Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Books & Movies, Writing:

Digital Rights Contracts

Personally, this is something I haven’t had to think about as I have not sold digital rights to a publisher. However, Michael A Stackpole has something to say about it in his post 9 Must-have Clauses for Digital Rights Contracts and I found his comments interesting.

It wasn’t too long ago that publishers didn’t have to worry about anything other than printing rights. From what I’ve heard, very little royalty was given to the author. I remember one author saying, this was about 10 years ago, she received less than $1 for every book sold. At the time I was shocked by this news as plainly the amount of work that goes into a manuscript was surely worth more than that. Yet thinking about it now, I can see that she didn’t write for the money, she wrote to be read.

Anyway, ebooks made an appearance and it would seem that publishers still didn’t bother with digital rights because who’s going to buy them anyway? This left an opening for the authors to step in and take control of their own ebook sales. I have no idea if this opportunity was grabbed by authors or not but they would have been crazy not to.

Now publishers are realising their mistake and have started to include digital rights in the contracts. Why? Because it’s more money for them. And the author will continue to get some meagre royalty for all their hard work. However, that’s beside the point. My problem with this is that the ebooks will be sold for the same price as the paperback, or perhaps slightly less.

To me this is outrageous. I feel strongly about this. Ebooks should be at least half the price of the printed version. For heavens sake, there’s no paper, no ink, no postage, no storage. And don’t give me all that rubbish about the amount of work that goes into setting up an ebook. That’s crap. There’s no more work setting up an ebook than there is a paper version. I know. I’ve done both.

Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent. I believe ebooks in the hands of traditional publishers is a bad thing. Yes, sell publishing rights, but all authors should hold on to their own digital rights and, for a change, start making some decent money from the sales of their work.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Resources, Writing:

Macmillan New Writing

Macmillan New Writing is a part of Pan Macmillan Publishers, a mainstream publisher. If you read the page I’ve linked to, you’ll discover that they now accept unsolicitored manuscripts. The contract will be different to what an agent would be able to negotiate for you, but I feel this is a way for an unpublished author to seriously get their work recognised.

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript to them, I strongly advise that you read the website carefully and find out more about the program beforehand.

They only accept adult fiction, so at present none of my manuscripts fit the guidelines…but that won’t always be the case.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Anthology Stories, My Writing:, Submission Process, Writing:

Russian Roulette or Author Guidelines

The last month has seen me increasingly busy over at Speculative Realm (which has now moved to its own website). The submissions are pouring in, which is great, but I’m seeing a pattern with the submissions which concerns me…yet also gives me (as a writer) hope.

I’m noticing that quite a few of the authors who have submitted have not read the guidelines. It’s frustrating for me and the other staff, as we are wasting time on stories that don’t even fit the theme. It doesn’t matter how great the story is, it has to be rejected because it’s not what we are looking for. The guidelines are not that long and would take only a few minutes to read, yet the author can’t be bothered and submits anyway. No wonder so many rejections are being sent out (I’ve calculated it to be 95%).

Not all rejections have been for that reason, of course, but I’d have to say at least 50% of them have been and that’s way too many. Every website that offers writing tips will clearly state “read the guidelines”. This is important and I would have thought it was common sense to do so. Obviously, I’m wrong.

Honestly, to ignore the guidelines is like playing Russian roulette. You are taking a huge chance with your manuscript; not to mention the time you are wasting while the manuscript is tied up with a publisher that may not even want that type of story. Editors receive so many submissions that they can be ridiculously horrid in the way they sift through the pile. For example, they can think to themselves “I don’t like green, so all manuscripts bound in anything remotely green will be rejected instantly” or “all emailed submissions received on an odd numbered day will be rejected”. You should be doing all you can to improve your chances.

I have received submissions with no cover letter too – not even a “here’s my submission”. Two submissions have been blank emails with an attachment. I feel that’s not professional and actually thought about rejecting both on the spot…but didn’t. However, I really do feel that sending in a submission like this is not good enough and will reject future submissions for that reason alone.

