Comments

  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    This is an excellent post. I just forwarded it to three local friends, two self published, one considering it. He's Quebecois, so, very inspiring.
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  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    Yes, publishing has really changed since I was young when the only way to do it was to find a publisher or pay a small fortune to do it yourself. The digital revolution has changed so much. Of course, the downside to all this is that there are more books on offer than ever before! I used to be able to frequent used book shops and pick up great out-of-print or long forgotten books for a few bucks and sometimes less. But Amazon has changed all that. Now, because of them, it's so easy to sell old books people don't toss them or give them to used book dealers for a pittance like they used to. They just offer them online through Amazon and they can reach a large potential market. So, surprisingly, book prices have soared despite the increased abundance of books available. An unusual and counter-intuitive occurrence for sure.

    But publishing is so much easier and being a writer is, too.  
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian
    Was he actually self-published? It seems to me that he got a book, and movie, deal before he actually became self-published. So rather than being a self-publishing success story, this article simply proves that talent will out.
  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    It doesn't specify whether he went through with the self publishing. But since he submitted for Kirkus Indie Review perhaps it's implied. Otherwise they would have mentioned a so and so big publisher who took on his book. I didn't notice that. Just the movie mentions.
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  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    Well, well...

    Penguin Random House.

    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/DR/del-rey
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Very encouraging! but I do have some questions about that link.

    First, it was posted by Kirkus itself, evidently to promote and encourage use of Kirkus Indie Review. This is a paid service so there is some self-interest in making the success of the author sound as positive as possible.

    Second, there were just over 1 million self-published books in 2017 (the last year I have a figure for) which means that this book constitutes just 0.000001% of all those published. So one does have to take into consideration the odds.

    Third, the statement "But like so many novels by unknown writers, it couldn’t find a home with a publishing house" is misleading since it fosters the old wive's tale that there is a prejudice in the publishing industry against first-time authors...which is simply not true. Besides, we don't know who he tried to sell the book to nor how hard he worked at it.

    Fourth, since we don't know to what publishing houses the author submitted his book we don't know if Del Rey or Tor was among those he tried in the first place. It doesn't sound as though Del Rey ever heard of the author until they saw the review. But all a review can do is encourage someone to look at your book. It will still have stand on its own merits.

    Fifth, like a great many self-published authors who do find success, he seems to have stuck with traditional publishing once he got his foot in the door.

    Finally, the post does underscore how very, very important it is to do one's homework and to put in the necessary time and effort. Merely writing a book and uploading it is never enough. 
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Maggie said:
    It doesn't specify whether he went through with the self publishing. But since he submitted for Kirkus Indie Review perhaps it's implied. Otherwise they would have mentioned a so and so big publisher who took on his book. I didn't notice that. Just the movie mentions.
    Kirkus Indie Reviews will review an unpublished MS.
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  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited May 30
    What it shows is that the industry is changing and that outfits like Kirkus can become a new conduit for reaching the film and book industry. As to all the other issues brought up, sure the odds are super long (they always were) and it's better to try to get paid up front through a commercial publisher than to ignore that avenue at the outset. But not making a connection there needn't be a sentence to permanent also-ran status or worse. More, it does not foster the "old wives tale" that publishers and/or agents are uninterested in discovering new talent. If anything, the issue is that it is hard to make that connection unless you happen to be writing something (or have written something) that fits what those who are currently on the scout for new talent/material happen to be looking for at that particular time.

    I have been away from here for a while because I have lost my ability to access this site from my tablet for some reason and have gotten tired of trying. But today, since I am on my pc (which does connect most of the time) I figured I'd post this which struck me as rather interesting. I was hoping, though, for a bit less negativity in any ensuing discussion. No one is saying new writers shouldn't try to get an agent and/or a publisher first or that existing commercial publishers have no interest in new talent. That's a bit of a strawman, I'm afraid. The issue here is just to keep an open mind and look about us and see what's going on in the writing and publishing world.
  • MaggieMaggie Creator
    It's difficult to log into the forums, still. I couldn't log in all last weekend. I did loops and tried several times.

