Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Writing Contest

New Writing Contest

NEW WRITING CONTEST (on my author page, Theresa Oliver): Write a short story or poem in any genre using this pic for inspiration! Story entries should be at least 500 words long. Please e-mail your entries to theresaoliverauthor@gmail.com by 6 p.m., Sun. April 21, 2013. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Good luck! 

Theresa Oliver's Facebook Author Page: 


Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Pick a Publisher

How to Pick a Publisher

By: Theresa Oliver

     So, now you play the waiting game. You've sent out your manuscript, your baby, to a publisher and now you wait. Many of us play this game and are thrilled when one finally accepts our book, becoming validation that we are finally authors. However, every writer should be careful who they send their manuscript to. Every publisher is different. With some publishers, the writer loses all control of the final product, having no say over the edits while still retaining copyrights. Other publishers will work closely with authors, taking the time to produce a finished product that both the author and publisher can be proud of. So, before you send your baby off for acceptance and validation, make sure you research the publisher to ensure that it will be a worthwhile experience. Here are some things to look for: 

1. Make sure the publisher will work with you on the edits. This is number one. Oftentimes, I have seen authors excited to be accepted by a publisher, only to be let down by the finished product. Make sure the editor will send you the edits for your approval before it goes to print. Any editor worth his or her salt will send you the edits for approval prior to publication. Ask the publisher if the editor will work with you and if you will be able to approve the final edits before the work goes to print. If the publisher responds that their editors are "professionals" and will "ensure that the work is edited properly," but says nothing about showing you the final edits for approval, then do not submit your work to them. Although the publisher has the final say over the edits, make sure that you are included within the editing process. After all, you want to make sure that your baby looks its best before it is presented to the public. In my company, the editing process takes the longest, as we want to make sure that the finished product is something both author and publisher can be proud of. 

2. Research the publisher's published books. Once, I was researching children's picture book publishers and came across one that looked promising. It sounded great from the promo; however, when I researched their books, the illustrations were not of good quality. I looked at some of their books, wanting to believe that it was just the illustrations on one or two books, but upon further inspection, none of the illustrations were of good quality on any of their books. I crossed them off the list and went on to the next publisher. Do not settle. This is your baby we're talking about presenting to the world and you want to make sure that you are placing your baby in the best hands possible. Also, go on Amazon and research the ranks of some of the books by publishers. This will also help you in choosing the right publisher for your work. 

3. What are the distribution practices of the publisher? Make sure you ask this question of a publisher. Make sure that your book will be available to book stores for purchase in addition to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, Smashwords, Kobo and more. Before submitting to a publisher, find out if their books are made available through the Ingram catalog or Baker and Taylor. This will ensure that your book will be made available to book stores for purchase. You want your baby to be available in all venues. In addition, when your book is available through Smashwords, the publisher can provide you with free e-book codes that you can use to send to reviewers and use for promotions, as well.

4. Compensation reports. Before submitting to a publisher, ask them if they provide compensation reports from all venues o their authors. Oftentimes, I hear authors complain that their publisher just sends them a check and does not send a compensation report. Any publisher worth his salt will provide their authors with detailed sales reports, breaking down the amount of books sold, the revenue the publisher received for the sale of your books, and then your cut of the profit. 

5. Venues. Make sure that the publisher you consider submitting to will offer your book in both paperback and e-book forms. Let's face it: e-books are here to stay and are not going away. You don't want to miss out on the e-book piece of the pie. Also, you need to make sure that your book is also offered in paperback, as well. You can't sign an e-book at a book signing. Well, you could, but it's not the same. Also, you need to literally get your book in the hands of readers and having paperbacks is the way to do just that. Ask a publisher how you will be able to purchase books for self promotion and make sure that it wi worth your while.

6. No publisher should charge the author! If a publisher tells you that they charge for submissions or that they charge for publishing your book, then they are a vanity publisher. Get out immediately! However, some publishers ask authors to buy a minimum amount of books from them prior to publishing. This is a gray area. I once was accepted by a children's book publisher, but then they told me that I had to buy 500 copies of my book prior to it going to print. I thanked them and got out immediately. Publishers such as these depend upon sales to authors, not to readers. However, you need to use your own judgement. If a publisher asks you to buy 100 copies of your book at a low price and you are already planning on purchasing copies for book signings anyway, then you may want to consider it. However, if the publisher asks you to buy more than that, then they ware not planning to make their money on sales to readers. Again, get out. Also, make sure that the publisher will charge you a fair price for paperbacks. You need to make sure that you will make some money on your sales at book signings, as well. Remember: you are not only paying for the book copies, you are also paying for the shipping and handling and taxes on the book. This will come off your profits at book signings, too. Again, make sure that it's worth your while. 

