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Bitchfest! I missed #PitchMAS

Oh sorrow! Oh my! Oh me! I just discovered PitchMAS ten days too late. And I'm going to post about it, so you and I never miss it again.

PitchMAS seems to be a query-fest that occurs between December 15th and 16th during which authors can submit a 35-word pitch through email to the twitter pitch geniuses.

On December 19th, the top 75 pitches will be posted on this blog  http://pitchmas.blogspot.ca/ and agents and publishers will weed through and make comments or request manuscript pages.

On December 20th, everyone and anyone can tweet their 140 character pitches with the hashtag #PitchMAS. The line-up of  ready and willing publishers and agents just waiting to find that perfect twitter pitch is pretty impressive, not to mention all of the authors and other industry folk following for fun. (Check out the list here http://pitchmas.blogspot.ca/2013/11/epic-announcement-pitchmas-2013.html).

So, it's over. How can it help us now? Easy.

Read through the list of pitches and see which …

Small Press Compared to Big Publisher and why I need "to Agent, to Agent, to get a fat Contract"

I wasn't going to go with an agent for my novel and here are the reasons why:

Agents generally take 15% Publishers list their submission guidelines on their web pages, and I can follow thoseQuery letter examples abound, and I can apply thoseLawyers share free publishing contracts with do and don't lists, and I can read thoseKindle offers online publishing, and I can learn from their format suggestionsDuoTrope and Submission Grinder offer access to calls for submissions, and I can track mineI have three family members who are active in the book industry, and I can ask them And I did all that. And I submitted my novel, "The Precious Quest" to three of the biggest fantasy publishers who accept submissions from authors. 
A year and a half later, and three rejections later, I have run out of big publishers who accept high fantasy and who accept from unagented authors. Still confident, I felt I could get my 90,000 word, high fantasy that took six years to write, published b…

How's Your Online Marketing? Test, Improve, Retest.

As authors, we do all we can to promote ourselves online. You've heard the list: tweet, blog, post, publish, advertise, trailerize, subsidize... whatever. It's all true, but you could spend hours and days and weeks and years without really nailing serious traffic and gaining exposure.

So how do you make sure your efforts are gaining a balanced and appropriate outcome, when compared to all the hours you've put in?

Get graded on your marketing efforts at http://marketing.grader.com. Type in your Web address and you'll be off and running as the application checks:

programming keywords and tagspositioninglinks linking to your siteability to follow easily (twitter, facebook, etc)saturation of key search wordsmobile marketing and more
Test yourself, then follow the instructions for improvement and retest. Watch your score go up.

How to Understand ePublishing Contracts

I'm not going to use fear language in this post because I don't think informed writers should be afraid. An ePublishing contract should address:

The platform (print, or ebook or DVD)The term (how long)The compensation (how much)The scope (territory/area)
When viewing an ePublishing contract (a contract between you (the author) and a publisher who will put your work online in ebook format), you need to consider a few rights. When signing away rights, you are agreeing to give the ePublisher certain access and ownership to your material.

In a contract,  you "represent and warrant" (own) all rights to your original material. But you don't own all rights to third party material (quotes, images from third parties). These rights have to be examined before signing certain rights away to the ePublisher.An "out of print reversion of rights to the author" clause must be revised for an electronic book, which will never go out of print. Make sure there is a clear and …

Signing Saves Books from the Return Pile

When a bookstore can't sell copies of your novel, the books get sent back to the publisher, who marks them with a dash, slash or smash and then off they go to a remainder bookstore like BookCloseOuts.com.




As the author, you'll never see a penny from the remainder sales. However, if you offer to sign all copies at a bookstore, they will think you're wonderful, and your books may never be sent to remainder heaven, because publishers usually don't take signed books.




Duotrope VS The Grinder

If you're a writer without an agent, you're probably spending way too much time searching for potential publishers. I search on google, I log on MS Excel. I have the skills to do it myself, but I have not been writing all summer. Why? Because I'm juggling the submissions of 1 novel, 3 short stories, multiple poems and a novella. It doesn't seem like much, but when you factor in the searching, the rejections and re-submissions, it can become quite time consuming.

The second issue with google searches is the results are saturated with outdated calls for submissions. I read, I get excited and then buried somewhere in the text is the end date of the call. I have seen some that are five years old.

I need to write - not spend so much time submitting. So the question is:

Should I try an agent who will take approximately 14% of my royalties and might not even search and submit for me (not all agents perform those tasks)? Or should I move to a query database online to refine my …

Market Yourself as a Professional Reader at NetGalley

Internet saturation of your name and your profile is key to creating a strong author presence. Agents and publishers prefer authors who have already established themselves online--even before they have been published. You know the common drill:
Author WebsiteAuthor page on FacebookGoodreadsTumblr, Blogger, Twitter, WordpressGroup membership All of the above take some effort and take you away from your writing. Well here is a new way to promote yourself, to build relationships with publishers, get some free reading materials and become a recognized "professional reader".
NetGalley connects you to publishers who want you to review books that are soon-to-be-published. 
Why would you do this? Free reading materialIt's a good way to get your name and possibly your Web site or blogger links out thereYour blog or group will get reviews of great books before they hit the press (timely)You may be able to build relationships with publishersYou get to see what is being published (whic…

Formatting your Manuscript for Kindle

As a new Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) author, I have learned a few formatting points that I would like to pass onto you. KDP requests that your manuscript be formatted in MS Word or HTML. If you are writing or revising your content in Word, like I did, you need to know the following:


INDENTS: Don't use spaces or tabs. Use the "Paragraph" feature and "Indent" "First Line" by 0.5" or 1.27cm.Paragraph returns may not hold. Instead go into "Paragraph" again and set "After" "Spacing" to 10. Insert "Page Breaks" between chapters or text may run together on Kindle.Insert "Pictures". Don't cut and paste.Don't use Headers and Footers, or page numbers in either.
Do use "Header" font formatting for your chapter titles as Kindle will turn this into easy-to-use navigation.