    Again, thanks for posting, swmisky. Highly inspiring whether self published or not.
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    swmirsky said:
    What it shows is that the industry is changing and that outfits like Kirkus can become a new conduit for reaching the film and book industry. As to all the other issues brought up, sure the odds are super long (they always were) and it's better to try to get paid up front through a commercial publisher than to ignore that avenue at the outset. But not making a connection there needn't be a sentence to permanent also-ran status or worse.

    You are absolutely right!

    I didn't really mean to be as negative as my post turned out. But there were some real questions that the Kirkus piece raised...especially considering that the entire thing was really only an advertisement promoting its Indie Review Service. So I had no choice but to take it with a little grain of salt.

    More, it does not foster the "old wives tale" that publishers and/or agents are uninterested in discovering new talent.

    When the article says that "...like so many novels by unknown writers, it couldn’t find a home with a publishing house" I think it does indeed encourage that idea. If they had left out the phrase "unknown writers" it would have been less bothersome.

    This erroneous notion is so prevalent, and I have heard it so many times in these forums, that I kept a thread going for some time that mentioned new books by first-time authors when they get reviewed nationally. And scarcely a week goes by without seeing one.

    For instance, just this past week, The Farm, by Joanne Ramos, a debut novelist, has been garnering rave notices from the NY Times and other respected reviewers (including a starred review from Kirkus).

    As I have said many times in the past, every single published author, including every best-selling writer, had to have had a first book.

     If anything, the issue is that it is hard to make that connection unless you happen to be writing something (or have written something) that fits what those who are currently on the scout for new talent/material happen to be looking for at that particular time.

    The notion that publishers/agents have some sort of limited focus on what they are on the lookout for is not entirely accurate. Books that break new ground are being published all the time. Think of, oh, I don't know, The Life of Pi  for instance. Sure, if vampires or zombies are a hot topic publishers might be interested in seeing a novel about them---but by the same token they are also aware that a market can be saturated and that there is often a downside to jumping on bandwagons. They will not only be looking for the next zombie novel but also the next book that may start an entirely new trend.

    The Farm, mentioned above, is an example of where an author filled a niche by coming up with an original concept.

    "If anything, the issue is that it is hard to make that connection unless you happen to be writing something (or have written something) that fits what those who are currently on the scout for new talent/material happen to be looking for at that particular time."

    This remains true whether the book is presented directly to a publisher/agent or through Kirkus. If it is not considered to be marketable if it comes through one channel, that will probably not change if the book came through a different one. As I said, it will have to stand or fall on its own merits. I strongly suspect that Neuvel's book was not optioned by a film studio nor was he offered a contract by Del Rey solely on the basis of a Kirkus review. The article says that Del Rey "wanted to publish the book" but it is inconceivable that they carried through with that without having seen the complete MS. Which, to repeat myself, had to stand on its own two feet. If it was in fact not very good it would have gone no further.

    Of course, that being said, there appears to be little question (if I take Kirkus' article at face value) that doing something like what Neuvel did might be well worthwhile taking a shot at. If, of course, you are willing and able to pay the minimum $475 fee that Kirkus charges. And remember: there is no guarantee that your review will be a positive one. But "
    If you receive a negative review," Kirkus explains, "you can choose NOT to publish your review and it will never see the light of day."

    (By the way, one of my own books once received a Kirkus starred review.)

    Let me tell you a story similar to Neuvel's. A very old friend of mine spent all of her spare time many years ago writing a science fiction novel. (She had never in her life had anything published outside of fanzines.) When she had finished the book she sent it cold to Baen Books (one of the top SF publishers in the country). She not only got a contract in the return mail, she got a contract for her next five books. She now has more than thirty books in print.


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