Amazon or printed copy to Publisher?

Jo Zebedee

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Very polished. You also need an excellent query letter (if you get nothing else critted, I'd advise that at least.) Good advice can be found in Absolute Write's Query letter hell and on Janet Reid's Queryshark blog. But as polished as you can possibly make it.

Writers and artists handbook is a good start but I found twitter's literary rejections a fantastic source. Also #mswl is good - it tells you individual agents' wishlists.

Best of luck - it's gruelling!
 

tinkerdan

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We're talking apples and oranges here.

Oh, dear,
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.
This is reference you make is to MSS subbed around and failed. It could be a good MSS but you got no bites. Why would an agent want to deal with that.

One that is being published doesn't fall in this category unless it's some unknown publisher. Sure the agent can't help you with that one but if you have more and it looks promising then he could help with the next and what agent would refuse the cash cow over something unknown. Cutting off nose to spite face is not good business.
 

Ray McCarthy

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I found "The Writer's Handbook" 1991, ed Barry Turner in a bookcase in my study. I don't believe I've ever opened it. I think maybe was got years ago for one of my sons.
Is it uselessly out of date? It seems to be a directory mainly rather than a Handbook.


I've tended to avoid Twitter, regarding it as for self important Journalists and Celebs I have no interest in. I use private IRC, private Messaging and email to communicate privately and Forums and Blogs for Public.
 

Jo Zebedee

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We're talking apples and oranges here.



This is reference you make is to MSS subbed around and failed. It could be a good MSS but you got no bites. Why would an agent want to deal with that.

One that is being published doesn't fall in this category unless it's some unknown publisher. Sure the agent can't help you with that one but if you have more and it looks promising then he could help with the next and what agent would refuse the cash cow over something unknown. Cutting off nose to spite face is not good business.

So, what do you mean by being published and how do you get to that point if you don't submit it to publishers, which means multiple submissions in the vast majority of cases? I mean, sure sub it to Gollanz (who have open submissions) or via some of the open windows and see if they bite - but they take months (Baen for instance have a 9 month review period). But, the bottom line is if you choose to sub to publishers first unless you have gold on your hands (in which case you'd probably get an agent anyway), you will have to sub it around multiple publishers. Which puts you in exactly the bracket of having a manuscript which has been subbed around and failed.

If it's a self-published novel, then the agent looks at sales and they have to be very significant for them to make an offer on the back of it (although most don't state being self-published as any sort of handicap.)

I found "The Writer's Handbook" 1991, ed Barry Turner in a bookcase in my study. I don't believe I've ever opened it. I think maybe was got years ago for one of my sons.
Is it uselessly out of date? It seems to be a directory mainly rather than a Handbook.


I've tended to avoid Twitter, regarding it as for self important Journalists and Celebs I have no interest in. I use private IRC, private Messaging and email to communicate privately and Forums and Blogs for Public.
The writers' handbook is mostly a list - that's what it provides. A pity about Twitter. I don't follow any journalists or celebrities (well okay, one but, y'know, it's JT from Duran Duran... :p :)). I do follow a lot of literary agents, editors, publishers and resources to support them. Most of the main literary agents are on it, or Facebook, and use it to communicate when they're open, what they want, how they want it, answer questions (#askagent will answer most of the questions you've asked here directly from agents like Juliet Mushens, Juliet Pickering, Julia Churchill and lots more), and feed into things like literary rejections to keep it up to date.

and you don't need to post on Twitter to get the information, just follow a couple of hashtags:

#literaryrejections
#mswl
#askagent
#askTBA (only ran it a couple of times, but good info was given)

But if it's not your bag, then I'd suggest a google search, and there's a thread here that lists some of the agents who take sff. (but not all by a long stretch.) And the handbook.

Oh, lastly - Bewares and recommendations on Absolute write - I wouldn't sign with anyone without checking them out on it. :)
 

Ray McCarthy

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I do of course have Facebook and Twitter accounts, just in case. Some people email me links to Facebook for the photo they 'uploaded'.

Thanks.
 

Ray McCarthy

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I've gone through the 1991 Writer's Handbook and read all the Articles. I think it's likely well past its "Consume before" date. Perhaps it needs recycled!
 

tinkerdan

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I see from your view--wanting to be published by one of the top 6--and what it means to you. But it does not mean that to all other authors. And your own model falls apart at some point. Putting yourself in the top 6 puts you in a high competition slot; which means even if you held gold, you may still not see the light of day. I know this is hard for someone to envision but it's the truth. And the top 6 probably won't take unsolicited submissions anyway. Your agent for the top 6 probably does little for the other publishers; or the writer who has their hopes on the top 6 would easily be dashed when their top 6 agent sells them to the lower tier.

