I have to find time to write."
I don't think that's true. You don't find time. You make time. You take it. You take it for yourself.
If you want to write, you have to choose time during which you will write.
You have to give things up in order to make time to write. If you don't already have writing time in your schedule, then what activity is filling your schedule? Your dayjob? Childcare? Housecleaning? Doing things for other people? Socializing? Regardless, there's a point where something has to give.
You can say it's easy for me. I don't have any children, I don't have a spouse who makes demands on my time. But, if I did have those people in my life, I would still need time for me. All of us need time for ourselves, to be ourselves. I am rarely more myself than when I'm writing. When that time is hard to locate, I get ruthless.
If I put off doing the laundry this week, will I still have enough clothes to wear to the day job? Will my friend forgive me if I can't go out to dinner with her this weekend? Will the volunteer effort fail completely for lack of my presence?
I choose. When I need to write, I make time to write.
Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
As technology surges forward, it's a time of great excitement and of great trepidation for authors. On the one hand, reader favorites that have been long out of print can now be brought back and produce a new income stream. On the other hand, with over 1 million (yes, that's ONE MILLION) new books published last year, calling the marketplace "overcrowded" has become an understatement.
Some authors are choosing options that bypass a publisher altogether, and if the author has a ready made channel for reaching his/her readership, and a readership big enough, this can be quite viable. For authors who want or need marketing support (and that includes positioning, cover design, distribution, in-store promotions, Advance Reading Copies, and myriad other efforts) it is still a publisher's job (which we take very seriously) to connect books with readers.
In addition to the self-publishing option, and the traditional publisher model, there are now digital-first publishers as well, who offer no advances, and varying levels of higher net royalties, so authors can still expect to be paid by their readers, which is how it's always properly been.
As the industry reinvents itself to accommodate the proliferation of this new format (the ebook) royalty rates and suggested digital retail prices have been trying to find their proper level. The myth that ebooks cost less than printed books to produce is finally beginning to be busted. If you want a cover, if you want an internal layout, if you want editing, those things still carry very real costs. And, as it turns out, there's no standard format, so every device requires its own file, and its own quality assurance.
Here is a link to an article written by our CEO/Publisher and published in RWR about the implications of the added steps to the process necessitated by publishing in ebook formats:
As you can see, it's an exciting time to be in this business, and innovation is absolutely key. Our current solution to what authors need in the romance category is as follows:
1) we're publishing new books in print formats (mass market original) and ebook formats for all platforms, releasing at the same time at the same suggested retail price
2) our Casablanca Classics line releases classic backlist books in trade paper format with distribution to the trade and the mass market accounts, and ebook formats for all platforms at the same time
Every day the environment is changing--new devices are coming on the market, new models are being tried. We're working hard to be at the forefront of this transformation so the publishing community has some say in how this goes--we're reluctant to let the technology community determine our future. So keep choose your best options for today, and stay tuned!
If you want to ask me any questions about your particular situation, don't hesitate to email me directly at email@example.com
In October of 2010, something unique and exciting took place at St. Pete Beach in Florida. Novelists, Inc (Ninc), the only international organization devoted to multi-published authors of fiction, along with experts from all facets of the publishing industry, came together to brainstorm the future of publishing, with astonishingly positive results.*
Now Ninc is going back to the beach October 19-23, 2011, and Ninc is out to top itself!
We’re going to keep to the same proven format, devoting the first day of the conference, The New Publishing — Welcome To Tomorrow, to an all-day array of panels featuring experts on the following subjects:
Session 1 – The New Publishing Landscape: familiarizing attendees with the range of options out there. What are the numbers saying? How does this relate to overall sales, to author income? What do traditional publishers still offer? What’s the advantage of the alternative publishers, and what do they look like? What’s the best way to get your backlist out there? What’s a vertical, and who is doing it particularly well?
Session 2 — Finding Your Readers: Going with the Pros; why the change in the publishing landscape requires driving consumers specifically toward your book and what the pros can do for them that you can’t or don’t want to do on your own. What kind of marketing truly sells books? Why are reviews more important than ever? What other publicity is available? What role does advertising play? Why is effective research essential to a great campaign? What does a successful social media campaign look like?
Session 3 – Finding Your Readers: Going it Alone; showing attendees how to build a marketing campaign for themselves, or how to supplement the campaign their publisher is offering. How much time is "a lot of time?" How do you find bloggers, how can you determine if they have any readers, and how do you pitch them? What packages are out there? How do you build a useful social media arsenal, e-mail list, and web presence? How do you work with your local bookseller to increase your profile?
Session 4 – More Than Ever, It's All About the Book: "content is king" means more now in the book world than it has in a long time; discussion of the market for enhanced e-books; what sorts of enhancements work for fiction; how apps supplement a novel. What is a “twelve month novel,” and how do you keep readers connected to the author from one book to the next?
This essential one-day event is open to all writers ($150, including lunch and a buffet dinner), and to industry personnel (all conference offerings free of charge).
The main conference, New Rules, New Tools: Writers In Charge is then going to take these topics and run with them via an array of in-depth workshops; showing us all the how-to as well as the why-to, who-to, and when-to. Discussing the future of publishing, knocking around ideas and predictions — these are good things to do. But now it’s time to get hands-on, get busy.
