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Author Topic: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years  (Read 3067 times)  

Offline German_Translator

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Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« on: September 11, 2017, 12:18:28 PM »
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/09/why-im-still-trying-to-get-a-book-deal-after-10-years/539115/
Why I'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
A writer explains her dedication to becoming a published author -and how her approach has changed over the last decade


[A few quotes:]

Quote
Today, six manuscripts languish on my laptop - two nonfiction books, two novels, and two picture books. My older children are now teens, and my youngest, the one I was pregnant with when I started this journey, a fourth grader. In the meantime, I've managed to forge a rewarding career as a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. My essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared in publications I could never have dreamed of writing for: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, and NBC. Despite all this, I'm no closer to getting a book deal.

Quote
The truth is, my dedication to getting a book deal has been expensive. Each local writing conference costs about $250, and I've attended six. Over the decade, I've spent approximately $5,000 paying top-notch editors to carefully critique my work. My two-year, low-residency MFA program cost in the neighborhood of $26,000.

Quote
Self-publishing can be a popular and accessible option for writers who wish to bypass the traditional route altogether. But while there are some wild success stories in self-publishing, they tend to be genre works - romance, erotica, science fiction, crime, young adult, and Christian lit. I've yet to meet an author who felt their self-published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 12:22:05 PM by German_Translator »

Just a few of the books I have translated (English <-> German)

Offline Word Fan

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2017, 12:40:19 PM »
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/09/why-im-still-trying-to-get-a-book-deal-after-10-years/539115/
Why I'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years

A writer explains her self-deluded obsession with becoming a traditionally published author, and how her approach has changed over the last decade but still has failed and wasted an obscene amount of money.

Fixed that.

Offline TiffanyTurner

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 12:49:39 PM »
I guess everyone can have a choice to do what they want. My journey was similar. I've done the writing conferences and the critiques. But I took the self-published route 10 years ago. I spent all that money she's talking about on editors, cover designers, and marketing. I've got a website and two pen names, and am making money. It isn't a lot of money, but at least all the books I've written are published. I figured out the thing that is key in the traditional publishing arena: Stick with it and luck and timing will eventually get you a book deal. Wrong. Or just leave you with nothing. It's a basic mind trip to get you to except the mediocre system created in the 20th century.


And yes, you can wait the 10 years or even 20 for it to happen, and that will still make it ok. But there is still no guarantee.

Or you can try the new route of self-publishing, take the bull by the horns, hire your own editor, cover designer, copy editor and formatter, and publish it yourself. SO WHAT if local news won't cover it as a review. How many people read local paper reviews in the newspaper anymore? Most read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and I've got all of that. My first book has like 49 reviews!

*Slaps forehead*

All this article did was give me a glimpse into the fact that had I waited, I might have been like her, with a half dozen non-published books sitting on shelves or hard drive doing nothing for me.

Thanks OP for the alternative universe check.  ;)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 12:57:54 PM by TiffanyTurner »
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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 12:59:57 PM »
I guess I don't understand. Wouldn't it make more sense to self-pub the trad-pub rejects instead of letting them languish? At least that way the chance to earn some money is greater than zero. Are they really going to magically become accepted after ten years of rejections?

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 01:09:53 PM »
Cut out the bolded word and I pretty much agree with this:

Quote
But while there are some wild success stories in self-publishing, they tend to be genre works - romance, erotica, science fiction, crime, young adult, and Christian lit. I've yet to meet an author who felt their self-published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them.

She's pursuing the literary market, which is a different animal. The same could be said for picture books or middle grade novels or narrative nonfiction. The action in those categories is still in traditional publishing.

As for how much money she has spent, the MFA stands out to me. You can self educate anything you can learn from an MFA. The rest of that stuff, spread over 10 years, isn't a whole lot of money. Most people spend more than that on coffee and donuts over the course of a decade.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 01:15:57 PM »
I guess I don't understand. Wouldn't it make more sense to self-pub the trad-pub rejects instead of letting them languish? At least that way the chance to earn some money is greater than zero. Are they really going to magically become accepted after ten years of rejections?

Actually, it sounds as if she's been successful in pursuing a journalistic career while deluding herself that she's a literary stylist. The two are very different.

The MFA is a boondoggle invented to drain cash from hopefuls who don't actually need the degree to get a job. It's a complete waste of time if you want to be in the literary elite. It would cost less and be more entertaining to find a literary icon and spend weeks and months getting drunk with him (and...). That could get your Great American Novel published.

Offline D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 01:16:05 PM »
I'm on Reddit often and most of the young writers over there feel this way. Some people really want to know that they're "good enough" to land a deal. They feel like self-publishing is for rejects and posers and that we just release crap.

I always tell them: "You need to hold yourself accountable. If you put in the work, you can produce a self-published book that rivals a traditionally published one. It'll cost you some money, but it's possible! Don't set around and wait for someone to take a chance on you."

Honestly, in this day and age, I don't know why anyone would spend years trying to get published. Just do it yourself. The market will tell you if you're a delusional wannabe.

And let's be honest, landing a deal has a lot to do with luck. Just look at all the great books that were rejected dozens of times. Some of those agents glance at books and junk anything that doesn't tickle their fancy right away. The greatest novel ever written could be in some old guy (or gal's) attic  :D
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 01:22:55 PM by D. Zollicoffer »

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 01:18:35 PM »
I guess I don't understand. Wouldn't it make more sense to self-pub the trad-pub rejects instead of letting them languish? At least that way the chance to earn some money is greater than zero. Are they really going to magically become accepted after ten years of rejections?
I have a friend like this. She's written 20 novels in the past ten years and countless short stories. During this time, she's done everything to get published but all she's managed to get was a "send me your manuscript" from an agent. That didn't go anywhere, last I heard. When I've asked her why not self-publish she says that she wouldn't feel validated as an author. It's not about making money for her, she just wants to be able to say that she's published by such and such publishing company. What about getting print on demand? Totally not the same thing. She wants esteem. And there you have it. She has published one short in an anthology all this time!

So...this is, I think, one of the biggest reasons why some authors pursue trad publishing relentlessly. They want to feel validated. While I respect to each their own, it seems like a writer's career has a greater chance of hitting somewhere if they are pursuing many paths. Anthologies, contests, trad, indie, whatever. If being trad published it top of the list, why not show your initiative? I don't know...I gave up querying years ago. The last time I even thought of trying to query again I felt nauseous. Putting all that time, effort, and money just to let your manuscripts sit in a drawer seems like not only a waste, but the opportunity for major regrets later on in life.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 01:20:28 PM by Rosie A. »

Offline EmmaS

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 01:22:06 PM »
Quote
I've yet to meet an author who felt their self-published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them.

So you can spend around $32k to have a pile of rejected manuscripts and an MFA... or you can pay $5,000 to have a pile of published books with professional editing, covers, and marketing.

Even if you only make 35 cents on each book, you're still coming out ahead.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 01:25:29 PM »
Actually, it sounds as if she's been successful in pursuing a journalistic career while deluding herself that she's a literary stylist. The two are very different.

The MFA is a boondoggle invented to drain cash from hopefuls who don't actually need the degree to get a job. It's a complete waste of time if you want to be in the literary elite. It would cost less and be more entertaining to find a literary icon and spend weeks and months getting drunk with him (and...). That could get your Great American Novel published.
The only writer I know who has an MFA has been working on the same novel for going on 4 years. She's one of the people in that writing group I left because all they did was talk about writing vs actually write. She's one of those. Her writing is engaging and I like it, but she continues to delete rewrite delete rewrite delete rewrite it's not perfect enough! How much progress are you really making? Does it really take 4 years to write a 40k novel? (mid-grade). She refers to herself as a literary snob/elite and acts like it, too. If you ask me, the MFA was a waste of time because it didn't teach her the value of FINISHING ANYTHING.

