Saturday, May 16, 2015

Query Question: I'm trying to help a friend

I have a question, not a complex question, but I have hit a brick wall in the industry. No one replies. I found your site and was hoping that maybe you would have insight into this and hopefully the time to reply.

As short as I can make it - I create marketing and branding campaigns for actors, artists, and corporations. As a favor to a talented young author, I am going to create some publicity, some articles, to help introduce her name and book in the U.S.. She is in Poland but writes in English. Her book is in the professional editing stage but for this one, she has chosen to self-publish, and she hopes that in the future she will be picked up by a publisher. And so my question:

Is it detrimental for a foreign author writing in English (who is self-publishing her first book) to reveal her foreign location & first language if she wishes to get published in the U.S. sometime in the future? I thought it was mainly translation/language barrier issues that were a problem. I’m helping to market this young foreign author and don’t want to create problems for her later on. Should I conceal this info for now or use it as part of her personal “story” and marketing campaign?<

It doesn't matter at all.
The only thing that matters is the book.
And if she's self-publishing, the only thing that matters is how much she sells.

I have no idea why this author has chosen not to query the old-fashioned way. If her novel is good enough to self-publish, it should be good enough to query.

I'm sure if you've created marketing and branding campaigns for people you'll understand that you have to appeal to readers here. And readers, while they might peruse the ad copy if you've got a good hook, the only thing that is going to persuade them to buy the book is that they want to read it. That means the STORY must be enticing.


Sam Hawke said...

"If her novel is good enough to self-publish, it should be good enough to query."

I love this. It's one thing to decide you want to self publish for business reasons. It shouldn't be because you don't think it's good enough for the traditional market!

Donnaeve said...

Ditto that Sam Hawke!

Regarding marketing appeal to readers, and a good hook, Chuck Wendig's book BLACKBIRDS enticed me with this one liner, "Miriam Black knows when you'll die."

I mean honestly? Does it get any more alluring than that? I had to find out about Miriam Black. Granted, this book didn't fit into all of the books on my shelves, but we know that writers should not only query widely, but read widely. I enjoyed it.

LynnRodz said...

I agree with Janet, what matters is the story. Nobody cares where you're from if you've written a good story. A good example is Tatiana de Rosnay who wrote Sarah's Key in English, it became an international bestseller. Before that all her work was written in French. Nobody cared she was a French writer before she started writing in English.

Ardenwolfe said...

Agreed. No glossy print is going to make me read the book if the first pages are crap.

Perfuming a dud isn't going to get anyone anywhere.

Different languages be damned.

Kitty said...

QUESTION: I apologize if this is off topic. I should have asked this yesterday when Carolynnwith2Ns said...
The novel I am working on now started as a short story about twenty-five years ago.

As it happens, I'm working on something which I started at least twenty-five years ago. In it I mention a pink teddy bear diaper pin. My question is: Does everyone know what a diaper pin is? Or should I change it to something else (which is not a problem)?

Colin Smith said...

I, too, agree with Janet. Both because she's correct, and because summer's about to start here on Carkoon (yukk) and I'm hoping she'll give me leave to visit Amy in Paradise. :)

And on a completely different yet very important note, Gary Corby's latest Athenian Mystery, DEATH EX MACHINA, comes out on Tuesday. Of course, I have my copy on pre-order. :D

LynnRodz said...

Opps! I hit publish before I finished. (Does that mean I'm published? Okay, never mind.) The real question is why is she going the self-publishing route? Has she already queried her heart out and found no takers? (I know, I'm repeating what Janet said, but the question needs to be emphasized.) If she did, and she couldn't find an agent, then maybe her novel isn't ready to be self-published either.

If she didn't, I would tell your friend to go the traditional route first. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain. (Except time, of course.) If she doesn't find an agent, and she believes in her work, she can always go ahead and self-publish.

Colin Smith said...

Kitty: My quick answer--you can do one of two things: 1) Leave it and let people Google if they don't know. 2) Use context to give the reader an idea of what a diaper pin does without actually explaining what it is.

LynnRodz said...

Kitty, I think it depends on the age of your readers. The generations before disposable diapers all know what a diaper pin is, I'm not so sure about those young whippersnappers who came along afterwards.

