How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less


So, a couple months ago I used YouTube’s
post feature to announce by way of a screen cap because it had to be a screen
cap because the announcement was behind a paywall
that I sold a novel to commercial fiction publisher St. Martin’s Press. Axiom’s End, a Stranger Things meets Arrival story set in an alternate 2000s
about a young woman who becomes the sole point of communication between humanity
and a hostile alien civilization. Okay and so for you smart asses who are
bagging on this, I did not write this. I honestly don’t know where they got
Stranger Things. Doesn’t take place in the 80s. It’s not even like you know
magical metaphysical stuff. Is it on brand? Yes. Is it too long? Probably.
Can I preorder it? Actually, you can. They got right on the ball. And I know what you’re
thinking, like oh another one of those you know, here I have been slaving away
at the Great American Novel for decades and another one of these youtubers just
has a book deal like foisted upon them. The influencers sit recumbent on the
chaise lounge and receive the offers. When, in reality, I have been working at this
for 10 f—ing years. Oh no, I don’t mean literally the same book for 10 years. It did not take
me ten years to write this–well, sort of. Anyway, we’ll get to that. And the truth
is yes, it is a lot easier for some people with bigger platforms to get book
deals than others, but that also depends on the type of book that they are
writing. In the case of youtubers and influencers, what publishers usually want
is like, you know: my life as a girl boss the book. Or: Hi I’m an Instagram model
the book. But I was like no, I like suffering.
I want to write novels. Better yet, of the science fiction variety. You know, the
science fiction. That…that biggest piece of the publishing pie.
Everybody loves it’s so in demand. It’s not. So, today I’m doing something a little
different in discussing how does one actually go about publishing a novel?
I’m going to demystify the process. Cause I know a lot of people that
subscribe to this channel are either creatives or aspiring creatives
themselves. You need to know what holy hell you’re getting into and decide… Can
I handle that many rejection letters? So how it works. If it’s your first time,
fiction and nonfiction are handled generally quite differently. Nonfiction
is generally sold on Proposal, meaning there will be between one and three
chapters of the book written, and also you’ll have like a bio and then like
some stuff about your platform and an outline of the book and you know a
section saying why I am the expert that should be writing this book. And with fiction, again for debut authors that aren’t famous, it needs to be done. The
book needs to be 100% written. Debut novels are very very rarely sold on
proposal. Outliers to the point of should not be counted. Yes, I know it happens but
it doesn’t happen very often. I mean a debut novel might be sold on proposal if
it’s by like a celebrity or you know it’s like a YA Adventure about like
beating the system written by a youtuber with more than ten million subs,
but you know, if that’s the case, they’re probably
hiring a ghostwriter anyway. I am obsessed with this shirt I got by the
by at the Pantages the other day. The CATS trailer has sent me spiraling into a
severe Andrew Lloyd Webber relapse this fall. Anyway, yes there are famous people
exceptions but in general debut novels are not sold on proposal. It needs to be
done. And by done I mean it needs to be edited it needs to be polished it needs
to have gone through several drafts and by the time you think you are ready to
go, you are wrong. Put that thing back in the drawer take it around the block a
few more times it still needs work. Trust me. You have to be able to look at this thing
and go, yes, I could see this going to print tomorrow. This is the level that
we’re at. The thing about writing especially something as, like, sprawling
as a novel, is that writers are actually not very good at judging the merits of
their own work. Shock, I know. When the truth is nine times out of ten, authors
think they are ready to go before they are ready to go. I know I was. We’ll get to that.
But now that you have written the thing, it is time for step two: Get a
literary agent. Arguably, the hardest step because this is the part in which the
odds are least in your favor. So you’ve submitted your query. You are now
in the slush pile, which is a very uncharitable name for unsolicited material because
most of it is detritus. Yes, there was a time when authors submitted
directly to publishers and they did not need a literary agent. We call those
times the 1970s. Yes there are some exceptions, but for your purposes, if
you want to get published with a major publisher and most small presses and a
huge chunk of indie presses too, you need a literary agent. They won’t even look at
you if you don’t have one. And while we are here, no you do not pay your literary
agent before you sell your book. They take a cut after they sell your book. If
there is an “agent” saying that you need to pay them upfront, they’re not an agent.
They’re lying. It’s a scam. Run away. So what does a literary agent do? Are they
anything other than a glorified filter that exists to separate the rabble from
the publisher so the publisher doesn’t have to waste their precious time and
resources anymore? Well… See, here’s the thing. You are a special flower, an
artiste floating along on the winds of inspiration. You don’t understand
contracts. The publishing industry is labyrinthine and complicated and it has
a culture that you do not understand. I know I don’t. On top of that, contracts have gotten a
lot more complicated since the 1970s Mine, for instance, was pretty
boilerplate and it still took two months between selling the book and signing the
thing. And that was pretty quick turnaround. On top of that, agents also negotiate
royalty rates and advances for you and also advise on what you should ask for
