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 Post subject: FINAL NOTES
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 10:48 am 
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Joined: September 9th, 2004, 9:10 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Victoria, BC
Here are my final notes on the "PA" forum.

1. Adrienne's reply to my inquiry on PA reflected what I had received from Cherry and Charles (see my post above).
2. When PA told me they were sending my conract out on Friday 27 Aug, they actually didn't mail it until 30 Aug. That left me with almost NO time at all in which to realistically reach their deadline of 15 days to proof the galley with the help of my Beta Reader (I'm leaving for Australia 17 Sep). When I faxed them for a 'street address' so I could FedEx the contract back I received no response. And their phone number is 'an answering machine'?
3. That's when I put on the brakes and started looking around. It's also why I joined this forum to see what everyone else had to say. It's also why I played devil's advocate on this.
4. I may only have published one novel, and that through iUniverse (still in negotiations with Indigo/Chapters to carry it in their stores), but I have enough friends who are professional authors to sense something that's not quite right.
5. iUniverse may have cost me just under $800 Canadian to produce my first book, but at least they were totally up-front. When PA sent their contract I forwarded it to my literary agent friend. They suggested certain changes that are standard in contracts from other publisher. This included their graduated fee. The only concessions I got out of PA were a switch from a 50/50 to 60/40 percentage in one paragraph, and an increase from three to five free free copies.
6. There are clearly issues here that those of us with even a modicum more experience in the field should consider warning signs. However, when all is said and done it is up to the author whether or not they want to take the risks. Personally, if you want to self publish I recommend iUniverse. THEY cover the copyrights, unlike PA. Their only ties your novel to them (and not you) for three years. Yes, the price for a trade back is $19.95 U.S./$26.95 Cdn, but have you checked out cover prices lately? Here in Victoria, no paperback is less than $9.00 (rounded up a few cents), tade backs run from $21 to $27, and no hardback can be found for less than $36. So iUniverse's cover prices are about par.
Something else before you POD. No matter whom you choose, if they don't give you some control over the cover, you're going to be in a world of hurt. For RUNE I requested Trader Marrek on one knee in a misty forest holding a baby, and his pack animal, called a rynad, nearby. The initial artwork submitted had the trader and the baby in the misty forest, but the artist gave me 'four horses pulling a cart'. There are no horses in my planetary setting. When I objected and sent a rough sketch back, the artist promptly 'threw a tiff', coloured the sketch and dumped it into the cover. It took some discussion to get THAT changed. Now I have a cover that sort of portrays what I had in mind. I'm an artist, a life member of ASFA - as a semi-professional artist, to join you have to receive an invitation proffered on the merits of your work. So you can imagine I was more than a bit insulted by this teratment. Word of warning: be prepared for a minor battle and select your cover to attract the eye. Composition is very important. Don't let THEM make the decision for you. A lot of readers pick up a book more often than not simply on the basis of the cover.
I'm done. Take are. Make the decision that's best for you. I'm sending my retraction letter to PA this week. Please visit my web site at www.caryconder.com. It's still a work in progress, (PHP) but there's a lot to see.

_________________
Member: Assoc Science Fiction/Fantasy Artists
From the desk of a trained quiller


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 11:18 am 
Stuffed Toy...

Boy do you have a lot of spunk. I took it upon myself to browse the Publish America message board to see what the critters were jawing about these days, and I couldn't help but notice your call to arms for people to come to this board and help defend the great and exaulted Publish America from the jealous, evil hordes of rejected authors who have nothing better to do than pee in your Cheerios.

Did you know that Publish America actually cancels the contracts of those who start selling very well?

You don't believe me. I can tell. After all, you don't believe the 30 pages over and over story, either.

