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Author Help and Tips > Indie or traditional publishing

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message 1: by Lisa, R2R Admin & Group Creator (new)

Lisa Goldman | 541 comments Mod
Are you a published author? What route did you take, small press, self or traditional publishing? Or are you an aspiring author who has questions about the publishing world? It can sometimes be a hard, lonely and frustrating road to travel but here we can share our stories and advice, both the good and the bad, to help one another.


message 2: by Rebecca, Group Creator (new)

Rebecca Nolan (rnolanauthor) | 396 comments Mod
I'll share mine :)

I stated writing towards the end 2010 while my husband was deployed. I was in a town with no family and three kids so to entertain myself I begin to read. One night I thought of a story which i typed. While I was doing that I stmbled upon a small publishing company (firefly and wisp) on facebook.
They would often have little writing activities which i loved doing. Danielle was always so supportive of me that I began to take my writing a little more seriously. Then a year ago I was excepted into one of their anthologies. Since that time I have had 3 stories published with them and my first novel is due out end of the year.
I feel so blessed that it has been an easy journey for me as I know that is not always the case. I have made so many great author friends and I am very excited that soon I will be able to share that story which started it all with everyone. :)


message 3: by Eva (new)

Eva King Hi Rebecca! It's great to hear your story. I am a mum of 2; I stay at home because childcare is so expensive that there doesn't seem much point for me to go to work. Hubby works full time and gets home around 12 at night so basically I spend most of my day at home or in the park. I have always been a reader, if I could eat books I would and last year I started a story, I haven't finished it yet but after looking at what options I've got...the traditional way seems so difficult, and depressing. I think the worst thing is getting an agent because of the summission letter, they want to know about you but I'm sure they are not very interested in a ful time mum that hasn't been to University. Then you read reviews from indie authors, which I thought is they forward; and most of them say that they deseraty need an editor. Goodness me what a hassle!!!


message 4: by Carrie (new)

Carrie | 94 comments For me, becoming an author has been something I've wanted since I was about 7 years old. So, I geared my whole life plan and education towards it. I was an English major in college, where I started my first novel (The Sounding). While I wrote, I took a job in public relations and advertising to pay the bills, doing quite a bit of business writing. Once "The Sounding" was finished, I began to look for an agent. I have to say, looking for an agent was a grueling and cruel experience. Over 3 years, I approached about 120 agents - and received 120 rejections. I hated my mailbox...Some of the rejections were constructive, with some great advice. I had some great conversations with industry people that were encouraging. But, no one wanted to take on a new thriller writer.

After a break (for mental health), I decided that I would approach publishers on my own (though many do not accept un-agented submissions). I was very excited about the first publisher on my list - a thriller publisher out of Texas. However, they ran a notice on their site that they were closed to submissions for a year. Still - I had already experienced so much rejection, right? What was one more? So, I sent them a query anyway - and a few months later, I had signed with them! I have to say, that day felt amazing. 120 agents told me they could not sell my manuscript to a publisher. But, I sold it myself, in one try.

I have had a wonderful publishing experience with 23 House Publishing, and continue to work with them on promotions of all different types. I would have eventually self-published, but I've learned so much by working with a group of editors, working through their distribution channels, etc. While I am not the "best seller" that I hope to be one day, this first publishing has been one of the biggest steps I have taken towards that goal.

Anyway - I just wanted to share. For any other frustrated authors out there, just remember it only takes ONE chance (and all the other rejections don't matter). You just have to find the person that will give you the one chance.


message 5: by Eva (new)

Eva King Wow! Two authors and both of them straight to publishers!!


message 6: by L.M. (new)

L.M. Smith (LadyMuse82) | 176 comments Hi everyone.

My publishing experience was different from everyone else so far. I never really said "I want to be a writer" ... writing was more of a compulsion for me and it started pretty much as soon as I was old enough to write (before that I would tell these stories to my mom that would just drive her insane but I couldn't stop myself). My head was always just so full of ideas that I HAD to get them out in some fashion or another and it wasn't about wanting to be a writer as it was about wanting to maintain my sanity and be able to "get it out" so that I could move on and think about something else.

I had literal STACKS of notebooks filled with short stories, half-finished stories, poetry, 3-page day-dreams about how I wished my life could be, etc. RAMBLINGS (were it not for writing I probably would be in a loonie-bin).

