Different Paths to Publication

I’m continuing my summaries of sessions I attended during Sleuthfest 2017 with the Saturday afternoon session titled “Different Paths to Publication.” This panel included Lynnette Hallberg, Sharon Potts, John Keyse-Walker, and Dan Ames with Gregg Brickman moderating.

Dan Ames started the conversation by comparing the three common ways of being published today: traditional (large publishing house), small press, and Independent (self-publishing). He said the positive aspect of the small press is it gives you a more intimate relationship. The negative is they provide little marketing. Indie publishing, he said, is good for a control freak…and for someone who knows marketing. (He knows marketing.)

Sharon Potts talked about Oceanview Publishing. http://oceanviewpub.com/ . It began as a small press but has been growing. She said it produces hardcover, trade paperback, and ebooks. The editorial is lighter than with traditional publishers.

Regarding self-publishing, Sharon said it was easier 5 years ago. She mentioned that Amazon now has its own imprints. Thomas & Mercer does the mysteries.

John Keyse-Walker talked about his experience. He won (over 400 entries) the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award contest. Because of that win, the book was published by Minotaur without an agent. The contest opened doors for John’s book to become a part of the Macmillan Group.

Lynnette Hallberg said rejection occurs: they’ll call your baby ugly. Agatha Christie had 5 years of rejections. JK Rowlings had 12 rejections. And Kathryn Stockett’s book Help was rejected 60 times.

Lynnette said no one comes to you. You have to get your manuscript out, and you have one chance to make a first impression. If rejected, you may need to put the book aside and start another. Just remember, a rejection is 1 person’s opinion. It’s not a personal insult. She emphasized: DO NOT RETALIATE BY INSULTING THE AGENT OR EDITOR.

If a manuscript is rejected, your choices are:
1. Consider revising it.
2. Use a Beta reader to get feedback.
3. Set it aside.
4. Send it out again.

One thing she mentioned is, if an editor asks to see it again (if changes made), do send it back.

Enter contests if an agent or editor is a final judge. Go to conferences. Try any opportunity. What you try may fail, but it may lead to something that succeeds.

Sharon said to keep writing. For her the second book was better and the 3rd book she wrote got her an agent. But even thought the agent was good, the agent still couldn’t sell that book. She chose to stay with the agent, but wonders how her career might have gone if she’d done otherwise.

It is easier to get an agent if you’re published, but your track record will have an influence. Sales figures are important. Her recommendation is keep your own best interest in mind.

A first sale does not immediately lead to more sales. Sometimes a line closes.

John said just keep writing. Writing will lead to sales which will carry you forward.

Sharon mentioned that 16 years ago choices were limited. There were only a handful of major publishing houses. There are more options now. More opportunities if you know where to look. She suggested subscribing to Publishers Weekly ($25/mo) http://www.publishersweekly.com/. That will let you see who’s buying what; i.e., what publisher might buy your book. She, too, said conference attendance helps.

Dan mentioned Wattpad (www.wattpad.com ). He loves self-publishing. He said if an agent doesn’t work, try other ways. Wattpad is a slush pile for agents.

Lynnette said she writes, then gives the work time, then goes back and fixes it. She said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Most mention they’d had more than one agent over their careers.

I know there is a lot I missed, and if I misquoted anyone, I apologize. It was a good panel.

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8 Responses to Different Paths to Publication

  1. Many nuggets of wisdom here, Maris. There are so many options for writers today, which is a two-edged sword. Traditional publishing gives a sense of validation, but no control. Indie publishing gives a writer all the control, the downside is it gives the writer all the control LOL

  2. Maris,

    Thanks for sharing all of this info with us. I’m still confused as to the bet approach, but you’ve given us more to think about and consider.

  3. Maris Soule says:

    Now you have me confused, Jacqueline. Bet approach? Did you mean best approach? If so, I think it’s an “It all depends” answer. It depends on how much control the author wants, the marketability of the story (will it be worth it, in the eyes of the marketing department, to publish this book?), and how much time an author has to do his/her own publishing and marketing.

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    Wonderful post! Many authors are blending the different paths and doing more than one at a time!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Melissa, I can really understand why writers are doing that. Not all writers or books fit the New York publishers’ criteria, yet they’re good writers and/or good books. Thank goodness we have alternatives.

  5. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Hi Maris,
    Interesting summary of the panels reply!

    Great interview for The Big Thrill.