Posts Tagged With: publishing

Beta Readers, A Method

Beta readers provide feedback prior to querying or before self-publishing. They often provide invaluable pointers regarding a manuscript, though some might also be slackers. It happens.

Currently, I’m wrapping up additional revisions to my sci-fi novel, Heritage Lost. This has been a long ongoing project that undoubtedly, if you routinely follow my blog, you’ve read about and might be wondering “How long is she going to ticker with it?” Well, after continuing to hit a brick wall in querying process, I dialed back and decided to complete a portion of the writing process that most writers complete: aka the beta reader process.

I skipped over this not because I hadn’t seen any value to the process, but due to some personal hang-ups (I’d been burned once) and my alpha readers had all been extremely positive. However, when I received a string of basic form letter rejections, I decided I needed more eyes on it — specifically reader eyes. My alternative motive was I’m deeply considering self-publishing. It is still my goal to query more agents and a couple of publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, but I’m also viewing self-publishing as more viable, and I wanted an idea of how my book might be received by a variety of readers.

So I embarked on the beta reading process and gleaned quite a bit from the experience, with some readers confirming some of the concerns I harbored on a few points after my last read-through. I also learned a lot about the beta reading process, and what I’d do differently next time. Continue reading

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Post-Gen Con 2016: Reexamining Writing Goals


My Gen Con 2016 badge and Writer’s Symposium program.

The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium was amazing. I walked away completely refreshed and with a bumper crop of information and ideas. I cannot recommend enough finding and attending similar events to get the latest information about what is going on in the publishing industry or just to get inspired to take your craft to the next level. The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium stretched from Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 4-7) and offered more than 200 hours of programming and events. There was also a Writer’s Avenue in the main vendor hall; however, since my day was packed with seminars, I missed the opportunity to visit and mingle with fellow writers in addition to agents and editors from some of the main publishing house. Next year I will be better prepared and make sure I leave plenty of time to visit that avenue because valuable connections can be made doing that as was pointed out during one of the seminars I attended.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

In all I attended eight and a half hours worth of seminars on Saturday, Aug. 6. I say half because I was allowed into Eric Flint’s “Business of Writing: Understanding the Publishing Industry” half way through its start. The bulk of the seminars I attended were Business of Writing related since that is where I currently am in my own creative writing career. I did– for which I’m extremely grateful for–work in a couple Writer’s Craft sessions and one Writer’s Life seminar, which was invaluable.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the highlights from the Gen Con seminars I attended. The first, which I hope to have up this Friday, will be from “Writer’s Life: Structuring Life to Support Creativity.” I have been struggling with balancing life, energy, and my need to be creative, so this one was a session I truly needed. I know many other writers also struggle with carving out time to write, so hopefully, they too will be able to glean something from the session’s highlights.

Since attending “Structuring Life,” I have been steadily been making progress on Heritage Lost‘s sequel, and I feel in a better place in my creative life, even if I still need to continue training my brain, but all in good time!

Perhaps my greatest take away is I’m halting my agent hunt, except for one particular agent that I have in mind. Instead, I will do yet another read-through of Heritage Lost before directly querying publishing houses that allow unsolicited manuscripts. All of the panelists (and they included writers, editors from publishing houses, and an agent) over several seminars agreed new writers were more likely to be published through the slush pile than through an agent. It is important to note they all stressed there is no one way to publishing; however, directly approaching publishing houses had been my original path. I diverted from it when I kept getting advice that I needed to get an agent first, so I caved.

Additionally, in a month or two, I will probably have exciting news about another venture that I’m hoping to see launch in October, but I want to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I share anymore on that. Until then, I’m excited to share some of what I learned at Gen Con!

Categories: My Writing, Personal, Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staying Uplifted While Querying


The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading

Categories: My Writing, Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

So Begins The Jump

Keyboard and query letter start

The query letter is the writer’s rite of passage.

To borrow a phrase from Nick Fury (and countless other people over the years): “This isn’t my first rodeo.” I’ve queried before, often to no luck. Rejection happens more often than not: The publishing industry is a hard nut to crack. You just have to dust yourself off, get back up, and continue to submit, potentially with a new project. Doing just that was a tough decision for me. I put so much effort and time into Passage–its characters, its plot, its worldbuilding. However, as my SciFi novel grew and took shape, I had to acknowledge it had the best shot in the current market, so I put all my effort into bringing it to fruition.

Now Heritage Lost is wrapped up, and I’m putting together query letters and a synopsis while also toying with the idea of participating in #PitMad, which is Feb. 11. My ultimate goal is to begin querying agents throughout February, hopefully tantalizing one to bite. Continue reading

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A writer’s reflections . . .