Anonymous said...

I've probably told this story before, I'm kind of like Grandpa sitting in his rocking chair telling stories everyone has heard a dozen times and no one wanted to hear the first time, but it may be appropriate if some haven't heard it.

Odessa, Texas holds their rodeo, horse show, and stock show at the end of December and beginning of January. It isn't terribly cold, but it's cold enough for horses and cattle to have their fuzzy winter coats on.

Even so, most of the horses in the show are slick as a button and shiny. But lo there appeared one in the working cow horse class who was shaggy as he could be. The cowboy was clean, but he wasn't wearing fancy clothes and chaps. His horse certainly wasn't decked out in a new saddle dripping with show silver. He was a working cowboy straight off the ranch and he was entered in the working cow horse class.

The judge examined the bit and said, "Your horse is a little rough looking isn't he, son?"

"Well, my horse has to work for a living, sir."

Then he proceeded to post top score in the class and win the show beating out all the pretty horses.

That's sort of the way I look at writing. My book has to work for a living. I know there are examples of someone promoting the fire out of a book until it catches on, but in the end, for me, it comes down to the writing.

Julie said...

Kitty, actually, I was born when there were still diaper pins a-plenty but still, I also have kids who aren't TOO venerable, 9 & 12, and when they were born, the big issue was diapers in landfills. Diaper services, while not TERRIBLY popular, were still making enough of a comeback that probably many younger-than-me moms got to know about the pointy end of the pin (and their babies, too).

To the OP, 1. Not-America can be good. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but 2. As w/everyone else, story, story, story. 3. Not going to jump on the "why self-pub?" Bandwagon, because that question becomes more of a personal and complex choice as time goes by (cue music). Clearly, I'm a traditionalist, but I see the other side as well. And 4) I reached for my first Reacher last night, as Penny will soon be done. I will say this. Someone had better help me find my next series, 'cause it ain't gonna take me long to rip through this one.

Off to NH today, I hope, to do some on site research for the MS. Wrote 7000 words yesterday. Almost there.....


Har de Gar Gar Gar

Anonymous said...

"I have no idea why this author has chosen not to query the old-fashioned way. If her novel is good enough to self-publish, it should be good enough to query."

Usually, yes. There is the exception story as always. On B&W, one of our favorite writers was working on a lovely historical romance set in Wales. She'd post bits and pieces on the forums and we were all in love with it. Then she started having medical problems. She joked about getting out her tin foil hat to ward off whatever was attacking her brain.

She had MS. It took her down pretty quickly to a point she struggled to function, but she wanted to finish this book. Her husband bailed, further devastating her and we thought we were going to lose her a few times. A friend who has an indie publishing company offered to publish the book if she'd finish it. I was beta reading for her and cheerleading. I'm a pretty good cheer leader at times.

She dug deep and finished the book, but just didn't have the strength, and frankly didn't know if she had the time, to go through the query process and self-published. Diana Gabaldon did a blurb for her.

So, there are very unusual times when that seems to be the only option, but that's an extreme case. And that brings up another sore spot. When writers complain that they can't write because...some stupid excuse, I think of Lynne laboriously working through the fog and hitting one letter at a time to finish a long historical I want to shake perfectly healthy writer and tell them to quit whining.

LynnRodz said...

Julie, that's why I put in parenthesis "except time, of course" and my thoughts went along those lines of your friend, Lynne. I'm glad she was able to finish her novel. Perhaps the OP's friend doesn't have the time required either.

Anonymous said...


As I said, Lynne, is an exceptional case. I have no idea why the OP has chosen to self publish and, honestly, it's her decision if she does.

Another friend and I have discussed it. We've given our works this year to find an agent and then we look at other options, including self publishing or shelving ne'er to see the light of day.

There's a youtube video a listen to frequently as mood music for my Civil War WIP.

I look at the pictures and wonder what stories go along with them. What journey did they take? So it goes for all of us. We're all on our own journey.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Kitty, if the diaper pin denotes era, it's a great idea. If your story is today, it denotes environmentalism. At least that's how I see it.

My story is sci fi so twenty-five years is an eye blink.

Dena Pawling said...

