I wasn’t talking about a small press picking up your book as validation. I don’t consider that validation.
No, the 90-day thing is for the Select program where you have to be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days to be in it.
Not available to buy. When I took my book down from KDP, its Amazon page disappeared.
My book may be permanently available in the Kindle libraries of whoever bought it, but that’s no different than an out-of-print book collecting dust on your shelf.
Why isn’t a small press validation? How do you define a small press?
I didn’t want to go there. I’ll give you an example. I was contacted by a self-published author who wanted to publish my novel. I’d get nothing from that arrangement. He started up a small press for no other reason than to self-publish other people’s books and maybe make a little money if they sold.
When I talk “validation” I mean the Big-5 or a large medium sized publisher. A publisher with a track record. A publisher with skilled staff. A publisher that rejects almost everything sent their way. If they reject 99% of the manuscripts and choose mine, that’s the validation I’m talking about.
Ah. I was published by a small press, but it was with a major distributor and functioned as such. The other books on their line are curated enough that I believe some rejection must have taken place; it’s not the random selection of a vanity press.
But you’re right. With the explosion of self-publishing, anyone can technically call themselves a publisher. It takes a fine eye to discern what’s legitimate.
I actually wasn’t responding to you, but to the sentiment expressed by other posters that being traditionally published by itself provides validation for writers. I simply don’t agree with that - obviously, ‘validation’ is a subjective feeling, so what validates one writer’s efforts will be different than another - but I find in the majority of cases the relationship between writer and publisher in traditional publishing to be exploitative, so I don’t like tying ‘validation’ of one’s writing to being published traditionally. I firmly believe that if a writer publishes their work and readers read and enjoy it and are happy to part with money for this moment of entertainment that the writer’s efforts are validated. I self published 2 years ago, have sold around 40k copies, make a full-time living as a writer, and was contacted by a senior editor at Tor that they wanted me to send them my next book directly. But where do I get my ‘validation’ as a writer? That my first book has 2200 Goodreads ratings and still has a 4.25 / 5 average. That means my book is being read by a lot of readers and the majority of them enjoy it.
Exactly. When going the traditional route, the odds are significantly stacked against you, so for best chances it makes sense to not handicap yourself by word count.
Marketing plans (which start long before a release) is something I always recommend…but I do want to point out a certain aspect of marketing that is important to understand.
For traditionally published books, success is all about pre-orders and the first few week’s sales. You MUST come out of the gate quickly and 85% of the print sales for the lifetime of the book will come in the first 4 weeks after release. Why? Mainly because of limited bookstore shelving space. Each week, new tittles are released, and if your book hasn’t sold well, it’ll be removed from the shelves and something else will replace it. The less time on the physical shelves, the quicker the downward spiral comes.
For self-published titles, the books aren’t on physical bookstore shelves so they don’t HAVE to worry about “breaking big” you have a longer runway because online bookshelves are infinite. In fact, I suggest that self-published authors don’t worry to much about promoting when they have only one book out. It’s better to use your time to produce more content and shorten the time to release for book #2 and #3. Once you have three books out THEN it makes sense to shift to 50% writing and 50% marketing. Why? Because getting a single sale can be hard and if it results in just one book sold the ROI is low. But if you get good sell through on a series, then one lead results in 3 books rather than 1 and that makes the ROI much better.
It’s a valid point and something to keep in mind. But I do know that for SOME authors, they don’t feel like “real authors” unless they see their books on store shelves. If that’s how they FEEL it’s part of the equation to take into consideration and for THEM, traditional may be a better fit.
Yes, it takes time and practice to get your skill levels up to publishable quality. 1,000,000 words and 10,000 hours are metrics that are generally quoted - and they are pretty accurate for the VAST majority of writers.
It’s a bit worse than that. 80% of traditionally published books don’t earn out. Now, the publisher gets “in the black” before an author earns out, but publishers don’t consider breaking even (or close to it) as a sucess.
It actually validates two things (a) possible commercial appeal (b) a degree of writing skill. I think it’s the latter that is the more important of the two. One of the hardest things of self-publishing is knowing whether you writing is ‘ready for prime time.’ If you are picked up traditionally that hurdle is cleared.
