To True
June 02, 2010

Having worked with a publishing firm in the past I can tell you that most often books get rejected for technical reasons and not because the book is actually terrible.

Seriously, though, go read stories of Vonnegut or Twain or Hemingway's publishing history... every great writer has faced rejection.

Just keep on trying! I'll be the first to put down money for a copy of your book when it's released!

Most recent blog posts from Jonathan Stark...

honestgamer honestgamer - June 02, 2010 (08:26 PM)
I've had short fiction and novel-length fiction alike rejected multiple times, and I've had novel length fiction accepted and then the publisher changed focus (in one case) or struggled to print anything (let alone my book trilogy) in another. Writing fiction is hard work, and a lot of editors have gone on record as saying something to the effect of "Most fiction that we reject isn't bad, it just doesn't have that hook that we can use to sell it, so we can't buy it." The trick is to remain motivated in the face of rejection. Persistence counts for a lot.
radicaldreamer radicaldreamer - June 03, 2010 (12:25 AM)
I think I heard somewhere that Harry Potter was rejected eight times.
aschultz aschultz - June 03, 2010 (02:34 PM)
You heard low. I think it was around 100 or more.
True True - June 03, 2010 (03:35 PM)
Thanks, Zipp. I appreciate it. It's never easy reading something like that, but it was the first legitimate company I had tried so I'm sure I will be less emotional about it the next time...well, I'll try at least. But I definitely appreciate you taking the time out to encourage me.

And I read that Rowling was rejected twelve times before someone opted to print her first book. I couldn't imagine what would have happened had she quit after that.

I'm going to keep that in mind.
bloomer bloomer - June 03, 2010 (07:24 PM)
Hi true. I'm about to dole out some advice, so apologies for any bits that you already thought of, don't apply, sound patronising, etc. Also thanks to Zipp for creating this handy topic, heh.

I would break down the trying to get published task into a couple of broad areas. One is the polishing of the manuscript and two is maximising your effectiveness in any interactions with potential publishers. One of the best things anyone can do is find a way around the unsolicited manuscripts slush pile with a particular publisher; understandably this is potentially one of the hardest things anyone can try to do - yet certain actions can increase the chance of having a freak bit of luck in this area. Most of them involve knowing or meeting other people.

I think I read that this book of yours is huge. Is it a fantasy book? If so, is there any possibility of splitting it up so that it's a trilogy or something? Fantasy series are obviously a big buck area, and huge unsolicited novels are less likely to cut through a slush pile than small ones. If anyone shows initial interest, you could then say "I wrote this as one big book initially, it could go back to being that or it can remain as three".

Improving the manuscript: nearly all first novels can use a lot of editing, and again it sounds like anything you could do to make yours smaller would help. In terms of self editing, there's a lot of tight stuff best attended to as part of the initial writing, when the whole thing is in your head at once, but then it's best to leave it completely alone for a long time. Then read it cold, and you will be surprised at what obvious editing options leap out at you.

Research each publisher's website carefully before sending anything to them. First because you have to make sure you address any of their requirements (most of all, appropriateness of them to publish your work), and second because some also have special days for looking at unsolicited manuscripts only.

I would try to get professional third parties involved. Look up some writers and authors societies online that are near you which look credible (ideally, they should look terrific!). Check out who are the head honchos in each society. If you see some people who are experienced published authors, or even famous authors (who aren't also abysmal EG James Patterson), good.

These societies often supply services where they will read your manuscript, vet it and help prepare letters and proposals for publishers for members. This will cost money to join and to use a service, but if you choose the right people, obviously worth it. The ultimate right person for you would be someone with experience in the kind of fantasy you are writing, but the odds on that are long. So just check out the credits and experience of the people involved, and see how you might feel about them.

Don't do this external vetting thing until you have been brutally honest with yourself about your manuscript, because these people will tend to be brutally honest as well, and if the manuscript isn't already above a certain level of polish and coherence, you're wasting your money to be told something you may already know.

When I say honest with yourself, I mean you should have no broad nagging doubts about things such as overall structure, chapters that are a bit iffy in terms of whether they need to be included or not, etc. It's not that you can't have any doubts, that is impossible, but you shouldn't have any that are causing you to think about them like, "Hm, I really should be attending to such and such (but I can't because I'm procrastinating or I haven't solved a particular writing problem yet)"

Meeting and knowing people meeting... is very valuable. Again it's a great idea to join an author's society and to go to real meetings. You meet other people who want to be published, have been published, or work in publishing. You swap ideas, find potential proofreaders and you never know who will say " your book sounds interesting, I know someone who might want to take a look at it"... and then you have immediately lept over the slush pile at at least one publishing house, which is about the best thing you can do.

