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Jessica
Posts: 968
Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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Questions for Susan Driscoll

Do you have a question for Susan, not related to any of the other discussion topics on the board? Reply to this message to start the conversation.

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doeyeou2
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-24-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Dear Susan,

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with you to understand the literary business.

I've been an avid reader for let’s say a "long" time. One business trip I was stuck in Mexico City airport for several hours with nothing to read. So, I started writing my own stories and really have come to love it. Only in recent months have I started researching the business of getting published. I have finished first drafts on 6 stories (35k words) that have a common theme/plot/character. I want to combine them into a single novel with approx. 10-12 stories.

My intention is to have an easy reading fiction story with a taste of the unusual.

I have posted my first story on the B&N “Writing Room.”

In the last few months I have come to believe it was be best to have some small stories published to gain credibility as a writer. I am on final draft of a SF story, which I hope to get published.

One question I have is about stories. Do you find that most writers work on a single story until after several edits it is of publishing quality? Or is it normal to have several stories at once of which one may be selected?

Again welcome,
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Dear Doeyeou2,

You've obviously done some research on getting published; you're correct that by getting stories published in magazines or literary journals you're more likely to land a traditional contract. You should also consider entering competitions or contests to broaden your platform.

As to your question, many successful authors have multiple stories (or even manuscripts) going at once. I remember Alice McDermott saying that she didn't know which of her manuscripts would be the next one she'd be submitting to FSG for publication (nothing like a deadline to help an author make that decision!) Other authors are more deliberate and choose to perfect one story at a time.

I'd suggest that if you're focussed on the creative process, then work on multiple stories at once. If you're focussed on getting published, at some point choose the best of your stories and work to polish and fine tune it. Be sure to be open to criticism--even though it's painful, getting and responding to third party opinions is the best way to improve your writing.

And now to other writers out there--which approach do you prefer?

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
New User
JessQ
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎05-31-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

While someday (soon, I hope) I will have a more traditional story to work on getting published, for the moment I am passing the time by writing and illustrating childrens' stories. While advice I have read suggests that it is preferable that one write a childrens' story and let the pulisher or agent select an illustrator, I feel very strongly about my unique, slightly wacky collage art, as I feel it lends a certain flavor to the story (plus I really, really enjoy doing it). Is there a specific avenue a writer and illustrator would need to persue in order to publish a complete work? I am pretty much new to this process in general, and signed up for this discussion board in order to possibly be pointed in the right direction; so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Susan_Driscoll
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll


JessQ wrote:
While someday (soon, I hope) I will have a more traditional story to work on getting published, for the moment I am passing the time by writing and illustrating children's' stories. While advice I have read suggests that it is preferable that one write a childrens' story and let the pulisher or agent select an illustrator, I feel very strongly about my unique, slightly wacky collage art, as I feel it lends a certain flavor to the story (plus I really, really enjoy doing it). Is there a specific avenue a writer and illustrator would need to persue in order to publish a complete work? I am pretty much new to this process in general, and signed up for this discussion board in order to possibly be pointed in the right direction; so any advice would be greatly appreciated.




Jess,

It's certainly possible to publish a complete children's book. I was at a seminar last week and met a woman who had put together a professional presentation of her concept for a children's series; she connected there with an agent who was very interested in both the text and the illustrations. To get started (and to have your book in print) you might consider a publishing services provider that offers color production and publishing. Those companies will, for a fee, help you design, lay out and produce your book and will even put it into online distribution (including distribution through bn.com!) If you type "self publishing color children's books" into your favorite search engine you'll see a wide range of choices.
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Reader
nathaliemathy
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Hi Susan

I am budding young writer based in Belgium. While I am not yet 100% ready to go out and publish my book, I hope to one day share what I enjoy doing the most with other people.
What would be your publication recommendations for someone like me who is working in a non english speaking country but writing in english? To contact UK based publishers? US based publishers?
thanks so much for your help
Nathalie
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



nathaliemathy wrote:
Hi Susan

I am budding young writer based in Belgium. While I am not yet 100% ready to go out and publish my book, I hope to one day share what I enjoy doing the most with other people.
What would be your publication recommendations for someone like me who is working in a non english speaking country but writing in english? To contact UK based publishers? US based publishers?
thanks so much for your help
Nathalie




Nathalie,

Since you're just getting started, you're most likely to find success closer to home. Publishers will want you to be actively involved in marketing your book (and if you self-publish, you'll need to do your own marketing) and it's easiest to start locally.

Some companies, including iUniverse, publish books that are printed and distributed in both the US and the UK. So, if you do decide to go the self-published route you do have options.

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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tntodaro
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-06-2007
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Re: Susan Driscoll Speaking in Los Angeles?

