Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Succinct Advice

I have written five self-published books, primarily because I know the poetry and short story collcetions are difficult to get 'published' by an unknown and I simply enjoy having them inprint for myself and friends and because the relisioug/spiritual books are too controvercial for most Christian publishers and who else is interested in publishing them. But I have a novel coming up and I want to make it available to lulu pre-publishing for those currently interested in it (and keep the rights) and also query it to publishers. Will they see my previous self-publishing and pre-publishing of this novel as a bad thing?
It will depend on the editor/publisher. If the manuscript is excellent, some may be willing to overlook your self-publishing.

They will not overlook run-on sentences and typos, however.


Hilabeans said...

Great post. Thanks for the laugh.


Trixie said...

Is this person for real? Why would you ever send an inquiring email to an editor with so many typos? Not a good thing for publicity. Thank goodness it's anonymous.

Anonymous said...

An editor/agent might not mind your self-published books of poetry, but why on earth would you self-publish a novel that you are trying to get published by an actual real live publisher?


You want to self-publish it first so your friends can read it? Hello, if they're that into it they can read it off your computer screen, or print them a copy from your printer.

I hope I'm not crushing you in some way, but since no one else has said it: Editors don't look favorably on self-published books. Saying you are self-published is not going to make them view you as a dedicated writer, but as an impatient one.

PurpleClover said...


*cough* I must admit, I'm a sentence-runner-on-er. Also, I'm a word maker-upper and hyphen abuser.

But still. That was hilarious. I would have at least proof-read the question before hitting send.

Can't say the same for my blog comments though.

Jo Treggiari said...

I think the self-publishing could be a positive aspect especially if there have been significant sales, but pre-publishing the novel you wish to attract an agent or editor with is career suicide.
And definitely look out for typos and clumsy sentence structure when trying to present a professional appearance.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the laugh."

"Is this person for real?"

"That was hilarious."

If your views of other aspiring writers are this shallow I doubt your own writing would be anything I'd be interested in (and no, this wasn't my question).

Anonymous said...

Oh grow up, anon; noting an aspiring writer's awful spelling and grammar is not shallow. Poor self-editing is an indicator and a predictor--and, sadly, something frequently seen among self-publishers.

Anonymous said...

I didn't draw conclusions about the depth of anyone's writing, but I was surprised by the idea that this question was funny.

I hardly noticed the run-ons and typos. Some people do this sort of thing in email because they see it as not-exactly-real writing. It doesn't necessarily mean they'd leave the same mistakes in, say, a cover letter.

To me, it seems obvious that self-publishing your novel before you submit it makes you look a little silly. Why can't you wait until you've made a serious effort to sell it? But to someone who has just started thinking about submitting, this wouldn't be so obvious.

EA, this is a real question -- did you intend this post to be humorous?

Trixie said...

Anon, how is questioning the validity of an person shallow?

I think the appropriate word you are looking for is "disrespectful", but you have to have respect for your work before others have it. Proofreading your MS 20+ times shows that you value your work. If you are self-publishing you should proofread it 100 times that. A person who is really interested in self-publishing should show they are capable of it.

I was shocked that someone considering self-publishing wouldn't put their best face forward.

As far as choosing your reading selection based on blog comments. Well that's just funny.

Editorial Anonymous said...

I meant my advice sincerely.

I did expect that some of my readers would find this amusing, but I understand Anon 11:26's point about people being more lax in their writing in email than in their business correspondence.

Even so, this reader knew he/she was writing to an editor, and we can be depended upon to notice these things. It's always a good idea to consider your audience in whatever you write.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also, most email has spell check now, so while mispellings may be acceptable in blog comments, there's really no excuse for them in email!

ae said...

Who would Miss Spelling, Ms Spelling, Mrs Spelling and Mr Spelling hope to meet at a screen writer party?

Why Aaron Spelling of course! ;)

Glen Akin said...

Er ... that wasn't funny, AE.

Iva Messy said...

Fun post! and some fun comments to go with it! :-)

Jane said...

Most tired and overworked editors are looking for an excuse to reject a manuscript, and crap spelling affords the perfect and instant opportunity. Sorry but it's the truth.