Frankly, I don't care if you believe me or not. I'm not posting this for your benefit. This is for others who happen across this post on their way to the Publish America website.
Stuffy, your game was over the moment you signed on the dotted line. You've lost your book forever. It is not possible for your book to be a success. It could be the next Harry Potter, but it won't matter. It could be featured on Oprah, and it still won't sell. It's not possible to POD fast enough when consumers are buying books in droves. PA knows this, and they have a plan in place in case this happens.

If the story of the 30 pages didn't rock your world, maybe the story of poor Nancy Mehl will.

Nancy had a nifty little book entitled Graven Images out by Publish America, and she worked her fanny off selling the darn thing. One day she woke up, and she'd sold 1,300 or so copies, and that wasn't just copies she bought herself, either. 1,300 different people out there had it sitting on their bookshelves. Grocery store chain Krogers (http://www.krogers.com/aboutourcompany.htm) agreed, at her insistence, to purchase many, many more copies for their own shelves.

She informed PA about the deal. What did PA do?

They dropped our friend like a hot potato. They ignored her at first, and then one day she got a letter stating "Per paragraph 24 of the contract, we're cancelling your contract." A quick look at paragraph 24 says something like "We can cancel your contract if you don't sell enough copies."

Benji, you're a lying ######. This ain't true. Yes it is. There's even proof out there, if you're really burning to find out. www.nancymehlbooks.com Find her email address and ask her yourself. She has all the backing documents, including her royalty statements, the letter from Krogers, and the letter from PA.

I bet you're scratching your head right now. Why would PA do that? Isn't that money out of their pocket? Well, maybe a little, but it was definitely in their best interests to deep six the deal.

PA makes their money from sales on their own bookstore and sales to their own authors. That's their business model. All this extra stuff, ISBNs, putting the book on Amazon, etc., is all fluff, designed to satiate the author. They make very little money off Amazon sales, and it's a huge pain in their butt when outside companies try to order quantities directly from them. Kroger wasn't going to get their books from Lightning Source. They wanted to deal with PA. PA doesn't have a department that deals with these sort of sales. *cough*

I'll say it again.

PA doesn't have a department that deals with these sort of sales.

Wait a minute. This particular department (the SALES department) normally consitutes 1/3 to 1/2 of most publishers employees. PA doesn't have one, so they can't handle such a thing, and it would end up costing them more money than they're willing to spend to deal with it. They already have a working business model and there's no reason to expand, so who gives a flying cow poop if this model causes writers to threaten suicide and troll the internet, making themselves look like fools with they thrust themselves into personal bankruptcy?

I'm so damn confused, Benji. My head hurts.

It should, baby. It certainly should.

PS, Stuffy. Good luck with Ivan. :)


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 Post subject: PA
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 12:06 pm 
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Joined: April 29th, 2004, 8:49 pm
Posts: 3631
Location: God's country
Thank you, Benji. My ad nauseum speech of "learning about a business before you declare it to be your career" is well made by you. If you, as a writer, does not even understand how the publishing business works, how in the world can you advocate for yourself? You can't even make informed decisions because you don't understand the issue of distribution (I mean how its really suppose to happen), marketing (more than author self promotion), sales (real sales not to family members), advertising (something more than a website)... People have rushed to PA to declare new careers without understanding anything about the industry. That PA even EXISTS tells me that people did not study the industry. They studied their need to see a name on a book, but that's called ego--not a career choice.

If they had studied the industry they would understand why PA and other programs similiar does not work in a true publishing market. I don't remember running off to college without having learned about the field that I was going into. But writing seems to attrack every flake without the resource of research. It's hard to remain compassionate with this much stupidity. Sorry.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 7:00 pm 
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Joined: August 18th, 2004, 7:49 pm
Posts: 32
Location: Wisconsin
Just a couple of thoughts:

The many POD/self-publishing entities out there, from iUniverse and XLibris to the Podunk Publishing company are all vanity publishers. It's affordable vanity publishing in many cases, but it's vanity publishing nonetheless. To try and color it in any other shade is foolish and unrealistic.