In 2009 I sat down at my computer to "let it all out" and ended up writing a full 22-chapter plot from start to finish. It was the first time I'd ever written a full plot so I thought ... why not try to publish it? I told myself that since JK Rowling was rejected 17 times that I would send my book to 17 publishers and if I didn't get an acceptance then I didn't deserve to be published and would stop trying.

I received something like 14 rejections and 3 offers to pay someone hundreds or even thousands of dollars which, in my world, is just as bad as a rejection. So that was that - not publishing, oh well, no skin off my nose. I've been working as a computer programmer for over four years and, at that time, was already enrolled to start earning a degree in programming so that I could have that slice of paper that everyone treasures so much.

Well word got out (aka my boyfriend called my mother ... god it's almost WORSE when your other gets along better with your mother than he does his own, trust me!). So the next thing I know ... the pressure starts pouring in from all four corners of the earth courtesy of my MASSIVELY Mormon (and therefore HUGE) family. Suggestions to hire a professional editor, offers to BUY ME a professional editor, encouragement to just keep submitting, and a few friends that indi-pubbed and strongly encouraged me to go that route.

None of my rejection letters provided ANY constructive criticism. I received only two kinds of rejections: We cannot use your work at this time (which means they didn't even read it) or We feel that the market is saturated with this type of novel (which means maybe they read it and it sucked but they didn't want to take the time to offer feedback or maybe they said 'oh god, not another vamp novel').

But despite that fact, I just didn't want to keep putting the time and effort into finding pubs that would take submissions, formatting to their specific requirements, filling out forms, yadda yadda. I was done with it and already working on the next book so, in my world, it just wasn't worth my time.

I took the easy route and indi-pubbed it on Amazon.com and CreateSpace just to shut my family up and give them all something to show off to their friends and say "look my cousin/sister/daughter/aunt is an author".

In my own personal opinion, I should have listened to my instinct because after writing my second novel I look back on my first novel and I really don't think it was good enough to be published. It's gotten a teenie tiny handful of good reviews but for the most part I think people at just too polite to be honest about it.

That said, my second book was a knock-out and I knew it. It was huge, deep, suspenseful, rich, and I honestly couldn't even believe that I wrote it because I always just wrote random "stuff". I could have submitted it and signed it - I am absolutely sure of that. But it was centered around December 21, 2012 and I didn't finish it until January 2012 so I knew that there was no way I'd get it signed and on shelves in time - so I indie-pubbed it.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to be traditionally pubbed since I am always struggling to find the time to promote The Citizens and work on social associations such as read-to-reviews, anthologies, facebook pages etc, and work on marketing promotions like formatting and uploading it to nook and smashwords (which I finally got around to doing yesterday) and I can't ever seem to find the time to work on The Prototypes (the sequel).

It doesn't matter to me that I'm not making a bunch of money and it won't matter if I never do. I have a degree and work in a totally different field making almost 40k a year so I'm actually pretty happy with that. But The Citizens was the first thing I've ever written that I actually WANTED people to read. Everything before it was "meh, if they do they do and if they don't oh well - at least it's not bouncing around in my head anymore driving me crazy".

Maybe someday I'll try again to traditionally pub - but maybe not.

And yes - waaaaaaaaaay too many Indie-Pubs need to hire editors! I am SO SICK of picking up poorly edited indie books that are great ideas but a complete and total mess to read!


message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Rainey (jennifer_rainey) | 154 comments I'm an indie author, and I love it. I love the control you get with indie publishing. I did try to publish traditionally. I queried and all that fun stuff, and the best response I ever got was that an agent found my premise for my first book intriguing, but didn't think there was a market for it.

I don't blame them. My first novel, These Hellish Happenings, is nothing if not offbeat. I can tell you from experience, it is hard to sell! The more research I did, the more I realized I liked the idea of independent publishing better than traditional publishing, so I stopped querying and went for it.

It took a long time for me to work out the balance between promoting and writing once I published, though. That was my biggest obstacle; I'm finally figuring that out. At the end of the day, though, if I have enough time to either write or work on scheduling promo spots, I'll always write. The best thing you can do for yourself and your sales is to write more books!

Also, I want to second what a few others have said: Indies, DO NOT SKIP THE EDITOR. At the very, very least, get yourself some reliable betas. You can't do it all on your own! Also, if you can't format an ebook yourself, find someone to do it for you. It's well worth it!


message 8: by Rebecca, Group Creator (new)

Rebecca Nolan (rnolanauthor) | 396 comments Mod
Eva wrote: "Hi Rebecca! It's great to hear your story. I am a mum of 2; I stay at home because childcare is so expensive that there doesn't seem much point for me to go to work. Hubby works full time and gets ..."