One last idea which may be completely unappetising, or not... self publishing. The odds are almost completely against the book generating any interest in its own right if you go this path, in which capacity I would not bother. Others may disagree. However if you attend to it aggressively, it can be used as a means to generate interest with publishers. For instance, Matthew Reilly, now one of the richest authors in the world, began by self publishing his first book (here in Sydney), manually going around introducing himself to city bookshops and asking them to stock a few copies. They sold well, and a publisher came to him for his next book. He went from there. This kind of story is thin on the ground, however you will note that it starts off completely un-spectacularly, and is almost not beyond the means of anyone to try something similar.

In summary, I don't know how much preparation you've done already, but if you have even 0.1% suspcision you need to do more, stop sending the manuscript out and attend to it. Each time you send the manuscript out and it's not at its best, or is there something else you could have done beforehand to help in that particular circumstance, you slightly reduce your ultimate chance of getting published, because each publisher is only going to look at it once if it arrives through the slush pile. I would definitely look into the authors Society joining options. The possibilities involving other people are the ones that open the most opportunities for freak luck to help you on your quest. Also I think you will find you immediately feel better about everything when you are involved with non-Internet people in the same boat or trying to do the same things you are.
True True - June 03, 2010 (09:10 PM)

Simply saying thank you could not express my gratitude for the advice and the time spent in providing so much of it.

I'm sure I mentioned once or twice how large a book it actually was, and A-man may have commented on it, but--yes--it is a decent size. In looking back at it, that may have been the biggest mistake when I submitted it. It was a smaller press that I contacted, and may not have been a wise investment for them considering I'm a new author. Splitting it up is a possibility, but one I would need someone else to do--one who knows the entire scope of the novels to follow.

In my head, I have the entire structure, so it's hard for me to determine where else would be a good place to end it, except at the end...if that makes sense.

So at this point, a writer's group may be a better option, although it may entail just as much research as a would-be publisher. If anyone has any tips on where to find one, or a good starting point for someone out of Colorado it would be much appreciated.

Again, Bloomer, thank you for taking the time out and putting all that up. Good advice on all accounts, and several things I've not yet looked into, but definitely will now.
zippdementia zippdementia - June 03, 2010 (11:06 PM)
Bloomer gave some amazing advice than I can only back up by saying it echoes things I've been told by writers such as Sherman Alexie and Alice Walker.

As for finding a writing group, you happen to have the amazing internet at your disposal. Obviously, just throwing your work online is not a good call, for many reasons, but there are official book reading groups online that are legally and historically bound to not steal your work or do anything untoward.

And if that doesn't tickle your fancy, then pick out a few good friends that you would trust to read the manuscript and provide honest feedback.

I'd be happy to read it and provide feedback myself, as I do this sort of thing regularly with my other writing friends and with scripts from all sorts of folk. I must warn you, though, I am BRUTALLY honest. I've learned a lot from being here about how to present criticism, but I don't shy away from commenting on things that are wrong with a piece. If I think the whole thing needs an entire rewrite, I would tell you.
bloomer bloomer - June 04, 2010 (12:46 AM)
You're welcome true. Also in terms of rejection, HG and Zipp summed up a lot on issues to do with marketability, which can amount to timing and luck, what particular publishers are looking for at particular times, etc.

I googled Colorado Authors and hit the Colorado Authors League, who are not helpful for you because they only deal with people who've already been published commercially.

Then I googled Colorado Writers and got this much more promising looking mob:

Another possible venue are community classes or outshoots of tertiary institutions (and where the member demographic may be younger), though obviously quality of them can be hard to assess. But the rmfw looks pretty good to me for the 2 mins work I did to find it.
True True - June 04, 2010 (03:24 PM)
And if that doesn't tickle your fancy, then pick out a few good friends that you would trust to read the manuscript and provide honest feedback.

It's funny you mention that. I actually toyed with the idea of having a few people from HG read it if they wanted. Then I considered having a little mini-contest so people could win a limited edition copy. The more I think on it, that sounds like fun and may announce that as a prize for the winners our Team Tournament. To build motivation and what not...

But that almost sounds egotistical.
zippdementia zippdementia - June 04, 2010 (05:34 PM)
Hell no! It's a great idea that shows you believe in yourself enough to advertise your material as a prize! Hell, I should probably give away a limited edition copy of Population 2 this winter when it comes out!

Free stuff is always fun as long as it doesn't contain anthrax or leprosy.

I bet Jason would give away a copy of Defiant Light if they weren't going for 120 bucks on Amazon ^_^

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2019 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.