7. Contracts. So, you've been by a publisher! Congratulations! Now, you need to clear your head and go through the contract they offer you with a fine tooth comb. I was once offered a contract, but the publisher kept movie deal rights and only offered me seven percent. Make sure to go over the contract and if any red flags come up, ask the publisher about it. Also, make sure that the compensation you are slated to receive is fair. If you have to, take it to a lawyer. Personally, I hate contracts, but they are a necessary part of business. Also, a publisher can make minor changes to a contract, if needed, but ask them first. But on the other hand, do not ask a publisher to completely rewrite a contract. Once, I offered a contract to an author and he completely rewrote the contract and sent it to me. Of course, he had all the rights and I had nothing. I laughed, promptly released him and didn't offer him the contract after all. Contracts must be fair for both parties and have the author's best interests in mind. However, remember that they are putting all the money up front to publish your book, so don't demand an astronomical amount from them. They need to be compensated, too, but you also need fair compensation for your hard work and creativity, as well. 

8. Get the stars out of your eyes and ask the questions! Oftentimes, writers are so happy that a publisher chose their book to publish that they overlook red flags. If there are too many red flags that come up with a publisher, then thank them and find another publisher. After all, if one said yes, then another will, too. Sometimes it takes a bit of hunting to find the publisher that's right for you and your book. So, do the leg work first before you submit and find the publisher that is right for you and your book. 

9. Make sure that you are not locked in to one company. When you decide on a publisher, make sure to ask if there would have hard feelings should you decide to publish another work with another publisher. I have known publishers that expect their authors to publish all of their books with them. This should not be the case. Every author should be free to publish their future work with the publisher of his or her choice. Make sure that your contract is just for one book or the series. Then, if you have a great experience publishing with them and wish to publish with them again, then go for it. But you are only locked in for just one book just in case. Also, contracts should be for no longer than five years. An author friend of mine is locked into a ten-year contract with a book series. His publisher is doing nothing to promote his book series and now he's locked in. Don't let this happen to you! Again, contracts should be for no longer than five years. Then, if it's been a good experience for you and the publisher both, you can renew the contract for another five years. But, if the experience was less than enjoyable, you can thank them and go on your merry way. The only thing is that if you decide to take your book to another publisher after the five year contract is up, then you may not take the edits or the book cover of the previous publisher, unless it is agreed upon by the publisher. So, essentially, you will be starting over from scratch on the book again.

10. Look at small publishers, too. When I was looking for a publisher years ago, I once met an author and he advised me not to discount small publishers. He was absolutely right. Small publishers are able to work one on one with their authors and become a very close knit family, of sorts. Whereas, in the big publishing houses, authors can become lost in the shuffle. Also, publishing with small publishers is a great way to get your feet wet in the publishing world and to gain a publishing credit or two, as well. When applying to agents and large publishing houses, the more publishing credits you have to your name, the better. Also, pick a pen name and stick to it. This way, your publishing credits will build under one name. The more publishing credits you have to your name, the better. Going with a small publisher will help you to step into the publishing world. 

11. Don't be a diva! The above responses are for what to look for in a publisher, but this one is for you. When you are accepted by a publisher, be cordial, nice and easy to get along with. Authors that are demanding and too hard to get along with will be let go by their publishers. Remember that publishers have a long list behind you and can easily go on to the next author if one is too difficult to get along with or too demanding. After you finally settle on a publisher, then work with them. You do not want to get a bad reputation for being hard to work with in this business, as word does travel fast. Yes, don't be afraid to ask questions of your publisher, but do so in a cordial, respectful manner. Publishers and editors are usually flexible and easy to get along with, but will dump an author if they are too hard to get along with or are too demanding, no matter how good their book is. As a publisher, a diva is not worth the headache. 

11. Enjoy the ride! As I said in last week's post, enjoy the ride! Once you find the right fit with a publisher, then enjoy the publishing experience! Be open minded and learn as much as you can. 

