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Old 07-27-2012, 06:56 AM   #16
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Yeah, I would love to know how to move from the barely making it self-pub world in to the successful one. I have not hit 70k, probably more in the 15-20k but stopped counting when my first book crossed 10k. Would love to know how to make the transition from a super small fry self-pub to "published by someone that matters" author.
Selling 15-20K books is pretty good. (I had not sold that many when I made the switch) If you really want to move to traditional publishing, I suggest you develop a query letter that highlights your self-publishing success and use that to find an agent. Really you are going to go the same route as if you hadn't self-published first, but now you have some significant publishing experience to highlight.
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:58 AM   #17
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Selling 15-20K books is pretty good. (I had not sold that many when I made the switch) If you really want to move to traditional publishing, I suggest you develop a query letter that highlights your self-publishing success and use that to find an agent. Really you are going to go the same route as if you hadn't self-published first, but now you have some significant publishing experience to highlight.
How would I find an angent? the few that I looked at all said "we do not except self pub"

I write fantasy set in the future (think Star Wars, but even more magic)
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:00 AM   #18
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Rosalie, you can self-publish/upload a Word Doc directly to the Kindle publishing system. That's what I've done with mine. When you do you can preview it to make sure the format is correct before releasing it for sale. My only issues were getting the front and back matter right (copyright page, table of contents, acknowledgements, about author, etc.) Ton of info here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin
I've never done it this way - so I don't know how well this works. But if has worked for you then that's good to know. One thing to be weary of. Amazon charges a deliver fee based on file size and I'm not sure what sized file that approach will result in. In general a word file will generate .html files with a lot of additional formatting code in them that can make them bloated.

In the most simplest terms. You need a "flat text file" with <p></p> surrounding your paragraphs and <i>,</i> surrounding your italics and <b></b> surrounding your bolded text. This is easily accomplished by doing some global search and replaces within word THEN (and this is the important part) copying that out of word an into something like notepad so the word formatting overhead is eliminated from the file.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:33 AM   #19
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Might only be loosely related to the topic, but can I inquire regarding your marketing? For example, I noticed that last week, you started becoming active (again) in eBook forums like here and Kindleboards. Wanted to inquire whether this is part of a larger strategy (either with one of the Big 6 or your plan for an upcoming self-published book) or not. Thanks.
My primary marketing platforms centered on goodreads groups and fantasy book reviewers/bloggers. These are the venues that readers frequent and I highly suggest going to where the "readers" are.

Forums like this and kindleboards are where writers hang, and to be honest I don't think they are good sources for "buying books" (Yes I know writers read too, but in general they are strapped for cash, and too busy writing their own stuff to spend time reading extensively). The people you want to focus on is the voracious readers - hence the sites I mentioned.

About six months ago I was asked to do an AMA on reddit, and it really opened my eyes that with a lot of the changes going on in the industry, there is confusion by authors who really don't pay attention to the publishing landscape. Because everything is changing so quickly, and because I'm in one of the few who have been on both sides, I've been trying to do what I can to help authors understand the various aspects. I've found it very rewarding over there, and just thought I should try it on a few other venues.

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Also, I think you brought up in another thread the non-compete clause from Traditional Publishers. Are there any clauses that writers should look out for, especially when they're exploring both trad and self-publishing routes?
Well in self-publishing you really don't have to worry too much because you aren't signing a contract with anyone. You are agreeing to "terms of service" and you have to read these carefully but the very nature of "terms of service" means that it spells out the relationship while you are using the service and you can terminate when you want and then any arrangement between the two parties ends. I suppose there are some terms of service that may specify some time period where you can't leave - so I'd watch out for that.

In the traditional side of things, each author is going to care about different things. For me personally I'm most concerned with clauses that revolve around how and when I get my rights back, and how and when I can produce other works. So the things that I watch carefully are:

* Term of contract - I would LOVE a contract that has a limited term - say 3 or 5 years. Because in such an arrangement I know that even if I don't love the contract as it is, I know when it will be over and I have rights to the books again. But big-six contracts are for "life of copyright + extensions" which basically means 70 years after the author dies - that's a REALLY long contract so I get more concerned about under what conditions I get rights back.

* Reversion clauses - In the old days a publisher used to do a print run and had a warehouse full of books to sell. If they sold well, they would do additional print runs, if they sold terribly, they might remainder the books (sell by the pound at a loss) and move on to another title. If they sold moderately well, then they wouldn't bother with a reprint and so when the warehouse was empty there were no more books. In such an environment it was easy to determine that a book had run it's course, there was nothing more the publisher had to sell, so rights reverted.

