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Author Topic: The Path to Publishing for Middle Grade
Member # 9183

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I am working on a middle grade fantasy novel (possibly to be a series). My primary motivation is writing for my boys, who are babies now, but will one day hopefully love to read.

So here are a couple questions:
1.) Do you think eBooks is or will be a viable media for mid-grade or YA? Now or in 5 years? 10 years?
2.) I anticipate that the print market will continue to decline from here and I see the painstaking efforts people are going through to get published. I don't want to throw away 4 novels to maybe be published on a fifth novel. Writing is a hobby for me and very unlikely to be a viable career. Is self-publishing the route to go? Is it only vanity? I would still like to reach an audience more than my acquaintances (but I certainly don't anticipate becoming the next Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling or the likes thereof). I worry that sending to 20+ agents or 20+ publishers will become too time-consuming and detract me from cranking out additional novels. Also it will keep my initial novels from getting into any kind of publication (even if it is self-pub).

I've read through some of the old posts, but am curious what people's thoughts are given my goals.

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Member # 9277

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Regarding e-books for Middle Grade/YA - based on articles that I have read lately I would say it is most definitely the format for the younger generation.

These kids were born in the internet-age, reading and learning from leapster, many tweens own cellphones, so naturally Kindles and iPod Touch are starting to show up on their Christmas lists.

I've also read that school libraries and public libraries are starting to offer ebooks. A school district in Utah bought several kindles. So, I believe readers for MG/YA are quite familiar with the ebook format and will probably be their format of choice.

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Member # 8368

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Well, self-publshing is a personal decision.

But, to me, the break point isn't the format--print or e-book. Either way, there are a lot of services that publishers will still offer. Marketing is a big one. Somebody will still have to convince readers that your story is worth buying. And there's going to be a lot more stuff out there for them to sift through, not all of it good. The imprint of a publisher acting as gate keeper for some level of quality will still be meaningful.

Okay, query letters and synopses are a pain in the neck. But once they're done, it takes very little time to personalize three queries a week and send them out. (I can attest to that from personal experience.) You'd spend a lot more of your precious writing time trying to do the marketing yourself. Without a publisher behind you, I think you'd be lucky to get your book into your local library and your local bookstore--never mind nationwide.

I know what I'm good at, and marketing isn't it. I'll leave that to the professionals. But that's my choice.

BTW, my fifth novel, MAGE STORM, is also Middle Grade.
I'll start querying it early next year.

My experience about the "waste" of those earlier novels:
My first novel really shouldn't have been published, even though I queried over twenty agents with it. It needs a complete rewrite. The second is a sequel to the first; enough said. The third, I think is publishable, but it's possible that I mis-"marketed" it as adult, when it should be YA. The fourth is complete, but needs another revision and will be YA. None of them, whatever their fate, were wasted. I'm a much better writer now than when I started THE SHAMAN'S CURSE.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited November 27, 2010).]

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Member # 9314

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Wordcaster- send out queries to publishers while working on the next book. If after 20-30 editors you have no offers, then you can think about e-publishing (while querying the next book). You've got nothing to lose but a little time, and the e-reader market isn't going anywhere. There'd be no harm done trying the traditional route first and then thinking about putting the book up as an ebook if it doesn't garner trad pub interest.
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Member # 9183

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Yeah, that's good advice. Self-publishing probably works best when all-else fails or if there is no desire to reach a mass market.

The reason I ask about e-books is I think that the publisher's price of e-books is way too high considering the next to zero cost to produce. I have seen a plethora of posts defending professional publishing (rightfully so for so many reasons), but my thoughts were preempted by reading this blog:


Considering middle grade books are often given as gifts, I would think that printed works would still remain popular for that age group as well as e-books, which a previous post mentioned, are now available at libraries.

Anyway, thanks for the great feedback. I am putting the cart in front of the horse anyways. I need to get writing and finish the novel first!!!

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Member # 9314

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It's kind of a myth that ebooks cost next to nothing to produce for a publisher. That's not the way publishing works. A book still carries its share of overhead and a ton of work goes into it before any money is spent on printing and warehousing and distribution. So while the cost for ebooks are a little less, they aren't insignificant at all and still carry the overhead of the business (editors, artists, marketing, electricity for the building etc...).

Middle Grade and YA are huge genres right now. I wouldn't worry overly much about the print market for them going away anytime soon.

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Member # 5682

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I think izanobu is right about the costs of producing an eBook. They don't see it as shortcut effort. While someone who is self-publishing a novel might not hire an experienced layout person his/her eBook, mainstream publishers will. They don't want their eBooks to be perceived as second-rate compared to their print books.

