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Author Topic: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"  (Read 20631 times)

Offline Lionwalker

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #60 on: September 17, 2012, 12:57:20 PM »
My worry/self-gut-punch is not knowing why they rejected it, or wondering if it is something very small and basic and easily changed.

If the reason for rejection was something small and easily fixed, they probably wouldn't reject you unless they really were snowed under with quality submissions (most agents only take on one or two new clients a year).

And yes, you're quite right that going e-pub only doesn't save that much money but it does still save some. Unless Voyager come out with a statement why they're doing this for unagented subs, I'm not sure what other conclusion we can draw other than risk/reward.

I do agree with that conclusion, it's just that I have my own issues with epub and have been trying to tone it down a little :) (the voice of reason doesn't often sit well with me!) I don't like reading ebooks (personal choice) and do have certain preconceptions about them, but I don't necessarily think my views are correct. Most of it is from my own assumptions and so was wondering if anyone had any more detailed info on the matter. But yes, you and Mordekai do make a good point, that with the info we have at the moment there are few other conclusions we can make.
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Offline Elspeth Cooper

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #61 on: September 17, 2012, 12:58:21 PM »
I do have a question, though. Is there an actual difference between queries and pitches? I mean, I gather that a query is where you basically tell them a little about yourself, and if they asked for it, add in the first 3 chapters of your novel. But after watching a few episodes of Harry's Law and Suits concerning it, doesn't a pitch normally entail a would-be author going to an agent/agency and telling them about their idea, which might be given to another of their authors to use for their own novel? Not sure if that's what a pitch actually is, but I'm wondering if it is.

Francis has given you a good answer - there are terminology differences, especially between the US and UK, I've found. The way I consider it is a query is for a finished project, but you pitch an idea or a proposal for something you are intending to write. As a general rule, new authors should never seek representation or publication unless the project is finished.

I have never heard of an author pitching an idea to an agency then having that idea given to someone else to write. That's not how agencies work. I *have* heard of a writer being commissioned by a publisher to produce a certain project, then there was a falling-out, and another author was brought in to finish up the job, but IIRC that was a memoir/ghostwriter situation.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 01:02:33 PM by Elspeth Cooper »
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Offline Autumn2May

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #62 on: September 17, 2012, 01:44:02 PM »
Dude, they want it edited too, Oct 13th might be cutting it too fine. Best of luck to you though! :)

I've already actually got the first part edited, so I might manage. ;)

To Autumn, they have a US branch, I believe.

Good to know! I'm going to check it out this afternoon when my kids are attached to their video games. :)

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #63 on: September 17, 2012, 01:47:26 PM »
Quote
Alas I am in the US, so I'm not sure if I would be accepted by a UK agent. But thanks for the link I will check it out.

I'm in the UK with a US agent, and I know a couple of people the other way around.


Also good to know! I never thought of looking in the UK, but I shall expand my search then. :)  Thanks!

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #64 on: September 17, 2012, 03:42:33 PM »
Thanks for that link, Mark.  My last two approaches to agents were face-to-face ones, which is a bit different, but I must start querying seriously.  Having said that, I will be going for the Harper Voyager window.  Agents and publishers can be a bit of a chicken/egg situation for new authors (though not always, obviously) and having a book out from HV could attract an agent for future purposes.  My novel's all ready to go.

Offline Mark Lawrence

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #65 on: September 17, 2012, 04:39:41 PM »
Thanks for that link, Mark.  My last two approaches to agents were face-to-face ones, which is a bit different, but I must start querying seriously.  Having said that, I will be going for the Harper Voyager window.  Agents and publishers can be a bit of a chicken/egg situation for new authors (though not always, obviously) and having a book out from HV could attract an agent for future purposes.  My novel's all ready to go.

Getting an agent doesn't mean you haven't still got a mountain to climb but good agents get good results (in large part by taking on writers they can sell). My agent gets a remarkably high (to me at least) percentage of people he signs a book deal within a year of taking them on. I won't say what the % is as that was communicated privately.

Offline J. Mark Miller

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #66 on: September 17, 2012, 06:41:45 PM »
Back on topic:

It's a great opportunity and would love to know if anyone here is going for it, and what they are planning to submit (unless they want to keep it a secret!)

I'm going for it. I'm in the last round of edits on two separate novels, and I think I can have them both ready before the deadline. I think this is a great opportunity.