Just because someone does not try for the top does not mean they don't have gold. It also does not mean they will find an agent, that's just a fact of life. But these other publishers may take submissions and when they do the, gold the writer might strike their eye. When that happens the writer might start looking for an agent or the publisher may even encourage it for the next deal so they will have someone to negotiate for them. This is done all the time for those instance; though the number of such might be rather small. When they do go for the agent they might mention the published article but they shouldn't expect representation for that one previously published. The agent is just for future work. Being published once will not ensure getting an agent.

The above does not work well if your aspiration is for the top 6 publishers.

So, what do you mean by being published and how do you get to that point if you don't submit it to publishers, which means multiple submissions in the vast majority of cases? I mean, sure sub it to Gollanz (who have open submissions) or via some of the open windows and see if they bite - but they take months (Baen for instance have a 9 month review period). But, the bottom line is if you choose to sub to publishers first unless you have gold on your hands (in which case you'd probably get an agent anyway), you will have to sub it around multiple publishers. Which puts you in exactly the bracket of having a manuscript which has been subbed around and failed.
Also if you've been subbing agents it's best to sub many rather than court one. And when you do you run into that same situation because now you are subbing something that has been failing and your top 6 agent is not going to like that???

Having an agent will only eliminate the time you are waiting for a publisher to respond. The agent will still have to submit the manuscript for the publisher and wait and it may not make the cut.

I'm sure for what you want, it works for you; but not every author is looking for the same thing. I have no great ambition of being published by the top 6, but that doesn't mean I won't be looking for an agent. Even then I don't think it's necessary to be constrained by the desire for an agent.

And an agent might come back and say that you write well but I have no market for your book. Then what?
 

Jo Zebedee

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Oh dear, the thread seems to have become about me, personally, rather than the question I responded to which was what is the best way to get an agent should that be the way a writer wishes to go. But to answer:


I see from your view--wanting to be published by one of the top 6--and what it means to you.
I have no burning desire to be published by the big 6. I mean, it'd be nice, but I don't lie awake at night hoping for it. If this were my desire I wouldn't have gone with a small publisher with my trilogy but hung onto it (as some advised me to do) in case it was worth something more in the future. I'd like to published and I'd like to be proud of it - the level of that success isn't a big thing to me. What I said was that IF an author wanted to try for the top 6 they needed to go for an agent first. I also, like most writers, have little faith in my abilities and would not believe such a fate would ever be possible for me.


I know this is hard for someone to envision but it's the truth.
Absolutely. I have no qualms that my book may not sell. In which case, the next is ready to go and the next eating at my mind. My agent never promised me the dream, she only took me once I'd shown I could graft and keep grafting.

And the top 6 probably won't take unsolicited submissions anyway.
Well, as mentioned earlier, Gollanz do. And Harper had an open window.

Your agent for the top 6 probably does little for the other publishers; or the writer who has their hopes on the top 6 would easily be dashed when their top 6 agent sells them to the lower tier.
On the contrary - some of my agents' clients are not with the big6. The focus is on what I want - that's the ethos behind the agency. That's why I was supported in contracting with a small publisher, because I wanted it. At no time have I ever wanted the big 6 - I just want to be published.

It also does not mean they will find an agent, that's just a fact of life. But these other publishers may take submissions and when they do the, gold the writer might strike their eye. When that happens the writer might start looking for an agent or the publisher may even encourage it for the next deal so they will have someone to negotiate for them. This is done all the time for those instance; though the number of such might be rather small.
By all means, if someone has a deal they should - if they want - seek representation. My advice was the industry standard that if you want an agent you should go for that first. If you want published and an agent is secondary, then by all means sub first. I said that in my first post.


The above does not work well if your aspiration is for the top 6 publishers.
Can't comment - it has never been my aspiration.


Also if you've been subbing agents it's best to sub many rather than court one. And when you do you run into that same situation because now you are subbing something that has been failing and your top 6 agent is not going to like that???
Of course it is. I subbed to many, many agents, some of whom liked it, some of whom didn't. Enough of whom gave me the same feedback that allowed me to fix it to make it better and more on-market. It was never an issue. Agents know it's about what they like, not what other agents don't like. Right until I was offered rep I was still subbing it despite working on an R and R for my (now) agent.