Because of Print-on-demand and ebook, it is possible for a book to never go "out of print" however, if a publisher has rights for something and they aren't generating a good income to the author, the author should be able to get that right back and see what they can do to make money from that. So I look carefully at the language that indicates when a book is "out of print" and revert. At a minimum it should be based on # of copies sold or $'s generated so that once it reaches the point where it's not generating income the author gets it back.

* Non-compete: This is my personal pet-peeve. I want a contract to concern the work I'm signing over - not future works that don't exist. I personally think there should be no non-compete in a fiction contract (and for a non-fiction contract the non-compete should only be in effect for a certain amount of time. I almost didn't sign my first contract because the non-complete basically stated that I couldn't create any book that might complete with the work for the length of the contract. This could mean that I would be prohibited from producing sequels, prequels, or other books with my same characters or in my same world. It could also reasonably be applied to any "fantasy book." Such a clause would be a "career killer" and under no circumstances would I sign such a thing.

I don't think it is unreasonable for a publisher to want a time of "exclusivity" where their books are the only works out from an author. So a restriction of no other books close to the a books release is something that I have agreed to, but if I had my druthers it would be to have no contractual restrictions and trust the author to not do something that might infringe on sales of a work put out by their publisher.

* Author warrantees - I've seen some language in here that in my opinion doesn't belong. In particular it is common to insert language such as, "The author agrees that "The Work" will be the next published work released by the author. If you are a slow writer, there may be no problem with such a clause, but if you are like me, and can write 2 - 3 books a year this could spell disaster as the contract you are signing usually provides the publisher up to 2 years to get the book on the market. This combined with a non-compete could mean a "potential" 2.5 years where the author can't release any other books. A bad restriction when you earn a living by writing for a living.

* Territories - My agent is primarily focused on foreign markets so when she negotiated my contract she specified "World English." Personally I would have preferred "North American English." (But Orbit has UK and Australia divisions and they want to have those rights for those divisions). Most contracts offered to new authors will be "Worldwide Rights." Basically you want to make the territory as small as possible because then you have the freedom to sell other rights in other markets. If you sell "World rights" then it is the publisher who will do the selling, and you have no leverage to light a fire under them. Not to mention any foreign sales will fall under a subsidiary license so the publisher will get a cut (usually 25% - 50%) right off the top.

Bottom line...when looking at a contract consider what is the "worst case scenario" and whether you can live with it or not. Keep an eye on what you are giving away and when you can get it back.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:47 AM   #20
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How would I find an angent? the few that I looked at all said "we do not except self pub"

I write fantasy set in the future (think Star Wars, but even more magic)
I've actually never seen an agent that has such a statement in their profile - they only time I've seen that was with book bloggers. It may be done in order to "weed out" self-published books that don't matter. In general, the publishing industry doesn't consider a self-published book that hasn't sold many copies as even to have existed. In other words if you self-published an sold 200 copies it's not worth mentioning in the query letter because it says nothing other than the fact that you can actually complete a book.

But that is not your situation - you have sold 10,000+ books and I would suspect that ANY agent would see value in that (although if they were all at $0.99 they may not). And any agent that didn't find that compelling is not worth representing you. If there is an agent that you REALLY want, and they do have such a statement I would make my query letter say somethink like,

"Based on your profile, you mentioned you don't accept self-published books, but as I have sold 10,000 copies (netting $xx,xxx) and another xx copies for the second book in the series, it demonstrates a fan base that with the right marketing and distribution could be easily extended.

As to finding agents and writing queries. Here is my suggestions:
* Query Tracker
* Preditors & Editors
* Agent Query
* Subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace - to see who is making deals
* AAR (Association of Author Representatives
* "US Literary Agents

Annual Directories of Agents and Publishers
* 201x Writer's Market Deluxe Edition
* 201x Guide to Literary Agents
* Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 201x

Also...look at books that are similar to yours, and find the agents for those authors - they will normally be mentioned in the acknowledgements (Use Search inside the book - and type in "agent") or checkout the author's website as they may mention it there. You can also google the authors name & "agent" (or "represented") as the agent may have them listed as a client on their website, or there may be a press release that has both the agent and author posted online.

Last edited by MichaelSullivan; 07-27-2012 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:37 AM   #21
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I think the biggest problem (especially for new authors) is that it is difficult to get a truly objective opinion on your work. Of course everyone thinks that they have written something great, but there are some self-published works out there (quite a few actually) that really aren't "ready for primetime." [...]
Yes I have found this a very big problem for myself especially. Since I am not part of a writers's group or similar, I have no feel for just how well it might be received by a publisher - and, of course, you get no useful feedback from rejection letters. I recently sent my first novel for a professional appraisal by a company here in Australia (a company that appears to be reputable and offer a good service), I am still waiting for their report (with a mix of dread and hope ).