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2017, 01:25:48 PM »
So, devil's advocate again. Isn't part of the reason we got into this because we wanted to contribute, in some small way, to the tradition of literature and storytelling? I have to admit that there's something ephemeral about my entire career. Of all the books I've sold, some tiny handful are in print. The rest are electronic copies, and they don't feel tangible. I also know, no matter how many books I were to sell, or how good they were, everything I've done will be gone sometime between when I die and when the last device gets replaced for a newer model

There will be no awards. My local bookstore is too snooty to carry my books. When people ask who my publisher is, and I say self-published, I can see the light fading in their eyes. A lot of people I know wouldn't read my books, because they've made assumptions about them.

I earn a living from my writing. That's the most important thing for me. But it might not be for other people. And even though I'm mostly happy, I do feel a bit of a sting from the things that I don't have.

Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2017, 01:27:05 PM »
Hey to each their own but this reminds me reading that traditional publishing is now more akin to vanity publishing (don't remember the source). Even if you land a deal for most the advance, royalties, and marketing push from the publisher will be negligible so it's more of an ego thing a desire to be validated by a publisher versus going direct to the reader.


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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 01:51:22 PM »
So, devil's advocate again. Isn't part of the reason we got into this because we wanted to contribute, in some small way, to the tradition of literature and storytelling? I have to admit that there's something ephemeral about my entire career. Of all the books I've sold, some tiny handful are in print. The rest are electronic copies, and they don't feel tangible. I also know, no matter how many books I were to sell, or how good they were, everything I've done will be gone sometime between when I die and when the last device gets replaced for a newer model

There will be no awards. My local bookstore is too snooty to carry my books. When people ask who my publisher is, and I say self-published, I can see the light fading in their eyes. A lot of people I know wouldn't read my books, because they've made assumptions about them.

I earn a living from my writing. That's the most important thing for me. But it might not be for other people. And even though I'm mostly happy, I do feel a bit of a sting from the things that I don't have.

The idea that all self-published books are garbage is a prejudice, and like any other prejudice, it may take a long time to break down. We are the pioneers in that sense, and each of us helps to break down that idea a little if we keep publishing the best work we can. Just a few years ago, self-publishing didn't even exist, and now self-published work accounts for more than a third of Amazon's ebook sales. That's a lot of readers who are either willing to give self-publishing a chance or just don't pay attention to who published the book.

I look at the ebook/print dichotomy somewhat differently than you do. A hundred years from now, the print books will be decaying, but the digital files will always be there. If you have heirs who have an interest in collecting royalties, the book will still be up for seventy years, and after that, as public domain works, they may well take on a separate life. Some print books are almost impossible to find after a much shorter time.

We all want validation, and very few of us would spit on a Big Five exec offering a huge advance. However, if you're making a living at writing, that's more validation than even some trad published authors get. When you think about how few people can do that, it's amazing.

I can understand why people see a trad published contract. I did, too, when I first started writing (before alternatives existed). However, when someone has waited ten years, and the books are piling up, it seems as if a rethink might be in order. Unless the only thing one wants is the pat on the head from the trad publisher, unpublished books make no money and give pleasure to no readers. 


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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2017, 02:03:39 PM »
The idea that all self-published books are garbage is a prejudice, and like any other prejudice, it may take a long time to break down.

The longer I'm in SP the more I'm realizing the thing it most closely resembles is the porn industry. Used to be studios controlled things because it took a lot of money - cameras, marketing, locations, etc - to make a porno.

Now anyone with a go pro (or something equivalent), some computer software, and a web site can make mad bank if "consumers" take a liking to them.  But because of this, there are also people who really shouldn't be making videos who nonetheless keep hoping the world will want to see them "doing it"; or maybe they just enjoy it regardless of the financial rewards (or lack thereof). 

I think publishing will remain a mess forever, now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

And hey, everyone only gets one life, so maybe things being a mess is a good thing because it means people are at least attempting to make their dreams come true.


Offline D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2017, 02:16:32 PM »
The longer I'm in SP the more I'm realizing the thing it most closely resembles is the porn industry. Used to be studios controlled things because it took a lot of money - cameras, marketing, locations, etc - to make a porno.

Now anyone with a go pro (or something equivalent), some computer software, and a web site can make mad bank if "consumers" take a liking to them.  But because of this, there are also people who really shouldn't be making videos who nonetheless keep hoping the world will want to see them "doing it"; or maybe they just enjoy it regardless of the financial rewards (or lack thereof). 

I think publishing will remain a mess forever, now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

And hey, everyone only gets one life, so maybe things being a mess is a good thing because it means people are at least attempting to make their dreams come true.
That's a good comparison. I know there are camgirls making six-figures a month. That's amazing to me. A few years ago they would've had to enter the business and deal with a lot of BS, now they can give content straight to the fans. The same is true with YouTube. Years ago you had to work for a network to become a media personality, now random people online are becoming powerful brands. We're living in a DIY age. Even in music, more artists are deciding to stay indie instead of signing deals. Like Chance The Rapper, he won a Grammy and he's still unsigned.

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2017, 02:20:02 PM »
I don't have a super high opinion of the quality of art I'm producing--it's mainly brain candy--but I hope I aspire to something a little more elevating than a comparison to the porn industry. ;)

Offline JaclynDolamore

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2017, 02:21:00 PM »
So, devil's advocate again. Isn't part of the reason we got into this because we wanted to contribute, in some small way, to the tradition of literature and storytelling? I have to admit that there's something ephemeral about my entire career. Of all the books I've sold, some tiny handful are in print. The rest are electronic copies, and they don't feel tangible. I also know, no matter how many books I were to sell, or how good they were, everything I've done will be gone sometime between when I die and when the last device gets replaced for a newer model

There will be no awards. My local bookstore is too snooty to carry my books. When people ask who my publisher is, and I say self-published, I can see the light fading in their eyes. A lot of people I know wouldn't read my books, because they've made assumptions about them.

I earn a living from my writing. That's the most important thing for me. But it might not be for other people. And even though I'm mostly happy, I do feel a bit of a sting from the things that I don't have.

I totally get this. I love print copies, and of course the dream of all time is to have that sort of book that people are still reading 50, 100, 200 years later.

But having been traditionally published, I realize how ephemeral it all is, anyway. I go to auctions and often buy boxes of old books just to get one title, and there are boxes of novels from 30-100 years ago at auction houses full of print books that are just junk at this point. No one's reading them, they're super dated, just recycling bin fodder or decor for those weird people who decorate their houses with unread old books. My most popular self published book has already sold 2x what my most popular traditionally published book sold. So, it's reaching more people now. People probably won't read it in 100 years, but...that usually IS the case. I've made peace with it. My writing might inspire a few writers in the future, and that is how I will be a part of the conversation of writers across centuries.

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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2017, 02:26:03 PM »
I totally get this. I love print copies, and of course the dream of all time is to have that sort of book that people are still reading 50, 100, 200 years later.

