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Publishing Questions

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posted on Jul, 2 2006 @ 08:29 PM
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I'm sure this isn't quite the right place for this, but it's the best I could think of outside of General Chit Chat--any mods want to move it some where more appropriate, by all means please do.

I'm starting to get into writing a bit more seriously than I have in the past. I've always liked doing little poems, and bits of short stories, but now I'm trying to push myself a little and see if I can actually put out a novel or something. I know the odds of getting that massive book deal are slimmer than winning the lottery; not concerned about that right now.

My first question is kinda contradictory to that last statement, but I'm curious about it anyways. I know a lot of writers get started by publishing short stories in various publications, and a lot of established writers (Stephen King comes to mind as a great example) will publish a collection of their short stories after they've made a name for themselves. The project I'm working on right now is a series of related short stories (none of which are finished yet) that could be fairly easily tied into a single novel. Which would be the best way to try and "release" this though, in hopes of getting the most attention? As a collection of related shorts, or as a single novel?

The second thing I'm curious about is more focused on the actual publishing itself. I'm sure it varies from publisher to publisher, even book to book, but how does the type setting compare with standard 12 pt Times New Roman in size? I mean, can I assume that a 200 page Word doc will translate to roughly a 200 page book, give or take?

Any help is most appreciated, especially on the second question--I'm quite a ways away from worrying about releasing anything at the moment, but I would like to be able to reasonably gauge my progress when it comes to page counts.




posted on Jul, 2 2006 @ 09:22 PM
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I have no specific training in literature proof-reading, publishing, or anything of that matter - but if it is of any worth, I find that reading a single computer-page of single-spaced work takes a little less time than reading two pages of reading a standard-page sized novel. This is from reading a great deal of university-student submitted stuff (I request single-spaced rather than the standard double-spaced because I am one of the few that find it odd and uncomfortable to read double-spaced work). Hopefully this may help you regarding length.

ed - I was a T.A., which is why I read tons of submitted stuff.

Best of luck with publishing!

[edit on 2-7-2006 by AlphaHumana]



posted on Jul, 2 2006 @ 09:40 PM
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I appreciate that Alpha, and that's something that I hadn't even considered myself.

Just curious, but what subject were you a TA for? I only ask, because I know that it takes me longer to read (for example) 250 words of a programming article (I'm a programmer by trade, so I'm "fluent" there) than 250 words of a Stephen King novel. The writing is just more terse, even if I understand it perfectly.

Again though, I honestly appreciate your opinion, and I hope you're close to the actual "translation"--it'd be nice to see 10 pages of work unfold to 20



posted on Jul, 2 2006 @ 10:19 PM
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I think you understood me fine, MCory!! I was a TA both for a Political Science professor and a Philosophy professor, so a lot of stuff was... umm... interesting... My assessment may, then, be right on!!

Good Luck!



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 01:55 AM
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Mcory1, I'm a published author. Let me see if I can't pass on some of what I've learned.

The fact of the matter is that publishing is an uber-competitive field. There are several things about publishing that make it that way. First and foremost, there is the quantity of material that "somebody" has to look at each year. Even small publishers can receive 4,000 manuscripts per week. That's not a typo. When you try to publish, you're just one voice of many trying to get somebody's attention.

Conventional wisdom says that you need to get an agent. It's good to have one, if you can get one. Trouble is, agents receive hundreds of inquiries every week. Agents and publishers have an interesting relationship that is not good for new authors. For the most part, agents look for what's hot at the moment, or, they look for something they've never seen before. Most of the time, your query letter stays in their hand for 5-8 seconds.

In some cases, you can send your manuscript (with cover letter and synopsis) directly to a publisher. If you send a postage paid envelope with it, they'll mail back the manuscript once they're done looking at it. The people employed by publishers to screen manuscripts take less than 30 seconds to size you up. That's because they have specific instructions on what to look for. If they don't see it, your package goes right back to the mail room.

It's a real tough situation. More and more authors today are turning to companies that will charge a fee to get in to print. Some a spendy, and others are not. It's worth noting that Dan Brown of DaVinci Code fame started out as a self-published guy. As each year passes, the very nature of self-publishing changes.

Getting turned down by agents or publishers does NOT mean your work sucks. It just means they didn't see the value in it. You need to learn how to think of rejection as their tough luck. I tried for almost two years to go the traditional route before I self-published. Now that I have tasted self-publishing, I've decided that I like it.

If you are new to writing, I would suggest that you sharpen your claws on a few short stories. It can't hurt to run down to your local used book store to pick up a few titles on how to write fictions, poetry, or whatever else you're in to. In many respects, self-teaching is the hardest thing you'll do as an author.

