Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

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wordranger
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Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by wordranger » July 30th, 2011, 9:38 pm

You toil for years over your story. It’s very intricate. It’s brilliant
(I can say this because it’s not mine. This just happened to a friend of mine Friday)
Your story is a three part series. Every facet of book one is important to the next two novels, and they are all completely written (at least in draft form)

You send it out, rejection here, rejection there, partial here, partial there, rejection again, and then BAM! A request for a Full Manuscript from an indie publisher. The only chink is that they think it is too long, so you need to cut 25,000 words out of it before they will even consider you, and you only have two weeks to do it. You toil and toil. You edit till you drop. Your beta partner reads madly right behind you watching for little plot chinks that don’t work. Coffee if your friend. Sleep is optional, but you do it. You make your deadline. (And I have to admit, the final draft minus the 25,000 words is AWESOME)

You wait and wait, and after a few weeks, you get a response. They are interested. They just want you to change one little thing that they don’t like. The problem is that one little thing is extremely important to the next two novels. They said if she’s willing to change that, they’d read the revised version, and prepare to move forward.

UGH! I sat on the phone with her for an hour and a half Friday trudging through how to make it work… how to take this one facet out, or how to work around it. A week ago, she was talking about how many of her friends changed their stories drastically just to get published. Now here she is in the same boat.

I’m wondering what I’d do. Little changes everyone expects to make… but something drastic enough to affect your entire series?

Positive energy SHOOTING your way, Buddy! I hope you make the right decision, whatever that is!
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

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DelicatePrincess
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by DelicatePrincess » July 31st, 2011, 8:50 am

From what I understand this right here is the very reason it is highly suggested on many agent blogs that you only write the first book of a series and worry about the other two once you get the first published. I think your friend is learning this the hard way and I wish her luck in this difficult undertaking.

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polymath
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by polymath » July 31st, 2011, 10:06 am

Creative differences between writers and publishers are the stuff of miseries and epic legends. At one extreme, accomplished or debut authors who balk at heavy-handed editorial advices and seek publication elsewhere. At another extreme, writers and publishers who compromise and outcomes are successful. At another extreme, writers and publishers who deadlock and projects falter or die. At another extreme, brinksmanship for the sake of childish power games. At another extreme, publishers whose self-interests trump artistic sensibilities.

The legends of writers who got a bit of traction and then started dictating terms to publishers, payback, if you will, range from, okay, the writer did know what was what, what was best, to writers who abruptly find themselves without a publisher and, worse, blackballed industry wide. Not gonna name names. Some living; some passed.

In the darker back alleys, there's a tale or two of publishers who sabotage up and coming writers in order to protect their own already in-house longstanding stables and backlists from competition.

A not uncommon scenario is the struggling writer burdened and bewildered, bothered and blustering at insistent editorial advices, who compromises for the sake of publication promise only to have the house decline at the last minute due to post facto remorse and second thoughts or another project that comes along in the interim and holds greater promise and the writer never the wiser because there's risks to publishers' reputations at stake.

On the other hand, there's writers who swear undying fealty oaths to their editors and credit them with their successes.

Publishers and editors are as human as writers, for all their frailties and faults, for all their graces and compassions, passions and sacrifices, for all their self-serving blinders and self-gratifying agendas, their misguided nobilities, and their clashing desires for convenient, career-building, life-maintaining, assurable, foolproof payoffs.

Thing is, in my sense of the publishing realm, it's a landscape fraught with risk and hazard. That's life; that's plot. Coping means pursuing and following the not so congruent paths of least resistance and greatest payoff outcomes. Triumphing means recognizing misery compels greater effort, and greater effort, while still no guarantee of successful outcomes, causes further challenges with potentially greater payoff outcomes. And last, surmounting the cognitive dissonance of seemingly irreconcilable resistance to purpose and convenient complications impeding growth means recognizing there's no one besides the self to make it happen, albeit through negotiating the landscape for all its perils and personalities' clashing sensibilities.
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CharleeVale
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by CharleeVale » July 31st, 2011, 1:02 pm

This may be a stupid question, but has she told them it's important to the next books?

AND are they interested in publishing the sequels?

Maybe if the publisher knew the plans for the next novels with that detail the might feel differently...?

CV

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Sanderling
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by Sanderling » July 31st, 2011, 2:55 pm

I was thinking the same as Charlee. Also - and this is a lot easier for me to suggest because I have no stake in it - if she strongly believes in the importance of this element and the editor can't see that, maybe they're not the right editor for her. Considering how closely the partnership can seem like a marriage, and the book the child - you can't move your backlist to a new publisher so you'll always be tied to the original publisher through the book, even if you split up, until/unless the child dies/goes out of print - you want to make sure you choose someone who's at least on a similar page as you. How desperately does she want to be published? Enough to sacrifice something she believes in? In some respects it might be better to pass up an opportunity with a traditional print publisher if they're not willing to listen to her and respect her opinions on her own work.

As many people have shown (Amanda Hocking being the most well-known of them) there can be success in self-publishing, even, if you're willing to put in the significant time and effort of marketing yourself. It's not necessarily this publisher or nothing.
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by CharleeVale » July 31st, 2011, 2:57 pm

Weird repeat post now replaced by this comment....sorry!

CV
Last edited by CharleeVale on July 31st, 2011, 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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HillaryJ
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by HillaryJ » July 31st, 2011, 8:17 pm

I'm having some trouble understanding this situation, Wordranger. She has no contract in place, but has been told to change integral plot elements. Has she had discussions with the editor making the requests? That's an awful lot of stress with no guarantee of publication. And, if the editor is not willing to discuss the book, but rather dictates what must be done regardless of the insured's vision - it doesn't sound like a publisher that would make a good partner for the long run.

While every aspiring author wants an agent or publisher to pick up their word, sometimes the match isn't a good one.
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by Sanderling » July 31st, 2011, 8:41 pm

HillaryJ wrote:I'm having some trouble understanding this situation, Wordranger. She has no contract in place, but has been told to change integral plot elements. Has she had discussions with the editor making the requests? That's an awful lot of stress with no guarantee of publication.
I don't think this is too unusual in the industry, Hillary. Editors and agents both may request changes to a manuscript with no guarantee of acceptance. I've seen it referred to as an R&R - revise and resubmit. I think usually, as long as you adequately make the changes they're requesting (sometimes more than one round of changes), they'll accept your manuscript. I recall reading that Nathan spent several months working with author Natalie Whipple on revisions to her manuscript before he even agreed to represent her.

It's possible that in this situation the difference of opinion lies in the judgement of what's integral and what could go and/or be moved. The publisher might see that plot item and feel it's superfluous to the plot of the first book and could just as easily be worked into the second book. Meanwhile, the author may feel that it can't be worked in to the second book because it needs to take place before x happens and in y way for it to make sense and that's only possible if it's included in book one. If both sides explain why they see it the way they do, some compromise might be reached or maybe even one side will change their mind to agree with the other.
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wordranger
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by wordranger » July 31st, 2011, 8:58 pm

CharleeVale wrote:This may be a stupid question, but has she told them it's important to the next books?

AND are they interested in publishing the sequels?

Maybe if the publisher knew the plans for the next novels with that detail the might feel differently...?

CV
When we last talked, she had decided to gently tell them that she would entertain making changes, but then go on to explain why this element was important to the sotry moving forward. She is hoping that after some dialog that they will understand where she is going with it.

Sanderling is right, that stuff like this is not very unusual in the business (for those of you who have not tested the waters yet... don't be surprised) Many authors revise just for the chance to get looked at. This is an odd business, and each publisher has different needs.

I've heard about it so much... This is just the first time that it's hit someone I know personally.

I guess it's a good problem to have.
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by polymath » July 31st, 2011, 9:31 pm

The publishing supply-demand curve has a comparatively disproportionately large supply to demand ratio. The few traditional publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts report they receive, respectively, upward of 25,000 per year vying for a dozen or so slots and competing against authors with proven track records. So a contract offer only comes up when they forecast a product has marketplace potential. Literary agents report similar processes, though they might only look at a small percentage of partials and fulls compared to equally voluminous query submissions, and make equally few contract offers.

Half of the U.S. population self-identifies as creative writers according to marketplace groups that are interested in tracking the numbers. Presumably, the same is probably true for the entire English speaking world. Considering that's a billion people, any one of half a billion could at any time be composing a manuscript in anticipation of publication, every one coming up to the logjam at the sorting gates. At least six million book-length manuscripts are in the U.S. pipeline from submission marketing to acquisition at any given moment. If manuscripts were raindrops, they couldn't be more numerous. So a contract isn't consumated until there's a comparatively finished product ready for marketing. Like most of the rest of business world practices.

Independent publishers, or guerrilla publishers as I like to call them, are like struggling writers, also guerrilla marketers, struggling for product to market, contending with established and accomplished competition for the best of the best. Needless to say, they've got to start somewhere too, usually at the back of the race. One place they start is with the same hidebound rules as the Big Six publishers. No contract until they've got a marketable product in the production pipeline.
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HillaryJ
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by HillaryJ » July 31st, 2011, 11:36 pm

Sanderling wrote: I don't think this is too unusual in the industry, Hillary. Editors and agents both may request changes to a manuscript with no guarantee of acceptance. I've seen it referred to as an R&R - revise and resubmit. I think usually, as long as you adequately make the changes they're requesting (sometimes more than one round of changes), they'll accept your manuscript. I recall reading that Nathan spent several months working with author Natalie Whipple on revisions to her manuscript before he even agreed to represent her.

