Bibliophorum...and then there was free expression

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:40 am 
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Out of the blue I discover that my little sis has written a novel and has an agent for it but no publishing offers yet. Looks fine to me, but as the market seems to be female 18-30, I'm hardly a good judge.

Where would be the best place to post a sample for some feedback? I see the novel section on bibliophilia.org has not been used for years and posts there never receive any comments anyway. Anyone interested in having a look?

And any tips for getting published? Suitable publishers, contacts, self-publicity etc? This is not at all my area but I told her I'd ask around.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:18 pm 
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I think of the "Novels" section on the main page (http://www.bibliophilia.org as opposed to the forum) as a place to showcase the novel, or parts of it, to the public rather than as a place to get feedback. Similarly, some journals (both online and print) will accept novel excerpts that stand alone (i.e. that are complete even without the rest of the novel) -- again, an author would use such an opportunity to showcase rather than publish the novel.

Some journals will publish the novel in serial form (i.e. one chapter per issue), but the pay is rarely vigorous. Plus, I don't think many such journals specifically target the intended audience you described.

I'm not sure a publisher would be happy to look at a manuscript that's available entirely for free online, but if a chapter or excerpt has been published already in a literary journal, that might lend the manuscript some cachet.

~bint

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:04 pm 
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I was thinking that what she needs at this stage is some positive endorsement, especially from established writers, as that could be used by her agent to entice publishers (or at least entice the agent to stay on the case).

I did check out the novel section at bibliophilia.org but it hasn't been used for 5 years and the exhibits there never seem to have received any comments, so I doubted that place would be useful. I have to say, bibliophilia.org seems to be quite defunct, though it's quite possible I'm missing something.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:35 pm 
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If your sister has a good agent representing her novel, seeking editors at solid publishers, I think it would be best if she focused her efforts on her next novel. Small samples from the new work in progress would be more productive I think, as the novel being represented is pretty much finished, until a publisher offers a contract, and editing takes place.

I understand the notion of getting a good blurb from an established author(s) to bolster the prospect of the novel being offered a contract, but the time in finding an established author who would be willing or read and offer support--if that can be done, well, I don't know how well that would correspond to the efforts of the agent. And, I would think that if the agent has a good number of authors he/she represents (contacts), those would be the ones that could be approached, by the agent if he/she thought it might help.

Although not the exact same situation, I and my publisher (a small press) sought out blurbs by established authors, after the novels had been contracted for publication. Seeking such authors is a very long and time-consuming process, with no promise of positive results. With many top authors, you have to contact them via their agents, and I found that several authors are often represented by the same agent, so that sort of narrows the field--sending the same letter of request for a blurb to the agent to contact these three authors? I generally picked one that seemed the most logical fit. In any case, it takes time to research, write letters of request and far longer for replies from those authors (agents) and even from authors contacted directly. And then, if they are willing, they have to fit in the time to read the novel and consider. Plus, the time and expense of sending unproofed copies to the readers/authors in question.

Even so, I did convince a few established authors (not big names) to read my novels and then they offered blurbs, and one big name that thought one of my novels was pretty good but not enough to offer a blurb (apparently). Most of the blurbs came from small press published authors, and a few self-published. And even that took time a lot of time, and a few of the individuals I (or my publisher) have known for a number of years. Authors are very busy people and they're hesitant to take on extra commitments.

Based upon that experience, I don't think authors are going to put their name behind a novel based on reading a few chapters or excerpts, and a full read will take time and would prove to be an uphill battle to find authors willing to commit to such, unless there is some reason and/or connection.

That's my two cents, admitting that I may be way off and that there are a plethora of examples where what you're hoping to accomplish on behalf of your sister have happened.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 5:04 am 
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Thanks Terry. Good advice. I'm sure you're right and she should get going on the next book, if only to show that she means business. No doubt there's are economies of effort for publishers in signing up someone who can keep producing regularly.

You're right too that getting formal endorsements is really a matter for the publisher once it's contracted. I'm more familiar with the academic publishing world where peer review is a way of life - they expect to do it; they're always angling for thought-leadership, and they often know each other by reputation anyway - but no doubt it's a different kettle of fish in the fiction world.

I was wondering whether informal endorsements were possible on the basis of a sample, but I guess (understandably) that's not commonly done. Maybe she should get to know some writers personally - get her agent to take her to launches etc - though she's not the ruthlessly ambitious Eve Harrington type.

Well, Graham Greene wrote three novels before he managed to get one published so I'll just tell her keep at it.


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