Join Ninc, and, for just $285 (yes, you read that right – just $285!), enjoy the entire conference that will be taking place at the gorgeous Tradewinds Grand Island Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida (room rate, $129 plus tax): https://www.tradewindsresort.com/properties/island-grand.aspx
You’ve always wanted to belong to Ninc, the only writers organization limited to multi-published authors of popular fiction. There isn’t a better time to join.
The Ninc Conference Center at www.ninc.com goes live January 1, 2011, although some information will be posted there sooner.
Join us in Florida October 19-23, 2011, for this exciting and essential conference!
* “The 2010 Novelists Inc. conference gave me a new perspective on the ever-evolving business of publishing. More important, it gave me a new sense of myself as an artist and entrepreneur. I left the conference feeling enlightened, empowered, and energized. My only complaint: not enough beach time, because the workshops and discussions were too informative, too provocative, too utterly wonderful to miss. I can't wait for 2011's conference!”
(Check out the 2010 Conference Center at www.ninc.com, to see what Barbara and so many others experienced during Brainstorming On The Beach)
Hope you enjoy this week's industry guest...
Next Wednesday, come back to read a blog by
Editorial Manager Sourcebooks
The word “frenemy” is a relatively recent neo-logism, a portmanteau word meaning a partner with whom you have a love/hate relationship. “Frenemy” works better than “eniend”, which sounds like some sort of abstruse mathematical function.
Although even the most basic mathematical function is abstruse to me. My skills lie in the other part of the brain, the one that not only appreciates five-dollar words like neo-logism, portmanteau, and abstruse, but also worries about the proper usage of “lie” and “lay”, or the historical definition of “to decimate”, which is not “to demolish”.
That creative part of the brain can be anthropomorphized (look, Mom, another five-dollar word!) as “the muse”.
My muse isn’t a scrawny lass plinking a lyre with manicured fingernails. He’s a punk bagpiper, with red hair, an earring, a kilt, combat boots, and an instrument of war tucked beneath his arm, the drones that lie (not lay!)against his shoulder flying tattered battle flags.
(The English once banned the Scots’ Great Highland Pipes, calling them instruments of war, since that ear-splitting skirl inspired many a fearless and [and often kilt-less] charge.)
So why, then, is my handsome muse not entirely my friend? I mean, writing is a nice, quiet occupation, isn’t it? The leisurely crafting of golden prose, the reliable and substantial income, the hours of glorious solitude. (Supposedly Agatha Christie once said: “I became a writer because I don’t like being around other people.”)
Right. To the above misconceptions, not to whether Christie made that statement.
Enemy: When I have a deadline—and I’ve had some killers—I’ll wake up in the middle of the night calculating how many words I have left to write, and how that number factors into the time remaining. (This may be my one math skill.) At times like that I’ll pace up and down the driveway in the evening, dazed and tired, groping desperately after the next plot twist.
No surprise that a gathering of pro writers looks like a doctor’s waiting room. Neck pain. Back pain. Arm, wrist, and hand pain. Eyestrain. Headaches.
Friend: If not for all of the above, I might not have taken up tai chi. Even if you don’t necessarily believe the Chinese energy-flow concepts (I have come to believe in them), learning the different forms is good exercise for both body and mind. Besides, my tai chi group consists of such likeable people my classes are great social outings, too.
Enemy: A graphic imagination can be dangerous. Once, when writing about a character suffering from morning sickness, I grew so nauseated I had to break off and lie (not lay!) down. Another time I was listening to a CD of peaceful nature noises—shrubs rustling, birds chirping—until I suddenly envisioned a Jurassic Park scenario, those rustling shrubs hiding a large, hungry, carnivore. I never again found that CD relaxing.
Friend: A review will mention “vivid characters” or people will tell me I scared the heck out of them with one of my ghost stories. (Stories, I hasten to add, of things that go bump in the night, not of horror splatterfests.) Well all right then—high five the punk piper!
Enemy: Nowadays writing has very little to do with glorious solitude and leisurely crafting (or a reliable income, but that’s another issue). It’s all about promotion and public relations. The 24/7 clamor of the internet and other media (Over here! Look at me!) means getting your own work to stand out is a daunting task. A bashful person like me has real problems with, say, sitting in a bookstore accosting strangers. To me, it’s the equivalent of an Inquisition torture.
I’m a good writer. I’m not a good saleswoman.
Friend: It’s quite surprising what skills I’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, into learning—not just people/promotional skills, but things like cover design and computer work. (Admittedly, this last has produced lots of eye-rolling from my son the Microsoft techie. No. MS Word is not his fault.)
Enemy: With e-books, POD reprints, and more, m naging the back-list has become very complicated and time-consuming.
Friend: Just because the first edition of a book goes out of print doesn’t mean it can no longer earn money for you—or lead readers into your other books.
Enemy: I can’t read anything without editing as I go. Even my life-long favorites aren’t immune from my muse’s analysis. He’s even had the unmitigated gall to criticize The Lord of the Rings!
Grammatical blunders (“Looking out of the window, the mountain was covered with snow.” or “The tents were erected with the doors facing the mountain which some of them had climbed.”) will stop me cold, no matter how entertaining the rest of the piece. So will the mis-use of “it’s” for “its” (and, occasionally, vice versa)—especially in, say, e-publishing formatting directions. (Sigh.) I’ve been known to wail at the television, “Mystique is pronounced mysteek, not mystic!” and “It’s fewer taxes, not less taxes!”
