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hux

Getting Published

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I'm close to finishing my first book and wondered how best to proceed. In my head, it's a short story but its over 20 thousand words so I guess you'd call it a novelette or novella. It's a science-fiction story that utilises tropes and themes seen many times in sci-fi so nothing hugely original but I like to think it's very readable and has a compelling story. I also like to think that my use of language is very good.

 

So what's the step? Send it to publishers? Send it to agents? Put it online?

 

The internet age has changed things a lot so some advice on how to go forward would be welcomed.

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Hi,  To be brutally honest 20,000 words is neither fish not fowl as far as publishers are concerned - it's not long enough to be a novel (an absolute minimum of 50,000 words, they like nearer 80,000), too long for a short story and new writers find it virtually impossible to get pubmishers to look at short fiction or novellas.  One of the reasons is financial, slim books cost nearly as much to produce as big ones yet the average punter balks at paying nearly the same cost for something a quarter of the size of Gone Girl unless it's written by Iain McEwan or someone like him.

 

I think your best bet would be to look into self publishing, it's hard work because you have to do your own publicity but you can afford to pitch your price at an attractive level and self-published books can becme nice, steady little earners.  And if you have success on line you've got something to show agents in the future.

 

One  thing though is that you have to make sure that it is edited perfectly, on-line readers are very critical of grammatical mistakesand don't hesitate to give you a bad review.  You also need a good cover design.

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Would submission to a literary magazine be an option? It won't get the work in front of a lot of people, but those who do read it will be serious readers, and you might get some feedback that will allow you to expand the work into something more marketable. As Viccie says, you created something that is going to be a tough sell to conventonal publishers.

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The book is, in fact, closer to 30 thousand words now. I would rather go down the route of getting published in the old fashioned way because I tend to think it validates your own opinion of your work. The amount of truly mediocre stuff I've seen online suggests that a lot of those people are not only kidding themselves but are also being unhelpfully indulged by this new format. I don't really want to do that to myself. It would be my least preferred option.

 

Does anyone have any experience/insight regarding getting published Amazon? It looks pretty easy so I suspect I'm missing something.

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30,000 words counts as a novella and novellas are hard to market unless you're an established name.

 

My books have been published by conventional publishers and I also took the rights back to three of them and published them as e-books.  The shortest of my books was a genre romance which was about 47,000 words, the rest all hit around the 100,000 word mark.

 

You've got the best chance of making a go of your novella by publishing it as an e-book as people are much more willing to read short pieces electronically and you can price it attractively too.  My e-books at £2.99 earn me far more per copy sold with 70% royalties then when they were paperbacks at £5.99 and £6.99 and the maximum I got was 12.5% and often less than that because the publishing house would have done a special deal. 

 

It's very easy pubishing via Amazon, their instructions are clear and the process is straightfroward.  I don't have any experience of Smashwords, Lulu etc.  However as I said before you've got to work hard at the promotion, there's a lot of competition out there, and you've got to make sure that your work is as perfect as it can get.  E-book readers are unforgiving about mistakes.

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I went with the novella format because it's my first attempt and it follows the perspective of only one character so dragging it out into a novel would probably be a mistake. I'm definitely gonna look into putting it on Amazon first (seems to be a more financially beneficial route) but how do you publicise the book? Just rope friends and family into leaving good reviews? Target certain forums with spam?

 

And you mentioned cover design. I wouldn't even know where to start with that.

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No, definitely don't get your family and friends ti put in fake reviews, Amazon custimers have a sharp eye for that sort of thing and it doesn't go down well!  You need to contact sites that review ebooks, some only mention books that already have several 4 & 5 * reviews, some are paid for, but there are enough free stes that you should be able to get some coverage.  It might be a good idea to offer the book free for three days or so (goes against the grain with me, strangely enough when I offered one of my books free, hoping it would increase paid sales of the other two, the paid-for sales of the free one rcketed!  Go figure!) and ask that people put up reviews in return for a free book.    

 

Sign up for Goodreads and join some of the groups there which discuss book promoting, you get some very useful advice and pointers where to go. 

 

Get yourself an author page on Goodreads.  Warning: be really polite on Goodreads, there are some vicious trolls on there who target authors they consider behave badly, they specialise in ruining your rating on Amazon.

 

Start a blog.  Blogs are slightly passe but still a good source of publicity.

 

Have a Facebook page you update regularly.

 

Write short fiction and see if you can get it into magazines, your author bio will link back to the book.

 

As I said it's hard work!

 

For a cover, look on Amazon for the covers that leap out at you then Google cover designers.  They come in all sorts and prices but you should be able to find one you like.

 

Hope this helps.

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It looks as if, Hux, if you follow all the advice, you've got your work cut out for the next 4-5 years.  If you opt for self-publishing you have a mountain to climb, competing with hacks and people who take themselves seriously and watch their ratings.  I would say concentrate on writing rather than trying to 'build a platform' that'll likely collapse.  First try the traditional publisher.  Send out 50 or more well-constructed letters and meanwhile be writing your 2nd or 3rd book/novella.

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Remember when I said I was finished; well, that was premature.

 

The book is now 83 thousand words and almost finished (no, really).

 

Should I send it to a publisher, an agent... what?

 

Any further advice would be welcome.

Edited by hux

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Well done for finishing! I imagine this is the first draft?

 

You now need to edit, edit and edit again. The standard advice is not to look at your work for at least three months before you start editing but I find that practically impoosible to do. Try and read it through in one go, noting the parts which lag a bit, the parts that go by too quickly (a notebook is really useful) and anything else that strikes you. Then work your way through the manuscript, cutting where necessary, expanding in places, rewriting sections if you have to, correcting your grammar and punctuation. Repeat if necessary!  It can all be a bit deadly but the days when an editor or an agent was prepared to work on a book with an author for yonks are long gone, most of them don't have the time for that any longer.  They might work with an author who has obvious potential, but it's much easier to see potential in a work where all the basic mistakes have been corrected.

 

All editors and agents accept that manuscripts have typos in them so don't beat yourself up about tiny errors. Everyone types it's for its and vice versa .sometimest

 

As a general rule it's probably better to try and get an agent first, though someone of the smaller publishers welcome submissions from unpubished new authors. It might be a good idea to invest in a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook. Target agents/publishers who have an interest in the sort of book you've written. (You'd be amazed at how many would-be authors ignore things like 'No children's fiction').

 

Write a precis of the book - it's really hard! If you're making multiple submissions you might need to do several of different lengths, some agents ask for one page, others for two pages.

 

Write a submission letter. There are several writing sites which'll help you with what you should put. If there's a strong reason why you want a partcular agent to represent you, tell them. Though don't start sending out letters until your manuscript is properly polished - if you're asked to send the whole manuscript and you have to say, 'It'll be ready in a month,' it won't go down well!

 

Good luck!

Edited by Viccie

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​Thanks for the advice Viccie.

 

I'll start looking at appropriate publishers (It's a Sci-Fi story so that might narrow down the options). Do you think it's worth focusing on local publishers or does that matter in this day and age? We'll see how that goes and if I hit a brick wall, I might be back for further advice regarding self publishing and Amazon.

 

 

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I honestly wouldn't know about local publishers, though if you have any sort of an in with anyone, use it!

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Selling something 30,000 words is something I know very little about. For what it's worth, I'll say what I'd say if it was 50,000-60,000 or more: Start by submitting to agents--and cast your net far and wide. Even if you don't end up signing with one, they might give you a good idea of what the market it/where you should be looking. Then I'd move on to publishers next.

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Let us know how it goes in the end. Best of luck. xxx

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Even though finding a traditional publisher that wants your work is incredibly validating, there's nothing wrong with self-publishing. Just get an editor that believes in your story and wants to help you make it the best it can be. Revise it a couple of times and put it into the world. As mentioned before, Goodreads is an excellent promotional tool. Do giveaways to get your book out into the world and generate some early reviews. And there's nothing wrong with family and friends writing reviews - as long as they've actually read the book and their thoughts are genuine!

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Still re-writing and editing at the moment.

 

I looked at an agent but they're not accepting submissions until the summer. Beyond that, haven't explored or investigated in any great detail.

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Haven't read the whole thread but what is your book about?

 

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It basically covers every SCI-FI trope you can think of. Dystopian future, time travel, artificial life-forms, universal drug use etc. There's nothing hugely original going on but I thought sticking to a genre I'm familiar with might be wise given my lack of writing experience.

 

The basic plot revolves around a recently invented time travel device being used for tourism. The protagonist (an ex soldier) chaperones historians then later wealthy tourists on trips to the past. On a trip to the recent past to witness the assassination of a president, the protagonist sees his younger self being killed. He returns to his own time to investigate how he could have been killed in the past but still exist in the present (at which point, he discovers people are now trying to kill him).

Edited by hux

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Sounds very imaginative hux.   I'm not a sci/fi reader now, seems I lost interest as I got older but used to watch Star Trek and Star Wars things and Outer Space when our boys were young - have never read a dystopian novel, really out of the modern loop but I'm sure your book will do well with the time travel plot. I wish you lots of luck and lots of readers.  Will be interested in your progress.

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