But having been traditionally published, I realize how ephemeral it all is, anyway. I go to auctions and often buy boxes of old books just to get one title, and there are boxes of novels from 30-100 years ago at auction houses full of print books that are just junk at this point. No one's reading them, they're super dated, just recycling bin fodder or decor for those weird people who decorate their houses with unread old books. My most popular self published book has already sold 2x what my most popular traditionally published book sold. So, it's reaching more people now. People probably won't read it in 100 years, but...that usually IS the case. I've made peace with it. My writing might inspire a few writers in the future, and that is how I will be a part of the conversation of writers across centuries.

That's a great post. And some of what I'm shaking my fist against is the transient nature of nearly everything that humans do. I'm feeling a little glum today about my place in all of this.

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2017, 02:29:12 PM »
I don't have a super high opinion of the quality of art I'm producing--it's mainly brain candy--but I hope I aspire to something a little more elevating than a comparison to the porn industry. ;)


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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2017, 02:30:39 PM »
I guess it all comes down to what you're really looking for out of your writing. You can want that validation of being published by a real publisher, with the work that will likely come with it for next to nothing. And that's fine. Or, you can get the validation of having people read your stories that you've been the publisher for, with all the work that entails, and make more money. Or, you can have both and be a hybrid author.

The thing is, it doesn't matter to me or my business which anyone else picks. I just keep doing my thang, and that makes me happy. I do wish people that can't make it with literary novels, poetry and memoirs of lives that are so ordinary as to be sleep-inducing would give me the same courtesy, and just shut up about it already.
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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2017, 02:35:38 PM »
So, devil's advocate again. Isn't part of the reason we got into this because we wanted to contribute, in some small way, to the tradition of literature and storytelling?

Not all of us. You really have to allow for wide-ranging differences in people, their circumstances, and motives. I wrote my first book to win a bet. When I found out about KDP (back in 2010, it was DTP then), I published to see if what I'd written could make a few needed dollars. I continue to write and publish for the money. If my books stop selling, I'll stop writing then and there.

As for print, all my books are available through Create Space, but I confess to having no understanding of those who cling to print as I abandoned it the day I got my Kindle 1 in spring of 2008. Horses for courses, I tell myself.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2017, 02:39:05 PM »

The MFA is a boondoggle invented to drain cash from hopefuls who don't actually need the degree to get a job. It's a complete waste of time if you want to be in the literary elite. It would cost less and be more entertaining to find a literary icon and spend weeks and months getting drunk with him (and...). That could get your Great American Novel published.
Yup!

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2017, 02:43:49 PM »
The idea that all self-published books are garbage is a prejudice, and like any other prejudice, it may take a long time to break down. We are the pioneers in that sense, and each of us helps to break down that idea a little if we keep publishing the best work we can.

Yikes! I need to start publishing the best work I can now! I didn't know I was the ambassador to indie publishing...

I make more money slinging paperbacks at events than I do in digital sales, so my paperbacks will be used to build society when the zombie apocalypse happens.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 02:50:43 PM by Mark Gardner »

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2017, 02:56:08 PM »
That's a great post. And some of what I'm shaking my fist against is the transient nature of nearly everything that humans do. I'm feeling a little glum today about my place in all of this.

Totally get that.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2017, 02:57:49 PM »
I guess I don't understand. Wouldn't it make more sense to self-pub the trad-pub rejects instead of letting them languish? At least that way the chance to earn some money is greater than zero. Are they really going to magically become accepted after ten years of rejections?

This is a very valid point. If they absolutely do not sell in her first choice manner, why simply let them languish? Even if they didn't make much money, a few would read them which is for most of us the reason for writing, not validation from some big corporation.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2017, 03:02:11 PM »
This is a very valid point. If they absolutely do not sell in her first choice manner, why simply let them languish? Even if they didn't make much money, a few would read them which is for most of us the reason for writing, not validation from some big corporation.
Because if they went ahead and self-published, then they couldn't be the self-suffering martyr.

Offline S.G. Seabourne

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2017, 03:03:17 PM »
This part stuck out at me:

Quote
I havent stopped submitting, but once a monthand only once a monthI send out a single query letter to an agent or small press.

I played the agent game for awhile, and only submitting a single query once a month IS basically giving up. Gotta play the numbers.

This is a sad article. It's true that literary doesn't do as well with self-publishing as genre... but man, something is better than nothing.

If I were her friend, I'd advise her gently to start over. Maybe go for one of those "genre" books she looks down on. Something to get her back in the game and rediscover her love of writing. Because right now? She's distancing herself. Her books will languish, unread in a hard drive and her voice will never be heard.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2017, 03:04:39 PM »
The weird thing about this attitude is it's quite at odds with almost everything heavyweight lit heroes have said about writing. Take Hemingway. He seemed to be the sort of guy who would tell everyone to live strongly and be brave, to tackle everything head on. How does that translate to spending literally a decade asking for permission to get your work out there?

I guess literary stuff is a difficult ball game, but I dunno. On one hand the author says it's unlikely they'd make up the cash from marketing, but then also says they spent tens of thousands of dollars on an MFA. It's hard to believe they're not motivated by pure vanity (how ironic).

I tend to think if you're writing literary fiction and it's all about the art (a noble pursuit, for sure), you should be willing to put yourself out there, and damn the consequences. Wanting to publish "art" (but only if it's through a "reputable" publisher) seems very... I don't know, safe? Maybe this is just an indie bias, but I tend to think the literary greats went through publishers because today's indie platforms didn't exist. Those people were trailblazers in what they did and how they did it. Maybe I'm wrong, but part of me thinks Hemingway wouldn't be waiting around for a publisher in New York to figure out whether The Sun Also Rises was worth the risk.

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Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2017, 03:24:40 PM »
Quote
I've yet to meet an author who felt their self-published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them

Hi, my name is Laran Mithras. Wanna see my profits?  :P

Nice to meet ya.  ;)

Edit: BTW, about 90% profit.
 

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2017, 03:39:07 PM »
Hi, my name is Laran Mithras. Wanna see my profits?  :P

Nice to meet ya.  ;)

Edit: BTW, about 90% profit.
I didn't think you wrote literary novels? I thought you wrote erotica or other genre fiction. Perhaps I have you confused with somebody else.

I agree that for literary fiction, self-publishing probably will have dubious success. But then, it has dubious success in traditional publishing also. And there certainly have been some literary fiction or, I guess you'd say, almost-literary-fiction success stories. (Mostly women's fiction or historical fiction.)

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2017, 03:40:12 PM »
I meant to excoriate only the remote MFAs, which entice mostly women with a little too much money and time on their hands: "We meet for a week in Paris..." (taken from a real come-on).

It does appear that this writer has forgotten the purpose of literary writing, which surely is to communicate Big Thoughts (TM) about the universe. She communicates nothing by keeping her own thoughts in a drawer, and what a shame.


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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2017, 03:43:31 PM »
I didn't think you wrote literary novels? I thought you wrote erotica or other genre fiction. Perhaps I have you confused with somebody else.

I agree that for literary fiction, self-publishing probably will have dubious success. But then, it has dubious success in traditional publishing also. And there certainly have been some literary fiction or, I guess you'd say, almost-literary-fiction success stories. (Mostly women's fiction or historical fiction.)

Ah, literary. The fog of vodka clouds my understanding. Literary is a tough market. I write erotica. Exit stage thataway.
 

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2017, 03:59:18 PM »
I finally read the entire article and I agree, she seems to have given up on publishing. But, her real job is fulfilling so maybe that's enough for her right now.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2017, 04:13:34 PM »
I liked this from the comments. It sums up why I hate referring to my books as being "self-published."

