ISBN to get an ARC? or wait?

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ISBN to get an ARC? or wait?

Jun 20, 2022, 1:26 pm

So I came here to read and review science non-fiction, and get an ARC group for my science-fiction, but I'm at a crossroads. I wanted to exhaust the traditional rout before committing to self-publishing, so I put my manuscript to as many publishers as I could. Some might, but the one that sticks out to me is Baen. I want to wait for Baen because they seem to be looking for what I wrote. The problem there is it's a year-long wait, and so I wanted to do things mutually beneficial to either route in the meantime.

But I need an ISBN for the Early Review program here? I've sent the full-manuscript to numerous publishers and agents, so I should have a safe copyright. Is is possible or unwise to proceed without the ISBN? There seems to be a lot I do not know, and do not fully understand. Advice would be most welcome.

Jun 20, 2022, 3:53 pm

The Early Reviewers program is for published or about-to-be-published books, not for unpublished manuscripts; in general, ISBNs are for published books. Don't put the cart before the horse; if you're truly hoping to be published by a trade publisher, there isn't much to do but wait--and write the next book. In fact, attaching an ISBN to your unpublished manuscript could jeopardize your chances with a publisher, as it could be taken to imply that the story has been published and first publication rights already taken.

Go work on your next story; it will make the time pass while you wait to hear from Baen (and from what I hear, they take a loooong time to go through their slushpile) and improve you as a writer. In fact, the experience of writing a second book may make you see what needs to be done to your first to make it better. Most debut books published by trade publishers aren't the first thing their authors have written; informal polls I've seen say they're at least their 3rd or 4th completed manuscript.

Jun 21, 2022, 12:21 pm

>2 Marissa_Doyle: Thanks. Sage advice.

Fev 6, 2023, 6:09 pm

One of my books was in a Baen slushpile for 6 years. I finally withdrew it.

According to the publisher, (I met her at a convention), if it stays in the slushpile that long, that means it was "good enough to publish" but she can't publish everything that she gets that is "good enough to publish"... so that's why authors were waiting multiple years for a response.

(Rumors in the Baen forums at the time I pulled my book were that she found picking books out of the slush so difficult that the entire time my book was sitting in her inbox waiting for a decision she picked a grand total of 0 books out of her slush-pile.)

This is all old news though. Getting close to a decade old, I think.

Editado: Fev 6, 2023, 6:20 pm

That's bad behavior from the publisher. If they can't put a MS into an actual publication queue after evaluating it, they should release it back to the author--even if they think it has merit. I mean, especially if they think it has merit, so that the author can try other avenues. A full year seems like plenty of time to sit on it. Six years is preposterous.

Of course, the author can withdraw. But to lead the author on is deeply uncool.

Fev 6, 2023, 7:51 pm

>5 paradoxosalpha:
I feel a bit chagrinned that I let it go on that long, to be honest.

The first year was how long it took to get past the slush readers. You are warned about that in advance, and you go, "okay I can handle that," and once that year passed I sent a nice little email saying "what happened to my book?" and I was told by the slushmistress "ah, that one: I really liked it, I sent it up to the editors" and enthusiasticly positive feedback like that is so rare and it makes you so hopeful, and so its easy to convince yourself... "if I just wait a little longer..."

I should have realized that something was not right, but instead I just kept sending my yearly check-in messages. I even sent them another book. The slushmistress sent it back saying she liked that one too, but it seemed a bit short for the market* and she might have given it a shot anyway but the editors seemed to be backlogged or something...

And then I saw the discussion of "So how many books has Baen actually pulled out of the slush pile and published?" in the forums, and when nobody could think of a single title in the past five years, I decided that waiting wasn't such a good plan after all.

* The book was ~80K words, IIRC. It's the first installment in something much longer.
Since my health is so uncertain, I am waiting until I have finished all 5-6 volumes to publish it so I don't end up leaving my readers hanging for years.

Right now I'm not getting any writing done at all. :(
Maybe I should try transcribing the "Old-fashioned Pirate Romance" I wrote out long-hand some years back.