As a writer I have visited many published authors’ websites and have been told over and over again, that if you want to stand out from the crowd then you must treat your submission like you would treat any business transaction. Being naïve, I assumed everyone did this already, so how would that make my submission stand out from the rest of the slush pile. Now I know that a high percentage of submissions are done unprofessionally and that my manuscript would shine next to them. That gives me hope.

If you write and you want to be published, then take this one piece of advice and remember it always. Read the submission guidelines and give the editor what they want. The editor might be fussy, but that doesn’t matter. Do what they want. They will see that you’ve taken the time to read their guidelines and that might convince them to take the time to read your manuscript.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Writing:

Piers Anthony's Internet Publishing

Piers Anthony’s Internet Publishing has a long, long list of publishers and services. He covers all genres and all types of publishing. I think this is a good resource for anyone interested in having something published. Piers Anthony has included his own thoughts on the publisher where appropriate, and has tried to include all useful information that he was able to find out for himself. Also included are warnings on scam publishers, so don’t just click on the link and submit, read what he has to say first. You might save yourself some heartache.

I intend to work through the list myself and hand pick the publishers that may be of interest to me for my children’s chapter books … and for the anthology stories I’m trying to find a publisher for.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Submission Process, Writing for Children, Writing Non-Fiction, Writing:

Publishing with Lulu

Lulu is a self-publishing company. Anyone can use this service and this is where I have a problem with self-publishing. If anyone can use it, then there are bound to be badly written books out there. Let’s be honest, it’s a fact that there are.

But…if a book is badly written, or if there is no storyline, or if the characters are two dimensional, then readers will quickly avoid anything else written by that author. They would have wasted precious money on buying the book, and most people don’t like that. Even if a real gem, written by that author, is released many years down the track it can easily be swept aside and ignored (even if it is published by a mainstream publisher). Once bitten, twice shy. This is a risk writers face when self-publishing.

On the other hand, good writers have been noticed through self-publishing. Some writers have made a name for themselves and sold thousands of books. They are often approached by a main stream publisher for publication of the second or third print.

And let’s face it, just because a book is published through main stream doesn’t automatically make it a good book. How many books have you bought that you thought were a waste of money? It happens far too often.

For me, as a writer, I dream of being contacted by a publisher who is excited about my writing, and wants to publish the book. That would be the ultimate moment for me, followed closely by the first time I walk into a book store and see my book on the shelf.

*Day dreams for a few minutes.*

As writers we think all that needs to be done is to write the story, but there is so much more to do. So many other decisions to be made. Writing is NOT easy, no matter what the woman next door thinks, or what your parents/partner might say.

I’ve always believed that for me the only way to go is main stream. I still believe this to a large degree, although I do think that things in the publishing industry will change in the future. However, I’ve recently found myself wanting to know more about self-publishing, wanting to experience it. How can I run something down that I’ve never tried?

And it is for this reason that I’m considering a new project for Scribe’s next year. The anthologies of past did not work out the way I had planned. That’s fine, I learned a lot from those projects. It’s just a pity that I couldn’t manage to get the stories published. Next year, the anthology will be different – completely different – but I’ll share that news at the appropriate time.

For now, if you have thought about self-publishing, but know nothing about it. Deborah Woehr is writing posts on her experience with publishing with Lulu. The first post, Self-Publishing through Lulu: The First Step in Creating Your Book gives tips on getting started. This post is followed by many others. I’m positive you’ll find the series interesting to read.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, My Writing:, Writing:

If I was an editor…

We hear horror stories about the slush pile all the time.

1. The great stories that have slipped through the fingers of an editor because they didn’t read it.

2. The dozens, more often hundreds, of rejection letters received by serious writers before they are accepted (if they are).

3. The gut feeling that the submission wasn’t even glanced at before it was returned to the author with a form letter saying “not interested”.

And there are many other things I could add to the list.

As writers, we repeatedly talk about the importance of having a great title, the perfect first sentence, correct formatting, acceptable grammar, writing styles and many other tips on getting our manuscripts noticed.