I am an author with two independently published books. They are not self published books. A self published book is something you print out at Kinkos and put in a three-ring binder. An independently published book is no different than one from a major publisher. I can put my books up against anything from a major publisher. People buy books because of the content not because of who published it. I have never once gone looking for the next Random House book.

When a filmmaker releases an independent film, no one calls it a home movie. Why rely on the publishing industry for validation? Your validation comes from the honest reviews you get from actual readers.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2017, 04:26:37 PM »
Because if they went ahead and self-published, then they couldn't be the self-suffering martyr.
We need a 'like' button.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2017, 04:31:39 PM »
I liked this from the comments. It sums up why I hate referring to my books as being "self-published."

I am an author with two independently published books. They are not self published books. A self published book is something you print out at Kinkos and put in a three-ring binder. An independently published book is no different than one from a major publisher. I can put my books up against anything from a major publisher. People buy books because of the content not because of who published it. I have never once gone looking for the next Random House book.

When a filmmaker releases an independent film, no one calls it a home movie. Why rely on the publishing industry for validation? Your validation comes from the honest reviews you get from actual readers.

Hear, hear! I couldn't agree more with this.

To be fair, I love independent movies. I prefer those to blockbuster ones, actually. Some of the best films I've seen in my life were independent. Same with books. Once I discovered Indie books in my Kindle...there was no going back.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2017, 04:40:40 PM »
The M.F.A. is a boondoggle invented to drain cash from hopefuls who don't actually need the degree to get a job.

You're wrong to make a blanket statement like that. The M.F.A. itself is just fine, if... if you are clear about what you want to, and can, get out of the effort, and you go to a good school with a good program. In the other thread that we had on here a while back about M.F.A.'s, several holders of that degree told of how satisfied they were with the great program that they went through to get it. As with so many things, bad teachers and bad schools often turn out unhappy students who think that they've wasted their time. The sad thing is, when that happens, the student didn't waste their time (and money); the teacher did. But that doesn't invalidate the existence of the degree as a goal for which some still want to strive.

The only writer I know who has an M.F.A. has been working on the same novel for going on 4 years. [...] If you ask me, the M.F.A. was a waste of time because it didn't teach her the value of FINISHING ANYTHING.

Obviously, all of that time, effort (or lack thereof), and money were wasted on that one. Sometimes the problem is with the student, not the teacher or the degree itself.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2017, 04:56:50 PM »
You're wrong to make a blanket statement like that. The M.F.A. itself is just fine, if... if you are clear about what you want to, and can, get out of the effort, and you go to a good school with a good program. In the other thread that we had on here a while back about M.F.A.'s, several holders of that degree told of how satisfied they were with the great program that they went through to get it. As with so many things, bad teachers and bad schools often turn out unhappy students who think that they've wasted their time. The sad thing is, when that happens, the student didn't waste their time (and money); the teacher did. But that doesn't invalidate the existence of the degree as a goal for which some still want to strive.

Obviously, all of that time, effort (or lack thereof), and money were wasted on that one. Sometimes the problem is with the student, not the teacher or the degree itself.
Actually, as my later comment said, I was talking about the remote MFA. Not wishing to get into an argument about the value of an advanced degree per se, but these "education products" are pitched to a certain group, in a certain way, that clearly indicates to me they are a very expensive version of the adult ed "leisure classes" most community colleges offer. Remote MFAs aren't meant to turn out museum curators, as the regular MFAs do, for instance.

If I had $26k to toss around, I'd do a remote MFA and after my semester of online work be glad to "meet in Paris for a week." I'm thinking a car with a backup camera and side airbags might be a better investment in my future, though.


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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2017, 06:11:49 AM »


[A few quotes:]
[/quote]

Well,  I've yet to meet an author who felt their traditionally published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them.  :P

But they do get validation and they can make money doing other things, such as teaching, so I guess it's all right. Plus there are grants, prizes and fellowships.

Literary novel is tricky, but it will always be tricky because " literary writing"  means having someone say your writing is good. It's not about the readers as it's about the middle men and being part of a select group.

But I still think many of them are committed to the ideas and the writing, in which case I really hope more aspiring literary writers take the plunge and publish independently.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 06:14:49 AM by deniseleitao »

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2017, 07:30:38 AM »

Well,  I've yet to meet an author who felt their traditionally published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them.  :P

But they do get validation and they can make money doing other things, such as teaching, so I guess it's all right. Plus there are grants, prizes and fellowships.



Depends on who you meet. Iain Banks admitted toward the close of his life that his literary novels were what paid for the SF, not the other way around. Big trad pub literary novels can become big movies = big money. If you've ever read Atonement, it's hard to imagine it would have become a big budget motion picture if it was published by an indie. Same for Cold Mountain, same for Benjamin Button, probably the same for a lot of books but the coffee hasn't kicked in yet.  Once your novel is published indie, it's very hard to go the other way unless it's truly huge like The Martian. Indies can't write deep, slow to start novels like Atonement, reviewers of indie books wouldn't turn past the first chapter. Depending on your style, trad pub might be the only way to get a serious read.

Also I've known people to win grants even though they weren't famous., $25K+ up for free money isn't a trivial consideration for many authors.

While I doubt this person is going to win any big trad novel contract-- after 10 years they'd know if they were competitive enough to win that-- they're earning from the other publications and from the teaching, so chasing these contacts hasn't harmed them and may have helped them in their career. It isn't the path I would choose, but I see no harm done in letting them go on their way.
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Offline deniseleitao

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2017, 07:36:41 AM »
Depends on who you meet. Iain Banks admitted toward the close of his life that his literary novels were what paid for the SF, not the other way around. Big trad pub literary novels can become big movies = big money.


I meant that I don't know them personally. I know some literary trad pub authors. They sell like 400 copies of each novel.

While it's true that some of them make money with books, you could claim they are outliers, just like the wild successful indies.

And there are some boring, slow literary novels coming out of teeny tiny presses, so I don't think it's impossible to self-publish, or at least establish a small press with some literary friends. Literary visibility has a lot to do with contacts, and these authors could do readings and network, so I think it's possible, but needs a paradigm shift.

Maybe it's fine to leave a novel dusting in the hard drive, but maybe, just maybe, we are missing a few masterpieces because the authors weren't bold enough to stand up for their works. That's everyone's loss.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 07:39:19 AM by deniseleitao »

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2017, 07:42:16 AM »
It's helpful to think of "literary" as a genre, rather than being about quality. Some people prefer that type of book, and they are widely taught in schools, but they aren't better (or worse, for that matter) as that's simply a question of taste. ParkerAvrile's comment about grants is a good one. I'd include teaching and speaking opportunities in the potential income for literary writers. Publish a well-received literary novel and a lot of doors will open.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2017, 08:16:45 AM »
Self-publishing often doesn't work, either. I had a friend who after years of trying to find a publisher finally self-published his novel. He did everything he could to market it. When he saw that except for friends no one bought it, he pulled it and never talked about it again. Enjoy the journey of writing because there is a good chance that there won't be any payoff in the end. Books may go the way of the radio.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2017, 08:25:06 AM »
Books may go the way of the radio.

Funnily enough radio (particularly when combined with podcasting) is still an immensely powerful medium. It hasn't suffered like TV has.

