Saturday, December 31, 2016

How debut do I really have to be?

From reading both this blog and queryshark, I know being a debut author with no prior publication credits as far as novels go help your odds when submitting to agents.

I will soon have the opportunity to collaborate with a more established author on a setting book for a tabletop roleplaying game.

If this is published and my name is listed as one of the authors, does this mean I will no longer be considered a debut author to prospective agents?

Or is being a contributor for an rpg book more like writing a short story for an anthology? To my knowledge, publication credits of short stories for literary magazines and such are an asset when it comes to submitting to agents.

If doing this would harm later chances at publication of my debut novel, do you think I should defer this chance to collaborate until some other time? If it will help my odds, is there any reason not to do it?

First rule of writing: don't turn down paying gigs!

But to answer your question: you're in no danger here of not being a debut novelist. IF some sort of contest requires you to have published nothing previously (ie not just no previous novels) well, you'll have to pass that one by, but "debut" is mostly a tool for marketing and publicity.

Your novel will be your debut novel.

Much like your eldest daughter is your first daughter even if she has an older brother.

Here's what you need to remember: the reason everyone is on the hunt for debut novels is not cause they're debuts, it's cause we won't have to explain why your last novel didn't sell well. Career resuscitation is not for the faint of heart, agent or author.

Thus, sales for a book for the roleplaying game industry with a specific target audience won't have much bearing on whether an indie bookstore in Dubuque, or the crime list buyer at B&N will want to stock your novel.

32 comments:

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

And here I was worried about all the non-fic articles and short story sales under my belt...

Not.

I follow Rule #1: don't turn down paid work. Sure, being pubbed may disqualify me from a couple of things, but it opens me up to a whole lot of other things i couldn't do if I was unpubbed, like enter the Aurealis awards, enter the RITAs, the Nebulas, etc., make sales, be read...

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Opie: Congrats! Though I'm not an rpg person, my son is. When he was in high school, the group played at my home.

First rule of writing: don't turn down paying gigs!

Glad to hear this as I've a published book and a couple of team collaborations in non-fic. I had assumed I'd still be a debut if I wrote a story. Now the Shark has confirmed it.

Back to the revisioning. Today I'm excited about it. A couple days ago...not so much. Some chapters need to be replaced. A few threads need to be tucked in. It's an unwieldy mess but its structure is holding together! Yay!

Happy New Year, Reiders! It's such a blessing to be part of this Reef.

And best wishes for your 2017, O QOTKU. May you find several more scintillating debut authors for us to read. (Brought to us through your stable of authors, of course!)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

“Much like your eldest daughter is your first daughter even if she has an older brother.”
Love it.

Is this the same as your first wife is your wife even if she leaves you for your best friend, marries, has three kids, divorces, comes back as grandma to your first daughter’s daughter after your daughter’s older brother went to Washington state to live in a treehouse with your best friends youngest daughter who he had six months after marrying HIS first wife. It was a shotgun wedding, as you know, even though you always thought the kid was yours. That’s why you told your son that his treehouse companion might actually be his half-sister, which really pissed off your first wife. She filed for a second divorce, yesterday. Can’t blame her, you cad.

HAPPY NEW YEAR Reiders.

Amy Schaefer said...

Carolynn, you always give me a laugh.

Happy New Year! Here's to an excellent 2017 for one and all.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"First rule of writing: don't turn down paying gigs!"

But seriously.

Though many may not agree with me but a second or third rule might be don't turn down unpaid gigs if they build your writing portfolio.

After ten years of nursing a quiet keyboard, (family, job, blah, blah, blah) an unpaid column got me back. After a year and a half I was able to get the gig I have now which is minuscule but pays. It keeps my name out there and illustrates to agents and editors that I am a pro (hahaha) and feeds my writing ego, which had been on a diet way too long.
Some writers feel they should never write for free. I agree. Sometimes money isn't the only currency.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I too am being considered for a similar gig- so what a timely post. Good to know. Happy freaking New Year everyone.

Donnaeve said...

Wow, I've never heard of this "rpg," thing. Role playing games? Whatever happened to checkers?

The gaming industry is huge. (yuge?) I can never say huge now and not think of Bernie.

Anyway. Maybe it was the coffee - but I knew the answer! Woohoo.

Happy New Year early, Reiders. (Sidebar, if you type Happy New Year on FB and then click on it, you get fireworks. How cool, right?)





Kitty said...

