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Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Howdy, folks. This is my first time stepping into this subforum and I thought I'd introduce myself.

I'm a guy who became physically disabled a few years ago, taking away my ability to work any of the jobs I'm qualified to do. I've always pursued creative things and started writing about 1000 words daily, no matter what. I've written short things before, including stand up that I did decades ago along with other comedic stuff. But my reading passion has and always will be horror, as my father was an extremely small time published horror author in the 80's. I grew up with it and almost always have a horror novel on my nightstand.

I focused my daily writing practice and I recently wrote my first novel - a horror story set in the American south about a disabled guy and his parrot moving onto land in the country plagued with an ancient monster. I don't think it's particularly good and it I'm currently polishing it from a bloated as gently caress 220k word rough draft into a more manageable, official first draft.

I know my next step is taking a scalpel to this overweight manuscript, so I'm doing that. But past there, I'm getting a little overwhelmed. I've read the OP a couple of times, trying to become familiarized with the next steps. I'm not averse to throwing some money at the project, if it produces a better end result. I'm trying to focus on doing this right, rather than cheap or quick. In a perfect world, I could rejoin the workforce through writing. As I mentioned, when I'm not editing something, I write a minimum 1k words a day.

I'm mostly wanting to introduce myself before I start asking inane questions, but any thoughts are welcome. Thanks for listening.

(I'm not yet at the point where I'm sending out excerpts, but if I should get some together I can do that.)

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Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Leng posted:

Welcome and congrats on finishing your first draft! That's absolutely huge and worthy of celebration.

Doing a self pass through edit is a perfect idea...BUT make sure you give yourself a bit of a break between finishing the novel and going back to edit, so you can see things with fresh eyes, otherwise you're just going to be too close to your work to get value out of the process. When you've put some distance between you and your novel, read through and look for big picture things first (what is the story about? do my characters have a clear and compelling arc? does every scene advance plot or character or both? do I have plotholes/continuity issues?), before working on scene level stuff (how do I make a boring but necessary scene more interesting?) then getting into the weeds (e.g. line level stuff, spelling, grammar, repetition in word choice).

When you're ready to post excerpts for critique and look for beta readers, you should post in the fiction crit thread.

In terms of familiarizing yourself with next steps, YouTube can be useful, though the quality of the "what next" videos are a bit mixed. There's a lot of videos focused on the craft of writing, there's a select few talking about the marketing side of things, and imo, most of the tutorial/"how to" videos suck because they kind of focus on step by step stuff without explaining the why behind what they're doing. I found the advice in this thread more specific and helpful, because of how many successful self-published authors there are giving advice in this thread so definitely take your time to slowly read through the thread in full.

Based on your post, I assume you're in this to make money. If so, you need to understand what you're getting yourself into. If you want a general primer on how the publishing industry works, I did a YouTube video here (I spent 10+ years in audit and a lot of my clients were traditional publishers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrgRWJvhLjw

Thank you very, very much for this thoughtful response. I'm going to digest it a bit before I become Mr. Questions.

If I can make money - That would be grand. But I've also done enough of the arts throughout my life that I'm aware not everyone, "Makes It." I do have one valuable thing on my hands, which is time.

I spent my whole life wanting to write, especially growing up around my published father. But after college all my time got soaked up by working various difficult, time consuming jobs. I was in an industry that had me constantly working doubles, or doing five travel overnights a week, and I became a (thankfully many years sober) alcoholic. Now that I have the time, I figure I'd be a hypocrite to not at least give it a try. I just turned thirty-seven, so I drat well need to make something of my life between now and death. :derptiel:

I do have a major question that I'd love any opinions on -

What is an executable work count for a first timer?

I've read way too much Stephen King and Clive Barker my whole life to write concisely, so I'm aware I'm producing bloat. But I've read a lot of articles saying 40k-100k absolute max.

I know my 217k needs to get majorly chopped down. But I'm not sure how much to chop.

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Zaepho posted:

Word count for a novel depends heavily on genre in my experience. Research your genre for specifics. We're publishing things from about 60k-120k across various SciFi, Fantasy, and Horror categories. Another thing to take into account especially self publishing is that the longer the book, the more just about everything will cost which makes it more difficult to see ROI out of a title. This especially applies to Audio books which is the largest growing segment of the publishing market at the moment.

Finally, realize that it can take quite some time/effort to build momentum and start turning a profit. General consensus from the majority of published authors I've had the opportunity to speak with directly and second hand through my wife (who does the actual writing and editing) is that you don't start making money on a series until the 3rd book in the series. Conversely, readers tend to peter out after book 6.

