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Showing posts from March, 2012

Themes in Publishing: Priming the Pump

When I was a little girl, we had a pump that periodically lost its prime. My father would have to prime it so water would again flow freely from our faucets. I remember watching him and wondering about the mechanics of that process. Publishing a book bears a strong resemblance to priming that pump. Whether you choose to self-publish, use an indie publisher, go for e-books, or find another route to get your work out, you need to make certain the mechanics of what you do assure that your book will flow seamlessly into the marketplace and find its audience. Doing this guarantees big book sales, right? We all know better than that. What it does guarantee is a finished product that is mechanically and aesthetically pleasing. Our clear, tight content speaks to our intended audience; and our critics cannot find justifiable fault with the grammar, punctuation, presentation, or appearance. What’s next? No matter the genre, the journey we take from idea to first draft to publication follows

Agents Bust False Publishing Trends, Part II

Today we continue busting false notions about trends in traditional publishing, with information gleaned from agents at the 2012 Write Stuff conference in Allentown, PA. Our panelists were Rachel Stout of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management , Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency , Marie Lamba of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency , Lauren Ruth of BookEnds LLC , and Katie Shea of Donald Maass Literary Agency . Agents are no longer taking on new clients. I can speak from my own experience on this one, as I signed with one of these agents in December—Katie Shea, pictured with me at right—and since then she’s taken on three additional clients. If you seek traditional publication, try submitting to newer agents at established agencies. Since they are still building their client lists they have the time to work with you, they are hungry for a sale, and are backed by the collective wisdom and power of their agencies. Chuck Sambuchino regularly posts “New Agent Alerts” at his Guide to L

Agents Bust False Publishing Trends, Part I

I recently had the pleasure of moderating the agent panel at the 2012 Write Stuff conference in Allentown, PA. Our guests were ( l to r ) Rachel Stout of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management , Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency , Marie Lamba of Jennifer DeChiara Litearary Agency , Lauren Ruth of BookEnds LLC , and Katie Shea of Donald Maass Literary Agency (thank you to Mary Ann Domanska for providing the photo). Each one of these industry professionals are enthusiastic lovers of the written word—so much so that they are willing to stake their incomes on it. I thought I’d use some info gleaned from our discussion to address some false notions about trends in today’s publishing world. With the advent of e-publishing, agenting is a dying career. This is clearly not the case. Every member of the panel is a newer agent at an established agency. One of them shared with me that when she applied for a position just last fall she received three offers. The agencies are hiring. B

The Value of an E-Book

Ever since the e-book revolution began, the price of the books has generated significant debates. Should an author price the book low - perhaps $0.99 - to take advantage of all the bargain hunters, or does that devalue the book. If it is only a dollar, it must not be any good; or certainly not as good as one priced a bit higher. That type of mindset is nothing new. People have been associating quality and value to higher priced items since forever. There is a reason that Roman royalty wore all that gold and jewels. It told everyone how important and powerful these people who could afford such luxuries were. What is interesting with e-publishing, especially for those going indie, is the impact that lowering the price of a book can have, or even offering it free for a short time. Last year in March, I offered my suspense novel, One Small Victory , as a free read for a week to celebrate Read an E-Book Week. It had over 30,000 downloads and made it to the top ten on a number of best-se

Trends in Publishing: Android Apps for Writing

I have a truth to admit; I kept telling myself and others that I wanted to get a tablet so that I could do more writing. That wasn't really the case. First and foremost on my things to do on a tablet was to play games. Since I purchased my ASUS Transformer , the bulk of what I do on it is play games...and watch Netflix. Once I bought the keyboard, however, I started to think about my writing again. I began downloading apps every chance I got, picking up note taking/writing apps, such as SuperNote , Evernote , Springpad , and Catch . While I enjoy each of these apps and the ASUS came with Polaris Office , there are three specific apps that I've been using a lot and that help me to get my story ideas (and the actual stories) down on paper . Mindjet In my initial foray into working on a story, my mind is scattered. As such, writing linearly doesn't suit me. I need something visual, something I can move, something that shows me my idea and not just shows me the tex

Traditional Small Publishers

After ten years of writing, polishing, submitting, and collecting rejections, I was thrilled to finally meet a small press publisher, Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books , who liked my work and believed in me enough to publish my first two books. Even though self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once had and is becoming wildly popular with the ease of computer programs and publishing sites such as CreateSpace, etc., I still wanted to be able to say, “Yes, I have a PUBLISHER.” The small press accounts for $30 billion in annual book sales according to Writer Magazine’s “The Writer’s Guide to Getting Published”, and fills niche publishing markets, such as poetry, memoirs, gift books, even “westerns,” which the large publishing houses keep saying are “dead.” (If you believe that, take a look at the book lists from Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America .) Advantages of working with a small publisher : • Often, it is somewhat easier for new authors to break in,

Is Self-Publishing the Way to Go?

In 2009, I pitched at a Love is Murder Mystery Conference, and learned it would take about two years to see my manuscript in print, if it were accepted. Well, for some reason, I wasn't getting any younger. Because of that, when my author friend, Austin S. Camacho, suggested self-publishing, I figured I didn't have too much to lose. I took the leap and self-published my romantic suspense, Killer Career , in print  through Lightning Source and also electronically via Amazon and Smashwords . Before the publication plateau had been reached, Austin got many panicky emails from me, but he answered my questions in good stride. I found the process heady, yet scary. I had decisions to make on cover art, back cover blurbs, book size, font size, and all kinds of other details. Also, there were the setup fees, catalog fees, software, and ISBN numbers to buy, plus hiring and paying for an editor. Still, I finished all this in much less time than it would have taken if I'd waited

Where Have All the Agents Gone?

Our guest blogger, Susan Malone, is back again with an interesting take on whether traditional publishing is heading for demise at the hand of e-publishing. I always smile when thinking of trends in publishing. Especially due to the answer all my editor friends in NY give when asked (at virtually every writers’ conference) what the new trends will be:  “I’ll know it when I see it.” But as much of a joking reply as this is, it stands up over time because, well, it’s true. Nobody ever knows what’s going to happen in publishing—until it’s happened. And then when it does, everybody wants a piece of it. Only they want it yesterday, and with a fresh twist. This of course has stymied writers since the days of quill dipping-pens. And now in the age of speed-of-light-changing technology, the new trend in publishing is the industry itself. Of course, everybody is waxing profound these days on what will happen to the business model. Will traditional publishing survive?  Have e-books slung t

Indie Publishing: Is it Right for You?

Our once-a-month guest, Terry Odell has some great reasons for going indie. Thanks Terry. Be sure to stop by next week to hear from Morgan Mandel, who also embraces indie publishing in a big way. Indie publishing is, according to Angela James, Carina Press editor, "the new black." Although I've never been much for fashion, this is one trend I'm happy to follow. Of my nine novels, I've indie-published eight titles. Only two of them would qualify as indie books, since the other five are back list titles, previously released by several different publishers. However, since the rights have reverted to me, they're now mine. And number nine will be on its way this summer. Indie publishing creates new opportunities for authors. Why did I decide to go indie with mine? Each one had its own reasons. 1. Blurred genre lines . When I tried the traditional route with my mystery, Deadly Secrets , the comments I got included things like, "great writing, great voic

Even Ghosts Change with the Times

Changes are often scary, but they can also be a good thing. The recent rapid changes in publishing have been a good thing for me, a ghostwriter. Print-on-demand books, e-books and e-readers, the rapid growth of self-publishing, social media marketing – these have enabled more wanna-be authors to get their ideas and stories out into the world. Why is this good for a ghost? Because what hasn’t changed is that writing itself is still time-consuming, difficult, sometimes infuriating, and requires practice, practice, practice to do it well. Just because it is now easier and cheaper to get your ideas and stories published, doesn’t mean they will be well-received if they’re not compelling to readers. In fact, because there are more books out there means the competition for readers’ attention is even stiffer. During the past few years my opportunities for ghostwriting have grown primarily in two areas. The first is memoir/personal histories.  Everyone has ancestors and descendants, and many

Questions For Your Beta Readers - Guest Post by Jodie Renner

Many thanks to Jodie  for sharing these tips with us today. Have you finished the first draft of your novel, and maybe gone through the whole thing again once or twice, revising as you go? At this stage, it’s a good idea to ask some trusted volunteer readers to read through your manuscript and offer suggestions. Then you can incorporate any ideas you like into your final draft, and then, ideally, hire a freelance editor to give it a final polish before you self-publish or send it off to literary agents. So how do you find these beta readers? Perhaps through a critique group, writing class or workshop, a book club, or readers or writers you’ve met through online networking. It’s best to avoid getting your parent, sibling, best friend or significant other to do beta reading, as they’re too close to you and may be afraid of offending you and jeopardizing your relationship. Three to five trusted readers would be optimal, as more could become overwhelming, and fewer may not give you eno