I am with the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the California Writer's Club, established in 1909 by author Jack London. We have 17 chapters state-wide.

If you are going to be in Los Angeles, we would love to have you come speak to our writer's group. Given enough notice, we would also invite members from the San Fernando Valley and Orange County chapters. We meet the third Saturday afternoon of each month, but would naturally try to accommodate your schedule.

As half the group are professional writers and half are unpublished writers, I know there are members interested in self-publishing.

Regards,
Tony N. Todaro
Vice-President
CWC/GLA
tntodaro@lightrider.com
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Susan Driscoll Speaking in Los Angeles?



tntodaro wrote:
I am with the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the California Writer's Club, established in 1909 by author Jack London. We have 17 chapters state-wide.

If you are going to be in Los Angeles, we would love to have you come speak to our writer's group. Given enough notice, we would also invite members from the San Fernando Valley and Orange County chapters. We meet the third Saturday afternoon of each month, but would naturally try to accommodate your schedule.

As half the group are professional writers and half are unpublished writers, I know there are members interested in self-publishing.

Regards,
Tony N. Todaro
Vice-President
CWC/GLA
tntodaro@lightrider.com




Tony,

I enjoy meeting with authors and would be very happy to speak to your group. My office will be in contact to arrange a date.

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
New User
tntodaro
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-06-2007
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Re: Susan Driscoll Speaking in Los Angeles?

Great.
I can be reached at:

Tony N. Todaro
President, Creative Director
Todaro Communications, Inc.

Studio 310.379.2650
Mobile 310.621.3530

tntodaro@todarodesign.com
or
tntodaro@lightriders.com
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magicalbookworm
Posts: 61
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Hello!
So I'm wondering where this class is going to go now? Other classes that Barnes and Noble have offered have had assigments and other activties to keep us busy. But so far there hasn't been anything like that. I do hope that there will be some actives that can help with query writing or writing a synopsis.
Hope to see some classes posted soon!
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doeyeou2
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-24-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



If you're focussed on getting published, at some point choose the best of your stories and work to polish and fine tune it. Be sure to be open to criticism--even though it's painful, getting and responding to third party opinions is the best way to improve your writing.

And now to other writers out there--which approach do you prefer?

Susan




I have finished the SF story I previously mentioned and I'm now ready to attempt the impossible, getting it published. I know writing is extremely subjective and what one editor likes another may not. So luck in the beginning plays a large part. Assuming the story is first rejected, how does one determine if its the reader or the story? Since, I like the story and all who have read it, like the story (its has undergone 2345 drafts, lol). How do I/we get a professional to comment? If the story is considered good, but needs a little work how can we know?

Second, if it is a nice piece of work and only needs the correct audience, how many submissions to various organizations are needed to improve the odds of acceptance.

Do writers submit the same story to several places at once? I see that as a way of getting a lot of "no's" quickly, but also if a couple of editors like the story you could be upsetting people you don't want to upset. Or is it normal to have several submissions at once?

Finally, you mention writing contests. Any suggestions?

Cheers,
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Debby4ever
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Hi Susan,
What seminar were you attending? Could I get information on where to find such seminars please. I have a book I self-published that is being used as a text at a small college. My book is called, "Make A Difference...A Practical Approach to Dementia Care." It is based on my real experience in helping to design a dementia assessment process for people in Long Term Care as well as my experience in taking care of my father. Do you know of any seminars that might benefit me in getting my book either published or more widely distributed? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Debby
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

I've been asked to guide a discussion rather than offer a course, but I'll make it a point to include some suggested assignments along the way so that everyone can hone their skills and learn from the work of each other. Thanks for the suggestion!
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll


doeyeou2 wrote:


If you're focussed on getting published, at some point choose the best of your stories and work to polish and fine tune it. Be sure to be open to criticism--even though it's painful, getting and responding to third party opinions is the best way to improve your writing.

And now to other writers out there--which approach do you prefer?

Susan




I have finished the SF story I previously mentioned and I'm now ready to attempt the impossible, getting it published. I know writing is extremely subjective and what one editor likes another may not. So luck in the beginning plays a large part. Assuming the story is first rejected, how does one determine if its the reader or the story? Since, I like the story and all who have read it, like the story (its has undergone 2345 drafts, lol). How do I/we get a professional to comment? If the story is considered good, but needs a little work how can we know?

Second, if it is a nice piece of work and only needs the correct audience, how many submissions to various organizations are needed to improve the odds of acceptance.

Do writers submit the same story to several places at once? I see that as a way of getting a lot of "no's" quickly, but also if a couple of editors like the story you could be upsetting people you don't want to upset. Or is it normal to have several submissions at once?