Having an agent will only eliminate the time you are waiting for a publisher to respond. The agent will still have to submit the manuscript for the publisher and wait and it may not make the cut.
Since I've spent since last November working with the agent on the mss to get it good enough, I think it's true that they extend the time while they push you harder (in my case, anyway.)

I'm sure for what you want, it works for you;
Unfortunately you don't know what I want. Yet you've made statements that indicate you do know what I want. If you look through my threads you'll find no mention of aspirations to be anything other than published - and that has included considerations of self-publishing. I am not in this for money, as I've mentioned loads of times, or fame. I'm in this to write since I can't seem to stop myself.




And an agent might come back and say that you write well but I have no market for your book. Then what?
Then I write the next book. :) and focus on my trilogy. I have no illusions about subbing, that I might get nothing. I have no fear on that - I'll write some more.

It strikes me you have read a lot of things I haven't said, or taken an argument that was a general one and applied it to my personal motivations. I would suggest you don't do that until you know what they are, or know more about my circumstances.
 
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Tirellan

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I've gone through the 1991 Writer's Handbook and read all the Articles. I think it's likely well past its "Consume before" date. Perhaps it needs recycled!

Long past! Pre-internet/e-mail day. Publishing has changed a lot since then.
There's a pretty good list of UK agents who will consider SF/F for the adult market here: Agents | The T Party
 

Brian G Turner

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Ray, you'll want to run it by an editor first - a good one. Most MS completely fail to reach a necessary standard (according to London agent, Carole Blake, 97% of submissions she receives fail on basic issues such as grammar and spelling).

However, to get in that top 1% you also need to be good at structuring IMO.

A good editor will kick up the weak points in your story for you to cover, and a line editor will help polish.

So that's 2 editors required. I'm sure we have a thread on that in the Writing Resources board. :)

Feel free to post a sample to the Critiques section (first 1500 words) if you want to know any obvious problems.

Trying for an agent would be much quicker and more efficient than targeting publishers directly.

Also remember there are good strong publishers outside of the big 6 - UK independent Solaris can can provide both the paperback and ebook in all English markets worldwide on the first day of publication.

Of course, that's the traditional publishing route - but if you go the self route, you'll probably have to become a business manager to work around your writing, which certainly doesn't suit everyone.
 

tinkerdan

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Sorry misconstrued what you wanted based on advice to get agent first and this remark.
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.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Of course, that's the traditional publishing route - but if you go the self route, you'll probably have to become a business manager to work around your writing, which certainly doesn't suit everyone.
I will experiment with self publishing my 1993-1994 effort once I fix it and get some independent editing. I should have fixed it then. But I was working. Now I'm not. I know from nearly 40 years Tech writing as designer of SW & HW systems that even if you can edit other people's stuff you are "blind" to your own mistakes. At least an expert proof reader is needed. MS Word can't do it!

The new effort (just on 2nd Draft now) I will get "polished" and follow submission guidelines of the suggested SF agents. (Though my son points out that it's 'really' a sort of Detective Story with a Boarding School and Fantasy element. Nothing remotely related to Harry Potter or X-Men schools though! All my readers agree on that. Phew! Though I enjoyed HP, but then I enjoy Enid Blyton too!).

I've had 3 business of my own since 1979. So the Business side of Self Publishing to me is no harder than writing, and no one else is employing me. I have wax models of Anglo Irish Bank execs and Irish Financial regulator that I ... No, I don't. But I try not to think about 2008!

Thanks!
 

Ray McCarthy

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Feel free to post a sample to the Critiques section (first 1500 words) if you want to know any obvious problems.
Maybe in a week. Thanks.

I'll get some feedback from my local readers first on this version. I only gave a couple the 1st version so that some people would be seeing 2nd draft 'fresh' :)
 

steelyglint

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Haven't seen one for years - local libraries in the UK always had copies - but the Writers and Artists Yearbook gave details of all submission requirements for each publisher (and it lists them all).

.
 

Jeffbert

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I have read all the posts in this thread, and opened several of the links. My book is not fiction, but a 'companion' type such as THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION. As such, I do not think a literary agent would be appropriate, as this work is not fiction.
 
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