In emerging-writer discussions, I often hear versions of this question: How long do I keep trying if I’m not seeing any results in my pitches to agents or publishing houses? There are many ways to approach the answer. You can just buy into Winston Churchill’s advice to youngsters: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Yes, there’s a part of me that appreciates that kind of bulldog stubbornness. I’d definitely want it if, say, I needed to defend Great Britain from invasion from foes. ButRead More →

I’ve often heard writers ask whether they should follow a “no simultaneous submissions” policies, as requested by some publishers. The question of multiple submissions, also call simultaneous submissions, is daunting to an emerging writer. Here is how the policy is often stated: Please do not send us work which is also being submitted elsewhere. We do not consider simultaneous submissions. This policy saves our editors from reading work that is not actually available for first North American publication, and it saves authors the embarrassment of having to withdraw a manuscript. My advice? I recommend that authors do what is in the best interests of theRead More →

I got a copy of this book recently, and I immediately found myself in the next several days recommending it to several authors who were considering self-publishing. The book is The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine. The brilliant thing about this practical volume (4th edition): it looks in considerable detail at key differences in the publishing contracts and basic options offered by the leading self-publishing companies. The companies analyzed include the big players: CreateSpace, Lulu, Outskirts Press, and others—a total of 24 self-publishing operations from Aventine to Xulon. Levine looks at them through a magnifying glass, discussing the pros and cons of each.Read More →

[This is Part 4 in a 4-part series, based on an article of mine in The New Writer’s Handbook 2007.] To this point, I’ve discussed pros and cons in getting published with a small press. Now . . . how to find the right match. GENERAL ADVICE Set realistic goals. Know why you want to be published. To see your work in print? To have control over your work? To become rich or famous? To make a living as a writer? To break in? To make a difference in the world? Realistic goals will help you decide if you want to work with a particularRead More →

[This is Part 3 in a 4-part series, based on an article of mine in The New Writer’s Handbook 2007.] Let’s look at things that can be real problems in getting a book published with a small independent presses. Minimal Advances Small often means just that when it comes to advances. The up-front money handed over to an author before books hit the streets can be microscopic, from virtually nil to a few thousand dollars. Small presses often point out they prefer to put their cash into promotions. However, this creates more risk for the author, who must wait for elusive future royalties, without theRead More →

[This is Part 2 in a 4-part series, based on an article of mine in The New Writer’s Handbook 2007.] Let’s look at things that good-quality, small independent presses do well for writers. Risk-Taking They often take risks on new or unconventional writers. They look for work with literary or social value, or useful to a specialized niche, rather than demanding a more common denominator (such as being similar to other work already published, or appealing to a very large demographic, or having the elusive compelling author platform already in place). They may read relevant submissions more carefully. And they might consider offbeat submissions, somethingRead More →

[This is Part 1 in a 4-part series, based on an article of mine in The New Writer’s Handbook 2007.] Small presses offer opportunities for new or different authors. As we said in the ’60s: small is beautiful. Literary, adventurous, or tightly focused, small presses routinely take chances on new authors who have some thing important to say. And through the democracy of the Internet and guerrilla marketing tactics, they may have a decent shot at financial success, major awards, and media attention with select titles. Or not. It can be just the right thing for you. But how do you know? First, what isRead More →

Aspiring authors often seem puzzled that their work isn’t read more carefully, or positively, or even at all, when they send their work out to an agent or an editor. Those would-be authors aren’t thinking enough about the competitive pressure on the gatekeepers’ time. Editors and agents have a lot of hot projects, and to add another to their list means you need to deliver a truly compelling work . . . good enough to make them put aside something else. Yes, your work may be perfectly fine. Readable and enjoyable. Yeoman plot. Likable hero. All that. But agents and editors have a lot ofRead More →

Is self-publishing a short-cut to fame . . . or a short-circuit? Here’s a bit of tough love for novelists. I’ll give you four good reasons not to self-publish your novel. Instead, stick it in a drawer! Better things might happen to you if you do. First, I’m not a big fan of self-publishing as a great option for most writers. When you hear success stories . . . remember: your actual results may vary! But writers are hopeful and by their nature persistent. Novel writers, especially so. After a zillion hours slaving at a keyboard, what if your novel sits unpublished, on a shelfRead More →

What is curb appeal? According to the real-estate business, curb appeal is what potential buyers see first when they drive up to your property that’s for sale. It “embraces everything between your front door and the street” (per the MyHomeIdeas site). That site goes on to note: “It doesn’t take much to make dramatic style improvements.” Tips include adding flower boxes or a nicer mailbox, trimming the shrubs, etc. “With a little faith in your vision, and a few tips from the pros,” they say, “you can transform a dowdy exterior to an inviting, welcoming entranceway.” Well . . . same for your manuscript. LikeRead More →

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