Everyone wishes Happy New Year, so I'll wish you a HAPPY HOGMANAY! And Lang may yer lum reek! (a Hogmanay greeting, implying "May you never be without fuel for your fire!", but more literally translates to "Long may your chimney smoke!")

Lisa Bodenheim said...

2Ns: Thank you for that laugh!

Donnaeve: I always hear Julia Roberts saying "huge, HUGE" from Pretty Woman.

Kitty: Aww. I miss my 2-years of living in Scotland (on the Isle of Iona with good holiday time in other regions). And it's been long enough, some of those things are slipping out of my brain. Thank you for the reminder.

Kitty said...

Lisa B, have you read Peter May's Lewis trilogy, set in the Isle of Lewis?

Jason Magnason said...

OP this sounds like the Ed Greenwood Opportunity. I am still up in the air about it myself if it is. One thing Janet has told me in the past is never pass up a chance to write. Writing more I believe makes you a better writer in the long run.

Either way you should be good. I asked Janet this same question about a year ago when a similar opportunity crossed my desk. Keep writing and by all means if your getting paid for it then why not :-).

-JM

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Kitty: No, I had not come across Peter May. Why didn't anybody there tell me? So I've just placed holds on all 3 books from our local library. Thank you!

Kitty said...

Lisa B ... I just realized I had not read the 3rd book yet! :O HA HA HA!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

That's super awesome, OP, congratulations! As one of the gamers at the reef, what setting book? For what system?

The venerable Chuck Wendig wrote for White Wolf (the publisher; World of Darkness was the game system. Lots of Hunter and Changeling, looks like) and not only does he have the Miriam Black novels, which are I think optioned for television? But he's also a Star Wars writer.

So from my perspective, if I like the gaming books a person has been involved with, that's going to make me interested in their debut novel, when that comes out! ^^

Colin Smith said...

If this was my situation, I would note on the query, "I have co-authored a setting book for the game [name of rpg>] with [name of author]. This is my first novel." If the agent knows about rpgs, s/he might be impressed, and might even know your co-author and the rpg--definite pluses. If the agent doesn't know what you're talking about but is interested in requesting the ms, s/he'll look it up, and maybe ask around the office. Otherwise the agent will skip the rpg reference and focus on "first novel." I don't see how it can hurt you.

I gather agents appreciate full disclosure. Better to mention any previous publication credits up front than surprise the agent later.

Congrats on the opportunity, Opie! I hope it works out well for you. :)

Craig F said...

Yes, go for it. You never know where it may lead because the gaming market is nigh onto all-encompassing.

Several people who started writing games parlayed that into very nice writing careers.

One such example is Erikson and Esslemont. They formed GURPS as an advanced D&D world building exercise. It is now the Malazan book of the Fallen. That is somewhere around a dozen epic fantasy books by Erikson.

Esslemont has his own series based on the same world building exercise.

Take the money now but realize that there might be more in it than implied in the original contract.

Craig F said...

Oh, and the best of the New Year to you all.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!! :D

BJ Muntain said...

It's important to remember the 'debut novel' as a marketing and publicity tool. If you were previously published, and the sales were pretty damn good, that's going to help you more than if you're a debut novelist. You're no longer debut, but you're proven. I know that isn't a factor in OP's case, but we need to remember that being published isn't a detriment to our being published again, as long as the sales weren't dismal or mediocre.

2Ns: I think it's important for people to value the work they put into their writing. That value may be monetary, or it may be bartered for something equally valuable, like exposure or experience or tear sheets.

The important thing is to make sure the exposure is worth the work put into the writing. Too many small publications claim to pay in 'exposure', when exposure is to fewer than a thousand people. Is that worth the work? In most cases, it's not a fair trade.

(I wrote a lot more on this topic, then realized it was just plain too long. But I am prepared to expound on this topic.)

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2017 be 100X better than 2016, even if 2016 was a good year for you.

Beth said...

Here's to more paying gigs! Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and productive new year.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

BJ, exposure and value is everything.I do not regret one word I wrote for free. The publication reaches a hundred thousand households a day and gets 4M hits on line a month. Hey, maybe I'm more famous than I know.

Lennon Faris said...

OP, that sounds like so much fun, to write for a game. Best of luck in your writing!

And, Happy New Year to everyone! (or happy Hogmanay, Kitty!)

BJ Muntain said...