“she has chosen to self-publish, and she hopes that in the future she will be picked up by a publisher.”

Does she want THIS book to be picked up by a traditional publisher later, or does she want a FUTURE book to be traditional? I think that distinction is important.

Is she self-publishing on Amazon or other international entity?

Does she have English-speaking beta readers? Is the book currently being professionally edited by someone who speaks English well? I've read books written by authors with English as a second language, and sometimes it's a struggle to finish them, even if they're really good.

Is the book set in Poland and/or is it a memoir? Then I definitely would use her location in the advertising,

And what does the author want you to do? Does she want her location/first language advertised, or not? I think her opinion absolutely matters, altho you can feel free to try to change her mind. But I wouldn't do anything she didn't agree with.

So I guess I have more questions than answers here. You can just ignore me.

Karen McCoy said...

Dena: They're all good questions--and shows that Julie is right--every journey is different. And every author has their own set of questions to answer.

Ditto 2N's--some people are still using cloth diapers for sustainability reasons. Perhaps that might be the context Kitty can use to clarify? Or, like Colin said, people who are curious enough can Google.

Anyone here going to BEA? I'll be there, and I'd love to meet some folk both on and off Carkoon.

In the meantime, I'll be flitting off to Vegas for the weekend...

Shaunna said...

I take issue with the "good enough to self-publish = good enough to query." There are a limited number of agents in any given genre, all with limited tastes in that genre. An agent passing on something because it's "not for (her)" can mean many things, but I believe it's possible for a good, publishable novel to be "not for any agent." Why do we assume that all good manuscripts will find agents? And why do we assume that a manuscript that has been queried widely without being offered representation is not ready to be published? If it's based on taste, then obviously some good stuff will not get picked up. And if it's based on "publish ability," then why don't agents come clean about that? And if it is, who made them the ultimate judges? I don't know the particulars of this questioner's author, but I do know that many great books are not picked up by agents, for one reason or another. That doesn't make them unpublishable. It bothers me that many agents I follow and authors I know look down their noses at self-published authors. I, for one, am grateful for the opportunity to share my stories in a way that wasn't possible even twenty years ago. I've done the querying widely thing, and while I appreciate the inherently refining process of it all, I certainly don't believe that, because an infinitesimally small percentage of readers didn't love my manuscript, there are none who will. I respect Ms. Reid and follow the antics of my fellow woodland creatures with interest (though usually without comment), but I couldn't sit silently by on this one. On a wholly subjective industry like this one, we should not make such gargantuan assumptions. It only hurts us as an industry and alienates us from the very readers whose loyalty we're trying to win.

Julie said...

Carolynn - And once again, said more concisely and eruditely than I put it. :)

Julie - Ditto.

Cheers. It took some convincing to get La Grande Fromage on board with my "Let's go to NH! I need to investigate whether or not a yacht could really do what I think it could do and by the way I want to see the scenery again for my descriptive scenes and c'mon, please?" excitement, but now, a couple of hours later, the dog's in the kennel, the kids are grumbling about what they wanted to do but are making PB&J's and tuna sandwiches and packing bathing suits for the hotel which I've just booked - and (SQUEEE!!!!) I WON ONE! This is so exquisitely rare that I feel overwhelmed and I'm vommenting my excitement right here and right now. THIS is why I busted my rump in Barnes/Noble yesterday for eight hours - so I could say, "See? See? I'm just about to finish, so pleeeeeease, can we go so I can get this done before Memorial Day Weekend comes and the crowds hit?"

Anyway, I'm off. Thanks for putting up with the excited-kid bit above. :D


Jed Cullan said...

I'm not sure about the "Good enough to self publish, good enough to query" thing. There are thousands of self published books which are out there that aren't good enough for either. But they are out there. The problem with self published books (not all, of course) is the author thinks they are ready, when they aren't. Anyone and their dog can shove a book on Amazon nowadays, doesn't mean for a second they can write.

Yesterday, for example, I was asked to look at an author's self published book. I did. And it wasn't good. Forget about whatever the story was about, the writing was terrible. Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and they had no idea how dialogue tags work. So, it's good to have someone else look at your work before, and I do mean before, you self publish.

