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I'm shitty, I want to write a book, and I don't care if I fail.

Edgler VessEdgler Vess Registered User regular
Some quick background: I am an Air Traffic Controller for the Department of Defense. Strangely enough my marriage....is fucking awesome, we have great communication, we do things together, we have similar interests. But just like any other real life couple (we have been married 14 years) sometimes, things go to shit. I think I have a good angle to approach this, but it would be a very "male-centric" type of book.

I am willing to break even on a book after writing it and paying someone to edit it, but is that even possible? My friends say it would probably work, and I would LOVE to (seriously) make my book work just to break even, but I have the absolute fuck all of knowledge to get any of this started. Keep in mind I have a good job and dont need to make money making my book, but I would rather not get my shit wrecked.

Minimum risk?

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Posts

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    Write the book first.

    EsseeTPSouHacksawYoSoyTheWalrus
  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    Quick and easy way to get your book "out there" is self-publishing via Amazon. Going that route it makes it difficult to get thy shit wrecked, so I'd consider that minimal risk.

    More traditional publishing is a bit trickier to navigate, requiring some gymnastics, particularly for a first-time author. That's a larger time commitment, potentially a few years all said and done. Writing, editing, rewriting, pitching. Editing, specifically, I've heard runs from $1000 to $2000. Those numbers could be dated, so hopefully somebody more current knows the market. I don't consider that a substantial investment for something you really want to do, but it's nothing to sneeze at. The largest sink in the whole process will be your time. Is the time lost worth the process? If so, the risk isn't substantial this route either.

    There's a lot more advice to be had if you're looking into more specifics of publishing, but in regards to breaking even, it's probably less likely than likely, if you consider your time any kind of investment into potential earnings. That isn't to say don't embark, but know it's a saturated market, particularly with the rules of publishing changing with the advent of Amazon's marketplace.

    For the most substantial advice, you'll probably want this book: Writer's Market.

    Steam: hewn
    Warframe: TheBaconDwarf
  • MentalExerciseMentalExercise Indefenestrable Registered User regular
    Happened to recently hear an NPR show that suggested $2,000-$5,000 for good professional editing, which probably isn't out of the question for an ATC, provided the DoD pays commensurately with the TSA.

    "More fish for Kunta!"

    --LeVar Burton
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    If you want to write a book, write a book. It does not cost you anything to open up your office suite of choice and put words in.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    EsseetynicDoctorArchDhalphirh3nduYoSoyTheWalrus
  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    If you want to write a book, write a book. It does not cost you anything to open up your office suite of choice and put words in.

    Yeah, pretty much this. Also, really, if all you care about is getting the book written and not losing a lot of money getting it out to people, you could even just write the book and post it in ebook form on a free Wordpress site with a tip jar. Or go through Amazon as mentioned above. If you need your stuff to be a mass-produced physical book eventually, well, you can start worrying about that after you write the book. There are small publishers out there like Lulu... and you can always shop your stuff around to "real" publishers. I think Penguin has been pretty friendly to new authors in the past, especially internet types.

    But yeah, um, if all you're worried about is not wasting money getting your book out there, just start writing!

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Essee wrote: »
    and you can always shop your stuff around to "real" publishers

    Note: this will only work if you have a book to show them, unless you are a known quantity in the industry. Otherwise even "new-author friendly" publishers are not going to talk to you. You're not going to sell a book you haven't written unless you're Stephen King or J. K. Rowling.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited December 2012
    ...I don't understand what you mean by 'breaking even'? Like Ceres said: just write the damn book.

    If you want to publish the manuscript through a traditional publisher, you'll need to contact an agent - the agent will be who 'shops around' your book. Ceres is absolutely right that no publisher will talk to you or look at your manuscript, for all sorts of legal reasons.

    No agent worth their salt will ask for up front payment of any sort. If they do, find another agent. Most of these people earn their money as a percentage of the deal the publisher cuts with you.


    I mean, speaking of Stephen King & J.K. Rowling: both of those authors wrote & sold their first career-launching manuscripts while they were dead broke (Rowling far more so than King, because at least King had a shitty job). Paying $1,000 dollars for an editor is a joke; anyone offering to do that is basically trying to scam you. If a publisher likes your manuscript, they will do the editing for you, for free.


    EDIT: Actually, I should say - I did get feedback from Penguin Books on the first manuscript I ever mailed to anyone, including very nice editing & notes. But that was a long time ago, and Penguin's policies may have changed.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
    Essee
  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    What everyone else has said here is right: Just write the book. That's your first step. Whether you want to self-publish it or try to get it published traditionally, you can't do either until the book is written.

    And not just written once. The first draft of a book is only the start. Generally, you go through multiple drafts yourself tuning it all up and getting other people to read it and give you feedback so you can make it as good as possible.

    From there, if you want to self-publish you can think about the whole getting an editor thing.

    If you want to publish in the traditional market, you'll do what @The Ender sad and find an agent. Agents do not charge fees to read your book, like Ender said! If you go this route, the agent will then go through the process of submitting your book to publishers and will get paid (usually 15%) of what you get paid.

    There are some publishers that will look at your book without an agent, but be aware that you're generally going to be waiting a long time with them and it'll be a difficult process.

    Actually, it's worth noting right now that this is overall going to be a long process (if you can't tell already). Writing the book is going to take a while, making it good enough to be ready is going to take a while. If you want an agent, finding one will probably take a while and finding a publisher could, too.

    Regardless, the first step is to just write the book. And while you're doing that, make sure you're checking books in the same market to make sure you know what's selling, what's working out there, and so on.

    Gokai_zpsdvyiviz0.png
    Essee
  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    Paying $1,000 dollars for an editor is a joke; anyone offering to do that is basically trying to scam you.

    That's not entirely true. You're paying for somebody who is a professional and extremely talented in harnessing your work.

    That isn't to say it's a requirement when you pitch your book. Of course many authors brave it alone and do well. Good writing is good writing! But to say the many reputable editors working out there are scam artists is really an insult. They are very good at the craft, know excellent structure, and can significantly help an inexperienced author mold their work to a professional level that has a higher likelihood of success in being picked up by a publisher. I had colleagues, educators and Ph.D.'s in literature and creative writing, that took the occasional job editing. They usually had a focus, some concentrating on textbooks, for example.

    Note: I don't think it's a requirement given the scope of the OPs ambitions, but many successful authors have paid for editors. However, like all things, do your homework. Not all of these editors are created equal. The good ones are well established and have references. And getting a poor editor can be the equivalent of being scammed, I'll concede that.

    I'm in total agreement with all the pleas to simply begin writing! In regards to helping the OP with some writing inspiration should he need it, one of the finest books I've read on writing is indeed titled, On Writing by Stephen King. Here's a breakdown of his "toolbox" for writers.
    1. Vocabulary: The top drawer should include your vocabulary as it is. Don't add any GRE style words or write above your level of diction. Don't write fancy; use plain and direct language. King says that a writer should always use the first word that comes up -- no other word will mean exactly what you wanted it to mean. Write so people can understand and don't feel alienated. Don't dumb your writing down, but don't try to dress it up either. Write as you are. If you read this book, you'll find that King follows this advice all the way. His writing is crisp, clear, and direct.

    2. Grammar: According to King, "Bad grammar is bad writing" (120). Grammar is obviously an important part of writing, but he also says that if you haven't got a grasp on grammar by now, then you may never get it. The best way to acquire grammar rules without thinking about it, is to read. And as long as you have a noun and a verb, then you can't go wrong. Simple sentence constructions worked for Ernest Hemingway and other great writers -- they can work for you. But of course, if you expect more from your writing than just a noun and a verb to make a sentence, he does recommend Warriner's English Grammar and Composition: First Course.

    3. Passive vs. Active Voice: King and every other writer in the world will tell you to rid your writing of passive voice constructions. King says that when writers use passive verbs, it's usually because they are timid or passive writers/people. If you're not sure of what is meant by passive/active verbs, here is an adapted example from King himself (123).
    Passive example: The body was carried out of the kitchen.
    Active example: Freddy and Myra carried the body out of the kitchen.

    Freddy and Myra are your subjects, not the dead body (which is already passive since it's dead). When you write, look over your sentences one by one and see if you write with a passive voice. If this is your pattern, then you should make a conscious effort in changing it. As I tell my students, writers must assert themselves as authorities in their writing; otherwise, why would anyone want to read your work?

    4. Adverbs: "Adverbs are not your friends," King most ardently states. Usually ending in -ly, adverbs are used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. But as he points out, they're unnecessary. We don't need words like firmly, sadly, ardently to be placed in the prose because the prose that comes before these extra words should be telling us this stuff to begin with. Adverbs are basically redundant, extra, and unnecessary. And whatever you do, omit them from your dialogue attribution. These are phrases that tell us who said what and how ( he shouted, she pleaded, he said). Adding adverbs to these verbs weakens the dialogue and your writing.

    5. Paragraphs: King says that paragraphs are "maps of intent" (130). They tell your reader if your book is heavy and a hard read or easy and a breeze to read. Make your work easy to read by crafting paragraphs that are light, airy, and loose. Make them short and not packed tightly with verbiage. Include short paragraphs and lots of white space and dialogue. The easier it looks, the more a reader will want to buy and read it -- He won't feel overwhelmed by the heaviness of the language or the content.

    On paragraphs, King also reveals that they are not the melody of your work, but the beat, and in order to find the beat that will rock your writing, you must practice. Don't think about where paragraphs should begin and end; just sit down and keep writing until the beat finds you. To help with this, he also suggests that you read a lot of fiction: "The more fiction you read and write, the more you'll find the paragraphs forming on their own" (131).