in your contract because they know what is standard and what is reasonable to
ask for and you don’t. But there is a creative element too. A lot of literary
agents will actually do a pass, do some edits with you before you actually go on
submission to publishers. They also act as sort of a go-between between you and
the publisher. You know, so they can like soak up the emotions if you have too
many. Cause it turns out you’re not supposed to yell at your publisher. They ask you how are you just have to say that you’re fine but you’re not really fine
you just can’t get into it because they would never So why are the odds not in
your favor at this stage? Well, it’s because of volume. It’s hard to find
exact stats on this. How many submissions any given literary agent gets per day. My
agent gets between 15 and 20 per day. So depending on the size of the agency, a
literary agent is going to get anywhere from several hundred to several thousand
queries per year. And depending on how much they are trying to build their list,
they may only take on a half a dozen or less. So I’m not saying you have less
than one in a thousand odds for your basic midlist literary agent. Actually, I am saying that. That brings us to step two point five, the query letter Okay so if you’re a novelist, you’re probably not very good at being concise, but the query
letter is basically a two paragraph, less than 250 word pitch. It’s basically the
copy you would read on the back of the book. It is designed to make the person
reading it be like, “Oh yeah, I want to throw down my $27.95 MSRP for that.”
It’s not a summary. You should not summarize. It is a pitch.
And it’s actually really hard to do well. A bard, a mage, and a rogue meet in a tavern
and then they hear of a quest. There’s a business centaur that owns a company and
he’s just he’s living his life until one day a plucky young virgin becomes his
secretary or something. And then, oh the pa– Yeah see I’m really good at this. So each literary agency
operates differently, but in general, the steps will be: query letter leads to
partial request, which means part of your manuscript, like first five chapters
or something. They like that, then they’ll ask for the whole manuscript. And if they
like that, then they will offer you representation. Generally, this process
will be protracted over several months unless you’re just that amazing.
Sometimes it can be really fast, but usually it’s not. Wow, you have an agent now!
Good for her. Hopefully your agent will help you out
on the creative front too because presumably they took on your project not
just because they thought they could sell it, but you know, because they like it.
And the level to which they will help you before you go on submission
to publishers varies a lot. Like it could be just like an email with like
hey maybe you should like brush this up or like you know, you use the word
basically too much. Or they could do like an entire line edit through your
manuscript. Depends on the agent. Next stop, book deal? Well, not so fast.
First we got to talk about who we are submitting to. Generally, an agent will
want to start with big five publishers because they are the ones with the money
and they are the ones with the best marketing and the widest distribution.
So what do I mean when I say Big Five? Well, basically they’re the biggest five but
also they are umbrella corporations effectively for many many many publishers.
The big five are Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Hatchette, Macmillan, which is mine, and Harper Collins.
The way it works is at the top, we have the publishing house then
you have the publisher, then you have the imprint. And the imprint is where the
editor works. They are the one that’s specialized in whatever it is you are
trying to sell. For instance, my imprint is St. Martin’s Press, which is an
imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which is owned by Macmillan. Imprints specialize
in different things, so for instance you’ll have Tor Forge, which specializes
in sci-fi/fantasy. Love Swept will be HarperCollins… Is it HarperCollins?
No, it’s Random House. Well, anyway, it’s a romance imprint. St. Martin’s Press specializes in “commercial
fiction” which obviously can mean genre fiction, but you know a certain type.
Let’s just say I was rejected from more than one genre imprint for “not being
sci-fi enough.” It’s Arrival meets So Big Five publishers are
desirable not just because they are able to pay advances sometimes very big ones,
but also because they have much wider distribution. Generally, you’ll go on a
round of submission. You’ll see how that goes. Maybe it’ll sell on the first round, but if it doesn’t you probably want to do some
revisions before you go on round two. And then when you go on round two and it
doesn’t sell then, then maybe you want to start seriously considering smaller
presses or indie presses or self-publishing or trunking it.
And we’ll get to that. Okay, so let’s say you are on submission.
If there is more than one offer, then it goes to auction. And auctions are great.
They make you feel really popular but most of the time for debut authors
especially if they don’t have a big platform, this process will be protracted
over a period of several months. So while on the one hand there are an
ever-increasing number of options to get your book out there, traditional
publishing is actually more competitive than it has ever ever been. Yeah.
Especially for fiction. And that leads us to my monstrosity. Ten years, huh? “Ten years old!” That seems like…. sad. There is this expectation when you work in a new media
that people think that you’re gonna be like, you know what? I’m bucking the
system! Screw you gatekeepers. I got a do me! But no, no that is not what I wanted to do. So this is a story about traditional
publishing and rejection and all sorts of fun things. And why I never talked
about it till now. So let’s get this out of the way first.
There’s this sort of wrongish idea I see floating around that if you
have a platform of, you know, decently sized,