As for the foreign aspect, well, it can be a good thing, or a bad thing. If they are wanting to grab an American audience, it would help to have someone go through it and make the wording more Americanized.

I've had a well known agent tell me my writing is too "British" before, which would be a hard sell in America. Considering I get thousands of views on my blog a month from America alone, not sure what to make of that. Perhaps that number would increase dramatically if I Americanized my writing, and what I wrote about?

Pharosian said...

@Shaunna - I totally agree! We've all heard about the authors of amazing books who were rejected by 30 or 50 agents (or more!), and then went on to become best sellers. How long is an author supposed to wait for someone in the publishing world not only to recognize the merit of the story but ALSO to be in a position to take it on (right genre, right time, slots available. . .)?

@Julie Weathers - Along these lines, I think setting a finite window to get an agent is a good idea, then as you say, look at other options. But regarding the option of "shelving ne'er to see the light of day," NO! No, no, no, no, NO! After all I've heard about Far Rider, and your repeated demonstrations that you know how to tell a story, I want to read it! And I bet a lot of others just reading this blog do, too.

DLM said...

Jed, I'd buy your work! :)

Shaunna, the problem is that novels are novels but that is a distinct proposition from trying to publish via representation - which is when a novel has to be a product. I have a good novel. Unfortunately, it's not a good product right now because, as you point out, agents have limited genre interests, and limited interests within those they rep (which can chage) - AND market demands alter what is sellable.

Right now, as a debut novelist, selling a story about pretty much the ultimate white dude in power isn't an easy proposition (especially with a homophobic subplot which really can't be cut). So: I have a good novel. Lying fallow. It's great writing, I'm an author willing to take direction, I and the novel are READY for publication.

And it doesn't matter. I don't have anything (YET) an agent can sell right now.

So. Working on the WIP.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the publishing business is like in Poland. It may be, in Poland, that agents aren't commonly used.

Here in Canada, if you're going to get published in Canada, you don't really need an agent. I heard a statistic from the Writer's Union of Canada (a professional writers' organization) that said that, in the US, 95% of books sold are agented and 5% aren't. In Canada, 5% are agented, and 95% are not. That was about 10 years ago, but it's not much different now. We only have 2 of the Big 5 based in Canada, and those are Harlequin (yes, Harlequin is a Canadian company, based in Toronto) and Penguin Canada, a Canadian subsidiary of a large American publisher. Most Canadian publishers are fairly small.

So it may be that this Polish woman - and her publicist - may not know the American publishing industry. There may also be political or financial barriers unique to Poland that makes self-publishing a better path for a young novelist's first book.

It sounds like the self-publishing is already the chosen path. The real question is, will her non-American-ness keep her from getting an American audience in the future? The answer, as Janet says, is NO.
So should the questioner hide her Polish background? No need to hide it. Should the questioner include her Polish background in the advertising? Sure. Should the questioner *focus* on her Polish background? Only if it is a big part of her novel - it's set in Poland, it has a Polish character, it's a memoir. If it isn't any of these things, then don't focus on it. But don't worry about people finding out she's Polish.

When the author does decide to go the traditional route, though, get an agent, preferably in the country the agent wants the book to be published in. Even if the publishing industry in that country doesn't require an agent (like Canada), having an agent can help protect the author and forward her interests in a different country. And make sure the author researches agents fully, so they know what a good agent does and what a fraudulent agent asks for. It can be very difficult to manage business of any sort from another country, and you want to be sure to have a partner (agent) you can trust.

Kitty: I know what a diaper pin is, but I'm of that age. I don't know if very many people today will have experienced any diaper that doesn't glue itself together. A few, maybe - I know there's the option to go cloth, but I don't know if today's cloth diapers even use pins anymore. I think you need to decide how important the diaper pin is (you said it's easy to change), and what you want it to say about your character or your story.

Julia: Hope you're having a fun day!

Jed: I wouldn't change how you write at this time. There are people who read foreign authors simply because they aren't Americanized all over the place. I would ask other agents for advice before changing how you write your novels - but if they all say 'Americanize it', then maybe that's what needs to be done.

