Michael J. Sullivan's picture
Michael J. Sullivan from where unlikely heroes dwell is reading Under the Dome June 4, 2012 - 7:17am

Howdy,

I'm new to this venue but have ben published just about every way there is: self, small press, big six. With the monumental changes occuring in publishing these days it's important to know what what the pros and cons of each are so you can make informed decisions. I'm more than willing to answer any qustions than any writers here may have.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 4, 2012 - 10:31am

What do you do to self-promote? I know, website, twitter, facebook etc... I see guys like Scott Nicholson with his EBookSwag.com thing, where he's giving away his own books for ereaders, and that seems like a pretty valid self-promotion/revenue stream. Any other cool things you or author authors are doing?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break June 4, 2012 - 10:42am

I wrote an article about this a while back which you can read HERE.

And then I wrote something for Erin Reel (The Lit Coach) on her blog HERE.

You can probably tell I'm a little turned off to the idea of the author sitting behind their computer trying to 'make it happen' solely through the workings of Twitter and Facebook and blogging.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 4, 2012 - 11:46am

Thanks for the articles Brandon--thats exactly what I was looking for, some actionable advice from writers who have been there. If I had your boyish good looks and lush head of hair, I would totally go out and meet people. But I am super ugly and kind of a jerk, so I will need to work the face to face angle very carefully. Thanks again!

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 4, 2012 - 11:33am

You could try wearing a bag on your head.  It would lend you an air of mystique.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 4, 2012 - 11:37am

Come on, you can't hate this guy. He's got an epic mustache.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 4, 2012 - 11:42am

@Jeff:  Do you have a mustache?

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 4, 2012 - 11:45am

I do not. Not currently, through I am fairly bearded for half of the year. Currently, I am not. The bag over the head is a good idea (remember the Unknown Comic?), but I may just up the volume and show up at cons in a mask made of chicken skin. 

Hello Clarice, it's good to see you again.

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) June 4, 2012 - 12:37pm

Thanks for starting this as I've never been published and have exactly three attempts to my name, all rejected in form letter style (2 from WordRiot, 1 from some rinky dink e-zine).  My main question is where to start.  The thought of just sending stuff to e-zines and publications seems way too random and the process feels like trying to get an entry level job.  Nobody wants you on their site unless you've been on somebody else's.  It's a rudimentary question, but I just don't know where to start, so any advise would be helpful!

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 4, 2012 - 1:37pm

@Bill -- 

Have you ever heard the expression 'Dress for the job you want, not the job you have'? So if you don't want to randomly toss stories into the void like Rip Taylor, start treating your submission process as a job, not as the necessary evil required to do the job. Metricize your efforts, and give yourself valid, obtainable goals to meet (i.e. In June, I will submit this story to at least 3 markets). 

Based on an earlier thread, I've been using Duotrope as my tracking tool. You can mark a market as a favorite, see average response times, et al.

Keep in mind this is fool's gospel, as I have no empirical proof of efficiency.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 4, 2012 - 1:48pm

I use Duotrope and The Writer's Market. They tend to have different markets, or at least from what I have seen so far. Three rejections is just the beginning. The first thing I ever submitted got published, but I would guess I had another twenty rejections before I got the next acceptance. Most of the rejections will be form style, especially from larger literary magazines.

It's just part of the business. If you can find a way to skip to getting accepted all the time and making money, let us know. We will gladly pay you to tell us your secret.

My process is anything that is submittable is always out. If something gets rejected, it immediately goes back out again. Meanwhile, keep writing and submitting new work. If something gets rejected several times, or you get personal notes on it, re-write and send it back out again.

You WISH this business was like getting an entry-level job. It's much harder to get published, especially if you want to get paid. If you want quick money, you would be better off donating plasma. It will pay better and hurt less.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 4, 2012 - 1:50pm

Well said Jack!

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) June 5, 2012 - 6:58am

Thanks for the advice!  I'm not even concerned about the pay side of it...I'm just looking to get exposure and build the published writing resume.  Duotrope looks to be a great tool, so I'll be sure to give that a stab.  Also, I realize three rejections is a paltry number and I should fully expect hundreds more, I was just curious where a good starting point would be, if there is one. 

Thanks again for the advice!