I want you to take off your writer’s hat and replace it, for a few moments, with an editor’s hat instead. This exercise is to help you see what it might be like to be faced with the following scenario every week.

Imagine yourself sitting at a big, wooden desk. Piles of manuscripts line the floor, the benches, the bookcases, and your desk. All these manuscripts are from writers who want their work to stand out from the rest.

You’ve been doing this job for many months, probably many years. And you generally only select three to five manuscripts for publication each year. Today, you have 100 manuscripts in your office.

How will you tackle the job of working your way through the “slush pile”?

Will you read every, single word of every, single manuscript and then make the all important decision?

Will you read the first three chapters of every, single manuscript?

Will you read each manuscript until it bores you, then reject it?

Will you read the first page and see if the writing style and story catches your attention? Rejecting the ones that don’t.

Will you first sort the manuscripts into two piles? One pile representing the poorly formatted manuscripts, which you’ll reject instantly, and the other pile being the manuscripts that have followed your guidelines and look professional, you’ll attempt to read these later.

Will you reject all of them, because you just don’t have time this week, and there will be another pile to go through next week?

Now, start your comment with “If I was an editor…” and tell me how you would handle the slush pile.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Did you know?, Submission Process, Writing:

First Rights

This is a promise the manuscript has not previously been published anywhere, through any media. Often this might read First Australian Rights, or First UK Rights and so on, which means that the work has not been published within the specified country or area before. Once you have sold a manuscript’s first rights in one location it is possible to go on and sell them to other areas, but not in the same area again.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Resources, Submission Process, Writing:

Manuscript Format

Benjamin Solah brought this website to my attention. It’s called William Shunn : Manuscript Format : Short Story and is naturally telling us how to format our manuscripts.

I’ve read through the page and agree totally with what he says. Do yourself a favour, if you want to be a professional, learn to set out your manuscript correctly from the beginning. This site will tell you how, and show you how, so you have no excuses. To do anything different to what is said, is only tossing chances away.

Agents, Publishers & Assessors, Resources, Writing:

Australian Writers' Centres

Your local writers’ centre can be a useful resource. Not only can you find like minded people to talk to (if you live close enough to visit in person), but most centres also have a library, an assortment of workshops, regular talks by published writers and they can even provide advice on contracts, agents, and publishers.

Becoming a member means that you have something you can add to your writer’s resume too (which never goes astray).

Below, you will find links to a number of Australian centres, with a short blurb from the appropriate website.

ACT Writers Centre
The ACT Writers Centre has a Meeting Room available free for use by members and a computer, printer, fax and photocopier available for use by members. We have a growing library of books about writing and by writers. We also sell books by members on consignment. The noticeboards are full of information about publishing, competitions, writers’ rights, and writing courses.

Central West Writers’ Centre
The Central West Writers’ Centre provides development and promotion services for literary activity in rural Australia in the Central West of New South Wales.

NSW Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers literary resources and professional information to established and aspiring writers of all kinds. It provides a spacious venue for events such as book launches, readings, literary evenings and lectures as well as meeting spaces for writers’ groups and literary organisations.

NT Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers a range of activities and services for writers including workshops, literary events, manuscript appraisal, a regular newsletter, special projects and an annual writers’ festival.

Queensland Writers’ Centre
Provides writing tips and resources, advice on handling rejection and rates of pay, details for workshops, seminars, competitions and much more.

SA Writers’ Centre
The Centre acts as a resource centre for writers of all ages and experiences. They focus on writing activities and work with a wide range of organisations to promote and encourage writers and literature in society.

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre
The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre supports numerous initiatives that promote Tasmanian’s appreciation of literature. These include workshops, residencies and mentorships for Tasmanian writers, as well as providing professional advice to TWC members.

Victorian Writers’ Centre
The Victorian Writers’ Centre is dedicated to nurturing and promoting the diverse writing culture in Victoria. As the leading provider of information, resources and skills development, the VWC connects and supports writers and writing within the broader communities throughout Victoria.