2006-09-01

About Those Scam Publishers...

If all you're interested in from your Magnum Opus is to hold it in your hand, by all means, go with a straight-ahead print on demand (POD) outfit like Lulu.com, where you can do it cheaply and with a minimum of fuss.

But if you want to make some money from your novel, and have decided that agents aren't for you (have you actually sent out query letters after doing research on them?), you could certainly go the publisher route--although it may take extra time. Plus, you'll have to bring in your own lawyer to go over the contract.

And not just any old lawyer--it should be one who's familiar with publishing contracts, because they're a somewhat confusing and peculiar beast.

What Should I Look For In a Publisher?

First, make sure the publisher accepts unsolicited manuscripts; many only accept agented ones. You might have a good chance at a small press where this is concerned.

Next, as with agents, make sure your novel is a good fit with that publisher. For instance, Mundania Press accepts manuscripts for SF/fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, and historical. If your novel doesn't fit into one of these categories, don't send it along; it'll show you to be no better than an amateur--and will waste the time of the people acquiring novels at that publisher.

Book publishing is a business. Do your homework before you send out anything.

Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

I know, it's a cliche, so sue me. ;-) But, again, as with agents, there are good, legitimate publishers that will get your books into bookstores as well as online, and will sell to people beyond your family and circle of friends.

Read that again. What "publisher" in their right mind would sell only to authors? Well, there's a "traditional" publisher that does just that. Unfortunately, it's sucked in a lot of people who haven't done their homework; they think they're getting the best deal, because no one at the big-time publishers will give them the time of day.

This is your wake up call. Real commercial publishers have the idea that they want to sell your novel far and wide to people you don't even know. Sure, maybe your cousin five times removed on your mother's side will sidle into the local Barnes & Noble and pick up your book. Then again, maybe she won't. But your book will be stocked on the shelves at that bookstore, where plenty of people who don't know you may pick up the book. If it's got a great cover with a great story inside, there's a very good chance your book will be bought.

The commercial publishers, big and small, know how to do this. They've got marketing departments and salespeople; they know what sells.

As to big-time publishers not giving you and your book the time of day...is it possible that your book isn't ready for prime time? Have you revised it a few times? Gotten fresh eyes to look at it to give you ideas as to what works and what doesn't? No?

Publishing is a business (keep that as your mantra). Why would anyone who's trying to sell something and make money off it publish something that's either not completed, is too short to be a novel, is full of grammar problems, full of typos, etc? What the heck is in it for them? (The same can be said for agents, who work off commission). I'm sure there are non-profit publishers out there, but if you really want some sort of career as a novelist, why don't you hunker down and become one?

Take a course or a buy a book on grammar, if that's your sore spot. Same thing for spelling (don't rely on spellcheck). Buy how-to books on learning the craft; go to writers' sites to see what books are recommended, or at least helped half a dozen people. Apply these ideas and guidelines and absorb the information.

Then write your brains off. Keep at it. Persevere. It's hard work, yes. But what in life is easy?

Nice Rant. What Else Should I Look Out For?

There are linguistic markers to look out for, whether you're looking at a publisher's or agent's website. These should warn you that either they're out-and-out frauds, inept, or just don't have a clue.

Giving new writers a chance. ...a professionally-edited manuscript. It's all gobbledy-gook, and doesn't take place in the real publishing world.

Of course publishers give new writers a chance...if they have a good story that isn't rife with typos. Of course publishers edit manuscripts. Egad, why do you think publishers have in-house editors--certainly not for fun.

BTW, commercial publishers don't care if your manuscript is professionally edited or not; don't even bother putting that in your query or cover letter; it screams "amateur."

Does the publisher have their books stocked on shelves in the brick-and-mortar bookstores? This doesn't mean "can I order their books" from the bookstore. That's a different animal. The publisher should have books physically in bookstores. People don't necessarily go to Amazon and browse; a lot wander through a Borders, see an interesting cover, pick up the book, and if the story grabs them, purchase it.

