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What do YOU think it takes to get published nowadays?

ShadowedIrises

New Member
I am an avid reader and writer, and I have been writing stories since I could hold a pen. Within the past three years, I have been delving deeper into what it really takes to get published since I have a few books written. But what does it really take for an agent (much less an actual publishing company) to be impressed by you, your query letter, and your work? More and more aspiring writers are rejected every day while it seems shallow plots and mundane characters are becoming the next big sensation.

I guess what I am really asking is- what sells?
What do you look for in a book or story?
As a writer, would you ever drastically alter your work just to get it published?
 

Saga

absolutely disgusting
Have a bigger hook than a shark fisher.

Also be prepared to do years of waiting for a yes or no, and be willing to let the publishing company edit some of the work.
 

Conker

Destroyer of Nazi Teddy Bears
Nepotism and luck are the biggies.

It sucks because this Young Adult Novel craze keeps going and going and ever book I've read in that "genre" has sucked a fat one with maybe two exceptions. Every time I go off of what is popular, I wind up with a bad book, either poorly written or just poorly thought out. Sometimes both.

Don't really know what to tell ya though. I judge books by their covers and most new books I buy aren't all that new. Only authors I really follow have been around for some time and have street cred to their work, so I don't bump into a lot of "up and coming" writers these days.

Self publishing is a a route to consider, but I don't think you'll make a career off of that.
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
Be careful of the Scammers! The first time I copy writed a full length novel they came out of the wood work claiming to be publishers. they wanted to publish my book and have me pay them a mere 7K. Real publishers don't charge ya, they pay ya! nothing wrong with self publishing. One of mine (Shielah of Earth is doing pretty good on Amazon/kindle.)
It seems to holding five out five stars so far. Read the reviews but take them with a grain of salt. As far as altering the work, i accept spelling and grammatical corrections but nothing that would alter the story. I don't do it for a living so I am not afraid to say no. If it is good enough to publish then I might make a few corrections if they sound good and the story holds together. My problem is that I usually won't put one out there untill there are three or four books to it.
Hope this helps some!
 

ShadowedIrises

New Member
I'm not looking for a career, it is only a very pleasurable hobby of mine so I don't mind waiting for the right company to say yes (if any at all). It just seems like some new writers have it easier than others, and I wondered what you guys thought it was that made them stand out.

Be careful of the Scammers! The first time I copy writed a full length novel they came out of the wood work claiming to be publishers. they wanted to publish my book and have me pay them a mere 7K. Real publishers don't charge ya, they pay ya! nothing wrong with self publishing. One of mine (Shielah of Earth is doing pretty good on Amazon/kindle.)
It seems to holding five out five stars so far. Read the reviews but take them with a grain of salt. As far as altering the work, i accept spelling and grammatical corrections but nothing that would alter the story. I don't do it for a living so I am not afraid to say no. If it is good enough to publish then I might make a few corrections if they sound good and the story holds together. My problem is that I usually won't put one out there untill there are three or four books to it.
Hope this helps some!

Thanks! It especially helps to have some input from a fellow novelist. I have contacted a few publishing agencies but they asked for an arm and a leg up front. I know that publishing is an investment, but paying more than 1k up front seems nonsensical. And that's being generous.
 

M. LeRenard

Is not French
I guess what I am really asking is- what sells?
What do you look for in a book or story?
As a writer, would you ever drastically alter your work just to get it published?

I would suggest not asking yourself 'what sells', because the market is a fickle thing and what sells today may not sell tomorrow. I think this part of it is where you just have to rely on good ol' fashioned luck.
That said, getting things published isn't usually the problem. There are plenty of smaller-scale publishing houses out there that will take the things the big publishing houses find too risky, and many of these smaller houses will do much more to respect the integrity of your work than the bigger ones. So as long as your work is of good quality, you can always find someone willing to spend some money to get it out to the public.

The problem is actually making money off of your published work. You may get something published, but if it's by a publisher no one recognizes and that has little resources in the way of marketing, you may find yourself selling fewer than one or two copies a year, or maybe selling half a dozen right off the bat and then falling off the radar.

Now, big publishing houses actually do have a budget for risk as well, if I remember correctly; like the movie industry in France, they tend to use some of their massive profits from the popular crap to give more obscure and difficult pieces a platform. But again, that's playing the lottery. So other than these things, there's always self-publishing, which is very easy to do these days.