then you’re pretty much guaranteed a book deal. And no, wow, you know,
that’s not true. And I will find that people that even work in the industry
are surprised that like my platform didn’t get me something much sooner.
Which inevitably leads to these dipshits on reddit surmising that like well if
you can’t get a book deal despite those YouTube subs, well… woof. Which just kind of
reveals that these people don’t know how anything works. And that’s fine.
That’s why I’m here. Fundamentally, quality is secondary to where the market
is and what they think they can sell. Especially for fiction, a thing no one
should write. Okay so what did I mean by that? When I said this whole big nonsense
thing took ten years, what I mean is it was about ten years between my conscious
decision of yes I am going to pursue this thing–by this thing I mean
traditional publishing with a big five publisher–and it actually happening. Was the novel I sold the first novel I wrote? No. I’d argue that it
wasn’t even the second, but it was also kind of the first. It was the
first and–well anyway… So I joke a lot about fanfic, but the truth is fanfic is
actually really good practice and a good way to decide if that is something that
you want to pursue. And I joke about it a lot especially with the Phantom stuff,
but the truth is I was not terribly prolific until I was in college because
I had this narrative about myself that you know, I just don’t finish things… I’m
just–I just I don’t have the attention span. Too bad for me. I guess
I’m just gonna work in data collection for the rest of my life because I’m 22
and I don’t know anything. But then, thanks to the wonderful world of
fanfiction, I actually did start finishing some stuff. You know, it wasn’t
good, but I finished it. So again this was around the time that the you know
economy crashed and I went to grad school. So going into film and television
of course that’s where we’re going to start making serious attempts. Haha.
Because after all, there was no way in hell I was going to go into a creative
writing MFA on the strength of a few over-long fanfics. No. Going into debt
one of the most expensive film schools in the world during the worst recession
and living memory is a much better idea. But yeah, we’re at film school, it’s 2009,
part of the curriculum is let’s come up with some story ideas. There’s a class
called ideation. Oh, we had fun. So the first non-fanfic thing I wrote was this sad-sack attempt
at a Christian romance novel because I knew someone who worked at the Harlequin
imprint for Christian romance called Love Inspired, and this imprint was one
of the only imprints that was taking unagented authors, and I in my
infinite hubris was like, “Anyone can do that!” At least I got some practice in.
I did also write a full-length screenplay while I was at USC for a class, and no, it
will never see the light of day because it was quite bad. But then, I got an idea
in 2010 that was rooted in some items that were in the news at the time. Well,
how about that but with aliens? But no I did not start writing it then.
That did not happen until 2013, and I wrote the first draft in two months. It
was one Twilight long, because I measure everything in units of Twilight. This is
a Twilight. This book actually has really big print. It’s not that–it’s not that long.
That first draft was described by one person that I no longer speak to at the
time as “publishable,” which is probably a little bit of a red flag when the people
in your life don’t really have the heart to tell you that your word baby is a bit
of a yike. But I, in my infinite arrogance was like we’re off to the races.
I very wrongly assumed that my platform, which was much smaller than it is now,
would make me a catch. So even if the book wasn’t all that great, and sure as
hell was not ready, it didn’t matter. They’d help me fix it. I’ve got twenty
thousand Twitter followers. I think I might have done like one very minor
revision before I sent it to … like not very many agents I only think… I
only send it to a few, and one of whom I knew personally. Five thousand words to
very nicely say yikes. Which was good, because it finally
brought me down to reality and realize that like oh, actually maybe we should
take this a little more seriously. So I spent a few months on revisions and now
armed with, you know, a little bit of perspective, we tried round two. This time
I actually queried pretty widely. I got interest from about 30% of the agents I
queried, and then actually it happened rather
quickly. I got an offer of representation after about two, three months. And then I
had an agent. We did it. I hopped the hardest hurdle, right? So, what now? Well, we
revise it again. Substantially before we Go on submission. Submission round one.
Mostly big five and a couple of smaller publishers like Quirk Books. Generally a
round of submission will be between maybe 10 and 15 editors. And wow, that was
a lot of rejection. Like I got rejected so hard I don’t think I got like a
detailed rejection letter from anyone. And that whole rigmarole from start to
final “no thank” was about four months. So yeah. So what now? Well, we revise again.
Let’s try to figure out what was wrong. Another round of submissions. This time,
it was I think a few more, maybe fifteen. And this time, well, I got one or two
rejections that were quite detailed. See? Progress. One or two felt it wasn’t
“commercial enough.” The guy at HarperCollins thought I was “whip smart.”
But most people just “didn’t connect with the voice,” which is of course industry
speak for “I think you’re a shitty writer.” And here we are at the end of
2014. Two years of work and nothing to show for it. What now? You can go
downstream to smaller presses, which you know, might give you less money up front
but will still distribute as widely as any of the larger ones. Or you can go
indie or you can self publish. I mean that kind of makes sense. If you have a
platform already, self-publishing does mean you get to keep a much bigger cut
of the money that comes in for you. But there is a third option. We got us a
