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Amazon or printed copy to Publisher?

Ray McCarthy

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Years ago, you maybe sent an unsolicited double spaced manuscript to a Publisher (it was Letter quality computer printed, not handwritten, 1992, not 1902!). What do publishers like now? Paper, CD, USB stick, a Web or FTP link with password, a summary email, What? Or do they matter any more, is Amazon going to wipe out publishers and retail in the long term? Should I just stick it on Amazon? :)
 

Jo Zebedee

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Hey, Ray, welcome from the sunny North. ;)

To submit to publishers, most take an ecopy these days. Word doc or word x, non-serif font (Times new roman is popular, but I use Callibri and no one has complained), indents etc and you're away. They all have their own submission guidelines. To sub to most of the big publishers you will need an agent first, which means a good query letter.

Amazon/ trad publishers - the jury's out. I think we'll see more hybrid careers - a bit of both - but trad publishing is still struggling on, and, y'know, self-pubbing still rarely gets you into a bookshop (and being on the shelf generates online sales). No one can make that choice for you. ;)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Times New Roman is a serif font, as is the old standard Courier. Calibri is a sans serif. I think you may be getting away with it if all your submissions are electronic, springs, because they can change it with a couple of clicks of the mouse. But it is certainly better to give publishers what they want.

I think very few people find that the serifs hurt their eyes. The problem with most sans serif fonts is that it can be hard to tell some of the letters apart. (With Calibri, you will notice, the capital I and lower case l are just about indistinguishable to the naked eye, and certainly indistinguishable at a glance.) The default font here at the forum appears to be a hybrid, because it is a sans serif font when the I and the l are clearly different.
 

tinkerdan

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All these are reasonable suggestions, but depending on what route you go keep in mind what the target publisher, agent editor wants.

My jobs at first were double spaced with courier and they want garamond or some other and when I sent double spaced they got confused about how many pages we were going to end up with and so now I send them single space garamond and I include scene markers because otherwise its pot luck what happens with the spaces for the scene changes and some times my scene changes end up on opposite pages and it looked like I just dashing off in another directions spontaneously.

So bottom line find out as much as you can about the format that's going to be helpful for them because it's really easy to change it if you use the right editing tools.

I trust with traditional publishing it works out well; the way people here have been suggesting so far.
 

Susan Boulton

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Most publishers and agents have thier submission guidelines on their web pages.

Some agents still want want paper submissions. The important thing is to read the submission guidelines carefully and do what they ask.
 

Jo Zebedee

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I trust with traditional publishing it works out well; the way people here have been suggesting so far.
I don't think anyone's suggesting anything so far, just answering a question? And I don't think any of us think it's as easy as sub and ker-ching, success! But it's not impossible, either. Mouse is being trad published this year, so am I and SJAB, Hex and I have agents.

Times New Roman is a serif font, as is the old standard Courier. Calibri is a sans serif. I think you may be getting away with it if all your submissions are electronic, springs, because they can change it with a couple of clicks of the mouse. But it is certainly better to give publishers what they want.

I think very few people find that the serifs hurt their eyes.
Oops, my bad. :eek:

I think you're right about the reason why, mostly, places are less fussy than they used to be - editors change the fonts to what they want anyway. I usually have a copy of everything knocking around in Times for those who specify it.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Thanks for clarifying.

So do I need an Agent? What difference is that compared to approaching Publishers direct, or is an Agent more important if a Publisher shows an interest?

It's not an idle hypothetical question as I'm half way through 2nd version of the current novel. One draft completed. I previously wrote a shorter story in 1993.
 

ad233

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My husband is trying to get his novel published at the moment and we have a friend in the publishing world who said that an agent is better. They take a fee, but they approach publishers for you. Plus loads of publishers don't look at books if they don't come from an agent.
Problem is, getting an agent is as hard as getting a publisher! If you've got any tips, let me know!
My husband has decided to self publish for now, and hope to get noticed ... We shall see
 

Ray McCarthy

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Hopefully Amazon and Blogs will kill off Scamming 'Vanity' Publishers. Of course you can't make money with episodes published on a Blog. But it might be part of a self publishing strategy including Amazon if you have a Novella or two spare ...
 