PA is no different from any of the other POD/self-publishing models in some respects. No matter which company you use, you're going to have the issues of non-returnability, less-than-standard discounts, and difficulty (because of these two items) getting placed in bricks-and-mortar stores. It's going to be difficult to get any sort of large area distribution or published reviews. All the marketing responsibility is going to fall on your shoulders. The quality of your book (and your writing) will automatically be in question simply because you are not published in the traditional sense.

PA represents themselves as a traditional publisher but they are not. This deception is but one of many they perpetuate. They have problems that make them stand out from all the other POD/vanity/self-publishing entities in a negative way. They clearly have no regard for the quality of the mss they accept -- proof of this is available in any number of places. They also place a price on their books that makes them uncompetitive (not sure that's a word). Their rights grabs are overly greedy (though the 7 years they currently have is better than their old contract which tied up rights until long after the author was dead). And due to some less-than-savory business practices, they have earned themselves a reputation in the book industry...and it's not a good one.

If any writer wants to choose the POD/vanity/self-publishing route for whatever reason, there are lots of alternatives out there. Figure out what your goals are (and for heaven's sake, invest a little time doing some research and homework) and keep your expectations realistic. If you want fame and fortune or a career as a writer, this is NOT the way to go. If you want to see your book produced so a few friends and family members can buy it, then go for it.

With that said, there is one company out there now that appears to be offering a returnable POD product: Illumina. Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge about them?

Beth

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Beth Amos
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 Post subject: Overwhelming
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 7:41 pm 
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Joined: August 18th, 2004, 10:08 am
Posts: 50
Thanks for the cute little nickname Benji. I like it! Let me start with Dave first since he was my first reply...
I wasn't talking about being attacked myself... It was the harsh review- which by the way, I am not seeking, that Haru got. And if I may ask... Are you referring to me when you say troll???
If so, trust me... A troll I am not! I came to this board because it was about PA. Of course I was curious, but most of the responses were not from PA authors. Which, when I search for information about a specific publisher/ agent- I come here. My advice doesn't come from a lot of experience with the world of publishing, it comes from my experience so far- with PA. If I was searching for information, I would hope that it would come from a reliable source.
And you are right! Those copyrights are confusing, but I fortunately have someone who understands them, assist me.

And now for Benji... Yes, I do have spunk, but at the same time you have to know where all this fire comes from. Let me share a little secret with you...
Mostly what I see on the PA boards are new writers looking for advice- which I am sure you also saw... The real pending question is: Who has a good experience with PA that they can share. I figured it might spark someone to speak up- because I do not have a lot of statics to go by myself. Only those who have been dealing with them for awhile- do. So you see, my plea on the message board contains a double standard.
The bit about canceling contracts of books that do well does seem a bit defeating. I mean, I am sure that their authors don't have thousands of dollars to buy their own books. I will do some inside research on this. Not through PA but through other sources. It might take me a while to get back on that one.

And I never said that writing was my career- What I said was that I spend a lot of time at it because I enjoyed it. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't like to make $$$$ on it. That would be a blessing, and I know very little about the publishing industry- other than it is tough to get into.

As for the POD/ vanity, ect... If I had to go with someone that I had to pay to put my book in print, I would not have a book in print. Not for myself nor anyone else. So on that level, I am satisfied. I will figure out how to do this. I do not walk this end of the earth alone. I have someone who is learning marketing in college who looks forward to helping. An advantage that some others don't have.
One never knows what's going to happen. I am keeping an open/ positive mind.
Let me also say this... I have other manuscripts that have other destinies. My submission to PA is not my final goodbye to the effort of attempting other places.
Ok- I'm done- I think


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 Post subject: Re: Return of POD books
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 8:31 pm 
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Joined: August 1st, 2004, 3:15 pm
Posts: 264
Location: Pennsylvania
Willow,

Infinity publishing also offers a return policy; it's not a perfect policy, and the author does end up eating the returns, but at least it's a start.