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 5, 2012 - 7:39am

Definitely look at the writer's guidelines on the website of anywhere you are going to submit. Make sure it is the sort of thing they would want and that you format it the way they want it formatted. Those are the biggest things. It is no use submitting something that is nowhere close to what they normally publish or is the wrong format so won't even get looked at.

Michael J. Sullivan's picture
Michael J. Sullivan from where unlikely heroes dwell is reading Under the Dome June 6, 2012 - 3:33am

@Jeffrey Grant Barr - how you promote is going to depend on "where" you are...from a body of work perspective.  Here are some of my suggestions:

  • If only one book out - concentrate on your next book promo/writing ratio should e 90/95% to 10/5%
  • If two books out - shift a bit - maybe 80% / 20%
  • When you get to three - start shifting to promotion - now at 50%/50%.  Walk before you run...first order of business is to get your reviews up to at least 10+ on Amaozn o your first book (preferrably 20+) and ideally the same on the other three out.
  • Once you have that - you have a "creditable" product to sell.  Now reduce the price of your first book (maybe even to free for a short while but certainly to $0.99) -
  • Continue to do the "usual suspects" - blog, twitter, work the book bloggers and genre forums
  • Once you see some momentum independent of you (i.e. others are talkign about your book and sales are self-generating - it's time to switch back to writing more - 80%/20%

Biggest areas to concentrate on:

  • Your blog - and make sure you have a newsletter sign-up for that
  • goodreads
  • book bloggers

Hope this helps.

Michael J. Sullivan's picture
Michael J. Sullivan from where unlikely heroes dwell is reading Under the Dome June 6, 2012 - 3:34am

@Brandon - I'll take a look at put in my 2 cents - we might have similar ideas or different ones, but eithe rway it would be nice to compare/contrast.

Michael J. Sullivan's picture
Michael J. Sullivan from where unlikely heroes dwell is reading Under the Dome June 6, 2012 - 3:38am

@Bill Tucker - it sounds like you write articles?  I'm a novelist and don't have a ton of experience in the "shorts" market.  Can you give me some informaton on the genre you are writing in and I might be able to give you some recommendations. Off the top of my head I would say at a minimum you should check out Duotrope.

Michael J. Sullivan's picture
Michael J. Sullivan from where unlikely heroes dwell is reading Under the Dome June 6, 2012 - 3:51am

@Jeffrey Grant Barr - good advice - I was listening to Neil Gaiman's commenced address to the School of the Arts who echos what you were saying. This is very much worth watching.

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) June 6, 2012 - 11:12am

@Michael: I'm getting back into my short story writing as of right now but I also write film reviews.  Those are posted on Rotten Tomatoes and my soon to be released website.  The website is going to house all my reviews, film articles and link to published stories, when I get to that point. 

As far as genre is concerned, I deal mainly with surreal stories.  Abstractions of real life.  Duotrope is an excellent suggestion as is "making a job out of it".  I'll work to get both of those things into motion!

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 6, 2012 - 11:25am

Very interesting Michael: It's so good to see a writing user numbers! Unfortunately, I don't yet have a published novel, so I can't test out your plan, though I made a note of it for the future.

I love goodreads as a readers--what do you get out of it promotion-wise? I had a couple of authors add me to their friends list, but they just kind of spammed my inbox with... well, spam, frankly. It seems to me that goodreads is built off of a discovery model, so by its nature is probably not as useful if you have only 1 or 2 books out.

Mike Adam's picture
Mike Adam from Toronto, Canada is reading Wytches Vol. 1 June 6, 2012 - 12:28pm

I have what is probably a very simple question, but I'm new to the whole idea of trying to get my work published. My question is: How important is a literary agent in regards to getting work published? And more specifically as a young writer just starting out, should I be more focused on trying to attract the attention of agents or publishers? Or am I crazy for even thinking of going after either at this point?

If anyone can give me any insight into any of these things, I'd appreciate it so much.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs June 6, 2012 - 5:29pm

As far as Goodreads, it's best to avoid adding authors as friends when they have like 1000 friends and 3 books on their shelves. Most of the friends requests that I get are like that.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts June 6, 2012 - 5:56pm

You could try wearing a bag on your head.  It would lend you an air of mystique.