Jo Zebedee

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Thanks for clarifying.

So do I need an Agent? What difference is that compared to approaching Publishers direct, or is an Agent more important if a Publisher shows an interest?

It's not an idle hypothetical question as I'm half way through 2nd version of the current novel. One draft completed. I previously wrote a shorter story in 1993.
Ugh, long answer lost.

You can go about it either way. Most of the big publishers only take submissions from agents, but the smaller publishing houses take direct subs. Mouse has two books coming out this year, and she didn't go down the agent route. For me, I went down the agent route, which has probably slowed things a little, but it suits me - I like the additional line of support, and to know I'm being kept on the right track.

I did it both ways - I got an agent with my second book but contracted with a small publisher for my first (although after I got my agent, so she contracted for me.)

But before you get to that stage, I'd suggest getting some beta reads and crits, if you haven't already - you need to be sure it's top notch before submitting because you don't get a second chance.

My husband is trying to get his novel published at the moment and we have a friend in the publishing world who said that an agent is better. They take a fee, but they approach publishers for you. Plus loads of publishers don't look at books if they don't come from an agent.
Problem is, getting an agent is as hard as getting a publisher! If you've got any tips, let me know!
My husband has decided to self publish for now, and hope to get noticed ... We shall see
Getting an agent is incredibly hard, but they are the gatekeepers to the big publishers. In my case, my agent also gives a lot of editorial support so the book is very much more honed now, and also advises on contracts and makes sure I'm not signing my life away. I'm pretty satisfied when I do, eventually, maybe, earn something from this gig she has more than earned her percentage!

The only tips I have is to learn the game - how to write a query, how to write a synopsis, who's looking for your sort of stuff now, who isn't. And hone, hone, hone. There are loads of good writers out there and not that many good agents and they get loads of submissions. Yours has to be good enough to stand out, and then you have to have a hefty dose of luck in there, too.

Good luck to your husband - there are a fair few self-publishers on the Chrons and some good tips to help. Getting noticed is the hardest bit, I think.
 

Mouse

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You don't need an agent. It depends where you want to submit to. Most bigger publishers will only work through an agent (Gollancz are one who don't) and then sometimes they have 'open door' periods.

This is how to format an MS unless the publisher's guidelines say otherwise. Always read the guideline and follow them exactly! William Shunn : Manuscript Format : Novel Format

Getting noticed from being self-published is unlikely to happen unless you sell ridiculous amounts (a la 50 Shades).

edit: cross-posted with missus lovely above, who's said pretty much the same. ;)
 

The Judge

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... we have a friend in the publishing world who said that an agent is better. They take a fee ...
[my bolding] Just in case it isn't obvious, or someone new to publishing misinterprets this, the "fee" a respectable agent takes is a percentage of your earnings, once you have earned them (and been paid -- the publisher pays the agent who takes his cut and passes the balance on). Anyone who demands a fee up front for reading your work or submitting it to publishers is almost certainly not a bona fide agent. Scammers abound, so before parting with any money to anyone check, check and check again.
 

tinkerdan

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An agent is a good thing to have for many of the reasons already mentioned.

As far as when you need one. Usually you would want to have a firm offer from a publisher and then you might look for an Agent. Even so that might be a bit early.

The only reason to not try the agent first is that you really have little to offer in comparison to someone who has a publisher already committed. Even then it would only benefit if you were picked up again and if your first book doesn't do well it may take a while to get picked up again and the agent is not a magician who can make things happen outside of ordinary channels. One who is worth his salt will tell you this.

Getting an agent is an encouraging step in the right direction but not all authors who acquire an agent see instant success.

If you happen to be lucky enough to write in a genre that has a multitude of places you can offer short stories you can grow your name that way and then going direct to an agent from there makes more sense.

If your genre doesn't offer that opportunity then it's an either or proposition that doesn't have any guarantee either way.

Best bet is to keep submitting and move on from there.

Right now a writer writes (writing is not really a business) and the business side of it is the agent and publisher.

Self publisher is:
A writer.
A business person.

Busy.
 

