason.

During this process I became very certain about my prospective agent for several reasons (seemed to be interested in my genre and my themes, we had a geographical connection, shared taste in a crucial subject and one of his authors is an all timer for me. I also had one unique reason which demonstrated a deep understanding of the work he represented, hopefully making it clear that mine wasn't a random or half-thought through submission, but something really geared towards him) so only sent out to him initially and was very lucky that I hit the bull's eye. He responded promptly and enthusiastically (a rarity I hear). We met and hit it off.

If I'd narrowed it down to a short list of 4-5 agents I would have just as happily sent to them all at once. This stuff about only sending to one agent at a time sounds like arse to me, and the kind of vindictive, petty person who'd enforce such a rule doesn't sound like a lot of fun to work with. If your list of agents is well-chosen, I wouldn't be above politely mentioning it in the cover letter tbh. It demonstrates understanding about the process, the market, etc. Likely, if you've chosen correctly, the agents seeing each other's names will recognise that.

If you have any intention of being professionally published, I really would stress trying to get an agent first. It's not *impossible* to get published without, but certainly much more difficult and - from the few un-agented but professionally published authors I know - much less profitable and much less fun. My agent manoeuvred my book into a bidding war, fought for better deals, worked on improving the terms of the contract and sold the book into foreign territories (where I make the bulk of my money). On the flip side, the un-agented author I know who sold directly to a publisher (and even then only because he had an 'in') got a much worse deal, less effort behind his publication (no agent fighting his battles), a worse royalty rate and no foreign rights deals, etc, etc.

Much more important to me than all that, though, my agent is simply my truest and strongest ally in writing. Again, I appear to have been quite lucky because my experience is by no means universal, but he reads each of my books several times, from first draft to finished article - always telling me hard truths and subtly nudging me in directions that will be best for the individual works and my career. Publishing houses can be like musical chairs, and I've known many writers sign with one editor only to have a completely different one by the time their book is released, and perhaps different again on their second and third books. Your agent can represent stability - mine is the only person of the many who've been involved with my career who would fight for my interests, and who has a real stake in my future as a person and a writer.

Really, it's your agent's job to worry/think about how to get you published, it's YOUR job to worry/think about how to get an agent. And agents aren't as terrifying as they might seem. They want what we all want: a great book that they can sell, someone who's hard working, diligent and pleasant to work with.

It's a long, often tiring process but what an exciting thing to have done, SMBH! What a fascinating new machine to feed yourself into. It might be grand and it might be disappointing, but it will certainly be interesting and new. I'll try and check back if there are any questions but obviously should underline that this is all from my experience of the industry. There are different ways, no hard yes and nos really (and I know nothing about self publishing at all, where I'd imagine you can throw most of my agent comments in the bin), but I HAVE spent a lot of time around/in this industry so hopefully can at least motion in the right direction.

Edit to add: I DO realise this post is terribly written!

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #40 on: September 25, 2020, 09:15:26 AM »
Some fantastic insights there ap, thanks (realise you were aiming this at SMBH and I'm just a hijacker but you know) ! Also of course great to hear of more cabbers having got there and done it, always make it seem like a bit of an insane deluded impossibility.

Yes my definite aim is to do whatever I can to go down the agent route. Would certainly like to avoid self-publishing if at all possible - my experience of my former life as a (sort-of) musician is that my stuff released through a (very small) label with its associated promotional capabilities managed to do ok, get plays on radio, get people buying (a modest number of) copies around the world, and my stuff released through a publishing/library company has been used for various media spots in a number of countries, but the stuff I released myself made practically zero impact on the wider world and I still have a bunch of copies up in my attic.

I'm sure some people can boot-strap themselves up from zero with self-promotion but I don't think it's my strength to say the very least.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2020, 09:27:51 AM by ZoyzaSorris »

samadriel

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #41 on: September 25, 2020, 03:49:18 PM »
Edit bug

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #42 on: September 25, 2020, 05:12:28 PM »
That's all kinds of amazing and extremely helpful amputeeporn, thank you so much for that, the agents side of things is fascinating to learn about and something I knew very little about. I have to admit that it does sound a bit exhausting, and could be quite frustrating / depressing if it doesn't work out, but I'm definitely going to try my best. I think taking a break of a few weeks might be best for me though, so I can go back in to it with a burst of energy and then do my best to find a suitable agent. Anyway, I'm rambling, but thank you again for taking the time out to respond, and congratulations too on doing so well with your own work!

Some fantastic insights there ap, thanks (realise you were aiming this at SMBH and I'm just a hijacker but you know) ! Also of course great to hear of more cabbers having got there and done it, always make it seem like a bit of an insane deluded impossibility.