Those things being said. Write, write, write, and read a whole lot!

OH last item for real this time... Please don't publish or submit something to agents/publishers that hasn't been read critically by somebody who doesn't love you.

Thanks for the input!

I certainly don't think I'm going to write Carrie on my first try. I'm so critical of what I write that it keeps me up at night. When I try to read for pleasure, I keep letting my mind wander off into how much better the book in my hands is than the arduous, bloated mess I created. I'm thirty-seven and done enough creative stuff to not be high on my own supply, knowing a first novel is probably much more a mess than good.

The hard thing to really grasp is the "Choose your Adventure" publishing game. My father, last publishing in 1989, very much thinks -

- You write
- You submit to everywhere, expecting a poo poo ton of rejection letters
- You get published or offered a contract

I'd kill for such a streamlined process.

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Fuschia tude posted:

Neither did King! Despite being his first published, that was his fourth novel.

Yes, your earliest writings are bound to be bad and it's likely to remain bad for a while. Everyone's are, starting out. That's the learning process. But everything you write, especially everything you finish, especially every big thing, will be better. In some way or another. Assuming you have anything resembling a mammal brain, that's guaranteed.

One thing you might want to do to give yourself distance from your new finished manuscript is... write. Make something totally different, with no relation to the last one. (It doesn't have to be another novel; it probably shouldn't, even, unless you're a really fast writer.) Distract and occupy that part of your brain with a new and different creative task, and see it to completion. Or several, if they're short. Then, after you've set your manuscript aside for a month or two, you can come back to it with fresh eyes, now that you've completely forgotten some details, and others have gone hazy, and you don't have every page of it memorized.

Then you can decide whether you need to cut and trim it down like you said, or if it would be more efficient to just rewrite the whole thing from scratch, now that you already know the whole plot and what it's all about and what the purpose of each chapter and scene is and where it's headed in the end. Right now, you're too close to it to even make that determination.

I'm starting to really think more and more about walking away for now and starting something else. I think this is really good advice.

The one thing I went into this novel with was a pretty solid outline. I had a clear idea of the progression of everything, chapter after chapter. But I allowed myself to simply write freely in terms of amount, which turned this manuscript into a porker.

I'm a little peeved at myself for not having a stronger arc for the main character. Sometimes in horror it's easy to get wrapped up in the character arc of, "Not Dying."


freebooter posted:

Just a note on "making it" - everybody focuses on the Hugh-Howey-esque life-changing success stories, but don't underestimate the benefit of even a low-key side gig. I've been doing this just over four years now and my writing income has wildly fluctuated in that time, generally smoothing out at maybe $500-$1000 a month, post-overheads but pre-tax.

That's way less than some of the people who (used to?) post in this thread, and 10k a year obviously does not mean I'm about to quit my day job. But it's a pretty significant amount of mostly-passive income that changes my spending habits, my savings, and my ability to plan long-term about buying an apartment or whatever. And if I check the Amazon ranking of my bestselling book at the moment, it's something like 70,000, so I'm a nobody. But you don't need to "make it" for self-pubbing to be a really good decision. The only thing I regret about it is not starting sooner.

I'm not going too deep into this, but it will explain my motivations for going a traditional route to publication. I've typed this out and deleted it a few times because I don't want the conversation to become about my specific set of circumstances. But this will explain my motivations, if making money becomes a factor.

I became disabled in my mid-thirties, getting diagnosed with motor neuron disease and loosing significant function in my lower legs. Getting the government to recognize this took twenty-eight months and a law firm. The reason for all this effort is to cover my very, very expensive healthcare.

tldr - American healthcare is bad.

Making small amounts of money will gently caress this all up, which is why I can afford taking a circuitous route to being published if it could potentially mean earning more. If I started making a legit salary, I can afford some Obamacare coverage. But if I start making 10k a year, I'll lose my government coverage and not be able to afford Obamacare.

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



I’m asking this after hearing the OP is pretty old.

What are all the relevant terms being used? KDP? KENP?

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Leng posted:

The American healthcare system indeed sucks majorly.

My YouTube video that I posted explains in more detail, with diagrams, but this is the essence: I have some bad news for you. Unless you're planning on ghostwriting, you are not going to make a salary from this endeavour. Authors make royalties (which is a form of profit sharing) and publishers pay the bills with profits.

All publishing–including traditional publishing–is akin to gambling.