Offline Elfy

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #67 on: September 18, 2012, 12:32:17 AM »
There are the stories about J.K Rowlings being rejected a number of times before Harry Potter was published. I read a story once about 2 guys who subtly altered an award winning piece with the consent of the author and submitted it as their own work. Everyone they submitted it to rejected it on the grounds that it wasn't publishable. I did see a representative of a publishing company once say that it really helps if you can find a champion at the agency or the publisher that can go to bat for the work.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Francis Knight

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #68 on: September 18, 2012, 01:00:12 AM »
There are the stories about J.K Rowlings being rejected a number of times before Harry Potter was published. I read a story once about 2 guys who subtly altered an award winning piece with the consent of the author and submitted it as their own work. Everyone they submitted it to rejected it on the grounds that it wasn't publishable. I did see a representative of a publishing company once say that it really helps if you can find a champion at the agency or the publisher that can go to bat for the work.

JK was rejected it's true, though several of those were on a previous opening she had (she reworked on editor feedback and sold). She wasn't rejected al that much though (she might have made double figures, iirc, but not by much). ETA: And why did ol' JK get so popular? She worked it, a lot. She got a smallish deal at a smallish (at the time) pub (IIRC?) She went to every school that would have her, she read, she got kids wanting to read these books so bad. And when it really took off is when parents were thinking, well little Johnny doesn't read normally, what's so great about this book? BANG! Crossover, success. It's not a fluke, but it IS a massive outlier. Don't bank on it make you a multi millionaire - despite everything, JK had a solid book that appealed to the market. This is your starter for ten. You need that first.

And the old 'retype a classic/award winner' is something that most agents get about once a month or so. My fave is when they retype Jane Austen or someone similarly famous for a first line (in want of a wife..) and declare that because they got a form reject, publishing is broken! Agents can;t recognise greatness! Never thinking that they got a form reject purely because the agent is too class to have a 'Oh god not this crap again, where's the whiskey' reject slip.

And how do you get that champion? By having a great book that will sell. That last part will open every door for you. You can have every advantage without it, and get nowhere

Write a great book. One that people around right now want to read.

So, what are you waiting for? Write the damn book already!

PS , if you really need to know what you're up against, Slush Pile Hell...well, you;re not one of them, right?Then you are ahead of the game...   http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 01:09:29 AM by Francis Knight »
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Offline Elfy

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #69 on: September 18, 2012, 02:46:30 AM »
Matthew Reilly (a local writer of thrillers) did something similar with his first self published book, worked his backside off getting people to buy it, read it, talk about it. He was successful enough that he got a publishing contract with a publisher for his second and after that sold well they republished his first book. I think to a certain extent getting a champion is writing the book that you want, chances are if you believe in it that much and are willing to put that sort of effort into it then there will be someone else out there who also likes it and will be prepared to fight for it as much as you are.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Elfy

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #70 on: September 18, 2012, 02:49:23 AM »
Francis, that slush pile tumblr link was good for a laugh, thanks for posting it.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline tcsimpson

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #71 on: September 18, 2012, 04:11:43 AM »
A good book is a good book, regardless of format. Since when did paper become the defining factor? Here's a secret for anyone who says that paper defines if the publisher felt a book was good enough to put on paper.

Get a credit card and you can publish your book in print through Createspace at next to nothing. 25 bucks and it's pretty good print. Roughly 200 bucks get you the same service from Lightning Source, a company that many traditional publishers use. After that every thing is POD. So no, print does not determine much. Maybe for a traditional pub house, but the distinction wasn't made that the person was avoiding the big name houses ebook only books, just books that weren't in ebook format.

Here's more. Every person's situation is different. You have authors like Sanderson who is going both routes. So are quite a few others. Then there's the all self-published, many of whom have great success and many of who fail. Write a good book, choose a path. Both ways are viable.

With selfpubbing though, you do everything. Hire your editor, hire your artist, many format their own books, deal with their promotion, etc etc etc. It is the most time consuming bit.

Here's some food for thought numbers in self-publishing from authors who wished to share. These are sales for just the month of august.
http://ireaderreview.com/2012/08/13/top-100-indie-authors-for-august-46-authors-to-watch/

If it's for you and you think the challenge is something you would relish, go for it. I honestly don't think going the selfpub route hurts. Many have gotten signed going that way. Here's a recent one who had a lot of success and I must say his book was in dire need of editing but his story was awesome.
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Offline Mordekai

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #72 on: September 18, 2012, 02:42:17 PM »
@Mordekai: I agree a little with what you are saying, but just want to know: do you have any facts/info to support this or just assumptions because it 'makes sense'? Because this is still pretty much saying that epub is of lower quality than traditional. Not directly but through implication.