 

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 12, 2012 - 2:48pm

@Jeffrey Grant Barr - spam, as you already noticed doesn't when done to you...so of course if you do similarly it won't work for you.

goodreads is the perfect venue for writer/reader interaction here are just some of the things I do.

  • I'm member of many fantasy groups and discuss group reads, provide recommendations, talk about books I like and don't like.
  • I have an "author's group" where I keep people up to date on new releases, contests, and the like
  • My books have been selected as "monthly reads" by 4 - 5 of these groups and will be the featured book for the one the July read for Fantasy Aficionados
  • When people review my book, I read their review and thank them
  • When people friend me, I check their shelves, and if i don't see my books I point them to sample chapters
  • I've done several goodreads giveaways and contact people directly through direct messages thanking them for interest in my book and pointing them to sample chapters.
  • I thank people who comment on my blog posts
  • I thank people who fan me
  • When someone mentions they are looking for a book that greatly resembles my own - I personal messsage them.

How has it worked out?  Well let's look at some of my goodreads statistics:

  • 7,726 people have rated my books with an average of 4.2
  • 17,749 times someone has placed one of my books on their shelves
  • 1,216 reviews 
  • 8,640 unique readers have my books on their shelves
  • 523 people have indicated that they are a fan of mine

This is just the tip o fthe iceberg...there are limitless possibilities in regards to goodreads.

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 12, 2012 - 2:54pm

@Mike Adam - if you want to be "big-six" published - these are places like Macmillian, Simon and Schuester, Hachette Book Group..the major players in the business then you need an agent.  If you are going to go to a small press (sometimes known as an "indie") you can submit to them directly without an agent.

The most important aspect (for either) is the cover letter. I wrote a post on reddit that has a bunch of links to helpful resources. It's a lot of work to reproduce the links - so I'll put the "content" here - but use the link above to go to the "real post" which will have full links to all the resources.

I compiled this data as part of a recent AMA on Publishing Paths but thought it might be helpful to the community at large so I broke it out.

Resources for Writing Query Letters

•Noah Lukeman's How to Write a Winning Query Letter (Free PDF).
•Marcus Sakey - How to ensure 75% of agents will request your mateirial
•Jane Friedman's Writer's Digest Series on Writing Queries
•Query Shark - critical review of queries
•Slush Pile Hell - examples of what "not" to do
•Media Bistro - tips on how to pitch

Resources for Book Publishers for Direct Sumbission
•Query Tracker
•Duotrope
•Preditors & Editors
•Ralan (Speculative Fiction)
•Agent Query
•Writer Magizine.com
•List of US Publishers
•List of Magazines and how much they each pay

Resources for Finding Agents
•1000 Literary Agents
•Agent Query
•Preditors & Editors
•Subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace to see who is making deals.
•AAR (Association of Author Representatives
•US Literary Agents

*Annual Directories of Agents and Publishers *
•201x Writer's Market Deluxe Edition,
•201x Guide to Literary Agents,
•Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 201x

Hope this helps.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 12, 2012 - 3:01pm

Wow, very detailed information, Michael James Sullivan, thank you. I also find it interesting that you're so active on Reddit. The Reddit community has a pretty solid bullshit/marketroid filter--so is reddit helping you sell books? DId you start off at reddit just to add to the community, or as part of a branding/marketing effort? I wouldnt have even thought of reddit, even though I lurk there every day.

 

 

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 12, 2012 - 3:24pm

I know nothing about the reddit culture - other than to say I find it very welcoming and a great place to be. I truly enjoy my time there. Now that being said...I don't go to reddit to sell books. I spend most of my time in /r/writing and I'm there to help other writers by answering questions (just as I am here) and if some people think I'm a cool guy and try a book of mine because of something I post - fine..but my intention is to learn and help.

I do also participate at /r/fantasy - and there I will (when the context is right) mention my book - but I always do so along with a lits of other books that I think fit the bill. I post links as a "member" - for instance interviews with authors who I've read, or book reviews I found interesting, or industry notes that are interesting. I don't ever say "buy my book" I interact and if someone mentions my book I thank them for the mention - but no more.

