Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding a Traditional Publisher, MARKETS

Following up last week's look at the different markets for your novel, I'm going to look at specific types of markets and how to find the right publisher for you. This week it is traditional paper publishers.

Months before you finish your novel, you should be thinking about the right market for it. This is important even if you intend to get an agent because you will have to tell that agent where your book fits in the market.

If you read a recently published book that has similar elements to the book you are creating, look at who published it and make note. Look at the publisher's line it is printed under. Is it their fantasy line or their romance line? How many pages long is it? When was it published?

Does the writer thank his agent or editor by name in the acknowledgment or dedication page? Has the writer published other books or is this the first?

Make a note of all this information as well as a brief plot summary and your impressions of the book and put it in a file for later when you begin to plan the marketing of your book.

Also mention where the book is physically. This will save you from ripping your keeper shelves apart when the book came from the library or was loaned to you by your best friend.

Now is a good time to get that subscription to "RT Bookreview," or "Locus," or some other review magazine in your genre.

If you read a review of a similar book, clip the review, date it, and toss it into the file, too.

You may be eclectic in your reading, but the NY publishers aren't eclectic in their buying. Every line, whether romance or otherwise, has neat little pigeon holes for each kind of book, and if you choose the wrong pigeon hole to put your book in, they'll toss it back to you.

Being published for the first time is hard enough when you have an incredible book that's perfectly crafted. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and waste your time and some editor's by sending a book written for one market to another.

Also, notice what the first-time writers have sold to publishers. Nora Roberts can do incredibly innovative things because she has the name and audience to do it so editors let her do it. The first-time writer shows you what you probably can get away with and sell. Of course, if that new writer's book failed badly, I wouldn't use it as your poster child to a successful career.

Now is also the time you should start searching out the market news. If you are a member of RWA or another organization, start studying the market news offered.

Be sure to go back through the last months of my "Links of Interest" where I have listed editor and agent interviews as well as market information.

The Internet offers an incredible number of other market resources, and some offer listserv newsletters. I subscribe to Cindi Myers romance market news/blog. To join, send a blank email to .


The Market list for sf, fantasy, and horror

Mystery Readers International another list of links to publishers, etc.

SF romance small press markets:

SF romance traditional publishers:

SF/fantasy/horror markets:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Links of Interest

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: A point by point analysis of Harlequin Horizon's offer to authors.

PROMOTION: Tips for book readings.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The top 10 myths about ebooks.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Some smart advice on whether to self-publish or not.

AGENTS: Seven Reasons an agent stops reading the first chapter.

SELF-PUBLISHING: Self-publishing done right.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How much does a publisher make per book?

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Digital rights and ebook royalities.

PROMOTION: The four basic marketing principles.

Part 1:

Part 2:

MARKETS: Self-publishing, good or bad?

BACKGROUND FOR STORIES: An editor at WIRED tried to disappear for a month. He talks about how he created his new identity, and the problems he faced in this day of nosy technology.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Epublishers and Other Online Distribution Methods, Pro and Con


Epublishers release their books in digital format although some also offer print options mainly in the form of print-on-demand publishing.

The advantage to epublishing is a wider range and number of publishers as well as less pigeonholing of book types. Since the costs of producing an ebook are much smaller than with paper-published books, the publisher can afford to publish books that don't fit tight market requirements.

Most epublishers handle the cost of editing and cover design, but only a few offer a very small advance of royalties.

You will usually have a great deal of impute into the cover art, editing, and the book blurb.

Distribution is nonexistent in bookstores, of course, but the books are available at the publisher's website and ebook distribution sites like Fictionwise where they will be sold with the ebook versions of books from traditional publishers and small press.

One major disadvantage is less money. Not enough people are buying ebooks yet so the money isn't there.

Even erotica, the growth market for ebooks, isn't offering much profit for most new authors because of the glutted market.

Those most successful in ebooks are prolific writers who are able to produce three or more high quality books a year that are sold to the same audience. That audience buys all their books, and each new book draws in more readers who buy the backlist. Darrell Bain and Charlee Compo are good examples of this kind of success.

