Sixty-three days and counting. It’s Submission Crunch Time.

Sixty-three days and counting. Crunch time.

I always swore I would never let querying get to me. Up until the last few weeks, I’d approached it with a grain of salt. Oh, yes, I gave it my all, but even after getting requests at a conference from a great agent and the YA editor from HarperCollins, I still approached the whole process emotionally void. I mean, you have to, right?

I have to admit, I am no longer emotionally void.

Two publishers that I’ve been trying to get into since, like, EVER are both reading my novel.

ReallY_HappyAn acceptance from either would make me deliriously happy.

It’s dumb, but I feel like this is it… do or die. If neither of them takes it, what else is there?

Yes, I know there are tons of options, and I should still be sending my manuscript out to others.  After all, there are hundreds of really great small houses out there, right?

But at the moment, I can’t. I’m just frozen. Like time has stopped.


I am now at the two week mark with one publisher and 63 days with the other. Everyone tells me the “63 day” publisher rejects fast, but reads long. They should have gotten back to me at 60 days.

That’s good. I need to believe that’d good.

I have to believe that my novel is standing for itself… That it’s good enough… That someone at the publisher loves it as much as I do.

But what now?

Do they have to convince someone else? Are there other editors with books they love, and they are all lobbying for their favorite to fit into a pre-determined schedule?

I said it once (maybe twice) and I’ll say it again.

This just doesn’t get any easier.


How to Publish Topic #2: Do I want a Big Six Publisher, and Why?

This is something I think a lot of people struggle with. Not too long ago, authors did not have the choices they have today. If you wanted to get published, you needed an agent. Period. And that agent had only a handful of publishing houses to get you book into.

Not so today, but let’s take a look at the “biggies”.

These are the publishers commonly referred to as the “Big Six”





Random House

Simon and Schuster

Even though there are many other choices available, these Big Six (5) are still the “only option” for many people. Hey, I’m not knocking that… why not aim high? The big houses can do a lot for you. Professional editing. Marketing. Sales team to get you into bookstores. Kick-butt cover art.

Yep. Sounds good to me.

I completely understand anyone wanting to jump into an organization that can give you so much. Problem is, more and more Big Six authors are raising their hands and saying “umm, I don’t get that stuff from my Big Six publisher”.


Now, I am not a Big Six author, so I can only relay what I’ve heard. Yes, there is a marketing budget. However, most of that budget is spent on the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings of the world. Big houses spend their money to spread the news about titles the KNOW will sell. The little, debut authors? Not so much (but that is not to say never) And as far as getting into Barnes and Noble, the sales person, if you are lucky, will mention and talk about your book for all of fifteen seconds in a very short sales meeting with the bookseller. That’s not too long.


Editing is hit or miss. I think we’ve all seen typos in Big Six novels. They make me cringe. It shouldn’t happen. I do think that, overall, Big Six novels do seem to get decent content edits, though. Editing is manual. It will always be open to mistakes.

Cover Art:

I will give them this… Covers are usually pretty dern snappy. That kind of cover costs a pretty penny. But there are some misses there as well. And you will have no creative control whatsoever about your cover with the big guys.

Bragging Rights:

I think that the big thing attracting people to the Big Six is bragging rights. I totally understand that. Getting into a Big Six is a statement. What does it say?

“I did it.”

Yes, I understand that completely. It’s a huge accomplishment. With thousands of novels vying for a precious few slots in their catalog, “making it” is certainly brag-worthy. Once you are there, though, you need to take stock and decide if you are really getting what you thought you were getting.

In many cases, authors ARE getting what they hoped for. But there are also many who think the Big 6 fall short.

Next time, we’ll talk about the ‘bigger than you can imagine’ houses.


Unexpected High Points While You’re Waiting on a Submission

The torment of waiting can have its high points

The clock is ticking on a manuscript I submitted now 51 days ago. Within another week (hopefully) I will hear something. It’s good they have it a long time, right? If they hated the first few pages, they would have stopped reading and rejected it by now. Right?

Right? Right? Right?

But what if they are just behind? What if the editor has been out sick, and papers have piled up? What if she gets back from a vacation or something and then just rejects everyone just to get current again!?????


It can totally get to you. I swear.

Anyway, I got a bright little flicker of hope today.

In response to an earlier query, I got a request for full from another publisher I’ve targeted for their awesomeness. For non-writerly-types, that means they have asked to read the entire manuscript.


It feels good, having my completed manuscript in the hands of two publishing houses that I have had my eye on for a while. But even with a few successes under my belt, I still bite off my nails.

Publishing is so subjective.

Woman Erg PitchforkThey could take a manuscript just because their boss yelled at them and said “More aliens!”

Likewise, they can reject a fantastic manuscript because they spilled their coffee, missed the bus, or their boss just yelled at them: “We have enough aliens!”