My silly boy loves the binder

I’ve buckled down the hatches and have really been polishing up my SciFi manuscript. My printout revisions are complete, my rewrite of chapter one is done, and now all that remains to be done is implementing the printout edits into the electronic master copy. At this rate, I’ll be on schedule to finish and submit by the end of May/early June.

So far, the working title is “Heritage Lost,” and at this moment, it looks like that title will stick through to the submission process. I have to say I am relieved. To date, this project has been perhaps my most challenging. It was my first foray into SciFi; I started it after coming off my longtime fantasy series, meaning the characters were strangers to me; and did I say it was my first time writing science fiction! SciFi is hard. I don’t think enough people appreciate all the hard work writers of the genre put in to their pieces in order to create good science fiction.

Now don’t get me wrong, my novel is no where close to being hard SF (I admire writers who can pull off that category), but I still had to put in several hours to create believable planets, species, politics, cultures, technology, etc. that would not go beyond my readers’  suspension of disbelief.  And believability is something I hope I’ve achieved, though I will always second guess myself on that.

No, “Heritage Lost” finds itself squarely in the the soft SF category, focusing on societal issues and characters. Of the subgenres, it probably best fits social science fiction and feminist science fiction. It addresses some challenging topics, particularly loss of cultural identity, expansionism, war, terrorism, radicalization, and gender issues — particularly as the series progresses. They are topics I hope I handle well and with the gravity they deserve. One of my main aims when tackling them is to do so in terms that nothing is black and white. People make varying decisions for varying reasons: One person’s wrong is another person’s right.

“Heritage Lost,” as its title hints, deals more with the loss of cultural, even personal, identity than the other themes, which grow as the series progresses. The main character’s personal and cultural identity is a mystery to her, lost in a war she’s too young to remember. Her lack of a past, which she’s ignored for a long time, is dredged up after she rescues a toddler who now finds himself in a similar situation. Along the way, she finds herself losing another identity, her home, her career, and her future.

I’m very hopeful this novel will be able to break into the publishing world, but I realize luck and timing will have to be on my side. I plan to try the traditional route, but I am also intrigued by the indie approach. Stories of success, like “Wool,” make self-publishing seem very tantalizing. “Wool,” for those unfamiliar with it, started as a standalone short story written by Hugh Howey, who later expanded the premise into a series. It became widely popular and was eventually picked up by Simon & Schuster while its movie rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox. And topping it off, Howey still retains full rights to his work, meaning he can still distribute it online. Who wouldn’t want to maintain rights and creative direction of their book?!

Creative freedom and maintaining full rights is very appealing, and I think that would be my main reason for choosing self-publishing, if I go that route. However, I have eight potential leads for the traditional method. First I’m going to submit the book to one of the biggest publishers of the genre. I probably have a snowflakes chance in hell of being accepted there, but I figure shoot high. My list also contains some smaller presses, too.

 I don’t know how many I will query, especially since the draw of self-publishing is growing. But I figure, take one step at a time: It will all work out in the end.
Categories: My Writing, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

It’s here! My copy of the ‘2015 Writer’s Market’

BxH6a98CUAEu7GX.jpg large

Was very happy to see it before falling promptly ill.

Last week I was excited to receive my copy of the “2015 Writer’s Market: Deluxe Edition,” though a bit peeved that after I ordered it — talking within a couple of days — they proceeded to drop the price by $9. But that’s just my luck: I have none. At least, this year I got my copy. Last year, you see, I had ordered one, but after a week or two, the vendor canceled the order, and I never got around to getting another one since at that time I figured just wait for 2015. So here it is!

I will admit that I have not had much time to go through it yet; I became pretty sick after receiving it, plus work has been beyond hectic since we are severely understaffed at the moment (let’s say, shit hit the fan really good). But I’ve taken the time to really thumb through it today, and eventually, as I use it more, I will post a full book review that includes my experiences using; hopefully answering the question: Is it worth purchasing the Deluxe Edition to get free access to this website? Continue reading

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And it begins all over again

Back to the grind, though I usually don't go back to it as happy as this kitty.

Back to the grind, though I usually don’t go back to it as happy as this kitty. (

Whew, made it through a full week of work post-vacation! Though I got to say, it was painful getting up at 6 a.m. again. But, I need money to feed myself and the kitties, so back to the grind it is. As is the norm, I come back to assignments that didn’t belong to me, but surprise! They are mine now. At least, it’s job security, even though it’s going to be challenging to get them done on top of my regular assignments and copy editing schedule… and we haven’t even received our special tab assignments yet.