From everything I've picked up, going e-pub doesn't save that much money, and still requires a lot of effort on everyone's side so the publisher's doing it as a less risky option doesn't quite cut it for me. They are still paying editors, cover artists, people to format it for various eReaders, etc. And they are still putting it out on their name so they're not likely to cut corners and become known as the publishers who are great on paper, but who will put out any ol' trash digitally.

My experience is from years of work in marketing.
HV simply want to grab (GOOD) unagented authors before they sign up with someone.
A digital deal allows them to do that with more authors than they could with hard copy, because time, manufacturing and fiscal restrictions are lower. (Not negligible, just lower...)

I really dont want to sound rude and arsey, but you are going to have to explain how (from an ongoing manufacturing and distribution POV) one digital signal that can be set up to sell itself with no human interaction, and, theoretically, could be sent over 10'000'000 times without ever having to restock a single shelf anywhere, at ZERO cost/unit to produce, doesnt save much money when compared to printing, storing, distributing, and often returning and long term storing even 10'000 hard copies.
Those are the costs that need recouping with hard copy, and that is why they are less likely to take a chance on a hard copy when there is a cheaper option available.
Which is why, if a publisher is sitting there with print capacity for ONE book, and has two manuscripts on his desk. One being the greatest Werewolf story ever told, and the other is a pretty good Vampire book. BUT, at that moment Werewolves are SO out of fashion and Vampires are as popular as its possibel to be... You know which book is going to be on the shelves in a few weeks...
So contrary to the rather silly idea earlier that epubs are books a publisher doesnt think are good enough to print, its actually the costs associated with printing, and the lack thereof, that allow publishers to make this sort of move.
If the costs were the same, HV be putting them out in hard copy, because they want to sell books.
If the costs dont make it a risk, they'll do it.
If the cost makes a risk unviable they wont.

Writing a book is essentially the "design" element of the manufacturing industry.
Next comes printing, or "manufacture", followed by shipping/distribution/logistics, and finally retail.
If ANY part of the manufacturing sector were able to simply beam its product into existence in your house without ANY manufacturing costs, dont you think they'd be a bit more experimental with their R&D, and design? If they could take a chance and put something to market with no overheads, dont you think they would start offering more variety?

Offline Elspeth Cooper

Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #73 on: September 18, 2012, 06:43:04 PM »
I really dont want to sound rude and arsey, but you are going to have to explain how (from an ongoing manufacturing and distribution POV) one digital signal that can be set up to sell itself with no human interaction, and, theoretically, could be sent over 10'000'000 times without ever having to restock a single shelf anywhere, at ZERO cost/unit to produce, doesnt save much money when compared to printing, storing, distributing, and often returning and long term storing even 10'000 hard copies.

Everyone gets hung up on the fact that digital files cost virtually nothing to store and distribute, and forget that before a book becomes a digital file it still has to be:

- commissioned
- edited
- copy-edited
- proofread
- have a cover designed
- have its page layout designed
- be marketed to big-chain buyers like Waterstones
- be distributed to reviewers

exactly the same as its paper cousin. These things take time, and that means you have to pay someone to do it. The commissioning editor has to be paid, and the publicity person, and the marketing person, and the digital accounts person and the guy doing the ebook conversions to all the different formats the publisher supports . . . Compared to the staff costs and overheads, the actual paper and ink is pretty cheap.

Ebooks are a very long way from being zero cost per unit to manufacture. It's only the supply-chain costs that are negligible.
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Offline Nestat

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Re: "Harper voyager opens doors to unagented submissions"
« Reply #74 on: September 18, 2012, 08:53:42 PM »
Ebooks are a very long way from being zero cost per unit to manufacture. It's only the supply-chain costs that are negligible.

Another point that is completely invisible is that there is a lot of outsourcing going on. Publishing is not a traditionally digital industry, which means companies have had no expertise  to draw upon. This time last year, I know at least one of the big six was having to pay (a)  set-up costs for converting manuscript to ebooks, and (b) a set commission for each ebook distributed.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 10:35:03 PM by Nestat »
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