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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2017, 08:27:13 AM »
Self-publishing often doesn't work, either. I had a friend who after years of trying to find a publisher finally self-published his novel. He did everything he could to market it. When he saw that except for friends no one bought it, he pulled it and never talked about it again. Enjoy the journey of writing because there is a good chance that there won't be any payoff in the end. Books may go the way of the radio.

It's hard to say what makes one writer successful and another not, but people who keep writing rather than giving up seem to have a better shot than most. It's a tough, tough business, but as much as it hurts to see your friend fail like that, very few people strike it big with their first novel.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2017, 09:04:00 AM »
So, devil's advocate again. Isn't part of the reason we got into this because we wanted to contribute, in some small way, to the tradition of literature and storytelling? I have to admit that there's something ephemeral about my entire career. Of all the books I've sold, some tiny handful are in print. The rest are electronic copies, and they don't feel tangible. I also know, no matter how many books I were to sell, or how good they were, everything I've done will be gone sometime between when I die and when the last device gets replaced for a newer model

There will be no awards. My local bookstore is too snooty to carry my books. When people ask who my publisher is, and I say self-published, I can see the light fading in their eyes. A lot of people I know wouldn't read my books, because they've made assumptions about them.

I earn a living from my writing. That's the most important thing for me. But it might not be for other people. And even though I'm mostly happy, I do feel a bit of a sting from the things that I don't have.

This level of reflection is wonderful to see on KB, especially since you seem more self-possessed than the author of the piece in the OP. She can't give up belief in the system of validation that no longer validates, if it ever truly did. She's pining for a world that's gone and that was mostly smoke and mirrors anyway. And we're not so much jumping into a new future as returning to a modified past. People were self-publishing books for centuries before publishing houses came along and took over the market. 

I share some of your concerns when it comes to literary aspirations, though I come back to the imperishable wisdom of the ages: When the world gives you lemons, and it will in whole baskets, make lemonade. Start with the facts. First, big publishing is still a vehicle, but it no longer controls the market. Second, we know we can publish virtually anything we want (at least for the time being). Third, we know that word of mouth is everything. That's all we need to plot a course. We can forget--I mean really cast off--everything else we think we know that we can and can't do. Once you start looking at it with only these three facts, the situation is not so bad.   


Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #46 on: September 12, 2017, 10:41:14 AM »
This level of reflection is wonderful to see on KB, especially since you seem more self-possessed than the author of the piece in the OP. She can't give up belief in the system of validation that no longer validates, if it ever truly did. She's pining for a world that's gone and that was mostly smoke and mirrors anyway. And we're not so much jumping into a new future as returning to a modified past. People were self-publishing books for centuries before publishing houses came along and took over the market. 

I share some of your concerns when it comes to literary aspirations, though I come back to the imperishable wisdom of the ages: When the world gives you lemons, and it will in whole baskets, make lemonade. Start with the facts. First, big publishing is still a vehicle, but it no longer controls the market. Second, we know we can publish virtually anything we want (at least for the time being). Third, we know that word of mouth is everything. That's all we need to plot a course. We can forget--I mean really cast off--everything else we think we know that we can and can't do. Once you start looking at it with only these three facts, the situation is not so bad.


I don't see any major problem with finding a small press that has a decent reputation and letting it do a nice little run of trade paperbacks. The press can then submit the book for reviews, and if they know what they are doing, the author will get the validation sought. Trade publishers have a history of republishing obscure literary works that first appeared in university presses, for instance, back when those presses weren't particularly front-facing. Earning a fortune via a literary-oriented small press is unlikely, but earning a nice literary reputation is definitely possible. An author determined to achieve literary renown can build on that. Some parts of the dream may not arrive in one's lifetime; all artists have to understand that. But it won't happen if the great literary work sits on a hard drive or in a thumb drive, waiting for a relative with a lot of time to find it and turn it into the literary event of the 22nd century. Far better to be obscurely published now, and go from there.

If this particular author can't even get picked up by a small press, that indeed is a commentary on the content of these possible literary masterpieces, and that calls for an expensive, literary-experienced developmental editor. Check off another $5k or so.

 

Offline Ellie Lynn

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2017, 11:27:04 AM »

So...this is, I think, one of the biggest reasons why some authors pursue trad publishing relentlessly. They want to feel validated.

While I completely agree everyone has to do what feels right for them, and for some, it's trad publishing, I personally feel completely validated every time someone buys one of my books. It works for me, but then I've been the traditional route (still am somewhat), and found that I enjoy the creative control that comes with self publishing.   For the author still pursuing traditional publishing, perhaps she needs more than validation. Perhaps she needs to experience the entire publishing process to know WHAT it's about before she can move on to self publishing, if that's even an option for her. (shrugs) Everyone needs to find their path.

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Offline Vale

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #48 on: September 12, 2017, 12:52:44 PM »
Well, that's a depressing article. Since she's writing literary fiction, sales numbers and money probably aren't a concern. Most creative writing programs open with "this isn't a degree that leads to a job. Even the creative writing professor positions are flooded with applicants with O. Henry and Pushcart prizes."

To continue the tradition in the thread of playing Devil's Advocate, I think what she could be after is to join the conversation around modern literary works that happens when you're published "the right way" so academics see your work. If you want people to look into your work and share it among your MFA/literary magazine/Creative Writing circles, that's the way to go.

To play the angel's advocate, when I looked at the people self-publishing literary fiction, a lot of them are women and minorities who were treated badly by traditional publishing. Sometimes it was having their work excluded, sometimes it was the way New York Publishing treated the author themselves even after accepting their work. It reminded me a lot of the African-American Literary Magazines around 1900: they were massively important and influential, but because they weren't published "the right way" the way the other lit mags were published, the scholars of the time didn't study them. It took a hundred years before they became part of the creative writing curriculum.

I feel like something is happening now with self-published literary writers that'll be meaningful in the future. If you want validation through literary publishers or bragging rights or to be part of that world, go for it. But I think something amazing is going to happen among literary fiction writers who self-publish. I think a conversation is starting there that's going to prove to be the start of a different movement that will be studied by creative writing programs in 2117.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #49 on: September 12, 2017, 02:01:55 PM »
Funnily enough radio (particularly when combined with podcasting) is still an immensely powerful medium. It hasn't suffered like TV has.
After the NAB (national association of broadcasters) meeting in Austin last week, it looks as if radio is experiencing a resurgence in millennials.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #50 on: September 12, 2017, 02:11:39 PM »
After the NAB (national association of broadcasters) meeting in Austin last week, it looks as if radio is experiencing a resurgence in millennials.

Glad to hear we're finally not responsible for the death of something.

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Offline SamuelGately

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #51 on: September 12, 2017, 02:33:59 PM »
So, please correct me if I'm misguided, but I also think that today indie publishing may be the more promising path to traditional publishing than querying. At least, if I were an agent, I would find talent among the high performing indies and offer them representation. They've demonstrated initiative and craft and often bring an audience with them. Maybe not every indie takes that deal (but I know I'd jump all over it for the chance to have cake/eat to).

I appreciated the porn industry comparison, but I've always viewed the publishing industry more like the music industry. And if I'm a talent rep in music, I'm not sitting in my office listening to demos, I'm scouring the local scenes to see who has risen up (and learned to be a pro along the way). Even Bieber got a following on YouTube before he was signed. He was an indie. How proud we should be to share something.

 

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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #52 on: September 12, 2017, 02:45:34 PM »

I appreciated the porn industry comparison, but I've always viewed the publishing industry more like the music industry. . . . Even Bieber got a following on YouTube before he was signed. He was an indie. How proud we should be to share something.

