Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 26, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 02-26-2015

Welcome to the last links round up in February!

As writers, we all know we need to be available for marketing purposes. Mickie Kennedy asks: How available should you be? Where is the line? Kennedy gives tips to help you decide.

Attorney Leslie Budewitz gets down to copyright basics.

In the ongoing issue of books in prison in the UK, independent booksellers can now apply online to be approved retailers for prisons.

John Dugdale documents literature’s greatest comeback stories—among them, Kazou Ishiguro, whose new novel The Buried Giant, is perhaps the riskiest book in his 33-year career.

Chuck Wendig answers the eternal question: Why are so many adults reading YA and teen fiction?

This article about the Crisis Text Line is not about writing, although it is evidence of the power of the written word. It also has great insights into teenage communication. Most importantly, the Crisis Text Line has already and will continue to save people’s lives—so feel free to share the information in your circles.


Calls for “strong female characters” are common. Chuck Wendig explores how strong female characters can still end up weak and powerless. An 11-year-old girl asks DC Comics to remember its female readers and give them more girl superheroes—and they answer her.

If you’ve ever wondered if your story idea has merit, Martina Boone has 9 ways to test your core idea. And once you’re ready to write the story, Christy Distler discusses cutting to the chase, in medias res.

To keep you going, Chuck Wendig gives us 5 stupid writing tricks, Mary Kole shares the proper way to write interruptions and trailing off, Lucy Walton-Lang has fantasy writing tips, and Joan Stewart list the top 9 writing mistakes and how to fix them.

Nathan Bransford has 4 tips for handling multiple POVs, while Kathy Crowley shows how to tame the multiheaded beast that is a novel with many narrators.

Once your work is ready for other eyes, you need a critique partner. Megan Harris gives us a few things to consider when choosing a critique partner. Whether you’re revising before or after your crit partner sees the work, check out Janice Hardy’s revision plan to keep you focused.

We all have our own writing process. Adriana Mather discusses the mini outline, perfect for the hybrid pantser-plotter. We’re all looking to streamline the writing process so we can write more in less time. Jamie Todd Rubin compares writing tools Google Docs vs. Scrivener. If you enjoy white noise as you work, Lynn Viehl gives us sources for online background noise.

If you teach writing, J.P. Choquette lists the top 5 sites for first time authors, and learn in depth how Stephen King teaches writing.

Jane Lebak suggests that one way to stay productive is to have measurable goals, and Antonio Gabric lists 4 tips to boost your productivity.

One lovely thing about writers is that we teach each other, share with each other, and inspire each other. Margi Preus shares 9 things we can learn from other writers, Jeff Norton writes about the magic of middle grade and how he found his love for books, and Tony Bradman was inspired by historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff.

Jami Gold asks: What scares you about writing or publishing? One fear is being unable to sell your next book. Kathryn Craft tackles that fear in 5 ways to weather a creative winter.


It’s been hard to self-publish a kids’ picture book as an ebook. Laura Backes discusses the new programs and opportunities for publishing picture ebooks for kids. Much of the issue with picture ebooks was formatting—the illustrations gave ebooks problems. As Kait Nolan explains, good formatting matters in regular novel ebooks, too.

Sue Coletta explains why she is still pursuing a traditional publishing dream, while Ruth Harris lists the 10 real reasons your book was rejected. If you are submitting, take this quiz: Can you spot the fatal submission mistakes? from Wendy Lawton.

Agent Janet Reid addresses several career option questions that people asked her. First up, is it a good idea to have someone else write your query for you? Then, if you were originally published by a small publisher, what should your strategy for your second book be?

On your website or blog, you have an About Me page. Rachel Gurk lays out 5 important components of your About Me page to encourage visitors to stay a while. If you think blogging takes up too much time, Nina Amir shares tips from 6 experts on how to blog faster.

Jane Friedman shares 5 digital media resources for every writer’s toolbox, Tara Lifland has some cool ways to promote your Facebook event, and Jody Hedlund gives us the in’s and out’s of creating a launch team for a book release.


