Monday, August 04, 2008

Social Networks

How important is it to join online social networks?

The importance of these networks goes without saying, not only can an author increase his/her fan base but also obtain the vast wealth of knowledge from other authors or artists. These networks are not only for little known authors but for the large ones as well. You may not for example ever have an opportunity to have a face-to-face with David Morrell, Tananarive Due, Toni Morrison or Harlan Coben, but with online networks it’s possible to communicate electronically with your favorite author(s).

What is a social network?

A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact such as email and instant messaging services.

Which social network is best for me?

Whether you’re an author or a fry cook there’s a network for you. If your goal is to sell books you have to be selective of which networks you choose. Why? Because you’re a busy person and it takes a lot of time and effort to build to convince total strangers to consider buying your book and If you’re in too many groups, socializing you’ll never get to your next project.

Avoid Pitfalls.

When you become a member of a social network, you’re expected to participate with its members. When you sign up, you are given a page that you can customize to add pictures, audio, and blogs. This provides a way to communicate to readers and other authors who you are. There’s nothing worst than going to an author’s page and seeing nothing there but your name.
• Who are you?
• What have your written?
• What are you working on?
These things are important. It is also crucial that you take part in the forums setup by other members, after all, this is a social network, so be social. Each time you make a comment on a forum, your identity is present, and it provides a direct link to your social page that members can go to if they select it.

If you appear to only want to sell books and make no effort to be social, why then should I bother going to your page? Even big named authors take the time to communicate. Who then are you to think that you can build a readership without being friendly?

Social Networks:

I have just named a few feel free to add more. Be social.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Paranoid Writer

This is a subject matter most people tend to shy away from because no one really wants to admit they are in this paranoid category. However, if it is never pointed out or identified they may never reach his or her goal of becoming a published author. With that said, let’s get down to business.

The Paranoid Writer

What do you do when you complete your final draft of your manuscript? Do you immediately seek friends and family to read it to give their opinion? On the other hand, are you so confident that you hold a masterpiece in your hands that you want to submit it immediately to an agent or publisher? After several days, weeks or months, you’ve found that you’ve done absolutely nothing. Why? Because you’re afraid someone will steal your story. You’ve become so paranoid of that notion; your book is collecting dust in a desk drawer or closet.

Signs of a Paranoid Writer:

  • You want to copyright it before it is read by anyone
  • You join a writers group but won’t let anyone read it
  • You won’t allow anyone beyond your spouse or close family member to look at it
  • You start every conversation about your book with, ‘I’m hesitant to let anyone read…” or “I’m worried about someone stealing…”
  • You write inside your query letter to the agent/publisher that you are worry about them stealing your work
  • You avoid joining a writers group because you don’t want anyone to steal it
  • You won’t even talk about the premise of your book to anyone

Questions you should ask yourself when hesitating:

  • What’s the point of having a masterpiece if no one will ever see it?
  • Do you really think that an agent or publisher wants to work with someone who’s going to constantly question their motives?
  • Am I really so arrogant?

What can I do?

  • First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a little paranoia. It’s very possible that there are people who would steal your story. Just don’t become so paranoid that your novel will never see the light of day.
  • Get in your head that copyrighting the manuscript ahead of time is not only a waste of time (I’ll explain later) but may hamper your chances of getting it published; unless of course, you self publish your novel.
  • A good writers group affords you the ability to do some needed editing. When self-editing, it is easy to missed minor mistakes, especially when the author has read his own manuscript half a dozen times already. Friends and family tend not to be honest with the author and keep their real opinion to themselves. A writers group can offer honesty.
  • Publisher/agents will not work with authors they deem too much trouble to work with; it is neither appropriate nor condone to mention in either query letter or if you should make it that far, too say during a phone conversation.
  • Lastly, if you won’t talk to anyone about what you have written, how can you test the waters to see if there is an interest in the subject matter you have written?

If any of the above does not help you at all, then perhaps you should consider self-publishing.


Copyrighting – There are a couple of problems with copyrighting your manuscript before it is contracted. Number one, if any type of modification occurs within the book, the author must copyright it all over again with the changes. Two, publishers/agents are reluctant to work with an author if he has already copyrighted the book. Three, as soon as the author has written anything into the manuscript, it is considered copyrighted and is legally binding in a court of law. As long as the author has proof that he possesses the original, he is protected. (Never submit your only copy of the manuscript)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Free Promotion for Authors

If you’re looking for free ways to promote yourself, I found some sites you may find useful. Keep in mind, when you select a free website oftentimes you will have to deal with advertisement being displayed on your page. There are more sites that I have not included. Feel free to comment and add additional websites.

Free Website Hosting

Free Authors Community / Promotion / Reviews

Free Blogs

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why should I join a writers group?

This depends on the writer. There have been scores of successful writers who have never been associated with a group. There are several reasons why you would want to join or even form one:

People to bounce your ideas off of
Unbiased opinions


On occasion you want to give up on your writing and return to your mundane job or life. The group would be there to talk you out of this fool-hearted train of thought. They will be there for you.

People to bounce your ideas off of

If you have a family member or close friend, you, like most writers, want to tell them about your ideas, plot points and character development. Eventually, friends and family will tire of your imaginative stories. They may even try to avoid you rather than endure another discussion about your book.

The writing group knows how you feel and are just as anxious to tell their story to you. With a room full of creative people, they’ll help you improve your developing story. And your family and friends will thank you.


If you’re not an English Major and know that your writing has grammatical errors or plot points that need tightening you should consider a group. Each individually critiquing your novel will see and evaluate it in different ways. One may find weakness in a character, while the other may correct your spelling. In either case, you will find both useful.

Unbiased opinions

Let’s be honest. Most family members and friends will rave about your work. They hardly even find flaws your story telling. They say this to you because they do not wish to hurt your feelings or want to suffer any type of rebuke from you for sullying your brainchild.

When you join a group, you need to have a tough skin. Not everyone will find your writing as innovative as your mother did. In a group, you should find honest, open opinions about your work. Isn’t that what you really want?


You will find that one or more of your group members will have connections with the publishing world. They may introduce you to published writers, publishers and agents. The group can give you promotional and marketing ideas. Members can visit conventions and workshops together.

Where can I find a group?

Many writing groups can be found on the internet at places such as;

You can also check your local library. Writers groups often meet there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Publishing Houses Open to New Authors

If you have no desire to work with an agent, I’ve provided a list of publishers that are open to submissions directly from authors. Some publishers have submission periods throughout the year. Please verify whether publisher is accepting queries before sending them out.

Read all publishing contracts carefully. Some publishing houses want more rights than others.

I've listed Publisher, Genre and website:

Electronic Publishers

Atlantic Bridge Publishing, All Genre,
Awe-Struck E-Books, Romance, Science Fiction,
Belgrave House, Women’s Fiction, mystery and YA,
Cerridwen Press, All,
Champagne Books, Romance,
Chippawa Publishing, LLC, All,
CobbleStone Press, LLC, Romance,
Diskus Publishing, All,
DLSIJ, Women,
Double Dragon Publishing, Sci-fi, fantasy,, All,
Echelon Press, All,
Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Romance,
Hardshell Word Factory, All,
Liquid Silver Books, Erotic romance,
New Concepts Publishing, All,
Scorpuius Digital Publishing, Fantasy, SF and Horror,
The Wild Rose Press, Romance,
Tigress Press LLC, Fantasy and Romance,
Vintage Romance, Romance,
Whiskey Creek Press, All,
Wings ePress, All,
Zumaya Publications, All,

Small and Mid-size Publishers

Behler Publications, All,
Capri Publishing, All,
Daw Books, Science Fiction and Fantasy,
Dorchester Publishing, All,
Harlequin Enterprises, Romance Cross-Genre,
Lets Be Frank Books (LBF), All,
Mundania Press LLC, All,
Paladin Timeless Books, Cross-genre, New Age,
Poisoned Pen Press, Mystery,
Tor Books, Science Fiction and Fantasy,
The Writer’s Lair Books, All,
Twilight Times Books, All,

Self Publishers

Author House, All,
BookSurge, All,
Infinity Publishing, All,
Instant Publisher, All,
Iuniverse, All,
Lulu, All,
Outskirts Press, All,
Trafford Publishing, All,

There are many more publishers that are open to new authors that I have not included in this list.

Feel free to add more publishers with your comments.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Considering an Agent

So you’ve written your first novel and you’re wondering what to do next. For the sake of this discussion we’re going to say that your novel is polished (edited and properly formatted). The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether you want to have an agent to represent you. A good literary agent will do more than simply try to sell your novel. She knows the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry and knows what they are looking for in a book.

What a literary agent does:

• She acts as an intermediary between the author and the publisher
• She edits the author’s novel
• She works on commission and does not get paid until your book is sold
• She is aware of legal issues concerning contracts
• She knows how best to sell your rights
• She will negotiate deals to obtain higher advances
• She sifts through slush piles of potential novels, selecting only the best

How can I find an agent?

There are many sites on the web that can point you in the right direction like, or You can also purchase from your bookstore or borrow from your local library the, 200x Guide to Literary Agents. There are other references you can use as well.