And let me set this straight: I'm talking about those presses and publishers in a commercial sense. I'll leave university presses and the like to those way more knowledgeable than I am (and I'm still learning where the commercial publishing industry is concerned!)

One last thing, if you really want to try going directly to commercial publishers. Take a look at what the typical editor is thinking/looking for when your manuscript is in the slush pile. That's a real, live editor at Tor who's giving you those insights.

Just something to keep in mind when you're sending out that manuscript.

My Story

I'm starting to outline using index cards; I've already got some good scenes going. Whether they'll all end up in the story doesn't concern me right now. I just want to get the damn thing written (before revisions, of course).

I'm not sure if I'll post again until next Tuesday (with the Labor Day weekend coming up, I just feel like being a lazy bum where blogging is concerned ;-)). But who knows? Maybe I'll be so bored, erm, moved to blog something over the weekend.

Stay tuned...and keep writing, no matter what!

2 comments:

rajF9 said...

Newspaper is a regular published print product containing information, news and advertising. Newspapers are living textbooks and they are source of information and learning. It’s a source to find out whats happening in movies, books, concerts, games, jobs and events. Major advantage left to newsprint is that reading it does not require any sophisticated, cumbersome technical equipment. This offers the reader a high level of flexibility: newsprint can basically be read in any place at any time. The reader can absorb the information offered at his own pace. Even the fact that the reader can touch and feel the printed paper while turning the pages may be of some importance.

Disadvantage of Printed edition of newspaper -
Circulation of the newspaper is one of the principal factors, circulation is not the same as copies sold because many copies are read by more than one person this is a major offset as the number of copies distributed are not read.

People away from their home place would always love to read their regional paper wherever they are in any part of the world. Take my case; I have been hunting for my favorite newspaper Times of India in the heart of New York City but in vain and the only solution I found at this time is e-paper.

E-paper and its advantage -
Will e-paper is going to replace the printed edition in future is the question to be asked? ePaper is the replication of newspaper pages which allows one to get the same experience as reading the hard-copy edition and e-paper has the advantages of being interactive, multimedia, of providing internal and external networks and offering selection functions, the possibility of regular updates, access to archives, rapid access to a large number of newspapers, and being paperless, thus creating no problems of waste disposal.
Not even that it’s more convenient from the customer’s point of view while reading the e-paper, I came across Nokia new model cell phone, and by clicking on it; I was taken directly to the website, where I could compare the prices.

So this has led to some predictions that is newspapers will shrink or even disappear?
All the recent surveys both in USA and abroad indicate that print newspaper readership is going down; there has been a dramatic drop in the circulation of papers.
Full time professional employment at daily newspapers is falling. In a desperate attempt to offset the falling revenues, more newspaper groups are setting them up online.
All of the major news publishers have adopted e-paper technology in order to increase their readers and revenue.

Looking at the enormous growth in the Digital News Publishing Industry, many new media companies are offering ePapers and eMagazines at affordable costing with low or no upfront investment. Pressmart Media Limited, a leading new media services company based out of India and USA provides an excellent Multi channel distribution on Web, Mobile, Podcast, Search Engines, Social Networks, Web2.0 sites and RSS.

I hope you do agree that digital versions of news publications will be an added advantage for publishers in increasing their brand value, customer reach and revenues.

Nancy Beck said...

raj,

Interesting comment (and I see you've gone back almost 2 years in my blog to post).

I wasn't really talking about newspapers, as I rarely read them; I just scan headlines on the Net.

All the recent surveys both in USA and abroad indicate that print newspaper readership is going down; there has been a dramatic drop in the circulation of papers.

That's me. :-)

Again, though, my major thoughts/advice in this post were directed at people writing novels, not people reading newspapers; I understand the research angle with newspapers, though - point well taken.

And...why do I get the feeling that you're involved with Pressmart Media in some way, shape, or form?

Although it could just be me being paranoid. ;-)