Dammit, it's bad enough to be compared to the porn industry. Did you have to bring Bieber into it?! :P

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #53 on: September 12, 2017, 04:45:13 PM »
So, please correct me if I'm misguided, but I also think that today indie publishing may be the more promising path to traditional publishing than querying. At least, if I were an agent, I would find talent among the high performing indies and offer them representation. They've demonstrated initiative and craft and often bring an audience with them. Maybe not every indie takes that deal (but I know I'd jump all over it for the chance to have cake/eat to).

This is how they "should" view it, but I'm not sure they do. Let's put the porn example aside for a minute... a just as apt analogy would be tech startups. That's how the tech industry works. The big boys make trends but the little guys develop trends. It's the startups that are working on things that will be a smash 5+ years down the road.

The reason is logical. Why should the big boys tinker around with a 1,000 "might be successful" ideas. Let 1,000 different companies tinker, then when it's clear which have the products/services the world needs, just scoop them up (the others go bankrupt and let their shareholders take the loss). Sure, you'll pay a silly premium and turn the founders into gazillionaires, but it's still way cheaper than funding the 1,000 companies in search of that one stellar idea.

In that model tech startups aren't competitors to the big boys, they are future acquisitions. Heck, the ones that look really promising will even get funding from the big boys to help them along.

The trads should be doing this. But as far as I can tell they aren't. They see indies as competition rather than an endless pool of talent just waiting to be sorted through and acquired. Although Amazon Imprints seems to get this (which is no surprise given they are owned by a tech company).

My guess is there's an elitism in the trad world. They don't need to go looking for talent, they are already separating the wheat from the chaff. They simply refuse to put the work in to go in search of talent, and so, as time goes on, their roster will get weaker and weaker.

But if they were smart they wouldn't see indies as competition or "failed TP authors", but rather talent waiting to be snatched up for the right price.

I've never sent a manuscript to an agent. Ever. I didn't "fail" at that, I never even bothered with it. TP are making a huge mistake if they think they still have access to all the talent in the market. They don't.



Online AlecHutson

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #54 on: September 12, 2017, 05:29:45 PM »
So, please correct me if I'm misguided, but I also think that today indie publishing may be the more promising path to traditional publishing than querying. At least, if I were an agent, I would find talent among the high performing indies and offer them representation. They've demonstrated initiative and craft and often bring an audience with them. Maybe not every indie takes that deal (but I know I'd jump all over it for the chance to have cake/eat to).

I appreciated the porn industry comparison, but I've always viewed the publishing industry more like the music industry. And if I'm a talent rep in music, I'm not sitting in my office listening to demos, I'm scouring the local scenes to see who has risen up (and learned to be a pro along the way). Even Bieber got a following on YouTube before he was signed. He was an indie. How proud we should be to share something.

I've only been paying attention to the publishing industry for the past year or so, but this honestly has been one of the things I've found most surprising. Successful indie authors bring thousands - if not tens of thousand - of fans, and they have clearly passed the test of the marketplace and demonstrated that their work resonates with readers. Any debut writer is essentially a leap of faith for a publisher, and a writer already battle-tested should be pursued, I would think.

Let's talk about fantasy, the genre I'm most familiar with. Mark Lawrence (big-time trad-pubbed fantasy author) developed a system for measuring how popular a book is based on its Goodreads ratings. His contention is that all books (at least in fantasy) are reviewed at roughly the same rate, so you can cut through the marketing hype and tell by the number of ratings how popular a book actually is. 

http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.jp/2017/08/the-biggest-fantasy-debuts-in-past.html?m=1

You can see that it has gotten much harder for trad-pub to manufacture big adult high/epic fantasy debuts. (In YA it still seems possible). Why? Well, for one thing, most publishers insist on pricing ebooks (even for debuts) well above what casual fantasy readers are willing to pay for an unknown author. So that's just being stupid, on their part. The one big adult fantasy trad-pub debut this year (Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames) has a Kindle price of 4.99. (That they'll actually learn the correct lesson from this does worry me). More and more often, it's indie fantasy that is killing it if we apply this Goodreads system.

So why aren't agents / publishers looking to scoop these emerging indie writers? I'd be interested to know. A few years ago trad publishers approached indie luminaries like Michael J Sullivan, Anthony Ryan, and James Islington. All had been extremely successful, and in the years since they've turned into some of the biggest names in fantasy. Given the success of these authors in transitioning, why aren't publishers at least approaching big-selling, well-reviewed emerging indies? I'm in a Slack group with some of the biggest names in indie fantasy, and to my knowledge, none have even been contacted by a (reputable) agent or house looking to collaborate on future projects. If I ran an agency / publishing house, I'd task an intern with finding the top-selling / best reviewed indie writers of the past few years, and at least make some overtures. 

Alec Hutson

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #55 on: September 13, 2017, 12:09:03 AM »
So, please correct me if I'm misguided, but I also think that today indie publishing may be the more promising path to traditional publishing than querying. At least, if I were an agent, I would find talent among the high performing indies and offer them representation. They've demonstrated initiative and craft and often bring an audience with them. Maybe not every indie takes that deal (but I know I'd jump all over it for the chance to have cake/eat to).

I appreciated the porn industry comparison, but I've always viewed the publishing industry more like the music industry. And if I'm a talent rep in music, I'm not sitting in my office listening to demos, I'm scouring the local scenes to see who has risen up (and learned to be a pro along the way). Even Bieber got a following on YouTube before he was signed. He was an indie. How proud we should be to share something.

A few years ago, when NA exploded, traditional publishers scooped up a bunch of authors, but I haven't heard of that happening in the last few years. I figure it's because they aren't willing to pay what most indie authors would want. I doubt I'd look at a deal with any exclusivity or one offering less than 30-50k/book as an advance and I'm hardly a bestseller (technically, I am a USAT bestseller, but not really. I do make six figures). Even the 30-50k is a little low for giving up my rights. I'm confident I can make that myself based on past and current sales and marketing, but long term sales are really unpredictable on Amazon. It would be nice to have a sure thing. I would be willing to take a pay cut for guaranteed cash and another income stream/a new pool of readers.

But savvy indie publishers know that a low advance contract means no marketing push from the publisher. So you might as well just publish it yourself.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #56 on: September 13, 2017, 08:38:54 AM »
So why aren't agents / publishers looking to scoop these emerging indie writers? I'd be interested to know.

Wild guess, but most likely they don't want to  p*ss  off their existing roster of authors. Have you seen the way traditionally published authors talk about indies? It's brutal.

So imagine a world where everyone for years berates and denigrates indies... then a trad publisher starts acquiring indies? It's just too much of a shock to the culture... to offensive a concept for "high" society.

To my tech analogy, in that world entrepreneurs are idolized... 4 guys in a garage with duck tape, motherboards, servers and who look like they haven't had a haircut in a year or shaved in a week - "wow, wtf are you guys working on? Is it cool? Show me what it can do! Maybe there's some seed funding if I like it."

In the traditionally publishing world - "You published your own book? How cute. Oh and you got a few sales, so adorable. Now you must excuse me, I have a brunch meeting uptown at a fabulous new bistro. Too-da-loo."

The big guys are legacy and indies are disruptive, the two rarely gel well.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #57 on: September 13, 2017, 09:21:11 AM »
That's a great post. And some of what I'm shaking my fist against is the transient nature of nearly everything that humans do. I'm feeling a little glum today about my place in all of this.