It can leave you pulling your hair out. I swear it can.


So now I am at Day 51 with one publisher, and Day One with another publisher.

And the waiting goes on.

Anyone have any antacid? I ran out a week ago.


The torment of waiting. It can get to you, can’t it?

There is a great new system out there that a few publishers and agents are using. It’s called Submittable. It is awesome, because after you submit your novel, you can look up your query’s status at any time. Is it received? In progress? In editorial Review? Rejected?  All the info is there at your fingertips 24 hours a day.

You know what’s really bad about the system?

It is available 24 hours a day. For checking. Constantly.

I swear. It can be an addiction. I know I will be contacted if I get rejected or accepted, but I still check… just to make sure.

Yes, I am mildly stressed out. I’ve been querying for a long time, but up until recently, when I started to get good feedback, I’d been staying near the middle and bottom of my wish list. When the rejections came in, it was no big deal. I had plenty of more places to go. I revised some more, especially if I received feedback, and moved on to the next one.

No big deal right? That’s what this business is like.

Now that I’ve finally got the gummy bears to submit to places that I’ve targeted as “The ones I want”—Now I am starting to sweat.

Each day that passes, I think “Good. That means they are still reading it.” Of course, just because it changed from “Received” to “In Process” three days after I submitted, does not mean anyone has actually looked at it yet. But I keep telling myself they are.

You see, I’ve been rejected by one of these publishers TWICE. Each for novellas. Now they have something I’ve invested a significant amount of time on. The novellas were rejected on day 35 and 37 of the submission process. As of today, they have had my novel for 45 days.

That’s good, right?

Arghhh! PictureNo, guys. This does not get any easier.

I keep telling myself “They are still reading. This is good. If they didn’t like it, they would have rejected it already.”

Right? [smacks herself in the head]


How to Publish Topic #1: So let’s start with agents.

Whether or not to get an agent is a VERY personal decision. It is one that I flip flop back and forth with. You need to ask yourself a few questions before you make this decision.

  1. Do I have the ability to negotiate my own contract? (Another option is to hire a lawyer to review and explain the contract, but you will still be on your own for negotiating)
  2.  Do I need an agent to get into the publisher that I want?
  3.  Are you willing to trust your publisher with income statements (Because you’d need a PHD to figure out your sales/royalties)

There may be more questions that would point you in one direction or another, but these are the biggies for me.

Number one and three, I think, are self explanatory. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone on your side. Just remember, you will pay them 15% of your royalties for them to “be on your side”

This, I think, is the major question regarding whether or not to partner with an agent:

Think GirlDo I need an agent to get into the publisher that I want?

In general, if you want to get into the Big Six (5) under one of the imprints that gives you larger advances and printed book circulation, you need to have an agent. A few of these houses have open submission once a year, or you can try pitching at conferences, but in general, you need an agent to get a foot in the door. Some of the “not big six but still really big” houses require agents, too. So do your research, and choose wisely.  However, make sure you are reaching for the Big 6 for the right reasons (which I will discuss in my next post)

The interesting thing is that many agents are starting to send manuscripts to Qualified Small Houses. You need to be careful of this, because if the only reason you want an agent is to get into a Big Six, and they get you a contract at a Qualified Small House, You have wasted your 15% (because most Qualified Small Houses take un-agented submissions.)

However: In those houses, agented manuscripts seem to get a looksee before unagented manuscripts. I learned that recently in my own querying. So again, you need to decide what it is you really want.

So what do you think? Agent or no agent, and why? Do you have a reason I did not cover above that makes you want that agent relationship?


How to Publish. The decision can drive an author CRAZY.

Recently, I sent out a little tweet with an article attached. My comment was something like: “Interesting article, but I still think qualified small houses are the way to go.”

Someone tweeted me back asking why I thought that, since they were beginning to research the subject.

I thought about explaining in 140 characters or less— but you thought Twitter pitching was hard. Ha!

So, here is the blog post I promised her. I figured there are probably a lot of people out there with their heads spinning. Maybe this will help.

Remember, this is all my opinion after reading tons of articles, other blog posts, and researching the industry in general. Also, everyone is different. What’s right for one person may not be right for another.

(I also admit that my mind changes daily – but I usually return to my final conclusion eventually)

There are more options out there to be published today than ever before. Authors, for the first time, have a heck of a lot of control over making their dreams come true.  They have also never been in such danger of flushing their careers down the toilet.  Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you do it right. No shortcuts.

So, what are our choices? Don’t look anywhere else for all these categories. This is how I look at the industry. There is some overlap, but my nutty brain sees all of these as different in one way or another.

Here are what I look at as the major options available.

