I Am Not a Gatekeeper

I Am Not a Gatekeeper People in and around this business have long used the word “gatekeeper” when referring to those in publishing tasked with choosing which books to publish or represent.   Since the rise of self-publishing, it has become a debate—often heated:   Down with the gatekeepers!   Hooray for the gatekeepers!   Some bemoan: The gatekeepers are trying to keep us out. They’re making it too hard for good writers to get published.   While others retort: Be thankful for gatekeepers—they protect us from all that evil bad writing out there!   Well… here’s a news flash for you:   There are no gatekeepers.   There is nobody in publishing whose job is to “keep you out.” It’s not anybody’s job to protect the...
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All the Publishing Information You Ever Wanted

http://www.rachellegardner.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/answers-150x150.jpg Many of you have been reading my blog for a while, but you might not be aware of how much information is available in my archives. Just as a refresher, I wanted to highlight some posts you might find helpful. Have you seen my DEFINITIVE post on How To Get Published? Do you need to know How to Find a Literary Agent? A great title is an important aspect of attracting an agent’s or editor’s attention. Here’s how to create a perfect title for your book. Did you know I have a list of qualified freelance editors on my website? By the way, all those pages can be accessed by clicking on the tab at the top of the blog that says “Popular Posts.” Do you need to know where to find tons of publishing information and discussion online? See my list of Writing & Publishing...
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Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too?

Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too? These days, I’m sensing that many authors are gung-ho to write and publish as much as possible. Now that the term “hybrid author” has been coined, referring to those who are both traditionally and self-published, everyone thinks they want or need to be one. As one author put it, “It seems like the time is now! It’s time to be prolific!” I am not sure what makes people think “the time is now” as if we are in some kind of awesome bubble that is going to burst soon. We’re not. We are in a long, slow transition period of our industry, in which people are experimenting with different ways of doing business. Some will work, some won’t. More importantly, different things will work for different people. More does not always equal...
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How Does Your Publisher Make Money?

How Does Your Publisher Make Money? If you read the publishing blogs and follow industry Twitter feeds, you’ve no doubt gathered that there’s a firestorm of controversy over Pearson, the parent company of Penguin Books, purchasing a company called Author Solutions (ASI), a well-established self-publishing company. You can read numerous diverse opinions on this acquisition and plenty of astute commentary (links at the end of the post) but here, I want to focus on one tiny aspect. What is the most important thing for an author to understand about a traditional publisher entering into the self-publishing fray? As it happens, I addressed this very issue over 2½ years ago on the blog (December, 2009). Much of what follows is what I said back then. Self publishing represents a completely different business model from...
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How Does a Publishing Auction Work?

How Does a Publishing Auction Work? One of the things that always generates excitement among authors is the prospect of an “auction” between publishers for their book. But there’s also a mystique surrounding auctions, and many writers wonder how they actually work. So let’s pull back the shroud of mystery and peek at what an auction looks like. Why are auctions so exciting? The prospect of an auction means that several publishers are interested in your book. That’s exciting in itself, but more than that, the high level of interest means publishers are confident that they can probably sell a lot of copies, so of course that means a higher advance (than if there wasn’t an auction). Knowing people are excited about the book, combined with the prospect of decent money, is one of the best...
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Poor Sales Can Affect Your Future

Poor Sales Can Affect Your Future Yesterday we talked about how it can be difficult to get an agent or traditional publisher if you had a self-pub book that didn’t sell. But that begs the question: What if you have a traditionally published book (or multiple books) that didn’t sell very well? Will that cause problems selling future books? Absolutely. In fact, if you have two or three books, traditionally published, that each sold, say, 5,000 to 8,000 copies, it will be so difficult to overcome that you’d be better off if you were a brand-new, never published author. Now, this isn’t to say it would be impossible to sell a book to a publisher under these circumstances. But it takes an awesome idea – a truly breakout book with a unique and completely saleable hook – and it takes some...
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Do Publishers Market Books?

Do Publishers Market Books? A couple of days ago, Michael Hyatt had a terrific post on his blog, Four Reasons Why You Must Take Responsibility for Your Own Marketing. He reiterated truths about the important role you, the author, play in the promotion of your own book. He reinforced what we’ve all been hearing: Publishers don’t market books. It’s all up to the author. Yes, everyone keeps saying that. And yet… and yet… Publishers still have marketing departments. And like I said in my post Why is Publishing So Slow? part of the reason for long lead times (the time between contract and book release) is the time it takes to put marketing in place. So what gives? Do publishers market books or not? The answer is: Yes, they do. But not as much as they used to. And they’re not very...
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When Agents Have Bad News

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-POIsY9QniKc/Tb4azD9Qt4I/AAAAAAAAEeQ/4POK4omKTEU/s320/woman+builder.jpg or… Don’t Shoot the Messenger Did you know that I invented publishing? Seriously—book publishers, agents, querying, marketing—the whole shebang, I thought of it, created the system and built it from the ground up. Wait—what? I didn’t build the publishing industry? You mean I’m not responsible for the lousy query system, and the difficulty getting published, and the fact that authors have to market their books? Phew! I was worried there—because I’ve noticed that I’m often put in the position of having to not only explain some aspect of publishing, but to defend it. A lot of times the questions directed to agents have this tone that says: “You created this system and it’s broken—so fix it!” I didn’t invent the system—I work inside...
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Book Genres and Blog Stats