trunk novel. The trunk novel! Everyone has one. They don’t. So yeah. I could have self-published.
Even now, I get a lot of people asking me why I didn’t, because like, you know,
hey, there’s no shame in it. And also you’d make a lot more money with your
platform. And well, okay, first of all, I don’t know about that. I’m gonna I’m
gonna have to disagree with you there, part– And secondly I did not want to
self-publish. Like I self publish right here. Like this is what I’m doing.
That’s what YouTube is. All I do is self publish. But ultimately, the reason that I
trunked it was because I felt that the reason it wasn’t selling wasn’t
because the market was necessarily hostile to that sort of thing (which it
totally was), but because it wasn’t ready. And by extension, I was not ready. I had
not put in the work. I had not done the hours. And there are many people who
would call this flawed thinking. After all, publishing is very fickle, and they
always play it safe, and most of the time whenever you get a no from an agent or
publisher, it isn’t because they don’t like it, it’s because they don’t think
they can sell it. They don’t think it will move copies. Yeah, after my book
comes out we will…we can talk about the… the why it was a hard sell.
But the TLDR is it doesn’t really fit with any kind of publishing trends right
now. That’s it. That was actually simple. But at the end of the day, in my heart of
hearts, I knew trunk novel had major problems. Like you know, there were
definitely some contrivances. Some of it was really half-assed. It read like a
debut novel, which it was. So I put the book away. The book has been trunked.
Time to move on. Round 2. 2015/2016 we have moved on
completely. I get an idea for a new novel. Wholly unrelated to the first one. Same
genre. It doesn’t have aliens in it. I very naively thought that this one would
be more commercial despite the fact that it was still genre fiction, a thing
that no one should ever write. I very naively gave it the working title
“Commercial as F—” because I thought it would be. So I broke up with the first
literary agent. No hard feelings. Because surely I will have no problem
getting a literary agent that is more I don’t know… suited to what I’m going for.
I’m me. Huh. Looks like the lighting and setup has
slightly changed. It’s not totally because I filmed this on a different day. I still have two copies of John Scalzi’s The Consuming Fire, though. This one says happy birthday.
So I start writing “Commercial as F—” over late 2016 early
2017, and then I start querying “Commercial as F—” around mid 2017, and this one gets even less interest than the last time F—- really? This is supposed to be
commercial as f—! So yeah. I got a bunch of partial requests and a bunch of full
requests, but ultimately no offers. Asterisk. And a lot of the times it would
get rejected for reasons that would be like totally fixable. Like you know,
location or something. And it would be like oh well, I could revise that… okay.
And while we are here, the truth is these days, if your book needs a lot of
revision, or even not that much revision, agents probably aren’t going to be
interested in walking you through it. Although it does depend on the agent.
Your mileage may vary. But I did find one agent that was willing to work with it
and was really interested in fixing it. You know, “like the characters, like the
premise, but the ending is a little too bleak.” And I’m like, look it’s 2017. My
heroes are dead and my enemies are in power. What do you want? But point taken.
So she is willing to talk representation if I am able to revise the thing in a
way that she thinks can sell. But the problem is, I don’t really know how I
want to revise it. This is just where I’m at. So despite the extensive feedback
that this agent gives me, I sit on this thing for many months not quite knowing
how to fix it. But it is at this point in early 2018, a full three years after our
trunk novel has been trunked, that I go ahead and dig that one out ,maybe
thinking that will inspire me. And it is at this point that I remember what
interested me so much in that story in the first place. But it is also at this
point that the problems that had been plaguing the thing basically since its
inception become wildly obvious to me. Why is it so expository in the first
five chapters? Why is the entire third act like that? Why did I not do a
motivation better? And so trunk novel is where my inspiration goes not, “Commercial
as F—” So I start working on that instead. And what was supposed to be a
fairly modest rewrite with the intention of I guess, you know, getting the creative
juices flowing for the other one, ends up being like a complete overhaul. And by
the end of this rewrite, I have deleted about 60,000 words and written another
70,000. And so by the time I’m done with this (and this would have been about a
month after the Hobbit videos came out) I was like, hey look, a thing. I guess I have
two projects again. Sort of. And as far as I can see, trunk novel is the more
polished of the two, so why don’t we just tepidly see if there’s any interest
there. So once again, I very tepidly send out like, I don’t know, maybe ten query
letters and–No’s across the board. Okay, fine. This is clearly not meant to be.
Fine. And the flavors of the “no” are pretty much all variations on “Mmm I
don’t think I can sell that.” But here’s the thing, that revision actually did do
the thing it was intended to do, and it helps me figure out how I wanted to fix
the “bleak ending” of “Commercial as F—” So you know what? Working on trunk novel
wasn’t a total wash. So I’m working on that, and then I get an email from this
agent, telling me that she is leaving the agenting industry. Jesus Christ. All right, fine. Fine. I give
up. I give up. The end. Oh wait no, this is about like triumph or something.
Never give up. Except for I totally gave up. And this is where my #privilege comes in.
So it was almost around this exact time that this rando
