Category Archives: Publishing

What happens when a publishing house goes under?

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I recently read about a friend who published with a smaller house and when they went under her book dropped out of print. I have to confess this is a fear that has crossed my mind. A book is an investment of years, just the thought of loosing your contract sends a chill down my spine.

What ever happens to a book that goes out of print? I’m sure there have been quite a few. Can you ever resell the manuscript? Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting too many eggs in one basket by preparing to write a whole series of books for one publisher. I wonder if I should try to write another book at the same time and sell it somewhere else, but at the same time… I know this is probably more work than I can handle!

Just some random thoughts. On a positive note all of this leads me to conclude that writers/publishers/editors/agents must be among the most resilient/optimistic people on the planet. 🙂 The publishing industry is labour intensive, heart-breaking and offers little return… and yet… and yet… I still know that this is what I’ll do with the rest of my life.

PS Happy news! My husband and I are buying our first home! Yeah! I’m going to get a real office… and an island in the kitchen. 🙂

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Blog scoop! My interview with upcoming author Shannon Mayer.

A good friend of mine and fellow writer, Shannon Mayer, recently signed with a major Canadian agent. I’ve been fascinated by her journey as she moves towards publication.

You can read a summary of her book at the end of this interview, I’ve had a chance to read bits of it and I love it. Shannon is well on her way to being picked up by a large publishing house. I couldn’t resist getting her to share some of her experiences so far.

Shannon, in my mind I would describe your work as gritty urban fantasy. In a market clogged with manuscripts, can you tell us what makes your book unique?

My main character, Toni, is a morbidly obese woman who does phone sex for a living, something she’s quite good at. That alone is a stand out quality of the book. There are stories about chubby girls and fat guys, but you would be hard pressed to find a main character who is truly obese.

Of course, there is a romantic element to the book and that also makes for an interesting twist with Toni being as large as she is and dealing with the issues of embodying [the vice of] Gluttony, as well as trying to keep her demon master in the dark about her love interest.

I would say that Toni’s story is a cross between Indiana Jones, The Biggest Loser with a dash of the Lightning Thief thrown in for good measure, which means it’s fast paced and a lot of fun despite the dark aspects of it.

Who do you think your story will appeal to?

I think that the book will appeal to a large range of people and ages, even those who perhaps have avoided the Urban Fantasy genre in the past. It’s dark enough for an adult book without being so bad that an older teen couldn’t enjoy it and while there is definitely a fantasy element, it isn’t vampires and werewolves.

The struggles Toni goes through and the things she wants for her life are things that we can all identify with. I think that this touch of realism will bring the book onto a lot of different shelves and to a variety of readers.

Why did you choose to write about a non-conventional heroine?

It wasn’t so much of a choice as Toni started to “tell” me about her life and I had to write it. It was as fascinating for me to write about Toni as I think it will be for people to read.

Do you have a message for your audience?

Ultimately, no matter how bad you think your life is, how far you’ve strayed away from the path that you wanted to be on, you can always make the change to bring yourself back. Whether it’s weight loss, finding the love of your life, changing habits or fighting off addictions, it doesn’t matter. We all have the strength to change, no matter what our circumstances. That’s what Toni’s story is teaching us, what it’s all about.

You recently signed with a major agent, but are still waiting for a publishing house to pick you up.  Tell us about your experience so far.

It has been highs and lows to the extreme. The journey to this point has been overwhelming and so surreal and now to have finally signed with an agent, particularly as one as good as Carolyn Swayze still makes me shake my head.

You have to develop some serious patience. Even with an agent submitting your work, you can wait for months to hear back from interested publishing houses. It’s still faster than submitting as an un-agented author, but there is definitely the possibility of waiting on the big houses for four months or more… And that’s when they are keen to get to your manuscript!

How long have you been writing your book?

It took me about three months to write the rough draft. It took another year of learning about the craft, making revisions, and hiring a freelance editor (that I worked with on two rounds of revisions) before it was to the point where I met Carolyn and I signed my contract with her. And still now every time I look at it I see things I tweak and change. As you know, writing a book is a never-ending process.

How did you connect with your agent?

I was very lucky to meet Carolyn in person at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference in Seattle this past July. She was one of the agents I had on my list to have a one on one with and we hit it off right from the start. I met her on Saturday and by Tuesday of that week we were discussing contracts. The whole thing happened very fast.

Why did you decide to work with her?

She has a great reputation as one of the best agents in Canada, and as I mentioned, we really hit it off. Although hitting it off with your agent isn’t necessarily a must, it is a very nice bonus when you are working with someone over a long period of time and on several projects.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve experienced?

Learning patience has been a biggy for me, and I thought I was a pretty patient person to begin with. Balancing the stress of deadlines with a full time job, husband and life has also been a rather interesting experience. It’s very easy to get wound tighter than a two dollar clock, so finding that balance is tremendously important, however you choose to do it.

What are the benefits?

The benefits I see in having an agent is there is someone else who believes in your work enough to put their name and reputation behind it. You have someone to bounce ideas off of, and also the most obvious benefit is they are pitching and selling your ms to the publishing houses that we as authors would have a difficult time getting our foot even in the door. This way I can focus more on the writing aspect of the business and let her do the leg work.

What is some advice you can give writers currently searching for an agent?

Well, I met Carolyn and she wasn’t at the time looking for adult Urban Fantasy and hadn’t taken any on up to that point in time. My advice would be when at conferences, pitch to as many agents and editors that you can. One of them may surprise you and be ready to step into your genre even if they haven’t in the past.

What is some advice you can offer for working with an agent? what are sensitive issues and what can be done to smooth these over?

Good, clean communication is the most important aspect of your relationship with your agent. Look at it like you would a new romantic relationship. Lay out the ground rules early on, what you expect from your agent and what they expect from you. If you aren’t sure, ask. The worst thing in the world is to be unsure of where you stand with your agent. As to treating sensitive topics I have found it is best to be honest and straight to the point. Although this is a relationship, the basis of it is a business. Treat it as such and your agent will respect you for your professional attitude.

Anything else?

For those who are writers, keep at it. It’s taken me nearly seven years now to get to this point and there have been some real low valleys. But the peaks are worth it, don’t ever give up, you never know when that next step will take you to the top of the mountain.


And of course if you want to learn more about me and Toni, you can connect with me at wwww.shannonmayer.com or my blog at http://shannonmayer.blogspot.com


The Chronicles of Sin : Gluttony

Toni is a morbidly obese woman whose major talents are eating copious amounts of food and giving phenomenal phone sex, the latter being a fact she’s damn proud of. The weight is another matter altogether and it’s out of her control. She’s Gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, dedicated to filling the world with the compulsion to indulge. Trapped in a vicious circle, she can neither free herself on her own, nor love the life she leads as Gluttony.

Far from alone, Toni and the other six of the Seven Deadly Sins are bringing the world to its knees, overseen by Dantalion, a Grand Duke of Hell. The status quo is blown to hell when Toni falls in love with Rathburn, a.k.a Wrath, thanks in part to a flying nymph and his crossbow. Between a forbidden love and a little divine intervention from an archangel, Toni finds the strength to fight for the changes she wants in her life– Freedom from Gluttony and Rathburn in her arms.


ReadUP TweetUp! Come meet me and other great local authors!

ReadUP TweetUP is Nanaimo’s 5th Tweetup designed to bring Nanaimo’s social media community together in support of Family Literacy Day.

The ReadUP TweetUP is a KID FRIENDLY event and will be held at the Nanaimo Museum on Thursday, January 27, 2011. Special thanks to the Nanaimo Museum for providing the venue.

Artwork inspired by Shadowlands: The Guardian, by CJ Gosling

 

More information coming soon!

ReadUP TweetUP


Getting Published: Going beyond the Query Letter

I recently had someone ask me about how to break into the writing industry. She’s familiar with how to write query letters, but as you may or may not know, the sheer mass of queries that an agent or editor may receive can easily bury your polished gem.

So for those of you who are serious about getting published: here’s how you can take your carrier to the next level.

Basically, you’re going to have to meet some people. 😛

I’m talking about conferences and workshops. I highly suggest that you start looking at what’s available to you. An example of a great conference that is happening in the BC, Canada area is the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. If anything, check out their website to get an idea of just what a conference can offer you.

If major writing conferences are outside of your budget, then look for writing workshops closer to home. I met my publisher, publicist, and connected with a writing critique group, all through attending large conferences and local workshops.

I find the writing industry is actually pretty small and one good connection tends to lead to another. So always be polite!

There are some practical tools you will need to promote your manuscript, both at the conferences and beyond. I’m going to call it the Writers’ Marketing Kit.

1. A verbal pitch – A snappy interesting summary of your book – no more than two minutes. You never know who’s going to be asking!

2. Pitch sheet – this is a single 8X11 sheet with your name, a brief bio, and a five/six sentence summary of your book.

Mine is done in colour and has a glossy finish like a flyer. Be sure to include your photo and contact information. Pitch sheets are great at conferences. If an agent or editor is interested in you or your book you can slip them a pitch sheet (after your verbal pitch) so they will remember you and your book later.

3. Query Letter – Even if you do make personal contact with an agent at a writing conference, it is still polite to connect with them again in the form of a query letter. A query letter is like a cover letter for your book. It introduces you, and your manuscript. Different agencies have different policies about how to format your query letter. Visit their websites for more information. Here is a helpful link to connect you with agents and get you started on building a great query.

4. Summaries – of varying lengths.These are mostly for query letters, but you will find them handy in other places too. (Writing your dust jacket for instance) Depending on what the summary is for, you may need to include summaries of 2 paragraphs to 2 pages.

5. Synopsis – think of this as your book in mini form. It should be written completely in present tense, third person and is supposed to capture your unique writing voice and the ‘feel’ of the story itself.

While you don’t need every detail of your book, include all the major characters and plot twists. And yes – doing all of this can be a HUGE struggle. Still, at the very least, a synopsis will expose weaknesses in your manuscript that you might not have known was there.

I have also found that book reviewers sometimes skip reading your book in favour of reading your synopsis… so it needs to be the best it can be. I have seen synopsis’ range in length from 2 pages to 10. Generally however, shorter is better.

6. Bio – It seems you need a bio everywhere and for everything. if you don’t have any letters behind your name, try to make it quirky and interesting. Be sure to include any special experiences and knowledge you have that pertains to your book.

7. Business cards – very handy. Made me feel professional.

8. Blog/Website – One of the first things that an agent/editor/publisher will do if they are interested in you is google your name. I suggest that you make it easy to find, and that you do your best to control what type of content is posted about you.

Well! That’s all I can think of for right now. I may have to revisit this list and update it later. Any suggestions?


Synopsis breakdown

Okay. Confession time. If you’re writing a book, you must write a synopsis.

You see I didn’t do it. I had a great query(your introduction letter to an agent/publisher), a good pitch(a short verbal blurb to sell your book in under a minute or two) and an excellent summary (your book in a paragraph or two). But somehow I just couldn’t abide the thought of finishing that darn synopsis (an outline of the plot written in a witty engaging voice in present tense with little or no adverbs/adjectives. 2-5 pages, give or take)… despite all the advice and prompting of my writer’s group.

I got away with it because I connected with Angela at a conference and she was more interested in simply viewing my manuscript. I’ve heard that most publishers are like this… but you still need a synopsis. Why? Because. Somebody, somewhere down the line will ask for it.

Like… say a big reviewer… who doesn’t have time to read your whole book but wants to do a review anyway… and he needs your synopsis by tomorrow morning.

In case you’re wondering… it’s 3am.

bleh…

Okay. Cheer up time. Angela told me I could leak this.

 Awesome huh? And creepy. No I won’t tell you. You’ll have to get the book you freeloaders… that or pester me until I give in.

Just teasing. Have a great sleep. I know I will. 😛


Why I write.

I heard on CBC radio today that the average Canadian writer makes $11,000/ year. It kind of made me smile- it just confirms what I think I’ve suspected all along.

You have to write because you love writing.

The journey to get where I am has been a long one, and I am one of the lucky ones. Writers often write for ten years, 6-7 books before they get picked up.

So you can’t write for the money- and for goodness sake don’t write for the fame! Haha. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t know Stephen King if he came up to me and shook my hand… but maybe that’s just me.

For myself I guess it begins with the odd pleasure of putting one word after another. The pure act of creating a sentence. Oh sure I’ve got high and lofty reasons behind my work. The fact that I want to show the world beauty is one of them. But if you’ve really got to get down to it…

It’s just so darn fun.


Synopsis!

What is a synopsis? So glad you asked the question. Pretty much it’s the hardest part of writing a book and one of the biggest tools used for selling it. You basically take your whole book and condense it down to 2-10 pages (depending on what the agent/editor wants). It’s kind of a mini book for editors. They want to catch the style/tone/feel of your book. You also have to include your main characters and major plot points. Don’t forget the ending!

The reason why I’m writing about this is because I just finished mine and I discovered that the best way to learn how to write one was to read a bunch of examples. If for some reason you’re struggling as much as I did on this, I thought I’d include the best website I found. Granted, most of the synopsis’ are romance novels but the concept is the same. Hope this helps!
http://www.charlottedillon.com/synopsis.html