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uRzXwGv4xhQ/TbTjLFoBRiI/AAAAAAAAEd8/9LbWu-XPhdc/s320/numbers.jpg I had fun collecting stats on my sidebar polls last week. Thanks to all 1,453 of you who answered the questions! Turns out: → 93% of you are writers→ 85% of you are writing fiction→ 73% of you are not yet published→ 77% of you are writing for the general (not Christian) market By far the most interesting info I gathered was the genres my blog readers are writing (or at least those who chose to vote). Here’s how it stacked up: 26%  Fantasy or sci-fi 21%  General/other (non-genre fiction)12%  Women’s fiction 12%  Mystery/suspense 10%  Supernatural or paranormal 9%    Romance 7%    Historical (romance or not) I was particularly interested in the fact that the largest percentage was fantasy and sci-fi. I don’t...
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Should Publishing Be Compared to the Music Industry?

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Hmm-l8HIDe4/TaUY39gZNQI/AAAAAAAAEc8/KV3v8-5J4kE/s320/Milano_U2-Live.jpg (Maybe Not) Continuing on the theme of how publishing is evolving, you probably know that many people are comparing our current situation to the music industry’s revolutionary changes over the last dozen years. If we’re smart, the wisdom goes, we’ll carefully study how things have gone in that medium and see what we can learn from it. I’ve read many, many articles that astutely point to things that have worked and things that didn’t for the big record labels; analysis of mistakes that were made; and how that industry has adapted to changing technology which has in turn changed consumers’ buying patterns. There is much that can be learned and applied to the book business, but I’ve been concerned lately that some people seem to...
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Myth Busting – Part 1

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-fYntny7kcSE/TX19IhqUDEI/AAAAAAAAEbQ/qJiP4hZucqI/s320/mermaid.bmp One of the great things about the Internet is that it has made it so easy to find information. But the downside is that it’s just as easy to find misinformation. With authors, agents, and publishing people out there on blogs, loops, and forums, constantly talking with one another and often contradicting each other, it’s sometimes hard to discern what’s true and what’s rumor. So this week I’ll take some time to bust some myths you shared with me in the comments of my March 4th post. Today we’ll start with… MYTHS ABOUT GETTING PUBLISHED Myth: You have to have an “in” to get an agent or a publisher. It isn’t what you know but who you know. Truth: While having an “in” helps, and networking can be quite effective, it’s not...
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ISBN 10, ISBN 13, and Those Pesky X’s

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FYnfyrmk8vg/TVmXFaMPhZI/AAAAAAAAEZE/6eCWEH-4UpY/s320/ISBN.jpg (or…Get Your Info From Knowledgeable Sources) A client wrote me sounding a teeny bit worried: A friend of mine who used to be a bookstore manager mentioned the “X” that shows up after my ISBN number. She said it might be a problem when ordering books for the store because it indicated my book was Print on Demand. Is this a big concern or not? I love the misinformation authors get from people who seem to know just enough about publishing to be dangerous. (This is what keeps agents in business.) I’m so glad my client asked me the question instead of needlessly worrying about it! Here’s a bit of basic info about ISBNs: The United States ISBN Agency is the only source authorized to assign ISBNs to publishers supplying the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam...
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How to Get Published

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/3a145d92adabcec29002832a30c43b36.jpg *The Definitive Post* I get emails every day asking for advice on getting published or getting an agent. This is the post for people needing an entry-level introduction to publishing. Dear Writer, Congratulations on your decision to pursue publication. As a literary agent, I’m not able to help you until you’ve created the appropriate materials: → If you’re a non-fiction writer, you’ll need a full professional book proposal, with three sample chapters (this must include the FIRST chapter). (See How To Write a Book Proposal) → If you’re writing fiction, your manuscript must be complete, edited and polished; you also need a one-sentence hook and a one-paragraph pitch. Once you have your manuscript and/or proposal ready, you need to prepare a query letter....
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What are Remainders?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TU_9hp3H4DI/AAAAAAAAEYE/xtPjmAaTY-E/s320/book%2Bsale.jpg Richard wrote:Could you explain “remaindering” in a future post? I wish I could recall the poem I’ve heard Jim Bell quote that begins, “The book of mine enemy has been remaindered, and I am glad.” “Remainder” means that the publisher has too much stock of a book, so they sell it off at a very low price. There are companies who buy and distribute remainders. Those books in the front of Barnes & Noble on those “sale” tables? Those are actually remainder tables, and the books haven’t been moved from another part of the store. They were sold in as remainders. Keep in mind that books are very expensive to warehouse. If there are large quantities of a book on hand, and it’s not selling at an acceptable pace, at some point the...
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