And heavens no - don't change how you write your blog posts. Those blog posts are you, a person, keeping in touch with other people. It's where readers go to find out about the author they're reading. Blog posts should be your voice, the voice you use when talking to friends. Don't take on an artificial style in a personal medium like a blog.

Shaunna: The questioner made it clear that the author wants to publish traditionally in the future. So the question is, why not now?

Colin Smith said...

Shaunna: "Why do we assume that all good manuscripts will find agents?" I don't believe that was the assumption. I think the point is, if it's good enough to publish, it should be at the point where ANY and EVERY novel SHOULD be before you query. So why not query, especially if you eventually want to be published the traditional route one day anyway? If it's rejected by every agent, then no harm, go ahead and self-publish. But an agent might jump on it, and you're on your way to being trad. published! If it's never your intention to be traditionally published, then that's perfectly OK. Don't query your queriable novel! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I can't edit my previous post, but I made a possibly confusing typo in my post:

"When the author does decide to go the traditional route, though, get an agent, preferably in the country the agent wants the book to be published in."

I meant, in the country the AUTHOR wants the book to be published in.


Oh, and regarding the environmentally better diapers? Many of those also have re-stickable closures. So even if the reader is going environmentally friendly, they might not know what a diaper pin is for.

Anonymous said...


NO! No, no, no, no, NO! After all I've heard about Far Rider, and your repeated demonstrations that you know how to tell a story, I want to read it!---

I'll still be writing when Will hauls me off the the old writers rest home. I'm just not going to keep hammering one book forever. There are more stories to be told.

Sometimes you just need to yell calf rope and move on, though.

Julie said...

Julie - Lived in Arkansas for a few years; taught science (and a whole lot of life skills) and met my husband there. I miss the rolling thunder and the smell afterwards; the way the warm reassurance of the farms hung in the dust and the air all the time - every moment of every day, as though the poverty that went hand in fist with it didn't matter a whit; and the way that if you saw a friend's car coming, you both just stopped in the road and rolled down the windows to talk. I get the sense you live somewhere not very different.

As for having a good time, Bach and Sarah MacLachlan in the CD player, little villages and rolling greenery out the windows, kids snoozing in the back and my husband at the wheel while multiple endings vie for pole position in my head.


Unknown said...

I wonder why the Polish author is writing in English. It is hard to command a second language, to write as one would in one's mother tongue. English is not just English as BJ remarks it is also Canadian, British, American, etc. I wonder why the writer doesn't want to write in Polish and pay for a good translation. Maybe they have.

This question comes at a good time for me because I am translating for a Czech friend who wrote a memoir in Italian. I plan to help her query it, thus market it.

As of self publishing from Poland I am curious to know how things work there. It's a country which has a past quite different from "Western" countires that have profited from a different kind of politics for the last 70 years.

Here in France it is still quite rare to see a kindle or tablet on the metro. Most people have not heard of self-puplishing on Amazon. No idea about Poland.

Considering how different publishing is in Europe, I tend to think that this writer may lead their market in their country by self-publishing. Maybe not, I've never been to Poland. But consider that self publishing via Amazon in France and Italy and MFAs in creative writing are almost non existent.

I think it would also depend much on what the writer is producing. If it is memoir or non-fiction, being from Poland might be very important. if it is fiction I don't see any difference.

I think of Susanna Tamaro. "Follow Your Heart" one of her 20 books was published in 33 countries. She writes in Italian.

I had to choose beer among cappucino and espresso. Must be a sign.

Craig F said...

It is a wonderful thing for a writer to be audacious. I get the feel that there is something deeper than that here. A kind of arrogance. I have never checked on the writing situation in Eastern Europe but I have met Eastern European arrogance.

This reeks of it. I am going to go and conquer America. You will help me.

Notice that the use of an agent is not mentioned. It is a statement of intention. The writer truly believes that they will be the next big thing. From a self published book straight to a publishing contract.

It has happened once or twice so it is possible. I really do wish you the best. I hope no one is let down too much.

DLM said...

Hi, Angie! I know several authors for whom English is a second language, but their command of it is exquisite. Many ESL authors choose English for market reasons, and if the author above is hoping to break into U.S. publishing, I would assume this is at play.