And as someone who sometimes teaches creative writing, I'm convinced that most people think they can write and all they need to do is hone their already genius level skills. Also publishing is a conspiracy to keep out unknown writers. Nothing I can say will disabuse students of this. Because examining the alternative - that there are millions of people who also want to write, that publishers are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of manuscripts, and their writing - their story - that conains their pain and effort, just might not be good enough is too painful an alternative to contemplate.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Bravo Jane.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

*rolls with glee*

I'm a sloppy writer when I'm dashing off a note to a friend. When I'm writing anyone in the biz, I take an extra minute to tighten things up.

I had to convince one of my co-editors that I really DID know the language because of my sloppy emails. I learned my lesson. :)

Unknown said...

I would agree that a sloppy cover letter would probably lead to sloppy manuscript. However I have to disagree with the idea that self-publishing is a negative thing. I think there's more than a little snobbery and self-interest in that: Of course only bad books are self-published, because we the big publishers have all the good ones!

I don't believe it for a second. I have published my own books (surpise surprise!), but only because I can, because that technology exists and is accessible to me. It has nothing to do with the quality of my writing. Nobody disparages musicians for making their own tapes (probably CDs now)to sell at live gigs. You use any means possible to get your work out there.

I love writing, and I love having people enjoy my work. It would be nice to have 'proper' published work to brag about, but I don't need validation from a publisher to beleve in myself. There are far too many crap books on the shelves for that to be any kind of reliable marker.

Good blog by the way. Discovered it today by accident.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Hey EA! I noticed you post less when the weather's gorgeous. What's up with you having a life and getting vitamin D? =)

Christine Tripp said...

Gary, if a writer is willing to put in the time and money that self pub requires to make an income from the work, that's great. Problem is, most real writers and illustrators want to do what they do best, continue to write and illustrate and if all that time is consumed with making a living from flogging only 1 book, there is no time left to create. I think THAT is why most strive for a publisher, so they can then continue on with the next project.
It's much like why many strive for an agent, to not be bothered by the "details" but be allowed the time to work.
If an author or illustrator is not set on making this their career (happy with one book for example) they will not be of interest to a publisher or an agent, as these people DO view their profession as a career.... and want to make their living at it.

shell said...

Joy Behar is on NPR right now. Hmmm, another celebrity kid's book author, just what we need. I have read them but the illustrations look like slick licensed characters. I'm sure AE would be happy to know she's written about her dog. At least it's not about squirrels.

Unknown said...

Christine - I hate to nit pick (scratch that - I've made enjoyale evenings of it, with wine and nibbles), but what do you mean by "Most real writers?"

Are you suggesting that because I've published my own titles I'm somehow less authentic, less ambitious, less dedicated, less mad, less driven-all-my-friends-and-family-away than writers who woulnd't consider self-publication?

OK, I actually understand what you were saying, and for a lot of people - most of whom are quite deluded, or recently retired - it's a quick means to an end before they find another hobby.

But there is another breed of self-published writer out there, guys and gals like me who have been chipping away at the craft for years, have got agents all giggly and excited on numerous occasions, but have never managed to find a publisher willing to risk a few quid on us. I seriously bristle at the notion that self-published should translate as not as good.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I wish you all the best but I have to disagree with this quote of yours:

"I seriously bristle at the notion that self-published should translate as not as good."

A LOT of self-publshing ISN'T as good. If yours is then that is great for you and I hope that you find an audience.

Here's the thing -- I ran into someone who knew I wrote and she had recently finished her ms. Discouraged by her lack of responses from agents, she was considering self-publishing and wanted to know what I thought.

I asked: "How many self-publsihed books do you read in a year?"

Her answer: "None, why?"

That's the problem. Even most writers don't read self-published books yet they expect OTHERS to buy THEIRS?

That is shocking to me.

I have two books on hold at the library right now and another three I bought (1 hardcover, 2 paperback) in my pile to read. I can't even keep up with the National Book Award winners, Printz winners/honors much less the books I just wanna read for fun.

Honest to God, there's no time left to read anything self-published, even if I somehow, miraculously knew of an author that would thrill me.

Anonymous said...

There can be no excuse for poor spelling and grammar. It doesn't matter what the medium is, you are writing and that's an advert for your skills. If the publishing industry can't get it right then no one else will!

I'm afraid I did giggle a little!

Lili said...