Hi Eva,
I think it is great you are writing! I really think it helps keep us mothers sane at times hehe. Honestly if you would like a publisher or maybe a little hesitant about self-pub then look on Facebook for the small indie press publishers, often they can be great. That being said, there is some major advantages to self publishing so don't discount it :).
When the time is right for you, let me know and I can suggest a few small press publishers if you like...or maybe i might set up a folder...hmmm brain is ticking over now hehe. Take care and good luck with your writing :)


message 9: by Rebecca, Group Creator (new)

Rebecca Nolan (rnolanauthor) | 396 comments Mod
I have yet to receive a rejection letter...sometimes I don't know if that is a good thing or not lol. There is still plently of time as I have started a WIP which is dark fantasy fiction and my publisher doesn't publish that type, so I have had to source out other publishing companies. Hoping there won't be to many tears :).


message 10: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments Hi all...

I'm a trad. author who's now on the role of a small British press called Greyhart. When I finished my novel, I submitted to three publishers.
One immediately rejected me - my work wasn't bloody enough, and they only did dark. The second one didn't say anything until I sent them a courtesy email about submitting to another publishing, then they rejected me. The third was Greyhart press, and I had decided to go indie, if I was rejected there.
Happily, they accepted my work, and I'm glad of it. I'm quite the rookie at all this, and I feel sure that my book will be edited, marketed, and sold much more efficiently than I ever could have on my own. The owner has been most gracious and communicative during the whole process, and things are going along swimmingly.


message 11: by Eva (new)

Eva King Thomas wrote: "Hi all...

I'm a trad. author who's now on the role of a small British press called Greyhart. When I finished my novel, I submitted to three publishers.
One immediately rejected me - my work wasn'..."


They looked fairly new, I've put their page on my favourites so I can keep an aye on them foe when they are open for summisions. Thanks. Im not sure about the 50/50 on the profit...


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments They're not too old. Tim Taylor actually started the site to publish his own works, then expanded to do a few of his friends, and now it's taking off. He's added two or three more authors since taking me on.
The 50/50 split is actually the best I've seen for trad. publishers, 40 percent being the next best. Not as good as indie, obviously...


message 13: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments Ashley,

Good for you! I, too, had the form letter experience. Both communications with the company looked like it had just been spit out by the push of a button.
You'll have to be aware when you submit now. Many publishers won't take work that's been published already. Guess they feel as though it will hurt their numbers.


message 14: by Eva (new)

Eva King Ashley wrote: "I've loved reading these experiences!

I went indie because, after three months and about fifty rejections, I realized that they hadn't actually even looked at my submission. Each rejection was a f..."


Oh my goodness! I'm the same as you. I've been writing for about a year, almost finished. But everytime I looked on how to write a sumission letter and they ask to write a bit about yourself, I'm like... i have to kids under the age of 5 and have never been to uni because I can't afford it. You really can't get the chance.


message 15: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments Ashley...
The process IS a bit slow, I'll admit. But I think it will be worth the wait. My guy is very careful, and wants to cover all bases before letting my book out. Editing is going on right now, then we do some beta readers, and then some pre-publishing book reviews, to help with the marketing effort. All in all, I'm very anxious to get it over with, but understand the need for all this stuff.
Eva...
I understand your concern about the submission letter, but truly, I've found that most publishers could give a tinker's damn about where you went to school or any other personal data. They want to sell books, bottom line. If you can write a story that will do that, they'll welcome you with open arms.


message 16: by L.M. (new)

L.M. Smith (LadyMuse82) | 176 comments Honestly,

I know it's hard to write a submission letter that brags about yourself but you're a writer so you have to find a way to make your accomplishments look their very best on paper.

Recently attended a seminar for writing submission letters and she said you can count all kinds of things as "writing experience", namely letters to the editor, reviews published in a newspaper, any writing you might do for work (press releases, marketing emails, newsletters, etc), writing you might have done in high school, and self-pubs count as long as they have more than 1,000 copies sold.

The trick is to take everything that you have and make it sound good. If you wrote an article for your high school newspaper 17 years ago, don't say it like that in your submission letter. Say something like "I contributed an article in an academic publication" and you really don't have to say how long ago that was.