And as an author, you're perhaps shooting yourself in the foot with that attitude about the cost of eBooks. Whether your eBook is self-published or not, your bottom line is affected by the retail or net cost of the book, respectively .

[This message has been edited by WouldBe (edited November 27, 2010).]

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Write your story and don't fret about the media that delivers it. We are privileged to be living on the forefront of a tsunami wave of technology changes. Chances are high that in 5 years there will be a whole new slew of gadgets we couldn't even imagine today. So put your efforts now into writing a great story; the rest will reveal itself when you get closer to the finish line.
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My read on ebook readers is that they're starting to hit the MG readers, but slowly. My son wants my Nook like nobody's business (he's a voracious 9 year old middle-grade and sometimes YA reader.) I let him read an occasional book on it. I am hoping to get an iPad for Christmas, and may let him read more on the Nook as I use the iPad more, but then again i really love the Nook (digital ink is really awesome to read on.)

So I predict what will likely happen in my family in the next 1-2 years will start to happen in other middle-grade readers' families - at some point we'll upgrade my Nook to a newer model, and we'll just hand down the old tech to the middle-grade reader in the house (readers, because by then my 7 year old will be asking for it, too!)

But the price points are still a bit too high to consider ebook delivery as a viable option for reaching most middle-grade readers. Even for YA, though I think that will change this holiday season in a big way, as avid YA readers are asking for nooks and kindles and iPads, and as older children, they may already have a cell phone (which a middle-grade reader might be asking for/might be the higher tech priority in the family) and can use an app for reading, too.

The thing that's going to get interesting, I think, is in the purchasing behaviors of the young people with ebook readers. I suspect that currently the majority of book purchases for people under 14 are done by adults, however with an ebook reader...will that change? Will the currency move toward a "credit balance" with Amazon or BN.com that the kids are working against each month? Will this cause more purchases? fewer? Are kids' shopping habits any different from the grown-ups? Decision factors different? I suspect they are, and thus I think this next phase of the ebook market is going to be REALLY hard to predict, but I'm all for putting technology in the hands of kids (and then stepping back to just let them interact and see what results...) so I'm really watching.

Meanwhile, as others have said, I think e-publishing is a viable option for us if we've queried a few dozen publishers over six months or so and had no positive responses. And if we were to be self-publishing our own work, we can naturally charge a lower rate because we don't have the overhead of a traditional publisher (plus middle-grade books are generally lower-cost.) But that's a problem for a time off in the future, and one that the variables may change dramatically between now and then so best not get too set in your path, be prepared to be adaptable. And finish what you're writing so you have something to be adaptable with!

Best of luck!

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Member # 9148

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Some people have already mentioned some things I would say but this is a new debate among writers. E-publishing is changing things no doubt about it but traditional publishing will still be around for a lot of years to come. Some will use E-publishing and others will reject and probably eventually fade away because of it. Notice I said eventually.

There are a quite few ways for a writer to e-publish his own book and short stories now.

And long time Pros Like Dean Wesley Smith, His wife, Kris , and Michael Stackpole all are discussing, on their blogs, and using E-publishing. So are some short time Pros.

The biggest issue I would have with it is the need for a copy editor to make sure my stuff was nitpick free and someone to help with the cover and all that. Supposedly a couple E-publishing outfits do have help with the second.

According to Stackpole a writer can make more money per book sold this new way but there is still the number of books sold to consider. So far, in most cases, the traditional way still sells a lot more books. Notice I said most. There are a few examples of E-books going wild with sells but not most. That could change in the next few years.

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Pyre Dynasty
Member # 1947

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Ditto on the E-book don't cost next to nothing, ink is cheap, people aren't, and you still have to pay the editor/layout/secretary/ceo/shareholders, plus add a tech guy and the server team. Did it cost you much less to write the novel on a computer instead of a typewriter? It is our job to educate people about this, even if it's just to stop them from complaining about paying $9.99 for a just released book.

I wanted to bring up another issue you talked about, worrying that submitting will rob you of time to do more writing. I contend that self-publishing takes far more time, if you want other people to read it. Even then most places make you design it yourself which takes more time than you thin it would. Then there is promotion: if you want it in a store you usually have to go right to the store and pitch it to the sales clerk; if you're selling online (which you should) then if no one knows about it it will languish on backwater amazon lines and your no-hits website. So you have to do a social media blitz so people know it exists, and then it will just be the people you know and you will depend on the people you know to tell the people you know and if your lucky there will be a word of mouth movement. I'm not saying it's not possible, just that it is more work than with publishers who do that work for you.

E-books are a good thing, I think it will create vast libraries in any given home, but I don't think that there will ever not be dead tree editions in the world. (Plus, if civilization falls and electricity becomes a thing of the past the paper will still work.)

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