  1. Agent/No agent
  2. The Big Six (or five now). (Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan) *And the oodles of imprints below them*
  3. Bigger than you can imagine houses (Like Harlequin – Umm, now part of Harper Collins, come to think of it)
  4. Qualified Small Houses (There is a fine line between #4 and #5)
  5. Up and Coming, Established Houses
  6. Startups
  7. Self-Publishing (And all of the different iterations of self-publishing)

Now, I’m not going to talk about all these in one post, because long posts bore me to tears. I know I don’t have the time to read that much, and I know it’s hard to digest all that at once to. In my next post I’ll talk about agents, and we’ll take it from there.

While we’re waiting, anyone want to chime in on why they made whatever decision they made?

Now Available from Jennifer M. Eaton

Paper Wishes FinalJenniFer_EatonF

If you are skimming a book, why even read it? What the ease of self-publishing has done to the “great” novel

I recently picked up a book that I was really excited about.  The premise was new to me, and the cover was stunning.  The five-star reviews on Amazon helped a bit too.  So I nestled down with my E-reader and delved into this wonderfully imagined tale.

swish swivel squiggle

***My bubble soon popped***

The idea of this story was great… elves live among us.  They look just like us, only a little shorter, and they are all quite beautiful.  The story is about an elf girl who is predestined to marry a particular elf, but they cannot meet until her eighteenth birthday. (Of course that gets screwed up or there wouldn’t be a story.) There is also this great buildup of a huge battle between dark and light elves.

(In respect to the author, I am not going to reveal the title or author. No one likes a bad review. And everyone should form their own opinion.)

The story sounded so exciting, but as I read, I had to wonder where all these five-star reviews came from.  Has the influx of bad novels stilted people’s reading so much that they would consider an average novel to be extraordinary?

I found tons of things wrong with this novel.  Long, unnecessary conversations with friends that have nothing to do with the story, several typos in the first few pages. (missing words) Scenes that seemed placed into the text just for page count that had nothing to do with the story, and so on.

But I delved on.  I figured all these stars had to come from somewhere.  So I started to skim, and skim, and skim. Then all of the sudden, the hero (future husband) pops up and gets jealous of a drunk guy hitting on his future bride (who he has not even officially met yet)…


Yeah… cold blooded murder. And then there is a conversation with his Dad about how it really didn’t even bother him to have killed someone.



I sooooooo don’t like this guy anymore. And I should like him, because the main character loves him. Right? (Or am I an old fogey and it is okay these days to have a murderer for a fiancée?)

I was resolved to see how the author would write her way out of that one… but she never did.

At the end, when I reached the big battle, I stopped skimming, but continued to be dissatisfied.

When I was done I shook my head.  How was this possible?  Why did I dislike this book so much when the premise seemed so good?

I looked back and checked to see who published it.  Yes, there was a publisher listed, so I looked up their website.  Guess what? No website.

[[Smacks herself in the head]]

Yep, I was duped.  This appears to be a self-published book with a fake publisher name to hide behind.  And the author did a great job…  good marketing and a gorgeous cover. I think they paid more attention to the cover and marketing than writing and editing.

Now… I am in no way shape or form saying that there is anything wrong with self-publishing.  There are some great self-published books out there. I think I gave a four star review to Sweet Blood of Mine.  It deserved it.

I know that many self-published authors paid their dues, learned their craft, and produced great works of art.  The problem is, these people are getting swallowed by the influx of people producing skim-worthy… or just plain HORRIBLE books.

I don’t even know what my point is. I guess I would not have been so bothered if there weren’t something like 250 five-star reviews on this work.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have never edited your manuscript, or had a beta reader other than your mother, or if you did have a few real beta-readers, and you ignored their shouts of “Show Verses Tell” or their requests to delete a scene, or NOT HAVE YOUR LOVE INTEREST KILL SOMEONE.  (Yeah, that part really bothered me)

Anyway… If any of the things above apply, but you went out to query anyway, and your received rejections, you may not want to take the easy way out and self-publish. Maybe you should really look at your writing, and try to figure out WHY you are getting rejections.

This book could have been AWESOME. The writer just needed a heavy line edit, and a proofreader. A good developmental editor could have made this sucker EPIC.  I mean seriously, this book could have been stupendous!

Was it that bad?

Well, no, but the work reads like little or no attention was given to make this story sparkle.

Yes, self-publishing may give you personal satisfaction.  Yes, most of your friends will not know the difference and they will be excited for you… but all these books out there make it really hard to find a good novel these days.  And with all those five-star reviews on this one particular book, I have to wonder if readers, in general, are losing their capacity to even notice a well crafted book when they read it.

It makes me sad.

Then again, maybe what a “good book” is has changed. Maybe I’m the one who needs to catch up with the times.


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Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Bullet by Jonathan Lister

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Bullet by Jonathan Lister!

Check it out!

A father’s love doesn’t bend, so what happens when it breaks?