Interesting that you would speak of "branding." To me my "brand" is just the exernalization of "me"  what I'm passionate about...what I belive in...what gets me excited.  I just am "me" when I'm online...I'm not "spinning" a story I'm just being myself.  That being said...I think that people are attracted to people who they like and so if someone likes what they see of me I guess my "branding" has worked. But as I said I don't develop a brand and then expose it on line...I am me...and that becomes my brand.  Does that make any sense?

 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 15, 2012 - 2:12pm

@MJS's  --  I don't mean to be a jerk, but why are there two of you?

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 15, 2012 - 4:26pm

He probably logs in via facebook, sometimes from his author profile and sometime from her personal profile. Or like me, he had one account, forgot the passowrd, then just started using facebook because it's easier.

OR!

OR!

He's discovered the secret to successful human cloning and soon the world will be overrun by Michael J. Sullivans. Look outside! It's begun. There is a Michael James Sullivan on the sidewalk outside of your home.A Mike Sullivan on the subway. M.J Sullivan skulking in the shadows!

Beware!

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three June 15, 2012 - 4:50pm

Welcome Michael,

Always nice to have someone offer themselves as a resource. Published by a big six house? Very cool. Glad to have you here. :-) people can be a bit catty here. Just a warning. Don't let that turn you off. There are plenty of other people here happy to hear what you have to say.

Cheers,
Nikki

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 16, 2012 - 9:50am

@ Michael (or anyone) - can I publish an e-book with confidence in the formatting even though I don't have an e-reader? In other words, is the software reliable enough that I can just click the buttons and trust that my book won't look like garbage, or should I try to borrow one from somebody and do my own quality control?

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore June 16, 2012 - 10:48am

There are preview apps for that. I export e-books from Scrivener (pretty easy, relying on a plugin called KindleGen) and use Kindle Previewer. It also opens EPUB files and allows you to choose which type of device you want to preview (color, etc.). I believe you can also open EPUB with the Adobe Digital Editions software.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 16, 2012 - 11:50am

Thanks, GH.  I did a little reading on kindle self-pubbing but missed that app.

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 16, 2012 - 1:23pm

@J. Y. Hopkins - didn't realize there were "two of me" - it probably has to do with how I logged in (basedon on the icons) I would say that one is when I'm on facebook, the other direct.

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 16, 2012 - 1:24pm

@Nikki Guerlain - thanks for the welcome. I'll keep what you said in mind.

Michael James Sullivan's picture
Michael James S... June 16, 2012 - 1:26pm

@J. Y. Hopkins - yes you can be confident about formatting without an ereader.  There are "previewers" when you post them - and they are very accurate.  Also you can put "readers" on your computer and look at them in that. I was doing ebooks long before I bought an ereader - and never had a problem.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 16, 2012 - 1:29pm

Thanks.

Ken Leek's picture
Ken Leek from San Diego is reading 'Tis by Frank McCourt October 12, 2012 - 12:41pm

Hi, I know this post is a bit dated but maybe some folks will reply anyhow.

I have my book published through an indie publisher, which is awesome, but I'm having an extremely hard time with the following:

1. Finding bloggers to review my book. I've spent countless hours researching endless blogs, narrowed down the ones that would be most likely to review my book and I've only had one response back to send my book in for review. My stuff is transgressive or dirty realism and it seems like no one wants to hear from me or anyone else for that matter unless you come from a big name list, publisher, or have paid someone for a blog tour. Any help?

2. I sell the most books when I'm at an event that I hijacked or I am a part of (I play in a band so it helps) but these events are few and far between. More importantly, none of these events are geared towards readings and people who are there to hear readings. When I look into reading events, I try to contact the people who put them on, sometimes have sent them material (they asked for it) but I get no love. It seems like unless you have a publicist or an agent you simply can't get a reading tour booked with other authors. I really need help in this area badly. Is the only way to pay a publicist?

3. My book is the first of a two-part series. I'm scheduled to release the second book in April 2013 which is one year from when the first one was published. However, I don't think I've sold more than 100 copies of the first book. Should I keep promoting the first book and delay the release of the second?

I'm in the process of doing a full online assault. I currently use goodreads, have my book on there for giveaways, and thank anyone and everyone for anything. I have a facebook page as well in which I post and interact with folks. I don't use Twitter much at all and my blog could really use content so I'm aware that I'm slacking a little in those two areas.

OK, thanks for any help. I need it pretty badly.