I do have to say getting up getting up at 6 a.m. and reintegrating into the office was very inspiring, because it really made me want to get my creative writing out to hopefully earn enough money that I could at least go part time, which a couple of my coworkers have done recently for varying reasons. They have just made the whole part-time route look like so much fun!

During my vacation, I did start considering strategies to achieve such a feat, by looking at what I have. I have one completed novel, “Passage,” which I haven’t queried since my move, other books in its series in varying states of completion, several short stories lying around and a SciFi Novel halfway done, not to mention odd bits and pieces of writing projects. This is too much writing sitting around and not doing anything!


Can completely appreciate Snoopy’s struggles.

Now that I am largely stationary in my home (still got stuff at my dad’s house though), I cannot justify having so much writing not moving as it were. I started to pick up the momentum during vacation and submitted another short story to a literary magazine for speculative fiction … it got rejected, which seems to be a reoccurring theme no matter what I’m peddling. But I’m not allowing it to get me down; I intend to submit it to another similar magazine that takes shorts of the same genre and who knows maybe they will be the right fit.

If anything, the experience is making me angry, only angry in a good way. It’s building a fire that is intent to break through the doors of the publishing world. The experience is also further highlighting knowledge that I have stuffed in the back corners of my mind: It is hard for a first-time writer to get anything published, even their short stories.

But that is alright, because I’m intent to make it happen; however, I’m doing a bit of a game change, especially the more I learn about the approaches other writers have taken and observe the changes that are happening in the publishing industry.

When I began the querying process for “Passage,” I started by querying agents. However, when I resume querying, it won’t be to agents. I’ve decided to take another route: I will do my own homework and, hopefully yet this month, start querying a few of the larger publishing companies that still take unsolicited manuscripts. I will also begin looking at smaller presses that might make a good fit for my book.

Self-publishing is also emerging as a strong possibility. It’s no longer the dirty word of the publishing industry and has a real strong movement of indie writers publishing their own works. I do admit there is something very appealing about having complete control of my works. So while I’m putting together packets for publishers and presses, I’m also beginning to put my manuscript together in preparation of self-publishing it. I’m quite fortunate to have skill sets that will save me money when it comes to self-publishing, such as having the graphic design skills and programs necessary to make a professional cover. In fact, I’ve already begun piecing it together, and so far, I think it looks swell.

On top of getting “Passage” moving again, I’m going to work on building up my resume, which means getting short stories out and, hopefully, picked up by various literary magazines. It’s a tall order, but it’s something I have to do to get where I want to go. I will also be tackling the remaining books in The Mortal Wars series in case I do go the self-publishing route with “Passage,” because I will want sequels out every year or every year and a half. The SciFi Novel is also going to get a lot of effort put into it because I can see it being particularly marketable at this time to agents and publishers, but then again, I could be wrong on that front, lol.

I’m certain I will receive several more rejection notifications, but hopefully they will only serve to kindle the fire. In meantime, I’m going to take inspiration from Larry Correia’s experiences selling his book, which was rejected numerous times but, through cunning marketing practices, was picked up by a major publisher after he self-published it.

Cheers everyone and hoping your own writing projects are also going swimmingly.

Categories: My Writing, Personal | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The business of writing — Part II

Social media photo

Time to get connected and build your platform.

Well, you have your business plan typed and printed, possibly stored in a sleek binder … or stuffed in a lock box or file cabinet. So what next? Well, you have to make good on that marketing plan that you spelled out in your business plan. What? Isn’t that my agent’s and publisher’s job? The answer is no, or at least, not anymore. With the advent of social media, the internet and a variety of other factors, writers are having to step up even more to market and sell their work.

The one thing I have discovered as I query agents with my novel is they want to see my Web presence. From blogs to websites, some agents want to see them included in your query letter to see how marketable you are and what your reach is. I recall one agent stating on their website that if they google a writer, they want the writer to appear on page one of the search. For some of us unfortunate souls, this is impossible. Just try googling Sarah Wright, all you will get is a supermodel — I can’t beat that. Despite that, create a presence even if you can’t get on page one: Just having a presence is better than not having one at all.

While it might seem like putting the cart before the horse, your marketing and platform building should occur prior to peddling your wares/writings because platforms can take time to build. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t land a large platform/following overnight since not everyone will meet instant success. Whatever you do, don’t covet the success of others; instead, focus on your own projects and carry on: Platform building is not a race.

There are several avenues to choose from in regards to building your platform: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Each site has its own pros and cons, so it is really a matter of which ones you find easiest to use or better suit your approach. Also consider using a combination of these sites, which only serves to increase your reach and platform. Try to keep your posts on these sites regular and relateable; it also doesn’t hurt to stick with a theme. And while you are on these sites, be sure to network. Follow people, be active on their blogs or accounts; after all, it will only increase your visibility while also building connections and potentially increasing your own knowledge base.