Corruption, dark truths, and a new Alpha mean Leon Gray’s days of running without a pack are over. At least, that’s what everyone but him believes.

He’d rather be helping his teenage daughter navigate the landmine life of a full werewolf, finish out his servitude as bodyguard to a former Demos City reporter and, in all honesty, not be taken advantage of by a beautiful woman who really only wants him for his body—figuratively and metaphorically.

Of course, the only way any of that might happen is if he’s dead. That’s likely given the information the reporter has unearthed and the territorial battles already underway between packs. If only Demos City’s corruption didn’t have such deep roots—older than the bones of the city or any of the werewolves who’ve decided to claim it. A city can only take so many power hungry mongrels invading it at one time, and Leon can only take so much knowing his daughter lives within its boundaries.

War has come to Demos City.

It’s up to Leon to fix … what’s most important to him.

Ready to see what trouble Leon Gray’s getting into next? If you love werewolf goodness at its urban fantasy finest, then you are going to love this next addition to the Demos City Novels.

And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.


You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by June 16th 2014, you are eligible to enter.


Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of May 28th, 2014 to enter.

*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 – 500 (or more, if desired) words in length.

About Jonathan Lister:

Jonathan Lister is a full-time writer with work appearing in outlets of USA Today, The Houston Chronicle and many others. A graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, he’s waited an unspeakable amount of tables en route to having the career he wants, and the ability to the tell stories he loves. Crossroads is Jonathan’s first book-length work of fiction. He currently lives in the Philadelphia area and continues to drink too much coffee.

How to write a confusing ending, but make it work. A review of “Now You See Me (2013)”

Movie Review: Now You See Me.

This is a movie that we rented maybe by accident. No one had ever heard of it, and no one remembered ordering it… but that didn’t stop a single one of us from loving it to pieces.

Initially, my husband decided not to watch, so I watched with my 13 year old son (I probably could have let the younger ones watch too, because there was only one curse I remember, a Sh#t. In a very appropriate place)  Anyway, we were originally going to watch half the first night and finish it the next night.

Nope. Didn’t happen. There is no turning his sucker off.

Since I’d never even heard of it, I’ll give you a ultra-short synopsis. This is about a group of four fairly descent magicians brought together by an “unknown” person to form the greatest magician act of all time. They commit robbery right on stage in front of packed houses, and give the money away.

Great new premise for me– yes, with a Robin hood appeal… but more twists and turns and surprises to even keep the action junkie in me screaming for more. (Because yes, the FBI and Interpol are trying to catch them the entire time)

Now lets chat a minute about the ending.  Yes, everything wraps up, but my son and I turned to each other and said “Huh? What happened?” Normally, this would tick me off to no end. But it didn’t.

The next day I said to Dude: “Did you figure out that ending?”


“But did you still like the movie?”

“Yo, totally. It was awesome.”

And I had to agree. It WAS awesome.

Neither one of us “got” part of the ending, but it did not spoil the utter enjoyment of a nice, clean thrill ride.

Intrigued by my lack of hate over this, I roped my husband into watching it, and I re-watched the ending with him. He was less confused than we were, pointing out that every last thread of a very complicated plot was ironed out.

Yes, it was, and quite beautifully. Someone spent a great deal of time mapping this sucker out.

But, I said, “What about [that one scene] what happened there?”

My husband laughed and said. “Who cares?”

You know what? He was 100% right.

Who cares?

For the first time I had something about an ending that I was not completely happy with, but I really didn’t care. This may end up on my list of favorite movies to watch again.  The cinematography and magic shows alone are a hoot to watch.

And everyone who watches the movie will probably have a different explanation about what happened in “that scene in central park”, but does it really matter?

When story-telling is this good… no, it really doesn’t matter.

A few minutes ago I went scoping around to see if this was originally a book. If it was, I could not find it. I would have loved to see from the characters’ POV what happened in “that scene”. But since I will probably never know, I will make it up. I can do that. I’m an author.

And that’s okay.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that’s okay.


Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARCs of Portals!

Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARCs of Portals!

Genre: Fantasy Anthology (mixed sub genres)
Release Date: June 5, 2014
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Keywords: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Short Stories, Picture Prompt

Description: No matter what world you call home, or what your station in life, there are just some paths that weren’t meant to be tread.

Maronda’s Quest by Christy Thomas
Mexmur, the Huntress by Anna Simpson
Entrance of Lost Souls by Echo Shea
Where Once were Hearts by Havva Murat
Ordinary World by Laurie Treacy
The Lunatic Queen by Michael Siciliano

Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARC copies to three lucky winners!

You don’t even have to be a blogger.

If you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates June 5th and July 3rd, you are eligible to enter.

How? Simply fill out the form!

You have until Midnight of May 16th when three winners will be chosen by random drawing.

Thanks so much for participating & best of luck!