Or maybe it's just the challenge, and/or love of something they have worked so hard to master. If we choose to learn a new tongue in order to communicate beyond our starting points, why *not* write in it!? :)

Most ESL speakers I know have great facility with what is after all an extremely unusual and difficult language; it is instructive to listen to and to read their work. It's more than I've ever done (I've all but lost German, and really never mastered Spanish).

Anonymous said...

To the author, I wish you all the best whichever path you choose. Whether this book or the next, don't give up writing. Let us know how it goes.

Marsha Skrypunch is a Ukrainian Canadian who has written more books about Armenian immigrants than any English-speaking author. She in her own words, writes about people who give up everything that is dear to travel to a new world.

She was rejected 100 times before SILVER THREADS was published. Don't give up.

Anonymous said...


Many Polish speakers can speak and write flawless English. As well, the novel is being professionally edited, so any problems with her English will probably be found and corrected.


I don't see this writer being any more arrogant than American writers. Less so, even. She "hopes that in the future she will be picked up by a publisher", which is nothing more than most of us are hoping. I suppose we could be seen as being arrogant for deigning to think we might be in that small percentage of writers who will ever be traditionally published.

Many non-Eastern Europeans self-publish in an attempt to kickstart their careers. Many will get their novels professionally edited. Many will hire publicists. And that is what most self-publishers need to do in order to catch the attention of a traditional publisher.

Julie said...

Angie makes a good point about different English dialects in readership from an online pub perspective; even FB breaks readership English down into American, UK, and now - believe it or not - even Pirate English (I have 9 of these readers. Who the heck they are is beyond me, but that isn't the point). Awareness of the difference and your primary readers should be info that is accessible and then maybe go into the translation, but I would think those nuances would be easier accomplished by a professional translator after written into native language - but that's just me.

I am an American writing for readers on both sides (until this month) of the Atlantic with a primarily UK setting, so I spend a lot of time min/maxing those ads and watching the numbers - and this is for a series that hasn't yet seen the light of day, except in minimalist snippets and teasers here and there. But I take it seriously. Again, my opinion. Nevertheless, for what it's worth, my top reader languages are Amer English, UK English, Thai, and Armenian. Spanish isn't even in the top ten. Make of that what you will, but it matters to me, anyway.

At hotel! :)


Anonymous said...

I said: "I don't see this writer being any more arrogant than American writers."

I'm sorry. I meant *some* American writers. There are some similarly arrogant Canadian writers, too. As, I'm sure, there are anywhere.

I'm sorry if it looked like I was painting everyone with the same brush. That was the exact opposite of my meaning.

Amy Schaefer said...

I have seen a lot of agents asking for stories set outside the US. I don't think any of us need to Americanize our work to get it read. Put another way, having a non-American story isn't the issue. Write a good story. Full stop.

Kitty, most cloth diapers are held together with Velcro now. As someone mentioned, keep the pin if it indicates the place/era of your story. If not, change it.

Kitty said...

Thanks to everyone who answered my diaper pin question.

Craig F said...

"Ugly American" is a term for a reason. I don't think my previous comment defines the term though.

The intention of that comment was to warn the questioner. It seems to me that the 'talented young writer' is arrogant in her beliefs. We do not know the whole story but deciding to self publish without trying any other way is a form of arrogance.

I know that there are as many reasons to write as there are writers. The choice of self publishing is the same. There are some spectacular self published books. Those usually ended up self published because they did not fit the genre of the day when they were queried.

My fear is that the writer might not do as well as expected. Then the blame might fall on the publicist.

That would be a shame because I feel that is the biggest fail of self publishing. How hard it is to get publicity. Without good publicity it is almost impossible to get the attention of a publisher.

That might be a worse downer than counting rejection slips or devising a plan to make your bathroom floor from them.

Donnaeve said...

I love reading all of the perspectives about self publishing and the persona attributed to that.

Atoll Amy more or less expressed my thought after catching up on comments, which, in my own words, is this; Write a stupendous, superb story. Write a story that makes someone's heart race, and their mouth go dry. Write a story that makes them cry. Write a story they see themselves in.

Anything other than that, to query or not, is on the writer. It's their decision.

