Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friday Thursday Night at the Question Emporium

I've been trying to get a semi-definitive answer on the following question, but no one seems to have an answer. What would be the ramifications of an author querying a novel in one genre while self-publishing a novel in an unrelated genre via digital means on Amazon and the like?

An author, Nick Harkaway, pointed out that selling something in the range of 20K to 40K words wouldn't cut into any potential deal a press wanted to cut with for the hypothetical print book. True?

True, but let's all settle down and realize that once you're published, you have sales numbers and a track record.

And when you sell 20 copies of The Beast That Ate Cleveland (a rhapsodic love letter to the Mistake on the Lake) I have to explain to an editor why that doesn't translate to you're going to sell only 20 copies of your thriller.

And frankly, that's not the stuff I want to be talking about with a debut author.  I want you to be fresh, unsullied, and brimming with enthusiasm. I want you before publishing reality  has beaten the innocence out of you.

Now, if you sell 2 million copies of THE BEAST BITES CLEVELAND it's  a different matter altogether.

The thing is, authors ALWAYS think they're going to sell more than they do. ALWAYS.  You are NOT the exception to this rule and if you learn one thing today, I hope it's this: you never get a second shot at making your publication debut.

I'm a big fan of aiming for where you want to end up.

There's nothing wrong with publishing shorter works on Amazon first, but it's not some sort of golden ticket to a big-ass book deal.  Not even close.


Stephanie said...

Thanks, I don't think I've ever heard that question answered so simply and clearly.

BP said...

Hahah Holy Cow, Janet Reid. You know how to kick it where it counts. This is why I'm like never publishing a book until I'm 107. Maybe never. Possibly never. So long as there are so many good books to READ out there, I think it's better just to be contented writing for yourself (and to get those neurotic little wackoriffics in your head to settle down)! This was really great, hard core advice! Reason 1 million and 14 why I follow your blogs! Thank you!

anya* said...

Well, that sucks. Haha. But I get what you're saying, even if I really don't want to.

Rose said...

Um. Does that very frightening you-only-get-one-chance-to-be-new warning apply to short stories? I'd like to start (traditionally) publishing short stories, nonfiction articles, etc. I've always heard that such things are helpful, but is there a way that could, in my innate clumsiness, be seen as sullying a publication debut?

Bill Plante said...

Anything wrong with printing short stories on your web site to develop a following? My Friday Story Club is working for me.

Scribble Orca said...

But Janet *raises hand* what about if you *whispers* do it under a different name....?

Michael Seese said...

Ahem. You did NOT just call Cleveland the "Mistake on the Lake."

Janet Reid said...

Michael,heaven forfend. That's the subtitle of the book--did I mention it's an epic poem?

(I picked up "mistake on the lake" from a friend who is from Cleveland. I think it's *hilarious*!)

Michael Seese said...

I didn't realize it was the subtitle. Admittedly, those of us from "The North Coast" can be a little prickly about the "Mistake" thing.

Of course, I still occasionally hear "burning river" jokes.

PS: I hope you have a good time while you're here. If the weather and time allow you to take a 1.4-mile (one way) walk, might I suggest the West Side Market? It's an amazing place. And the Ohio City neighborhood where the Market is located, ain't bad either.

CoreyHaim8myDog said...

Thanks, Janet. That was my question. I'm afraid I didn't make myself clear. I am talking about self-publishing something on Amazon under a pseudonym. That name, in theory, would be divorced from my actual name so that when I query, I'm not tied to the Amazon piece. Unless is should become successful, which as you point out is unlikely.

If I did it under a nom de plume, would there be an issue with representation and of selling the book?