Epublishing companies also have the same disadvantage as small press. They are run by individuals so an illness or family tragedy can put your book on hold, or the publisher can fail completely.


You can format your book into an ebook then sell it from your website or through a few ebook distributor sites. Some of the major distributor sites like Fictionwise are closed to the self-published.

The advantage is total control and a much cheaper setup cost than a paper book. The disadvantages are much the same as with any form of self-published book.


The final market really isn't a market because no profit is made.

If you want to be read and money doesn't matter, putting your book on the web for free via a website, a blog, a free download site like Memoware, or a listserv like Yahoogroups may be the route to take.

You will have to promote for readers, but you will get them, and a few will actually comment on your work.

Some writers do this as a learning experience. Others simply don't want to bother with the hassle of the publishing process.

The disadvantages are no money and the possibility your book may end up elsewhere without your permission.

The simplest way to gain popularity, readers, and comments is to write in a popular fan fiction universe like Harry Potter or HEROES. A decent writer can become a big fish in a very small pool with lots of fans and none of the heartache of the professional markets.


If you're still confused about which market you should try, think long and hard about what you really want from publishing and go from there.

And welcome to the wonderful world of publishing. Tighten your seatbelt because you're starting one heck of a bumpy but fascinating flight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Subsidy/vanity Presses and Self-Publishing, Pros and Cons


Many of the subsidy and vanity publishers have a system for publishing the book set up so all you have to do is plug in the various components of the book.

You will design the cover or pay to have someone design the cover, you will write the book blurb, and you will edit or pay someone to edit your book. They will take all this and print the book for you.

Unfortunately, they will expect you to pay all the expenses in this process and will still take a huge chunk of the profits for doing nothing. Most of the services cost considerably more than if you found someone else to do them.

Some of these presses also have contracts which control your book forever so that you can't sell it elsewhere.

Even those subsidy presses who claim they can get your books on those shelves rarely do.

Frankly, there is no pro in this kind of publisher, only cons.


With self-publishing, you must find a printer to print your book for you, etc., but you will receive all the profits. Some printer services offer help with covers, etc., but it's added cost.

The major advantage to this method is you have most of the control for every element of your book.

A major disadvantage is that you have control over every element of your book. If you don't know what you are doing, you will spent a lot of money to make a fool of yourself.

Distribution is the biggest disadvantage of self-publishing. It is almost impossible to get your book onto the shelves of bookstores and in the catalogs of distributors.

You will have to literally hand sell each book. To do this, you must have the soul and charm of a successful used car salesman and lots of time.

A self-published book, unless it achieves best-selling status, also does more harm than good to a writer's reputation and future because most in the publishing world have a great deal of disdain for the self-published, particularly in fiction, so moving into another form of publishing later is much harder to do.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about electronic publishing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Traditional Publishers and Small Publishers, Pros and Cons

You have your novel finished. Now what?

You have lots of options -- ebooks publishers, small press publishers, traditional publishers, or some form of self-publishing.

In the next few days, I'll talk about each form of publishing with some pros and cons to consider with each type of publisher.


Traditional publishers are the publishers you find in bookstores. In US publishing, many are based in New York City. Some of these publishers of genre/popular fiction include Tor, Pocket, St. Martin, Dorchester, and Kensington.

The major advantage to these publishers is distribution. Their books are usually carried by all the major bookchains and distributors so anyone can walk into the neighborhood bookstore and buy or order your book.

The better the distribution, the more books sold.

They will also give you an advance on your earnings and cover all the costs of creating the book itself including editing, the cover, and the printing.

Authors published this way are on the top of the author pecking order.

The major disadvantage is competition. You will have an uphill battle to gain a coveted slot in a publishing schedule and your competition will include many published authors.

In some markets, you'll need to get an agent even before you begin the fight for that slot, and this is an equally difficult and slow process.

Another disadvantage is lack of control. You will have almost no say in your book's title and cover. More often than not, you will also be required to change some of the book's content.