On the American thing..., I too have experienced Eastern European arrogance - and I don't mean to drag us into a rat hole, but these experiences always bothered me.

Bear with me while I share, 'cause I'm having me a Julie moment, and I only wish I could be as damn funny.

I traveled overseas, on a couple of mission trips to the Ukraine - before it got crazy over there. I've experienced full blown anti-American sentiments as I traveled through different airports. We were "schooled" not to laugh too loud, to talk about our "wealth," or to state we were American. As if we were ignorant, and that's how we would behave. As if we thought we were better than everyone else, and had no common sense.

I honestly wanted to flip everyone off at that point and say, well hell, FRIDAY you! Except, well, I was on a mission trip. That wouldn't set such a great example, would it?

Anyway, at one point in an airport on Planet Earth, I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said, "I HATE AMERICA."

I saw a United Airlines plane land at another Planet Earth location with the American flag on a tail wing and a child asked his mother something in their native tongue while pointing at the plane. I understood, "Americans," from her, and then there was a bit more, and the boy JEERED, "something, something, something, bah! Americans!"

In another country I'd been told I needed to stand my ground in order to board public transportation, and so, I did, and was promptly chewed out by a local, whose spittle landed all over my face, their diatribe ending with AMERICAN something or other! I was almost in tears when it was all over.

I had money stolen from me from "employees" hired to cook/clean for the mission group while we were at the children's home we were rebuilding. My husband had his watch stolen.

I kept quiet, kept my head down, and did my work on both trips. I came home. I had no desire to travel to certain places again.

So. I'm not thinking anything in particular here other than I sort of know what Craig means. I felt like a doormat in some places over there. I don't know how to interpret the young Polish writer's intentions with self-publishing, other than what I said above, which is, it's simply their choice.

Oh, and that I wish them well on their writing journey.

Julie said...

Donnaeve - wow.

Anonymous said...

While it may sometimes (even often) be the case, it is not always the case that self-published means 'rejected by every agent/publisher around so now I'm going it alone'

I self-publish by choice: I get far better royalties, I choose all my own covers, and I get to learn in a fast-paced, terrifying, and insanely interesting industry. It's certainly not easy, but I wouldn't give it up for worlds. I had a reasonable amount of interest from publishers before I decided to go indie, and my reviews have been almost completely positive. We don't all self-publish because we aren't 'good enough'. Sometimes a niche is just too much of a risk for a publisher but viable for a self-publisher.

So I very much appreciate Janet's remarks. It would take a heck of a good deal to make me go with a traditional publisher.

QOTKU- In such a case I would definitely query for an agent, just in case you think I'm against the establishment :D I very much appreciate the usefulness of agents. Please don't send me to Carkoon :D

Sam Hawke said...

People above have said this but just in case my earlier comment was misunderstood - I was not saying that not finding an agent means you're not good enough to be published. I was just agreeing with Janet that if you WANT to go traditional, and you think your book is good enough that you'd be happy to self publish it, then query it!

Nothing wrong with making the business decision to self publish if that's what you want. Nor is the fact that you queried and didn't find an agent proof that your book isn't good enough to publish. I think our Sharkiness was just saying if the book is at the standard that you'd be willing to self publish, that should be the same standard that you'd query at if you want to go traditional.

Unknown said...

Sam- I very much appreciated and very much agree with both your comments :)

Kitty said...

Underpants :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Big question to close on, do they eat lima beans and kale in Poland?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I wasn't sipping my tea, cos Kitty's remark would have sent tea snorting out my nose.

Thanks for that, Kitty :D

Donnaeve said...

Ha, Kitty, way to lighten things up!

FYI all... this is worth reading. It's the latest Author Earnings Report regarding e-book sales, and speaks about e-book pricing and self publishing.

Check it out:

On to the second cup of coffee and to feed the birds.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

@ LynnRodz - I love that!!
"Have you been published?"
"Yes." (I have authored a book, and my comments have been publicly 'published.') = I am a published author.

@ DonnaEve - So sorry you had such negative experiences while only trying to help people in their country.

Unknown said...

Hello everyone. I'm the "author" of this question (does that mean I'M "published?"). I feel like I'm a week late to a party!