Friend: You know, I’m not sure there’s much of an up-side to this. I have to keep reminding my muse that know-it-alls can be very annoying.
Enemy: Well-meaning people often ask you where you get your ideas. It’s a valid question, but one that’s difficult to answer with more than a vague wave of the hand and a mutter of “Everywhere”. That answer goes down better in social situations than the truth: “Watch out, you may end up in my novel.”
Friend: All the world is your research library. An encounter in a bookstore near Loch Ness turned into a scene in The Murder Hole. A couple asking questions of a food vendor in Colonial Williamsburg became a bit of business in The Charm Stone. Hugh Munro, the musician who appears in all five books of the Fairbairn/Cameron series, is an only slightly fictionalized version of Brian McNeill, a Scottish musician I’ve come to know and love. (Yes, he’s aware he’s Hugh, and is very disappointed he hasn’t become the victim of a grisly murder.)
(That’s grisly, not grizzly—even if the murder was committed by a large bear.)
Our piano tuner is the physical model for Fergie MacDonald in The Blue Hackle. A friend was joking about an advertisement—buy a square foot of land in Bonny Scotland, home of your ancestors—and the next thing you knew, I had some dialog for the same book. (“Can you see a Yank wanting to be buried standing up in his one square foot?”) Only the muse knows whether there would be any Australian characters in The Blue Hackle if I didn’t have Aussie friends.
Enemy . . . Well, uh, there is no enemy for this one. It’s all friend.
I wouldn’t know those Aussies, let alone a lot of other very fine people, if I hadn’t been writing, going to conventions, sitting in bookstores, and on and on and on. Having made so many friends along the way compensates for anything else that punk piper can throw at me.
(PS. Some years ago, my piper demanded his own story. It’s titled, oddly enough, “The Muse”, and was first published in a magazine, Realms of Fantasy, in late 2001—in the same issue that had a photo-feature on the new Lord of the Rings movie. I’m quite sure that was his thank-you.) For most writers, reading is as integral to their development as writing itself.
But what should a writer read?
The short answer is everything. That, of course, isn't really possible; and also, writing takes up a great deal of time, so reading time has to be prioritized in the same way. So. Allow me to pontificate on this subject.
First, a writer reads in the genre she is writing. That only makes sense. You needs to know what's there so you don't write the same story as everyone else. I think it's important to read what are considered the best examples of your subgenre, because the best books can give you something to strive for. However, the worst examples are important, too; the "worst" books might be doing something new and exciting, even if it didn't work out in the end, and they might inspire you even more than the "best" books.
I also think it's important to know the history of your genre, particularly the early examples of it: for instance, Regency authors ought to at least have read Jane Austen, who actually wrote during their period, and Georgette Heyer, who recreated the period for a modern audience. Authors of paranormal romance might find it useful to read non-romantic fantasy.
Fringe examples are also useful. For example, Mary Stewart wrote an early example of a paranormal romance, Touch Not the Cat. Nora Roberts also wrote some paranormal romances long before the current boom. Early and fringe examples can reinvigorate a writer's idea of what their genre is and can be.
Reading classics can't hurt, either. Great themes in literature usually remain great themes, and can provide fodder for your future work. If you've read Jane Eyre or Pamela or Persuasion, even if you're not consciously using that knowledge when writing a historical romance, unconsciously it might make a difference by giving your work a little extra depth or resonance.
From a directly practical standpoint, reading is also an important part of my writing process. If a book makes me angry, or disappointed, or enthusiastic, I'm inspired to participate in a literary conversation and write something in response.
Alexandra Nicolajsen, Digital Content/Marketing Manager Kensington Publishing Corp.
Working in the publishing world, it is impossible not to be cognizant of the current turmoil revolving around book piracy. Publishers are irate at the seemingly astronomical loss of revenue, the theft of content, and the lack of discernable regard for copyright law on the part of many consumers, who either post pirated material or take advantage of it by downloading it illegally from the ever-growing pool of sites that host illegal content.
Meanwhile, authors are at their wits end, seeing Google alerts every day notifying them of illegal copies of their books available for download, searching for these copies themselves, or having loyal readers forward links to the pirated content. They’re not only seeing a loss of sales, but a cut that goes to the core of the work they do and the countless hours spent writing and rewriting books in order to get to the end result they imagined when they set out to write a book in the first place. Meanwhile, many ask if it is all really as bad as it’s being made out to be…
Every day, when I get to work, waiting for me in my inbox are at least 5 emails containing suspected pirated works. These links come in to our editors from many of our authors, some much more diligent about scouring the internet for illegal copies of their works than others. While this number may seem disheartening, it is not as bad as it might seem.
The good news is that many of these links don’t lead to pirated copies of books at all. The bad news is that those sites that aren’t actually hosting illegal copies of books are really there as a scam to steal your information. Our editors weed through many more links that I never actually see, removing those that lead to these bogus sites. So, right off the top, know that there are a great deal less illegal copies of titles available on the internet than it initially seems.
I’d love to say that’s the end of the story, but unfortunately, where there’s a major concern, there’s generally a reason for it. While many links that seem to lead to illegal books are a sham, there are thousands of links that do lead to actual pirated content. When Kensington first looked at ways to combat this issue, some said it was an insurmountable task.