Jo Zebedee

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Sorry to be argumentative but no, go for the agent first (if you want one) not a publisher. For two reasons:

Unless a publishers' offer is amazing it will not woo an agent (and I know because I was in that position) and the only way to get the sort of offer an agent would look at is to get an offer from the sort of publisher only agents can sub to. I had no offer from publishers for the book I got representation for.

And secondly, if an agent finds out you've subbed to publishers, they won't want to touch you as you'll have burned bridges.

So, I think it's good to go for the agent first if you want the dream big6 publisher. If you want a small publisher, or are niche, I think subbing direct is good. And if you want to self-pub then bypass both.
 

tinkerdan

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I guess this depends on what kind of agent you want to get.

Sorry to be argumentative but no, go for the agent first (if you want one) not a publisher. For two reasons:

Unless a publishers' offer is amazing it will not woo an agent (and I know because I was in that position) and the only way to get the sort of offer an agent would look at is to get an offer from the sort of publisher only agents can sub to. I had no offer from publishers for the book I got representation for.

And secondly, if an agent finds out you've subbed to publishers, they won't want to touch you as you'll have burned bridges.

So, I think it's good to go for the agent first if you want the dream big6 publisher. If you want a small publisher, or are niche, I think subbing direct is good. And if you want to self-pub then bypass both.
It doesn't sound like this one you describe would be a very good one. An Agent's first and only job is to find something that will work in the market they are not worried about people burning bridges.

Literary Agents - Answers and Advice; Tara K. Harper, Author FAQ

This is a bit outdated as far as statistics but this site still has useful information.

Why a Writer Needs a Literary Agent | SFWA

More current sensible advice about agents and why getting them first for the big publishers is helpful--without any talk of burning bridges or stepping on toes.
 
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Ray McCarthy

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I have finished 2nd draft, which filled in gaps left in 1st that were not important to plot (yes I've done a million years of Computer Programming!),

So now, being on a writing binge I will re-write my Jorath's Quest, last edited in 1994.
I will self publish Jorath (it's a smaller older kids / young adult Fantasy story, almost nothing magical). I will look at Amazon and Smashwords. I have my own online shop, it is Electronics stuff and out of copyright old Electronics books in scanned PDF (free).
The current hard SF / Fantasy / Boarding school/ Detective story (Not an Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle, but definitely detecting) I will look for an Agent. It's either called the Orb of Ghillion or The Talent Apprentice or The Apprentice Talent. Because there may be one with a Journeyman and a Master (If I think up a plot!).

When I have Jorath's Quest fixed, I'll promote it on my blog which I have a huge amount of content to add. So I will get Jorath and the Blog sorted before doing the next re-write of current book. I have it as all separate files, but I think over 70,000 words.

Thanks everyone!

[Edit : Did I break some rule here? The entry I put on the Chronicles Site blog (which is pretty limited Vb) to my own personally hosted blog is gone. But anyway you can find my site via my Profile I think]
 
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Jo Zebedee

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Oh, dear, I must have signed with a not very good one, then. :) (i didn't, as it happens.) when I had an offer in hand I took it to Zeno, John Jarrold, Juliet Mushens and a couple of others. These are all top, top agents - not one was interested in the offer in hand. (It was a fairly typical small publisher offer, no advance, royalties on net.)

An agent wants to seek the best possible financial outcome for you and the book. They'll put a lot of work into it. They want their fifteen percent to be of something decent. If you've subbed the manuscript all round you've cut that potential market for them to sub to. And publishers know the mss has been knocking around for a while, which makes it less attractive.

If you sub agents first and get nos, you have lost nothing except time - you can still take the book to publishers and, if you get a fab deal, go back to agents and ask if they'll consider you now (I did that with Zeno when I got the offer). If you've gone round publishers first and it puts an agent off - and it will, it gets asked on #askagent quite a lot and the responses are consistent - you have nowhere to go.

But, I'm not an industry expert. I am, though, someone who made that mistake with my first book and closed many, many doors before I got a chance to knock them. :) if the article is a little dated, this may be the difference - it used to be much easier to get publisher offers than it is now, and there was a bigger market. That has shrank a lot and the agents have become more and more the gatekeepers to publishers. The consistent advice I see now, if you want an agent, is to get them first (with the query, synopsis route and any publishing credits you have) and then you work up to a publisher.
 
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