If you go traditional publishing and are lucky enough to get signed, you will receive an advance on future royalties (maybe, I hear that the amount of advances being given are no longer as generous as they used to be, and some places may not offer advances at all). This is not free money; it's a payday loan on the royalties you earn on the future sales of your book post publication. You do not get more money once your book is published unless the publisher "recoups" your advance, from which point on they will start paying you your cut of royalties (rates vary according to contract, region, format, etc but say, 10-15% of RRP or cover price). Royalties are paid ONLY when you have sales of your books and you won't see the money until at least 6-9 months after the sale.

If you self-publish, you are the author AS WELL AS the publisher, so you get to keep the publisher's cut of the profits in addition to your author royalties. It is entirely a numbers + marketing game (okay, some luck as well). If you write to market, deliver a quality product, release frequently and consistently, and crunch your title P&L numbers the right way, you will make money.

In either case, publishing a book is making a bet that enough people will buy your book to at least break even on the costs of publishing it, with the hope of making a profit.

In traditional publishing, the publisher takes on the risk of the bet not paying off, hence why your author royalty rates are low.

In self-publishing, you are the one taking on the risk, so you get all of the upsides (if you hit the jackpot) as well as all of the downsides (i.e. lose what you bet if you don't sell enough copies).

Finally, as the kicker: most authors who are traditionally published do not earn out their advances. Traditional publishers rely on a few megabucks authors to pay for the advances for everybody else. So chances are, unless you are the next Stephen King, you are probably not going to get any money from a traditional publisher beyond your advance.

KDP = Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform

KENP = Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (basically how many page reads you got if you put your book in the Kindle Unlimited program)

You absolutely rock, thank you for effort posting on the topic. This is worth hours of searching around the internet, trying to pick through endless Mommy Blogs about, "WRITE A BOOK IN A MONTH!"

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



freebooter posted:

OK, yeah - in your situation where a certain threshhold of income could gently caress up your disability benefit, then having the extra pocket money would indeed not be worth it. I love having my extra 10ish grand a year, but if I were suddenly told I had to rely on it that would make me panic.

On the other hand, as Leng points out, trad publishing can be equally unreliable and unpredictable.

I guess one thing I would say is that self publishing gives you a hell of a lot more control over your sales and marketing. If I were in a situation where I didn't want to hit 10K (not sure if you used this figure because it was my example or because that also happens to be your disability threshold), and I realised there were two months left in the financial year and I'd made 8k or 9k, I could make all my books free overnight. Income vanishes, but at least people are still reading and reviewing and recommending, which will be good when you turn the tap back on next financial year. Scheduled promotions and stuff are the only thing that might give you a major sudden spike in sales, but again, you have control over those and they aren't going to be major spikes when you're just starting out.

Thanks for the input, yours and Leng's has been really illuminating and helps show me how I need to think about moving forward in this venture. I'm sure I'm going to have some more silly questions pop up, but it's great to have a goon resource to keep me from trying to poke through a hodgepodge of "SO YOU WANT TO WRITE THE NEXT BEST SELLER IN THIRTY DAYS?!?!" blogs and advertisements.

I think I'm going to go with some recommendations here and step away from turning my rough draft into a first draft for a little bit and stretch my legs on other story ideas. I'm lucky, in that I have the entire arc of stories in my head beforehand. If I can keep myself from blabbering, I think I've got some stuff that could be a more feasible first foray into having a book with my name on it.

(On my peculiar circumstances - Without derailing the thread, I'll just say it's at the point where I need to get a healthcare lawyer again. I receive very expensive, monthly treatments covered by my Medicare that keep me from dying. Literally. My condition is terminal, but the treatment managed to stop its progression. While I feel like there are part time jobs, or part time professions, I could certainly perform, it could literally lose my coverage that pays for the ungodly expensive monthly infusions. I feel like my life is held hostage by American healthcare.)

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Ccs posted:

You could also start writing stories and trying to grow a following on Royal Road, and not get involved in any of the monetary aspects of publishing. I published through Amazon but to be honest the money I make is almost not worth having to deal with the tax forms at the end of the year, since I have to prepare taxes in 2 countries and having foreign source income increases the chance of audits which is a headache I don't like to think about.

One thing I've decided is worth focusing on in the medium term (the next year or two) is filling up my catalogue with either a couple novels of a mess of short stories before publishing anything. If the monetary proposition of publishing looking like something I could manage, probably using loving lawyers to make sure I don't inadvertently kill myself, it would be a lot less intimidating knowing I had a couple torpedoes in the tube, ready to launch.

If this question is best asked in another thread, please point me there -

What are the best short story avenues for publishing/contests, for the purpose of building a writing CV/resume?

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



divabot posted:

yep - and accumulating a fan base who will then buy your longer works. Thinking of the authors who've started in fanfic and grown a base there who already like their stuff.