    6. Commitment: The last drawer of you toolbox should contain your commitment to your craft. Don't let fear or your insecurities drag you down and away from what you want. Don't let bad reviews or rejection slips deter you from writing or trying to get published. Don't give up. Start small and take one paragraph at a time -- one beat at a time. Keep writing whether you write short stories, poems, novels, or non-fiction. Commit to your craft -- and stay committed.

    Steam: hewn
    Warframe: TheBaconDwarf
    Esseeh3ndu
  • AvrahamAvraham Registered User regular
    Here's a good place to start: some of Sanderson's lectures from his novel writing class at BYU



    https://www.youtube.com/user/WriteAboutDragons/videos?view=0&flow=grid

    :bz: :bz: :bzz:
    Hewnh3nduThe Ender
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited December 2012
    That isn't to say it's a requirement when you pitch your book. Of course many authors brave it alone and do well. Good writing is good writing! But to say the many reputable editors working out there are scam artists is really an insult. They are very good at the craft, know excellent structure, and can significantly help an inexperienced author mold their work to a professional level that has a higher likelihood of success in being picked up by a publisher. I had colleagues, educators and Ph.D.'s in literature and creative writing, that took the occasional job editing. They usually had a focus, some concentrating on textbooks, for example.

    I'll take your word for it, but I've never heard of anyone going to an editor outside of a publishing house to 'prep' their manuscript, and I don't see what the benefit would be. Publishers will have their own in-house editors that will be editing your manuscript anyway, no matter what professional help you get beforehand.


    EDIT: That is a fantastic video, @Avraham .


    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    I'll take your word for it, but I've never heard of anyone going to an editor outside of a publishing house to 'prep' their manuscript, and I don't see what the benefit would be. Publishers will have their own in-house editors that will be editing your manuscript anyway, no matter what professional help you get beforehand.

    Don't take my word for it, I found the NPR article that MentalExercise referenced. There's a boom popping up where non-traditional companies help authors get their self-published work as polished as possible.
    http://www.npr.org/2012/12/19/167448748/self-publishing-no-longer-just-a-vanity-project

    The benefit is that it would take a work from an inexperienced author and get it presentable for a traditional publishing company so that they'd even want to pass it along to those in-house editors.

    I'm just trying to relay the information that the OP asked for, not actually endorse the idea.

    Steam: hewn
    Warframe: TheBaconDwarf
  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    If you don't know much about the writing and publishing process, it might be a good idea to write a short story and try to get that published in a magazine before sitting down to compose a longer piece. This will give you a better idea of the writing/editing/submission system and hopefully a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

    Also keep in mind that agents and publishers probably aren't going to be breaking down your door to publish a "male-centric" novel given the current realities of the publishing market.

  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Some quick background: I am an Air Traffic Controller for the Department of Defense. Strangely enough my marriage....is fucking awesome, we have great communication, we do things together, we have similar interests. But just like any other real life couple (we have been married 14 years) sometimes, things go to shit. I think I have a good angle to approach this, but it would be a very "male-centric" type of book.

    I am willing to break even on a book after writing it and paying someone to edit it, but is that even possible? My friends say it would probably work, and I would LOVE to (seriously) make my book work just to break even, but I have the absolute fuck all of knowledge to get any of this started. Keep in mind I have a good job and dont need to make money making my book, but I would rather not get my shit wrecked.

    Minimum risk?

    John Barnes has an excellent piece on "how to write" in his short story/essay collection Apostrophes and Apocalypses. It's slanted towards science fiction writing, but most of the advice seems generally applicable. He teaches/taught creative writing as well as being an author himself.

  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Registered User regular
    If you don't care if you fail, then why are you even talking about it? WRITE THE DAMN BOOK.

    John Grisham wrote "A Time to Kill" because he had an idea after sitting in on a case with a similar premise. He wrote it and it sat in a corner of his office and collected dust for five years. He didn't write it with the intent of getting rich and famous. He wrote it for himself.

    So write your book, even if it's just for you. A monkey with a typewriter could get e-published so don't sweat the publishing aspect of it. If it's good you should be able to find an agent willing to take you on. Then you can let the agent worry about getting it published by a traditional publisher.

    “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”
  • Edgler VessEdgler Vess Registered User regular
    Not trying to resurrect my old thread, (even though thats exactly what I am doing) but I did read everything on here and well, its great. Yes, its been 8 month since I wrote this, but I never got around to starting to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Now that I am Furloughed, thanks to the radness that is our United States government (another subject in its entirety), I have A LOT of time to get real about all of this, thanks a ton for all the encouragement. In a nut shell: Just write it, if it sucks, eat it....I like it.

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