Finally, you mention writing contests. Any suggestions?

Cheers,




You've asked a number of questions here and I'm not qualified to answer all of them, but I do have some suggestions. First, visit your local B&N and spend time browsing the magazine section. There, you'll likely find genre-related publications and those publications will have contests and submission guidelines. Second, do an online search for publications and writing contests in your genre. You'll need to spend several hours wading through the search results, but keep notes of the sites that are relevant and the information that you find. General publications like Writer's Digest have great information about contests and they often have genre-specific issues.

On the topic of multiple submissions, most editors today understand how difficult it is to get published and are therefore OK with having an author submit to several publications at once. The key is to write a separate, personalized letter with each submission, and to notify everyone else as soon as you receive an offer.

With regard to reviews, there are a number of paid review services; I like Kirkus Discoveries because the reviewers are unbiased. And although I'm not here to pitch iUniverse, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the editorial evaluation service that we offer to authors who choose to publish with us. You can learn more about it, and the other editorial services we offer, at the iUniverse Web site.

I do have a few words of caution: beware of contests that require hefty application or submission fees. There are many people out there who make a hefty profit by running contests, and those people aren't necessarily qualified to judge quality. Find out who is judging the contest, who has previously won the contest, and what the winners received.
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Debby,

I suggest you ask your local librarian or bookstore manager to recommend local writing clubs or conferences. There are book festivals in most major cities, and those festivals generally offer an educational track. Or, check online or in writing publications for information on writing conferences or book festivals.

Good luck!

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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tally
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-15-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Susan,
I understand that literary agents are there to help an author get a publisher, but are they an absolute necessity? And what exactly is the price range for one? If I do get a literary agent, should I get one that is relatively close to my location, or does it really matter what state they are in?
I just want to know if getting a literary agent is truly the right way to go.

-Tal
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Paul_Ulrich
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Question: Getting a Published Book to Readers

Hi, Susan. I posted this in the writers' room, but you're probably better positioned to answer some of the questions...

There are lots of books on writing novels and a fair number on finding an agent or publisher (but good luck doing that for us first-timers!)

Let's say you've made it past those two high hurdles. Now you've got a (potentially) even bigger one: getting books to the readers. If you're one of the fortunate few who lands a big contract with a major publisher, they'll take care of all that for you. If you're like the rest of us, and somehow manage to snag a small publisher, they sometimes don't have the budget or experience to do it right, or if you self-publish, then you've got to do this yourself (or pay someone like iUniverse to do it).

However, I haven't seen any good books on the subject. Do you know of any? What percentages are fair in the value chain - how much should the distributor get, how much the wholesaler, how much the retailer, not to mention the printer, and anyone else? It's those kinds of numbers I'd like to learn about.

My first novel, SAUDI MATCH POINT, has just come out from Blacksmith Books. The publisher has handled about 10 other books before, but only one other novel, so he seems almost as new at this as I am. Or maybe he just doesn't have the time that I think he should be devoting to the effort.

We have one major disadvantage: we're both located in Hong Kong, site of a small market for English books and far from the major one: the U.S. The publisher did a print run of 2000 copies, and seems content to sell them in the local shops and via the Blacksmith website, for which he provides free international shipping. He seems to think (a) it's not cost effective to ship the books to Amazon or B&N for online sales there, or (b) they wouldn't stock it properly unless we had a U.S. distributor.

Is there any one with similar experience in this area? If so, what are bulk shipping rates like, and is that an option for B&N? We're still waiting to hear from U.S. distributors as to whether they're interested. In addition to regular or online book outlets, I think the novel would also do well in some of the non-traditional channels like supermarkets or Wal-Marts since it's a topical subject and priced competitively at under ten dollars.
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magicalbookworm
Posts: 61
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

I was really hoping that this "class" might help me write a query letter that would make an agent take notice. Or help me decide if it's easier to go with publishing houses that you don't have to go through agent first, or if its best to have agent behind you.

I was also hoping that there would be some information on how to polish your work for publishing. Should you find a beta reader? Should find pay a beta reader? If you don't have money for such a thing, how do you have a beta reader? I've also heard of alpha readers (those who read the novel as it's being wrote) are they needed? Does it help in the long run of getting published?

Hopefully some of the sugguested assignments you mentioned might help me answer some of these questions :smileyhappy:
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Tal,

I'll address your questions in the next few weeks, but the short answer to your first question is yes--you do need an agent if you're looking to be published by a mainstream publisher, but no--you don't need an agent if you're willing to self-publish or use a publishing services provider.

I'll provide advice on how to find an agent, but you should NEVER pay an agent a fee. Reputable agents work on commission and won't work with you unless they believe that they can sell your work to a publisher.

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse