18 votes

How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less

8 comments

  1. [8]
    Grzmot
    Link
    Safe to say, if you want to become a published author: Don't. Or be ready to slave away for approximately 10 years, hoping that you actually have what it takes.

    Safe to say, if you want to become a published author: Don't.

    Or be ready to slave away for approximately 10 years, hoping that you actually have what it takes.

    3 votes
    1. [6]
      thundergolfer
      Link Parent
      Or self-publish, right? Are there major drawbacks of doing that, if your goal is just to get your work out there in the world?

      Or self-publish, right? Are there major drawbacks of doing that, if your goal is just to get your work out there in the world?

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        From my minimal knowledge, I know that self-publishing means either using a Publish-On-Demand platform (such as Lulu) which means the book is expensive to produce and you make less money, or you...

        From my minimal knowledge, I know that self-publishing means either using a Publish-On-Demand platform (such as Lulu) which means the book is expensive to produce and you make less money, or you can print a mass of books at a fixed budget and hope you can sell enough to break even.

        Either way, you will not make any money unless you have an audience.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          Sahasrahla
          Link Parent
          I think the path for self-published authors is usually selling ebooks, mostly on Amazon. The most lucrative business model (as in, plenty of people making over $100K per year) seems to be quickly...

          I think the path for self-published authors is usually selling ebooks, mostly on Amazon. The most lucrative business model (as in, plenty of people making over $100K per year) seems to be quickly writing inexpensive ebooks that hit all the right genre tropes and building up a readership through consistent output and smart use of advertising, Amazon's algorithms, and other means of promotion. Actually, I think there's someone here on Tildes who self publishes successfully and lucratively, but I don't remember who.

          Of course, plenty of self-published authors have found moderate success (you can estimate book sales from Goodreads reviews if you're curious) following a more traditional model of writing one or two books per year with a focus on originality rather than following set tropes. There are also standout successes (e.g. to various degrees The Martian, Wool, Senlin Ascends) that get approached by publishers or even made into movies. Wool is an especially interesting case because it I think it ended up being a "hybrid" deal where the publisher handled physical books and the author kept the ebook rights. Another interesting case is Michael J. Sullivan, a bestselling traditionally published author who moved more to self-publishing because of disagreements with his publishers over audiobook rights.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            You know what, you are completely correct. But I figured it would be better to limit the conversation to printed book sales given that was largely what the video was about. A lot of people really...

            You know what, you are completely correct. But I figured it would be better to limit the conversation to printed book sales given that was largely what the video was about. A lot of people really want to have that physical book available. That's why these POD printing houses are also often called vanity publishers.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Sahasrahla
              Link Parent
              Yeah definitely, even with print-on-demand a self-published author won't get into most physical bookstores. Ordering a self-published vs traditionally published physical book on Amazon won't look...

              Yeah definitely, even with print-on-demand a self-published author won't get into most physical bookstores. Ordering a self-published vs traditionally published physical book on Amazon won't look any different, but a self-published author just won't have the ability to get their book onto actual shelves in brick-and-mortar stores. (Except for, like, negotiating with small indie bookstores one at a time or something, and even then it's not likely.)

              A lot of people really want to have that physical book available.

              For a lot of people I think this is the major thing traditional publishers offer. You grow up loving and reading books and you want to write a book too, but you know writing a book isn't enough. Anyone can write a book if you don't worry about quality, but being one of the select few who writes a book good enough to be chosen by agents/publishers and see your book show up on store and library shelves next to your heroes' books—that's powerful. You can see it in the video too: Lindsay doesn't say her choice to traditionally publish is a business decision or a financial one, it's simply her goal because of course it is. In most peoples' minds that's what being an author is.

              Unfortunately I think publishers use this (among other factors) to take advantage of authors. They don't have to offer a living wage to new authors; they simply have to offer enough to make it feel real. And if you don't like it, well, there's always more would-be authors trying to break in. I feel like if more writers looked at writing as a career, and not as a passion/prestige-project that might turn into a career if lightning strikes, then you'd see more writers turning down what the traditional publishers are offering and striking out on their own. Which, hopefully, would force the publishers to actually pay the most important part of their work force if they wanted to retain and attract talent.

              1. Akir
                Link Parent
                I don't think that it's taking advantage of new authors to offer small wages when they are a considerable risk. For every novel you purchase, there are hundreds of other books in the market you...

                I don't think that it's taking advantage of new authors to offer small wages when they are a considerable risk. For every novel you purchase, there are hundreds of other books in the market you don't. First novels are rarely successful at all, even if you have a "built-in audience" like Ellis has.

    2. mrbig
      Link Parent
      Some people manage to have two successful careers, like Ted Chiang. But I suppose that’s the reason he never published a novel, just wonderful short stories.

      Some people manage to have two successful careers, like Ted Chiang. But I suppose that’s the reason he never published a novel, just wonderful short stories.

      1 vote