Jennifer

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Website: http://www.LiteraryAgentBlog.com
Blog for student writing: http://www.Publishes.us
http://www.itsJUSTwar.com


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 Post subject: Oops! Last Post
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 8:33 pm 
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Joined: August 1st, 2004, 3:15 pm
Posts: 264
Location: Pennsylvania
My last post should have been addressed to betha. Sorry.

Jennifer

_________________
Website: http://www.LiteraryAgentBlog.com
Blog for student writing: http://www.Publishes.us
http://www.itsJUSTwar.com


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 9:01 pm 
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Joined: September 4th, 2004, 8:22 pm
Posts: 117
Location: http://anotherealm.com/prededitors
Stuffedtoy, my mentioning of PA trolls was mainly directed to those who have boasted openly before on the PA boards how they ventured into other forums to stir up matters. In the process, they gave out lots of misinformation.

At this point, I want to ask everyone to answer for themselves this critical question.

IF what all these writers and myself are stating about PA was false, wouldn't PA have taken us to court by now?

After all, if what any of us said was patently false, PA would have a field day in court and would gain a lot of sympathy and status among writers. However, I haven't been sued by them. I haven't heard of any other writer being sued by them, either. Some have been threatened, including me, but PA has never taken that last step.

Why not?

Because truth is a defense to any libel that they might claim. Every claim I'm made about PA is documented. PA hasn't sued me because they don't want those documents entered as evidence.

So, I ask you to ask yourselves once more. Why hasn't PA sued anyone for speaking out about their policies and activities? Then decide whether you want to continue or start an association with PA.


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 10:30 pm 
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Joined: September 9th, 2004, 11:02 am
Posts: 51
Stuffedtoy wrote:
It appears that we are on the attack. This is not the place for unsolicited reviews of one's work.

Since Haru was so quick to judge other authors and publishers, whilst bringing up her own novel and who liked it and whatnot, I figured she wanted to discuss it.

As Haru didn't object, and even sent me a PM discussing it further, I don't see what the problem is. :)

Quote:
So I prefer to take the chance, and now that I have committed myself to the project, I will do all that I can to see that it is at least somewhat successful.

Which is what makes me so sad. You've obviously poured your soul into your work, yet it's going to rot with PublishAmerica. Unless you buy a lot of your own books, you're not going to sell more than a couple of hundred at the most. And no author should have to buy their own books in order to be able to sell them properly. A publisher is supposed to protect you and your work, and do their best to honour the energy you put into your creation.

It's nice that you have a giftshop/bookstore to sell the book through, but you're still buying your own books. And what's more, are any other stores going to sell your books? You've got a company producing your book and selling it for 20 or so dollars (aside from the times when they ive you a discount), when you could have selfpublished and sold the book much cheaper.

When you buy it and resell it you're basically just paying PA to print the book. You did the editing yourself. You're doing the promoting yourself. You're going to buy and sell the book yourself. Does that sounds like you've been traditionally published?

Look, I am not a PA-reject. I am not interesting in submitting a book to PA (or any American publishers, for that matter. It'd be one hell of a trip every time I wanted to do a booksigning). I'm not jealous. We are not enemies or rivals. Whatever sales you might make won't affect my life, career or financial situation in any way. I have absolutely no reason to spoil your PA party, other than the fact that I am concerned and I don't want you--and a lot of other writers--to get screwed over by this scam of a "publisher". Is that so strange?

Quote:
And as I said earlier, everyone who writes would like to be accepted by a well known company- but few are, and so what if they look down on me for getting published with PA- they did anyway- so I've lost nothing there.

Except the chance for your book to actually be published.

Quote:
but truthfully I am not so sure that I believe the story about pasting several pages over and over again- there are members on the PA board that are authors who have had their work rejected.

