Tag Archives: Publishing

To Query or NOT to Query — That IS the Question

Face it: if we want to get published, we MUST write query letters. Maybe many of them.

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents had some interesting details to share about successful Queries. He has shared many actual queries and included comments from the targeted literary agent who actually accepted the author as a client following the reading of his/her query. The one I read was published online at Writer’s Digest: Guide to Literary Agents on March 1, 2016, if you’d like to read the entire article. He followed that up with an interesting article made up of agents’ thoughts on making connections with a new writer/client through their query letters. They had some thought‑provoking and informative ideas about what to do — and what NOT to do:

“. . . mutual respect for one another’s time and efforts goes a long way. I hate asking an author to drop everything and get me something ASAP, and feel similarly when the roles are reversed.” Elizabeth Weed (Weed Literary).

“A lasting relationship with an agent is not a guarantee. I have let go of clients and they have let go of me. For me, usually communication style is the issue or authors who push the boundaries of the relationship—i.e., try and tell me how to do my job, or when to do my job . . .” Elizabeth Kracht (Kimberley Cameron & Associates)

“My dream client is someone who believes strongly enough in the work not to be deterred, but who can also be flexible enough to take good editorial advice.” Michael Bourret (Dystel & Goderich)

“A dream client is someone who writes wonderfully; understands promotion and knows how to build a tribe; always makes a deadline; is gracious with critique and direction; and is kind, grateful, smart and makes me laugh.” Rachelle Gardner (Books & Such Literary)

“Respect my time. Don’t expect me to constantly call if there’s no news to report. Trust that I know what I’m doing and don’t take the advice of writers at conferences or in your writing groups over mine . . . Understand that publishing moves slowly at times, and I’m just as frustrated as you are if we have to wait for a check, a contract, or a response to a submitted manuscript.” Jennifer De Chiara (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)

“A dream client is one whose talent continually surprises me, and my belief in it is what keeps me on my toes to make sure I’m doing right by his or her work.” Brian DeFiore (DeFiore and Company)

“The best writers I work with are flexible and adaptable.” Carly Watters (P.S. Literary Agency)

“. . . my dream client attributes: a natural ability to write—and well; a good idea of how to build a platform; a good attitude; and perseverance.” Dawn Michelle Frederick (Red Sofa Literary)

Love, LuAnn

I’ve always had Three Loves: teaching, theatre, and writing (the order changes from time to time). Before I began kindergarten, I “knew” I wanted to be a teacher. (It’s probably always been a control issue.) When I played “school” with my little pre‑kindergarten friends, I was always the teacher. How did I even know what a teacher would do?

Then I began school, and was learning to read. I remember The Day I “got it!” I was looking at a very long word, which I didn’t know. As I sounded it out in my mind, I realized I DID know the first part of it: “may”. Then I realized I knew the second part of it too: “be”! May Be. Maybe. It was like a bolt of lightning zapped through my head. Neither of the two words means the same thing as the combination means ‑‑‑ it was a word I didn’t recognize, as written, but once I’d puzzled it out, I was beyond thrilled that I knew THAT word too! At least, when hearing or saying it. It was MAGIC ! That had to be when my love affair with words began.

Many, many years later, when I’d already been teaching for a few decades, I met a like soul: LuAnn Brobst Staheli: the consummate teacher and wordsmith. I think we “recognized” each other upon our first meeting. She always had wise words, and that broad, welcoming smile! (How I miss her now.) I ran across an old blog of hers, and would like to pass along a few nuggets. She had become discouraged, at one point, and feeling that ‑‑‑ in spite of “small” successes with a couple of books through “niche presses” and what could only have been the beginnings of writing awards she received, she was ready to give up: too many “No, thank you,” “not right for our list,” “We’ll have to pass on this,” and “Good luck finding a house for your work” rejections.

Was she writing the wrong things? What would be the next Big Thing? Editors and others could only answer, “We’ll know it when we see it.” She was asking the questions most prolific, but unpublished, writers ask themselves. Then she made a decision and set a goal: “

LuAnn tried to look at her writing ‑‑‑realistically ‑‑‑she loved to write, knew how to tell a good story (that could have been from all those years of capturing the attention of her hundreds of junior high school students!). She knew she could write for a broad audience: middle grade, YA, adult, fiction and non‑fiction with topics just as wide ranging from memoir, education, history and all kinds of swirling, yet‑unrealized topics and subjects.

“So in December, I made a decision,” she wrote. “If publishers didn’t want to buy my books, then I’d need to move on without them. I had readers who were tired of waiting and I was too. . . . I made a list of all the books I had already written that were sitting on my hard drive, waiting for a home. I added the manuscripts that were nearly done as well, and found, that even with not yet counting the two manuscripts

I had out waiting for a response from traditional publishers, that I had enough books close enough to completion to meet my goal. (Since then, both of those books have been formally rejected, so they are now a part of my master list of books that will be lining up on Amazon, ready for an instant download to the readers who want them.)”

And so her 2013 goal came into being: she would publish a book‑a‑month, even if she had to do it on Kindle. She began with Leona & Me, Helen Marie, based on her mother’s stories of childhood, growing up in southern Indiana, which she’d written shortly after her mother passed away. The cover showed her mom, Helen Marie, and her aunt, Leona Mae.

LuAnn’s February release was A Note Worth Taking, with a cover which “placed it into the Small Town U.S.A. series. She noted that “[a]lthough some readers have tried to read themselves into this novel . . . it’s a story I made up in my mind . . . some of the events are based on truth, but the conflict and resolution, and the characters who play key roles are purely fiction. . . . when it comes to girl drama, there is nothing new under the sun, so you could change the names a million times and people would still wonder, ‘Is this about ME?’“

Having gone through this process herself, Luann wrote on her blog May 16, 2013, “Thinking of giving up your writing career? Time to get energized and take a new direction. Read my story here: T.he Book of the Month Club.”

LuAnn Brobst Staheli was NOT a quitter. She was more likely to follow Winston Churchill’s wise words: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up!”

And so should we all.

(Thanks, LuAnn, and “Winnie” ‑‑‑ I needed that!)

Some other books by LuAnn Brobst Staheli:

  • When Hearts Conjoin (Utah’s Best of State Medal for Non‑fiction Literary Arts)
  • Tides Across the Sea
  • Just Like Elizabeth Taylor
  • Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith
  • Living in an Osmond World
  • Been There, Done That, Bought the T‑Shirt
  • Books, Books, and More Books, vol. 2; A Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Literature
  • Temporary Bridesmaid
  • Carny
  • Ebenezer

Plagiarism: How to Defeat the Digital World Taking Advantage of Authors

UNDERSTANDING PLAGIARISM
What is plagiarism?
According to academic sources, “plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If this is its definition, then anyone who uses another’s material without acknowledging it, is by definition—plagiarizing.

It seems like people are accepting plagiarized material more and more and I find this extremely disturbing as a writer. I felt like it was time to address this as a topic. How do you protect yourself as a writer?

How do you know if someone is plagiarizing?
“Ethical writers make every effort to acknowledge sources fully and appropriately in accordance with the contexts and genres of their writing” (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003). If someone is writing a novel, for example, it makes it hard to decipher what ideas could have been taken from another’s work. For plagiarism to occur, the passages must sound similar or have similar ideas. This “the gray” plays a huge role.

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What Can Plagiarism Look Like?
These are portions of text claimed to be plagiarized by Sam Taylor Mullens (A.K.A. Tiffany Rushton) in the current Nunes-Rushton case. This example is given to show what questionable material may look like.

• Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 – The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.

• Sam Taylor Mullens, 2014 – Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.
(Nunes, R. 2015)

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Understanding Laws: Copyright
“For a work to be protected by copyright law, it must be “original.” However, the amount of originality required is extremely small. The work cannot be a mere mechanical reproduction of a previous work, nor can the work consists of only a few words or a short phrase. In addition, if the work is a compilation, the compilation must involve some originality beyond mere alphabetic sorting of all available works. Beyond that, almost any work that is created by an author will meet the originality requirement.” (Tysver, D. A. 1997-2015)

THE SITUATIONS
Let’s take a look at how three different plagiarism situations affect the publishing market today. This should give all writers an idea of the attitudes of how plagiarism is being dealt with in the business world today. Each of these cases of plagiarism have some interesting attitudes and situations. Culturally we can see how people, in some cases, are surprisingly accepting of plagiarism. This is not a good thing.

The Rachel Ann Nunes vs. Tiffany Rushton Case
Locally the state of Utah has had its fair share of plagiarism cases. In the case of Nunes vs. Rushton, it has been well publicized over the past few months showing how social media has been a huge component to the case.

“A Utah author (Nunes) says a schoolteacher (Rushton) plagiarized her Christian romance novel, added graphic sex scenes and passed it off as her own. In a case she says brings to light plagiarism in the burgeoning world of online self-publishing, Rachel Ann Nunes of Orem filed a federal lawsuit in August against a Layton teacher, Tiffanie Rushton, who she says cut-and-pasted large sections from an electronic copy of her book. Nunes wrote Love to the Highest Bidder in 1998 about two art dealers, one from New York and the other from California, who meet while competing for an Indian Buddha statue and fall in love” (Associated Press, 2014).

James Altucher Admits Plagiarism
In an interview, James Altucher talks about stealing from another author as “a test” which will make him money. For Altucher, he believes in stealing people’s ideas and rewording them overseas to make money can’t be wrong if it’s reworded. These are his words from the podcast where he discussed his plans. Altucher for some reason thinks his plan isn’t plagiarism, yet fully discloses that it is.

“So today something interested me. I decided, just for the fun of it, I’m going to take a very popular book and I’m going to hire somebody on Freelance.Com to take this very popular book, and change every word, but keep the same story. So if the words were, “Jane ran to the store,” I might change that to, “Christine walked quickly to buy her clothes.” So I’m gonna basically, it’s just for fun, I’m gonna see if I can essentially see if I can have someone use a thesaurus to change/rewrite an entire book. So it’s the same book, but just every single word is rewritten. So nobody can say this is plagiarism. And if I load this book to Amazon, what will happen? It’s just an experiment. So I just had the idea to do it today. I found someone in India who extremely cheaply will do it, by Monday. So I’ll have the book finished by Monday.” (Dutson, A. 2015)

Jared Keller and Benny Johnson
For some plagiarism doesn’t end their career. Sadly people still get hired and work as writers in an industry where people are forgiven such as in the careers of Jared Keller and Benny Johnson. In an article for the Huffington Post, these men are “called out” for their sinful ways.

“In further evidence that plagiarism is no longer a career-ender, Jared Keller, the former Mic news director who was fired for plagiarism, has published at least six items in publications like The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Daily Dot, Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday. Keller was fired from Mic last month after allegations of some 20 instances of plagiarism were published by Gawker. Keller’s second life shows just how much things have changed. Far from being run out of town, those accused and even fired for plagiarism are more often finding themselves easily back in a job. Last year Benny Johnson was hired by National Review not long after he was fired from BuzzFeed after more than 40 instances of alleged plagiarism surfaced. Just last month Johnson jumped to IJReview.com. In both Johnson and Keller’s cases, the plagiarism mostly amounted to not properly citing information or full passages lifted from other sources.” (Gold, H. 2015)

It’s evident that all of these situations are related to plagiarism. In some situations people were prosecuted and other times not. The criminals are hoping they won’t be caught, but with more and more people becoming aware, writers and authors are starting to stand up for themselves and their work in this digital scam. Some authors have publishers who help them in plagiarism cases while others do not.

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WHO IS DOING THIS?
Anyone could commit plagiary. The internet gives people the temptation to make money from others work with a click of a button. Unfortunately, it looks like other writers are beginning to plagiarize other writers in some instances like web content with Keller and Johnson. Authors, even notable ones like James Altucher, are beginning to believe plagiarism is allowed and should be looked at as fun. Well, they are all sadly mistaken. The key is how any author handles the situation of protecting their own work. Let’s take the Rachel Ann Nunes case as an example.

WHO CAN HELP?
Nunes found help through many sources. Many of these didn’t cost her money and, in fact, helped her fund much of her costs to this point. Let’s break down how she did this.
• Lawyers
• Social Media Web Funding
• Fans
• Other Writers
• Documentation

Lawyers
Nunes hired a group of lawyers at the beginning who were very expensive. With the help of her fans and other writers, Nunes was able to find legal representation with a writer who just so happened also to be a lawyer. This saved her a huge amount of money.

Social Media Web Funding
Without endless supplies of money, Nunes took to social media with her case appealing to fans, other writers, and her community for help. To date, she has had over $12,000 donated to her cause to stop people like Rushton, who believe they will not be caught plagiarizing.

Fans
Nunes has a huge support with fans. Online they have stood up to blatant bashing from Rushton and aliases she has assumed or hidden within. Social media bashing has become a huge issue within the Nunes-Rushton case and Nunes has been vigilant in documenting everything she can find on the internet.

Other Writers
Writers have spread the word on the Nunes-Rushton case through blogs and support with money to help Nunes. This has been a huge support. Even New York Times Best Selling author, David Farland has come to the aid for Nunes by rallying people to her aide and even suggesting that writers need an insurance policy to help with situations like these. David says he’s in the works of coming up with ways to protect writers in these situations who need support in lawsuits against plagiarism. (Farland. D, 2015)

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Documentation
One of Nunes’s biggest strengths in her case has been the documentation of criminal behavior that Rushton has been involved in. Anyone who believes that they are being plagiarized needs to document everything they can find online that links this person they believe to be stealing from them to the crime. Not everyone can hire a private detective so this is a great way to show the evidence you have. Screenshots are a great way of doing this to save evidence that could be taken down by the criminal or the website like Amazon or Goodreads.

MONETARY LOSES
This diagram below shows an estimate of fees that Nunes has lost due to her plagiarism case—since the case is ongoing, it could cost much more. This is how she explains what it’s like dealing with a plagiarism case. “Every day I was doing something to protect myself, taking screenshots, communicating with attorneys, deleting posts, asking Amazon to take down her reviews, trying to find books to put into fundraising sets, etc. Even when I had a slice of time, working was impossible because of the emotional upheaval. I felt terror every time I turn on my computer for fear of what I would find next.” (Nunes, R. 2015)

Monetary Loses

Lawyer Fees $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$= $25,000 and up
Court Costs $=$300
Time Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up
Book Sales Lost $$$$$$$$$$=$10,000 and up

SLANDER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

“In his new book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test) points out that public shaming was a popular punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it usually had a highly personal and physical component—confinement to the stocks or pillory, or even something more creative, like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter. The punishment had died out with the rise of anonymous urban environments and easy travel, which made it less effective. But this wasn’t the reason for its disappearance, he argues: “They stopped because they were far too brutal.” Ronson makes clear, throughout the book, that he wholeheartedly supports this assessment. Still, it was the recent rise of the Internet and, specifically, social media that allowed for public shaming, of a sort, to become widespread.” (Fallon, C. 2015)

With this wide spread public shaming, Nunes found that her plagiarizer (Rushton) planned revenge through social media as the only way to get even. Social media has allowed public shaming as entertainment for some at the expense of others. In this case for Nunes it actually proved a point and gave her supporters room to defend her. Nobody feels good about getting into social media battles, but as social media becomes more and more popular, people are finding ways to discredit and become deeply slanderous to others and their work.

WHAT TO DO?

Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in

Nunes has dealt with her plagiarism case in a way other authors can learn from her. Unfortunately, for Nunes the end is not yet in site since the case is ongoing. What we can learn from this report is that more and more people feel that plagiarism is socially becoming acceptable. This is not acceptable to authors and writers who slave away to create their work. We must protect original works from those who scam, steal, and socially berate those who make an honest living with hard work and creativity. Having strong social connections has helped Nunes pay for a case she normally couldn’t afford. With the help of the writing community, Nunes is standing up for all writers in a case to prove to those who plagiarize that they will be prosecuted.

In order for authors to protect themselves against plagiarism, it’s important to have a strong social media presence. This helps fans and other writers know you and understand who you are so when you’re in a situation where someone could be plagiarizing your work, you have people who will stand up and support you. Nunes used her social media connections in her favor to rally others to her cause. You can too if the situation arises. Be aware of costs that cases of plagiarism may cost a writer and be ready to spend hours of your life fighting for your creativity.

Remember to:
1. Have a strong social media presence
2. Build networks with other writers
3. Be ready to fight for your own work

Works Cited

Associated Press. (2014, September 10). Schoolteacher copied Christian romance novel and added raunchy sex scenes: suit. Retrieved from Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/schoolteacher-stole-christian-romance-suit-article-1.1934341

Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2003, January 1). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Retrieved from Council of Writing Program Administrators: http://wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf

Dutson, A. (2015, March 19). Best Selling Author, James Altucher, Admits Plagiarism. Retrieved from Anthony Dutson’s Paper Petroglyphs: http://avdutson.blogspot.com/2015/03/best-selling-author-james-altucher.html

Fallon, C. (2015, March 25). Jon Ronson Shames Shamers In ‘So You Think You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-ronson-wants-us-all-t_n_6935060.html

Farland, D. (2015, February 11). #DailyKick—Update on Rachel Ann Nunes Case. Retrieved from David Farland: http://www.davidfarland.net/writing_tips/?a=474

Gold, H. (2015, March 25). Jared Keller, fired for plagiarism, still writing. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/03/jared-keller-fired-for-plagiarism-still-writing-204588.html

Nunes, R. A. (2015, March 27). http://www.gofundme.com/StandingAgainstPlagiarism. Retrieved from Rachael Ann Nunes Woman’s Fiction: http://www.ranunes.com/

Tysver, D. A. (1997-2015). Obtaining Copyright Protection. Retrieved from Bitlaw: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/obtaining.html

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Episode #52 – Working with Publishers with Anne Sowards

Anne Sowards
Found at http://www.armadillocon.org/

Anne Sowards is an executive editor at Penguin Group (USA) Inc., where she primarily acquires and edits fantasy and science fiction for the Ace and Roc imprints. Some of the great authors she works with include Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, Anne Bishop, Ilona Andrews, Jack Campbell, Karen Chance, and Rob Thurman. When she’s not reading, she listens to Chinese rap and spends way too much time playing video games. Follow her at twitter.com/AnneSowards.

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Find Your Tribe

By Laura D Bastian

I’m brand new in this world.

I’ve been a “writer” officially for just over five years. That’s when I decided that the little writing assignments for a class to renew my teaching license weren’t cutting it for me. A simple five page story turned into a two hundred plus page story. And it was awesome! To write. The finished result was very far from awesome, but the feeling of accomplishment when I completed that rough draft was beyond anything I’d felt before.

So of course after finishing it, I thought it would be a piece of cake to polish it up (read: double check for typos) and then send it out to a couple friends and family members to tell me how wonderful it was, and then look online to find a publishing house to get it ready for the world.

Yeah, I was that naïve.

But you know what. That’s okay. I learned from my own experience it wasn’t a great book. It was okay, had wonderful potential, but was just not ready. Don’t know if any of you have had a similar experience, but I would guess some of you have.

I was lucky enough to be flipping through a newspaper as I was getting ready to start a fire with it and I found an article about a local writers group just getting started up in my town. I set that page aside, started my fire, and then went right to the computer to email the contact given.  Cheri Chesley was starting a chapter of the League of Utah Writers in Tooele Utah. Funny side note, now I’m the chapter president of that same chapter 5 years later.

By finding my “tribe” I have blossomed and changed as a writer. I got involved in the monthly meetings with my chapter where we encouraged and supported one another. I found other writers online and made friends and connections with them. I started a critique group right away, and I learned so much about how unready my writing really was from those critique group members. They pointed out passive voice. Pointed out how I had little or no conflict, how nothing exciting was happening until way past the point any sane reader would have put the story down, how the characters were unlikeable or unrealistic, etc.  With that help, I could fix my story. If you do nothing else as a writer, GET A CRITIQUE GROUP. You have to find other people not your friends or family to look at your story and tell you what’s wrong with it. Some can give you exact reasons why it doesn’t work, some will just say, I was bored here, here, and here. But get someone to read your work.

And take your pride, put it in your pocket, and look at their advice. If it really doesn’t work for you, then don’t take it. However, if you find that more than one or two people are pointing out issues with the same thing, LISTEN to that advice.

In the five years I’ve been involved in the writing world, it has changed. When I first looked at it, Self Publishing was a horrible word to say, let alone think about doing. I wanted to go find an agent that would get me into one of the big publishing houses for that validation. And honestly I was a scaredy cat. I didn’t want to do it. I let my friends around me try it out. And by watching them brave this new world, I’ve learned a lot. They had the guts to go out there and make mistakes, but they learned from them and shared their experiences, then shared it with me and other writers in the world. Now, I have plans to go “indie” on a Young Adult urban fantasy series later this year and have a Young Adult Sci-fi coming out with a small press soon.

Now, I’m not saying either route of publishing is better. That decision is left to you to make, but look at your options. Get involved in discussions about it. There are tons of online writer support groups. Go to conferences, take classes, read books, sign up for newsletters from authors you like who give out advice, try new things, but whatever you do, don’t stay where you are. You will never learn and grow as a writer if you don’t make changes. The rough draft is never good enough. It took five years of reworking that story and writing a handful of other ones as I learned the craft to get that first book from horrible – but with potential, to something that was ready to see the world. It comes out next week.

_________________________

www.LauraDBastian.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraDBastian

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn wrote her first book, about a talking grandfather clock, when she was six – and hasn’t stopped writing since. In fact, she can’t “not write,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn’t missed a day of writing in her journal for the past four years!

As a winner in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, Bonnie produced her latest dystopian novel, "Escaping Safety," and is now working on its sequel. She is also close to completing a fantasy romance series, "The Legends of Elldamorae," whose characters have captured her heart and can’t wait to have their stories revealed.

Bonnie’s mantra is, “I write because I believe every story deserves to be told.”

You can learn more about Bonnie, and read her inspirational blog posts, on Where Legends Begin at http://www.bonniegwyn.blogspot.com/

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.

Tips For Those Interested in eBook Publishing

Tablet Computer and Book by Adamr
Image courtesy of Adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was asked the other day if I have any tips I could share on eBooks. I thought I’d share my response to the question. Here are a few tips to anyone interested in publishing an eBook:

  • Know right now that it’s a lot of hard work. Don’t just assume because you put your book onto Kindle that tomorrow you’re going to hit the top 100. You are competing against 30,000 free books already. You have to get out there and market yourself.
  • You need to get a Cover designer! Sadly there are so many good books that I just won’t read because I don’t like the way it looks. Yes, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we do.
  • You need to have great Formatting. You need to make sure that it’s done correctly and to the specifications of each platform. At the beginning of the year Kindle started pulling books that are not formatted properly. Now they want table of contents for each book so that it links you to the specific page.
  • You need to hire a freelance editor. You must avoid common mistakes in grammar. I have a sister who is a huge eBook reader. And she is constantly getting books that are full of typos and they drive her crazy. Of course everyone is going to make a mistake. Heck, traditionally published books have them, but one way you can compete is to get an editor.
  • You should be everywhere. Be on Kindle, on Kobo, on Nook, on Apple’s iBooks. Make yourself available everywhere. However, make sure that you are following protocol when doing so. If you sign up for KDP you can’t be on anything else but Kindle. Read the fine print to avoid problems later.

I hope you saw how there are a lot of “YOU” in this post. That is because self-publishing is all about YOU. You are it when it comes to making your eBook a success. I hope you found these tips helpful. Happy Writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self-Publishing is it for you? Part 4: Formatting

This is an ongoing series of self publishing tips. Click here to view part three: Covers.

Okay I have discussed the exterior of your book and how a cover is the most important toll to sell your book. I have shared that you can make your book shine by hiring a freelance editor to flush out any of the grammar and story problems. Now I am going to discuss the other thing you can do to make your book stand out from the other self-published books. Just as your exterior makes your book sell your interior will make your readers want to read. I’m talking about formatting.

080308_14_s_0403“What!? You mean I can’t just upload my Word file to Createspace and click: publish?”

Well, you can switch your Word file to a PDF and submit it that way, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are things you should know about formatting that will set your book apart from the others. Once again you don’t have to do this on your own. You can outsource to a freelance formatter or copy writer. They have the skills and know how to make your book look like all the other professional books on the market. Look to spend anywhere from $100 and up for a good formatter depending on the size of your book. I’m not just talking about someone to format your book into an eBook, I’m talking about formatting your book for print. Look to spend about $80 and upwards to have your eBook formatted. You can use programs such as Scrivener to help you format your eBook yourself but I always recommend outsourcing so you can focus on writing. Like editors and cover designers, you ask around to find these people. Get feedback on their services and check out the books they’ve done. How does the finished product compare to other professional quality books? Createspace and Lightning Source both offer a formatting service starting at $250. Believe me they will do a good job, but you will pay for it to happen. Freelancers are more affordable and give excellent work.

Maybe you are like most beginning authors and can’t afford to toss money at an editor, a cover artist, and now a formatter. That’s okay. I’m going to give you a few tips on how you can make your book shine on your own. Be prepared though—formatting takes time, and lots of it. You may even hate your book when you are done. I certainly didn’t want to see my first book after the week of fixing and re-fixing formatting issues. Once you’ve done a few rounds of it, you start to learn the ins and outs of the process and you’ll make your book shine. Here are a few tips on formatting your self-published book:

Templates: There are loads of templates on Createspace and Lightning Source that are already formatted for you. All you need to do is download the right size book and then it’s a copy and paste thing. Be cautious when doing this that you choose the correct file for your book or you’ll have to start over. Also these are not super high tech files and you can easily mess up everything. Make sure you are carefully checking each chapter as you paste your files into it. You don’t want your chapter page messed up by inserting a header in the wrong spot. I suggest playing around with things until you get the right feel for it. It will take a bit to get down but once you do you’ll find it easy enough to do on your own. Createspace Template link: https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323. Lightning Source Template link: https://www1.lightningsource.com/ops/files/pod/LSI_FileCreationGuide.pdf.

Fonts: There are some terrific fonts and some not so terrific. You want to make sure that all the fonts you choose in your text are embedded into your PDF when you submit them. This means that some of the bizarre and fancy fonts you find free online, might not work. They must be embedded to guarantee the text you see on your computer is the text that will appear in your book. If it’s not embedded, the system will automatically choose a like default font and replace it, which may screw up the whole look of your book. To check if a font is embedded publish a page of text from your Word document as a PDF. Then open it in Adobe Reader. Click File, then Properties, and then Fonts. If your font is listed and has (embedded subset) next it, then its embedded. If not, then you need a new font. Also you want your text to be readable. While something may look cool, some fonts hurt your eyes after a while and readers will put down the book and give you a review about the headache you gave them. Some of the best fonts to use, or the fonts that I like to use are: Book Antiqua. Bookman Old Style, Caslon, Adobe Garamond (My personal favorite, because it is so easy to read), Adobe Janson Text, Minion, Palatino, and Times New Roman.

The Text: Make sure that all your text in the book is justified to full. Do not leave it aligned to the left. That staggers the lines on the right and makes it look like you just printed the book from your computer—tacky. When using the justification, make sure you go through and fix any line that look funny. If you have extra spaces between your words that can also throw thing off. Always double check your work after you’ve completed to fix any mistakes.

Headers: It looks professional to have a header on each page of text NOT including the first page of each chapter. You can do your headers in several ways. You can have each chapter have its own header with the chapter title as the header. You can have the right header be the title of the book and the left be the author’s name. Bottom line is to have them. They make your book look clean and organized, just make sure you do them well. The Createspace and Lightning Source templates do have headers embedded for you, just make sure you use them correctly.

Chapters: There are many different ways to make your chapters stand out. One is to make the first letter of the first paragraph large and the surrounding text boxing it in. This is called a “drop cap” and can be found in the insert tab in Word. Other ways is to have a graphic or illustrated piece as your chapter header. Make sure you have the rights to use the graphic and make sure it’s specified in the font matter (on the copyright page). Lots of middle-grade books have illustrated chapter headers. To find the style you like look at a bunch of your favorite books and see what choices the publisher made in creating those.

Front Matter: The front matter refers to everything that is in the front of your book, before you get to the actual story. This is just a list of the things you should find in the font matter: Title page, ISBN and copyright info, Dedication page, Acknowledgement page (this can also be at the end of the book if you prefer, I like it at the front), and table of contents. Do Plan on having a table of contents because you will need one anyway when you turn your book into an eBook. All eBooks require one and Amazon will actually remove it if it doesn’t.

Back Matter: The back matter refers to everything that comes after your story has ended. This is just a list of the things you should include: About the author (a brief bio written in 3rd person. Make it fun and interesting. Include your website.), an invitation for reviews (this can be done in several ways: a note from the author, a fun illustrated page, or just a short reminder; you just want remind them if they liked the book to give a review at: and list where to go.), and a list of your other books and where to find them.

The best way for you to understand what is expected in formatting your book is to go and look at some traditionally published books. I say the traditional ones, because so many first time indie authors don’t do it right. One common mistake indies make is the page numbers. The odd pages should always be on the right—not the left. So the first page of the book (Page 1) should be on the left.  Check the established forms of traditional

Photo by thebrooklinelibrary on Flickr

publishers. See what the publishers did with text and layout. If you see an indie book that has done it right, see who the formatting was done by. If it’s not stated, give the author a tweet or email; ask them who did their formatting. Bottom line is: do your homework! Just like you do when wanting to write a good thriller, you read great thrillers, if you want to know how to format a good book, you study the formatting on great books. Good luck in everything formatting and happy writing! CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART FIVE.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self Publishing: Is it for You?

This is going to be a series of Self Publishing Tips and Resources

So you’ve finished a book and you want to publish it. In today’s fasted paced market you can upload your book’s files and in the matter of days get it into the hands of your readers. It can take months of submitting queries to agents and editors and then once your book gets under contract it can then take anywhere from 12-18 months before you even see your book on a shelf. Compare days to years and self publishing becomes a better option—but is it for you?

There are many benefits that come with self publishing. The first is that, unlike traditional publishers, you have the ultimate say in how your book will appear. You take on the role of not just the author, but the cover designer, editor, proofer reader, marketer, distributor, and publicist. Of course you can outsource all these roles for your book, there are many talented cover designers and editors willing to help self published authors; just because you are doing it on your own doesn’t mean you have to be on your own. Knowing that you are in charge is very important in self publishing. There isn’t anyone who is going to take control and sell your book for you—that’s your job.

Okay, so you feel fine with taking on all the responsibilities with your book, now what? Now it’s time for you to choose which publishing format you want to go with. The two major publishing platforms are CreateSpace.com (an Amazon owned company) and LightningSource.com (an Ingram affiliated company). There are other places you can go to publish your book via ebook such as Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple iBooks, and Nook, but I will mostly be discussing CreateSpace.com and LightningSource.com.

CreateSpace.com https://www.createspace.com/ offers many services for wlogo-csp-no-tmriters including interior formatting, cover design, and distribution, but make sure your read the fine print before agreeing to anything because all their services cost money. Most of the formatting and other things your need for your book you can do on your own for free or outsource to freelancers. Make sure you look through their FREE tutorials and templates they provide to help you create your files for upload. I have personally found Createspace.com very fast and very affordable for indie authors. Their customer service is also top notch. They are extremely helpful when you have questions and very upfront with the costs of printing. They also have a strong connection with Amazon which is a great place for your book to be. They offer FREE ISBN numbers, but make sure you check into them before going with that option, they are limited and are owned by CreateSpace.com so you cannot use them anywhere except for CreateSpace.com. You can purchase your own ISBN number through Broker click here for purchasing options: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp. CreateSpace.com also offers an expanded distribution option for $25 that gets your book placed onto BarnesandNoble.com and other online retailers, however, I have not seen much success with their expanded distribution and it also makes your book available in Amazon’s online markets (meaning the day you publish your book a discounted ‘used’ book can become available from one of these retailers and you don’t get any royalty from used book sales). CreateSpace.com also makes it easy to transfer your metadata and book information to Kindle and that option becomes available once you have uploaded and proofed your book. Another thing you should be aware of is that CreateSpace.com only offers paperback books. You can have your book converted and made into a hardback book through their server (an additional cost of $99) but your hardback book will not be made available on Amazon.com or CreateSpace.com but YOU can order them directly through CreateSpace.com and distribute them however you feel. They also do a great job with picture books; however, the quality of paper isn’t as amazing as it could be. Once your book is uploaded you can either view your proof electronically via their online previewer, download it as a PDF, or order a proof copy at a very reasonable price (normally $4.50+). Once you review the proof, set the price, double check everything, click accept proof and BAM! your book is published and available to purchase directly from LightningSource.com and on Amazon.com within 12 hours. Isn’t that better than waiting 1-2 years?

LightningSource.com https://www1.lightningsource.com/ is another great option for indie authors. Like CreateSpace.com they offer guided publishing at a cost. Where Cls_logoreateSpace.com is super fast, LightningSource.com is a little slower and you will have more fees involved. You first have to set up an account with them as a publisher. Once you have filed for an account it takes a few days for the account to be set up. They you have to send in all your tax information (all this is done electronically on CreateSpace.com). Once your account is opened you can then begin your process. LightningSource.com assigns an agent that will help you handle all of your materials and they have live customer service if you have any questions. You will need an ISBN number LightningSource.com does not provide one for you. You will also be charged a fee for uploading both your interior file and your cover file. Both upload costs are $35 each. You have an option to add distributing thingram-logorough Ingram for the cost of $60. This gets your book added to the catalogue that all major bookstores use to order books. One thing LightningSource.com offers that CreateSpace.com doesn’t is that you can have either a paperback or hardback cover. If you are interested in picture books they also have a premium paper option which is much better quality than CreateSpace.com. You set up your pricing much like CreateSpace.com but at LightningSource.com you have the option of setting the discount that retailers can place on your book. You can also opt for the guaranteed returns (meaning if the bookstores stock your book they can return them to you guaranteeing they are not out any money, which gets them to actually place your book in their store). However I have not had experience with this option. I’m not sure how it works best for the author/publisher if a bookstore orders 20 copies and only sales 2 and you get stuck with their bill. When I have more information on the returns option I will let you know. If you are planning on requesting a proof copy of your book make sure you’re comfortable paying $30 for a copy. This price is not negotiable and is mostly covered in the overnight delivery. If you prefer you can download the PDF proof and review it that way, but I strongly recommend always getting a physical copy. It wasn’t until I received my proof copy of my book that I decided I hated the cover. Some things look better on a computer screen than they do in print. Once you approve your proof you can then set a date for publication. Know upfront that you have many more options with the way your book will look but also remember you are going to have a lot more fees before you even get to see your book. Any changes you want to make after your initial upload will cost you another $40. The books however are better quality and very professional.

So there are a few of the ins and outs of self-publishing. I plan on sharing more information on how to get freelance editors, illustrators, cover designers, formatters, and other self publishing tips on marketing so check back. Never go into self-publishing lightly. It is a lot of hard work—I’m not kidding here folks. You will never have worked so hard. It’s easy to get your book out there, it’s harder to get it noticed and then get that book to sell. As you have seen you can spend a lot of money upfront and you will be out money if you can’t get readers to purchase your book. My best advice is to have passion for your work. Next make sure you have an amazing book. Get it edited and then have it proofed by several people who will give honest feedback. Start building your platform now, work on setting up your network and website (yes, you do need a website), and plan on working your tail off. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, at times I don’t think it’s for me, I’d rather have a publisher helping me out with all this, but there are rewards in self publishing too. You get all the royalty off books, you have the freedoms traditional houses don’t offer, and you have the power to control what you write.

I hope you have found this helpful and happy writing! CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

New Adult Novel Category

by Alice Beesley

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My first novel—a contemporary adventure/romance about a young woman who fights forest fires one summer in order to earn money to study art in Paris—has a protagonist who is eighteen years old and has justgraduated from high school. At the time I wrote it ten years ago, I thought I was writing a YA novel, but an editor at a conference told me my protagonist was too old for YA.

But my character was too young for adult. So where did the story fit? I finished the novel and set it aside after submitting it to publishers and receiving rejections. There seemed to be no category for a novel about a college age protagonist, so I retired my manuscript and worked on a novel with a younger protagonist.

Recently, when a publisher called for romance novels, I pulled my old manuscript out, dusted it off (well, actually, I opened the old file on my computer), revised it, and again submitted it as a YA novel.The editor took an interest in the story but said I needed to add about 30,000 words for it to fit into the adult category.

Huh? So was it an adult novel or a YA? I was so confused. Turns out it’s neither.

The protagonist in my third novel is also a high school graduate. One of my critique group members told me my novel had the same problem as oneof hers—an eighteen-year-old protagonist. Too old for YA. Too young for adult. What to do? Scrap the novels? Change the ages of my main characters? No and no.

Another writer friend of mine who has published in the YA genre told me my story was new adult. Hmm? I’d never heard of that category before but felt excited to finally find a home for my novels. A previous critique partner of mine hosted a query contest on her blog, and I was excited to see that many of the agents involved were looking for NA novels. Intrigued, I did a little research and here’s the scoop on NA novels:

  • NA bridges the gap between young adult and adult genres.
  • It typically features protagonists between the agesof 18 and 26.
  • NA fiction is a recent catregory of fiction for young adults first proposed by St. Martins press in 2009 when they held a contest for NA fiction.
  • NA addresses the coming of age that also happens in a young person’s twenties. They are still finding their way in life and figuring out what it means to be an adult.
  • It’s a lucrative cross over category of YA titles that appeal to the YA market and adults. Publishes favor NA novels because they encompass a larger audience.
  • NA involves the insight often lacking in YA. It involves life experience, loss of innocence. Perspective, experience, insight an deals with the past, present, and future, not just the here and now.
  • It’s becoming increasingly poplar in self-publishing. Publishing houses are taking self-published authors of these titles and acquiring them for mass market sales.
  • Content tends to be more mature and involve more explicit sex and romance scenes. Most of the titles I looked up reminded me of Harlequin romances on the cover with semi nude bodies embracing. (Since I don’t write that sort of thing, I hope there’s room for books without that!)
  • A couple of NA titles are Tammara Webber’s Easy, and Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster.

“As much as I dislike the term ‘New Adult’ (I find it confusing and, frankly, boring), there is a strong need for books about characters ages 18-24,” wrote Karen Van Sleet Grove, who identified herself on the Publishers Weekly website as editorial director and senior editor at Entangled Publishing. “They’re no longer dealing with the minefield of high school but are now testing the waters of being ‘adult’ … A story told from this perspective of ‘newness’ and experimentation will speak to those embarking on a new life in the adult world.”

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn wrote her first book, about a talking grandfather clock, when she was six – and hasn’t stopped writing since. In fact, she can’t “not write,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn’t missed a day of writing in her journal for the past four years!

As a winner in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, Bonnie produced her latest dystopian novel, "Escaping Safety," and is now working on its sequel. She is also close to completing a fantasy romance series, "The Legends of Elldamorae," whose characters have captured her heart and can’t wait to have their stories revealed.

Bonnie’s mantra is, “I write because I believe every story deserves to be told.”

You can learn more about Bonnie, and read her inspirational blog posts, on Where Legends Begin at http://www.bonniegwyn.blogspot.com/

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.