Yes my definite aim is to do whatever I can to go down the agent route. Would certainly like to avoid self-publishing if at all possible - my experience of my former life as a (sort-of) musician is that my stuff released through a (very small) label with its associated promotional capabilities managed to do ok, get plays on radio, get people buying (a modest number of) copies around the world, and my stuff released through a publishing/library company has been used for various media spots in a number of countries, but the stuff I released myself made practically zero impact on the wider world and I still have a bunch of copies up in my attic.

I'm sure some people can boot-strap themselves up from zero with self-promotion but I don't think it's my strength to say the very least.

You're so more than welcome to be here Zoyza (as is anyone else in the same boat as us), and I'm glad that I'm not the only one facing the insanity of trying to get published!

I'm with you on the self-promotion front too, I run a blog and am fairly useless on that side of things, it does okay now thanks to imdb links and finally being picked up by google so that we do well on the search engine side of things, but for the first year traffic was low and whenever I did any self promotion on other sites I got attacked for essentially spamming their sites / facebook groups / subreddits. Which was fair enough as I kind of was, but at the same time I didn't really know what to do to attract an audience otherwise. Anyway, hopefully both of us will find an agent sooner rather than later and won't have to do any of that kind of thing.

Dr Rock

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #43 on: September 25, 2020, 06:07:28 PM »
My story, fwiw. I wrote a novel, and it was good enough to nearly get published.

Sent it out to loads of agents and got rejected.

GF at work knew a published author and he said he'd read it. Came back saying it's well-publishable, and passed it on to an an appropriate publishers, who liked it. Got bumped back a year, and was asked about future novels. I didn't have any. This made me realise publishers aren't necessarily looking for a great novel - they want to invest their time and money into an author that is in it for the long haul, six or seven books planned. I didn't have any more books inside me, I crammed everything I wanted to write about in that first novel.

So I learnt having a connection really helps. And that you should say (or say you plan) to write many books.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2020, 11:48:53 AM »
My story, fwiw. I wrote a novel, and it was good enough to nearly get published.

Sent it out to loads of agents and got rejected.

GF at work knew a published author and he said he'd read it. Came back saying it's well-publishable, and passed it on to an an appropriate publishers, who liked it. Got bumped back a year, and was asked about future novels. I didn't have any. This made me realise publishers aren't necessarily looking for a great novel - they want to invest their time and money into an author that is in it for the long haul, six or seven books planned. I didn't have any more books inside me, I crammed everything I wanted to write about in that first novel.

So I learnt having a connection really helps. And that you should say (or say you plan) to write many books.

That sounds very frustrating, to get so closer but for it then not pan out. I suppose I just need to lie about possible sequels / other books then, though feel a bit dodgy doing that.

Did you go down the self-publishing road in the end btw? Or are you hoping to maybe find someone who will publish it at a later date?

BritishHobo

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2020, 09:49:34 PM »
Another hijacker here - really great, interesting read, thanks to SMBH and everybody (and  congratulations to SMBH and all others who are at this exciting point) for the insight and the advice. I'm working through what should be the last draft of something I've been writing since I was fifteen (well - wrote, stuck away in a drawer, then took out again four or five years ago and redeveloped completely), and the reality of sending it off is very scary. It's one thing to imagine in a generic sense the idea of some nebulous, hypothetical final version of your manuscript being looked at and then published, but thinking about the actual specifics of pitching and selling the thing, of the literal manuscript that's in front of you going off to people and being judged entirely on its own terms, is terrifying. Looking at what you've got and thinking 'this is the thing people are going to look at and scrutinise'. But if I don't do it now I never will - I'll just end up editing the thing forever and never being brave enough to risk it.

Devouring all of the advice in this thread, then. Looking into getting a copy of the yearbook - there seems to be a couple of decent resources online for lists of agents, but even the best one I found was just an alphabetical list of hyperlinked names, so definitely keen on getting ahold of it.

thenoise

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #46 on: October 08, 2020, 09:59:31 AM »

Dr Rock

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #47 on: October 08, 2020, 10:55:01 AM »
That sounds very frustrating, to get so closer but for it then not pan out. I suppose I just need to lie about possible sequels / other books then, though feel a bit dodgy doing that.

Did you go down the self-publishing road in the end btw? Or are you hoping to maybe find someone who will publish it at a later date?

Ths was about 20 years ago. I did start another novel but couldn't get into it like my first one. Then I decided that maybe I'd be happier as a artist than a novelist, so switched ambition, worked out ok. Meanwhile I lost the floppy disk, and the fully printed out manuscript, and also the computer it was one went tits up, so I only have the first three chapters now. As time has passed, some major elements of the book wouldn't make sense today, so I'm just pleased that I wrote a novel that was deemed publishable by a publishing house (Serpent's Tail, if you're curious. They might be right for you (your synopsis isn't a million mile away from mine)

https://serpentstail.com/about-serpents-tail

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #48 on: October 08, 2020, 01:54:59 PM »
https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/pages/aspiring-authors

Ha, I'm amazed they're still going, if I fail to get an agent and am ignored by everyone else I'll send it to them for shits and giggles as I know their response will be of a horrified nature.