Don't let yourself think about it. That way lies the abyss.  :-X

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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #58 on: September 13, 2017, 09:34:14 AM »
A few years ago, when NA exploded, traditional publishers scooped up a bunch of authors, but I haven't heard of that happening in the last few years. I figure it's because they aren't willing to pay what most indie authors would want. I doubt I'd look at a deal with any exclusivity or one offering less than 30-50k/book as an advance and I'm hardly a bestseller (technically, I am a USAT bestseller, but not really. I do make six figures). Even the 30-50k is a little low for giving up my rights. I'm confident I can make that myself based on past and current sales and marketing, but long term sales are really unpredictable on Amazon. It would be nice to have a sure thing. I would be willing to take a pay cut for guaranteed cash and another income stream/a new pool of readers.

But savvy indie publishers know that a low advance contract means no marketing push from the publisher. So you might as well just publish it yourself.
I think you've hit the nail on the head. In the last five years I've read about a number of people who turned trad deals down because they were already doing really well on their own. A few people will still take the trad deal. I think Amanda Hocking moved over after selling more than one million books. I can't think of too many recent parallels, because trad publishers aren't willing to offer enough in many cases, just as you suggest. It's true Amazon can be chancy, but so can a trad deal. It might be worth it for a writer making a living to jump on an A list trad deal that would lead to long-term best seller status, movie deals, etc., but who would take that jump to become a midlist author? Publishers do approach indies, but they tend to wait until the indie is so successful that that trad deal doesn't have the luster it would have had at the beginning of a career.


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Offline WHDean

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #59 on: September 13, 2017, 10:34:49 AM »
Wild guess, but most likely they don't want to  p*ss  off their existing roster of authors. Have you seen the way traditionally published authors talk about indies? It's brutal.

Nah. It's all dollars and cents. What anyone thinks of their dealings is the reason they have PR departments. Publishers are in the money-making business. They look at the sales curve, calculate expected earnings, and offer a deal when they'll make money. Steady but modest earners are not what they're after. The big hits are where the money is. Books sales being distributed on a power curve, one Andy Weir is worth 100 mid-listers. The cost of making a deal with a modest earner isn't worth the expense and risk.

 

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #60 on: September 13, 2017, 11:08:29 AM »
Nah. It's all dollars and cents.

one Andy Weir is worth 100 mid-listers. The cost of making a deal with a modest earner isn't worth the expense and risk.

But a modest earner today could be a blockbuster tomorrow. It takes time for newer authors to permeate the book sphere and get big (years often). So basically you have a ton of diamonds in the rough. Grab them early and they are cheap, wait until they are polished (ie. blockbusters) and you can't afford them.

To me it should be logical to view indies as a talent pool that readers are constantly vetting. The only reason to be ignoring that pool is out of cultural spite and prejudice (ie. cutting off their noses to spite their face; viewing indies as a group of wannabes and rejects).   

But I used to see that kind of thinking all the time in business. Businesses are just a groups of people and they fall into groupthink just as readily as any other group. Get enough people reinforcing the same stupid ideas and no matter how stupid they are they will seem reasonable and even wise to the group. 

Offline WHDean

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #61 on: September 13, 2017, 12:44:54 PM »
But a modest earner today could be a blockbuster tomorrow. It takes time for newer authors to permeate the book sphere and get big (years often). So basically you have a ton of diamonds in the rough. Grab them early and they are cheap, wait until they are polished (ie. blockbusters) and you can't afford them.

To me it should be logical to view indies as a talent pool that readers are constantly vetting. The only reason to be ignoring that pool is out of cultural spite and prejudice (ie. cutting off their noses to spite their face; viewing indies as a group of wannabes and rejects).   

But I used to see that kind of thinking all the time in business. Businesses are just a groups of people and they fall into groupthink just as readily as any other group. Get enough people reinforcing the same stupid ideas and no matter how stupid they are they will seem reasonable and even wise to the group. 

You're looking at a power curve market through a bell curve lens. The vast majority of doctors who finish med school will get jobs making a wage very close to one another because it's a normal market with little uncertainty--the bell curve applies. The vast majority of authors will not make anything and a tiny minority will make almost everything--winner take all, the power curve applies. Here uncertainty is high because bestsellers operate like contagions. An investor in the book market (= a publisher) has one and only one reliable strategy: Spot the contagion as it's breaking out--that is, catch the author on the way up and sign them.

Sure, you can go the old-fashioned way, banking on prospects and cultivating talent. But this approach is losing viability as publishers' brands lose their selling power. The Tor stamp, for example, doesn't carry the power it once did in the SF market, which translates into less power to turn coal into diamonds. Just look at the top 100 authors in SF.

You don't need prejudices to explain something when economics alone would vitiate the lack of them. In other words, even if publishers were as open-minded as you are, they wouldn't make money the old way anymore. So Occam's razor applies: Publishers don't court mid-listers because they can wait around for them to come up with a hit on their own dime.   



Offline Crystal_

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #62 on: September 13, 2017, 01:28:09 PM »
You're looking at a power curve market through a bell curve lens. The vast majority of doctors who finish med school will get jobs making a wage very close to one another because it's a normal market with little uncertainty--the bell curve applies. The vast majority of authors will not make anything and a tiny minority will make almost everything--winner take all, the power curve applies. Here uncertainty is high because bestsellers operate like contagions. An investor in the book market (= a publisher) has one and only one reliable strategy: Spot the contagion as it's breaking out--that is, catch the author on the way up and sign them.

Sure, you can go the old-fashioned way, banking on prospects and cultivating talent. But this approach is losing viability as publishers' brands lose their selling power. The Tor stamp, for example, doesn't carry the power it once did in the SF market, which translates into less power to turn coal into diamonds. Just look at the top 100 authors in SF.

You don't need prejudices to explain something when economics alone would vitiate the lack of them. In other words, even if publishers were as open-minded as you are, they wouldn't make money the old way anymore. So Occam's razor applies: Publishers don't court mid-listers because they can wait around for them to come up with a hit on their own dime.

Are new writers really more likely to have a hit than midlisters? I can name tons of authors who were midlisters until a hit catapulted them to bestseller status. I bet the same is true of traditionally published authors.

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #63 on: September 13, 2017, 02:00:56 PM »
Are new writers really more likely to have a hit than midlisters? I can name tons of authors who were midlisters until a hit catapulted them to bestseller status. I bet the same is true of traditionally published authors.

Remember: trade-published best-sellers are as much made as found. Take a decent book, put it in every book store in the world, get mass media coverage, and you have a best-seller because lots of people will buy it. It won't go viral and hit the Harry Potter level unless it's the right book at the right time, but it will sell a lot of copies.

And it's easier to get mass-media coverage for 'an amazing new writer' than an established one.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 02:05:37 PM by Edward M. Grant »

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #64 on: September 13, 2017, 02:04:16 PM »
I figure it's because they aren't willing to pay what most indie authors would want. I doubt I'd look at a deal with any exclusivity or one offering less than 30-50k/book as an advance and I'm hardly a bestseller

Ditto, and I've never even made $3k from a book yet. Even $50k wouldn't necessarily be enough to convince me to take the risk of signing up with a publisher with their non-compete clauses and other nonsense.

They simply can't afford to offer most indies an amount that's worth our time.

Offline WHDean

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #65 on: September 13, 2017, 02:26:24 PM »
Are new writers really more likely to have a hit than midlisters? I can name tons of authors who were midlisters until a hit catapulted them to bestseller status. I bet the same is true of traditionally published authors.