in Brooklyn emails me like, “Hey, I’m a literary agent. Do you have one?”
And this was not the only thing that was going on in my life.
Like, if you watch the talk I did for XOXO 2019, which is on their YouTube
channel, this was around that time. So you know, my heroes are dead. My enemies are
in power. Not a great time. So he askes me if I have anything that I’d be willing
to share and I’m like, okay, which one do you want? Do you want “Commercial as F—”
or do you want trunk novel? And he says whichever one is more done. So trunk
novel it is. So basically, in very short order, he does pinpoint the issue with
why agents thought that they could not sell this. And one of these days, I might
talk about the issue, and no it wasn’t about like problematic content or gender
or anything. But it was very small and ultimately very fixable.
It was kind of on the level of like, hey, this takes place in Santa Monica. What if
it took place in San Diego instead? We’ll talk about it one day. So this dude (his
name is Christopher Hermelin, and he is part of a boutique agency in Brooklyn) he
signs me up. We do a round or two of revisions, and then we go on submission
the first week of January. That was on a Monday. I get my first phone call from an
editor on a Friday, and then after talking to a few more, ultimately it’s
sold in less than two weeks. Yep. Okay so, ultimately we come again full circle
with that question of why is my thing not selling? What is wrong with my
manuscript? Is it my manuscript that’s the problem or the market? And in my case,
it’s a little difficult to answer since I ultimately did sell to a commercial
imprint, and the book itself doesn’t really fall in line with any publishing
trends right now. So it does kind of remain to be seen just how much (if at
all) St. Martin’s gamble will pay off. Because that is kind of the reason that
agents are so bearish and they want things that are comparable to things
that I’ve already sold well. This, for the record, was mine.
Thank you, thank you for debuting at number one.
Readers are creatures of habit. They want things that are like the thing that
they’ve already read. So if I’m to come to a publisher with this book and
they’re like, “Okay, what is it about?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, it’s Independence
Day meets The Big Short. Mary Doria Russell’s Invader Zim?” I guess it’s kind of
fair for them to be like, “I don’t really care if it’s any good or not, I don’t
know if I could sell that.” The point here being is that it is honestly really
difficult to tell where the line in the sand is. Your work is not good enough and
the publisher/agent doesn’t think there is a market for it. So in conclusion, something something follow your dreams. I think it would have been
just as easy for me to be like, yeah I wrote a thing and it’s out now. And then
not, you know, cop to the ten years of… I guess failure is a strong word–struggle. And
then people will be like, “Wow! I guess you just magically did it on the first try!”
when in reality–no. Because it doesn’t do anyone any favors to act like even in a
position like mine, where I have a relatively large online platform, I
didn’t have to put in the work and go through a lot of rejection. But here is
what I have learned from the thing. Learning to write, learning to be a
novelist, and the publishing industry in general is incredibly incredibly slow-
going. So you have to be incredibly patient. And looking back, the best choice
I made in the whole thing was choosing to trunk that novel in 2014. So the fact
that I was able to get in another five years of writing experience actually
helped the thing get to a level where it could sell to a major publisher and
hopefully will be, you know, not hated by a plurality of you. So in some ways, I
think fiction is more difficult to publish than nonfiction because it’s
harder to really gauge demand for. But that is not to say that nonfiction is
easier. It’s just different. But a lot of people’s success really is owed to luck
and timing. These people that you hear of that get these like debut novels with
six-figure advances, and you know, they tend to be YA…
they hit at the right point in the right genre, but they also tend to be
outliers. For instance, if you were querying a YA dystopia in 2009, you’re
probably going to get different results from querying the same book in 2019.
Few years ago, author Jim C. Heinz did a survey of traditionally-published
authors to see how long it actually took them to get published, and the average
length of time was…drumroll…11 years. So what does that mean for this channel?
Is this going to turn into this shameless self-promotion channel?
Well no, not yet. I mean in six months it will. But I do imagine that this has shed some light on why
this channel hasn’t been as prolific as it has been in years past. And one more
thing with regard to pre-orders–and this applies to pretty much all traditionally-
published authors–is if you want to support an author, and you plan on buying
the book anyway, pre-orders are a great way to do that because it helps the
publisher decide where they are going to end up, you know, spending their resources.
Who gets the marketing, who gets to go on a book tour. Pre-orders are basically
their barometer to, you know, who gives a shit. So if you want to pre-order American
Three-body Problem for Girls, the link is in the description. It is available in
hardcover and Kindle right now. I guess the paperback will be like, I don’t know,
six months or a year after that. And yeah, this won’t be the last video of this
kind. I will probably be doing a lot more process/publishing industry-type
stuff in the months and years to come. Although yes, don’t worry, we will still
be doing traditional video essay type stuff too. So yeah, I know
everybody can’t wait for this youtuber book. This should be…this should be an
interesting journey that we can all go on together. Hope this was some help and
if it wasn’t, well, hope at least it was entertaining to watch. This is gonna be a long year.
Happy end of the decade everybody!