It happened, I saw the acceptance e-mails myself. The authors of the PA board who have had their work rejected might have had it rejected because they didn't buy enough of their own books. There's also the possibility that PA accepts random mss until they reach a certain quota for the day/week/month and then they start rejecting, because several of those authors seem to have been accepted just a few weeks or months later.

Quote:
I mean, I am sure that their authors don't have thousands of dollars to buy their own books.

Many loan money, badger friends and family to buy ten or more books each, or max out their creditcards.

Quote:
I have someone who is learning marketing in college who looks forward to helping. An advantage that some others don't have.

People have spent thousands of dollars on promotion from professionals and still not sold over two-hundred books. You think your situation is going to be different because you've got a college student willing to help you?


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 Post subject: Who's a vanity publisher
PostPosted: September 11th, 2004, 10:49 pm 
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Joined: August 12th, 2004, 12:14 am
Posts: 16
Not all POD houses are vanity operations. Wildside Press certainly isn't. POD is just a production technology. It can be used by good guys and bad guys alike.

What distinguishes a vanity press? Simple: They publish books they never for a moment think will sell. They publish books they don't respect. And they don't make their money by selling copies of their books to the public.

Some rules of thumb for spotting vanity presses:

1. They ask you for money, ever, under any pretext.

2. Their website is primarily addressed to prospective authors, not potential purchasers of retail copies of their books.

3. They talk about "giving new writers a chance." Real publishing companies never, ever talk that way, because real publishing companies aren't about giving chances to some nebulous class of authors. Publishing companies are about giving the best chance possible to specific books and authors. Your objective is to become one of those authors.

4. They tell you how hard it is for a first novel to get published these days, and how poor your chances are, with the implication being that since you're never going to hook up with a real publisher anyway, you might as well settle for them.

5. They call themselves "a traditional publisher." I've never heard a real publishing house use that language. They just call themselves "publishers."

6. They try to convince you that being available via Amazon, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor is in any way comparable to being routinely stocked and shelved by standard book distributors and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

7. They let their authors write their own cover copy.

There are lots more ways to spot them, but that's enough for now.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2004, 8:07 am 
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Joined: August 18th, 2004, 10:08 am
Posts: 50
My just awake mind always seems to want to go here. But it is quiet, with no distractions. (I hate distractions when I'm trying to read/ write something)
I don't really know where to go with this at this point. The only thing I can think of to say is that time will tell. As I said before- (in not so many words) we give birth to what we write. My goal right now is to hold that baby in my hands. To see it, as I have never seen it before. If you have been published before, maybe you've lost sight of that perspective of things. I am but an infant myself, coming into this world of public viewing, but it's time. What we create is nothing, if it serves no purpose. The frustrations one feels from rejection... I have not been defeated by it, but it down right pisses me off when I send a full 90,000 word mss to someone and they send me a nice but impersonal letter, two weeks later- saying that it doesn't fit. I feel like writing them back asking 'well what the hell does fit? Tell me and I'll write it! Ask me, and I'll change it, I'll bend over backwards to please you...' I am sure that I am not the only writer who feels, or has felt this way. They are the ones who push Authors to self publishing and places like PA- who will help put your book in print. Once, and only once, did I get back a rejection letter that was helpful. He highlighted various sections that needed to be changed and gave me pointers- he did not publish that genre- but still he took the time to be personal. Writing is personal! Maybe not to the publishers. but it is to the writers. I will never lose sight of that. Like most other things in this world it's all about the $$$$.
Well not to the writers ( I would hope that there is more to it than that) and not to the readers. I believe we are about the same thing. A story! Our souls are poured into what we write (for the most part) seemingly appreciated only by those who are also looking for an escape.
With that said... my final words... "wake up publishers- actually read the books that you are turning down. You might find something you like"
Amen! :) P.S. how the heck do you get those smiley faces to work???


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 Post subject: PA
PostPosted: September 12th, 2004, 9:07 am 
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Joined: April 29th, 2004, 8:49 pm
Posts: 3631
Location: God's country
Stuffed Toy writes:

and they send me a nice but impersonal letter, two weeks later- saying that it doesn't fit. I feel like writing them back asking 'well what the hell does fit? Tell me and I'll write it! Ask me, and I'll change it, I'll bend over backwards to please you...


Back to my mantra...understand the industry. It's not their job to tell you how to fit in. They have thousands of mss to look at. This isn't American Idol where Simon is going to critique you for free. And Paula is going to say something nice so you aren't overly distraught at reality. No one owes you the critique. In a Kum-Bay-Yah world publishers would send us nice overtures to encourage us. But it isn't their job and it's not their focus. Yes, half of writing is to be psychic to figure out where to send things and why. The other half is research. Using PA as a means of bypassing rejections is like trying to create your own reality. "I will create a publishing world that I fit into" so that "my work" can be seen by all. Yes, it's a spiritually based principle but using something like PA to avoid the industry is not going to produce a career for you.

For me, I am exhausted by this thread. I gotta move on. For the rest of us who have tried to insert reality about the publishing industry, we gotta move on too. We just got to know there are some people who are willing to accept this level of printing, this level of rip off, this level of abuse and call it "being published." For some, this is enough... The belief that there are "other rules" than the real rules of publshing guide their choices. They want to be the exception to the rule, the rules of the industry aren't for them, and they will win the publishing lotto by doing something like PA. Vegas is full of the same beliefs that fuel that industry just like these beliefs fuel this one. If this is enough...its sad, but...its your world.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 12th, 2004, 10:59 am 
Stuffy, I'm proud of you. Anyone reading this thread from top to its toes will see there's been a slight change in how you feel, and I bet it took a heck of a lot of force for you to allow that to happen.

You touched on the exact reason places like PA exist. The publishing machine spits out a lot of chum, and 99% of what gets fed into it never returns. A lot of us get our feelings hurt.

Vanity publishers aren't an alternative. They're bandaids for our egos. The problem is PA doesn't want to admit they're a band aid. They tell people not only are they the cure, but they'll actually make you better than you were before. Tsk tsk.

I can tell just by your posts here that you're a better writer than 90% of the people who submit. I've surfed through slush piles before, and I've seen manuscripts written in pencil, covered with perfume, containing bomb threats, written in pig latin with the note "The effort to translate this to English will be well worth it." and I have seen 20 manuscripts in one day that had the sentence "This novel is going to make you rich. I expect my advance to be at least $xxxxxx.00"

Fight the good fight, Stuffy. It's not about holding a book in your own hands. It's about getting it into the hands of lots and lof of strangers.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2004, 11:55 am 
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Joined: September 9th, 2004, 11:02 am
Posts: 51
Stuffedtoy wrote:
I have not been defeated by it, but it down right pisses me off when I send a full 90,000 word mss to someone and they send me a nice but impersonal letter, two weeks later- saying that it doesn't fit. I feel like writing them back asking 'well what the hell does fit? Tell me and I'll write it! Ask me, and I'll change it, I'll bend over backwards to please you...'

Please remember that publishers do not have a lot of time on their hands. It's either the impersonal formletter, or no open submissions at all. As for saying "it doesn't fit", well that means just that. Your book does not fit them. If you want to know what kind of work they do like, check out some of their books. But what would a step by step guide of what they want do for your current work? Are you saying you'd re-write the whole book just to please them? What does that say about your faith in your story? If you want to write by guidelines, write one of those steamy romance books housewives like, there are actually step-by-step guides for those.

Stuffedtoy wrote:
They are the ones who push Authors to self publishing and places like PA- who will help put your book in print.

By asking for a certain standard? It's their arses on the line here. If they don't put out books that will interest their customers and work commercially, they're going to have to start letting people go--they might even end up going bankrupt. It is not their job to coddle you, (nor is it your job to keep them in business by buying your own "baby", as you will with PA).

