Tales in Publishing: The Writing Community

Tales in Publishing: 

The Writing 

Back when the internet came out, I was one of the first kids to have a pen pal via email who I met in a chat room. This was back with dial up where each time you posted something in the chat room, it took a good minute for someone to be able to respond.

In more recent years, social media filled that void. I joined a couple groups to discuss motherhood and children. Because my son has special needs, I needed people to talk to who could actually understand and give real advice which I wasn't finding in my own physical community. It does wonders for your piece of mind, particularly the giving part. I love trying to help these other parents when I know how to.

What does this have to do with publishing books? Well, the very first thing sent to me before the contract even, was a bunch of info and in that info they asked me to join four social media groups on Facebook: one reader's group, one promo group, one for company wide authors, and one for just the teen branch of authors. Just like the special needs groups I joined, this community of authors help each other out. I've learned a lot about the writing community, like there's a huge trademark scandal going on; how to do certain things I didn't know about, like making book trailers and where to get good swag for book signings.

Not only am I learning a lot I hope to give back to other new authors later down the line, but there is this amazing sense of community. Although I don't see these people's faces or talk to them in person, there's a feel of acceptance and common understanding. I feel as though I'm on a sports team and we're working together to get more books published or sold. There's no competition, no arguments, no political nonsense. I actually go on every day to see what's new.

So my suggestion to you is to find these groups online of like minded people--whether they're authors, moms, or hobbyists, the online community can be a great place in a group. Where I was annoyed at social media's political spats, memes, and trolls, groups don't have that. They're controlled, and frankly a lot of fun.

This is a consecutive, yet stand alone, entry. To catch up from the beginning see these entries (Acceptance, Contract, Cover, Editing 1 and 2 and Marketing). Stay tuned!

Tales in Publishing: Marketing

Tales in Publishing: 

One of the reasons I'm not self-published is the marketing knowledge necessary to be successful at it. During the school year, I just don't have the time because I teach and in the summer my kid is home so he takes up my free time. I lack the understanding of the nuances of marketing books. I got the basics, but no tricks of the trade down. I'm just not a salesperson.

So going with a traditional publisher was key for me. I do have to partake in some marketing, as all publishers expect these days, but these things I can handle and do--promote via blog, social media, word of mouth. Eventually, if I'm lucky enough to publish a standalone book, I will need to do book launches and book trailers, but for my story I'm enjoying this experience of getting my feet wet.

Here is my first experience with marketing. A marketing rep asked for the following things:
The Selection
1. Brief blurb on your story--A book blurb is usually what appears on the back of the book or inside cover to let the reader know what it is about. They tend to include the premise, main characters, the conflict, and a cliffhanger. First, it is so freaking hard to limit it down to a paragraph for books and not be too detailed and still entice the reader. We writers are used to doing this for query letters, so it gets easier. However, the rep did not say how long, the word "brief" having quite some wiggle room. Since it was for a short story, and I knew there would be seven other stories included, I went with three sentences, probably a third of what would be needed for a full-length novel.

2. 1-2 line teaser from your story--This is so hard to choose! We want to give you a feel of our writing style without only using the first line but not giving away the ending. We want to give you something to get you enthralled but not ruin any surprises. The premise behind all stories in this anthology is they have to begin and end with a kiss. So my teaser is a couple lines surrounding that first, more innocent kiss.
3. Your author pic, bio, and social media links--I didn't have enough time for an official headshot so had to alter a phone pic. I'm not a huge selfie taker unless it's with my kid, so I only had about two pics from the last year to choose from. However, they were taken on SnapChat using a filter. Thankfully, by using Instagram, I was able to alter them to look less filtered and now the photo I sent in looks real. Note to self, take some author headshots! The bio had already been done for the editor needed it to put in the book itself. Back when I wrote that, it was difficult to sum up yourself, in third person, and let the reader know the important and interesting things about yourself in a very short space. I already beefed up my social media presence in the past in anticipation of trying to become published and I revamped this blog so I had links for them.
Kiera Cass
Kiera Cass    


Kiera Cass is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series and The Siren. She is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with her family. You can learn more about Kiera’s books, videos, and love of cake online at www.kieracass.com.

4. Any bloggers you'd like to be included on the promo distribution--This is a fail for me. I had no clue that authors were to also search for quality blogs and websites that review books. After some searching, I found a few resources to help me find some, but then you have to send them the book and see if they will have the time or inclination to do it. I still think I need to research this a bit further and I need to get reading more blogs about books (not just motherhood and special needs sites which have taken all of my focus as of late). Considering it is a story, I can excuse myself. But if I'm lucky to get a book deal, before the ink is dry on a contract, I will be finding bloggers. It wasn't mandatory, but leaving something blank feels like a failure to me.

I'm eager to see what they will do with all our info and how they will promote it. So far they've done a cover reveal and a couple book trailers. The release date is July 20th! I'm super excited about this because I'm actually getting published but also because this experience is teaching me all I need to know about the industry so if I get a book deal one day, I won't be a novice.

This is a consecutive, yet stand alone, entry. To catch up from the beginning see these entries (Acceptance, Contract, Cover, Editing 1 and 2) and stay tuned.

Tales in Publishing: Editing Part 2

Tales in Publishing: 
Editing Part 2

As this is a consecutive journal about my experiences getting published, you may want to start from the beginning (Acceptance, Contract, Cover, Editing 1) and stay tuned.

After the preliminary oh-my-God-I-suck mentality was digested, I systematically went through the editor's notes and fixed all my smack-myself-in-the-face mistakes. I couldn't believe--even though I had been rushed to get my entry in and didn't revise or proofread much--that I had made so many errors and then overlooked them.

The editor simply asked for me to make her suggested changes and resubmit. But, feeling almost embarrassed with myself, I went through it all again looking for any places I could improve my writing. I went crazy changing lots of things. I almost thought she would object to so many changes. However, she countered back with another edit and this time not much was there and she seemed impressed and talked more as if we were a team rather than her correcting me. These suggestions were not errors but more along the lines of stylistic changes and ways to enhance my writing more. That being said, I had hopes we'd be finished after round 2.

And my hopes were not in vain. All my hard work by collaborating with, instead of relying on, the editor prevented any further drafts. The last process, I  believe, is one last proofreader with catch any potential issues we could've missed. Since I didn't hear back, we should've caught them all.

Overall, I found this experience a pleasant and constructive one. Although difficult at times, it really is a growing experience. Here are some tips for aspiring authors and myself.
  1. Leave your ego and thin skin at the door.
  2. Digest comments, edit later.
  3. Go above and beyond what they ask, as it could limit how many editing drafts you both must go through.
  4. Along with going beyond, if they make one note check that same aspect throughout the entire manuscript. Chances are if you did it once, it shows up again somewhere.
  5. Ask questions.
  6. Never assume you know more than them.
  7. Never assume they are infallible either.
  8. Establish a positive relationship as a team.
  9. Take stock of your weaknesses for future writing.
  10. Don't beat yourself up too much! It was good enough to get published after all.

Tales in Publishing: Editing Part 1

Tales in Publishing: 
Editing Part 1

I just got a taste of my own medicine. Much like an overachieving student expecting an A on a paper and receiving a B, I opened the email from my editor. Surely, I thought, as an English professor who is psycho about grammar and teaches it every fall, I won't have a lot of corrections. Admittedly, I'm not that na├»ve or conceited to expect I'm perfect. But, by God, there was a lot of red marks and comment bubbles! Oh, and it stung. This is exactly how my students feel, and even though it is constructive, as I am toward them too, it still felt deflating.

So with conflicted feelings, I decided to look over the notes before I came back to correct them. I read it all and took everything in. I'm pleased to say there wasn't one grammatical mistake after all, but man my weaknesses as a writer were glaring back at me. The trouble is--like most students profess as well--I knew I shouldn't be making these mistakes. None of them were a surprise. Well, a couple were because publishers have their preferences. Here they are, my flaws for all to see.

1. Publishers have their formats
I'm so used MLA format or seeing things written a certain way in some novels that altering that perception or trying to guess what the publisher wants was beyond me. For example, text messages are to be a certain way although there is no agreed upon universal way to do this. I've seen them in quotations, italicized, but my publishers prefer bold. They also are not a fan of semicolons. It's YA literature, so I probably should've assumed that.

2. The age old show don't tell
Of course, I know this and do this. I rarely tell readers things and I despise when authors do so, but then when it was pointed out to me, I tend to do this at times with those pesky adverbs, particularly around dialogue. Frustratingly, I know this and yet I fell victim in little places by labeling emotions of characters rather than describing their looks, those social cues that show their feelings.

3. Tagging quotes
This goes hand in hand with #2. I tend to tag dialogue when I know full well everybody who is anybody in the writing and publishing world prefers the simplified "He said," rather than "he said bitterly." I went through an entire novel stripping these out years ago, so I was frustrated to find my mistake came back to haunt me.

4. Repetition
I have this awful tendency to repeat myself, but only with word choices, sometimes even in the same sentence. In this story I sadly used forms of the word "look" three times in one sentence. Head-smacker that one! I somehow can't notice the repetition even if I proofread aloud. It's the biggest chink in my writing armor. This one I have always known about and still struggle finding a solution (other than having a friend proofread and find them for me).

So why write up and publish my flaws for all to see? It will help me remember my weaknesses, to keep working on said weaknesses, and to admit that although I'm excited, my head will not get too big. Every step of this publishing process seems to be filled with exhilarating peaks and dreadful trough moments. But these moments, as is true with everything in life, are learning moments. Embrace your weaknesses and fortify them. What weaknesses appear in your writing?

Follow me on this rollercoaster. Previous entries about getting published can be found here (Acceptance, Contract, Cover) and stay tuned.

To be continued...


Tales in Publishing: Query example

Tales in Publishing:  Query example I'm sharing my successful query to others in hopes it exemplifies what to do and helps other au...