2Ns: I didn't mean you didn't get what you needed. You obviously did! That's wonderful! I just worry about the beginning writers who think that getting anything published is better than getting nothing published, which devalues their work. (In my 1000 word essay that I decided not to post, I mentioned how wonderful you did. :) )

Claire AB. said...

If anything, I imagine almost any sort of writing credit that's different from novel-writing would be beneficial in a query. I've been in an out of journalism for decades and when I've had industry professionals look at my query, they've said it's a bonus (my credentials must be better than my novels because I'm still looking for an agent!) In any case, best of luck with this OP. It sounds promising!

And Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for all the inspiration in 2016 -- especially you, Janet!!

Julie Weathers said...

I write for Raincrow Games who develop mobile app roleplaying games. That ties in a lot more with fantasy than writing 23 years for a horse racing magazine. Both give me some kind of credentials, I hope. The Tor editor I pitched years ago said the horse racing mag experience didn't do much aside from showing I could write intelligently and hit deadlines.

Raincrow Games will also give me some credentials with my historical since the game is heavily researched and the story focuses around a Civil War captain though it's a paranormal story.

Even so, I doubt these writing credits would affect my status as a debut novelist.

To the OP, I think you should jump on the opportunity. You don't realize how these RPG and MMORPG people read. I play World of Warcraft when I have time. My son is an avid gamer and tries to suck me into various other games. Right now, it's back to Everquest Classic. His degree is actually in mobile app development as he would really like to design games. I listen to the conversations these people have and they inhale game lore. They may not know who fought in the American war of Independence, but they know every single detail of the game history. Having your name on an RPG book is a remarkable opportunity. They know the authors, everything they've written, what year they wrote it, and compare writing styles. It's insane.

Do not pass this up.

Jason

You've been mia. Welcome back.

Ed Greenwood is one of two fantasy author's whose books I have chunked at the wall and I am not a violent person. I promised to take a friend if I was ever in the same vicinity as he was to restrain me from choking him.

Even so, Madison, WI is just a few miles from me, so I guess I will be going to the convention this year.

Donnaeve said...

Call me a fuddy duddy, but with regards to a few comments above - y'all are speaking a completely foreign language.

I have to ask this question because I'm genuinely curious. What is it about playing these games that gets so many people hooked? I truly don't get it. I see commercials on TV, so I understand the concept, idea, premise of these - but I'm like, huh? Why?

I'm not trying to be swayed to the dark side. :) I'm just curious about how and why so many who get so excited about this gaming industry. I keep thinking. Games. Everyone is playing games. A lot. All the time. Probably more than we know.

???

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I'm just popping in to say Happy New year... and add, what a joy you all are, and also offer another "Thank You" to Janet for providing the wonderfulness within this blog/community. Such terrific information, ongoing education, laughs, and heartwarming personal stories from the Reef.

A crazy-busy day here at the sanctuary. Tending the herdies doesn't take a holiday... And I spent another looong day on the tractor. We're clearing an additional 15-ish acres. If you're handy with a chainsaw or like lots of manual labor in the peaceful setting of rural woods, c'mon over! HUGS and blessings to all...

Lochlan Sudarshan said...

OP here. Thanks a lot! I've taken your advice and will let you know how it shakes out.

John Davis Frain said...

Good luck, Lochlan. You'll have fun and you'll practice writing. What's not to like?!

Merry New Year, Reiders. Challenge yourself to a difficult but beneficial writing resolution for 2017. And make it fun.

One of my 2016 resolutions was to party a little harder. For the life of me, I'm not sure if I accomplished it. So, since I only have a few hours left, I'm going to have to get to work. Tough assignment, but I believe I'm up for it.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey, BJ I knew where you were coming from, no offence. I get it but still I should be more famous, make more money and have a limo at my disposal. Ha, I don't even a disposal.

Just gotta say to all the Reiders hangin' at the reef, let this year be YOUR year, OUR year. We learn a lot here. Ain't we lucky to have a queen.
Janet, I'll say it again, THANK YOU for all you do. You are one special mammal. Having said that, you still scare the shit out of me.

BJ Muntain said...

Here's a New Year's Wish for everyone:

May the New Year bring each of us, all of us, success and joy in our writing careers.

And may the Shark herself always be the Queen of Benevolence and Writer Torture.

Thanks everyone, and have a great year!

kdjames.com said...

Lochlan, congrats on the opportunity and best of luck with it!

Happy New Year to everyone over here, wherever in the world you're actually located. Wishing you health and happiness and many fine words written this year on the way to publication.