Friday, February 25, 2011

So You Want to be an Author?

I have had delusions of possessing some writing skills as some of my posts in the past have proven. Presently I am roughing out some fiction that is about 5,000 words in length and I now have ideas of how to push it probably past 10,000. Its usually not the traditional way of writing, but I am writing each as a short story that ties back to the previous. So in other words it could be argued I am writing each chapter of a longer story while tricking myself. Perhaps. But I seem to have a mental hangup when it comes to longer pieces.

So one of the things aspiring writers do is look around. Do we try to crash the barricades of the big publishers like Random House or Baen? Or self-publish? Or perhaps go to one of the Print on Demand[POD] places. Just mentioning POD brings back images of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, of your entire being stolen away and replaced by a worker drone. Another name for POD publishers is vanity publishers. The authors at such places tend to get jacked around and bank account lightened to prove to their small circle of friends that they are a published author. And when you go to places like Amazon to find the book, the title is listed as Amazon's #6,431,909th best seller.

Then there is a truly special publisher called Publish America. If you look for their titles on Amazon, generic cover art will be displayed for paperbacks that list for hardcover prices. They claim they are not a POD or vanity publisher but it seems they are. As for their prowess in editing and formatting, it seems not so great as some of their authors claim Publish America added typos to their works. A collection of science-fiction authors decided to take umbrage at Publish America's condescension towards the science-fiction genre in 2005 by writing one of the worst novels ever hatched called Atlanta Nights with horrible formatting, missing chapters, duplicated chapter numbers, and horrible prose; amazingly Publish America took it all in and was ready to print it. Then when they learned of the hoax, all deals were off and it seems Publish America got real pissy over it. For a rundown of why many authors think Publish America is bad, try this forum.

So to avoid the pitfalls of being sucked into a scam, talk to a real author. Ask them what you need to do to get published by a publishing company. While never forgetting to practice your craft.

Post Ludi - I wonder, got this 40,000 word anime fan-fic. Publish America. Should I just to see if they green light it? Nah, I will stay good.


Mutnodjmet said...

Anna: Your post is timely. I was praying in church today to guide me, as I want to publish and electronic book geared to tweens. Then, I had someone give me a draft of special document he is preparing to edit and eventually promote. I sense some divine guidance here. Keep me posted on all your creative writing adventures.

Anna said...

I am still researching things in regards to publishing. Dealing with agents and such.

Here is one of my blog posts - http://annapuna.blogspot.com/2009/03/prompt-chancellor-modern-comedy.html

Good luck with your project. I should get back to mine. Need to edit out an ending that is going lame, tie in and revise second story, then get on to part three. Fun! :D

Ed Rasimus said...

I decided early on that someone would pay me to publish my work and not the other way around. If you have something that people will want to read, a publisher will buy it (but it might take some luck to get it in front of the right one.)

I was fortunate that I had met and interviewed with some published writers for projects they were working on. I asked them to read my early effort and they said they would aim me the right way.

I finished the first MS and was fortunate to have the first publisher (Smithsonian Books) contract it. The second was done on a proposal rather than a finished MS. I was able to get an agent to represent me on that one.

The most recent was passed by the agent and went directly to my publisher in proposal format. Obviously it gets easier over time.

Best route is to build a solid proposal: synopsis, table-of-contents, two sample chapters and a brief marketing overview with target audience. Samples abound online. Submit to agents and seek publishers who will accept proposals (not all will take unsolicited submissions.)

Target MS size for most publishers is 100k-130k words. That makes about a 225 page book.

You WILL NOT get rich or even reasonably compensated from writing books unless you also can win a lottery.

Anna said...

Thank you Ed for the low-down on the getting published.

The short answer is, do not expect to be the next J.K. Rowlings. So write because you enjoy to write. And buy lottery tickets, just a few mind you.

My verification word is - caltec