Monday, 25 June 2007

Publishing Myths

They say you can't get an agent unless you're already published, and you can't get published without an agent.

When I got my agent I had published squat.

They say you must have publishing credits before an editor will take a look at your manuscript.

I had no pub credits when editors began asking for my full manuscript (but hey, those clips can't hurt!)

They say if your romance is set in an 'exotic' country, no publisher will buy it since these don't sell well.

Mine is set on a tiny Caribbean island. We'll wait and see how it sells.

They say you have to know someone in publishing or it's hopeless.

They say queries should be no longer than a single page.

They say lots of stuff.

None of that really matters. What matters, to quote the inimitable Miss Snark, is that you write really, really well. Good writing will out. Usually.


KeVin K. said...

Write; mail; repeat.

That was the advice I was given by Dean Wesley Smith a few years ago. It's what pulled me out of decades of dreaming of being an author while writing (and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting) three or four short stories a year into a writer who has to pay taxes on money publishers send him.

Mostly I write short stories. I know getting a novel in print taes a few extra steps. But not always.

Dean's wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch , didn't know you had to have an agent when she started out. She just submitted manuscripts. When a publishing house called and said they were interested, she knew she had no idea how contracts worked, so she told them "Wait while I find an agent and I'll have him or her call you." Things worked out pretty well for her after that.

So far my novel sales have been write for hire -- media tie-in work wherein I must first convince the owner of the intellectual property (IP) that I can write in a way that suits their needs, then submit novel proposals for their approval before actually writing. I've never been where you are, with an agent shopping your original work to publishers, but in both our cases, I think the one publishing credo that holds true is persistence. Talent is a wonderful thing, but to see your name on a dust jacket you have to set your goal and work until you attain it.

Write; mail; repeat.

wordtryst said...

What pulled me out of years of dreaming and writing and rewriting the occasional short? Several things converged:
- I saw an article in a local newspaper about Kensington's new Arabesque line of AA romances;
- A major heartbreak all but felled me;
- A certain telling birthday was beginning to loom on the horizon, thus the strong feeling of 'now or never'.

At that time I knew less than nothing about publishing, but I've learned a lot since then; every day I learn more, and not just about publishing - especially since I started haunting the Internet a couple years ago. Today I learned the meaning of 'satori'. Great word. I've learned a few other Zen words from a blog I like called Stone Bridge, words like zazen and koan. From the little that I know of Zen Buddism I find it strangely appealing.

I've been counseling a friend who's now beginning the query process. The advice is basically the three words your friend recommended. I followed the Kristine Rusch link; her achievements are awesome.

Don't think I've seen the term 'media tie-in' before. Not quite sure what it means exactly, although I have a general idea. As for persistence, everywhere I turn I hear that the writers who don't get published are the ones who give up too soon.

Won't. Give. Up. Won't. Give. Up. Won't...


KeVin K. said...

"Don't think I've seen the term 'media tie-in' before. Not quite sure what it means exactly, although I have a general idea."

Well, there's an official organization for that sort of thing IAMTW.

Though I have a few Star Trek credits and one (so far) Doctor Who, most of my sales have been to game companies. Game fiction is a much bigger market than most people realize. There's a fiction website connected with the game Classic BattleTech which currently has one of my stories up as the free sample: BattleCorps. (And yes, that's a picture of me pulling the pilot out of the fire.) My first novel was for a related game called MechWarrior. I made a couple of blog entries about the process a while back. Essay one and Essay two and a footnote .

wordtryst said...

Aaahhhh. Thanks for the links, Kevin. Now I get it. I guess you'd have to be a fan, right? Otherwise you'd be hard pressed to capture all the nuances, I imagine.

Checked out the links. Goodness. That's a whole world that I didn't even know existed. Read The Last Full Measure and although this is not my territory, so I have no basis of comparison, I really liked the focus on the human element, the old captain's internal conflicts.

Do you ever get over the thrill of seeing your name up there? It's not me and I'm thrilled.