100 thoughts on “How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less

  1. I'm in an MFA program right now, and my workshop professor says he doesn't like self-publishing because it enables writers who haven't given their work the time and attention it needs to truly be a serious piece of writing.

  2. Great video. I have been writing for twelve years, (although not constantly), and I have done far more writing than querying. Currently I have written four novels, but I think I only have around seven rejections to my name. So, I agree with everything you said. I am currently looking at self publishing, although it is really NOT what I want to do, but I would like to get one of my novels out there before I die. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing your experiences, and congratulations on publishing your first novel! You are living my dream!

  3. I have an animal fantasy novel (It's furry literature, essentially. Think Zootopia, but the villain is a murdering psychopath.) that I wrote completely unaware that there is a word limit for a debut novel. I was well aware of the word minimum and kept calling it a novella until it reached 80K words. I didn't know that if your debut novel is much over 100K words, you are basically screwed. My novel is 244K words, and the sequel is already over 90K. I guess the first could be split into three books with cliffhanger endings for the first two, but I don't really like the idea. It already has a tense ending that leads into the sequel, but it does resolve the central conflict.

    I haven't tried to get an agent, but I have pretty much exhausted the publishers who accept direct submissions (still waiting on Polis and Tor/Forge and will probably try Soho when they reopen submissions next year). Then I will probably just self-publish. I am thinking about trying to use Patreon to get some people following my work, but I will probably ultimately self-publish and just buy some ads on FurAffinity or maybe Twitter because I just want some people who might like it to read it and connect with my characters. If 5 people read it and 3 of them like it, I will be happy. If 50 people read it and at least half like it, I will be blown away. It's animal fantasy. I have the majority of the animal fantasy ever published by a major publisher, and most of it is Redwall or Warrior Cats, two series that just churned out books. So I am well aware it is a niche market.

  4. Dude you're so chilled out, and almost pissed, about getting two agents as well as a book deal (congrats btw) and I freak out when I receive even a personalised rejection from agents. 😂

  5. Me: *Writing major + Communication/Advertising minor hoping to become an author and work in a publishing house as a lifelong career*: Oh this is going to hurt, isn't it?

  6. So disappointed that you are part of the group that thinks literary agents are needed. They are THE WORST part of the publishing industry. YOU DON'T NEED AN AGENT TO PUBLISH A BOOK!!!!! Especially in the days of digital books and self published authors! So so so so disappointed in you Lindsay. Normally you research everything so well. Why go Traditional when wanting to become a published author???
    And I am sorry but you becoming a part of the industry that regularly f*cks over authors is for me the reason to say goodbye to you. I can, morally, no longer support you in any way.

  7. Point #1) appreciate the reference to Jenny Trout's seminal, ongoing opus "The Business Centaur's Virgin Temp"
    Point #2) Hi Eliza! Hope you're doing fine, hope these comment don't get too awful! Happy Holidays!

  8. Me right now: Do I pre-order it, or do I just don't because want more video essays?

    I pre-ordered it. But will leave a bad review if video essays stop happening, be warned. :*

  9. this makes me feel so validated, like, I relate harrrrrrrd to the constant rejection thing, but having a little more knowledge of why the thing does what it does it low key very helpful. Looking forward to the book and more video essays in the future!

  10. ”Lets be real, if you got the creative side down you probably don’t do very good with contracts and marketing yourself”
    Me: *violently sobs in artist*

  11. "I know a lot of people who subscribe to this channel are creatives or aspiring to be creatives… "
    Well, shit. I'll see myself out…

  12. Congratulations on being published. Everyone who wants to write needs a reality check at some point, and lots of people will learn from this that they need to be better at writing, flexible, and patient. Or just add a bunch of bondage stuff to someone else's work and change the names.

  13. 29:47 – Please do. As a wannabe-published author myself this has been very eye-opening and helpful, and I'd love to see and learn more.

  14. Interesting. Re platform numbers as a base for marketing.
    I wonder if the math is similar
    To what I have heard said about flyer's. Supposedly response to flyer's in mail boxes gets about 3 percent of people reading them to show up in a store. Doesn't mean buying.
    So if you have 100 tube subscriber's. Maybe 3 people might buy the book??
    (thks mom dad n Nana)
    Translated to the size of this channel. Round off the subs to 850 k. Means maybe 25.5 k books?
    Maybe. just cause 3 percent might look at it
    Doesn't mean they will buy.
    (dad?? Wtf, what do you mean you are fine with reading drafts 1 through 24, well I love you anyways)
    Lol. Glad I'm just a tradesmen
    Not a novelist.
    Good hopes Lindsey.

  15. I love how I literally just had an argument about how no one wants to read science fiction (the argument was about me writing science fiction and then I said "but nobody wants to read that") and here you are, confirming it for me. And now I'm gonna share your video as my argument. Thankies 😉

  16. Another problem I would probably have would be fighting with the agent or editor over edits. From high school right through my PhD dissertation, a central fact of my writing process is that I write essentially one draft. I make minor edits (change some words, move things around, add more data or references in the case of peer-reviewed articles) if I need to. I never do an extensive rewrite. My attitude about my novel is "This is what happened. The story cannot be changed.". This is another reason I will almost definitely self-publish.

  17. "There's a business centaur that owns a company and he's just living his life until one day a plucky young virgin becomes his secretary."