Stuffedtoy wrote:
Once, and only once, did I get back a rejection letter that was helpful. He highlighted various sections that needed to be changed and gave me pointers- he did not publish that genre- but still he took the time to be personal.

Well, that's your problem right there: you sent a manuscript to a publisher who didn't publish your genre. Before you start sending your work out, you have to do some research. Let's say you want to send your new book to Publisher P. First you have to look at what kind of work they publish. Look up a few of their titles and go to your library or bookstore and browse through those books. Check out what kind of style and content they enjoy--does your book fit that? A publisher that only accepts books about sports is probably not the best place to submit a fantasy book, for example. Nor is it a good idea to submit a fantasy romance to a publisher that publishes gritty fantasy. No matter how good your book is, the publisher will most likely not buy it, because they are not in that field and have no interest in it, or any way of really promoting your book even if they did.

Make a list of the publishers who accept your genre. See if they accept the full ms or want sample chapters first. Check their policy on simultaneous submissions. Format your ms properly, print it on good paper. Remember to include a SASE.

If you want, you can PM me with a brief synopsis (including the genre) of one of your mss, and I'll provide you with an example of a publisher and/or agent you could send it to and how to go about it.

Stuffedtoy wrote:
With that said... my final words... "wake up publishers- actually read the books that you are turning down. You might find something you like"

I have never encountered a publisher who would, after stating that they accept queries or unsolicited mss, not read what's sent to them. Yes, it takes time to get through a slushpile, and sometimes they might even decide against your book after the first chapter--but to simply reject mss without looking at them would be a waste of time. If a publisher doesn't want you to send your ms, they'll make it clear on their website or such.

Publishers and editors are not monsters who spend their time counting their piles of money. Most people get into publishing because they have an honest passion for books. They are not all about the "$$$$$$", as you put it. But it's their job and responsibility to make sure they're offering interesting books of high-quality, while still staying within the budget. It's nothing personal--though I know that's what it feels like to you.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2004, 1:46 pm 
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Joined: August 12th, 2004, 12:14 am
Posts: 16
Stuffedtoy wrote:
The frustrations one feels from rejection... I have not been defeated by it, but it down right pisses me off when I send a full 90,000 word mss to someone and they send me a nice but impersonal letter, two weeks later -- saying that it doesn't fit.
The primary job of an editor is not to find new authors in the slush; it's to edit and publish the books they already have under contract. When you're the author with a book under contract, you'll be glad of that.
Stuffedtoy wrote:
I feel like writing them back asking "Well, what the hell does fit? Tell me and I'll write it! Ask me, and I'll change it, I'll bend over backwards to please you..."
Suppose they did. Are you sure that would be enough to make you a selling author? You might bend over backward, as you put it, feverishly recasting your book into whatever shape you think they've asked for -- only to be rejected yet again, because it still isn't quite what they had in mind.

Believe it or not, editors are acutely aware of the average aspiring writer's willingness to contort themselves and their books into whatever they imagine the editor might be asking for, and to imagine a consequent promise of publication where none has been offered. Most editors have a strong sense of responsibility about not doing that to you. As I once heard one of them say, "If I haven't put money down on the table, I haven't bought the right to ask for changes." This is the same thing magazine writers are talking about when they say "never rewrite on spec." It's a respectable position.

Incidentally, it's possible that the reason that one publishing employee you mention could write back to give you suggestions was precisely because his house didn't publish that genre. He could give you advice without giving you the impression that if you took it, he'd buy your rewritten book.

The real problem is that you're asking the wrong question. If all it took were specific changes to the book you've already written, the editor would have sent you a contract offer, then had you make those changes during the editing process. If that isn't what happened, then what they want from you isn't this same book, only with this thing or that thing changed. They want the better book that'll someday be written by the author you're in the process of becoming.
Stuffedtoy wrote:
I am sure that I am not the only writer who feels, or has felt this way. They are the ones who push Authors to self publishing and places like PA -- who will help put your book in print.
Oh, no you don't. Not so fast. You're not going to pin that rap on the legitimate publishing industry. It's the writers who do the pushing there. They so desperately want to be published that they lose their judgement and common sense, and throw themselves into the arms of crooked agents, quack book doctors, and all sorts of dubious or dishonest publishing schemes.