The big question to ask yourself is, "why do I want to write?" No. Not why do I want to publish...why do you want to write? Do you have something to say? Does it make you feel good to do it? Would you do it for free? If the answer to one of these is "yes," you should do it. If the answer is "yes" for two of these, you should still do it. If the answer is "yes" to all three, you may have what it takes to publish some day.

Because different publishers use different typesets, your MS Word document will not always come out the same as you formatted it. It can be longer, or shorter, depending on what margins or fonts the publisher uses. Don't fuss over word counts when you're first starting out. That sort of thing is a job skill, and it'll come later. For now, you will have enough problems just focusing to put words on the page.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 03:27 AM
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Originally posted by MCory1

Any help is most appreciated, especially on the second question--I'm quite a ways away from worrying about releasing anything at the moment, but I would like to be able to reasonably gauge my progress when it comes to page counts.



McCory1

A few brief points:

Page counts differ from short story to short story. Really it should be as long as it needs to be. I know this may not be helpful, but I suggest you don't fall into some formulaic trap of trying to write a 'perfect' length.

In the novel however you should be aiming for 70,000 - 100,000 wds. This is 12pt, double spaced manuscript, so do the math and you will figure out how many words per page you are looking at.

You do NOT need an agent to sell short stories. Just novels.

It is very difficult to get a short story collection without first being known. Short stories don't sell as well as novels and most publishers won't take the gamble on an unknown. This isn't a set rule.

Learn about submission. Polish, edit, rewrite, submit, get rejected and repeat process. Stephen King got rejected like a gazillion times before he finally had something published.

Once you have a good, polished story, start sending it around to different magazines and anthologies. You will know you are on the right track by your rejection slips (which also differ). If you start to get a few stories accepted, you know you are on the right track.


Make sure you check each magazine's requirements for manuscripts. Standard is 12pt, doublespace, but some publishers want other things and also different themes. Nothing will get your good story rejected faster than sending it to someone who has stated clearly that they only take certain types of fiction (horror, sci-fi, literary, romance, etc). READ carefully and then submit.

Send to mags or pubs that you yourself like and read. Aim high but be realistic.

Grow a thick skin. You will need it. It is a a fierce, competitive world.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 06:55 AM
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I appreciate the replies--I'd long since given this thread up for dead


Everything I've read over the past few weeks--and of course all knowledge I had on the subject before hand--has told me exactly what you say about the difficulties in getting published. From what I've learned, it seems to be ever-so-slightly easier to get into than other artistic fields (namely music, another hobby I had attempted to turn into more), but still extremely difficult to get anything more than a quick glance.


Originally posted by Justin Oldham
It's a real tough situation. More and more authors today are turning to companies that will charge a fee to get in to print.


This is something I've been warned against very strongly by quite a few people. Most notably was my English professor a couple of years ago--he very vehemently stated that a "real" publisher or agent will pay you, and anyone else is just trying to rip you off.

In that regards, though, I'm sure it's just like music in a lot of ways--if you're damned lucky (financially speaking, at least; other aspects are arguable), you sign a contract with a major label who covers all your production costs and studio time. Most people wanting to record have to foot the recording and production bill themselves, then distribute the CD's at their shows on their own.

One thing writing does definitely have over music--or most other arts that I've seen--is that it is much easier to self publish. It's much easier to format a Word document and convert it to a PDF than to get a great mix out of a home studio recording. Especially with the internet, and that's something I have considered once I had a handful of stories--get them into a portable, preferably non-editable format (like PDF), upload them to my website, and if I'm feeling really arrogant charge people a quarter or $0.50 per file.



If you are new to writing, I would suggest that you sharpen your claws on a few short stories. It can't hurt to run down to your local used book store to pick up a few titles on how to write fictions, poetry, or whatever else you're in to. In many respects, self-teaching is the hardest thing you'll do as an author.


Actually, the self-teaching part is fairly easy at the moment; I've found tons of material online that has been great at putting things into perspective, and for helping me out with structure, etc. The main part I'm having a problem with is trying to determine how realistic to be (or not), and that's just something I'm going to work out over time. For example, I have a short that I'm working on where the stage is getting set to open up a primary conflict. I just haven't decided if I want it to be a "normal" conflict--i.e. we're broke and you just lost your job--or if I want to go off the deep end--i.e. aliens are about to invade and you need to go to another dimension to save humanity. I guess would be a good way to look at it is that I'm having a hard time deciding where I'd like to try to fit in (regardless of where I end up fitting in).



