Letter from Crystin Goodwin

Hello Mr. McCaffrey,

My name is Crystin Goodwin, and I’m a new author who recently finished my first manuscript. First, I wanted to take a moment to thank both you, and by proxy, your mother. Her books, and now your own Pern novels, were the first things that made me stop and say: “That was amazing. I want to do something like this!” So thank you for helping me find my dream.

Secondly, I’ve read a lot of the books you’ve recommended here on your site, and I’ve come to the conclusion you have excellent taste! I had never heard of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, but it’s now one of my absolute favorites, as well as the Mercedes Thompson and the Harry Dresden books. So, knowing you have an excellent eye for good stories, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if you might be interested in reading my novel. I’m currently in the process of self-publishing, so I’m not looking for introductions to publishers or agents. (I know, *shudder* But I’m too impatient for the traditional route) My book is in the ‘final’ stages of the editing process, so I’m fairly sure it could stand up to the scrutiny of a famous author. Of course, I completely understand if you aren’t interested, it just never hurts to ask!

Here’s a small glimpse of my novel, to help you decide if it might be a good fit for you or not:

Y/A Fantasy

UnBlessed Book One of the Blessings of Myrillia Series

Kisara Tenebris is one of the Melior, a race of magical beings who can control the Elements. She lives happily with her mother, and best friend Lucien, in the Melior city of Civitas, unaware that her world would soon be turned upside down.

Sebastian Pardum is a Transeatur. Rather than control the Elements, his people can take the form of their guardian Animal Spirit. They are the Melior’s hated enemy, but things have not always been as they seemed.

Despite their differences, Kisara and Sebastian meet under the most unlikely of circumstances. Together, they must face the wrath of the Melior and discover the lessons that have been forgotten in the past…

Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,

Crystin Goodwin


Dear Crystin,

First, I am violating one of my prime rules: I am not editing out your last name from your message. I normally do this in a small effort to help maintain the privacy of people who contact me. In your case, as you are rather looking for publicity, I’ve done you the favor of retaining it.

Second, in reply to your question: No, thank you, while I appreciate your asking (I’ve asked famous authors myself), I am going to pass on reading your novel.

Permit me to make some observations:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, so don’t apologize for it.

  2. For those who do self-publish, it is important to remember that you are publishing. That means that you accept responsibility for advertising, marketing, cover art, editing, and all that goes into getting a novel into the widest audience possible.

    That extra work detracts from your time as a writer — you become a chimeric entity: not just writer but also publisher (editor, art department, and so on).

  3. Because a mainstream publisher has several different departments, the final product has gone through a lot of quality control.

    That’s noticeable in bookstores where the quality shines through. Also, all those other people become proponents of your work. Editors love finding a great book; they cherish great authors. Having an editor in your corner is a huge help all around.

  4. Publishing houses hate being pitched series. They hate the notion of being tied, sight unseen, to an unknown number of books of unknown quality. (And, honestly, who can blame them?)

    They love great standalone books that sell like hotcakes and then — voila! — can become the first in a series that maintains or even improves upon the quality of the original. However, tell a publisher that you’ve got a series and they get politely quiet (and in private, they blanch).

  5. Also note that while self-publishing has that immediate gratification to it, there’s a lot of stuff that publishers do in order to bring a book to market and that’s why it takes so long.

  6. Remember Robert J. Sawyer’s Sixth Rule of Writing:

    Rule Six: Start Working on Something Else

    Note: This does not mean writing the sequel of a series.

    Rob also has great advice on Self-Promotion, well worth the read given your current position.

So, bottom line: I congratulate you on your efforts to self-publish but I ask you to consider submitting to publishers and never stop until someone sends you a contract with a check attached (remember: money flows to the writer).

Sincerely,

Todd

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.