To help yourself along, take your calendar and mark the days you intend to post on it. Plan out your posts or articles in advance. You can write out a bunch of articles/posts then post them at your leisure. Strategies like these will only help you as you work on building your platform. Also don’t rule out the possibility of doing guest blogs or joining a network of blogs.

And perhaps one of the most important things is a website. Every writer should have a website: But remember quality is key! I cannot stress that enough because nothing can repel eyes like a poorly put-together website, particularly one that uses just html coding or worse… a html table. If you can’t put together your own professional crafted website, it is more than worth it to hire someone to prepare one for you. Similarly, have a professional email account, which mean no

As with most businesses, there will be trial and error. What works for your writing buddies might not work for you just like that plan you have so meticulously put together is failing to meet your expectations. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Dust yourself off and try an alternative approach or soldier up on your current approach. Also browse around, see what your fellow bloggers and writers are doing and take inspiration from what they are doing right.

“The business of writing” will be a three-part series. The final part will be about building your portfolio and resume as a writer. Visit Part I here.

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The business of writing — Part I

Just today, I covered a session dedicated to small business owners and entrepreneurs, which was sponsored by the county economic development corporation and a local chamber.

While the topics were geared toward business owners, I walked away from the event with my head spinning with ideas — after all, whether you want to believe it or not, writing is a business and writers are very much like small business owners or entrepreneurs. We face several of the same challenges: limited resources, how to mount a successful marketing campaign, how best to get our “product” out to our “consumers” and, perhaps most importantly, how to get someone to invest in our “product.”

This is why, drum roll… writers need a business plan. Already I can hear readers’ minds screeching to a halt at the thought. Business plans are for businesses, right? Wrong. When you start to send out your baby, you need a plan. Not only that, you have to detach yourself from your baby and view it as a product — something agents, publishers and readers are going to buy. By doing this, you will gain an edge, because you will have answers that publishers and agents want to see. Answers like: who is the target audience, how are you going to reach that audience, what is the market like for similar books and what resources do you have at your disposal to achieve a successful run of your novel.

A business plan is especially important if you plan to self-publish, because you are the only person pushing your novel! You will need to have a marketing plan in place, one that is filled with social media, meet-in-greets, readings, plus local and regional contacts (like local media, libraries, bookstores, etc.) to get get your novel out there.

If you are dead-set on being a professional writer, your business plan will have to extend beyond just that one book and encompass your entire career (pretend it is a business), which includes all additional projects you intend to tackle. This plan will then need to be updated on a set schedule like every two, three or five years to include future developments or new projects.

So what goes into a business plan? First, there is the executive summary, where you state your goals and plans: what markets you want to explore, where do you want to see yourself (your “business”) in five years, how many projects you hope to publish in a year and in what markets if you are exploring several, how many contests do you hope to enter, etc. The second portion is the business description, in which you expand on your goals in your first section.

The third section highlights your product(s) aka your writing project(s) and their markets: will they be geared toward different age groups, different genres or even different formats like books, e-books or short stories for magazines — or perhaps, you want to throw in a non-fiction article? In this section you will want to make sure you highlight who your target audience is for each of your writing projects. Your fourth section will involve a lot of research because it is your market analysis, where you look at similar books/authors in the same genre with similar target audiences and research steps they have taken to make their book(s) successful from marketing to writing styles.

Next you will want to highlight your marketing plans, better known as: how you are going to get your work out there from signing events to social media. Jot them all down right here. Directly after this, you will also want to outline your operations and management plan. There you will detail your writing plans, weekly writing goals, etc., for each of your projects. Be specific and set firm goals. You will want to include time you plan to spend building your platforms and in marketing your projects here. Be sure to create several schedules for each project and activity, preferably in the form of quick, accessible graphics.

Now highlight your qualifications, which are very important when it comes to selling your projects since you will include them in the third or four paragraph of your query letters. In this section also include how you want to improve your writing qualifications from taking writing courses and attending workshops to submitting your work to more magazine or contests. Finally, reiterate your goals in your final paragraph. For added an added feeling of professionalism, sign the document and hold yourself to it; after all, you are making a contract with yourself in way.

Take your time as you prepare your business plan: think it out and be realistic. It can be as long or as short as your need it to be.

There are several templates available just by Googling “business plans.” Microsoft Office Online also has several templates available, and I am sure Apple probably has similar templates available.

“The business of writing” will be a three-part series. Tune in next week for marketing, platform and social media.

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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