In Need Of Some Advice


Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of ebooks. I have three fully written novels ranging from 87k to 120k words and they are hiding somewhere in my computer with their fourth partially written counterpart and the plans for the following instalments. It will probably do me a disservice to mention that I started writing these when I was fifteen (just six short years ago), but they have been through quite rigorous editing, I assure you.

I’ve tried querying the series before (mostly when I admit I was too naive to understand the query process) but with no success. My more recent queries, at least, were a little more experienced, but still no change in the response they received.

Perhaps this is because I’m just not very good at querying or perhaps it’s because my story is too much like too many others or maybe my writing style just isn’t likeable enough or agents have far too many queries to take anything from mine. And since those lacklustre responses to my queries, I’ve realised that I may never get Jo’s story published in through traditional routes.

However, this has left me with a dilemma. I’m sure other writers can understand how it feels not to allow the world to see that special first love you truly created from carefully crafted words and hoarded time. It’s tough. And it has been hard to set my dear Jo aside in order to pursue my current WIP.

But I still want the world to see her and read her story. Maybe that’s selfish and naive. Maybe I shouldn’t consider ebooks because it could forever damn the possibilities of having her crafted into a beautiful tome to sit on my shelf…

After discussing it with a friend, I have been left still more unsure. She thinks that if I leave it for a while and manage to get an agent for my current WIP, then someone might be more interested in Jo’s story. I’m not sure it would work like that. However, I am worried that if I did put Jo’s story online as an ebook it might be detrimental to my chances of procuring an agent in the future.

I’m also worried what the financial implications might be. I don’t think I would earn a lot from the story, but I also don’t know much about tax and finances and all of that other stuff to do with numbers.

There are so many what ifs that it’s driving me crazy. I could really do with some friendly advice if you have any to spare.

This is the description of my lovely manuscript in the last query I sent forth [1st Jan 2010]:

Multi-coloured eyes aren’t normal, even for witches…

After the tragedy, Jocasta was hidden away in case the Necromancer tried to strike again, but now she’s heading to a new school with a magical affliction nobody can identify.

She dreads her first day at Lark Hall, and yet making friends isn’t as hard as Jo first thinks. She might get by unnoticed… until her first test, the inexplicable results shocking everyone.

Just how powerful is she?

It’s this power that makes her a problem for the Necromancer. And problems need to be dealt with.

A traitor in the school is feeding information back to this dark source, but who is it? The traitor could even be a part of the school staff, but Jo is beginning to realise that shunned Salem is not exactly as he appears either…

Still, school isn’t just about learning spells. And who knew a first kiss could be quite as magical as this?

Can Jocasta guess the identity of the traitor before it’s too late or will she and her friends suffer the consequences of the Necromancer’s wrath?

JOCASTA LIZZBETH MOONSHADOW: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is the first instalment in the supernatural YA/Crossover series that I’m writing (two and three are already written). DARK SIDE OF THE MOON runs to 87, 475 words

I wouldn’t be doing this for the money. I just feel that it would be a waste to hide this away when it kindled so much love and passion within me.

Do you have any advice for me? Should I go ahead and consider trying her as an ebook or do I keep her hidden away just in case? What would you do? Are you or have you been in a similar position?

Please help?

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11 thoughts on “In Need Of Some Advice”

  1. I'm not sure what to do either, but have been considering e-book or scrib as a social media platform too, a confusing endeavor at best. I'm pretty sure that if you publish it as an ebook, there's still hope for another publisher to pick it up. Good luck with Jocasta! She sounds beautiful and adventurous; let the world meet her.
    Cheers, Mo.

  2. If you feel that the writing is ready then there is no reason to sit around and hold your breath longer for an agent. That field is SOO hard to get into right now. I held out and held out for one with Branded and eventually decided I was tired of waiting for what felt like nothing to happen. Send me an email and I'll talk your ear off about self-publishing, lol! me (at) kearytaylor (dot) com

  3. Thanks Mo. It's the getting picked up by a publisher bit that I am worrying about more than anything, because one day I would really like to see my stuff in a hard copy, but right now there is no way I could afford that through self-publishing. I'm glad you like the sound of Jo, too.