However, with the help of Attributor, an outside company that protects against unauthorized use of content, a significant dent has been made in the number of links leading to pirated content from our authors. Attributor continuously monitors the Web for copies of Kensington’s content and removes those that violate our anti-piracy policy. In addition, all those links that come in from authors are gone through by our editors and me, and those that are in violation of the copyright are forwarded to Attributor, who then makes moves to have the content removed.
While this is a big step in the right direction, there is no way to stop piracy at its source, but work can be done to try and lessen the number of people posting illegal content. The first things we need to examine are the reasons why people are pirating books in the first place. When music sharing sites were first introduced, they took the internet by storm and millions of tracks were downloaded.
The book piracy problem is not yet as pervasive as this was, but it is a growing issue. I can’t speak for those who upload illegal copies of books, but I can write about some things I’ve found and read on my own. Many of our authors enjoy the benefit of ardent fans who read five or more books every month. These are excellent readers to make up a fan base. However, in this economic climate, many people are finding it difficult to budget enough to purchase all the books they’d like.
They may purchase some, and steal others by illegally downloading them on the internet. They’re aware what they’re doing is stealing, but do it anyway, because they feel it’s the only choice they have. The other, more prevalent, issue I’ve found that motivates piracy is a lack of an e-book version being available for a particular title. Many authors feel that they can avoid having their books pirated if they don’t allow an e-book version to be released.
This seems to actually promote piracy, rather than prevent it. E-readers are more prevalent than ever, and people who own them want all their content to be available to them in their desired format. When that content isn’t available, many make the switch over to searching for the content illegally.
In reading some anonymous confessions of a book pirate, another interesting point about piracy was raised. In the thousands of books he had downloaded illegally, only one had been from a DRM-cracked e-book copy. All the others came from scans of physical books. This would seem to support the idea that keeping your book unavailable electronically is not actually stopping it from being pirated.
There are many sides to this issue, from publishers, to authors, to consumers. As someone from the publishing industry who believes in the power of free as a promotion tool, it still bothers me every time I see active links to our books available for illegal download. When the author and the publisher have no control over the content, it’s an uneasy situation, but unfortunately, one that will not go away any time soon.
People who believe in the importance of books, authors, and the book industry need to continue working together, along with consumers to educate on the value of a book, all that goes into it, and why digital content doesn’t mean free content, simply because there are no physical pages to touch.
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Follow Kensington on Twitter & Facebook Mild mannered (I guess) Scott Wolf, C.E.O. of ArcaMax Publishing responded to my 'gentle' requests to blog about www.BookDaily.com. Wow, I thought when I was done, wow! Lots going on here.
Lets see if you agree, Vonna Harper
A Strategy to Attract Readers with Sample Chapters
There’s nothing better than a loyal reader…. especially the kind that likes your work and buys multiple titles!
With this in mind, I’m here to introduce a website that was created specifically for the purpose of helping authors connect with this type of reader: BookDaily.com.
The basic premise is simple. We make it easy for a large number of readers to sample your book by distributing the first chapter by email and featuring it on our website. If they like it, they can buy the book, contact you through our system, or even join your email list. We provide a link to your website so they can learn more about you and your work. We supplement this with an author’s resource center that offers a wealth of online book marketing information.
The Basics: How BookDaily Works
We offer the first chapter of more than 85,000 books on the site. Readers can browse the samples on bookdaily.com and also receive them by email. Currently we’re distributing more than 120,000 sample chapters per day by email and have sent more than 29 million since launch.
We’re primarily building the site’s readership from our consumer newsletter site, arcamax.com. We serve more than 3 million readers on that site, send almost 14 million emails per day, and add more than ten thousand new subscribers daily to our subscription lists – this provides a nice group of readers to bring over to BookDaily!
Readers can choose to receive a daily chapter in their choice of genres along with the site’s “Book of the Day”. We currently have more than 27,000 readers receiving romance chapters, for example.
So far, about 26,000 readers can have set up accounts. This allows them to interact with the site in a variety of ways. For example, they can review books, add them to their “Sample Shelf” to read later, contact participating authors, opt-in to email lists, and even print a custom bookmark for any book on the site – a reader favorite! The other BookDaily email recipients are readers who have subscribed along with their arcamax.com subscriptions.
What’s in it for you?
As an author, you can set up an account and load your sample chapters on the site. (Some books might already be there – we work with a company that aggregates samples for publishers to distribute for marketing purposes.) You can load a biography, YouTube videos, a picture, and even link back to your website. All for free!
You can benefit from increased exposure, more book sales, new email list members, website traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) value. One particularly useful free tool is the BookDaily author sample widget. You can put this on your website or blog to make it easy for readers to sample your work.
As well, authors receive a twice weekly book marketing email newsletter dedicated to helping you sell more books. You can also receive free downloaded report describing the BookDaily approach.
We offer additional low-cost promotional opportunities designed to help you ensure your book receives plenty of attention from BookDaily’s growing reader base. While we naturally hope you’ll participate, and it’s not a requirement to take advantage of the marketing tools described above.