Are there any examples I could read about? I'd be really interested in seeing how they managed that, especially in regards to the length of their works.

Small Question - When we talk about targeting a market, what precisely is meant? Is the market defined broadly as "horror" or are we talking "Horror that involves cats in space fighting miniature aliens?"


freebooter posted:

It's been a long time since I published short fiction, but if you want to go down the road of the short fiction version of trad pub (magazines and journals), then Duotrope is (or at least was, circa 2015) an absolutely invaluable resource:

https://duotrope.com/

Helps you keep track of what you've submitted and where, how long you've been waiting to hear back, whether journals permit simultaneous submissions etc. Also IIRC it had a really good filterable search engine so you could be like, OK, show me a fit for my [HORROR] story of [LESS THAN 5,000 WORDS] which [PAYS] and [ACCEPTS SIM-SUBS] from [OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES] etc.

Going down this road is purely for credentials/CV/experience though, you'll barely ever make a dime off it. I think the only piece of fiction I ever published that was financially worth the time was a story I had in Daily Science Fiction, because they were paying like 5c a word and I thought up a gimmick for a piece of flash fiction, wrote it and submitted it in the space of a couple hours. That's generally why I started putting all my energy into publishing longer fiction on Amazon, though I certainly don't regret it and I imagine having a small portfolio of published work would serve me in good stead if I ever try to trad pub long fiction.


:respek:

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Leng posted:

Cassandra Clare. She's traditionally published and massive in the YA urban fantasy niche. She started out as a Harry Potter fanfic writer and had a bunch of viral internet things, including the Very Secret Diaries for the LOTR movies when they first came out, before her first novel came out (and I would guess that a lot of her initial fan base came from people who had already read and enjoyed her fanfics). Extremely divisive due to a crapload of controversies, but whatever you wanna say about her, she's a genius at writing to market and also very commercially successful.

There are broad, umbrella market categories, then specific sub-genres. "Horror" is a genre at large, "YA" is another genre. Some of these can intersect, e.g. "YA horror". Within genres, you can have sub-genres/niches. "Dark fantasy" vs "occult" for example would qualify. A really good way to figure out what niches there are is to look at the Amazon categories. Amazon changes these over time to respond to changes in reader tastes. "LitRPG" and "progression fantasy" for example, weren't things a few years back but now it's a big portion of SFF self-publishing.

Excellent! Thanks for the info.

Now I'm going to be trying to google where the line is for YA Horror. The horror I write has never been particularly gory, and I've always wanted to write a horror-lite story about a restaurant in the sticks getting attacked by a roving band of Sasquatch creatures. :derptiel:

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Sally Forth posted:

I have two friends who made the jump - one got her start by writing very popular (novel, novella, and short story-length) fics in big fandoms and built up enough of a following that, when she published an original novella to AO3, an agent read it, offered her rep, and then sold it for her. Since then she's published a sequel novella and her first novel's just been announced.

Second friend wasn't as well-known in fandom but when she started posting her own original novel to AO3, our first friend publicised it for her (this happened before first friend's professional career had taken off) and a similar thing happened - it was wildly popular, at least one big-name author started talking about it, and she got an agent who later sold it for her. (Not to undersell her work - it's a great story in its own right, but it might not have exploded as it did without the initial visibility).

This is all vanishingly unlikely though, and if you're not interested in fandom for its own sake, I don't think it will be a useful avenue to go down. First friend built up her audience through a decade of genuine engagement (and of course luck played a role - writing the right story to hook the right fandom at the right time).

I'm sorry, but what does AO3 mean? I'm old and easily confused.

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Hearing about the audio book stuff is pretty dang cool, too.

I've always thought about reading books on Youtube. Not sure if that is A Thing and my voice is probably too nasal, but it might be fun. Hearing about audiobook woes would be illuminating.

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Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



I'm curious as to why people would hate self published stuff?

I know it can often mean complete word salad trash, especially pre-internet decades ago. But in today's age, where you can read a page and gauge the competence, why would it receive a negative reaction?

Here is a bad example I've personally encountered - I remember working with a guy in a warehouse who started cranking out self published zombie novels. This was a decade ago, so he did much better than the work warranted. It was really, really bad writing and the dude walked around all :smug: saying, "You know, I AM a published author, so..." and then prattle on with the stupidest poo poo you'd ever heard.

But on the other hand, there is a whole lot of great self published stuff. Especially today, where excellent authors can cut through the Literature Scene and start making copies?

Does everyone just assume self published equals being That Guy who I worked with ages ago, while magically not naming and of the good ones?

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