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Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

We sold more books through our website today than we usually do in rounding up accounts with bookstores. And it feels good. To have money to put into the bank and the hope of recovering costs for Mark of Orion. To have the draft for the next book complete. To live the dream with late-night writing sessions at my local Starbucks and with complete autonomy in what gets published and when.

It feels even better as I read popular young adult fiction. There I discover that my standards for family friendly reading are probably seen as prehistoric confines that we, as a refined society, should shed. Only I won’t be shedding my standards any time soon. And with every story I publish I hope that others will join me in reclaiming their own.

And yet there is the growing, gnawing sense of discomfort with my present reality. It tells me that this section of my life may soon be at its close. It scares me.

Don’t worry, I won’t bid farewell to writing. You can expect to see the completion of The Orion Records before I decide what my writing career will look like as an adult. For now, I cherish the young person’s freedom to keep writing and publishing stories that people love and are influenced by, regardless of a professional publisher’s interest or whims. For now I breathe in my small town life, grateful for extra sunshine and quiet moments to rest. But change… change is coming.

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This afternoon I was privileged to address the ladies of the Tuesday Forum, a businesswomen’s group that meets at the Sea Dog every Tuesday. I discussed publishing and was amazed to see the focus and interest these amazing women possessed. Not everyone could be so intrigued listening to talks about distributors and printing costs. After my speech concluded, the women asked me wonderful questions and interacted with me until I felt truly blessed to be with them.

Another excellent part of the meeting is that my sister, Kate, got to be there. It is the first time she has really been able to see me speak. It was such a privilege to have her at my side, to watch the other women interact with her, and have them be doubly surprised to find that we come from the same family. I think of us as a twist. Me chocolate; her vanilla. Both good individuals. Both way better together. That’s us.

The twist act continued in the afternoon when we put the finishing touches on my graduation announcements. I can’t believe that graduation is coming so soon! Her artistic eye is so much different then mine and I always learn a lot from working along beside her. We were both inspired by the music of hip-hop fiddler Lindsey Sterling, who has quickly made it to my all-time-favorite artists list. I highly recommend you check her out.

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Let’s talk writers. It is high time I added a little to my ‘Writing Central’.

As much as we do not want to admit it: the difference between a published author and unpublished author is how many times they have been rejected. Published = rejected dozens of time. Unpublished = too afraid to get rejected.

It may not be a perfect rule. Some people are lucky or blessed enough not to have to suffer much rejection. Some people are crazy like me and self-publish. Yet even crazy people like me should submit our work to those who have paved the way in order to receive true feedback. There is much to learn from these wise and wizened people who have suffered and triumphed in the realm of publishing. So how do we access their knowledge?

1. Read blogs, articles, and books. You will find a lot of helpful information when you read the ramblings of professionals on how they earned success. Just be aware that you do not have to mimic everything they did. I am truly saddened by how many young writers are discouraged out of writing because they cannot write in the exact format that their heroes did. Read them; learn from them; mimic them; but find your own style.

2. Email authors. Write a one to two paragraph email with no spelling errors and a professional format. Say who you are briefly and what genre you write. Tell the author you respect them; then ask for any  tips they might be able to pass on. Do NOT submit your novel (or even ask to) in this first email. You will scare the author away.

3. Find a mentorship program or go to a writing conference. There are plenty of writers’ conferences and some really good programs out there. Access these, if only for networking. (Look who is talking. I’ve never been to a writing conference. But I still take every opportunity I can to talk with other authors).

4. Don’t get discouraged if you are ignored. There are people out there who will talk to you. Just keep writing your short, nice emails (to other people who may not ignore you).

5. Wait. If you email a professional in publishing, wait at least three weeks before you send a follow-up. Publishers have 4-6 weeks (or more) to get back to you before you have even surfaced to the top of their to-do lists. Push too hard and you’ll brand yourself poorly in the industry. These marks are permanent.

5. Submit completed work only. When an author or publisher is willing to look at your short story or manuscript do not waste your opportunity (you may only get one) on an unfinished work that you might never finish. Make sure it is completed before you send it off.

Good luck!

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FAQs 4: On co-publishing…

So you’re a writer. You recently discovered a passion for words and you want to share those words with the world. You are even willing to invest money and labor into this, if only so someone hears your voice.

I have taken on the role of a consultant to these early writers. Four years ago I was the one weighing my options, trolling for the cheapest way to print my books, hoping to get spotted by a publisher, and blind to the dangerous pitfalls specifically designed to entrap idealist writers like me. Now I try to help these idealists. So if you’re one, listen up.

Do not be entrapped by co-publishers. If a publisher requires money and says they’ll give you royalties, no matter how nice they sound, stay away! If you are willing to give up your immediate cash and a large chunk of future profits, then go ahead and utilize these ‘publishers’. But recognize that if they say they’ll sell you an ISBN, they mean ‘You take the financial risk; we take control; we share the profits.’ ISBNs can only come from Bowker, a government enabled website. They can only be sold to publishers, who have control of the books. So protect yourself: incorporate and get your own ISBN. It may cost more time and money, but it is worth it.

These co-publishers (or whatever name they use) may provide you with sub-par editing and designing services, but in the end it is your financial risk that gets the book afloat. You are much better off doing the work yourself of finding an illustrator (use someone local–whom you can see, communicate with, and keep on track) and a printer (I strongly recommend Instant Publishing) then letting a ‘publisher’ do the work for you.

We are writers. We often do not want to be business people who self-publish. And as getting truly published grows harder and harder , we are tempted to give up our rights to our work. Yet if you go with a co-publisher, when a real publisher wants your book, you won’t be able to sign with them. Or when profits start rolling in, it will take three times as long to pay off your initial costs and you will gain less in the long run.

Getting your work out to the world may sound easier than ever because of the changing technology and market, but there are still plenty of barriers between you and fame. So take several big steps back, run away from anyone who wants your money until you have done the research, and decide how tough your skin is. Mine was fragile at first, but I have put on my battle armor. Now I find the game of publishing fun. It may be harder at first to do the work yourself with the support of those co-publishers, but your chances for success go way up! So get tough as nails. Determine for yourself if you are are a good writer, ignore what critics say, and get your words out to the world. If that’s through a co-publisher, as long as you’ve thought it through, that’s fine. But know what you’re getting yourself into.

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One of the best parts of movies in my opinion is the blooper reel. You really get to see the personalities of the actresses and actors. You get to laugh and share in the behind the scenes movements. I imagine that after a day of stressful scenes, the cast themselves enjoy sitting back and remembering the goofiness.

With my deadline to print bearing down fast, college surrounding me and the sickness I’ve been fighting, laugh-filled moments have been few and far between–each day offering a little less. Today was especially crazy. Call after call after email after email after edit after edit, all the while mixing school in and organizing the different facets of both publishing and writing the book. Challenging days are okay! But it leaves one worn down.

So my roommate and I (thank you Sarah!) escaped to a wonderful little coffee shop called Jamestown Coffee Company–a wonderful environment, despite the fact that I’m sitting next to a picture of a crazed monkey (minus that, the whole place is classy, comfortable and nice)–to drink incredible coffee and work on whatever (for me, editing; for her, homework and getting a job). As I came to some forgotten word in my review of Asandra and realized just how drastically it changed the meaning, I leaned over and shared it with Sarah. She laughed, I practically fell over laughing and it did my heart good. I felt like I was living the author blooper reel. That kind of thing is rarely shared because writers know how to bury evidence of their word-filled failures, but I thought I’d confess and just say: blooper reels are good!

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