Meanwhile, who are the people trying to rescue them from their lemming-like rush into the arms of scammers? Industry pros, for the most part: published writers, most numerously, along with real editors, real agents, and the occasional fellow-travelling academic or lawyer or Dave Kuzminski (all honor to him).
Stuffedtoy wrote:
Once, and only once, did I get back a rejection letter that was helpful. He highlighted various sections that needed to be changed and gave me pointers -- he did not publish that genre -- but still he took the time to be personal.
It's nice that he had the time to spare. I'm sure more editors would do the same if they could.
Stuffedtoy wrote:
Writing is personal! Maybe not to the publishers. but it is to the writers. I will never lose sight of that. Like most other things in this world it's all about the $$$$. Well not to the writers ( I would hope that there is more to it than that) and not to the readers. I believe we are about the same thing. A story! Our souls are poured into what we write (for the most part) seemingly appreciated only by those who are also looking for an escape. With that said... my final words... "wake up publishers- actually read the books that you are turning down. You might find something you like."
You know, crap like that is the other reason publishing houses don't write back.

Of course writing is personal. Everyone in the industry knows that. They knew your writing was personal at the very moment that they stuck a "rejected" label on your submission. So what? They weren't rejecting you as a person. They were telling you that they didn't want to buy your book. You can talk trash about them as much as you like, but the fact remains: Your book was indeed read by the people who rejected it. They didn't love it. They didn't want to publish it. They sent it straight back to you with a generic rejection letter.

Deal with it or not, but that's what happened.

Does the fact that you were rejected mean that publishing is "all about the $$$$"? Don't kid yourself. Most schoolteachers are better paid, get better benefits, and have a lot more job security than most editorial employees. Only a fool would go into publishing for the money. (An infallible laugh-getter in the industry: "I'm in publishing for the money, the power, and the glamour.")

Publishing is about money to this extent: That if no one buys the books a house publishes, the house doesn't get to keep publishing books. If a lot of people buy their books, they get to publish lots more of them, and pay more for them, too. That's how it works. It's not about you. It's about the readers, bless their utterly selfish little hearts. We are all, publishers and editors and authors alike, the readers' slaves.

For about half a century now, schools have been teaching "writing as self-expression." I'm inclined to think that may have been a mistake. Self-expression is what you can't help doing when you write, but students got the idea that self-expression was the whole point of the exercise. This model becomes dysfunctional the minute you start trying to get other people to read what you've written.

Many aspiring writers have a persistent belief that there's some secret to getting published -- some signal they have to display, or hoop they have to jump through. This secret does in fact exist. I'm going to give it to you now. I can do this because what keeps it a secret is that writers don't believe it when they see it. Here goes:

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR WRITING A BOOK THAT PEOPLE WANT TO BUY AND READ. IF YOU CAN DO THAT, YOU CAN GET PUBLISHED. IF YOU CAN'T, NO HALF-BAKED SELF-PUBLISHING SCHEME IS GOING TO DO YOU ONE BIT OF GOOD.

A frequent response one hears from writers who are preparing to miss the point of The True Secret of Publishing is, "Yes, but how can people buy and read my book unless you publish it?" The answer, of course, is that the first reader you have to please is the editor. That's one of the things they're there for.

There are a lot of tasks and skills required of an editor, but the central one is that the editor is a professional reader. Editors simultaneously cultivate a willingness to be engaged and entertained by a new book, and a curtailed attention span for books that fail to connect.

Is this fair? It is. The readers will do exactly the same thing when they're browsing the bookstore shelves. The difference is, the readers will be less patient and merciful about it.


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