Have you heard of the Little Free Libraries? Here are 14 photos of Little Free Libraries that you’ll want to build in your community.

We all know about the big literary monsters—the cool ones like vampires and werewolves. J.W. McCormack has gathered 31 obscure literary monsters for us to explore.

Author Francesca Simon ends her Horrid Henry series after 21 years.

Leonora Epstein compiles 18 things all writers wish they could say.

Want to add to your reading list? The Strand Bookstore employees share their go-to recommendations.

Think you’ve read all there is of the Sherlock Holmes canon? Think again. A lost Sherlock Holmes short story has been uncovered.

If you and your friends love Jane Austen, Anika Mehta shares how to host a Jane Austen girls’ night in.

Think reading a Medieval book is easy? Erik Kwakkel explains how to crack the codes in Medieval books.

In a video with English subtitles, you can explore a Dutch manuscript treasure in Berlin.

How laser scanning, hyperspectral imaging and spectroscopy can unlock the secrets of the Medieval Gough Map.

That’s it for us this week!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 19, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 02-19-2015

Welcome to this week’s writerly links. Temperatures here are frigid (think below 20 degrees F) but huddling over our laptops is keeping us warm.

In this romantic month, Daniel Jones discusses how we write about love—and the differences he sees between men and women writers.

Check out the American Library Association’s 2015 award winners—Newbery, Caldecott, and more!

Novelists, here are 10 reasons to write short stories even though the pay is peanuts.

Thinking about doing an audiobook? Narrator Catherine O’Brien talks ACX and audiobooks.

Every author needs to look closely at their contracts. Victoria Strauss gives the specifics of editing clauses in publishing contracts.

Lahore, Pakistan, hosts a huge literary festival.

Diversity in books is always a concern. Jim Dean discusses diversity in middle grade mysteries, the Iranian translator of the lesbian romance Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Sepideh Jodeyri is banned in her home country, and Malinda Lo explores prevailing perceptions of diversity in book reviews.

Reading wasn’t always the emotional, nostalgic activity we know today. Joshua Rothman traces the history of “loving reading.”


Structure is important in most stories. Back in the day, Kurt Vonnegut graphed the world’s most popular stories—and what he found might surprise you.

Have a short story that needs to be even shorter? Writer’s Relief offers some suggestions on how to trim that short story even more.

Ever wish you could think of more plot ideas for your novel? Roz Morris gives 4 reasons you might be missing the best plot ideas in your story. All stories need conflict, and Kristen Lamb shares tips to maximize conflict in your novel. And if you’ve ever struggled with how much time your story should cover, K.M. Weiland has the answer.

If you’re writing a love story, here’s a literary love story self-test. Whatever you’re writing, be aware of passive voice in your work.

You can’t have a story without characters. Jody Hedlund gives us a 5-point checklist to help writers get to know their characters thoroughly, and Jami Gold discusses whether our protagonist MUST be in the first scene.

We’ve all been faced with huge projects. Ash Krafton explains how to defeat seemingly overwhelming projects, and Kim English discusses figuring out your creative process.

Megan Shepherd talks about the ever-changing milestones of a writing career, while Alycia Morales asks: are you committed to the craft of writing?

Steve Dunham shares the 4 marks of good writing, and Karen Pashley lists 6 ways you can prepare yourself and your manuscript for success.

So often we wonder if there’s a market for our unique brand of creativity. Emmie Mears lists 5 reasons to write the book you need to write, and Katrina Pfannkuch discusses why waiting for someone else to validate your creativity isn’t necessary.

Writers are one half of the equation—readers are the other half. Editor Linda Clare describes how to get readers into your story—and how to keep them there, while Ethical Authors gives us their top 10 ways to love your reader.


Confused about how to self-publish your book? Jane Friedman gives a great overview for self-publishing in both ebook and print. Nina Amir explains how to build a business around your book, and Cathy Yardley explains how to find your ideal readers if you’re a fiction writer.

We authors often harp on word count. Dean Wesley Smith discusses why novels “must be” a certain length.

