Category Archives: Road to Publication

Big Publishing House, Small Publishing House… Red Fish, Blue Fish. What the Heck do you do?????

Help me think through this, ‘cause it’s driving me nuts. I’m finishing up my novel, Fire in the Woods. I felt pretty cozy about it going in to the beta process. Now, rounding to home plate, I’m really excited.

I’m excited because, as authors, we always think what we’ve written is great. The Beta Process is usually a slap in the face as reality sets in. For me, the slap was not so hard. Yes, it needed tweaking, but every single beta reader is just as excited about this novel as I am. Wow… it’s a pretty great place to be. (Ten beta-readers, in case you were wondering)

So now I am sitting here with a novel that I am reasonably sure is good enough for a big publishing house. No brainer, right? Send it on out!

This is where I hit a snag. Am I a patient person, or an impatient person?

The truth is, that the big houses that I am interested in… Baen, Daw, Tor, Random House, Entangled (a little smaller) are now — are you ready for this –

ACCEPTING UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS.

Wowzers! No need to take a year to find an agent, and then wait another year to get your stuff read. (If you can get by without an agent-there are pros and cons to this)

Anyway, the problem is that many of these houses do not accept simultaneous submissions. That means they expect you to send your manuscript to them… and only them. Now, this would not be a problem, but all of them, in their submission requirements, give themselves a HUGE timeframe to review novels. I understand that they get a lot of submissions, but you want me to take a year before I even hear back from you? And then if you decide to pass, I’ll need to wait another year to hear back from the next one?

My goal is to have Fire in the Woods traditionally published in printed copy format. I want the perks of professional editing and layout and cover design (etc) However, there are plenty of small houses out there who will read your query in a day, and read your manuscript in a month or so.

So, what, I wonder… other than prestige… would I direct myself to a big house when I have the possibility of getting my novel in the hands of readers in a year, as opposed to two to three years or more?

Hmmm. I think typing this just made things more clear to me.

Anyway… what are your thoughts?

(Self-publishing is not of interest at this time. I don’t have the time or money to do it right)

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I’m on a roll! More Exciting News

I am super excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Still Moments publishing for my single short “A Test of Faith”.

This is a really big step for me, because this will be my first publication outside of an anthology.  Yep, that’s right… only my name on that cover.

Yeah, okay, maybe that sounds vain — but tough cookies!

“A Test of Faith” is part two of the Jack and Jill story that begins with “Connect the Dots”, which will be published by Still Moments in their “For the Love of Christmas” Anthology that will be released December 4th.

“Connect the Dots” takes place during the stress-filled week before Christmas, and closes on Christmas morning.

“A Test of Faith” picks up a few hours later, and follows our characters through a very bumpy week leading to New Year’s Eve.

Yeah, it looks like this is going to be a holiday thing.  I have an idea for Valentine’s day, but I decided to shelve it temporarily because another project is tapping on my head and screaming “write me first!”

So Yay! Three contracts for me this year!  Two publications in December, and this new one is tentatively scheduled for January 2013.

For the first time in maybe EVER I can honestly say that I have lived up to my New Year’s resolution.  I hope some of you guys have done as well!

Road to Publication #21: Completing your first interview

Okay, to be honest, I am writing this up after completing many interviews.  The questions just keep flooding in.  Such wackiness, I swear!

If you were on a train in Alabama, and the lights went out and the sky turned green, what would you do?

Seriously?  You really want me to answer that question?

Okay, I made that up, but some of the questions are like this.  A lot of the questions are very much the same though, and it’s hard to keep them sounding “Fresh”

While I was filling out a set of questions last night, my son (The Monomanical Middle Grade Reviewer) Leaned over my shoulder and told me I was boring.

I read it over, and decided he was right.  I thought about some of the interviews that I’ve done here, and laughed at myself.  Boring interviews are the reason that the Little Blue Lady from Mars was created… to add a little spice and fun into it.

He pointed out the last question, and told me I didn’t even really answer it.  I looked it over.  Yep, he was right.  I danced around it.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll answer it.”

With a big smile on my face, I answered the question… I answered it with him in mind… Using all the magical powers of a science fiction author.

Within a few keystrokes, my son was chuckling.  I was too… and I found that this time, I really DID answer the question.  And it was funny.  More “me”.

“You are just too cool, Mom,” the MMGR said.

You know what?  I AM COOL Dernit!

Why hadn’t I done all of my interviews like that?  It made me want to go back and re-do all of the interviews I’d already done.  Unfortunately, I’d sent them all out already.

Lessons Learned.

For you guys… when you do your interviews, don’t get all “tight” and “boring”.  Remember your “voice”… remember who you are.  You only have about 250-500 words to get someone who has never heard of you to like you.

Use those words wisely.  Have fun and be yourself.

What do you like/hate about guest posts and author interviews?

Road to Publication #20: Setting up the Blog Tours

OMIGOSH, my head is spinning.  Seriously, it is.

I started a few weeks ago, setting up my own dates for the blog tour for the “Make Believe” Anthology.  Then, after the Arcs went out, all of the sudden requests started coming in from people who contacted J.Taylor Publishing asking for interviews.

I’m really glad that I took someone’s advice and found the calendar feature in my email program.  I started making appointments for the different days in December… but December is filling up pretty quickly.

I also have to wiggle in a blog tour for Connect the Dots, coming out from Still Moments Publishing in their “For the Love of Christmas” Anthology the day after the “Make Believe” Anthology releases.

It looks like I’m going to have to double book dates – talking about Connect the Dots on one Web Site, and Last Winter Red on another.

Now, I’m starting to pull my hair out because I have a list of people who I “Cyber know” who I wanted to ask to host the blog tour, and all these dates are filling up fast.

I know, I know, just smack me.  These are good problems.

I am starting to feel what I’ve heard other authors talk about in the past…  Marketing is a full time job, and detracts from your writing.

I had all these lofty goals for when I would finish and submit Fire in the Woods, but they are falling by the wayside.

It’s true what you hear… this really is hard work.

What do you think… Do you hear about books on blogs?  Have you / would you buy a book after hearing about it on a blog?  What would make you interested in buying an anthology?

Road to Publication #19: Completing the ARCs

Whew!  Anyone want to take a breath with me?  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Ahhhh feels good, doesn’t it?

So, yes, the arcs are done.  What did I find?

There were a few odd editing errors.  I mean… really odd editing errors.  For instance, a sentence ended a paragraph in the original version.  All of the rest of that paragraph was deleted, but that particular sentence remained, but was added to a different paragraph where it made no sense.  Yeah, weird… I know.

What I also came across were places where a string of speech was removed for one reason or another, leaving what was left behind “hollow”…  meaning someone answered a question that was never asked, or things like that.  Yes, weird again.

I also found a sentence where a word was missing, but it was in the original text.  Isn’t that odd?  I guess I took for granted that the file would be cut and pasted.  Apparently not.

What I marked mostly was something that I DON’T think they will fix, even though I asked for it.  The reason is that I just saw the same thing in a published novel from this publisher.

It’s silly, and very anal I will admit… but on my Kindle, if a sentence falls off with a “…” at the end… if placed correctly, the “…” will be treated as its own word and end up all by itself on a line.  I asked that ending “…” ellipses be attached to the final word in each case where they appear.

Like I said… I can ask, right?  I hope they do it, because I think it will look better.

The hard part of this whole project was transferring all my notes from my Kindle onto an Excel spreadsheet so they could review it in the format that they requested.  I suppose it would have been easier if I edited on my computer in PDF format, then I could have just created the spreadsheet at the same time.

Yes, in retrospect it would have been easier, but if I come across this again, I will probably do it the same way.  The reason is that I enjoyed the experience of reading it on the Kindle, as my readers will see it.  It just looked “different.”

(And it’s cool having the cover with my name on it appearing in my Kindle Carousel 🙂 )

Ah… vanity… definitely my favorite sin.

Oh!  Impromptu movie game!  Anyone know who said that line, and what movie it came from?

Road to Publication #18: Reviewing the ARCs, OH NO!

Holy Crud.  This is not happening.  I just found out why you DON’T want to have two works being published at exactly the same time… and even worse… by two different publishers.

I was stunned this morning when the first round edits for Connect the Dots came through. I thought I would have another week.  I have two weeks to finish the ARC edit (the very last edit) of Last Winter Red AND finish the first round edit for Connect the Dots.

Okay.  Breathe.  It’s all good.  This is a great problem to have.  People are going to spit at you for having this problem.  Take a deep breath.  Chocolate helps.  Good.  Relax.

Okay.  No problem.  I can do this.

So… back to Last Winter Red.  I started reading it on Kindle last night.  I made a lot of highlights on the ARC with the handy Kindle Notes feature.

The reason for some of my notes is because my writing style has changed a lot in the last few months since I worked on Last Winter Red, and things don’t seem right to me anymore.

I did find a missing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.  Easy fix (I hope).

What is odd, is every once in a while I stopped and said “Is that what he said?” or “Did I write that?” or “Wait.  That makes absolutely no sense.”

I’m wondering if I even wrote some of these things, or if they were edited to the point of losing “something”.  I want to go through the whole thing, make notes, and then go back to my original copy and see if I need to smack myself upside the head for past mistakes.

Maybe I do.  At this point, I’m not sure what happened.

Either way, I think some more changes are in order.

What makes me cringe over this is that I could have made these changes months ago.  I am tucking this away as a “lesson’s learned” though.

I did have a bad feeling about not reviewing the full version before it went to copy editing.  You know that deep clawing pit-in-your-stomach feeling when you think you lost control of something?

To make sure this doesn’t happen again, I MADE SURE before I signed the contract with Still Moments Publishing for “Connect the Dots” that I WOULD have a chance to review a final before it went to final editing.  Not only that, I will get to see a FULL VERSION as it stands through each round of the editing process.

For a control freak like me, this is a huge relief… because I know I will not be down to the wire and fixing errors I would have seen earlier.

This is not J.Taylor Publishing’s fault either.  It is the way they work.  All publishers are different, and as an author, I need to be ready for this.

What I need to do now is finish reading and marking.  Then I want to go back again reading carefully for spelling/punctuation errors, and then I need to document and changes necessary on  a spreadsheet.

I need to do this within one week, so I can devote the next week to Connect the Dots.

Once again, sleep may become optional.

Road to Publication #17: Getting the ARCs for final approval

Why is my blood pressure up today?  The Advance Release Copies (ARCs) for the Make Believe Anthology have been released.

They arrived while I was at work, and unable to download them.  I see a flurry of “Yay” and “high-fives” from a few of the other authors during the day as they review their own, and see the other author’s work for the first time.

They seemed excited.

I’m not excited.

Excited is definitely not the word for it.  I think nauseous covers it about right.

I think part of my problem is that the first 500 words were recently released.  I found a sentence in the wrong place.  My heart sank.  I contacted the publisher, and they said to go ahead and fix it for the first page release, and to make sure I fix it when I got the ARCs. Whew!

But now I’m worried about what else I might find.  Maybe I’m overreacting.  I hope I’m overreacting.

Okay.  Enough stalling.  I’m going to download it to my Kindle now.

Okay.  Wow.  So cool to see it for the first time.  I need to fix any errors in mine in the next two weeks and return it.  So… sorry ladies, but I will read yours later.

I flip to my story, and my gaze hovers over the cover page.  Yep.  That’s my name.  Feels good.

I flip to the next page.  Something’s wrong.  Have you ever stared at something, not even read it, and known something was not right?

The formatting.  Oh, crud.  The Font in my title pages is important.  It gives an emotional impact… a “feel” of being outside.  They replaced it with a blocky, emotionless ruggedly bold text.

The first “first 500” that was sent to me to post on-line had the correct font.  Hopefully this will be a simple fix.

Before I really get down to reading, I receive an email with the instructions on how to notify them of changes, and what kind of changes will be accepted.  One phrase stood out.

“We won’t guarantee all your final changes will be made, but now is the last possible time for you to make them.”

Now my blood pressure is pumping because I never had the chance to “okay” a final completed version before it went to ARCs.  I have no idea if the changes that I discussed with the editor “piece meal” were inserted correctly BEFORE it was sent to copy editing.

Okay… Deep breath.  You have two weeks.  Just get it done so they have time to fix any errors you may find.

Oxygen anyone?  Nah—skip the oxygen.  I need chocolate.  And lots of it.

Road to Publication #16: Tchotchkes… Huh? Is that a typo? What the heck is my publisher sending me?

Okay, let’s just get this part out of the way… since it’s an obvious question:

tchotch·ke/ˈCHäCHkə/Noun: 1.A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket.

(Typically pronounced “CHACH-kee”)

Honestly, I had no idea what this was either.  I even had to look up the pronunciation.  I did see a mention of this odd word in my marketing plan, but I didn’t want to sound stupid and ask back then.

When the email arrived from my publisher, I stared at it.  Should I open it?  Is it Spam?  Was their email hijacked by some foreign based worm?  Honestly, I was worried.

But you know what?  Today is my Birthday, and it ended up being a big fat fun present!  Just For me!

Well, not really.  All the Make Believe authors got it, but it’s still like a present, dernit!

Inside was the artwork for a whole bunch of neat marketing pieces.

1.       Email signature tag

2.       Bookmarks

3.       Posters

4.       Trading cards/postcards

5.       Desktop art (for your computer)

Oh!  Oodles of good stuff.  This is the front of the bookmark.  Pretty cool, huh?

This is all so neat!  I can’t wait to figure out how to slap that signature-thingy into my email.  Good fun!

Oh, you know what?  Yesterday was my three-hundredth Post.  How wacky is that?  Who knew I’d ever have this much to say?

Road to Publication #15: My Goodreads page

Yay!  Another “Me” page.  This is starting to sound a little self-centered, but geeze it’s exciting to see yourself “out there” other than on your own web-site, where you are in complete control.

I’m not going to get into all that “tingly” stuff again.  But yes, this is incredibly cool.

Here’s the link to my Goodreads Author page.

Yep, that’s me with my own Goodreads author-page.  There’s a link right there to “Make Believe”.  The Christmas Anthology will be featrued here as soon as Still Moments Publishing releases to cover.  Anything else I am lucky to get published will also get listed under my picture and profile.

So cool.  Really.

Oh — Shameless self promotion — while you are there you can slip “Make Believe” into your “To read” list — if ya wanna 🙂