Thank you for your responses - not just to me, but also the others you have written on this thread. Your generally positive feedback is pleasing to find after the many negative things I have read about traditional publishing paths, and all the more so since traditional publishing is what I have been working towards as a first preference.

I do have another question that you (or perhaps someone else here) may have some comment on:

In Australia there seem to be very few avenues for new fantasy writers (only two publishers accept unsolicited works, and so far I've only found two agents that appear willing to represent fantasy authors (looking through their profile and their "stable" of authors)). When I read about authors getting rejected a dozen times or more before finding someone that will accept their submission, it has me wondering where that leaves me. I've already managed rejection from both publishers, and I'm doing the appraisal thing before I try the agents, but if they don't come out then things start to look pretty dismal.

Is it viable for new authors to approach agents in other countries (I was thinking the UK, perhaps, for myself). Or does losing out on my local options leave me, realistically, only with self-publishing?
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:52 AM   #22
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I do have another question that you (or perhaps someone else here) may have some comment on:

In Australia there seem to be very few avenues for new fantasy writers (only two publishers accept unsolicited works, and so far I've only found two agents that appear willing to represent fantasy authors (looking through their profile and their "stable" of authors)). When I read about authors getting rejected a dozen times or more before finding someone that will accept their submission, it has me wondering where that leaves me. I've already managed rejection from both publishers, and I'm doing the appraisal thing before I try the agents, but if they don't come out then things start to look pretty dismal.

Is it viable for new authors to approach agents in other countries (I was thinking the UK, perhaps, for myself). Or does losing out on my local options leave me, realistically, only with self-publishing?
Unfortunately I don't know enough about the Australia market to provide any useful information...sorry I wished I did. I'm also not sure how difficult it is to start in a non-native country. I know that Pip Ballentyne is I think from that part of the world (or maybe New Zealand I forget). It might be worth dropping her an email - or asking her on her blog or twitter for recommendations - You might try to find other authors that are Australian but have published outside of Australia.

Wish I could be more help - but I don't have much to offer for that situation...sorry.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:56 AM   #23
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Yes I have found this a very big problem for myself especially. Since I am not part of a writers's group or similar, I have no feel for just how well it might be received by a publisher - and, of course, you get no useful feedback from rejection letters. I recently sent my first novel for a professional appraisal by a company here in Australia (a company that appears to be reputable and offer a good service), I am still waiting for their report (with a mix of dread and hope ).
For the record, I'm not a fan of these types of organizations. I see them as making money off of someone's dreams and unless they have a list of very successful published books that they contributed to, I'm not sure they are qualified to have any opinion better than that of a "joe on the street."

I would recommend going to sites like goodreads and find readers of books similar to yours and approach them for being a beta reader. You'll send them a copy of their book in exchange for feedback. Also you can find online writing critique groups so geographic boundaries aren't an issue.

My point is...getting feedback from others is important, but I prefer it to be done in ways that don't put money into the pockets of someone who "may" (and I'm not saying this company is) be little more than a way to fleece people with a dream.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:28 PM   #24
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For the record, I'm not a fan of these types of organizations. I see them as making money off of someone's dreams and unless they have a list of very successful published books that they contributed to, I'm not sure they are qualified to have any opinion better than that of a "joe on the street."

I would recommend going to sites like goodreads and find readers of books similar to yours and approach them for being a beta reader. You'll send them a copy of their book in exchange for feedback. Also you can find online writing critique groups so geographic boundaries aren't an issue.

My point is...getting feedback from others is important, but I prefer it to be done in ways that don't put money into the pockets of someone who "may" (and I'm not saying this company is) be little more than a way to fleece people with a dream.
The problem I have with sites like goodreads (etc.) is that it is effectively random, and I don't see it as necessarily any better or more reliable than the feedback I can get from people here that I do know. The feedback that I have had is good, but it doesn't tell me whether it's ready for "prime time" as you put it, because such reviewers are not in the business of formal analysis. Online critique groups are certainly an option, because at least you are speaking with fellow writers, but it's not one that I feel all that comfortable with - I might feel differently if I was working my way through the start of my writing rather than trying to evaluate a completed manuscript.

I certainly had my reservations about a formal appraisal service, but from what research I was able to do this company seem like they are the real deal. The offer from this company is "evaluation by a senior editor, looking at such areas as style, story flow, character development, general interest and commercial viability".