Pigeonholing is another problem. You must write to fit the current trends in popularity. It's a rare book that can be totally different.


Small press is a minature version of the traditional publisher, but rather than being owned by a conglomerate, it is owned by individuals. Many are niche publishers specializing in a particular market like regional mystery or paranormal romance.

Some have the advantage of good distribution through book chains and distributors so they can be found in bookstores, but others do not. It will be much harder to find your book in a bookstore, but it should be available for ordering.

All the expenses of editing, cover art, and printing are covered by the small press, and some offer advances on earning which are usually much smaller than the traditional publisher.

The amount of author impute in the publishing process ranges from none to a great deal according to the individual press.

The disadvantages include poorer distribution, the vagaries of the how each runs its business, and the inherent risk of working with a small company where an owner's illness can stop the presses.

TOMORROW, I'll discuss self-publishing and vanity/subsidy publishing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Self-publishing versus Vanity/subsidy Press

Recently, several major publishers, including Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, have announced self-publishing options for authors under their brand name. In Harlequin's case, it is Harlequin Horizons.

You pay them for various services including editing, covers, etc., and they publish your book in paper and in common ebook formats like the Kindle.

But are these services really self-publishing, or are they vanity/subsidy press?

Here are working definitions of these two types of publishing--

SELF-PUBLISHING: The author must find a printer, editor, etc., and must pay for each service, then must find the distribution services, as well. All profit goes to the author.

SELF-PUBLISHING THROUGH A ONE-STOP PRINTER: Some printers offer all the services necessary to publish a book. Each service is paid by the author. All profit goes to the author.

VANITY/SUBSIDY PRESS: They offer all the services necessary to publish a book like the one-stop printer. You can buy in for the basic service, then you can add on various services like editing, cover art, etc. The vanity/subsidy press, however, then takes a large cut of the profit with no risk or cost to itself.

By these definitions, Harlequin Horizons is a vanity/subsidy press because they take 50% of the profit.

If you'd like to study a line by line explanation of Harlequin Horizons' promises to authors, and what those promises really mean, I suggest Jackie Kessler's blog on the subject.

What do I think of all this? I believe that an author should educate herself on all the options and make an informed choice. An educated writer won't be a victim to the parasites of dreams who prey on writers.

For the next few days, I'm going to publish a series of blogs about all the publishing options available to an author. I'll talk about the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which is right for you.

I'd appreciate it if you would share this special blog event with your writing friends, etc.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Links of Interest

WORLDBUILDING: Highly respected fantasy author Katherine Kerr shows how she created her magical world.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The tricky out-of-print contract clause.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Why publishers are having an increasingly bad time of pushing specific titles, particularly nonfiction.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How the no-competition clause in a publishing contract affects separate electronic rights.

CRAFT: The inciting event in a novel.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Yet more words to know about books sold--sell in, sell through, returns and earn out. Simple words that can make or break your career.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: An overview of the revision of the Google Book agreement with links to various articles.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Introduction to the things you need to do to get ready to submit your novel to agents or publishers.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Three things you want to figure out before you try to sell your book to agents or publishers.

Agent Irene Goodman will auction off 25 partial (3 chapters and a synopsis) critiques for charity.

NEW WORD OF THE YEAR: The people at New Oxford American Dictionary have choosen their new word of the year among such contenders as netbook, ecotown, teabagger, hashtag, intexticated, unfriend, and sexting.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Ebook sales are exploding, and paper book sales are getting better.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Agent Kristin Nelson gives her take on Harlequin's new self-publishing/vanity press line, Horizons.

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Harlequin editor Charles Griemsman.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Viewpoint as Camera or Participant, craft

The most common mistake in writing third person viewpoint is the writer becomes a camera rather than the actor in the scene. In other words, the writer is sitting in the corner scribbling away as they describe the movie going on in front of them.

As a camera, the writer would write:

Faith struck at him with the edge of her hand, but he caught her wrist and held it.

"Don't," he said harshly.

