Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday for Writers #2 How to NOT Publish a Novel in SEVEN COMPLICATED SCREW UPS.

I'm hiding, and I feel bad about it. People keep asking me, and I don't know why, but everyday someone asks me how to publish a story, or a novel, or poetry. It's stressing me out guys.  It's not that I don't know how to publish a book--if I didn't, none of us would be here! But that it's that I don't even know where to start explaining it. I am sure you could run out and Google how to publish a novel in 3 easy steps! But the truth of the matter is it's more like; How to Publish a Novel in 3 easy steps, and 267,000 complicated crappy ones that you are probably going to screw up the first time.

Originally, I wrote some uber boring basics post but since I am a nonconformist, I decided to go with How to Not Publish a Novel.

Screw up #1: Don't rush out and publish the first thing you have ever written. Write the book or whatever--set it aside. Read some other books in the same genre. Write something else! THEN come back to it and start the editing process--which if you're new, should be as slow an painful as possible. THEN have someone who is not a blood relative or your bff from Kindergarten read it. Someone who likes the kind of book you have written.

You have failed miserably if the person who reads the book starts with, "Well, it's not my kind of book BUT..."

Please don't ask your mother.

So am I guilty of this screw up? Absolutely not. My first book was called It Sounds Like Thunder; it was was about the Vietnam war from a child's perspective. It could have been a Pulitzer Prize winner! If, say, I had more than The Encyclopedia Britannica as reference material. Also, I was 12 when I wrote it and I am 29 now.  Just FYI--my first published novel, Skeleton Lake, originally released by Red Iris Books in 2011 was my thirty fifth book and I still didn't publish it without a hitch!

Screw up #2: Signing with some unknown or unproven publisher or e-publisher. There are so many reasons not to do this. Far too many of these places make you do all the work and still keep a cut of the money. Why have your own cover done, own editing, own formatting--and then let them put their stupid name on it? It's probably because you were so dangerously happy about getting that elusive ACCEPTANCE letter that you didn't bother to read the fine print OR you didn't care. Some snarky people that want to feel superior would rather have any publisher than say they were self published. That is so bourgeoisie! 

There of course a third group of people. The group of people who don't know better. The group of people that think when that sleaze publisher puts your eBook on their site it's worth something. But they probably get less hits a day than I do. You never want to be the person who doesn't know better in this business.

Another huge reason you don't do this is because of rights! Say you have a contract with them for 3 years (which is short in book rights land). Say they never even publish your book, but control the rights, say they go bankrupt. You can't just pack up and go somewhere else at this point, your rights would be tied up in court. You can't even publish it yourself!

Reason three this is a bad idea--you don't actually know if they are going to pay anyone. Ever. They have no proven track record, and they don't have anyone to really make them do it. Sometimes their inability to do this leads them to what happens at the end of reason 2! And it could be a long time before anyone notices--book royalty payments are a slow business.

Reason four this is bad, bad, BAD; you don't actually know what other kinds of books they are going to publish. It could be total garbage but you'd still be stuck with them.

Anyway, I'm guilty of this one. I kicked of Red Iris Books with the one other Author that runs it--and though I wasn't really screwed over and we had what ended up being an amicable split, we did break up on the day I was supposed to have a book published by them and that didn't happen.

Just say no!

Screw up #3: Publishing a book... and then not publishing another one for an extended period of time. I know Cassandra Clare and JK Rowling can go years between books but that doesn't work for indie authors. It would be like starting over. Everyone will have forgotten you.

If you want my advice, and I guess you do since you're reading this blog; I suggested you have at least 2 books ready to be published when you start and release them with in little amount of time. And of course, all this time working on the next book.

And I am guilty! Though, it wasn't by choice. You know how I said I split with my indie publisher on the day I was supposed to have a book release? Yeah I also went into labor that day and had my baby the next. I wasn't really in a place where I could publish a novel by myself. But I eventually moved on.

Screw up #4: Thinking your book will sell it's self. It doesn't matter how awesome you think your book is, no one will buy it if they haven't heard of it.

One day, I might share marketing strategies. Sometime after I convince SOMEONE (David Haviland*--I have my eye on you!) to be my lit agent. Then it will matter less, but now my future marketing strategies are locked away in a SAFE. That is how hardcore they are.

Screw up #5: Making every tweet about your book.

If you do this, I will hate you forever and ever AMEN. I unfriend these people. Everyone hates them, even if they aren't pissy enough to say so. (Don't worry, I am.)

Screw up #6: Taking on bad reviewers.

Just. Don't. It doesn't matter how wrong they might be. You can't.

Trust me on this one K?

Screw up #7: Taking bad advice from people on the internet.

I'll just let that one hang there.

Seriously I could tell you things like, not using spell check, not formatting your book properly, but everyone on the internet will tell you those things.

About the author:

Angela Kulig is 29, really! She enjoys twitter and talking about herself in the third person. She writes books and tweets, a lot.

Angela Kulig founded what was likely the first ever publishing co-op. She writes mostly paranormal romance.

*I'm not actually looking for a book agent--but David Haviland wanted to be my lit agent I'd make an exception. Because I have a serious crush on Andrew Lownie. 

It's almost embarrassing. Well... it would be if I had any shame at all. (I don't, that's why I'm an author)


Anonymous said...

I love this advice! I am very curious about your hardcore marketing strategies, though. :)

I linked to this post on my blog (hope you don't mind) and a few people have commented. A few seem to think you're saying you can't publish a first novel; I took it to mean you can't publish it right away, and it's going to need perspective, experience, and a lot of editing before you do. I'm right, right? :)

Angela Kulig said...

I don't mind! And no, I did not say do not publish your first novel. I said don't rush off and do it. Everyone usually have some love for whatever they first wrote--and sometimes we need fresh eyes to make sure it's not awful.

Anonymous said...

This was a great list and super advice to the inexperienced!

Anonymous said...

Tip number 2 is very important.

I'm guilty of tip 3. I wish I had held off until more books were ready before hitting publish in my first one. Ah well, live and learn.