If I could find someone to give such a detailed review without paying them then obviously that would be great, but it's a big ask when you're talking about a 165000 word manuscript.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:31 PM   #25
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[...]Wish I could be more help - but I don't have much to offer for that situation...sorry.
No need to apologise. Just thought I'd ask on the off-chance. Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:46 PM   #26
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The problem I have with sites like goodreads (etc.) is that it is effectively random, and I don't see it as necessarily any better or more reliable than the feedback I can get from people here that I do know. The feedback that I have had is good, but it doesn't tell me whether it's ready for "prime time" as you put it, because such reviewers are not in the business of formal analysis. Online critique groups are certainly an option, because at least you are speaking with fellow writers, but it's not one that I feel all that comfortable with - I might feel differently if I was working my way through the start of my writing rather than trying to evaluate a completed manuscript.
Feedback from strangers is very different then feedback from people you know. Friends don't want to offend you and may not be regular readers of the genre. Unbiased feedback from people who read voraciously in your genre will be a pretty good judge of "ready for prime time." They don't need to be able to do a "formal analysis" they need to be able to answer a few basic questions..."Did you enjoy this?" "If you had bought it for $x would you consider it a good use of your time and money?" "Would you recommend it to a friend?" "Would you buy more books that I write?" You need "focus group" information - not a literary dissection of the work.

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I certainly had my reservations about a formal appraisal service, but from what research I was able to do this company seem like they are the real deal. The offer from this company is "evaluation by a senior editor, looking at such areas as style, story flow, character development, general interest and commercial viability".
If it were me...I'd ask which editor I was going to be assigned and ask what books they have worked on. I also would be interested in knowing things like what genre they read, and who are their favorite and least favorite authors. It would make sense to have a 15 minute conversation with them to see if you are a good "fit." Both I and George R.R. Martin write fantasy set in secondary worlds. He writes dark and gritty tales populated with dubious people each trying to out manipulate one another. I write tales about unlikely heroes. They may have had "grey pasts" but they are on the road to redemption and are trying to make new starts for themselves. If they recommended I "go dark" because that is marketable, I lose my voice and what my fans are saying they identify with. Would theirs sell better? I don't know...but to be honest I don't care because for me I would rather fail with a book written "my way" than to "succeed with a book that "wasn't me." Others may not feel this way...which is fine. But you need to be very clear for what you are looking for.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:36 PM   #27
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Feedback from strangers is very different then feedback from people you know. Friends don't want to offend you and may not be regular readers of the genre. Unbiased feedback from people who read voraciously in your genre will be a pretty good judge of "ready for prime time." They don't need to be able to do a "formal analysis" they need to be able to answer a few basic questions..."Did you enjoy this?" "If you had bought it for $x would you consider it a good use of your time and money?" "Would you recommend it to a friend?" "Would you buy more books that I write?" You need "focus group" information - not a literary dissection of the work. [...]
But unless you have a reasonable size group of beta readers such random feedback needs to be taken in the light of its random nature. Pick any book and you will find people that love it and people that hate it, sometimes for the same reasons. So, yes, random unknown readers may have their place, but the feedback received in that way is of an unpredictable nature.

When you suggested that many self-published books got out before they were ready for prime-time I - perhaps mistakenly - read this as speaking of those things that casual readers don't consciously look for, the sort of thing that a more formal analysis catches, the sort of thing that makes traditional publishing and development editors worthwhile, especially for new authors (but, of course, a new author never gets to see a development editor until they get past the front gate ... which brings us back to the appraisal thing*). If being ready for prime-time is just a matter of having received approval from some random readers, then I would say that quite a lot of self-published work fits this criteria.

ETA - Re your appraisal comments: mostly they reflect concerns that I have had, I don't disagree with them, but I decided to try it out anyway, to see what I get. There was a separate thread where more discussion on this topic belongs.

Last edited by gmw; 07-27-2012 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 07-28-2012, 10:31 AM   #28
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Rosalie - making kindle format books is REALLY easy. Here is a link that should walk you through it.
Hi Michael

Have now got my book up as a draft on Kindle, went back to basics and saved my word into web-filtered. I've found a couple of challenges to alter.

Could not find the link on my computer to this site so only just got your message but thanks for the link I will try it on my next book as I'd already put it on to kindle in draft.

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Old 07-28-2012, 03:18 PM   #29
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But unless you have a reasonable size group of beta readers such random feedback needs to be taken in the light of its random nature. Pick any book and you will find people that love it and people that hate it, sometimes for the same reasons. So, yes, random unknown readers may have their place, but the feedback received in that way is of an unpredictable nature.
It's hard not to project your own way of working to someone else in such a decision as this. I for one have an "internal" barometer and upon reading my own work I can pretty much judge whether it is "good" or "bad." For those that are struggling with such distinctions, I was suggesting that those who read a great deal in that particular genre can give you a barometric reading if you are not able to so on your own.
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Old 07-28-2012, 05:25 PM   #30
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Hey! Self-published IS being published by someone that matters.
Agreed!
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