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the rant of an unread novelist

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  #1  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:10 AM
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Hello. I used to write a lot of short stories and even managed to get a few published in print, a couple of years ago.

But now I have pretty much abandoned short stories in favour of writing novels. I am now halfway through my third novel. I do occasionally pause to explore ideas in short format, but I really think that novel-length pieces are more enjoyable and satisfying to write for me nowadays.

Which brings me to the problem, which is HOW to get any critique or feedback on a novel as a whole. (Not just a sample but the whole thing). Agents and pubs only ever want the first 3 chapters. I do have an online friend who swaps novels with me for critiques, which is great, but really just for fun. I need more feedback, I need more than just 1 opinion from a friend. In particular I need critique from somebody in the publishing/agenting world.

What does it take to get an Agent to read the whole thing? Even if they reject it, I just want them to read it first. Not a one-page sample or a chapter... Read the WHOLE thing.

Please believe me, I am diligent and careful, and I swear I have done all the proper steps of ensuring proper formatting, following guidelines etc. but all I get in return is tumbleweeds rolling past my door, perhaps a standard rejection slip if I'm lucky 6 months later.

Is it worth getting a professional review done at cost? There are websites out there who provide this service but I worry about getting ripped off.

Another problem is my genre is not chick lit or erotica, nor do my novels feature wizards or dragons or ancient encrypted codes. Therefore I am probably banging my head against a brick wall trying to sell it to agents. Oh, and also, I'm an unknown, and you have to be known apparently BEFORE you get listened to.

Not sure what I'm asking really. Perhaps my question is whether there is any hope of getting a sniff ever in my lifetime? Let's assume my novel is the best thing ever written for the purpose of this question, and my query letter and synopsis are flawless. ;-) Even given that, I doubt anyone will bother taking a look because it's not trendy or topical and I'm not a celebrity, nor a footballer with lots of fruity secrets to tell.

My urge as a writer is to be READ, and to stimulate imagination in the reader. It's not to be famous or rich. (Though I do want to be rich if I'm honest ;-) ). Should I abandon hope on 'normal' publication and consider self-pubbing or Amazon Kindle as a route to readers?

Sorry this was all a bit vague but I wanted to vent some frustrations and say Hi to anyone who remembers me. (It's been a while since I posted).

O.

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Old 01-09-2013, 11:28 AM
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Hi, Owen! We missed you!

Should I abandon hope on 'normal' publication and consider self-pubbing or Amazon Kindle as a route to readers?
Well, don't consider it "abandoning hope." Consider it chopping out the middleman, which are what agents and publishers really are.

Go for it. Do it on your own. If your real goal is to reach readers, and these people are barring you from just that very thing, just do it yourself. Promote yourself well, spread the word, and you'll get read. If your novel's good (and I suspect it will be; I know your writing) then it'll get read, and word of mouth will be strong.

Don't let it discourage you. Go in through another way. And come out on top.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:30 PM
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Adele Adkins was signed because she was posted on MySpace, well, and she is awesome.
In the modern age, so many are proving that the old way isn't the only way and the cream rises to the top.
I completely agree with Devon, get your stuff out there and let the readers decide. If you stir up enough interest, the publishers will want a piece of that pie and will come calling, or at the very least, you might be able to include your sales/downloads/followers in your next submission.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:29 PM
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Why would you feel that publishing your work on Kindle is "abandoning hope"?
That seems totally bassackwards. If you are published and can get people to read you work, thereby lays hope.

I just don't understand how this attitude continues to survive. Stop reading Writers Digest. Go out there and get some readers. Nobody can read your work if you're sitting your ass down on it.

Don't pay for fucking reviews. It's a waste of time and money.

You could publish you work on KDP Select and offer a free day to all your friends and colleagues, get reviews on it that way, and on amazon.

Jeez
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Owen View Post
Hello. I used to write a lot of short stories and even managed to get a few published in print, a couple of years ago.

But now I have pretty much abandoned short stories in favour of writing novels. I am now halfway through my third novel. I do occasionally pause to explore ideas in short format, but I really think that novel-length pieces are more enjoyable and satisfying to write for me nowadays.

Which brings me to the problem, which is HOW to get any critique or feedback on a novel as a whole. (Not just a sample but the whole thing). Agents and pubs only ever want the first 3 chapters. I do have an online friend who swaps novels with me for critiques, which is great, but really just for fun. I need more feedback, I need more than just 1 opinion from a friend. In particular I need critique from somebody in the publishing/agenting world.

What does it take to get an Agent to read the whole thing? Even if they reject it, I just want them to read it first. Not a one-page sample or a chapter... Read the WHOLE thing.