In terms of drastically altering my work just to get it published... at the moment I'd say I'm with Gnarl, in that since I don't really try to make huge profits off of my work, I don't have any particular reason to sell my soul. If I was confronted with the prospect of making millions of dollars on a novel, though, but had to fundamentally change the tone and message of the work to do it, I'd probably do it. I don't consider myself that serious of an artist that I'd forgo a life of luxury just for the sake of art. But lucky (or not) for me I don't think I'll have to make that choice any time soon.
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
I would suggest not asking yourself 'what sells', because the market is a fickle thing and what sells today may not sell tomorrow. I think this part of it is where you just have to rely on good ol' fashioned luck.
That said, getting things published isn't usually the problem. There are plenty of smaller-scale publishing houses out there that will take the things the big publishing houses find too risky, and many of these smaller houses will do much more to respect the integrity of your work than the bigger ones. So as long as your work is of good quality, you can always find someone willing to spend some money to get it out to the public.

The problem is actually making money off of your published work. You may get something published, but if it's by a publisher no one recognizes and that has little resources in the way of marketing, you may find yourself selling fewer than one or two copies a year, or maybe selling half a dozen right off the bat and then falling off the radar.

Now, big publishing houses actually do have a budget for risk as well, if I remember correctly; like the movie industry in France, they tend to use some of their massive profits from the popular crap to give more obscure and difficult pieces a platform. But again, that's playing the lottery. So other than these things, there's always self-publishing, which is very easy to do these days.


In terms of drastically altering my work just to get it published... at the moment I'd say I'm with Gnarl, in that since I don't really try to make huge profits off of my work, I don't have any particular reason to sell my soul. If I was confronted with the prospect of making millions of dollars on a novel, though, but had to fundamentally change the tone and message of the work to do it, I'd probably do it. I don't consider myself that serious of an artist that I'd forgo a life of luxury just for the sake of art. But lucky (or not) for me I don't think I'll have to make that choice any time soon.

I am with you there! If they offered me millions, The main character could deffinately have a Mohawk! I have no marketing, no advertising, only that its out there on Amazon and i only average maybe fifty copies a month. So self publishing is an option but do not expect to much. Be sure to copy write it first. The ECO only costs $35.00.
 

Alexxx-Returns

The Sergal that Didn't Vore
Even though I write a lot, I don't actually read that much anymore, so when I read a book it's most likely a friend has recommended it to me - and I usually do thoroughly enjoy it, and that's probably because they know me well enough to know what books I might enjoy.

I would change things for a publisher, but nothing too major. Specifically, I would be more open to changing plot, than changing characters. Otherwise I feel it would stop being my dream and just be something someone else has asked me to write. As for publishing, I'm leaning considerably towards self-publishing right now.
 

Conker

Destroyer of Nazi Teddy Bears
I am with you there! If they offered me millions, The main character could deffinately have a Mohawk! I have no marketing, no advertising, only that its out there on Amazon and i only average maybe fifty copies a month. So self publishing is an option but do not expect to much. Be sure to copy write it first. The ECO only costs $35.00.
I'm completely in the dark on copywrite laws, but I've always been under the assumption that if you put something up, you own it. What does paying 35 dollars get you?
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
The 35 dollars gets you the official copy write! not just in the US but in all countries that honor our intellectual propterty laws and treaties.
If you ever have to go to court to prove it is yours, you can. also there is an enforcement branch of the copy write office that can shut down plagerous thieves!
If you ever find your work on a web site trying to sell it without paying you, Report it to that group and surprise, the domain dissapears! Interesting!
 

Alexxx-Returns

The Sergal that Didn't Vore
The 35 dollars gets you the official copy write! not just in the US but in all countries that honor our intellectual propterty laws and treaties.
If you ever have to go to court to prove it is yours, you can. also there is an enforcement branch of the copy write office that can shut down plagerous thieves!

Is this completely necessary? Is it not possible to prove in court that it's yours by other means?

For example, I copied my work onto a disk, and sealed this in an envelope (and signed across here) and mailed it back to myself, and this now stays with me. So if I had to take an ownership dispute to court, I could present this, along with things like names that ended up being changed, all dated WAY back.

Would such measures not be enough?
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
A court will not accept it! Check the copy wrtie page it has a free bit on the law in regards to the (poor mans copy write). It is no longer a valid form of proof.
 

ShadowedIrises

New Member
I was under the impression that once you post something online under your name (real or pen name), your work was protected under a copyright. If anyone is familiar with StoryWrite.com, once you publish a story or poem, it says copyright 'your real name, the year'. Is this not a valid form of copyrighting your work, or is purchasing a federal copyright just a 'better safe, than sorry' sort of thing?
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
This from the US copy write office web page:

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?
The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
 

Lex

New Member
Money, popularity (People flock like sheep) and connections. You could also be sponsored but I believe getting published will only get harder due to the ever increasing population, or it could become easier because less people read.
 

Sasya

All fox
In the United States, Copyright is automatic. All you have to do is in some way render your work in a fixed, tangible medium of expression, and you've got a copyright. Congratulations!

On the off-chance that proving your copyright becomes an issue, there's no harm in registering it with the copyright office.

And it's "copyright", not 'copy write', 'copywrite' or 'copyrite' ;p

As far as the original thread goes: I have no idea what it takes to get published these days, and I run a small publishing company. ~.^

So for me, it's easy to get published. What's oddly hard is building readership.

The market is very much in flux at the moment. That doesn't mean there's no money to be made, but the days of the publishers' value being tied up in their use as a sieve are fading, and it's not yet obvious where this path will lead.

-Fox

-Fox
 

Mazeburn

Member
I guess what I am really asking is- what sells?
What do you look for in a book or story?
As a writer, would you ever drastically alter your work just to get it published?

What I look for in a book? Great story, characters that feel real, and when an author says something meaningful about human experience (however minor) through the telling.

I think the main thing is, be really good at your craft, especially at storytelling. And then get better. And then keep getting better until people notice. :)

It's easy to be cynical and say you need luck/money/an magic pen to get published - and sure, those things help - but none so much as being good at what you do. Yes, there's bad books everywhere, but lots of those got published through circumstance, which you can't rely on. But what you can rely on is your ability to improve. Don't try to follow the trends or write things that you think are 'good enough' to get published based on other books - write the best you possibly can and write about what you feel is important.
 

Friday

Otter
What I look for in a book? Great story, characters that feel real, and when an author says something meaningful about human experience (however minor) through the telling.

I think the main thing is, be really good at your craft, especially at storytelling. And then get better. And then keep getting better until people notice. :)

It's easy to be cynical and say you need luck/money/an magic pen to get published - and sure, those things help - but none so much as being good at what you do. Yes, there's bad books everywhere, but lots of those got published through circumstance, which you can't rely on. But what you can rely on is your ability to improve. Don't try to follow the trends or write things that you think are 'good enough' to get published based on other books - write the best you possibly can and write about what you feel is important.

I think this is very well-said. I hear a lot of people complaining about how they would never get published for various reasons, none of which ever have to do with the quality of their work. I don't mean to be rude, but I think that a lot of people never try because they are afraid of failure. I also think that many of those who try don't recognize flaws in their work or presentation thereof and dismiss their lack of publication as some fault of the publisher's or the system. While this may be true, no one is a perfect writer and I think it's safe to say that for many of us, our writing could us a lot of improvement (I know mine can). Though I haven't submitted anything of mine for consideration of publication, when I do, I'll be ready for the many rejections I get, and use them to fuel my writing going forward.

To answer the thread's question: I think it takes a good story, good storytelling, good English skills (or whatever language it's being published in), and a strong query letter and synopsis.
 

Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
I agree with it all! I will get better! It just takes time and work.
 

SkyeLansing

Member
I see two questions here actually.

1) What does it take to get published?
2) What does it take to sell?

The getting published part is easy actually. You can get published RIGHT NOW with ebooks through amazon (or other ebook vendors). Seriously it has never been easier to get your work published for an independent author than it is right now. Going the traditional route through a reputable publishing house is more tricky and longer, requiring a lot of work, an agent, and a good share of luck. That route generally requires you already be published (a good publishing history of short stories works, and those are easier to get published than a full novel) and work at it quite hard, but it makes the next question easier as the publishing house will help you along quite a bit.

So what does it take to sell? THIS is the hard part. Honestly here social media is your friend, and in that regard even most publishing houses want you to have some sort of active net presence (Facebook, twitter, blog) that you use to connect with your fans. A bunch even have psudo-requirements that you have a follower base of so many people first, so you can help promote your book. Beyond that activity, getting your book out, and working hard to write well. Most books do sell, but the average book only sells about 100 copies. Most self published books do poorly indeed as they have a (deserved) reputation of shoddy quality so self publishing requires you work really hard to counter that perception and thus really requires you be interacting with your fans to prove your ability. Getting 50 4 or 5 star amazon reviews is a great way to get started, but that requires a fan base (or paying a company to astroturf for you, but that is hardly ethical).
 
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