What's up with the traditional pub industry?

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What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby PaulDayton » Wed May 26, 2010 9:37 am

Caveat: I am no expert. But having perused writers' forums actively for 8 months as I struggled to get my work known ( www.pauldaytonscifi.com hehe) I've learned a lot as to why now is possibly the hardest time ever to get anything published, and why more and more people are going the new self pub'd or ebook route.

The economy has severely affected the publishing industry. Yes, you still see book stores busy with customers (who are purchasing much more carefully now, by the way), and although sales are down, the problem isn't really the consumer.
The issue is that every major organization is cutting down. Less T.V. shows, shorter seasons, fewer writers, fewer journalists, fewer, fewer, fewer. The result is of course a huge group of jobless, professional writers, journalists, T.V. show writers and so on, sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. Many of them turn to what they do best and write the novel that has been sitting in their heads for x number of years but never had time to write, until now.

Worse yet, the average Joe/Jane Doe reader is also laid off, and as they get pogey, suddenly get the idea that they can write too, and wouldn't it be a great idea to get some extra income?
Result - slushpiles are now huge. Great MSs get missed because there simply isn't the time or the manpower to go through them all. I've found about half the pub houses haven't sent me a reply to my query, and of those that did, it's the standard reply that has me guessing they haven't even read the first page of my MS.

What IS happening at pub houses:
They stick with known, successful writers, which are less of a gamble. They stick with known formulas - is your book over 100,000 words? Does it have vampires? Are you unpublished?... REJECTED

However,
Publishing an ebook is getting easier and easier, even for major online retailers such as Barnes and Noble.
This also comes with a caveat. Because publishing an ebook is now so easy, the list of crappy ebooks out there is huge and growing. So, an author has two choices in this matter:
Send out queries AFTER your MS is as good as it will ever be, or
publish it in ebook format, and ADVERTISE, PROMOTE, BEG AND PLEAD.

Tough, isn't it?
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby cdecho » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:32 pm

Very tough. And what publishers make you go through before you even get a reading! Used to be, send three chapters and a synopsis, wait a few months for some poor person to read through the slush pile and hope your manuscript got sent to a real editor. Now they have "contests." Readers read your work and vote it up the chain. So basically you have unpaid slush readers who are mostly wannabe authors forced to read other writers stuff and play games to get other people to ote yours through. No thank-you. I've taken the ebook/print on demand traditional small publisher route.
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby admin » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:43 am

Writers want two things, readers and money. With self-publishing, unless you have a brand name, like Anthony Toilin's Shadow reprints or my Flash Gordon reprints, it is very hard to get either through self-publishing. A very few people hit it rich, like L. Frank Baum or Dan Brown, but most self published books are read only by the author's mother.
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby cdecho » Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:46 pm

I think self-publishing is fine if you're teaching classes or a public speaker, selling books to go with what you do. For the average fiction writers, it's close to a waste of time. Check out Piers Anthony's website, hipiers,com for more on this.
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby starbane » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:10 am

I'm an amateur writer myself. I say amateur in the sense that I've written a lot and been published in minor publications but haven't achieved the "professional" status of actually being paid for any of my work. I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to feel the sense of accomplishment and recognition that would come with a cheque... okay, being able to buying groceries would be cool too.
There is a lot of good information around on how to see this from the publishers point of view. One good article is "How Publishers Select Manuscripts" on http://www.sfbookworld.com/index.php/sci-fi-blog/ficition-how-publishers-select-manuscripts/
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby admin » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:17 am

In Hollywood, the "couple of sentences" test is called "high concept". "Harry Potter meets Gidget" would be an example. But with so many books out there, high concepts are hard to come by. The most recent success that comes to mind is "Napoleon with dragons".
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby Third Foundationer » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:47 pm

I'm with you, Starbane. Have not broken into anything resembling "professional" status. It can be very difficult to maintain a Puritain work ethic when one suspects luck and connections matter at least as much as effort and skill.

Because my lifestyle and life choices do not permit me to travel the country and network face-to-face with editors and publishers, I am forced to use the Internet to do my networking. I have only met with limited success there.

At the end of the day, however, I do enjoy writing, so as uplifting as a professional success would be, I take solace in the fact that I am doing something I love.

--3rdF
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Re: What's up with the traditional pub industry?

Postby admin » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:00 am

I've heard from several writers: writers are people who can't be happy doing anything else.

For what it's worth, it is possible to sell stories tossed over the transom. It just isn't easy.
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