Please believe me, I am diligent and careful, and I swear I have done all the proper steps of ensuring proper formatting, following guidelines etc. but all I get in return is tumbleweeds rolling past my door, perhaps a standard rejection slip if I'm lucky 6 months later.

Is it worth getting a professional review done at cost? There are websites out there who provide this service but I worry about getting ripped off.

Another problem is my genre is not chick lit or erotica, nor do my novels feature wizards or dragons or ancient encrypted codes. Therefore I am probably banging my head against a brick wall trying to sell it to agents. Oh, and also, I'm an unknown, and you have to be known apparently BEFORE you get listened to.

Not sure what I'm asking really. Perhaps my question is whether there is any hope of getting a sniff ever in my lifetime? Let's assume my novel is the best thing ever written for the purpose of this question, and my query letter and synopsis are flawless. ;-) Even given that, I doubt anyone will bother taking a look because it's not trendy or topical and I'm not a celebrity, nor a footballer with lots of fruity secrets to tell.

My urge as a writer is to be READ, and to stimulate imagination in the reader. It's not to be famous or rich. (Though I do want to be rich if I'm honest ;-) ). Should I abandon hope on 'normal' publication and consider self-pubbing or Amazon Kindle as a route to readers?

Sorry this was all a bit vague but I wanted to vent some frustrations and say Hi to anyone who remembers me. (It's been a while since I posted).

O.
I think I know where you are coming from. Lets get a few of your point out of the way.
 
QUESTION: HOW to get any critique or feedback on a novel as a whole.
ANSWER: Hire a company with a good reputation. Ask…”What books, by what author have you critiqued? Check them out on Predators & Editors. These companies are not cheap…figure five cents per word.
QUESTION: I need critique from somebody in the publishing/agenting world.
ANSWER: These are business people. They will not take time to critique your book.
You may want to seek the help of a literature class at a junior college. The truth is…”You can learn to xritique your own work.” Buy this book; STEIN ON WRITING by Sol Stein.
 
QUESTION: What does it take to get an Agent to read the whole thing? Even if they reject it, I just want them to read it first. Not a one-page sample or a chapter... Read the WHOLE thing.
ANSWER: Most agents receive 5,000 to 10,000 submissions a day. Most good agents hire student readers. They are told to look for certain points. Student reading is a boring, low pay job…many of the submissions are never read.
QUESTION: Please believe me, I am diligent and careful, and I swear I have done all the proper steps of ensuring proper formatting, following guidelines etc. but all I get in return is tumbleweeds rolling past my door, perhaps a standard rejection slip if I'm lucky 6 months later.
ANSWER: Keep doing this.
 
Is it worth getting a professional review done at cost? There are websites out there who provide this service but I worry about getting ripped off.
ANSWER: No. Most of these people are not published by Standard Publishers.
 
QUESTION: Another problem is my genre is not chick lit or erotica, nor do my novels feature wizards or dragons or ancient encrypted codes. Therefore I am probably banging my head against a brick wall trying to sell it to agents.
ANSWER: It matters not the genre. You must seek out an agent that sells your type of genre. B & N sells several books by year listing Agents, and Publishers…what they want, and how they want it…this list may change year to year.
QUESTION: I'm an unknown, and you have to be known apparently BEFORE you get listened to.
ANSWER: This is not true. A well written story in the hands of the right agent is what is needed. If you receive a reject, it could be a million and one reasons other than your manuscript.
QUESTION: Not sure what I'm asking really. Perhaps my question is whether there is any hope of getting a sniff ever in my lifetime?
ANSWER: Winners never quit, and quitters never win. Some very good writers have taken ten years to get a manuscript sold.
QUESTION: Should I abandon hope on 'normal' publication and consider self-publishing or Amazon Kindle as a route to readers?
ANSWER: I can not tell you what to do. There are two schools on this question. If you want to know if you can stand to the mark with the big name writers, go for a Standard Big Publisher. If you are not commented to a life time effort, and just want to get a book out…Self publish.

I hope this helps
Domenic
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:12 PM
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How long have you been trying? Standard rejections 3-6 months is not out of the ordinary.

Building relationships online or in writing groups takes time. Being willing to reciprocate with beta-readings helps.

Personally I have found talking about my stories and characters has helped build up an online presence. Moving between forums whilst I may not always be recognisable I usually find a few people who know my characters. Socrates and Angus; Joe and Tim or Gus and Iris tend to be known by one or two people. It has also brought me the support and help of several editors and other professionals.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Owen View Post

Which brings me to the problem, which is HOW to get any critique or feedback on a novel as a whole. (Not just a sample but the whole thing).
ROFL! Dude, I've got a seat for you right here next to me. I've been on that rant for a while. Heck, I had to have a 3 hour fight with my wife just to get her, my own wife, to read my work, even just a short story. So yeah, welcome aboard.

