Sunday, February 03, 2008

Knocking off questions...

I've got a lot of questions to go through from the backup at my Yahoo account. Here we go!

Hello! I'm curious about P.O.D books, such as from iUniverse or Lulu. If a book does well, are agents usually interested in considering the book for representation in order to submit it to large publishing houses? Best regards.

As POD technology becomes better and easy and cheaper, more people head straight to self-publishing and then submit their manuscript to us, so we see it all the time. Sometimes they send us the whole book.

In general, unless your book has sold over 3000 copies (which means you didn't sell them all to family and friends or by hand at conventions), it doesn't mean much to us that it was previously published. We will review it like we review any other submission - as potential new material to be weighed on its own merit.

Hello Rejecter,
If you could represent a book today that would be your dream-come-true novel, a book that you knew would go to bid with so much excitement that a large print order was initiated, a book that would be sought after by reviewers and written by an author, who was saavy about the promotional end of the business, committed to a writing life; an author who would promote his or her work extensively while working on several additional novels what would that book be? A James Patterson novel? Nicholas Sparks? Jodi Picoult? Or does it no longer exist today in a culture with so many diverse forms of media?

First let me clarify that I'm just an assistant, and don't represent anything myself. I'm not sure what your question is because of how it's worded, but I'm fairly sure that the answer is your guess at the end.

Recently I began a blog about being a waiter, and because I write fiction, I also posted stories on the blog from time to time. I thought it might be a great idea to start a blog that serializes a novel I've written but never worked on getting published. Several readers of my blog advised that if I posted the whole novel, it would be near impossible to then get it traditionally published. Is this true and if so why? I have since published it to a password protected blog that only a handful of people can access. Do I still run the risk of hurting my chances of publication by posting it in this way?

Not really. Chances are no one is going to steal your unpublished novel. Many writers are nervous about this, and go through the trouble of registering the manuscript at the copyright office (which under the new copyright laws, you don't even have to do) and including the form indicating it's registered with their submission, just in case we were thinking of stealing it and publishing it ourselves. Novels are not worth anything until they're published, and it's very difficult to get published. I would not lose any sleep over having your novel on the internet prior to signing a contract with a publishing company. After you sign, if they've bought the digital rights, you have to take it down.

My agent just informed me that he would start querying editors about my novel, but that most wouldn't be looking at new work until the start of the new year. Do you find that's true, too? Also, what kind of query do agents send? Does it include the whole ms... or is it the same as a writer would send an agent? My agent is a junior agent at a small firm and has made just a few non-fiction sales so far. Mine would be his first fiction sale.

(Obviously this question came in a while ago, when I was not getting my mail delivered) First of all, it's fairly standard to not submit new things in December. (The email is dated December 8th) The first three weeks of December are generally spent trying to finish up everything that needs to get finished up before the end of the year, for tax or press deadline purposes. The last week is vacation. Your agent is wise to wait.

As to your second question, it varies from agency to agency, but everyone has their own style of submitting and sometimes will not submit the same way to different editors. Good agents know editors personally, so they go out to lunch and the agent talks up this new manuscript they've got, and the editor says, "Send it over and I'll take a look." Or sometimes agents simply mail out the manuscript to as many editors as they know who they know are looking for your sort of novel, hoping for at least a few hits. It depends on the agent, their connections, and their style. The only thing that matters for you is if they make a sale and for how much money.


Amy said...

As to that last question, Jessica over at BookEnds, LLC has been blogging about the agent-to-publisher querying process, starting here.

Hope that's helpful!

Anonymous said...

As to the waiter blog/novel posting question - I had always heard the concern was more about "first rights" than plagiarism. I've heard advice that keeping less than a certain percentage of the whole work available to the public at large or the entire thing to a small audience governed by password protection would preserve these rights. Is this just a myth or a misapplied truth?

Anonymous said...

First anon - That was my understanding too. I'm interested to hear Rejecter's answer.

The Rejecter said...

Anon 11:54,

Maybe it was true at one time, when copyright was not as strict, but now I don't even know what you're talking about. When you write it, you own it. You can do whatever you want with it until you sell the copyright (i.e. the right to copy, reprint, publish) to someone else. Your only plagarism worry is if the work is stolen (which is unlikely), you have to prove in court that you wrote it and they stole it. Registering the manuscript does protect you against that and will give you a solid case in court, but I honestly can't think of a single incident of someone stealing someone else's unpublished manuscript and then publishing it themselves in the last 20 years.

Deb said...

Some houses, like Harlequin, do insist that the book you sell them is "first rights", that is, has never been published in any form before. I'm told by the conservative among us that posting the entire thing on a web site or blog constitutes "publishing" it, and it can be construed thereafter that first rights are no longer sellable.

Any legal minds out there with different info, please feel free to correct me.

The Rejecter said...


Really? That seems silly to me, but it may well be true.

Tony said...

Thanks for the info about publishing via blog...I too was wondering about the first rights issue -- someone stealing it didn't really seem like an issue as the Rejecter has said...

Anonymous said...

As a new and unpublished author I am wading thru the obstacles of getting anyone to consider a trilogy of children's books I have writte. Any suggestions?