Marketing and promo is something many authors don’t understand well. Sharon Bially explains a very simple promo tip: call your book by its name. Derek Murphy explores what we can learn about creating a bestseller from Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Tony Robbins.

Much marketing is done online these days. Henry Baum shows us how to choose Kindle keywords for best effect, and Kristin Lamb lists the 3 “nevers” of social media for writers.

Damien Walker wonders if Wattpad and other “phone fiction” sites spells the end of the professional novelist.


English is always changing. Do you know the lost letters of the alphabet? Here are 10 things people once feared would ruin the English language.

Peeking inside the lives of classic authors can be enlightening. A letter from Ernest Hemingway’s widow could solve the mystery attached to his Cuban farmhouse. Emma Woolf explores the joyful, gossipy, and absurd private life of Virginia Woolf, and Charles Dickens weighs in on the horrors of fame.

As for more recent authors, there’s a Kickstarter to fund a Kurt Vonnegut documentary, and formerly unseen poems by the late Iain Banks are now in print.

And back to the classics… Here’s a time-lapse video of the recent Massachusetts snow storm blanketing the famous 17th century House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA. And for culinary types, check out these 10 great meals in literature.

The Doves Press type, tossed into the Thames in 1916 by a vindictive business partner, is recovered—and Robert Green creates a digital facsimile of the Doves Press type.

For those who like mystery and Medieval manuscripts, Lisa Fagin Davis introduces us to the wily 19th century Spanish Forger who left a trail of false illustrated manuscripts.

That’s all for us this week!


Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | February 18, 2015

When In Doubt, Read.


Bovril on a better day.

When unhappy, some people smoke, some drink, some do drugs – be they legal or illegal –  some run for miles, some eat chocolate. We all have a way of making difficult times a little bit easier. While I’m not averse to a nice bit of dark chocolate, especially when paired with an even nicer cup of hot tea, in really desperate times, I read.

We have a nine-month old Airedale puppy with whom the entire family is enchanted. Bovril has grown from a little black bear cub to a lovable goofball and last week was his day to get neutered. The surgery was slightly more complicated than normal but he came home from the vet and we expected a complete recovery.

On Saturday, three days after his surgery, we planned a fun Valentine’s Day dinner of bao buns followed by a family movie. Then my husband noticed a bloody discharge from Bovril’s incision and the evening ended with us driving through yet another snow storm to the emergency vet’s. There they found that his incision was badly infected and worried that the infection had spread.

They performed an emergency surgery on Bovril Sunday morning. At home, waiting for news, we lived in a tight little world of stress. The children played exercise games on the wii, my husband built something electronic and I read.

I have been reading Holly Black’s brilliant new novel, THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST, in small doses. It’s one of those books I want to devour – those are the novels I use as a treat. If I go on the elliptical machine – I can read, if I finish my word count – I can read. For the pleasure of just a few more pages I probably could have gotten myself to re-roof the house.

During that morning, as we waited to hear about the surgery, I petted our other dog Glitter and read the last seventy-five pages of an amazing book. It was a balm to my mental health.

(Just to let you know, Bovril came through the surgery safely and is now at home healing).

What happened to you?

What happened to you?



Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 13, 2015

Cover Reveal: Donna Galanti’s JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD

Today we welcome friend of the blog Donna Galanti, as she reveals the cover to her exciting middle grade novel JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD!


Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Joshua and the Lightning Road by Donna Galanti

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Joshua and The Lightning Road

Stay away from the window, don’t go outside when it’s storming and whatever you do, do not touch the orb.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever.

To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him.

In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life.

add to goodreads

Title: Joshua and the Lightning Road
Publication date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books/Month9Books
Author: Donna Galanti


Donna Galanti

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts. For more information on Donna and A Human Element, please visit: AND

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

(Winners will receive their book on release day)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 12, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 02-12-2015

Welcome to this week’s links! It’s cold outside, but these links will warm up your Muse.

Want to be an overnight success? Carly Watters explains the myth of overnight success AND what all “overnight successes” have in common.

If you are a writer, you need to understand copyright. Neal Litherland tackles copyright myths authors should know.