Do insert a "Book Mark" at your Table of Contents and name it "toc". This will provide navigatio…

Showcase your Writing and Build Readership with Figment

Figment is a personal space that allows you to promote and showcase your writing, in groups, on the site and on your blog.
The layout is very user friendly and easy to understand. I signed up yesterday.

 I create a profile, joined some groups containing potential readers of my favourite genre for writing and then I posted a flash fiction.

For you writers out there who are dying to get some feedback on your writing, there are a few things you can do. Have a friend read it. Or, post a synopsis on your Web site and hopefully receive some responses to your upcoming work. I did that at my Web site and I did receive some nice feedback. See how it looks using WIX gallery. Another way, is to create some writing that showcases your style and talent and post it on Figment.

 The Figment writing tool allows you to create a cover, choose limited styles of text and layout and then make it available to the many readers on the site. See my example below. Notice how many response options there are fo…

How to Publish an eBook using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing

I self-published The "OpenYar Mouth" Health Care Lottery picture book in 2006. Today, I'm going to republish it as a Kindle book. I will blog as I go, and provide all the steps below.
I’ve never done this before, so let's see how long it takes. 3:00 p.m.Start!
Go to Amazon.com or .ca and sign inScroll to the bottom of the page and click the menu link ""independently publish with us"This takes you to the "Take Control of Independent Publishing" page which features three publishing options: Kindle, print and audio.


For this adventure, I'm choosing Kindle. Read and (if you want) accept the terms.Update your contact information including your phone number (3:15 p.m.)Provide bank account information for the deposit of royalties (excited yet?)Once you save your bank account info, your publisher code will be showing at the left. Capture that and keep it somewhere. Here is where I got confused, because my info saved…

Make Book Trailers Using Smilebox

Make Book Trailers with Smilebox

Authors started using book trailers to persuade viewers to purchase their novels in 2003. Though there are many programs you can use to create your own book trailer, each one requires different levels of expertise. For example: using MovieMaker or another film editing program would require more skill in film editing, and access to copyright free images and music. However, the benefits of using film editing software is the flexibility you have as a designer.

If you don't have a lot of film editing skill, Smilebox offers a number of template designs that you can manipulate into a trailer. They also have two to three music choices and a fairly good music library to choose from for each template. The many choices of templates allow you to set your mood in the trailer using imagery, animation, colour and symbols. You can also add your own images.

I made this book trailer for my novel "The Precious Quest" in about 2 hours. The novel is a dark, …

WIX.com for your Web Site (with coupon code)

Every author, every potential author, every wannabe author needs to have an internet presence that is appropriate and encouraging to publishers and agents. Blogging is good, but it isn't the end-all-be-all of your internet marketing. A blog is regularly updated, a Web site is static. The purpose of a blog is to share your writing, the purpose of your Web site is to share about yourself and your writing.

You need a Web site:

I know this because:

agents will search your name before they consider taking you on as a client (read this article on agent feedback The Write Life)publishers want to know that you can implement and roll-out a marketing plan (which usually includes a web site, twitter, facebook, goodreads etc) (Every Writer's Resource)readers want to read more about you once they have read your work Other reasons?
To market yourselfTo showcase writing that is not getting picked up by publishersTo whet the public's appetite for your style (example) To combine your writing…

Weeding through Publishers with a Fine-Edged Machete

In a previous post, I submitted a link to a list of publishers at http://myperfectpitch.com. It's a great resource that seems to be kept up to date. You can also narrow down the list by searching genre, which I did.

The returned list of approx. 35 fantasy publishers included companies from the UK, Canada and the US. Almost all were active, and were accepting submissions. Awesome stuff. So, the next step was for me to match myself to the perfect publisher for my book.

Clicking the links took me directly to the submissions page, which is very convenient. This page always provides all of the important details for authors on word count, formatting, submission requirements etc. However, I quickly learned that I needed to look at the publisher's entire site in detail for a number of reasons listed below:

Book Covers

cheap looking novel covers (cartoonish)out-dated looking novel covers (1950/60 style)novel covers with poor layout design (basics of design elements no evident)female prot…

The Manuscript Submitting Process

I completed my high fantasy novel manuscript, The Precious Quest, months ago. Then began the submission process. I submitted the full manuscript to DAW Books. Why DAW? Because they were accepting complete manuscripts without needing a query letter or a synopsis. After DAW's rejection, I had to write a synopsis.

The second submission went to Medallion Books. I loved the way they embrace technology and cross mediums for their clients. This one required a synopsis, which was harder to write than I thought it would be. However, I did it and submitted. And now I wait.

Each publisher takes approximately 3 to 6 months to respond, and many do not take simultaneous submissions (submitted to more than one publisher at a time). That means, I'm doing a lot of waiting, when I'm really just anxious to see my novel published.

So, am I tempted by self-publishing? Not a chance! Traditional publishers are my best bet for marketing and distribution. I want to spend my time writing more books…