Ths was about 20 years ago. I did start another novel but couldn't get into it like my first one. Then I decided that maybe I'd be happier as a artist than a novelist, so switched ambition, worked out ok. Meanwhile I lost the floppy disk, and the fully printed out manuscript, and also the computer it was one went tits up, so I only have the first three chapters now. As time has passed, some major elements of the book wouldn't make sense today, so I'm just pleased that I wrote a novel that was deemed publishable by a publishing house (Serpent's Tail, if you're curious. They might be right for you (your synopsis isn't a million mile away from mine)

https://serpentstail.com/about-serpents-tail

That's a very zen approach, I think I'd still be bitter to this day, but I'm glad things worked out career wise of course, and thanks for the info re: Serpentstail.

thenoise

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #49 on: October 08, 2020, 02:10:07 PM »
Ha, I'm amazed they're still going, if I fail to get an agent and am ignored by everyone else I'll send it to them for shits and giggles as I know their response will be of a horrified nature.

I know right? Cant even remember the last time I saw one that wasn't 30 years old, well thumbed and being sold for almost nothing in a second hand shop.

They're so formulaic - and the formula is explicitly written out,so no need to even read any for research - that churning out a couple of these might be good exercise for putting a novel together (novella really at 50,000 a word limit). Dont use your real name though!

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #50 on: October 10, 2020, 05:57:48 AM »
Ha, I'm amazed they're still going, if I fail to get an agent and am ignored by everyone else I'll send it to them for shits and giggles as I know their response will be of a horrified nature.

A friend of mine and I wrote a comedy novel that had a basic romance plot to keep things moving forward and hang the jokes on. We got an agent, got a publisher, and discovered that we'd been slotted into the "romance" genre marketing wise because romance is massive - bigger sales than every other genre put together basically. Romance fans will read new novels on a weekly basis and there's a shitload of extremely passionate (heh) fans out there.

We were on a couple of panels with other romance writers and I remember one or two of them were writing for M&B and they sounded in no danger whatsoever of going out of business. Surprisingly varied output too, from the trad stuff to pretty much hardcore porn to basically "regular" fiction (crime, thriller, etc) but with more of a focus on romance in the mix.

Unfortunately our novel was seen by romance readers as taking the piss so we didn't rake in the massive fortune we'd daydreamed about (we did get to do a follow up novel though). But yeah, romance basically rules the fiction market, even if everyone else looks down on it. If you want to make actual money from being published and can string two sentences together, romance is definitely the way to go.

Jockice

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2020, 06:44:48 AM »
An old friend of mine writes romance books and is pretty damned successful at it (sold over a million books according to her website), even though she openly admits it isn't the sort of stuff she reads herself. But there is a huge market for it and once your name is known you're in there for life as far as I can see.

She recently contacted me because there's going to be a wheelchair-using character in her next book (not as the lead character I think though) and wanted some details of what it was like. Happy to help, but if any of you by any chance pick up a novel next year that refers to the sort of twat who follows the likes of me down the road offering to 'help' and grabbing the chair's handles as Manic Street Pushers, that's my gag.

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2020, 08:04:31 AM »
https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/pages/aspiring-authors

Adam Nevill wrote a about 9 "erotica" novels before getting published as a horror author, just to hone his writing chops and make a living.

I'd deffo read SMBH erotica.

thenoise

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #53 on: October 21, 2020, 04:12:09 PM »
Please include the poo finger.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #54 on: October 21, 2020, 04:31:04 PM »
Any thought of who you'd like to see playing the thinly veil version of you in the inevitable TV/Film adaptation?

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #55 on: October 21, 2020, 06:16:07 PM »
Adam Nevill wrote a about 9 "erotica" novels before getting published as a horror author, just to hone his writing chops and make a living.

I'd deffo read SMBH erotica.

I was once wrote some spoof dinosaur porn when very bored one day so if I can't find a publisher for the book your dream may well come true.

Please include the poo finger.

Though sadly it didn't involve the poo finger. But there is still time to do a rewrite...

Any thought of who you'd like to see playing the thinly veil version of you in the inevitable TV/Film adaptation?

Given that the budget would be in the hundreds of millions (at the very least) I can't see it happening, and it was probably very stupid on my front to include so many complicated action scenes. Plus I've made the lead character overweight, which is likely to be another terrible decision, but I could picture Jason Sudekis in a fat suit doing the job quite well.

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