She clawed at his eyes, but he dodged. Yanking free, she came to her knees but paused.

He took advantage of her slowness by throwing himself on top of her and pinning her to the bed.

She kicked at his groin and missed. Screaming and twisting, she tried again.

The correct place for the writer to be is in the brain and body of the viewpoint character. She should describe what the viewpoint character sees and feels to make the scene come alive. Here's the same scene through the filter of viewpoint character, Faith Cody.

Faith struck out with the edge of her hand, but the self-defense blow which should have smashed his windpipe was as clumsy and slow as the rest of her drugged body. He caught her wrist in steel fingers.


His hard-voiced command spurred her from her hopelessness, and she raked at his eyes with her free hand. His hand loosening her wrist, he dodged.

Yanking free, she came to her knees in bed. She wore only a large tee shirt.

Shocked by her vulnerability, she paused before attacking again or fleeing. In that moment, he threw himself at her, pinning her to the bed, his hands manacling her wrists to the sheets.

Her knee seeking his genitals, she twisted, but her knee glanced off his inner thigh. Screaming like an angry jungle cat, she writhed beneath him as she tried to hit him again with her knee.


The trick to being in a character's head is to create a reality for the reader. Use visual language. Make the reader SEE what the character sees. Make the reader FEEL what the character feels.

Don't say, "Pamela was afraid." Say, "Shivers ran down her back like cold fingers." In other words, show, don't tell. If a character is angry, don't have him shout dialogue or "say angrily." Use his actions instead. If he's grinding a wadded paper to pulp in his hand while he's talking, you can be darn sure he's mad.


Camera or panoramic viewpoint does have a place in fiction, particularly in epic fantasy or historical novels, where the writer wants to show the large overview of a great battle or event. Tolkien in LORD OF THE RINGS often uses the camera viewpoint.

If you are considering using camera viewpoint within most genre, you need to decide if the larger viewpoint is worth the loss of immediacy. In most cases, it isn't.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Links of Interest


BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: SL Viehl shows the money reality of was a massmarket bestseller looks like.

CRAFT: Using a fairy tale as the structure for your novel.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Licensing your book rights.

MARKET NEWS: Harlequin has started a digital-only publishing company, Carina Press. It is looking for not only all subgenres of romance, but also mystery, suspense, thrillers, erotica, and fantasy.

AGENT INTERVIEW: Agent Diana Fox of Writer’s House.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Simple explanation of royalties and advances.

AGENT INTERVIEW: Editorial assistant to Matt Bialer, Lindsay Ribar.

PROMOTION: Acknowledging your weaknesses and strengths in promotion.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Ten things to remember if you want to be a published author.

AGENTS: Canadian agent Sally Harding is interviewed.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Is your book financially worth publishing? Publishers and numbers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Using a Real Place with a Fictional Name, CRAFT

QUESTION: I've tried to turn small towns with which I'm familiar into fictional towns or settings--usually for a paranormal world. Each time, I've ended up with a big, confusing, frustrated mess. You have mentioned that you have done this. Do you have any tips or tricks for developing your hometown into a fictional town?

In my novel, TIME AFER TIME, my heroine’s hometown of Moravia is literally my hometown with the location of streets, etc.

The heroine's engagement party is in a country club that's about five miles away from where I live.  I fiddled a bit with the look of the huge room and the patio where she meets the hero, though, to fit the plot.

The hero picks her up in a horse and carriage and takes her to the golf course to the east of the country club.

I know where the McDonalds is that they stop at for a late snack and the apartment complex where she lives.

In a series I'm working on now set in Moravia, the hero's house is about a block away from where I live. The house is across the street from the Methodist church I went to as a child.

The hero and his best friend ride on trails I rode as a girl, and the heroine goes to a fictional version of my alma mater.  When she drives there, I know what she passes, and the campus is described accurately.

If I change some element of the real town for my fictional town, I make a note to myself to that effect although I rarely reuse settings like the country club.