    Ha ha. Thanks Keary. I'll send you that email. I've heard that it's so hard to get in through the traditional route right now and it's so expensive to try it considering how much you have to pay in snail mail fees to get to some agencies.

  4. I'm not really experienced in this field, so I'm afraid my advice wouldn't be of much use, but here it is anyway: If you feel strongly enough that this story can find a traditional publisher, I'd keep it for that time. Doing it as an ebook or releasing it to a website greatly diminishes your chances of publishing it the traditional way. I thought that once I got done with my project, I could take it off the website and shop it around, but it's really not that simple, unfortunately.

  5. I have been toying with the idea of ebooks recently too. I am tired of writing query letters, I just want to write stories. I don't care if I never make Stephen King kind of cash.

    I have queried 3 different books, and I got back tons of postive feedback. I had so many requests for fulls and partials and at the time I thought it was amazing it never panned out. Ever. What one agent would love, another one 2 seconds later would ask me to change and resubmit. It was discouraging and unless you are tallented and VERY lucky the process is agonizingly slow. You could get an agent and a book deal and still wait YEARS before you see your book in print.

    I really think Amazon is changing the rules, though I think there are keys to the people who have sucess. I think it would be worth it to have a professional cover done. I would never e pub a book that had not been edited. You know what I could probably go on forever lol.

  6. Thanks Bex. I'll think about what you said. I'm still undecided in any case.

    Ha ha. Thank you AJ. As I said on twitter, you were very welcome to continue with your thoughts.

    It's really good to have so much feedback to help me come to some kind of decision.

  7. Your book sounds really interesting! Ebooks vs traditional publishing is a hard one… but just going back to your point about getting agents interested through the querying process – I don’t think it matters all that much what the premise is to agents, as much as their impression of what they can sell. You are in the business of storytelling, but they are in the business of selling—that’s their only real role… to broker a deal. To do that with confidence, they need to have something they feel they can sell. Thus, you need to appeal to that sensibility.

    Two points might help you out:

    1. Know who and what the agency represents. Find agencies who specialise in fantasy or urban fantasy authors—you want someone who knows that market because they’ll have the right contacts, and they’ll have experience selling novels in the genre.

    2. You’re not telling them how good a story your novel is… you’re telling them that what you have is going to sell. I know that can be a very cold way of looking at things, but these people are brokers for sales. Try appealing to that sensibility – I found it worked quite well in securing me an agent and publisher.

    If you’d like me to elaborate at all, flick me an e-mail at emm_ett (at) hotmail (dot) com. I’ve learned a lot by trial and error, and if I can help other UF up and comers avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve encountered, then I’m happy to do that.

  8. Hey Rebecca, I have two suggestions for you. One is to look into something like Query Shark or some other type of Query help (Bookends Lit Agency does this too). If your query letter doesn't get you in the door, it doesn't mean your books aren't marketable in the least. Just means you may need to tighten up the query a bit.

    My second piece of advice would be to see if you can get to a conference to meet agents and editors. Show them who you are and you are more likely to get a solid bite. Believe in yourself and the agents will see it. I found it easier to pitch my piece in person and I did a better job than on paper. These are my thoughts, hope they help! 🙂

  9. Thanks Emmett. I'll certainly take you up on that offer to email at some point. You're probably right about appealing to the sales side of things. I guess it's sometimes hard thinking about it in that way when you're not a business person yourself.

    Thanks for the advice Shannon. I do often look at Query Shark, but sometimes I admit that I feel a little confused about the query system because it seems to be different in Britain. US agents seem only to ask for a query before they accept any part of your novel to read, whereas the British want the first few chapters & a synopsis and everything as well. Am I confused and it's the same in the US? It's that part that worries me as to how it affects the content of your query and if I've been doing it wrong from a British agents point of view.

  10. Every agent is different and you need to check out what each requires you to send. Many of them do want the first few chapters and a synopsis. I found it always best to double check the agents site and see what exactly it is they want.
    If you want, send me your full query and I could take a look at it for you. 🙂 Every pair of eyes extra can help.

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