Gary Hurtubise

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Tag: picking your market

Offer of Publication: I reject you!

(or, 5 reasons why that offer might just not <gulp> be for you)

 

So I’ve been a bit quiet for the last few months, mainly because I didn’t know how to address the topic of this post.  Let’s set the scenario, work through the list, then we’ll debrief afterwards, shall we?

Situation: your manuscript, which you’ve been shopping around for going-on two years, finally has an offer of publication!  Yay!  But what’s that you say?  You aren’t immediately sending a reply with the subject heading: “Yes, Yes, Yes!!!”?!?

Well… why not?

(now here’s the list)

5 Reasons Why You Might Reject That Offer of Publication

5.       Your book will only be available via POD (Print-On-Demand).

Whoops – you’ll be published, but not in the traditional sense.  No books to show for your work.  That being said, if your offer of publication comes from a small-press publisher, I get the sense that this is pretty much how things operate nowadays.  And considering how many people are reading their books via e-readers, it’s really no wonder.

 

4.       You’ll have to do all the marketing for your book, yourself.

If you do not already possess, like, ten thousand friends on <enter social media platform here>, and have a faithful following on Amazon or Goodreads, this could mean the death of your book before it even breathes its first papery breath.  Marketing?  Isn’t that the publisher’s responsibility?  Well… again – in today’s market, I’m learning that most publishers are expecting authors to shoulder at least a portion of their own marketing.

 

3.       No advance (what? no money up front?!)

Nope.  Yet again, unless you are offered a deal with one of the large houses, the likelihood of seeing money before your book is published is very low.  In fact, if you decide to work with a hybrid publishing agency, you’ll be giving them money, and not the other way around!

Hey – let’s say you did get with one of the big publishers.  You’re still only looking at $5000.  Yep, that’s it.  Long gone are the days of $400 000 advances (believe it or not, this is what Stephen King got for his first book, back in the 1970’s!)…

 

2.       You’re afraid that the publisher’s brand is not a good fit with how you want to be perceived as a writer.

You write country-western-actions, but the publisher is known more for cozy-mysteries.  Will that ‘typecast’ you as a cozy-mystery writer for the rest of your career?  If you’re a seasoned author already, probably not (though people might scratch their heads when reading the spine of your next book).  But as a not-yet-published author?  I think this is a very relevant concern.

 

1.        The ‘suggested’ changes to your story that are conditional upon publication make you feel: _______ (fill-in: sad, mad, uncomfortable, scared, confused, etc.).

You’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into this baby (ie: manuscript) – whether it’s your first or your fifth.  When some stranger tells you your baby is cute, but could be much cuter if you rearrange her face, change her clothes, and re-attach her arms and legs in different positions… hmmm.  That’s hard to swallow.

 

 

And there you have it.  Five reasons why you might say: “thanks, but no thanks”.

Wait!  Before you decide to say those words, realize that the state of publishing today is very different than, say, pre-internet days.  Paper-versions of books are ever so slowly slipping away.  Authors are being asked to shoulder more and more of the burden and responsibility for their books, for less and less money.  Writing is now more a labour of love, rather than labour for cash.  And if you ain’t lovin’ it, regardless of the hassle, you’re probably wasting your time.

Ok.  So, are any of the above reasons legitimate excuses to walk away from an offer of publication?

Numbers 5, 4, and 3 are, in my opinion, simply the realities of the publishing game as of 2017.  You don’t have to like it; just suck it up (if being published is what you truly want).

Numbers 1 & 2, though, are legitimate reasons to hesitate before signing on the dotted line.  You are trying to develop your brand here (especially with your first novel!!).  If your story no longer reflects the vision you had for it, or is presented on a platform that doesn’t fit with your goals, you are doing yourself a disfavour, and could end up damaging your chances for that second book (or any books after that).

And if you haven’t guessed by now, yes – I’ve chosen to reject an offer of publication of my novel “Darksea”.

“Why,” you ask?

Well… see above.  That’s all I’m gonna say.  😛

 

Ok.  That was a bit of a heavy post.  I’ll try to keep things lighter with my next one!

Don’t dismay!  Keep submitting those queries!!

Picking the Right Market for Your Fiction

There’s this new feeling to writing that I get nowadays.  I haven’t done anything different, but different things are happening.

No.  Agents aren’t breaking down my door to represent me (yet).  Nor are all of my short story ideas suddenly Nebula or Hugo Award-worthy (…yet?).  But I do feel more confident with my writing – I know it’s of a higher calibre than it was a year, or even six months ago.  Plus, more people are taking notice of my work.  I’m getting more personalized feedback (to go along with my rejections!), and in some cases, I’m being given specific suggestions from editors, followed by requests to re-submit with changes made.

I’m trying to be more selective of where I submit my work too.  Many of my short stories are hybrid-genres.  They aren’t just science fiction, or fantasy.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve spent all this time submitting to ‘traditional’ markets, when I should have been looking for some of those magazines or journals who feature alternative writing.  I believe that’s why I was successful with “Flesh” last month (having it accepted for publication in Kzine).  And so, I’m trying that again with my story “Solace for the Soul-less”…

Sci Phi Journal

I came across Sci Phi Journal the other day, an online science fiction and philosophy magazine.  In it, they publish “stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes” (from their About page).  “Solace” is set in the future, but isn’t about robots or space battles.  Rather, it raises questions about identity and immortality.  Hey!  That’s exactly what Sci Phi Journal is looking for!  So I’ve actually withdrawn “Solace” from consideration at another magazine, in order to try my chances with a venue that might generate not only some interest in my writing, but some dialogue about it too.

Next on my list of things to do: another batch of agent queries!  On this note, here’s a good bit of advice written by Kathryn Craft, of ‘Writers in the Storm’, a writing blog that I follow.

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