We all know that the bookselling landscape is changing dramatically. It’s critical to understand the new rules of marketing as you strive to continue to grow your book sales. As an author of multiple titles, the good news is that you have the most to gain by adopting online marketing strategies! Here at BookDaily, we are delighted to help.
Here are useful links on BookDaily if you’d like to explore book sampling for your titles:
Free Special Report “Online Marketing for Authors”:
Reader Account Registration:
Author Account Registration:
Author Promotional Information:
(Or contact Kicheko Driggins at 866-596-9732 ext.209)
(This post was provided by Scott Wolf, C.E.O. of ArcaMax Publishing, the company behind BookDaily.com. Thank you for the opportunity!) This week at Novelists Inc we welcome Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor Silhouette Desire, one of Harlequin's top-selling lines for category romance.
Stacy, tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be the senior editor of Silhouette Desire.
My work in publishing began almost accidentally. I love to read, and to write, and have worked at several jobs that involved both. First with a regional publisher in Florida, then with a college PR magazine, and then at an online magazine about medicine and culture. All the while, I did freelance writing on the side. When the first dot-com bust came around, I began thinking about what I wanted to do next. I had accumulated an editorial background in various formats and topics, but what I really loved to read was romance. (I always say I started the romance habit at age nine, but it might have been earlier than that. 🙂 ) Harlequin was hiring just as I was looking to combine my editorial experience with my favorite genre, and I’ve been at the company for eight years now. Within Harlequin, I’ve worked with several category romance lines, Luna Books, the feature and custom publishing department and now with Desire.
Can you explain exactly what a category romance is and how it differs from other romance books?
There are a few differences between category romance novels and other romances: a consistent, short word count; a guaranteed happy ending; and a strong focus on the hero and heroine. But the key difference between category and “single title” is that each category novel is part of a distinct line, like Desire, which has its own identity—a promise to the reader about what type of story she will get with every book. This means that the line itself builds a fan base. For example, folks who like strong alpha males, stories that sweep you into a world of wealth and privilege, and passionate and powerful family sagas will like the stories published in Desire. This means that new authors writing category romance can have a built-in audience from their first book.
I love magazines, and I think of category romance like my New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly subscriptions. My magazines come in the mail like little gifts each month. Each one has a voice, a style, a promise. Some stories and hooks catch my eye, and I will read those articles because I like the themes. Some authors are my favorites, and I will read their pieces no matter what they write. Overall, if I read and enjoy at least half of the magazine, I will continue my subscription.
Category romance is similar. The Desire line has an identity, a style, a promise. We hope that some stories and hooks will catch readers’ eyes. We hope that some authors are readers’ favorites and will be read no matter what themes they choose to write about. Overall, we hope readers will enjoy all six books, or at least the majority of the month’s books, so that they will continue their mail or online subscriptions or their monthly trips to the store.
What do you like to see in an initial submission, and what about a manuscript grabs your attention?
In submissions, I love to see a strong, concise paragraph in the query letter that sells me on the story’s theme. This is like the back cover copy of submissions. For manuscripts, I love to see an opening line, paragraph and page that really hooks me. I want high stakes right away, whether they are internal for the characters or external in the plot.
What current trends do you find the most interesting?
Format-wise, I’m very interested in the move to digital publishing. There are so many ways that books can be published and read. It’s fascinating to see how the industry is changing, and so quickly.
For fiction, I love how romance finds its way into other genres—and helps grow those other genres. For example, many years ago, romance authors branched out and created romantic suspense as a mainstream phenomenon. We saw the same thing again with chick lit, combining women’s fiction, the coming of age story, and romance. Now, it seems YA is filled with stories that are not traditional romances but have strong romantic elements. YA is still growing, so it will be interesting to see what—if anything—incorporates romance next.
How do you feel about authors working with other publishers or in other genres?
Cross-over writing appeals to me, as long as we can find a way to market the book to the right audience. Genre readers love to read, and many are willing to follow an author through different styles and stories. Writing for other publishers is an asset as well. Authors who have worked with other houses can offer insights on new ways to do things and any promotion they’ve done to enhance their careers will hopefully follow them across publishers. That said, a category romance writer can best build her audience by being prolific—three to four books a year—within one line.
What advice do you have for seasoned authors in the current publishing climate?
Authors have a real opportunity right now to create strong and direct relationships with their audiences. Blogs and social media are a great way to engage fans, but I’d also recommend creating and building an opt-in newsletter list of folks who truly love your work. These are the people who want to know when your next book arrives on the shelves, and with a timely message they may propel your first week of sales to the bestseller lists.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Juggling the Desire schedule is one of the most interesting and challenging parts of my job. I have to consider the publishing strategy for the line and for each author, along with ensuring there is variety to the topics and titles in each month, that all the books scheduled for production will be delivered and edited on time, and that any new requests from sales and marketing are honored. It’s a good thing I like puzzles!
What’s your favorite part of being an editor?
I love talking and thinking about books and stories, with authors, with readers, with other folks in the industry. If you’re interested in connecting via social media, you can find me on Twitter (@Stacy_Boyd or @DesireEditors) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/stacydboyd or https://www.facebook.com/harlequindesire). Oh, and I also love how reading and keeping up with TV, movie and Web trends is part of what I do. 🙂
What authors do you enjoy reading off the job?