I give the streets different names because I don't want people to make too close a connection between High Point and Moravia, and for the new series, I'm using the High Point of twenty-five years ago because it fits better.  Those riding trails are now housing developments, for example.

Rather than a map, I have an equals list.
Willow Street = Chestnut Drive
Nathanton = Greensboro

Most of my names have a word play involved.  Willow and Chestnut are both trees, and Greensboro is named after Revolutionary War hero, Nathaniel Green.

I never use exact distances, but I know how long it would take to get from the magic equipment storage warehouse to Daniel's house in the middle of the night if you were driving well over the speed limit.

This information doesn't really change what happens or anything, and I could change the time for my own convenience, but just knowing helps keep the place real for me, and, hopefully, that makes the place more real to the reader.

QUESTIONS: Ask me a writing or publishing question! Contact me via my blog or webpage.

WRITING WEBSITE AWARDS: If you enjoy this website, be sure to nominate it and recommend it to friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Links of Interest

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Megan Records of Kensington.

QUERY LETTERS: Agent Janet Reid blogs about the effective query letter.

CRAFT: Story structure.

CRAFT: Back story. What it is and how to avoid putting too much of it in.

RESEARCH: Paranormal Investigations.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The Top Five Secrets to Getting a Book Deal

STRESS: Learning to deal with the stress of being a writer.

EBOOK READERS: An overview of all the ebook reader hardware now available.

COPYRIGHT: Free download of Cornell University’s “Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums”

CRAFT: The difference between foreshadowing and telegraphing future plot points.

QUERIY LETTERS: Agent Jessica Faust discusses query lengths.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Mistakes a new author should avoid.

AGENTS: How to turn off an agent.

CRAFT: Exposition.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Formatting Internal Dialogue, CRAFT


I have query about the correct way to convey internal thoughts and sounds.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style: "11.47 Unspoken discourse:
Thought, imagined dialogue, and other interior discourse may be enclosed in quotation marks or not, according to the context or the writer’s preference."

I gather whether quotation marks are used and which type varies from publishing house to publishing house. Is that correct?

ANSWER: The only times I’ve ever seen quotation marks used for interior dialogue in popular fiction is along the lines of -- “Brilliant move,” I said silently to myself.

The standard method is to italicize the thought-- The bell slipped out of my fingers and clanged loudly as it hit the floor. I winced. Brilliant move, Byerly.

Some publishers, particularly of nonfiction, will state the stylebook they prefer, but most fiction publishers don’t. In the case of no stylebook mentioned, use grammar correctly and be consistent.


In deep third POV, it’s quite common to have a fair amount of interior dialogue.

I try to ask myself whether the person is posing themselves a specific question or stating some fact to themselves. If they are, I put them in italics, otherwise I don’t. Is this the best way to do it?

What if they ask themselves a rhetorical question?

ANSWER: You seem to have a firm grip on where you italicize sentences. For rhetorical sentences, either way would work.

I tend to avoid italicized internal dialogue because it breaks the reader’s rhythm, particularly if it’s done too much or too little. Instead, I write so that I remain deep in POV.

For example, to remove the internal dialogue of my earlier example, I’d write: The bell slipped out of my fingers and clanged loudly as it hit the floor. I winced at my clumsiness.


I also have problems with the verb’s tense in internal discourse eg. She loosened her grip, so the rope slid through her hands and let her feet slide over the knot. Shit – rope burn. Her feet reached another knot. She clung to the rope, her body shaking, her palms sweating so hard they felt cold. This wasn’t working.

Should the last bit be This isn’t working.?

ANSWER: If “This isn’t/wasn’t working” is deep POV, the sentence would use “wasn’t.” If it’s internal dialogue, use “isn’t.”

If you’re confused about the tense, pretend it is dialogue for internal dialogue and speak it aloud to see if it sounds right. If it’s a thought, the tense remains the same as the rest of the narrative.

QUESTION CONTINUED: If you’re trying to signify there is a sound made, does it go inside single or double quotes or can you use italics?

ANSWER: Sounds are italicized only.