Monday, May 23, 2016

Your Turning Point and Best Promotional Advice

The Thing That Turned Me anthology from Stay Classy Publications is set to release on June 30.

In celebration, I posed the following two questions to some of the anthology authors:

1 - What was your own personal turning point?

2 - What’s your best book promotion advice?

From Randi Lee, owner of Stay Classy:

1 - My own personal turning point came when I gave birth to my daughter; I knew it wasn't just about me anymore. Her birth inspired the birth of Stay Classy Publications, a venture designed to help fellow authors pursue their dreams of publication.

2 - The best promotional advice I can give is to be honest with your message. Don't be too forceful or pushy; rather, allow the writing to speak for itself.

From Christine Rains:

1 - My turning point was my first acceptance. A drabble with which I was paid one dollar in cash. I still have that dollar framed on my desk. It gives me the strength to not give up on my dreams.

2 - Offer one story for free to tempt readers to buy more of your books.

From Roland Yeomans:

1 - When I was dragging my unconscious 150 pound German Shepherd/Newfoundland across the blazing floor of my burning home. I didn't think I would make it. I did. Sadly, Hercules did not (overcome by smoke). Losing him and my home with all my possessions taught me how fragile and precious life is -- material things can be replaced.

2 - Never give up. Think outside the box. And make any promotional effort fun for the reader.

From Alex J. Cavanaugh:

1 - My biggest turning point was of course when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Other turning points include meeting my wife, receiving my first guitar, and my first published book.

2 - Best promotional advice - be willing to promote others.

From Harper Jameson:

1 - The death of my mother. It was the moment that forced me to stand on my own feet and make my life my own. She introduced me to the romance genre and taught me everything I needed, before I even knew I needed it.

2 - Be patient, be diligent and be kind. Make sure all your interactions are positive, whether they be with potential readers, bloggers and fellow authors. Making connections as an author is hard but, losing them is as easy as breathing.

From Imani Allen:

1 - My own personal turning point was realizing that if I wanted More in My Life, I would need to make the Efforts to Do & Give More.

2 - What’s your best book promotion advice? I would say Direct Promotions or at the very least one on one. I go further when I can spend that time with someone & make the most of it.

From Melissa Maygrove:

1 - I've had several in my life, but being pursued then betrayed by my first husband was definitely a big one.

2 - Create professional product, inside and out, and set some money aside for a few good book ads.

From Heather Gardner:

1 - Meeting the man who is now my husband. He changed everything about my life, for the better.

2 - Word of mouth is still the best. Ask your friends and family to talk about your books.

From Misha Gericke:

1 - One day, I realized I was going down a path that wasn't good for my emotional health, all for the sake of money. It made me re-evaluate my whole life, and now I measure everything I do according to whether or not I'll regret spending my life doing it later.

2 - Don't be afraid to do something different from the crowd.

From Crystal Collier

1 - I was 12. Because of my last name, I was teased relentlessly at school. At home, my older brother used me as his emotional punching bag, and at church, I was the youngest girl in my age group and therefore not good enough for the others. Then we moved. I started into a new school. Life changed entirely. Instead of being the victim of circumstances, I embraced my strange name and turned it into something cool. I found the clarity to understand my older brother who was also being bullied. We attended a new church, and the girls my age were welcoming and accepting of everyone. That’s the point at which the Crystal who is now emerged.

2 - Be yourself. Everywhere you go, everything you do—whether virtual or physical—be who you are. Make friends. Be genuine. Look for the good in others. All the good you put out in the world will come back your way eventually.

And from me:

1 - When we moved to NC over 20 years ago, I got involved with a business group that really focused on self-improvement. I’d struggled with a horrible self-image my whole life, but through countless seminars, tapes, books, and association with positive people, I grew more confident. I never could have become a speaker and an author otherwise.

2 - Be willing to go the extra mile - do more than anyone else.

What was your turning point? 
What’s your best promotional advice?

Monday, May 09, 2016

What NOT to Say to a Publisher

The IWSG is now on Twitter!

There are a lot of wrong things to say or do to a publisher. And it’s not always writers who are the culprits.

Publishing is a business. Correspondence and communication going both directions should be professional and polite.

Sometimes it’s just due to a lack of knowledge or understanding how the industry works.

While the list is endless, I’ve compiled a few key items that can garner a negative reaction or destroy a potential working relationship:

1 - The mass query letter. Nothing screams lazy like a mass query letter. And it’s very obvious. Always research the publisher and personalize the whole letter to fit their requirements.

2 - “These are all of my accomplishments and past books and success and...” - while leaving out half of the requested items in the query letter. Impress me with your current manuscript and how well you can follow our submission guidelines first.

3 - No response after a request to read the manuscript. If you’ve received other representation, tell us. Otherwise, that reaction says you either weren’t serious or your work isn’t ready. No response comes off as impolite and discourteous, and there’s a good chance you’ll be blacklisted.

4 - “This HAS to be my cover art - I don’t want anything else.” Most publishers have their own in-house illustrators and have years of experience with producing marketable covers. Often the author has little to no say in the process. Smaller publishers are more open to working with an author on the cover, but always discuss this issue ahead of time and keep an open mind. The final decision still rests with the publisher.

5 - “I don’t want to make these editorial changes!” No matter who you are or how good you are with writing - your publisher WILL request edits to the manuscript. It’s all to make the manuscript the best it can possibly be and fighting it only makes a writer look selfish and immature. There will be instances where you’ll want to stand by your work, but a refusal to make most of the suggested edits is not how you want to kick off the relationship with your publisher.

6 - “Can we change that...?” Constant requests to change the cover art, change the synopsis, change the genre, change the release date, etc. No publisher wants to work with a difficult or demanding author. There should be respect on both sides and mutual understanding that it’s all in the interest of producing a successful book. Besides, authors do not hire publishers to produce their book - the publisher “hires” the author to produce a marketable manuscript, and they are the ones in control.

7 - “Can I get a review copy mailed to me?” - of a book that came out several years ago. Reviews are important, especially when a book is released. And many publishers will honor requests that come in after a book’s release, especially if the reviewer is genuine and an ebook can be sent. But with older titles, it’s just not economical to send out print books.

There are many, many more of course. Some cross over to other areas of the book industry. Top PR consultant Paul Krupin from Direct Contact PR supplied a few things he’s heard over the years:
“I’m not willing to do interviews with media.”
“I don’t have talking points and don’t think I need them.”
“I don’t have any interest in doing social media.”
“Everyone will be interested in my book.”

Finally, I’d like to end with some real-life examples:

The one that sticks out in my mind is the writer who was great in editing but once his book came out he was the opposite. He turned into a complete jerk, saying things to our marketing manager like, "What are you doing to sell my book?" No matter what suggestions she gave him or what she had done it was always the same thing, "so what are you doing to sell my book?"
Karen Gowen - WiDo Publishing

The owner of a website who had featured one of our authors but grew irate when he wasn’t compensated. We stepped in with a polite email and were told “I really was the first one to publish the book cover and the trailer,” which wasn’t true. The next email began with “Do you know who I am?” and went off on a rant. With less than 650 followers (and only 1000 Twitter followers) we do know who he is - someone with an over-inflated ego that we won’t ever deal with again.
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Some of the saddest are the illiterate ones, especially when we can’t tell whether they’re wanting assistance with self publishing or it’s a royalty submission. Here’s an example; the gentleman sent us multiple similar emails on a daily basis until we succeeded in begging him to stop:
Dear sir Just a few minutes back I sent a manuscript for approval . I am sending 2 more letters I recieved from others. Try to reply about the amount I have to pay quickly. . Do non not worry for 2 or 3 do;;ars. My advertisement matter is important and not so much editorial work. 
And here’s the beginning of a recent, lengthy submission that definitely fell on its own sword. The combination of dripping hubris and the fact that he didn’t view our guidelines to see what we’re looking for nixed him quickly from consideration. And of course we’d love to open ourselves to working with an obvious felon….
My name is ______ and if you take the time to Google me, you'll see that I'm infamous with respect to my alleged criminal activities. The origins of the charges against me date back to _____ and are related to my formation and participation in _____. Interestingly enough I never merited so much as an honorable mention on the FBI's most wanted list until late 2012, and now for some unexplained reason I've shot all the way up to number three.
Cynthia at Cypress House, Lost Coast Press, QED Press

Actually the worst author (as far as relations with editors) I worked with was a professional! While I was at NASA (where I supervised contractor publishing staff), a “science writer-journalist” was hired to work with several NASA scientists (who had been the primary scientists for the Pioneer Missions to Venus) to do a “wrap up” of 20 years of work on the Pioneer-Venus project. (The primary scientists were about to retire.) The author was just short of openly hostile to the editors. It was quite frustrating...
Pete Masterson, former publishing consultant and owner of Aeonix Publishing Group

And finally, the grand prize winner -

A manuscript was rejected based on the fact it didn’t fall into our genres and the query letter was very poor. A polite rejection email was sent, along with suggestions on how to improve the query letter, including links to query letter sites, so the individual might have better luck in the future. His one line response: “Just read the f___ing story!”
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Know someone who is guilty of any of those things or have you heard of authors saying and doing much worse?

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Parallels: Felix Was Here

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today I’m also visiting Natalie at Literary Rambles discussing what Dancing Lemur Press is looking for in its queries.

Things have been hopping the past two months! We signed three new authors (two for Dancing Lemur Press and one for Freedom Fox Press), submissions are flooding in, and we had a book release on Tuesday. (More on that in a minute.)

Through all of the work - reading, editing, emailing, planning, etc. - I managed to get back on track with my own book. One story is edited, two are in the process of being edited, one is mostly done, and I started the fifth one. I usually only get 60-90 minutes a night, but it’s enough to transfer over 1000 words from notebook to computer. (I still hand write everything first.) And it feels really good to be back in the swing of things!

As for that book release on Tuesday, I’d like to present...

Parallels: Felix Was Here
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Enter the realm of parallel universes!

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!

Science Fiction/Alternative History
Print ISBN 978-1-939844-19-4 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-20-0
$14.95 USA 6x9 Trade paperback, 218 pages
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Freedom Fox Press, a division of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Buy it in print- Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Buy the ebook- Itunes / Kindle / Nook / Kobo
Add it on Goodreads
Visit the Parallels Blog