I read a wide variety of things off the job. I love Clay Shirky’s books and blog. I love damomma.com—she makes me laugh and cry. I read magazines, and article links sent by my Twitter feed. I read series that grab me: recent ones are The Hunger Games and The Passage—I will be getting book two in this series as soon as it comes out! Authors I’ve liked recently: J.R. Ward/Jessica Bird, Mandy Hubbard, Jeri Smith-Ready, Curtis Ann Matlock, Sarah Mylnowski and Megan Hart. I’m slow on uploading my list, but you can see some of my recent reads on Goodreads. (You can find me under Stacy Boyd.)
For a fun question: On my desk you will always find…
A paper to-do list. It is my second brain, and I cannot function without it! The Third Secret went on sale yesterday. This book is mine. I wrote it. I feel my touches, my style there. And yet, I look at it and wonder where it came from. It's me - and it's more. I love the heroine. Her name's Erin. She's fighting a fight that I've wondered about my whole life. She's a defense attorney. A good one. She wins cases. And then she has to leave the court room and live in a world where the people she defends are free, out there, doing things. If they do wrong things are those deeds on her shoulders? Her conscience?
Erin knows the other side first hand, too. She's lived with the reality of an innocent person going to prison for a crime not committed. A person she loved more than anyone else on earth. The only way she can honor that love is to try to right the wrong in the world - to do all she can to protect the wrongly accused. To fight their fight.
And then there's Rick. My hero. I've written a lot of heroes. Fifty four of them to date. None of them stand out for me like Rick does. I'm not even sure why. He's so real to me. So compelling. Here's a man who has no expectations other than those he can provide for himself. He doesn't have a lot. His life has been largely lived in the dark. And yet he's really, honestly at peace with his life. This man is not filled with angst, and yet I cry for him. He's not waiting around for a woman to change him or save him from himself or love him. And yet I want to do all three. He lies without blinking, and yet I trust him with my life. He's dangerous and I want to be around him anyway. He's done heinous things and I look for a way to be okay with that. And, even now, I have no idea why. I need a book discussion on him!
The book itself asks questions for which I have no answers. When is it okay to lie? And how do we ever know, really, if anyone is telling the truth? When are we being naive and stupid to trust and when is trusting the right choice? The best choice? How do we know? We all have secrets - are they ours to keep? Or do we owe the society in which we live our very lives simply because we live among others. Do we have to come clean because we aren't islands and what we do effects others?
I'm not sure what ended up on the spine of this book. I generally write romance and romantic suspense. The Third Secret isn't either one of those. And, I guess, it's kind of both. There's a hero and a heroine. There's emotion between them, but the story isn't about their relationship. There's suspense. And mystery. And family. There's death. Suicide. Murder. It's a story that presented itself to me and had to be told. It's part of The Chapman File series. Kelly's there, bringing her usual wisdom and calm - and yet she's different, too. She's starting to question herself. Kelly, can you believe it? And while Kelly is there, The Third Secret doesn't have to be read as part of the series. It stands alone.
The book is just different. It's everything. I can't let go of it.
If you'd like to join me in this inexplicable world, The Third Secret is available in either e-book or print form here https://amzn.to/97it5B - and everywhere else books are sold.
This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman FilesInternational Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We're hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we'd love to have you. Tim and I are skating and we're going to have a blast. If you aren't going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click here: https://www.predatorspeed.org/, or go to www.tarataylorquinn.com and click donate.
There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: Sometimes they are collector's items. Send all guesses to firstname.lastname@example.org. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at https://www.tarataylorquinn.com/. Guess as many times as you’d like!
Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at https://www.eharlequin.com/! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!
E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available at amzn.to/bmJzp4.
Nobody I know graduated high school and in looking forward to the future thought, “I want to be a freelance book editor.” I didn’t. In my first four years of college my dreams ran the gamut, reflected in half a dozen changes of my major. Languages, humanities, anthropology, psychology, and sociology. Later I earned a masters in counseling. On the side, I wrote all kinds of nonfiction and fiction, and very bad poetry. All good preparation for an editing career. I determined that book editing is further helped by a background in the social sciences, the hard sciences, philosophy and religion, politics and current affairs, psychology and crisis intervention, and of course, literature, publishing, and . . . writing.
Like many self-employed people, the non-billable work gobbles up time. I spend about four hours a day answering e-mail, responding to phone consultations, sending contracts and invoices, and fulfilling requests for workshop descriptions, bios, photos, and travel arrangements for future conferences and workshops. Sometimes I lose hours making changes on my website or supplying pieces for blogs. I minimize my Facebook time (I haven’t figured out why this is important), and send e-mails to friends to blow off steam. The post office delivereth and the post office taketh away.
My home office is a crucible of chaotic creative endeavors. Doesn’t that sound nice? Or, as described by a neat freak tidy editor friend, “an archaeological dig.” But I know where things are—really. I have three printers—you never know. Right now, one is down. Floor-to-ceiling shelves groan under the weight of books and manuscript boxes, each one bearing a client name—active or inactive—on one side. Other shelves are littered with office supplies, newspaper clippings related to client works, contracts and bills, and stacks of books read, books by clients, books needing photocopies for workshops, and books unread. Copies of edited manuscripts from former clients pile up, awaiting the non-existent file clerk. Instructional material, personal and professional papers, and the x-files mix in jumbled piles on “surfaces” and await the non-existent file clerk.