10 Steps to Writing (or not...)

I refuse to say if this post is drawn from life.  You woke up with  that you will write and you will write  well . Step #1: Get out of bed as the echo of the trumpet call still rings in your ears. Step #2: Remember legos - that wonderful, educational toy that your children played with when they were small? Remember how you were sure you cleaned them all out? Step #3: Now relive the agony of stepping on one of those little f##kers in your bare feet. Step #4: Remember now you're in one of the still-slumbering children's bedrooms. You can't scream...or give loud voice to that poetic phrase that leapt to mind. Limp downstairs. The coffee carafe is empty. Step #1: This is fine. You can rise above this. Your ancestors have survived storms, starvation, etc.  You  can certainly get the coffee out and refill the canister. Step #2: There is no coffee.  None . Step #3: Try to ignore the panic that threatens to engulf you. Breathe. Step #4: Remember you hid

Writing in 140: Hangin' Off the Cliff with Cliffhangers

Often, I tell editing clients, "Scene (or Chapter) needs a stronger ending. You want to compel (and propel) the reader to the next scene (or chapter)." This usually leads to a talk about cliffhangers and best practices in developing them. Although I suggest several ways to work on this, I always tell clients to remember the main plot. Readers continue reading to see how that plot (and sub-plots) concludes. If a scene (and definitely a chapter) ends with no mention of the main plot, no tie back to it, it can leave the reader wondering, What happened to the story? The same way I tell my Freshman Comp students to tie their paragraphs to their thesis, it’s important for creative writers to make sure scenes and chapters close in a way that keep the reader on the story .   ~~~~~~~~~~ Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high

Cues from the Coach: Torchbearers in Times of Change

In these days of e-mails, texts, mind-boggling abbreviations, and thoughts that bounce all over the place, we have seen huge changes in our language, especially in its written form. In fact, I can’t even decipher some of the texts I receive from my grandchildren. How does this affect us as writers? New abbreviations and fragmented sentences are all the rage and fast becoming the present norm. Are we jumping headfirst into the confusion, or are we torchbearers in times of change? Some years ago, I researched expressions common during the flapper era—the 1920s—for a poem I was writing. Today, a reader would likely have little idea what those terms mean. How many of the following can you define (and these are just a few)? • Bee’s knees (they don’t buzz) • Big cheese (not to be confused with a Big Mac) • Bluenose (not a precursor to frostbite) • Carry a torch (nothing to do with the Olympics) • Cat’s pajamas (not necessarily nightwear) • Cheaters (you’ll be surprised when you se

Publishing Yourself

More and more writers are opting out of publishing via the traditional route: author to agent to publisher to reader. They’re now cutting out the agent and publisher steps and going straight from author to reader. Doing that means authors will have to take on more of the work themselves. Some may opt to hire experts to help: an editor, someone to lay out the book, a cover artist, a printer to produce the book. Even if the writer plans to go straight to e-books and bypass print books, there is still much to do: the layout of the book, a cover artist, an editor, and learning how to create an ebook. And in either case, the author must be prepared to promote the book. On a listserv I follow there’s been a lot of talk about Kindle and raising your stats and sales by offering one book for free. For many authors, that seems to be working. If you don’t have a backlist, it doesn’t work as well, though. So, how do you promote? The same way authors have always promoted. Book tours help. The

Time Out for A Little Fun

I've been finding comic strips that have funny jokes that connect loosely to writing or promoting and thought I would share a few today. Sometimes we just need to sit back and have a good laugh. This first one is from the strip, Bizarro   by Dan Piraro.  It is a single panel strip showing the Disney character, Elmer Fudd, running from a big blue bird. Fudd is yelling, "Retweet, Retweet." (If you visit Dan's site and click on his blog you can see the cartoon. Much funnier to see it that try to imagine it from my description.) This next one is from Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley. Bucky Kat has gone on and on for several panels justifying a video game that he created that is not fit for Rob to buy for a nephew. Bucky tells this long story about a vacationing prude who ends up on a nudist beach by mistake and is horrified to see a naked man who has fallen asleep on the beach. He picks up the book and "placed it over him where the sun shouldn't be shining."

What's Your Answer?

It's What's Your Answer Time Again. I ask three questions. You answer one or more in the comment section. The more answers you give, the shorter your answers should be. You're encouraged to include one website or blog URL in your comment, but no more. If you don't have one, that's okay, too. Today's Questions And My Answers: Question: Since some of our blog members are contributing short stories for a soon-to-be released anthology called the Corner Cafe, I wonder if any of you have a favorite eating place which you frequent on a regular basis, kind of like the characters on Seinfeld do? Identifying that place is optional, just describe it. Answer: Yes, my husband and I have two favorites. One is a family restaurant, the Dunton House, open daily. No matter how many other places we try, we always seem to make our way back there.The owners are friendly, the atmosphere is pleasant, and we're never disappointed by the menu. Another is a small cafe calle