May 16, 2013 by Lillie
Jan McClintock, my friend and associate—my editorial assistant and web developer—is also a blogger/book reviewer. She was recently interviewed by the Pittsburgh Examiner about historical fiction. I think you will find the interview interesting, especially if you like historical fiction.
May 15, 2013 by Lillie
Recently, I received a phone call from a former client. He is a former client because he didn’t want to take my advice. I edited his book and helped him self-publish it, but he didn’t believe me that he would have to do a lot of work to market his book.
He has since published a second novel without benefit of my help, and he’s very disappointed that his books aren’t selling. So he’s decided that he wants to get an agent and try to get his books published by a traditional publisher.
He asked me to help him understand a response he received from an agent he had queried. He had emailed an agent with a message like this: “I have written two books. Will you be my agent?”
The response he received was, “Please follow the submission guidelines on our website.”
I pointed him to the submission guidelines: a query letter, a synopsis, and three chapters submitted to a specific agent through the agency’s website.
After I told him what a synopsis was and explained that he needed to read the bios of the agents and find one who represented historical fiction , he said, “I don’t want to do all that. I’ll just call them.”
He didn’t get back to me after he made the phone call, but I can almost guarantee that he got nowhere. Most likely, he talked to a receptionist who told him to follow the guidelines to submit to the agency.
Traditional publishers and agents have specific guidelines for writers to submit proposals and manuscripts for consideration. From the standpoint of the publisher or agent, the guidelines are designed to make it easy for them to review the many submissions they receive.
They don’t want to waste time with reviewing historical novels if they represent or publish only mysteries and sci-fi. They want to know that the author has a real plot with a beginning, middle, and end, hence the synopsis (or a chapter summary for nonfiction). They want to “hear” the writer’s voice and to determine if the story captures their attention from the beginning, so they ask for a chapter or two or three. In other words, they want to know if the book is worth their time to read and consider.
An author failing to follow the guidelines complicates the process, usually meaning that the agent or editor will fail to review the submission. In addition, the publisher or agent will assume that a writer who can’t or won’t follow simple submission guidelines will be a difficult client. Like all of us, publishing professionals prefer to work with people who cooperate and make their lives easier, not more difficult.
When not in a “I”m a terrible writer and no one wants to read my junk” mood, every writer thinks his or her book is an exception. Why be stifled by arbitrary rules when submitting the great American novel? Even if you have written the great American novel, you have follow the submission guidelines or your book will never be read, much less published, by a traditional publisher.
And lest you think you’re immune because you prefer to self-publish, think again. While self-publishing does give you complete control over the process, you’re unlikely to be successful if you don’t follow publishing conventions.
Several years ago, my husband Jack and I were invited to a booksigning for a book written and published by a man Jack went to elementary school with and hadn’t seen for 60 years or more. Of course, we bought a book and had it autographed, but neither of us read it. One look at the cover convinced me that he had not hired a professional designer. The front cover had only the book title and author name in a common font, with no artwork or design. Obviously the author tried to save on printing costs—the margins were narrow, and the print was tiny. Had I been able to decipher the small print, I’m quite sure that I would have found that the author hadn’t spent money on editing either. The author sold quite a few books that day because he seemed to have invited everyone he had ever met in his life. His old friends, including Jack, were thrilled to reconnect after so long and happy to buy a book However, I would be surprised if more than a handful even tried to read the book because it was so unappealing and difficult to read.
So going the indie publishing route may save you from having to follow publishers’ and literary agents’ guidelines, but it won’t save you from having to pay attention to the things that readers expect in a book: an appealing cover, an easy-to-read layout, words that flow smoothly without significant errors. You can mix genres, write longer or shorter than typical books from traditional publishers, and cover topics that many consider taboo. But you must give the reader a pleasurable reading experience.
Have you submitted your work to traditional publishers? If so, did you follow the guidelines?
April 27, 2013 by Lillie
A few months ago, I reviewed Killer Work from Home Jobs by Lee Evans. At that time Lee generously offered the Kindle edition of the book for free for a limited time. Some readers who wanted to download the free book missed out on that opportunity, and Lee is graciously give them another chance. The book will be free at Amazon.com tomorrow, Sunday, April 28th.
April 24, 2013 by Lillie
It wasn’t long ago that the only way an author could succeed was by going the route of traditional publishing (aka legacy publishing). For the past few years, self-publishing (aka indie publishing) has provided another avenue for author success. Barry Eisler suggests that the only thing legacy publishers offer that authors can’t do themselves or outsource is print distribution. An author can hire an editor, a book designer, a cover artist, and anything else needed to produce a book, but there’s no way an individual author can equal the print distribution system of a traditional publisher. However, with the advent of digital publishing, writers don’t need print distribution to be successful.
It isn’t an either/or proposition. Many authors, “hybrid authors,” do both—they have some books with a traditional publisher and self-publish other titles.
Apparently when Barry spoke at a conference and stated what seems self-evident to many of us, he was hit with a lot of unprofessional backlash from people in traditional publishing, especially literary agents. He wrote a post about his experience on Joe Konrath’s blog, and the article has generated an intensive discussion.
I encourage you to read the article and the comments, even though some of the commenters aren’t as polite as my readers are. There are several links to other articles in comments, and I think you will find those interesting, as well. Leave a comment here to let us know how you feel about traditional publishing compared to self-publishing.
April 19, 2013 by Lillie
I’ve used an e-reader since the Rocket ebook in 1999, and I’ve always believed I wanted only an ebook reader with no other features. I don’t get out much, so my computer is convenient for everything else.
When the Kindle first came out, I predicted it would make a huge difference in the epublishing world, and it certainly has. Unlike the early years when ebook authors spent more time explaining what an ebook was than talking about our books, since the release of the first Kindle, ebooks have become wide-spread and recognized by just about everyone.
I’ve had several Kindles and was happy with all of them, but I had recently played around with my brother’s tablet. When my last Kindle died, I decided to replace it with the Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers. I chose the smaller one because I was concerned about my arthritic hands holding a larger device for long periods. The 7″ is just perfect for me. It’s light enough that I can hold it to read, but the larger screen compared to the Kindle makes for easier reading. I love the color, something I never thought would make a difference to me.
Oddly enough, high on my favorite list is the ability to review a book as soon as I reach the end. I have written reviews of every book I read on Goodreads, but I have seldom put in the extra effort to come to Amazon to write a review. On the Kindle Fire, as soon as I come to the end of a book, a review page pops up so I can review it while it’s fresh on my mind, and I’m reviewing everything I read.
I didn’t realize when I placed my order that the device had special offers. I’ve always thought I would not want to be subject to advertising when I was reading. However, I discovered that the special offers are discreet and no distraction at all. I’ve even found myself going to the special offers page a time or two to see what’s on offer.
The only negative is that the battery doesn’t last very long. However, with the Amazon Kindle PowerFast for Accelerated Charging (not included with device, for use with the new Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD models), it doesn’t take long to charge the battery.
Another accessory I bought was the Marware Capacitive Stylus for Kindle Fire, Fire HD, and Kindle Paperwhite, Black. Because of a stroke many years ago, I have a small loss of control in my right hand. So using my fingers on a touch device is sometimes a problem, especially when typing something on the keyboard. This stylus eliminates the problem for me and makes it easy to swipe or type.
I think folks like me who have always used a dedicated ereader and never even used a touch screen will be pleasantly surprised with the Kindle Fire, and people who are used to smartphones and tablets will find everything they expect in a device.
Disclaimer: I purchased the Kindle Fire and was not asked to review it. I bought it and reviewed it because I love it. The links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on one of the links and make a purchase at Amazon.com, I will make a few pennies in commission.
April 5, 2013 by Lillie
Not only do we love reading books, but we also love reading about books: blogs, literary magazines, reviews, and more.
The Masters in English website has compiled a list of 100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers. Let me warn you, though, that you shouldn’t look at the list if you have an appointment or are in a time crunch on a project. You’re liable to miss your appointment or deadline as you spend hours checking out all the great sites.
March 3, 2013 by Lillie
March 3-9 is Read an E-Book Week (REBW), an annual event to promote e-books. Publishers, retailers, and authors offer free or deeply discounted books. You can find Deals and Steals on the website for Read an E-Book Week. There is also a lot of information about ebooks and e-publishing. Whether you’re a first time ebook reader wanting to see what the excitement is all about or an avid ebook reader who wants to load up on free ebooks, you can satisfy your desire for good reading for free during Read an E-Book Week.
My contribution to REBW is to offer a free download of Jack Stories: Favorite Memories of Jack Jordan Ammann Jr. This compilation of anecdotes about my late husband Jack is funny, inspirational, and encouraging. If you have been a reader here for a while, you’ve read some Jack stories on special occasions through the years. If you enjoyed those blog posts, you’ll love Jack Stories. People who knew and loved Jack shared so many great stories that even if you never met him, I think you will enjoy reading about a man frequently described as “a colorful character” or “an unforgettable character.”
My romance novelette Trapped by Love is always free on Smashwords. That story has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, has been saved by nearly 150 people in their Smashwords libraries, and has a number of 5-star reviews.
The only thing better than a great book is a great book that is free! You’ll find many free great books this week.
The free download is no longer available but you may purchase this book on Amazon.com.
February 28, 2013 by Lillie
Read an E-Book Week (REBW) is an annual event to encourage readers who haven’t read e-books before to give them a try. It’s also a great time for regular ebook readers to stock up on free or deeply discounted books. The Deals and Steals page links to retailers, publishers, and authors offering freebie or discounts for Read an E-Book Week.
Everyone can learn more about electronic publishing and find out the latest news on the REBW website.
Come back here next week to download a free copy of Jack Stories: Favorite Memories of Jack Jordan Ammann Jr. This compilation of anecdotes about my late husband Jack is funny, inspirational, and encouraging. If you have been a reader here for a while, you’ve read some Jack stories on special occasions through the years. If you enjoyed those blog posts, you’ll love Jack Stories. People who knew and loved Jack shared so many great stories that even if you never met him, I think you will enjoy reading about a man frequently described as “a colorful character” or “an unforgettable character.”
February 22, 2013 by Lillie
1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. ~ Mark 3-1-6 (NASB)
Heavenly Father, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Yet You sent Your Son to heal the sick—those who are physically sick, those who emotionally sick, and most of all, those who are spiritually sick—in their time of need. As important as holy days and times of worship are, loving and healing Your sick children are more important. Guide me to those whom You would have me to share Your love with and empower me by the Holy Spirit to show Your love and healing power. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
February 8, 2013 by Lillie
My guest today is Christian author Diana Brandmeyer. I first met Diana online when both of us had ebooks published Awe-Struck, a publisher that is now part of Mundania Press. We’ve actually met in person a couple of times at EPIC conferences. Diana graciously read and critiqued Dream or Destiny and gave me helpful feedback before it was published. Her latest book, Mind of Her Own, has just been released. See my review in my last blog post.
Lillie: Welcome to A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye, Diana. Let’s begin with a little about you, including how you got started writing and how your Christian faith has impacted your writing.
Diana: My journey started with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rombleman. She read something I wrote to the class and said it was excellent. Mrs. Rombleman was not a teacher that handed out praise so it meant something to me. She opened the window to writing for me but it took several years to fly through it.
Without my faith I have no writing, even if it’s a nonfiction article about pet sitting. Most of the time my faith is expressed in some manner through my characters; if not, it’s behind the scenes asking God for the right words to put on paper.
Lillie: It seems there was a gap of several years between your first published novel and the next published book. Then in the last couple of years, you’ve had several books published. Share with us a little about your writing/publishing journey.
Diana: There is a gap in the publishing part but not in the writing. I spent a lot of time taking writing classes and then there were graduations, weddings, and losing some very loved relatives that took me away from sending out my work.
Lillie: As my review showed, I loved Mind of Her Own. I’ve read a lot of romance novels in which the heroine has amnesia, but Mind of Her Own is different because Louisa wakes up with memories—but her memories aren’t real. How did you come up with idea? Did you do a lot of research on amnesia? Tell us about the story behind the story of Mind of Her Own.
Diana: I have three boys and they were racing around the kitchen when I was trying to get dinner started. I kept the grill on the top shelf of the pantry and when I pulled it out it slipped. It didn’t hit me on the head, but I thought, “What if it had hit me and I woke up as someone else?”
I have a friend who is a licensed psychologist, Marty C. Lintvedt (she was my co-author on We’re Not Blended—We’re Pureed, a Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families) so I asked her what that diagnosis would be. Soon I was reading articles on retrograde amnesia and working the pieces into my story.
Lillie: Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
Diana: My website/blog has a lot of information www.dianabrandmeyer.com
Lillie: Though A Mind of Her Own is fiction, do you have a message that you would like readers to take away from the novel.
Diana: Yes, Lillie, I do. Secrets—the kind that hurt you—need to be shared. It takes a step of faith to tell someone, and if you are pushed away know that you need to tell the secret again. It’s also a good idea to seek professional help.
Lillie: I know there are many people who need to hear this message. The book is entertaining for everyone, but those who need this message will find it both helpful and enjoyable.
Diana: Thank you, Lillie, for having me on your blog today. It’s always a pleasure to be interviewed by you.
Lillie: Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing about your writing and A Mind of Her Own. Readers will probably have more questions for you. Will you check in during the day to respond to comments and answer questions?
Diana: I’ll be checking in several times day. I’d love to ask your readers this question—What do you like about yourself?
Lillie: Great question! If you would like to answer this question publicly or if you have questions for Diana, leave a comment below.
Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Author of A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life.
BLURB FOR MIND OF HER OWN
Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t. But when the George Foreman grill fell out of the pantry onto her head, resulting in a bump and a mighty case of amnesia, Louisa’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. Who was this Collin fellow, claiming she was his wife? And whose kids are those? Her name couldn’t be Louisa. Why, she was the renowned romance writer Jazz Sweet, not a Midwestern mom of three. Struggling to put the pieces together of the life she’s told she had, Louisa/Jazz may realize that some memories are better left alone.