At last, I edit.
I sit, the manuscript lies before me on a cushioned lap table. I pause, recognizing resistance to the call of adventure for the journey of this project. I am anxious. Will I be able to relate to this story, this project? Will I be able to figure out what is most needed, and communicate that in a constructive way?
I begin. I put on my reading glasses, have my pens of different colors ready. Black or blue will mark the first time through. The reverse will mark the second time through. Green or sometimes red will mark passages I’ve come back to.
I read. I become a shape-shifter, relying upon intuition, a shaman’s hidden abilities, and twenty years of editing books. I loan myself out to the works I edit. Perhaps I am a medium as much as a midwife. With a shift of awareness, I enter the story world and become the characters or the authors of memoirs, experiencing the story through them: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, emoting, remembering, wishing, suffering, and succeeding. Will I be swept on updrafts of excitement and suspense, hold my breath in anticipation of what comes next? Will I live inside a nightmare? Will I need armor to protect myself from an onslaught of bad vibes—not from the characters but from a twisted place in the author’s unconscious?
Immersion into someone else’s writing means leaving most of my ego behind, but retaining all of my analytical and intuitive skill and nature. The left brain spots problems in organization and craft. The right brain listens, picks up nuances of style—rhythm, melody, dissonance, pace, and also the timbre of emotions, on the surface and in the undercurrent.
Many stories are dreams, projections of a writer’s symbolic or psychic worlds. A women thinks she’s writing about an exciting trip she took with her husband in Africa, entertaining, light, but she’s really expressing her fear that she’ll lose her husband to another heart attack. Most writers are unaware how present they are in what they believe is fiction or a first-person account of an event. A Siamese twin with a protagonists can be a problem; the person may be writing for themselves not an audience. The story may be a way of working out a probably unconscious set of conflicts with deep roots in a traumatic past. Sometimes the story works, but my job is to let the writer know when a protagonist is but a mouthpiece and to suggest how to set the character free. In so many ways, diplomatically but not pulling punches, I cut the umbilical between writer and character, between memoirist and projected self, and use the evaluation as a way to explain how to make that shift in a revision.
My exit from editing a manuscript can be as difficult as my entry. After I finish, I can’t just jump into a next job. I’ve been elsewhere, in the pretend world of the novel or memoir or, for other nonfiction, in the intellectual world of ideas, information, facts, and statistics. There is a time delay before I am fully present in my mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Often I’m tired. My own complex life provides a welcome diversion. Sometimes, however, my unconscious is still lost in the story world. An insight pops through a dream or slides into my mind during a walk.
The editing process is engrossing, but by far the people I meet are the most rewarding, and entertaining, privilege of this work. They often become lifelong friends. Patti, ever positive and supportive, part Cherokee and a Republican (!), writes a biography about an inspirational Cherokee coach. We’re convinced we’re telepathic, sending “call-me” vibes while the other one is thinking the same thing. Carolyn began as a student, became a member of my critique group, then an associate editor (to bail me out of a rough patch) while she wrote and published mysteries. She has taken care of me after surgeries, helped sort out my belongings after several moves, and become my wise adviser and a best friends. Unique in my editing career was the client become friend who wanted the editor and not just the edited manuscript. Eighty-something-year-old Art paid for me to fly to his home on the beach in Malibu. That wasn’t a hard sell. We sat side by side in his office, making further revisions of his most-recent book on primal therapy. Our conversations ran deep, about the state of current therapeutic practices, human nature, our lives, Art’s song writing for Celine Dion, and John Lennon.
My work, sometimes only consulting, has brushed with famous people, like Art, or to famous events. A housekeeper for Rajneesh writing about how she and her husband fled for their lives. A surviving member of the Jones Town mass suicide. The son of Tennessee Ernie Ford. The body guard of Tonya Harding. A man who as a boy, from a family of high status, sat on Mao’s lap to watch a movie, only later to be sent to a youth camp. A woman who as a young girl was put on the Peter Pan flight from Cuba, and who once sang for Castro.
Scary people also go with the territory. A former medical examiner, now retired, submitted a novel in which a woman was abused in the most awful ways by the protagonist, a medical examiner. While watching my evening news, the featured story was about a person with his name who was accused of trying to run over a woman flagger.
The greatest threat of my twenty years occurred one night when my phone rang at midnight. That afternoon, just two days after a back surgery, I had answered a woman’s call about the “real life novel” she had written. I gave more time than usual advising her about writing, revising, marketing, and self-publishing. She kept asking me questions, holding me on the line. I knew she was a novice.
“You have no right to tell me I’m a beginner,” the voice on my message machine yelled. “You haven’t read even one word of my writing. You have no right to think I’m a beginner.” She went on from there for another minute and then hung up. I exchanged the “what-the” look with my friend who was taking care of me and then hobbled back to bed. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang again. Her voice had ratcheted up a notch. She ranted again, venom in each word. My friend and I discussed the nut case, deciding that she must be drinking—or something. Instead of returning to bed, I sat down and waited. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang yet again. This time, she screamed her words, “People like you should be shot!” Ohmygod. Although I called the police in the morning, she never called again. I was glad my address wasn’t publically known.