I didn't mean to imply that. The point is that it makes more sense to catch a book--whether by a new author or a mid-lister--early in the contagion cycle than it does to bank on mid-listers writing a hit or turning a mid-lister into a bestseller, which carries too much uncertainty because the only big money is in bestsellers.



     

Offline Herc- The Reluctant Geek

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #66 on: September 13, 2017, 02:28:44 PM »
Quote
Self-publishing can be a popular and accessible option for writers who wish to bypass the traditional route altogether. But while there are some wild success stories in self-publishing, they tend to be genre works - romance, erotica, science fiction, crime, young adult, and Christian lit. I've yet to meet an author who felt their self-published literary novel or memoir generated enough sales to make up for the amount of time and money spent marketing them.

Oh please. Fear of failure is what I'm getting here. I label all of my fiction as lit fic because it doesn't sell, which seems to me to be the one defining feature of literary fiction. If no one wants to read it, then it's lit fic. It doesn't matter if it's got space ships in, or vampires, or heroines with bodices that need ripping, if it languishes in the millions on the Amazon charts, then it's lit fic.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #67 on: September 13, 2017, 02:52:00 PM »
Amazon Publishing does exactly this--acquires successful indies to write a book or series for them. They use KDP as a talent pool. Authors who take that deal do so because the push APub gives their series can spill over onto their indie books.

Many, many bestselling authors I know who publish indie also have NY or London trad deals. Not unusual at all. Similar to the "eggs in many baskets" idea. There's no real ginormous secret to it. You just have to sell extremely well and want to expand to other markets. (For example: paperbacks.)

Other indies prefer to retain control over the publishing schedule and their books' presentation and marketing. Many of the big names, however, started out in trad. (Others didn't.) Sometimes they had bad experiences that drive them to retain all control now.

You have to be doing very well, though. I've already made 500K this year. I've had APub interest, but have never been approached by a NY pub, or for that matter by an agent or even an audio publisher. I've made mid-six figures for 4 years straight, and APub isn't currently interested in me. I'll wipe away my tears, I guess, with these pieces of green paper.

(No, actually, I'm kinda hurt, but there you go, it is what it is.)

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #68 on: September 13, 2017, 02:59:44 PM »
Amazon Publishing does exactly this--acquires successful indies to write a book or series for them. They use KDP as a talent pool. Authors who take that deal do so because the push APub gives their series can spill over onto their indie books.

Good point. Amazon imprints are probably one of the few--possibly the only--publishers who can make it worth an indie's time.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #69 on: September 13, 2017, 03:02:39 PM »
Good point. Amazon imprints are probably one of the few--possibly the only--publishers who can make it worth an indie's time.
And yet I know many people who have hybrid careers, including deals with NY publishers. Depends on the author, the genre (some genres simply do better trad), and many other factors.

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #70 on: September 13, 2017, 03:21:41 PM »
But you said they were already best-sellers. They're pretty much guaranteed profit for the publishers, and don't get the usual take-it-or-leave-it contract.

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #71 on: September 13, 2017, 03:32:45 PM »
Interestingly, I just noticed a recent post on Kris Rusch's site about how publishers are dumping established best-sellers who aren't best-sellery enough. If the publishers are doing that, it's no wonder they're not looking for midlist indies. They want the big hits, and don't want the hassle of dealing with measly 100k-sellers.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #72 on: September 13, 2017, 03:44:39 PM »
But you said they were already best-sellers. They're pretty much guaranteed profit for the publishers, and don't get the usual take-it-or-leave-it contract.
Unless you're making well over seven or eight figures, you aren't getting any gigantic advances, typically. I always smile at the figures I see thrown around in threads like this--people who are making five figures a year saying they'd need a 50K advance per book. Not happening. I didn't get anywhere remotely close to that, and I consistently make mid six figures a year.

To get big money and a great contract, you probably need to be selling over 100K copies of EACH of your books. Montlake Romance, for example, will dump authors whose Montlake books don't move over 100K copies. Instead, they'll go after other indie authors and gamble on whether their books will hit that mark. They're going into it with more information, yes, but they're still looking for really, really strong performance in order to continue.

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #73 on: September 13, 2017, 03:47:50 PM »
Interestingly, I just noticed a recent post on Kris Rusch's site about how publishers are dumping established best-sellers who aren't best-sellery enough. If the publishers are doing that, it's no wonder they're not looking for midlist indies. They want the big hits, and don't want the hassle of dealing with measly 100k-sellers.
But wouldn't that be more sustainable in the long-run? To have mid-list authors who are prolific and consistently bring in profit over the length of a career? It seems like publishers have an outdated system, which  brings me to the "why I'll never understand" writers like the OP article author. I read Kris Rusch's article too and shook my head. Why keep your novels stuffed in a drawer when isn't the point of writing a book so that others can read it? Even if a handful of people read it, that's still better than zero.

Like I said before, I have a friend who I think is a really, really good writer. Devoted to learning her craft and writes Renaissance style historical fantasy with paranormal elements. Her books have a lot of potential. She has written 20 full length novels and countless shorts/novellas. She absolutely refuses to go Indie. What the hell!? I gave up years ago trying to get her to see the light. She is now on her 21st novel and has slowed down her querying. She says she will never give up. I keep hoping one day she'll get furious enough at being rejected to publish something on Amazon.

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #74 on: September 13, 2017, 04:15:27 PM »
Unless you're making well over seven or eight figures, you aren't getting any gigantic advances, typically. I always smile at the figures I see thrown around in threads like this--people who are making five figures a year saying they'd need a 50K advance per book. Not happening. I didn't get anywhere remotely close to that, and I consistently make mid six figures a year.

To get big money and a great contract, you probably need to be selling over 100K copies of EACH of your books. Montlake Romance, for example, will dump authors whose Montlake books don't move over 100K copies. Instead, they'll go after other indie authors and gamble on whether their books will hit that mark. They're going into it with more information, yes, but they're still looking for really, really strong performance in order to continue.

You're proving my point.

Not all of my books have made more than 50k in profit. Plenty have made much, much less. A few have made quite a bit more. But, based on my last two years of sales and marketing data, I'm very comfortable saying my average book will make more than 30-50k over its lifetime. Will that change next year? Maybe, who knows? My segment of the market could fall apart. Or I could have a runaway hit and be the next Vi Keeland.

I'm willing to take a paycut for a tradpub deal, but only so much of a paycut. Why would any indie author take a lowball advance from a traditional publisher when it's well known that low advance contracts = no marketing money from the publisher. You might as well do it all yourself.

Montlake is an exception, because they're Amazon, and Amazon controls KU visibility. I think most indies would take a much bigger paycut for a Montlake contract, though I have seen plenty of authors who don't sell anywhere near the 100k units/book level get Montlake contracts. I have no idea how well their Montlake books do/what their contracts look like, but I do know they have Montlake books out despite generally being midlist/KU midlist.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Article: Why 'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years
« Reply #75 on: September 13, 2017, 04:26:31 PM »
I mean that your Montlake books have to sell 100k copies each or close in order to continue with Montlake. Preferably within a year, not over years.

And yes, they sign midlist indies. To get big money, the 30k per book people are talking about, you'd have to be a very big indie. I earned out the advance on my first ML book in about a week. Which means it was small, not that it sold so great. I'd made over 100k each on a number of books. I believe that's pretty typical.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 07:38:36 PM by Usedtoposthere »