Okay, here we go ...

  1. Don't worry about critiquing other people's work in the hopes they will reciprocate. Won't happen. Instead focus on getting your book as good as you can possibly get it.
  2. Don't pay for a critique. Period. Remember that they want you to come back so they can make more money.
  3. Agents and publishers don't normally give critiques. You have one paragraph or less to get them interested. If you're lucky, they'll ask for the whole manuscript and will read through it, but they aren't likely to give you a critique, usually just a yes or no. Sometimes you'll get something nice "loved the concept, but the application doesn't work for us" but that's about the best you'll get.
  4. If you absolutely must have a critique, consider something like Critters, but appropriate to your genre. critters.org/ But you're going to be doing some serious critiquing to get your story to bubble up to the top. Personally I feel your time is better spent perfecting your novel, but that's just my opinion. You could also look for a local critiquing group, but keep in mind that most of them are genre specific.


First, figure out why you write. I write so that other people can enjoy reading. If nobody is interested, then I've got other things I can do. For me, readers are what keeps me writing.


After a biiiig fight with my wife, she said she would be more supportive of my writing. That helped me tremendously because I at least had a reader there, maybe not a fan, but at least a reader (my son only counts as 1/2 a reader).


The second thing I did was start writing short stories again and posting them on my blog, specifically, there was a story about a friend of mine. He had about a bajillion Facebook friends and that started getting people reading my short stuff.


Finally, I had a couple of friends who shall remain anony ... anymy ... okay, it was Devon, that put my blog on their blogroll. I get consistent views from there as well now.


So by maintaining a relatively consistent source of enjoyment for my readers, maybe they will take an interest in my 2 books when they hit Smashwords (and corresponding other sites). From there, reviews are where I will get my feedback. (By the way, I have over 600 rejections from the traditional route if you're curious.)



Probably not the answer you were looking for, but the best I've been able to figure out.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:34 PM
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I get consistent views from there as well now.
Oh, good! So the blogrolling does have some effect. Yay! I just did a shout out for you on FB to my FB friends to check out your stories, by the by.

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Old 01-25-2013, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
Oh, good! So the blogrolling does have some effect. Yay! I just did a shout out for you on FB to my FB friends to check out your stories, by the by.

Yeppers, and thank you again! By the by, you should see at least one hit coming over from Webgoji's Ramblings, I saw someone clicked on your blog off my blogroll. Hooray for sharing!
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:09 AM
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Yep, saw that! Actually, I've gotten about three or four from your site. Unless it's all the same person, and I'm just thinking it's different times. Pfft. Lol!
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:15 AM
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("...well, if you can actually throw in the towel because of their rejection towards you, doesn't that just mean that you're not a writer by nature then..." ventured the goblin without malice, adding "...me, I got banned again yesterday, where no doubt I'll just get banned from the next forum I join, and the one after that too, and so on, but that's my nature so what else can I do now, where you only have to have one poxy publisher accept you now, whereas, me I have all forumland to conquer still, forum by forum that is, and yet my readership has become what it is because I am thinking of you now as the reader here, where never for a moment have I ever thought of you as some yestersheep in some declining bookreadership, Lin is right then, enough groveling to all that failing publisher palaver now, bring out that book for yourself, make your posts your ambassadors too, and just let those publishers watch readers go to you over their heads and hopefully over their soon to be dead bodies too...")

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Old 01-29-2013, 12:30 PM
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Webgoji - thanks for the response. It is encouraging and comforting in equal measure. I too struggle to get my wife to read any of my stuff. Last year I managed to get her to read the first two chapters of my novel which was a major blip on a flat line.

The self-pub route tempts me each day, because my primary aim is to be read. And yet the other half of me says, no, don't give up on the traditional route. It could work out. But then I think, no it won't. Even if my novel is the best thing ever written (it isn't), no publisher or agent will so much as read a page of it. That is the reality. I am conflicted.

Thanks everyone else too for your replies. You have given me food for thought.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Owen View Post
What does it take to get an Agent to read the whole thing?
Money. Or maybe, call it a mad idea, a good book.

But you really dont need an agent to read the whole thing. Not even 3 chapters. The likelihood is that they will read 3 pages MAXIMUM before making a judgement. It doesn't matter how good your novel is, if the opening is shit, you lose.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:18 AM
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Same with readers. I've read some thick stuff in the past that made me go "Blegh!" and toss the book aside. Trad and non-trad. More so with non-trad, unfortunately.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:17 AM
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Tastes vary. If your loved ones or friends refuse to read your stuff it may well be they have had enough of it in the past. That's not to say they don't like your writing but they may have better things to do like polish their toenails or worm the dog or just not in the mood to read some mind numbing piece of writing.