Not only do you have to find an agent, you need to find an ethical one. Some of the red flags you should look for are:

• Agents who want to charge you a fee upfront (Agents are paid by commission after your book is sold)
• Agents who refer you to an editing service
• Agents who are hesitant to speak about their other clients
• Agents without credentials

The only time it is okay for an agent to ask for money is when it is to cover small expenses, such as; stamps, letters and paper.

If possible, find an agent that is a member of the Association of Authors/Representative (AAR).

Query Letters

Okay, so you decided you want an agent. How do you go about getting one? The first thing you should do is write a query letter to introduce yourself and give a short synopsis of what you have written. The query letter should not be anything fancy and should not contain anything that isn’t relevant to your work. When writing an agent, make sure you do the following or your letter may end up in the trash can:

• She represents the genre you are writing (You don’t want to send to an agent who focuses on romance a science fiction story)
• Make sure you have an actual name addressed on the letter (They do not like to see: To Whom It May Concern)
• There are no typos in the letter (If your query letter isn’t error free then your book is more than likely filled with typos)
• Make sure all information is relevant to your writing
• Mention any writing history you may have (magazines, classes, writer’s groups, etc.)

There are many ways you can write a query letter. Here is a basis example of one:

Your Name
City, State, Zip
Phone and Email

Dear Agent’s Name,

In my novel, (Title) the first paragraph can be the premise of your book. This should be eye-catching because you want to draw in the agent’s attention to your story. Introduce your primary characters. Go to your local library and read blurbs on the back of books to get an idea of how to entice the reader.

On the second paragraph talk about yourself, mentioning writing history, groups, contests and classes.

For the final paragraph you can state the genre in which you are writing and word count. End the letter by stating that you are looking forward to hearing from the agent and that you will provide whatever information they request.


Your name

Don’t take it personally

When and if you get a reply from an agent, don’t let it get you down if she is not interested. It is rare (not impossible) when an author submits their novel and it is immediately met with praise from the agent. More than likely you will receive a number of rejection letters. Very few agents will state exactly why they did not accept it. Then there are those agents who can be cruel and unusual with their assessment.

Never take it personally and never give up. It is a very subjective industry--what one hates, another might love.

Most of the time, rejection letters will be short and sweet; ‘It’s not for us’, ‘I wouldn’t know how to market it’, ‘Keep trying’. If on a rare occasion an agent gives you a breakdown of your writing and suggests how to make improvements, take it as a major compliment. If she didn’t think it had potential, she wouldn’t have bothered to critique it.

Happy hunting.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Do Whatever It Takes

There are many avenues to having your manuscript printed these days; traditional, self, print on demand (POD), electronic and audio publishing. You will hear numerous arguments on one being better than the other. The bottom line is what works best for you. Of course, the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow would be the large to midsize traditional publishing houses, such as Random House, Simon & Schuster, Inc. or Penguin. With the large houses the author can receive cash advances (royalties paid up front), nationwide exposure and is available in bookstores. Don’t think by signing with these large publishers all you need to do is arrive at your book promotion parties and attend occasional conferences. That’s a misconception.

Regardless of publisher (large or small), there will be a lot of work ahead of you. Going with a small publisher is quite different than going with Random House. For example, cash advances are practically nonexistence and out of pocket expenses for self-promotion are not uncommon. The small presses will do what they can to promote you but expecting them to pay for your flight to writer’s conferences across the county is out of the question. This also goes for epublishers and self-publishing entities.

No doubt you’re thinking right now, ‘I’m going with the traditional publishers’. What do you do if they don’t want you? What are your options?

What is an ebook?

An ebook is a novel that is printed on the web and is professionally edited. It comes in many formats, html, PDF, rtf, etc. to make it easily read from a computer, PDA or ebook reader.

Misconceptions about ebooks:

The writing is poor
The quality of the book is low-grade
If it is published electronically it must not have been good enough for a real publisher

In truth, years ago these were true. The problem today is that these stigmas are having a hard time being wiped away. A few years ago Stephen King had a novel, ‘Riding the Bullet’ published exclusively as an ebook. Its response was tremendous and energized the epublishing market. With the popularity of electronic publishing higher standards had to be accepted. Poorer writing and quality because less frequent and today many ebooks meet the same professionalism of traditional publishing houses.

You’re asking, “If the writing quality matches that of large print houses, why hasn’t a traditional publisher picked your novel up?” Sometimes it has nothing to do with your writing skills but the content. Let’s say you write a time-traveling historic romance horror novel, something completely new. The marketing department may say that they don’t know how to promote your mixed genre. The publisher may love it--the editors may love it--but it all comes down to money. If the marketing department determines they can’t sell your novel, then your chances for traditional publishing just went down the drain.