But, yes, we both agree that ultimately, it’s the readers who have the final say based on sales and reviews.
There are pros and cons to each. There is no UNIVERSAL answer for all authors. What if you don’t have the skills to produce a professional version of the book? Then traditional will be a better choice. What if you absolutely want to control price? Then self is a better choice.
That really doesn’t happen. First, when you negotiate the contract you can make sure you have “final say” over content. My publishers can’t change…nor cant hey force me to change my book in ways I don’t agree to.
Most publishers don’t bother signing books that aren’t 95% of where they need to be. They don’t have the time to wait for major sweeping changes. Every now and then you’ll run across a book that goes through large changes but for 95% of the works, they are pretty close to the original version.
It definitely is competitive, and the contract terms are not very “author friendly” but you are NOT under their control (unless you signed a really dumb contract). I’m not saying that there aren’t great reasons for going the indie route, but I don’t see this point you made as one of them.
With the noted exception that legal contracts can’t be signed by people under age, so anyone under 18 will have to have their parents sign, unless you are an emancipated minor, which takes court time to get designated as such.
Yeah. That is definitely the best option.
Yeah. I’ve submitted it for several critique threads, and I’ve shown the first chapter to my English teacher so far. When I finish, I’ll rewrite based on feedback, and also edit all the typos and those things.
Typos are the last thing you need to worry about. Google up “top down editing novels” and you’ll see what I mean.
In high school, you get a good grade for achieving a minimum word count, and you’re dinged for syntax errors like typos and misspellings.
But when editing something for real publication, your first focus should be developmental editing: Does this scene serve the plot? What is the plot? Does this chapter need to be here? Does this character need to exist?
When I edited my own manuscript, I once cut almost half its length in a day (from roughly 150k words to 90k) when I realized that a few chapters were more subplot than main plot. Maybe I salvaged an amusing scene or two to reuse in the main plot, but I’m glad I cut those overall chapters. The novel is much tighter for it.
Then, within the surviving chapters, I cut some weak or redundant scenes as well.
Within the surviving scenes, I cut weak paragraphs, and maybe some sentences that weren’t pulling their weight.
Then, and only then, did I check for spelling and grammar. Because imagine how much time I would have wasted if I’d cleaned up the sentences of those chapters I deleted!
(I’m curious if @SchuylerThorpe has done this)
No. I haven’t. When I write my 200,000-300K novels, I’m connecting everything together little bit by little bit. Every subplot, every scene, every possible story element. I make sure everything is connected and has a place in the story.
I don’t do filler chapters, I don’t waste time writing random stuff at will–believing I can pull the wool over people’s eyes.
I turned over a 182,000 word novel over to my editor in recent years and she only was able to take out 7,000 words overall. And she was being just as thorough as anyone else. Because I told her to take an ax to it. But she relayed to me at the end of the edit, that there just wasn’t much left to take out.
That’s why I specialize in self-editing: I do the work, I make the changes, I streamline the novel, I do the things that most editors would normally have to do on their own.
So in the end, they get a clean copy with only some minor things to touch up on and I get a book published.
It’s a great time saver.
I realize people still believe that even after 3 or 4 decades of writing experience, we’re still writing absolute shit for novels that needs heavy editing and rewrites. Every time. It doesn’t matter if the book is average length or one of my “super max” novels.
People still think I’m some rank amateur that just started writing yesterday and is doing nothing but wasting his time writing something that needs a full time edit and rewrite.
In my experience, I don’t need to rewrite a whole lot these days. In fact, the last time I had to rewrite something over and over was from 2000-2003. And once again in 2015.
That’s a big gap considering how much time is present between rewrites. That shows the level of my skill as a writer and as an author. Rewrites for me are increasingly rare these days. But if there is one, it’s because I didn’t have enough information on hand to make a personal judgment call. (Especially when “dreams turned to novels” are involved. Good luck researching that one!)
Otherwise, my first drafts are fine the way they are. And ready to be edited. (Like my Meteor Girl novel. That book was a first draft copy and I turned that one over to my editor over the summer for edits. (According to her, she’ll be done by Christmas.)