Writers are also weird. I supplied crisis intervention to a man who called me and threatened suicide because he not only didn’t win first place in a contest but didn’t win anything. He was indignant, cut down, no reason to keep living. An editing client called to tell me that his rabbit ear had caught fire when he leaned over a candle, and how a very nice seamstress had come out to his house, saving him from having to remove his furby outfit, and didn’t even charge him. Despite his unusual compulsion, we had what I thought was a helpful discussion about OCD and bipolar illness and how it affects confidence in writing.
Manuscripts on my desk now or soon to arrive for editing will test my background in many subjects. I have a hitherto now secret tell-all about a military mission, a moving epic novel set in the Montana frontier, the autobiography of a European chef who buttered me up with dinner at his home—and we didn’t have spaghetti, I can assure you, an AA-related book, a young adult novel set in prehistory, a category mystery, a revision of a memoir by a Broadway star. The projects change, the writers change. Along the way I make new friends and learn about new ideas and subjects.
I never chose a career as a freelance book editor. It chose me. And it fit.
To see a sample of even more of the “characters” and their books that Elizabeth Lyon has worked with, see “Client Successes” at www.elizabethlyon.com. She is the author of how-to books on craft, revision, and marketing. Her sixth book, “Manuscript Makeover” was selected in an article for The Writer magazine, as one of “8 Great Writing Books” in 2008, and “perhaps the most comprehensive book on revising fiction.” Right before starting on this blog I emailed a couple of writer friends. Letting my hair down around them is nothing new so maybe I shouldn't still get this warm and fuzzy feeling when its time to chat with Kate, Catherine, Karen, Gail, Tallie, etc, etc, and my newest bestest friend Lynda.
But I do. And whenever I get a personal email from someone else who spends their time pounding a keyboard and sorting through the characters and plots in our minds, I'm delighted. It doesn't matter whether the news is good, so-so, down, or over the top one way or the other. These are the women who speak my language and I speak theirs.
We don't need to pontificate about the hours spent slicing and dicing to whip a manuscript into shape. We don't need to spell out great details about agents, editors, publishers, readers, promo, and publicity. We've all been there.
One friend writes the sweetest romances. Another creates worlds I never could. Yet another is spreading her magic over the religious market while another dear soul writes more in a month than I do in six. If they're ever uneasy because I write erotica they haven't said. Instead they ask how my husband and mother are doing (so-so, thanks) and I know they care. I hold my own breath when one faces another round of chemo and delights with someone else when a grandchild enters kindergarten.
In the foggy past when the writing bug first infected me I was alone with my scrambled desires, fears, and ignorance. Back then there was no Internet, no instant communication, no way of connecting with someone who lived thousands of miles away. I read The Writer and Writer's Digest and didn't once imagine there could be more than those monthly magazines.
What a change! Earlier this month when I attended the Ninc conference in St. Pete, I stepped into a building full of friends. Conversations went from 'hello' to meaningful talks about social networking and Kindle formatting within seconds. We were like the resident geese here when the local farmer harvests his hay. We attacked every morsel we could get our hands on. (At least unlike the geese, we shared.)
There were no prima donnas and, I hope, no shrinking violets. No them and us. Just a bunch of friends who'd become important to each other mostly via email.
Much of what we talked about was how to find our ways through and into the world of Kindle and other ereaders. In other words, the new world. The amazing Joe Konrath was there to share his story as a highly successful epublished writer. Angela James, Carina's executive editor let us in on what that epublishing venture has accomplished in just four months. The scary-smart Carolyn Pittis of Harper/Collins gave us a glimpse of where she believes we'll be in five years.
But we weren't there just to hear from those industry pros. Ninc members involved with www.BacklistEbooks.com, www.BookViewCafe.com, and www.AWritersWork.com are developing ways for their fellow published writers to band together. No more crying in the wilderness. No more one writer against 'the system'
I'm beyond excited about where the publishing world is going. Yes, a little scared and sometimes a lot overwhelmed. But I know where to go for answers, suggestions, possibilities, and lessons learned. Hopefully I can help by sharing some of my writing journey's successes and failures because as wonderful it is to know that Ninc members have my back, I'm devoted to doing the same.
This is an incredible organization!!!
www.VonnaHarper.com Tell us a little about yourself.
I wrote fantasy, SF, and horror for about fifteen years, sold some short stories, couldn’t sell a novel. Joined RWA, learned a ton about the business, fell in love with romance all over again, wrote four romance novels that didn’t sell, sold a fantasy novel to Small Beer Press: Trash Sex Magic. Wrote ten more romance novels, didn’t sell ‘em, sold two books in a fantasy series to Del Rey which turned into a paranormal romance trilogy with Ballantine (The Brass Bed, The Velvet Chair, The Bearskin Rug, long story), series didn’t do so hot, and I’m now looking for a new publisher. Agents aren’t taking midlist clients. Publishers are floundering. Epublishing is becoming a monster in all our lives. Sound familiar?
Via Book View Press, I’ve released one original (unpublished elsewhere) novel, a stagehand romcom Fools Paradise, and will release the next, King of Hearts, in late October. As part of the promotion for the books, I’m serializing each one, a scene per week, with a “buy the whole book now” prominent after each episode. This is just one ebook sales strategy in use at BVC. We’re trying all kinds.
Posted by Victoria Janssen
Filed as: The Writing Life, Writing Tips