Still not convinced? You won’t be happy until you have your printed novel in your hand. Then look no further than Print on Demand. Many epublishers are printing hardcopies of their ebooks in a trade paperback format. Trade format are as large as hardcover novels but with a soft, flexible exterior like a paperback. The disadvantages to ebook/POD generally are availability in brick & mortar stores and of course the stigma I spoke about earlier.

So now you’re asking, ‘Why aren’t they available in Barnes & Noble or Borders?” The easy answer—whatever the bookstore cannot sell, they (bookstore) want to have the ability to return the unsold stock. Traditional publishers have books stored in warehouses, POD does not. Print on demand means your book will not be printed until an order has been placed by a customer. This means if the bookstore orders 20 copies of your novel and after three months on the shelves, six have not been sold, your book cannot be returned and the bookstore is stuck with stock they no longer want.

Convincing customers to visit the online publisher’s website to purchase your book rather than have them visit the local bookstore can sometimes prove to be a chore. Even when they find out your book is available at reputable websites such as or you find yourself losing sales. It is not the end of the world however, there is a market for selling your book on the Internet and getting your book in bookstores is not entirely impossible. Oftentimes local bookstores are willing to carry your novel if you build a relationship with them and meet the stores criteria.

A new trend is to have your novel go directly to audio CD format and skipping print all together. With the right equipment you could produce your own audio at home or you can rent time at a recording studio. There are businesses that will produce your book by providing voice actors, packaging and distribution but this comes at a significant price. Prices can go upwards of $1000 to $12,000 based on word count, quantity and quality. There is a huge rise in the market for CD audio. You have to determine if this is an investment you are willing to make.

Since the topic of audio has been brought up, I should mention podcasting. With this option the author records his story in an .mp3 format and can make the audio novel available for download from a website. Purchasers then have the choice to listen to podcast on their computer, mp3 player or other media type.

If you want to make the maximum amount of profit, maintain complete control of your book, and want your novel to be in print as soon as possible, maybe self-publishing is for you. At first glance this may seem a perfect fit for you. However, there is one huge disadvantage, there is no professional editing. If you are an English Lit major perhaps this is something you may feel confident to handle on your own. If you’re not, then I wouldn’t recommend self-editing. You could get a second mortgage on your home and pay the publisher to edit your novel at an additional charge.

There are cheaper self-publishing options such as online websites where you can upload your novel and have it available for sale in days. At for example, you can have this done for free. The novel can be printed as hardcover, softcover or ebook. Lulu uses POD technology. What makes them unique is that they keep costs down for authors. You can have your novel professionally edited for about $400 there. They also offer a distribution package which places your novel on Amazon and various other online retail sites.

Now to get to the nitty gritty. How much money can you make?

There’s one thing in common regardless of which publishing house you choose, authors are paid in royalties. Royalties vary among publishers. At a traditional publisher the author may receive between 7 to 15 percent of the net sales of books. At a self-publisher, the author may have more flexibility on setting the price of their novel, thus controlling how much royalties they will receive. For the purpose of providing numbers, let say somewhere between 30 to 75 percent. Keep in mind to achieve getting the latter royalties, your book may have to have an outrageous price tag. For ebooks royalties are between 25 to 50 percent of net sales. POD between 7 to 35 percent.

Does traditional publishing seem to be on the losing end? Don’t be fooled. With greater market impact and availability you are more likely to sell more books, thus receiving more royalties. Being published by a midsize to large house does not guarantee you will be a full time author. Most writers’ average around $30,000 a year generated by sales of their books.

These printing methods, ebooks, POD, podcast and self-publishing won’t make you a millionaire either. What they can do for you is get your foot in the door. By choosing these print options you can prove that your books can generate sales and show that you have a loyal fan base. In my opinion, your ultimate goal should be getting printed by a traditional publisher. Many successful authors have started their writing careers with self-publishers and epublishers, some of them you might recognize; John Grisham’s ‘A Time to Kill’, James Redfield’s ‘Celestine Prophecy’ and M. J. Rose’s ‘Lip Service’. There are too many authors to mention to add to the list. These authors tried traditional publishers first and were all turned away before self-publishing. It wasn’t until they made a name for themselves that the publishers started taking them seriously.

Be smart about the publisher you select, there are predators out there waiting to take advantage of new authors. Before signing any contract, check out the business. There are several websites you can visit that have a listing of agents, editors, publishers and printers. For example visit a site like where they have an easy to understand rating system.

Don’t let misconceptions scare you from taking an opportunity when it presents itself. Believe it or not, many authors are perfectly happy not being apart of the traditional establishments. Getting published takes fortitude and vigilance.