I seriously bristle at the notion that self-published should translate as not as good.'Self-published' translates as 'On average, not as good.' There's no way around that. It's a fact.

Self-published work is the slush pile: a collection of writing that hasn't been required to meet any standards except the authors' own, which vary wildly. I read slush pile for years. There are a few real gems in there, and there's a bunch of stuff that has potential, and there's a bunch of stuff that's almost good enough but just doesn't have that spark or is too niche for the mainstream - but at least 90% of the slush pile is truly, gobsmackingly, jaw-droppingly bad. You think some stinkers get commercially published? You should SEE the stuff that doesn't.

And not only that: it's a slush pile that's already been cherry-picked by commercial publishers. They haven't taken all the good stuff, and they've taken some of the crap, but on the whole they've skimmed off most of the cream.

So, while there are still some gems in there, the average standard of self-published work is dragged down by the 98% or so of utter dreck. That's why people assume a self-published book won't be as good as a commercially published one. It's because their chances of being right are pretty high. It's hideously unfair to the remaining gems, yes, but life isn't fair.

Literaticat said...

where is ed?


don't you know that two weeks is like TWENTY BLOG YEARS?

Editorial Anonymous said...

You're one to talk, Literaticat!

I'll get back on the horse soon.

Bob Schechter said...

The main problem with self-publishing is that no one but the author has to believe in what the author has written. This is also the main advantage. Of course, the self-publishing author may be very talented and have every reason to believe in what he has written, but the choosy consumer doesn't have the time to read every book whose author thinks the book is wonderful. We depend on various gatekeepers to winnow down our potential reading list, from agents to editors to book reviewers. And at the end of the day, if all goes well, we are left with a suitable selection of books that range from mediocre to wonderful.

The cost to the consumer of having this "service" provided by agents, editors and book reviewers is not insignificant. Even if it assures some minimal level of quality among the books that get published, it obviously has the potential of preventing the publication of other books that may be at least as worthwhile. Not every worthwhile book that might sell respectably is the kind of book that agents want to take on or that editors want to risk their careers on.

I think it's good that writers and artists can somehow take back control of their work from the non-writer and the non-artists who control the keys to the kingdom. If you read the discussion boards, you've probably noticed that too many writers go about creating their books while obsessing about what some hypothetical editor and some hypothetical publishing house may hypothetically want. But the creative process for a true artist really ought not to begin at a writer's conference where some editor explains to those in attendance that this year it's okay, for a limited period of time, to have a main character who is a talking animal, whereupon the writers eagerly jot down the "submit once without an agent" code and rush home to write their talking animal book. How many people decided that they wanted to be a writer because their goal in life was to make an editor happy?

So even though self-publishing is not for me, I'm bothered when people are scornful of those who have the courage and confidence as artists to put their money where their mouths are and put their best work forward. Naturally, a lot of it will be dreadful, but at least some of it won't be, and I salute those who go that route.

Jan Mader said...

Your blog caught my eye for obvious reasons.

I'm a children's author and professional freelance writer. My blog is designed to inspire creativity through networking and fun writing exercises.

Please come visit! I would love to have lots of feedback!

Wendie O said...

Thank you, Literaticat. WOE, indeed.

I was about to post a lament myself, about the loss of our lovely leader. (I LOVE alliteration)
EA, I hope your overload of work eases up fairly soon, so you can post again.
-wendie old

Anonymous said...

EA has fallen and she can't get up!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Just popping in to say Hi! Hope you're spending some of this time enjoying life.

Chris Eldin said...

EA, what are you working on that's keeping you away from us?

Anonymous said...

Do you guys notice that queryshark and EA go dark for long periods of time - at the same time?

Hmmmm . . .

Methinks these two regularly slink away to their hidden lair to plot things. I don't know what they are up to, but it is mighty suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Missing you, EA!

Anonymous said...

Maybe EA is just busy. Maybe she went to NESCBWI, maybe she's getting ready for BEA. Maybe *gasp* she's buried in slush.

Come back EA, we miss you much!

Chris Eldin said...

Perhaps she's going to post a few dozen first pages when she returns...

Danette said...

Hey EA, I'm getting worried about that horse ...

Richard said...

"relisioug" That is quite the typo!
Why pread roof?

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Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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