How To Get Published

From The Writing Cooperative:

“Sorry we don’t publish unpublished authors.”

This is the conundrum I found myself in when I finished writing Hellbound. I had sent submission letters to as many agents and publishers as I could find on the Internet. Their responses were largely saying the same thing; unless you have a successful body of recognised work behind you, we won’t even read your manuscript.

Somewhat disheartened, I turned to my contacts to see what I could do, or whom I could approach to at least get an unbiased opinion on the story. My search led me to Michael Williams, a man connected with a radio station I was doing the weekly surf report on Friday mornings. Michael had previously worked for one of Australia’s largest independent publishing houses, Text Publishing. He ever so kindly accepted my request to take a look, and offer some advice.

 We met for a beer one night in Melbourne near his home, I having emailed him the manuscript a month prior. I’ll never forget what he said. “I’m glad I don’t have to give you the ‘stick to your day-job’ talk. But, you need to know, getting any kind of novel published is incredibly tough and this one will be near impossible. The genre isn’t huge in Australia. It has big, and maybe too many, original ideas. It is the kind of manuscript every publisher dreams of taking a chance on but never, ever does.” So what do I do? I asked. “Firstly you need to edit it. It’s really only about fifty percent complete, there are some plot holes you need to fill, and you need to build the main character more. But more importantly you need to get the right people to read it, without them thinking they need to make a yes or no decision on it.”

Link to the rest at The Writing Cooperative

15 thoughts on “How To Get Published”

  1. Population of australia: 24M
    Global english-speaking population: 500M

    I would think authors writing in english would look for a publishing channel that gets them before the biggest audience possible. Which isn’t a regional tradpub, is it?

    But that’s just me…

    • Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the books in front of you… Or something to that effect.

  2. Austraia is a few years behind when it comes to publishing, especially self publishing. Try to tell most authors they’re better off self publishing and they’ll think you’re crazy, but there is a growing group who realise you can reach the world ebook market yourself. It’s just frustrating going to writers festivals etc and having to put up with the misinformation and ignorance.

  3. ‘..there is a growing group who realise you can reach the world ebook market yourself.’

    -grin- Yes, some of us do know about the internet and self-publishing, although I suspect most of us are genre writers.

  4. Josh Thomas (comedian and creator of the unexpectedly successful TV show Please Like Me) once made a comment about the population size of Australia and how that restricts creative output.

    With 24M people, there just isn’t enough people to sustain a lot of creative industries. We do seem to do well with our music scene, but I think that would be impossible without Triple J (a hugely popular government funded radio national radio station dedicated to growing the Aussie music scene).

    Don’t believe me? Try looking for agents to query in Australia. There just isn’t that many. I think self publishing is a good option for everyone, but in Australia it sort of seems to be the only option.

    • Tradpub would be an option if the publishers at least tried to reach the global market via ebooks but the cult of pulp seems to blind them. For years I’ve seen the same gripes from Aussie publishers (and Irish and New Zealanders) here and at Teleread about having to compete with out of region ebooks, as if the same tech that allows US and UK publishers, indie and traditional, to sell to their markets somehow didn’t allow them to reach readers in the US, UK, and even in non-english speaking countries.

      Global English is a real thing…
      …for those willing to target that market.
      And even some that don’t; a few years back Teleread had a story about the author of a Kindle user’s guide ebook selling tons of copies to Japan long before Amazon launched there. People were buying Kindles just to be able to buy English language ebooks.

      There’s a reason Amazon sells Kindles pretty much everywhere.

      It just doesn’t add up how they’re willing to leave easy money on the table when all they have to do is show up.

      • “It just doesn’t add up how they’re willing to leave easy money on the table when all they have to do is show up.”

        Yeah, I don’t get it either. Australians can do genre really well and be really successful when given the chance (Mad Max: Fury Road, anyone?).

        Australia is weird though. The cultural cringe is a very real thing. David Michod, the chap who directed the excellent Animal Kingdom, said once that for an Australian film (and by extension, book) to do well, it has to be *exceptionally good*. An American or British film can do far better by just being pretty good.

        I’m actually teased in my group of friends for being “into Australiana”. In actuality, I just don’t dismiss things instantly because they’re Australian. I can watch a film like “These Final Hours” and enjoy it, accepting that its a good B movie. Seems like everyone here needs their cultural exports to be the absolute best in the world or they’re totally awful.

        I think that extends to books as well. Most traditionally published books are that standard sort of literary novel. But of course Australians are more than happy to read foreign genre books like James Patterson or Iain Rankin.

  5. for an Australian film (and by extension, book) to do well, it has to be *exceptionally good*. An American or British film can do far better by just being pretty good.

    When we sit down for a movie, how do we know it is Australian or American? Is Mad Max Australian? How would we know?

    Same with books. How do we know it is American, British, Canadian, or Australian?

    • The spelling and some of the vocabulary? I think that’s one of the areas in which tradpub fails both readers and writers, for example, the creation of American versions of the Harry Potter books. American readers are smart enough to read British English and many prefer them.

      I think that started with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers mysteries.

      Maybe its just another way for tradpub to try to preserve its relevance.

      • It’s just more gatekeeping.
        “We know better than the readers.”
        They think the readers will be confused by “colour” and “aluminium”. Or have no idea about the myths of the Philosopher’s Stone.

        • The publishing industry (this is part of the Plan) employs, among its ranks, some of the most ignorant and ill-educated people in the world. But they have appointed themselves as the Curators and Arbiters of Culture, a post for which only the most enlightened and educated could possibly be qualified.

          There are two possible courses of action to remedy this mismatch: they could either acquire learning and culture themselves, or pretend that the pathetic dribs and drabs they do possess already represent the summit of human achievement. One of these courses is supremely difficult, and in many cases impossble; the other requires only a mild exercise in continuous self-deception. (There is a third course that is at least conceivable – to sack the fools and hire qualified people. Fortunately, this will never happen as long as the entry-level jobs in the industry are largely unpaid internships.)

          I leave it to the reader to decide which course they generally choose.

          The upshot, of course, is that no matter how foolish and bigoted these creatures are, they are required to believe that the general public is worse. They then cater to the imaginary prejudices of that imaginary lowest common denominator; and the Plan is fulfilled.

          (signed)
          H. Smiggy McStudge

  6. One might venture to suggest a good writer’s group, some beta readers and self-publishing, were it not for the inevitable horror that it’s art, not commercial slop. ::::clutches pearls::::

  7. As an Australian writer, I find it both amazing and horrifying that my fellow authors feel so helpless and completely at the mercy of publishers, especially when there are many better options out there.

    I have no desire to submit my work to an Australian publisher hoping for a few crumbs.

    But maybe I’m just lucky I found the Passive Voice with all this wise advice a few years ago. Thanks to PG and all of you for showing writers that, wherever they live, there is a better way!

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