SCBWI discusses how lack of funding to write helps stifle the diverse voices we need to hear. In other children’s book news, a new middle grade book blog, Middle Grade Strikes Back, gives us a peek into what UK kids are reading.

Cassandra Neace discusses how reading is a political act—whether we want it to be or not.

The class action suit against Author Solutions Inc., is progressing, and the law firm conducting the litigation gives an update.


It’s February, the month of romance. Liv Rancourt explores what makes a good romance, Merry Farmer shares the rules of romance, and Drew Chial discusses the revenge thriller romance.

Do you write “slipstream” fiction? Find out what it is and how it’s moving into mainstream fiction.

Every story needs structure. Jami Gold explains what a beat is and where they go, Mary Rowen discusses storyboarding, and Mary Carroll Moore shows how to start your chapters with punch.

Amanda Patterson lists 6 subplots that add style to your story, and Melodie Campbell shows how to build atmosphere.

Dialogue can be hard to master. Roz Morris shares 4 reasons why your dialogue sounds awkward, Isabel Wolff tells us how to write good, realistic dialogue, Karina Wilson reminds us to nail the subtext, and Jemi Fraser says hearing the dialogue is just one of the 5 reasons to read your draft aloud.

Characters can also get a writer into all sorts of trouble. Amanda Patterson lists 9 types of unreliable narrators, Elizabeth Fais says quirky makes memorable characters, Marian Allen has 5 useful questions for characters, and Mooderino reminds us that even tertiary characters have their own issues.

Writers need to know weird stuff. Ciara Ballintyne tells us how to properly remove an arrow, Robin Rivera gives us 5 tips for picking the perfect loot for a heist, and Annie Burrows warns us of the dangers of “unknown unknowns” in writing.

Editing makes your work shine. Rachel Starr Thomson shows us how to find our story when nothing’s happening, Rayne Hall cuts needless POV filters, French writer Colette offers advice on how to critique your friends, and Shawn Coyne discusses using the story grid to tell and edit your fiction.

Sometimes it takes a long time to “make it” as a writer. Jody Hedlund shares 1 important thing many writers neglect to do while waiting. And we can all relate as Chuck Wendig rolls out a handy guide to the emotional milestones of writing a novel.

Jami Gold suggests that knowing what has influenced our writing might be helpful, Ilana Johnson thinks that writing is the best medicine, and Amanda Patterson lists 10 things to stop doing to yourself as a writer.

We all know routines can boost productivity. Michael McDonagh explains why routines help productivity. Shon Bacon talks about FORCEdraft, which helps create a distraction-free writing environment, and Kristin Lamb discusses what to do when our dreams and goals fizzle.


Harry Bingham explores why authors walk away from good Big 5 publishers.

Traditional publishing especially is full of rejection—starting with the search for an agent. Shannon Price shares her “rejection jar” method of coping. Meanwhile, new agent Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency seeks children’s, mid grade, YA, select new adult, & pop culture or humorous nonfiction.

Book marketing is a long game. Andrea Dunlop tells us how to take advantage of the lag time between signing a contract and the book’s release. Lynette Labelle has 3 things to avoid when promoting your book, and Keith DeCandido shares his list of book-signing inscriptions to help you brainstorm yours.

Ramsay explains why we should keep our Facebook author pages, in spite of their lack of organic reach. Jason Kong shares the 3-step process to creating a compelling marketing offer, and Cathy Yardley lays out how non-fiction writers can find their ideal reader.


It seems Harper Lee had intended To Kill A Mockingbird to be the first of a trilogy, with the new Go Set A Watchman as the final novel.

Rachel Gould gathers pictures of the 10 most beautiful libraries in America.

Check out the Brontë family writing table, where masterpieces were penned.

Ever hear of a “Commonplace Book”? Turns out they’re far from common.

Some fascinating history—how modern lasers are revealing clues to King John’s lost treasure.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Speech bubbles connect Medieval and modern books and media.