The big question to ask yourself is, "why do I want to write?" No. Not why do I want to publish...why do you want to write? Do you have something to say? Does it make you feel good to do it? Would you do it for free? If the answer to one of these is "yes," you should do it. If the answer is "yes" for two of these, you should still do it. If the answer is "yes" to all three, you may have what it takes to publish some day.


I know this was most likely a rhetorical question, but I feel obliged to post a response here. Writing is something I enjoy; it's nice to sit back and see the words "The End" at the bottom of a page. It's nice to think about different realities for a little while, and it's much more involving (for me) than reading someone else's ideas about those other realities. I think that I do have a few things to say, which is something I wouldn't have been able to honestly state even a couple of years ago, but I know it's going to be awhile before I can relay any messages in a satisfactory manner.

Another reason I'm looking into this--and why I was in a position to make my original post--is that I'm in one of those fuzzy spots we all go through from time to time, where you're not really sure where to go next and nothing seems quite right. I'm wanting to see if perhaps being an author is my little niche in life; I've tried a couple of other fields, and they didn't exactly strike the right chord (pun intended--music was one of those, as I stated above.)



Because different publishers use different typesets, your MS Word document will not always come out the same as you formatted it. It can be longer, or shorter, depending on what margins or fonts the publisher uses. Don't fuss over word counts when you're first starting out. That sort of thing is a job skill, and it'll come later. For now, you will have enough problems just focusing to put words on the page.


And in response to nickelbee as well, that's something I've since become less concerned with. It would still be nice to look at X number of pages on a Word doc and say "alright, that means I've got between this many and that many pages if I found this in Barnes & Noble's", but I'm not worried about it.


Originally posted by nikelbee
It is very difficult to get a short story collection without first being known. Short stories don't sell as well as novels and most publishers won't take the gamble on an unknown. This isn't a set rule.


That's something I pretty much figured on. The more I've thought about my original question, the more I've realized that no matter how I'd slice it, it would still be a novel--each chapter could probably be taken as a self-contained story in it's own right, barring overall background details, but still would fit in perfectly fine as part of the full story.



posted on Jul, 31 2006 @ 09:47 AM
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I'm glad I could help. I found your threat last night, so I posted. Sounds like you have a lot sorted out. Good luck.



posted on Aug, 26 2006 @ 11:58 PM
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FWIW, I've found an answer to the published page count question from here. (It's towards the bottom of the page.)

A standard paperback book page is about 325 words, give or take of course depending on various factors. From the writing I've done, the default document in MS Word (8.5 x 11, half-inch margins) gives space for about 800 words (that is with little, if any dialogue and fairly large paragraphs). Ergo, a rough translation gives about 2-2 1/2 paperback pages to each Word doc page.

Also, for anyone else curious about it, CafePress has some interesting info on book layout, with templates for Word available here. I wouldn't recommend really writing anything using the templates, but it is kinda neat to see what your bestseller might look like if it actually made it to print



posted on Nov, 19 2006 @ 05:15 PM
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Okay, I was going to start a new thread here and remembered I had this still going. I'm wanting to see about getting some of my short stories published in a magazine or two, but I have a mighty big stumbling block: I'm not 100% sure what genre my stories fall into, nor what magazines might be the most appropriate ones to submit to.

I've done quite a bit of searching for literary magazines to submit to, don't get me wrong there. Unfortunately, most everything I've seen states explicitly that they don't want horror stories, which is about the closest I've seen to a match on mine. Most of the horror zines I've seen seem more suited to the gothic type horror stories, which I really don't think mine fall into. I've tried submitting to two different online magazines, one of which rejected a piece, and the other mag folded up without letting me know one way or the other (I sent an email to them and it bounced; otherwise I'd still be waiting patiently...)

I personally consider my stories to be "supernatural thriller/horror," in the vein of Stephen King or Dean Koontz (genre speaking, not necessarily stylistically and nowhere near that caliber)--at least, they're my two "inspirations." I have yet to find any magazine online that mentions that as an accepted genre though...

I have four shorts up here. The shortest one is about 5 pages (as per MS Word, 12 pt and Times font) while I believe one or two are around 8 pages (same specs.) Two of them were posted in the Halloween contest on ATS.

I'd really appreciate some feedback on this. Am I just not looking in the right places? I know I've spent hours searching, so "looking hard enough" isn't a problem, but maybe I'm not "looking correctly." Am I not considering my stories to be in an appropriate genre? I really am clueless here...

Any comments or recommendations would be much appreciated.



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