    If you don't write it I will, and I'm calling it Secretariat's Secretary.

  18. I don't get why publishers have to go along with every single trend thats going on in the world. Isn't that kinda pathetic? Instead of following the trend, why not, you know, become the trendsetter.

  19. Her honesty is very refreshing, I only recently discovered her, but quickly shot to the top for me.. although half the stuff she says goes over my head but still

  20. Hey, Lindsay! I'm not a novelist or anything but as a musician this video really motivated me to keep trying to get my own material off the ground. Thanks and congratulations!

  21. For some reason I feel like this would have been better as a Drinking Lindsay video. We could all take a drink every time she talked about something disappointing, or disturbingly familiar, or… Choose Your Own Adventure.

  22. Has dreams of being a published author since childhood, does a lot of writing in high school

    Falls off after high school for as juggling work, college, social life and other hobbies strains my time management as it is

    Time passes, is now a 33 year old majority-stay-at-home dad, kid just reached school age. At last, I have time to write again! Fuck yeah! Feeling so encouraged

    Watches this video

    Oh.
    Oh no.

  23. I am so proud of you!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing your story! I have recently been considering getting into writing fiction and this video was really helpful in helping me know what to expect. I look forward to more videos about writing and publishing.

  24. This could have been explained in a less than 5 minute video without losing any information or detail. I hope you don't write like this.

  25. Thanks for the video. Your ability to show your vulnerability is great. As evidenced by your videos, you are a true craftsperson. I can’t wait to see your book.

  26. Lindsay,

    Congrats! The road to publication is rough. Sent my first novel out to agents back in 2016 and had approximately 160 rejections with a surprising amount of partial requests and two full requests. Probably a shitty book, but hey, it was a learning experience.

    Know what bothers me? Started off with screenwriting and all they talked about was the pitch and query. Took fiction courses and they seemed to pretty much hate publishing. Aspiring author? Don't sell out! Money bad, literature good. That sort of thing. Don't know if anyone else experienced the same attitude.

    Glad to see your career moving forward and best of luck,

    Jimmy

  27. And here we are in Russia stuck in 1970s' limbo with "direct to publishers" (we have, like, only two literacy agencies and three big(ish) publishing houses (with 15 000 books per year total, 2/5 (or even more) of which are translations), so, basically, it's still mostly a game of luck and great timing. My first (and maybe last) publishing experience was… not very good. In many ways.

    Thanks for the dive into the process though, it will never not be amusing for me. C:
    (I'm in the middle of revising one of my old manuscripts myself, so the video hits some weak points.)
    And good luck with the book, can't wait!

  28. I've been watching your videos since your first Pocahontas review on the site that shall not be mentioned, and I've always found you insightful and intelligent. All the best to you in your life and career 🙂

  29. The advice I’ve always heard is that over writing to cut back the unnecessary bits, and always be willing to cut more and more. It may feel like it went from an eloquent cape into a fishing net, and even then, be ready for people to say no forever.

    I haven’t been published because I have a passion for the craft(never thought this would be presented as a massive negative but it is true) and refuse to even try to get it published until I have created a cohesive whole that my fellow writers also find to be solid. I am not aiming for artsy, just solid and compelling. I’m not trying to create some complex luxury piece that uses only the choicest of gorilla scrotum, I want to create a solid and delicious casserole to embarrass Tina at the potluck.

  30. Wow, ze maven was lucky.
    And greetings from the sharks in from terible writing advise universe. A kindred self deprivating spirit.
    Fun channel.

    And good luck with commercial as fuck if you overhaul that . And may the invisible hand be with you.

  31. Kobo e-book – $15. Sounds like a great addition to my library. Our favorite thing is to take our Kobo with us on our extended canoe trips in the deep boreal forest of Canada. My wife and I take turn reading chapters each night by the fire before snuggling into the tent. This book seems right up our alley. Good luck on the sales! K

    p.s. our next trip of 21 days will be Aug 2020…for the sake of my wife and mine's pleasure, please have it released on time for July 🙂

  32. Speaking of novels, I have a deep wish for Nella's Review Saga of that book with the two tiger bros and Mr. Kadam (can't remember the title worth for shit, but hot damn, I can remember Kadam) to come out of the Lindsay Vault. Those were some good times.

  33. I've watched your stuff for 10 years Lindsay but I never thought I'd see a Gundam related item on your shelf, much less one of those expensive The Origin hardbacks

  34. Thank you for this video. I've actually been looking into all this for my novel, and you shed some light on this for me.

  35. Can I handle that many rejection letters? I don't know…I've lost count of my rejection letters. Yes, I literally papered a wall in my apartment with them. Then I took them down, put them in a file and forgot about them.
    The over-the-transom submission model took a little longer than that to fade away, but, yeah, it's one with disco. I'm sure the correlation is merely coincidental….
    If I told you how many trunk novels I have, it would sound like bragging.
    I got one literary agent semi-interested in my work once. She said, "You need to hire a professional editor before I will consider representing you." I contacted the editor she recommended. The editor said, "I need $2000." I told my wife, "Honey, I need $2000 for a professional editor." She laughed herself sick. Then she hit me in the head with a baseball bat. Then she strung me up by my heels in the garage to reinforce the lesson.
    Bottom line, I gave up on trad publishing years ago.
    Really good, honest video. Congratz.