That’s all for us this week!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | February 10, 2015

Make a Date with a Book: It’s Love Your Library Month

Those of you who follow the Author Chronicles blog know that the five of us — Gwen, Nancy, Matt, Kerry, and I — take turns writing the weekly post on Tuesdays. The week before I’m scheduled to write the post, I toss around topics and decide on one. Most of the time, however, when Tuesday rolls around, that topic gets sidelined and replaced by another, spur-of-the-moment idea that I can’t resist. This week’s post is a prime example of that. I’d intended to write about how to use the newspaper to find ideas for stories, characters, settings, and more, but when I opened the paper to look for examples, I found a story on the front page that I just have to write about because it’s timely and because it’s about two of my favorite things: books and libraries.

In the February 9th edition of our excellent local newspaper, the Burlington County Times, is an article by staff writer Sean Patrick Murphy —  “Library Pairs Patrons, Books for Valentine’s Day.”* The title intrigued me, so I read the article and learned that the Library Company of Burlington [which has been in existence since 1758 and is now part of the Burlington County Library System], for the third year in a row, is offering a “Blind Date with a Book” as part of Love Your Library Month.

The article states that library director Sharon Vincz got the idea for “Blind Date with a Book” from another library, and a terrific idea it is. Library patrons can choose from a selection of new books, which are wrapped in sealed brown paper bags and decorated for Valentine’s Day — no peeking allowed until the book has been checked out. Patrons are asked to fill out and return a “Rate Your Date” form after reading at least fifty pages (to give the book a chance) and return the evaluation and book by the end of the month. Forms that are returned are entered in a drawing for gift cards and movie theater tickets.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

This program appeals to me for several reasons. First, I love libraries and anything that promotes them is great. With ebooks and social media, libraries are changing, but they continue to provide services people need and I imagine they always will. One of the big pluses libraries offer is the individual help of a trained librarian. Three cheers for librarians, libraries, and the new ideas they stimulate!

Second, the program gives the library the opportunity to introduce new authors and gives patrons the chance to read a book that they would not otherwise have chosen. While I buy a lot of books (my husband frequently reminds me that reading library books costs no money), I tend to buy books of authors I know because I hate to waste money on a book I may not finish. The library is the place to try out books by new authors and books suggested by others, but there are so many choices that I usually try only new authors and books that deal with topics or genres I’m interested in. That’s why I also like the idea of picking up a book in a genre I might not otherwise look at twice.

Personal experience has shown me the value of a program like this one. While it was not through a library program, last year I myself became a fan of an author whose books I would not have normally tried. When an author friend and I attended a science fiction convention, she received a free ARC of Warbound by Larry Correia, the third book in his Grimnoir series, and handed the book to me to read first. The book is a kaleidoscope of genres including alternate history, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction — with action, adventure, fantastical inventions, battles, and romance thrown in for good measure. Since I don’t read alternate history and rarely read paranormal, I might have stuck the book at the bottom of my “to read” pile. However, I wanted to return it to my friend when we met at the next convention, so I read it right away and discovered a book I couldn’t put down (and enjoyed enough to promptly buy the first two books in the series). That’s why I’m all for any program that introduces readers to authors whose books they might not have picked up on their own.

Reading something different can expand our horizons, open up new possibilities, and create new interests. Acquiring new knowledge is never a waste of time.

So, let’s all celebrate Love Your Library Month by visiting our local libraries and picking up a “blind date” book. If your library doesn’t have an actual “blind date” program, ask the librarian to help you. Tell him/her the genres and authors you prefer and let the librarian to pick out a book for you, something by a new author or in a different genre. Spend some of these cold February nights curled up with a good book!

If you discover an author new to you or adventure into a new genre, please share!

*I wanted to include a link to the article, but it is only available to subscribers. Sorry!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 5, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 02-05-2015

Welcome to February’s first Top Picks Thursday! Ahh, February, the month of love…and taxes.

Yes, it’s already time to get your ducks in a row for tax time. Attorney Helen Sedwick has some tax tips for writers who hate math.

All those who loved To Kill A Mockingbird, rejoice! Harper Lee has a new novel, Go Set A Watchman, coming out. It takes place 20 years after Mockingbird.