The pub business moves glacially slow unless they accidentally stumble across some lump of tripe they see the mass appeal in and know from past experience it hads a better than average shot at ringing the register. It's business and for a would be writer that is not aware of that fact they often quit disillusioned that no one sees the merit of their opus. Either rub some dirt on it and get back up or take your pen and paper and go home.

Quitting is easy but hanging in there until you achieve your goal takes guts and lots of effort. This may sound familiar but here goes anyhow.

I once watched a spider spend hours trying to sling his thread between two distant tree limbs. Finally he suceeded and for many more hours he worked his magic until his masterpiece was complete. Content and tired he sat proudly in the middle of his web waiting for his reward to come. It did. A goldfinch swooped in and ate him.

Moral of the story? There is no moral. I just thought that shit was funny and too often true.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:37 AM
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Holy cow! Sucks for the spider.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Owen View Post
Hello. I used to write a lot of short stories and even managed to get a few published.

But now I have pretty much abandoned short stories in favour of writing novels. I am now halfway through my third novel. I occasionally pause to explore ideas in short format, but I really think that novel-length pieces are more enjoyable and satisfying.

Which brings me to the problem, which is HOW to get any critique or feedback on a completed novel. Not just a sample but the whole thing. Agents and pubs only want the first 3 chapters.

I do have an online friend who swaps novels with me for critiques, which is great, but really just for fun. I need more feedback, I need more than just one opinion from a friend. In particular I need critique from somebody in the publishing/agenting world.

What does it take to get an Agent to read the whole thing? Even if they reject it. I just want them to read it first. Not a one-page sample or a chapter... Read the WHOLE thing.

I am diligent and careful, and I swear I have done all the proper steps of ensuring the correct formatting, following guidelines etc. But all I get in return is tumbleweeds rolling past my door, perhaps a standard rejection slip if I'm lucky six months later.

Is it worth getting a professional review done at cost? There are websites out there who provide this service but I worry about getting ripped off.

Another problem is my genre is not chick lit or erotica, nor do my novels feature wizards or dragons or ancient encrypted codes. I am probably banging my head against a brick wall trying to sell it to agents. Oh, and also, I'm an unknown, and it appears you have to be known BEFORE you are listened to.

Not sure what I'm asking really. Perhaps my question is whether or not there is any hope of me getting a sniff in my lifetime? For the purpose of this question let's assume my novel is the best one ever written and my query letter and synopsis are flawless. ;-) Even then I doubt anyone will bother taking a look because it's not trendy or topical and I'm not a celebrity, nor a footballer with lots of fruity secrets to tell.

My urge as a writer is to be READ, and to stimulate imagination in the reader. It's not to be famous or rich. (Though I do want to be rich if I'm honest ;-) ). Should I abandon hope on 'normal' publication and consider self-pubbing or Amazon Kindle as a route to readers?

Sorry this was all a bit vague but I wanted to vent some frustrations and say Hi to anyone who remembers me. (It's been a while since I posted).

O.
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An ebook may be the way to go if time and patience are lacking. If you build a significant readership a trad pub might jump in and sign you up. Consider it at least.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Gaines View Post
An ebook may be the way to go if time and patience are lacking. If you build a significant readership a trad pub might jump in and sign you up. Consider it at least.
But if you can't even get your wife to read it...
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:12 AM
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I stopped asking my wife to read my stuff. She thought every main character was me and any romance and/or love that took place was a threat to her.

I was also on a shock poetry roll for a while and wouldn't want her, or anyone else I know for that matter, to see it.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:18 AM
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My husband used to read my stuff all the time. He's even read three other versions of the novel I'm polishing up now. He gets mad every time I claim "This is the final version!" then I go and change aspects. Only to tighten, though! Really! He won't read it now, until it's an e-book. Lol! And he doesn't have much time for himself, let alone anything else anymore.

But he's a great and wonderful person.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:24 AM
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Well, my wife is a great and wonderful person too, but was reluctant to read my work and still is to a degree. So far, she likes my work for the most part -- she just doesn't feel comfortable offering any criticism. So I don't put her in that position. If she wants to read my stuff, great -- but I don't ask her to do it.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:15 AM
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AnyaKimlun (Offline)
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My best friend says reading my stories is like sitting right inside my mind and he already knows it is a scary place.

He also finds it odd reading a book when he understands the author's motivations or something he has said the week before crops up word for word in dialogue.
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