You can count just about anything as a publication except unofficial blogs, fan sites, indie-pubs with less than 1,000 downloads/sales, etc.

She even told me to count an award that I won for a kids book that I wrote in first grade called "The Snake Who Had A Rash". The award was something silly given to everyone that submitted something for this school book fair but her suggestion was "Received an academic award for limited audience children's piece."

You just have to be creative and give yourselves some credit where it's due. The only thing you Can't do is make stuff up.


message 17: by L.M. (last edited Jun 05, 2012 11:36AM) (new)

L.M. Smith (LadyMuse82) | 176 comments And make no mistake about it - when you get a canned rejection letter and suspect that the pub didn't even look at your manuscript it's more than likely because they weren't impressed by your submission letter.

Imagine being a pub employee, two manuscripts are on your desk (and there are always at least two on any given day). One manuscript is from a writer that, in their submission letter, boasts several academic publications, multiple journalism publications, an award, and 3 years of experience as a professional writer for a national technology company. Meanwhile the other manuscript is from a writer that says she is a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to write and reads anything that she can get her hands on and would really love to be an author some day.

What you don't know is that the first writer's academic publications were for her school paper, her journalism publications were letters to the editor, her award was a poetry contest at the county fair, and her 3 years as a professional writer was creating an annual newsletter for a small website design company that she worked for as soon as she got out of high school.

But since all you, the publisher, know is what's actually said outright in the letters - which manuscript is going to get the automatic rejection and which one are you going to read and then maybe reject anyway?

---------------------------------------------------

What I would say in a submission letter: "Less than 1-month after it was released my novel, "The Citizens", sold over 1,000 copies across three countries in only three days."

What really happened: "Less than a month after I self-published my novel, "The Citizens", I put it on a free promotion on Amazon.com for three days and it had 7 downloads in the UK, 1 download in Germany, and just over 1,000 downloads in the US."

Sounds more impressive the first time right?


message 18: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments HAH....Well said, L.M...and absolutely right. When I said earlier that publishers don't care if you're a mom or what have you, that's only on the CONDITION that all else is as it should be. In other words, can you produce good work? And your observations are right on, in that regard. It is certainly a buyer's market in the publishing world right now, and I've seen many companies shut down submissions, or have a 3-to 6-month wait time for any new manuscripts. Even saw a couple listing one year.


message 19: by Eva (last edited Jun 05, 2012 11:42AM) (new)

Eva King too true. At least now if the tradional way fails you can do it yourself, plus more profit but doesnt sound too bad!


message 20: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments Absolutely. If and when I write something my publisher doesn't like, or that doesn't fall into his genre, I have no qualms about doing it indie. Particularly now that I know a bit more about the game. Places like Amazon, Smashwords, and Createspace make it very easy indeed, and I belong to a couple sites who have artists that are aching to do book covers.


message 21: by Eva (new)

Eva King Thomas wrote: "Absolutely. If and when I write something my publisher doesn't like, or that doesn't fall into his genre, I have no qualms about doing it indie. Particularly now that I know a bit more about the ga..."

really? you should tell them to advertise here. I'm sure there is a lot people that would like to get their cover designed.


message 22: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments You know, that's one heckuva good idea...I'll do that. Thanks, Eva...


message 23: by Rebecca, Group Creator (new)

Rebecca Nolan (rnolanauthor) | 396 comments Mod
Eva wrote: "Thomas wrote: "Absolutely. If and when I write something my publisher doesn't like, or that doesn't fall into his genre, I have no qualms about doing it indie. Particularly now that I know a bit mo..."

Thomas wrote: "Absolutely. If and when I write something my publisher doesn't like, or that doesn't fall into his genre, I have no qualms about doing it indie. Particularly now that I know a bit more about the ga..."

Absolutely, I think that is a great idea Eva! Guys also, if you see a thread is missing feel free to add it yourself, I often miss things unintentionally :)


message 24: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments FYI, I'm going over to that site this morning, and invite some of the cover artists over to advertise their wares. Might be the start of a new group? Do we have one that has that as it's theme? If not ...:)


message 25: by Eva (new)

Eva King no, but i know theres one for struggling writers and editors, cover artists have advertised there.


message 26: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Rydder (ThomasRydder) | 39 comments I see. I posted on Paranormal and Horror, and also Coffee Talk that i think we should form a group for cover artists. I can invite all of them over to join. Be a good resource for all on here. Whaddaya think?


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