It's possible that in this situation the difference of opinion lies in the judgement of what's integral and what could go and/or be moved. The publisher might see that plot item and feel it's superfluous to the plot of the first book and could just as easily be worked into the second book. Meanwhile, the author may feel that it can't be worked in to the second book because it needs to take place before x happens and in y way for it to make sense and that's only possible if it's included in book one. If both sides explain why they see it the way they do, some compromise might be reached or maybe even one side will change their mind to agree with the other.
It isn't unusual, Sanderling. I revised extensively with my agent before we took my novel on submission, and am currently revising a separate project with an editor. In both cases, any suggested changes either made sense to me, or I discussed them until they made sense to both of us. Very rarely, if ever, does a work go straight from submission to print. That's not what strikes me as odd. When Wordranger says that her friend is stressed over this change it leads me to believe that the publisher and the writer either have very different views of the end product, or that the publisher is not aware that the book is intended to lead a series. Either way, even before a signed contract, dialogue is possible and usually encouraged to a certain extent. If the publisher can explain why this element is a problem, or the writer can justify why it's necessary, the parties will be on the same page. Or close to it.

Polymath, your observations on the guerilla publishers (I like that name) are right on. However, I would point out also that sometimes publishers are at the back of the pack for a reason. Either they don't have genuine and successful experience in the publishing industry, or they have spotty records (as respects sales, paying authors, etc). Yes, we are all looking for a way to get our foot in the door. Selling work to an inexperienced or even bad publisher will likely yield very little income or exposure, and will tie the author's rights to that work up for an indefinite period of time. I'm not stating an opinion on Wordranger's friend's experience, just commenting in general that authors need to take a moment to research the sources of offers they receive.
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polymath
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by polymath » August 1st, 2011, 6:05 am

HillaryJ wrote:Polymath, your observations on the guerilla publishers (I like that name) are right on. However, I would point out also that sometimes publishers are at the back of the pack for a reason. Either they don't have genuine and successful experience in the publishing industry, or they have spotty records (as respects sales, paying authors, etc). Yes, we are all looking for a way to get our foot in the door. Selling work to an inexperienced or even bad publisher will likely yield very little income or exposure, and will tie the author's rights to that work up for an indefinite period of time. I'm not stating an opinion on Wordranger's friend's experience, just commenting in general that authors need to take a moment to research the sources of offers they receive.
Analogy time. Ambulance chasing publishers? Money grubbing, self-serving, self-deluded incompetence in every walk of life. Not that wordranger's acquaintance's pendent guerrila publisher is necessarily incompetent. Applying the secondmost noblest principle of a free society's criminal justice system, Better ten guilty persons go free, for now, than one innocent person condemned. Presumed innnocent until convicted by a jury of one's peers.

There are malefactors in the publishing racket too. Predators and scheming scammers who take advantage of gullible sensibilities. My earliest writing mentor was taken by an otherwise legitimate vanity press. Took years off his young life to pay off the contractual debts and to let go of crates of unsellable books. Caveat emptor swings both ways.

But too much caution stifles careers. Which risks are worth burning a midnight candle? The ones that follow from blunt, frank, critical, conscientious thought. I'll back out of a proposal quicker than a conman's savvy mark if it looks too good to be true. I only got took three times in my long life, no more than I could afford to lose. Contrary to the expected lessons, I learned a good deal is one where every party is satisified with the final outcomes. Consequently, I won't take advantage of a naive acquaintance. Not out of any noble intentions, but because all too often in life winning is losing. That philosophy has its own perils. The worst is because I don't respond to every challenge, I'm frequently labeled a quitter, a loser, a victim. Phbbt! I pick my battles and close acquaintances carefully. No sense in engaging prematurely, nor tilting at windmills.
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by sierramcconnell » August 1st, 2011, 5:01 pm

As a writer, I'm sorry, I wouldn't do it. This is one reason I'm finding it difficult to have faith in traditional publishing.

Cut out this many words? I can do that.

Change this scene or snip that scene? Maybe, sure, possible.

Kill off this character, change that character, totally reem book? No. This is my story, not your story. I totally hear your creative nudges, but when it comes down to ENTIRELY CHANGING EVERYTHING AROUND, that's the line, and you crossed it.

They're there to try and sell the book (physical elements), not the story (creative pieces that got them interested in the first place).

At least, that's the way I see it. And that's probably why I'll end up taking care of things myself. Because I don't like people telling me what to do. XD
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Re: Yes! We will publish your novel… If…

Post by MattLarkin » August 2nd, 2011, 12:31 pm

I agree. If the publisher is not willing to discuss why the aspect is or isn't crucial to the series, that publisher may not be the right fit for that author. Unless the author wants publication so badly he or she is willing to let go the reason he or she wrote that story in the first place.
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