Can Mark Zuckerberg do for books what Oprah did? Laura Miller unpacks Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for literary meaning.

Many of us resolved this year to read and/or write more. Allison VanNest shares 5 resolutions for reading and writing more that you can actually keep.

In the never-ending push for diversity in publishing, check out this review of Cece Bell’s El Deafo.

The idea of trigger warnings on books has been a hot topic for some time. Chuck Wendig weighs in on trigger warnings, and triggers quite the discussion in the comments.


A compelling plot sucks readers in. Jami Gray explores writing outside the plot box, while K.M. Weiland warns of irrelevant book endings that leave your readers dissatisfied.

While backstory is important to character, Roz Morris explains how backstory can sabotage your novel. Kristen Lamb peeks a one secret to creating multidimensional characters: everybody lies.

How we write is arguably as important as what we write. Roger Colby shares 5 ways to improve your writing style, Mary Kole discusses the dangers of indirect comparison, and Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas explain how to find the best editor for your work.

Everyone approaches reader reviews differently. Martina Boone explains how she copes with reading and interpreting reader reviews.

Chaker Khazaal shares tips for writing a novel, Janalyn Voigt tells us how to avoid the second book slump, and Heather Jackson lists her top 10 writing tips of 2014.

To increase productivity, Alexandria Younk explains how to get rid of writing distractions and master motivation, while Benjamin Spall explores stacking habits to build a morning routine that sticks.


When you go it alone, you are a business unto yourself. Joel Freidlander shares 10 tips for aspiring authorpreneurs.

If you don’t want to go it alone, Chuck Sambuchino lists 4 ways besides query letter you can contact literary agents.

Wondering what you should write next? Publishing pro Lisa Colozza Cocca discusses the problems inherent in writing to trends.

Every author has been involved in the search for blurbs on one end or the other. Agent Jennifer Laughran has a lot to say about blurbs.

Last week’s discussion on whether free books is devaluing our writing continues as Jane Friedman weighs in on free giveaways and their usefulness.

If you have a friend with a book coming out, here are 11 ways to assist a friend in promoting their new book.


If you’ve got non-creative friends, you might want to share this with them: 8 things never to say to creative people.

Many writers listen to music when they write, but Gabe Habash explores the flip side, and lists 10 songs inspired by books.

Speaking of inspiration, meet the man who supposedly inspired Sherlock Holmes.

In honor of the 202nd anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice the New York Public Library staff selected their twelve most quotable Pride and Prejudice lines.

Barbara Wells Sarudy shows how girls flirted with books in the 18th century.

These gorgeous book covers from the Folger Shakespearean Library collection are worth flirting with.

Who needs Kindles to take a large book on your travels? Check out the Codex Rotundus from c. 1480, a Flemish book of hours that is a mere 9 centimeters across.

If you overlook Medieval marginalia, you might be missing the best parts of the manuscript. Hunter Oatman-Stanford introduces us to naughty nuns, flatulent monks, and other surprises of sacred medieval manuscripts.

That’s all for us this week!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 3, 2015

The “Right” Publishing Path

Never have there been so many paths to publishing. And never have so many argued over which path is the “right” path. The argument has occasionally turned vitriolic. Authors broke into “camps.” People have been vilified and demeaned for their choices. Much sound and fury, and lost in the maelstrom is the quiet truth:

There is no single “right” path to publishing.

That’s the beauty of choice, isn’t it? What’s right for me isn’t right for you, but if we’re both happy with our choices, then neither path is wrong.

I knew my path. I knew I would get an agent, get a contract, get published, and be a typical traditionally published author with a Big 5 publisher. I knew this with certainty.

Except that’s not what happened.

Even though I am a fiction writer, I am also a genealogist who had been digging up family skeletons for over 20 years. That’s a lot of information, and if I die and no one in the family is interested, then all that research and documentation is wasted—lost. So I wrote a book about my father’s side of the family. A fully-sourced, cross-indexed, end-noted non-fiction book detailing everything I knew about that side of the family. Including photos and other documents.

Then I self-published it.