This is a great, active blog. I wish I'd find such participation in my own areas of interest. I was away and came back to this amazing thread - so many ideas and opinions - they're all valuable, thank you all. Thank you also, Janet Reid, for posting this and for replying.

To answer or clarify, although late, I'll say this. The reason this author is writing in English is because she's interested in the American market. Additionally, an overwhelming number of Poles and Europeans in general study English in school and are fluent. Yes, she plans to self publish using, among others, Amazon. It's available in Poland. The genre is best described as "epic fantasy." Not strictly fantasy, it borders on science fiction but isn't science fiction.

There are several reasons the author is self publishing. From her research on Polish publishers, she concluded that at her young age and with a first book, she has little to no chance of being published there through manuscript submission. I only say what she told me - I don't know first hand. She's been writing from the age of 8 and amassed quite a lot of material, none of which she feels is viable for publishing. It's a passion. She doesn't enjoy writing short stories, so she embarked on this major project. It's a novel in 5 books. The first is complete. The second, in the first draft stage. The third through fifth have been laid out. She writes because she loves it and has no great expectation of it being picked up commercially due to its format, genre, length and her lack of prior successes. This can be alien to some who would only embark on a task, particularly a major endeavor, if money were the goal.

I completely relate because I do it myself. I've been oil painting, 6 x 4 foot historical images - for almost 30 years. I do it out of the love of it. I've had a couple shows and an article written up about me, but I don't care if I sell and I didn't like the "celebrity" that the shows brought me - people recognizing me in stores, for example - not my cup of tea. So I paint one, put it away in the barn and start the next one. Because I love painting. It's not about money or recognition.

(continued in next post....)

Unknown said...


This young author is very unassuming and humble about her book or her commercial chances. She wants people to enjoy the book. She loves writing, she wants to share it. Is she "good enough?" Is her work "good enough?" I can't answer that. I enjoyed it. I met her while working on another unrelated project. I appreciated her dedication to her passion and her humility - that's the reason I volunteered to help with publicity. I'm not charging her. If I can help, I'm glad to. I've been offered lucrative contracts in the past with some very...let's say, less than pleasant...actors that I have refused. Life's too short.

This author has created a world different from anything I've read, along with dozens of professional quality illustrations - at least I'm qualified to judge that if not the writing!

As far as the editor is concerned, thank you for the advice to have this person be a native-English speaker. I'll pass that along. As far as what SHE wants - I agree entirely, it comes down to that. If she's not comfortable with her Polish origin being known I wouldn't force the issue. But if it doesn't harm her and she feels comfortable with it, I'll reveal it. That's the reason I posted my question - she was "ok" with my suggestion that we reveal it, but then I thought, "What if I'm wrong and harm her in the future."

Finally, as for approaching U.S. publishers, again, she felt that her genre made it a difficult path. She thought she wouldn't be considered due to her age and lack of prior proven successes. Again, I know nothing about - I don't know about publishing. What she wants is to have her book "out there," being read.

Thanks again!

AJ Blythe said...

paz y puente, one thing I've learnt here is that age doesn't matter. The author doesn't need to reveal their age (unless they get to contract signing time and are under legal age).

Nor does lack of prior proven success, for that matter. It's why we (blog community) discuss everything even closely related to 'getting published' with such passion.

If you read back over Janet's blog posts you'll see it so clearly (I'm surprised it's not a watermark on the page):
The only thing that matters is the writing!

Unknown said...

AJ Blythe - I'm starting to get the idea that what matters is the writing. :D Thanks for your comment. I've had an email exchange with the author with my findings and the advice that I've gathered myself. Now the only thing that is really making her feel that perhaps she should not query is that at the moment this first book is at about 160k words, and if I remember correctly from what I've looked up, I thought it was preferred by most publishers that manuscripts stick to 90k to 100k words - is that right? I think that after hearing different opinions, if this were my own book I would go ahead and try submitting the manuscript anyway (after editing), but it's not my call.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

@Shaunna and Colin ...

Thanks for this discussion about "if it's good enough ...".

I have this novel. It's really good. Or, it was good a year ago, when it had been through beta readers and revisions and I was ready to start querying.

I've been querying for a year. The novel is now trash.