  36. Then of course you could never make it, expose your impatience a bit too much and lose pretty much all trust of everyone around you while you find yourself stuck in the quest to make it till the day you die.
    Not speaking out of experience, just a possibility.

    As for the fate of this channel being strictly video essays on movies or book promos, it's up to you. I guess you'll have to stick to whatever is successful but in the end, you do you.

  37. I pre-ordered a copy! When it delivers on July 21, 2020, I'm going to cross out the title and change it to "My Trunk Novel".

  38. This is a very interesting story and insight for the publishing of a book. Also I spot Gundam The Origin on your self, nice.

  39. Wait, did you move the books around between shots? Narnia wasn't in that shelf, and where did IT and Infinite Jest go? What is going on here?

  40. It may defeat the purpose, but I purchased the Kindle version and then it hit me like a ton of books: Paperback would be a better measure for demand.

  41. Trying to pitch my novel "Don't say it's Mafia erotica, don't say it's Mafia erotica, don't say it's Mafia erotica!"
    deep breath "So my novel is a romance crime drama with strong themes of corruption, lost of innocence, and the perils of capitalism."

  42. Hey, you might want to ask McMillan to add the following link for Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Lindsay_Ellis_Axiom_s_End?id=VdG1DwAAQBAJ to their links page for your book at https://read.macmillan.com/lp/axioms-end/. Apropos of which, a quick correction to your video: there are pre-order options for ebooks for Google Books and Nook, not just Kindle.

  43. Great video! Really needed this as I am going through a shitty time. Question though. What are my odds of getting a literary agent if I am someone who writes in English but lives in a non-English speaking country?

  44. I self-published a novel this march because I wanted to be able to say I published something before I was 20, and I'm lazy and overwhelmed at the prospect of marketing so I've still only sold maybe a couple dozen copies. loved this look at the traditional route and the catharsis of hearing someone else struggle

  45. Love this video and I'm glad Lindsey was so honest-Publishing is so so so so hard and any first time author looking to publish should know this going in so that they brace themselves for the struggle and their expectations are realstic so their naive artistic heart is not crushed

  46. Definitely preordering this after the holidays!

    As for the video contents: thanks for being transparent about the process! As someone who plays around with the idea of writing more inclusive romance novels, it really gives me an idea of what to expect if I decide to get more serious about it 🙂

  47. I'll start by saying congratulations on publishing the book.

    It's something that I've grappled with for years as a writer. I want to get my work out there, but I also don't want to wait (read: have the patience) to work the system despite knowing it could do me better. I also lack confidence that anyone wants to read 500 pages that feel influenced by mumblecore's desire to sit around and just talk about life.

    I self-published my first novel ("Apples & Chainsaws," now available on Amazon for $14) in July, and as rewarding as it was to write, I definitely think formatting, design, and marketing have been a pain. I wanted to release it just to prove I could, especially since I'm already 30 and feel like I've become a late-bloomer career-wise. I just want something to say I was here.

    Thank you for the inspiring video, even if it makes me wonder if I should just trunk my future work if it doesn't sell. It's hard to gauge because again, I lack confidence in reaching the next phase because I want to keep moving forward to the next project. Still, knowing what self-publishing offers, I recognize the perks now of having someone else help. I hope to take notes from this video or my next project.

    (sorry for confirming here that writers aren't concise)

  48. I am a fellow creative (author of two published novels, debuting a third in 2020), and when I heard that you had wrangled yourself a paid book deal, I erroneously assumed that you had gotten the book deal purely because of your existing following as a video essayist/vlogger/influencer. I remember being genuinely angry about that – so I'm really glad that you put out this video and set me straight. I've preordered your book, and look forward to reading it.

  49. Praying for you Lindsay, your family, and friends my friend. I hope y'all feel better and all goes well for y'all soon. God bless y'all. Feel free to message me if y'all ever need someone to talk to. Remember forgiveness towards the people that have hurt y'all can really help y'all. God loves y'all.

  50. I've been in Revise and Resubmit limbo with agents for a few years now, and this video is triggering me 🙂 Also, congrats!!!

  51. Entertaining and helpful. Im sure many of us are like me, just preparing to take a first crack at this venture … eep.

  52. As someone who grew up dreaming of publishing a fiction book and then gave up writing in high school to focus on school and subsequently has not picked it up and is now 3 days away from an exam which will determine if I'm fit to do a PhD in molecular biology or not… thank you for this. As horrible as it sounds, it really demystified the process and made it sound doable… just long winded. I have 4 finished novel-ish-length stories I wrote years and years ago. Perhaps I will pull one out and revise it for a while, you've inspired me.
    Congratulations!! I hope the book does well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *