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Monday, November 30, 2009

The Editors Answer - Agented Submissions?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

"Writers across the great blogosphere are tossing around the question of submissions. The most common advice is do not submit un-agented work directly to editors & publishers. [...] Ellora's Cave publishes many novella length (and shorter) stories. Many agents state 'no novellas or short stories' in their preferences.

Give it to me straight, if I want Ellora's Cave to publish my work (and I do), which is the best route: Agented, or an un-agented, direct submission?"


The best route is always to research what a specific publisher, editor or agent accepts and how. Don't bother with advice from others on how to submit - go straight to the horse's mouth, which is the company's or person's website, and get the facts. If the publisher/editor says "agented subs only", that is what they mean, they are not going to make an exception for you. If they give story lengths they accept, don't waste their time (and yours) by sending anything different.

The best route for submitting to Ellora's Cave? Go to our website and, at the Help and Info>Submissions menu, download the Author Information brochure. It tells you everything you need to know - what we are looking for, what we accept or don't, exactly how to submit to us. Make sure your story meets our length and content requirements and so forth. Then follow the submission directions to the letter.

Yes, we take unagented submissions - in fact, over 96% of our subs are direct from authors, not agents. Having an agent does not directly improve your chance of acceptance with us. It can have an indirect effect, if your agent helped you edit and polish your sub and improved its quality before sending it in.

So read our Author Information brochure and then send us your submission, please!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Editors Answer - Critique Partners

by Raelene Gorlinsky

"I have a question regarding professional feedback. I submitted a manuscript and it was rejected with the "sorry not what we are looking for...etc." thing. Currently I have only a family friend looking at my work and wanted a professional eye and critique. How is this possible w/o an agent or editor of your own?"

That's what critique partners or critique groups are for! Authors and aspiring authors read each others' work in progress and offer advice and suggestions. They may not always be correct or helpful, but it's a lot more useful and dependable than advice from someone who has no familiarity with the publishing world or current trends. And advice from "friends" is not a good idea - because they are friends, they are not likely to give you the hard truths you need to hear.

Critique groups function in a number of ways. Some are organized by writer groups; your local chapter of RWA or MWA or such may help put people together for this. Some critique groups meet in person, some trade their work via email or online groups. And the purposes of the group can differ. Is the critique group really for "critique" - giving frank (although hopefully tactful) feedback on your work? Or is it focused on providing encouragement and support? Is it mainly for networking, professional or social?

Be aware that you have to give, not just take, to be part of a successful critique group. In return for reading and commenting on your draft story, the other group members expect you to expend time reading and analyzing their work. So it can be a considerable time commitment, but is well worth it. Reading others' work in progress can help you spot strengths and weaknesses in your own writing.

If you have the money, you can invest in a professional freelance editor or book doctor. Be sure to choose someone who has experience with the genre in which you write. Ask fellow writers for recommendations; ask the editor for references, ask them what now-published books they'd worked on. There are a lot of scams and incompetent editors out there preying on anxious aspiring authors.

Of course, you should also be doing research on your own into what different publishers are looking for, what they are currently releasing. That will increase your chance of submitting someplace that is actually looking for the type of writing you do.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks for the Slush--Truly!

By Raelene Gorlinsky

It’s the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. In reading various blogs by agents, editors, authors, I see myriad people who love writing and reading, love the publishing industry and being part of it, and are talking about that today. I feel the same way. What I said here last Thanksgiving is still true:

“So I say thank you to all the authors in the world. Thank you for entertaining me, enlightening me, making me laugh or cry or sigh. Thank you for showing me places I will never be able to visit myself, introducing me to people - real or imaginary - whom I wish I could really meet and know. Thank you for building fantastic worlds I sooo wish were real. Thank you for all the heroes to drool over, and their heroines I envy.”

This year I want to extend that thanks a little. Thank you to all the writers who are brave enough to submit their work to a publisher for judgment. It takes courage and commitment, and a thick skin. As you hear from any reputable publisher, only a miniscule percentage of submissions are actually good enough to accept, so a writer needs to be able to handle rejection. But every editor lives for the excitement of finding that unexpected jewel in the slush pile. The story by an unknown name, with an unremarkable title and perhaps an uninspiring cover letter—but then you read the story, and it blows you away! It may not be perfect (let’s be realistic, no story is) but you can see the greatness there. You know you have the editorial skill and the connection to the story to help the author polish this gem and make every facet sparkle.

So I am thankful not only for the stories I’ve loved and read, but for the stories I’ll have a chance to read in future, in hopes that I will find another jewel. So submit something to us now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Authors Advising Authors #4 - Ari Thatcher

Ari Thatcher

Ari Thatcher is a native Los Angelean who is avidly approaching her “cougar” years. When she’s not hunting her next prey, she can be found writing down her fantasies. She hopes her readers gain as much…satisfaction…from them as she does.

Email: ari@arithatcher.com
Website: www.arithatcher.com

How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?
I had two complete books and a few started before selling my first ebook. I'd been writing forever, since childhood, but somehow no one begged to publish the stories hiding under my bed.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give an aspiring (not yet published) author?
Find a good critique group to polish your story, then market it. You'll never improve if no one tells you where you're weak. You'll never be published if you don't submit.

Is there a "warning" you would give an aspiring or new author about the writing profession or the publishing industry, something to watch out for?
You shouldn't have to pay to have your book published. Watch for fees charged by the publishing company. If they're asking you to pay for copyright filing or anything normally covered by the publisher, keep shopping.

What was the most surprising thing you learned after you became published?
I'm not the only person who loves my heroes!

What is your best advice or enlightening story about dealing with revisions and working with an editor?
Read the suggestions, then let it go overnight. Make a list of the changes so you can focus on tackling them one by one.

What is your favorite promo tip?
Be yourself! Let people get to know you, the writer, and they'll want to know about your books.

Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now? At what types of houses are you published: e-publisher, small print press, traditional (NY) publisher, Harlequin/Silhouette category lines?
No agent, as I'm epublished.

I love to explore the sensual side of romance. In my newest release, Kyle's Redemption, Kyle and Lily discover the little things that love brings to sex, and how erotic it is to know you're pleasing your partner. Hot sex is great, of course, but the best sex comes from the heart.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Authors Advising Authors #3 - Judy Mays

Judy Mays

Foxier than a Hollywood starlette! More buxom than a Vegas showgirl! Able to undangle participles with a single key stroke! Look! At the computer! It's a programmer! It's a computer nerd! No! It's—Judy Mays! Yes, Judy Mays—Romantica™ writer extraordinaire who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal writers. Judy Mays! Who can write wild, wanton werewolves; assertive, alluring aliens; and vexing, vivacious vamps. Who, disguised as a mild-mannered English teacher in a small Pennsylvania high school, fights a neverending battle for Heroic Hunks, Hot Heroines, and Sexy Sensuality!

Email: writermays@yahoo.com
Website: www.judymays.com

How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?
I've been writing since I was a child. I had three other books written before my first was published. All but the first (which is hidden in a box on the shelf in my closet) were published.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give an aspiring (not yet published) author?
Don't quit.

Is there a "warning" you would give an aspiring or new author about the writing profession or the publishing industry, something to watch out for?
Don't be a prima dona. If your book is accepted by a publisher, don't throw a hissy fit when an editor suggests changes. You are not perfect. A good editor makes a book stronger.

What was the most surprising thing you learned after you became published?
Old friends treat me like I'm something special. I don't think of myself that way, but they're impressed that I wrote a book.

What is your best advice or enlightening story about dealing with revisions and working with an editor?
Back to the question above. Don't fight revisions. Your book isn't perfect.

What is your favorite promo tip?
That's a good one. Do anything and everything you can to get your name out there.

Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now? At what types of houses are you published: e-publisher, small print press, traditional (NY) publisher, Harlequin/Silhouette category lines?
No agent. I've been published at three different epublishers.

My latest release was really a re-release: Rednecks 'n' Roses, which orginally had been part of an anthology, was released as a single by Ellora's Cave. It was then paired with Rednecks 'n' Rock Candy in paperback under the title of Rednecks 'n' Romance. My vampires in these stories are "rednecks". They are comedies, and when you read them, you see that the idea does work. Next year sometime, the next in my very popular Gray family werewolf romances, Undercover Heat, will be released. This one is Melody's story. She's busy trying to keep Nick Price, a CIA operative who believes he's been sent on a wild goose chase to capture a werewolf from finding out there really are werewolves. In the process, she learns some very interesting things about Nick. It seems that humans with a Vodun (Voodoo) background who receive a transfusion of werewolf blood will gain the ability to shift into werewolves. Needless to say, Nick is more surprised than Melody. Throw in a half insane, self-proclaimed Vodun prince who thinks he can conquer the world—or at least New Orleans—and you've got some very interesting developments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Authors Advising Authors #2 - Samantha Kane

Samantha Kane has a Master's degree in History, and is a full time writer and mother. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. She currently has ten stories released at Ellora's Cave.
Email: skane@northstate.net
Website: samanthakane.us

So, Samantha, give us some wit and wisdom about a writing career.

How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?
I sold my second book. The first is in a file in my cabinet waiting for rewrites before it sees the light of day.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give an aspiring (not yet published) author?
Finish the book. Type THE END and move on. You can only tweak a book so much before it becomes an obsession rather than a work in progress. Set goals, meet them, finish the book and start another one immediately.

Is there a "warning" you would give an aspiring or new author about the writing profession or the publishing industry, something to watch out for?
Selling the book isn't as important as selling it to the right person. Do your homework and don't be afraid to say no.

What was the most surprising thing you learned after you became published?
How much I liked the notoriety. ;-)

What is your best advice or enlightening story about dealing with revisions and working with an editor?
Just do it. It's business. You're a writer. You can write it just as well the second (or seventy-fifth) time as the first. Revising and editing your book will not ruin it. Look at it as an opportunity to make good, better, and better, the best.

What is your favorite promo tip?
A professional-looking website that is easy to navigate and that focuses on selling readers your books is and will always be your best promotional expense. The biggest bang for your buck. Never a waste of time. Am I getting through? Social networking sites are fun and will help you connect with readers. Your website will sell your books.

Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now? At what types of houses are you published: e-publisher, small print press, traditional (NY) publisher, Harlequin/Silhouette category lines?
No, I did not have an agent. No, I do not have one now.
E-pub and small print press.

What can we be looking forward to reading next from you, Samantha?
My next release (Dec. 11) is Love In Exile, the newest installment in my Regency historical series Brothers In Arms. Love In Exile features new characters, but characters from previous books appear in supporting roles. Only one of the main characters in Love In Exile is a veteran of the Peninsular War, Gregory Anderson. Gregory is a famous naturalist and explorer, and he's half-Polynesian. He meets Nat and Alecia Digby, a young married couple, just days after he returns to London after a long absence sailing and exploring the South Pacific. The three set out to enjoy a brief, meaningless, erotic liaison. But much to their consternation, love refuses to be left out.
And for all those who have asked, Very, Wolf and Kensington's story will be coming next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Authors Advising Authors #1

At our RomantiCon convention in October, we had a popular workshop on "So You Want to Be an Author?" We asked each published author in attendance to give a few tips to aspiring authors. There was some great information, including stuff useful to other pubbed authors.

We're extending that concept to our audience here at Redlines & Deadlines. We've interviewed some of our Ellora's Cave authors, and will be posting their advice and tips.

To kick it off, here is the combined wisdom from ECPI editors, things we want to tell aspiring authors to encourage and help them. And again, useful for pubbed authors too.

Advice from ECPI Editors

Treat this as a profession, and earn your “degree”. Attend classes and workshops on writing novels: how to structure a story, POV, internal and external conflict, the black moment, the sagging middle, world building, character growth, research sources…

BICFOK – Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.

Keep trying, be persistent, ask for honest opinions of your work and learn from mistakes.

Critique groups can be invaluable, but find and join the right kind for you. What is the group’s purpose: social networking, support and encouragement, or blunt critiquing?

Get a good, honest critique partner who isn’t afraid to say what s/he thinks.

Get—and use—a really good basic writing book on grammar and punctuation, a thesaurus, and an unabridged dictionary (online).

Make your submission sparkling clean! NO typos or grammatical or spelling errors. Have several skilled people proofread it; pay a professional proofer if necessary.

You’ve written your first book? Box it up and put it under the bed. It’s impossible to look objectively or critically at something you’ve just slaved over for months or years. Then write another book. When you’re done with book two, go back and reread book one. Do you still think it’s a good, well-written story?

Read lots of books in your chosen genre. Analyze why you like them, what draws you.

A story cannot be compelling if the characters are underdeveloped. Spend a lot of time getting to know your characters before writing about them.

Research, research, research—whether the story is historical or contemporary.

For paranormals and fantasies, do detailed world-building and keep a “bible”.

Don’t use names readers can’t pronounce and spell.

Read, Write, Submit. Read in your chosen genre and as many how-to books on craft as you can. Write constantly—every day, whether it’s for 10 minutes or 10 hours. Submit—you won’t get published if you don’t send it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crazed Covers

Friday entertainment!

http://www.robotnine.com/2009/03/24-odd-and-funny-book-titles-and-covers.html
24 Odd and Funny Book Titles and Covers

Ooh, don't you want What's Your Poo Telling You? or Fancy Coffins To Make Yourself or Scouts in Bondage? Hey, I own one of the books shown here: Knitting with Dog Hair, subtitled Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than from a sheep you'll never meet. Actually a good book if you are into knitting and have long-haired dogs.

http://www.worldoflongmire.com/features/romance_novels/
Longmire does Romance Novels

Retitled/"reimagined" typical romance books covers. Yep, give the book a title that matches that cover image!

http://www.judgeabook.blogspot.com/
Judge a Book by its Cover

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do You Understand Copyright and Publishing Right?

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2009/10/rights-and-copyright.html
Writer Beware Blogs!

Rights and Copyright
posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
October 29, 2009

This is an excellent and very clear, understandable explanation of what copyright is, and how that is different from the publishing rights that you grant a publisher when you contract with them. It also explains reversion of rights, and things to look for in publishing contracts. Common sense advice all authors should heed. I'm recommending this article to all the authors, old and new.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yup, that's book marketing now

Hysterical, but almost frightening real, parody of the marketing plan for so many new print book releases these days.

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2009/10/19/091019sh_shouts_weiner

It starts with:

Subject: Our Marketing Plan
Hi, Ellis—
Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books.

Okay, now go read the rest!