How Not to Get Happily Published

Jennifer M Eaton:

I thought this was a great article – and I also got tied up in editing so I forgot to post something this week. Ha! This is a good article on small presses, for those interested. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Liz Burton's Portable Soup:

Education Concept. Read Books Sign.Now that what used to be sneered at as vanity publishing has been embraced by the mainstream, one thing that has been lost in all of the discussions that have gone before is that there are other options besides the two that have been the center of attention for all this time. By that, I refer to a fair number of digital presses that operate using the best elements of traditional publishing while adjusting their processes and their relationships with authors so that the end result is to everyone’s benefit.

However, all too often, writers who are interested in doing all the work of publishing themselves but who, for whatever reason, aren’t all that interested in seeking the attention of the Big Five have some misconceptions about how the digital publishing industry does business. Some of this is in the form of myths I will attempt to clear up.

If…

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Editing Under Pressure. Yes, It can be done #2

I am knee deep in the content edits for my new novel FIRE IN THE WOODS. The turn-around on the editing is KILLER.

So far, I’ve done okay. Easy changes to make the plot-lines flow more smoothly.

Then I got to the hard stuff.

The editor mentioned three words she felt were over used. So I went back and revised them to a minimum.  However, in doing this, I made notes of what I changed those words to in order to make sure I did not overuse these new words as well.

Ugh.

This is when the editing became a nightmare.  Each overused word I found, I changed. If it was a new word, I added it to the list to check later.

In the end, I had a list of 94 words to check. Each time I made a change, if it was a new word, I added it to the list. My goal was to use the words no more than once every twenty pages. Now, I have to admit they got a little closer than that at the end. There are just so many ways to explode something. But this process was long and tedious for me.

This led to long nights and a weekend behind the computer.

Okay, maybe I did NOT need to do this now. This kind of thing is normally not part of the content edit, but now that I saw the problem, I could not send it back until it was fixed. The perfectionist in me just wouldn’t allow it.

Seriously___Come_on..._Seriously___00000

I mean seriously: Do characters have to shake their heads/hands/or other extremities 94 times?

For your own search-and-destroy pleasure, here is the list of 94 words, and the rabbit trail that followed. Not all of these words were overused, but most of them were. For instance, “spewed” only appears once in my manuscript, but it was a word that I used to replace something else.

My challenge:  Take a look for these in your own manuscripts. Some involving explosions may not apply to everyone, but some of the everyday words might surprise you.  Try to use them only once every 20 pages and feel my pain.

Dang/Darn/Dernit

Shoot

Wow

Woa

Holy cow

Yikes

Sheesh

Geeze

Crap

God/Oh God

Say

Boy

Funny

Screamed

Howled

Shriek

Flinch

Gritted

Trembled

Adjusted

Moved

Shrugged

Pushed

Gazed

Scared

Terrified

Beckoned

Reeled

Burned

Itched

Seared

Handling

Recoiled

Throbbed

Spewed

Echoed

Yearn

Warn

Shuddered

Quaked

Bite cheek

Straighten

Eyes wide

Gape

Hunch

Looked

Spread

Slid

Churn

Singed

Shoved

Shimmied

Shiver

Tremor

Begged

Darkened

Strode

Startled

Gasp

Gulp

Alarmed

Chilled

Dumfounded

Frightened

Petrified

Wheezed

Whimpered

Sigh

Succumb

Groan

Moan

Grunted

Hitch

Shouted

Wailed

Stared

Shift weight

Thunder

Shook

Exhale

Finger

Grimaced

Slumped shoulders

Rub temples

Clenched

Puffed

Spoke

Hollered

Yelled

Called

Barked

Huffed

Sneered

Grumbled

I’ve already handed in my edits, and just reading over that list again made me tired.

What words do you tend to overuse?

_JenniFer____EatoN

Editing Under Pressure. Yes, It can be done #1

My first round edits came back for FIRE IN THE WOODS, which has been contracted with a three-month deadline to publication.  I took a deep breath, knowing that the completed edits were due back in FIVE DAYS.

Yikes!

I was pretty surprised, though.  This is the content edit phase, and they asked for very few changes.  In one spot, they thought the father should have reacted more quickly.  I fixed this simply by editing the dialog a smidge.

The next thing they said, which made me sweat a little, was that they didn’t buy the reason why my MC was afraid of another character. So I thought this over, and realized they were right when they said it felt like a forced conflict.  I really hadn’t developed that secondary character at all. He was too flat, and had no history.

Soooo

So I thought over why she might be afraid of him, and gave him a 100 word history based on a strategically placed inner thought/flashback.  I have to admit, this little change really gave both the MC and the secondary character depth.

Another thing I had to fix was a product of the multiple revisions this manuscript has seen over time.  Jess comes to a conclusion about “what’s going on” with no reason for it.  After thinking it over, she had a very good reason to come to this conclusion. The problem was, I never let the reader in as to HOW she came to this conclusion.  Again, an easy fix with a simple inner thought right before she comes to that little epiphany that drives the story onward.

The other changes were simple. A missing word here or there.

Then I hit the OMG part. And I will admit, this was totally MY DOING. In the spirit of always keeping my posts short, I’ll tell you all about it in my next segment. This is something I usually check for. I don’t even know how I missed it.

JenniFer_EatonF

The Big Announcement! Jennifer M. Eaton signs with @Month9Books for YA SciFi FIRE IN THE WOODS Series

Yay!  Today’s the big day!

I’m thrilled to announce that my young adult contemporary science fiction novel FIRE IN THE WOODS has been contracted with Month9Books for release September 23, 2014.

Did you catch that?

September 2014!!!

Yes, I’m a little stressed, because most books being signed right now are pushing out to late 2015 or 2016, but in my editor’s words (answering a tweet from someone saying how fast that was…)

“Whew! Can ONLY do when work comes in nearly perfect shape. Even then, whew!”

Wow. Nearly perfect shape? I’m still tingling.  Awe, Heck. I think I’ll just show your the entire Twitter stream, before the official announcement was made, so there is no mention yet of my name, or the title of the book.

Twitter Stream

 Wow. Just Wow.

You can’t even imagine what public tweets like that are doing to my ego.

Mostly, though, I’m holding my head and trying to not fall off this fast moving train I’ve suddenly (and a little unexpectedly) found myself on.

Now, that is not to say that I don’t have a whole lot of work ahead of me. My editing timeline is KILLER

Wait! There’s more!

Did you catch the last word in the title?

SERIES.

Yup. Month9Books has contracted a series of 3 FIRE IN THE WOODS books, with an option for a fourth. The first will release in September, 2014, and the next two will release in 2015.

Being that I don’t even have concepts for a second and third book, and the second book is due in two and a half months, and the third book due four months later –

Wow

I am in for a heck of a roller coaster ride.  No – Other than plotting out how many words (YIKES) I will have to type a day, I have NO IDEA how I am going to pull it off.

Be prepared for a stream of FREAK OUT posts to fill you in on how I’m doing.

Here we go.  The roller coaster ride has officially started!

Wahoooo!

_JenniFer____EatoN

How to Publish Topic #4: Qualified Small Houses

I will admit, this is my sweet spot.  Qualified Small Houses are the up and comers that have the big-guys quaking in their boots.  Some of these people have jumped ship from bigger houses.  Some are experts in their fields, while others are succeeding because they are not afraid to break the rules.

These companies have the ability to do everything that the bigger houses do, without the name recognition of the larger houses.  Royalty rates, in general, are higher, and contract terms (in some cases) are easier to swallow.

While these companies may not have the big sales forces of the large houses, that’s not stopping them from publishing best sellers. Not only that, these houses still see the value in MARKETING, and not just the big titles.  They back every book that they publish.

The list of these little gems is not as long as some other lists, because there are not as many “independent publishers” that can boast best sellers. If you know of any that are not on my list, please let me know so I can add them.

Ellora’s Cave (Romance only – Could be considered a big-guy these days.)

Entangled (Strong Romantic Elements Required)

GMMG (Month9Books, Swoon Romance, Tantrum Books)

Lyrical Press (Recently acquired by Kennsington – Romantic Elements Required)

JenniFer_EatonF

SUCCESS! Holy Sh— Um— Wow! BEST WEEK EVER!

Okay, I admit, I am a Twitter stalker. Some people make it easy. They use Twitter as a method to voice what they are feeling about everything from the weather to really important stuff… like editors reading submissions.

A few days ago, the editor that has had my manuscript for quite a while tweeted:

“Catching up on subs. Really like the voice and story in the YA scifi I’m reading, It’s from March. I’m so far behind.”

I tensed. My sub is a YA Sci Fi.  And I submitted in March.  I’d be lying if I did not admit my head went ka-blooey!


A few hours later an email popped up from the same editor.

Nothing definite, just a note to say she was reading AND ENJOYING my manuscript.

How_stinking_cool_is_that

Okay, deep breath. That’s good. Really good. Fingernails are now officially non-existent. Let’s hope she doesn’t have an explosion phobia!

At one o’clock in the morning the next day she tweeted:

“Stayed up late to finish a manuscript I will offer on tomorrow. Really love this story.”

Now, I’m really glad I was fast asleep at one o’clock in the morning, because there would have been no sleeping that night for me if I had read this when she tweeted it.

PKO_0001147The next morning I woke to an email sent just after that Tweet. She’d stayed up late reading because she couldn’t put it down.

Yes!!!

Now let me tell you. Spam filters can be evil. E.V.I.L. because after almost a whole day, thank goodness, she poked me to make sure I got the contract offer.

“Umm, no.”

Resend is a wonderful thing.

I spent the next half hour reading and re-reading everything she had to say about my book.  I mean, you have dreams about people going on and on about how great your work is, but you never really expect it to happen. Especially from an editor with such a great reputation in the business. I was numb. Completely numb.

Wow. Just Wow

An editor at my target publisher loves my story just as much as I do. She loves my quirky voice, and the themes blew her away. (Literally, in some cases).

Wow.__I_mean_REALLy_Wow!_00000

Now on to the nitty gritty. I hope I will have exciting news to share with everyone really soon.

_JenniFer____EatoN

How to Publish Topic #3: Bigger than you can imagine houses

We’re continuing our Monday discussion of different ways to get published. Today we’re talking about large publishing houses.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that there were a “Big Six”, because there sure are a lot of OTHER houses out there that can give you exactly the same stuff.  Some take unagented manuscripts, others do not.

Some that don’t take unagented submissions open up once a year (or once in a while) to unagented authors, and always for a short time.  If you are interested in this, you need to follow these publishers closely.  The windows are tight, you don’t want to miss it.

In general, everything I said about the “Big Six” is true about these guys.  One in particular – HARLEQUIN – should be particularly attractive if you are a romance writer. TOR should be very attractive if you are a Speculative Fiction writer.  The reason I say this, is that these publishers have followings.  People who like a certain type of romance trust Harlequin, and will buy a book for the Harlequin name alone.  Hey, I wouldn’t say no to that.

Here are some of the “biggies” that are not considered “Big Six”

Harlequin (Recently purchased by HarperCollins)

Tor (St. Martins Press)

Baen Books

Baker Book House

Daw Books

Houghton Mifflin

Scholastic

Kennsington

Personally, I think the bragging rights are just as good to get into any of these guys. I certainly wouldn’t say no… but only if I believed that they loved my book enough to help promote it.

_JenniFer____EatoN

Rejection. Sometimes coming to grips is harder than others.

Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of rejections. Usually form rejections. I brushed myself off and moved on. But none of them stung as badly as this one.

83 days— twenty three days over their posted “get back to you” deadline, all leading to a form rejection.

Rejection.

Wow. I was speechless. Took me a while to get over it. I mean, I understand that publishers are busy, but when they have had the manuscript so long that they probably read the whole thing, and maybe even had several people read it, and then getting a form rejection?????

Ouch.

I’d just love to know— was it good enough? Did they have two alien novels on their desk that were great, and someone flipped a coin? Do they have an explosion phobia? Do they not like the color purple? What was it?

It took me a full day to get over this. Once I did, I dusted myself off and started reading my novel from page one.

Picking myself up, and getting back to it.

You know what?  I was amazed. After not reading my novel for several months, I found myself instantly engrossed, and stunned when I realized “Hey, I actually wrote this.”

I know why the publisher had it so long, now.

It’s good. Damn good.

I was probably rejected for one of those silly reasons you read about… like they already signed a sci-fi this month, or someone spilling their coffee or something.

My novel just needs to find the right person. Someone who loves the idea as much as I do.

I’m fine. I’ll get there. Patience has never been my strong suit. In the immortal words of Yoda “You must learn patience.”

There is still one more publisher on my “wish list” reading my baby. Maybe they are “the one”.

So I sit back, relax, and hunker down into my new novel.

This sucker ain’t gonna get written on its own.

 

Jennifer___Eaton

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.

PKO_0012884

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.

JenniFer_EatonF

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”

Hachette

Macmillan

Penguin

HarperCollins

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”.

Marketing:

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:

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.

JenniFer_Eaton__F