For such a niche project, I didn’t even bother looking for a publisher, although there are those who specialize in genealogy books. Why didn’t I try a publisher? Because I wanted the information out there and available for a reasonable price. Most genealogy publisher’s books are pretty pricey. I wanted my work accessible to all the amateur genealogists like me, who get positively giddy when they find a book about their line complete with source citations.

And that’s how I became a self-published author.

Then something else happened—a writing friend suggested I send one of my manuscripts to a small independent publisher. So I did. And Evil Jester Press wanted to publish my middle grade fiction novel, The Witch of Zal. Excitement! A publishing deal! A real contract! Wait…contract? But I didn’t have an agent! What did I know about contracts? Freak out!!!

Luckily, I had some friends who steered me to the right resources to let me research the contract and sign one both I and the publisher were happy with. My book comes out later this year.

And that’s how I became a traditionally published author.

Remember my certainty about my publishing path? That’s not how it happened at all. I still don’t have an agent. I am not published by the Big 5. And I am not a typical traditionally-published author.

I am a hybrid author.

So for those who are arguing over “what path is best,” I say this: whatever path works for you is best—for you. Every author has different goals. Every author has different opportunities. Every work requires a different marketing plan.

I believe that more and more of us will be hybrid authors. Some hybrids will be traditional authors who have regained the rights to their backlist and sell them themselves while still using their traditional publisher for new works. And some will be like me, deciding which path is best based on the work itself, determined by which path will best reach the readership of that work.

Based on my experience, I would simply say this: don’t take sides in the debate. Keep yourself open to all opportunities from all publishing paths. My path certainly didn’t go the way I planned—but if I had stuck tunnel-visioned to that idea, I would not have seen the opportunities that came my way.

Where will this unexpected path take me? Who knows? But it will be an adventure—and probably not at all what I plan.

How has your publishing journey surprised you? How do you think the publishing landscape will look 5 years from now?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 29, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 01-29-2015

Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | January 27, 2015

Are New Years Writing Resolutions Trite?

It’s January again so naturally my mind has turned to New Year’s resolutions. How trite, but then again, perhaps it’s not so trite after all.

Certainly every new habit can be made with a simple decision, “I used to do it like this but now I’ll do it like this and there is no time like the present.”

Some new habits aren’t that easy to carve into our lives and need every bit of the pomp of a New Year’s resolution and a lot of planning (just as in writing). This could be because new habits often seem to require getting less sleep or giving up something important for sanity like down time, and fear.

My writing resolution for 2015 is to develop a better writing habit, ideally the kind where I write at the same time every day. I know that as things stand now in my life, writing at the same time every day is not a realistic long term. But I bet I can do it for a while, until sleep deprivation makes me stupid or my body just says no.

My preplanning for this resolution this year is making sure I know the answers to these questions.

  • What’s my back-up plan for when I’m working early and late or need to sleep until 7? To schedule writing time into my calendar on a day by day basis.
  • How important is it for me to have the habit of writing every day, preferably at the same time each day?
  • Why is writing so important to me that I want to develop this habit? Besides the fact that I don’t like to give up, I feel like I’ll be less of a person without writing.
  • What are the consequences of failing at this resolution this year? Stagnation.
  • Can I live with myself if I let this slip through my fingers this time? No, not this time.
  • What am I willing to give up for this habit? Sleep, at least for a while.
  • What I am NOT willing to give up? Down time, music, yoga, and paying my bills.

To set myself up for success I’ve also spent a lot of thought about logistical details such as:

  1. How much time I can reliably commit to writing each day? The truth is, not a lot, 10 to 30 minutes. I’ve learned that over-committing to something is certain death to that something. Balance matters. I know if I have a day off I can do more.
  2. How can I break up my writing into its smallest parts? I think I have a handle on this now. I suspect the thing that has most slowed my progress as a writer is failure to name the trees in this forest that is a finished manuscript so that I can find my way out of the forest more by skill and less by chance.

This is my plan and I have begun my writing New Year’s resolution. If you haven’t begun your writing resolution yet, you have a few more days until January is over, or 11 months to work on your planning for next year’s resolution.

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