Good luck in the publishing process. Although researching publishers can be a daunting task, do it! It will be worth it in the long run. Finding the publisher that is right for you and your book is essential in having a positive publishing experience and is well worth it ... especially when you see your name on the cover of your book! Happy writing and enjoy the ride! 


***
Theresa Oliver is the owner of Write More Publications and the author of two young adult series, Star (Starland Vamp Series) (Vol. 1), and Cambria (Cambria Series) (Vol. 1). Her next young adult book Thou Shalt Not Kill is coming soon from Write More Publications and her first children's picture book Five Loaves, Two Fish, One Boy and Jesus is coming soon from Mirror Publishing. She is also a teacher in Florida.  


Sunday, April 7, 2013

New Writing Contest

New Writing Contest

NEW WRITING CONTEST (on my author page, Theresa Oliver): Write a poem using this pic for inspiration in any genre! Who is this girl? What is she doing? Is she sad or happy? You make the call! Send your entries to theresaoliverauthor@gmail.com by 6 p.m. (EST), Sun., April 14, 2013. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Good luck!

Theresa Oliver's Facebook Author Page:


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Indie Publishing: Yeah or Nay?

Indie Publishing: Yeah or Nay?

By: Theresa Oliver


     After playing the waiting game with publishers, a friend of mine is now considering publishing indie and asked my opinion whether I thought she should or not. As the owner of Write More Publications, I wanted to give her the pros and cons of indie publishing and to anyone considering publishing the indie route.
     Indie publishing can be very rewarding, but there are some areas of which one must be aware before considering indie publishing. The rewards is that you have total and complete control of your masterpiece, from the cover right down to editing and layout. Also, there is no wait. Oftentimes, authors play the waiting game with publishers and must be thick skinned upon receiving many rejections, but with indie publishing, the wait is over. 
     However, before you beat the indie drum and rush out to indie publish, there are some areas that one should consider with caution:

1. Hire an editor: First, make sure you have a good editor. This is crucial. Find an editor that will check for possible plot problems as well as flow, grammar and spelling. Readers will be put off immediately with poorly edited manuscripts. As an author, I can tell you from experience that no matter how good you are, you need an editor. Even the greats such as Steven King and Jude Devereaux have good editors. As an editor myself, I can edit the work of others until the cows come home, but every author needs an extra set of eyes on your own work, as you are too close to it. Also, as I said before, a good editor can foresee plot problems within your story that you may not even know exists. There is nothing like poor editing that will kill even the best book. Readers will overlook one or two mistakes, but when it is blatant, they quickly close the book.



2. Create a Professional Cover: If you have been to school to learn layout using InDesign, great! Create your own cover! Have you worked as a layout editor? Fabulous! Create your own cover! However, if you haven't, then hire a professional to create the cover for you. The second thing that will kill a book is a poorly created cover. The cover of a book can either catch the reader's attention, attracting him or her to the contents within, or can cause them not to consider opening  it. As a reader, if I see a book with a poorly created cover, I immediately think that the rest of the book is of poor quality and will not consider reading it. Once, an author wanted to use a certain picture for the cover of her book, but it was all wrong for the book. The person creating the cover tried to tell the author that the pic was horrid; however, the author wouldn't listen. Instead, she indie published the book with the horrible cover. Recently, I saw her book and it now has a new cover. Obviously, she learned her lesson the hard way. As I said, a professionally designed cover can make the difference in the sales of a book or can break it.



3. Create Professional Book Interiors: In addition to creating eye-catching covers, make sure that the layout of your book's interior is of top quality. Read books and notice how the layout is done and how the book is formatted. Also, research how to create e-books. Although I love paperbacks along with many other people, e-books are not going away. Facts are facts. If you do not format your creation as an e-book in addition to a paperback, then you will lose money. You want get your book into the hands of readers and e-books is a great way to achieve this.

4. Advertise Your Book: Whether you go through a publisher or decide to indie publish, you must advertise your own book and help to promote yourself! Once, an author said to a friend of mine that she thought that it is the responsibility of the publisher to advertise her book for her. Although this is true, it is also a shared responsibility between author and publisher. Even if you have just written the next great American novel guaranteed to become the next best seller, it won't get off the ground unless you self promote. This doesn't mean that you must rush out and spend hundreds of dollars advertising your book. Heavens no! But it does mean that you must schedule book signings, author reads, go to book conventions, and tell your friends. Also, go to your local book stores to see if they will carry your book. If one says no, then go on to the next. Be thick skinned! John Grisham was turned down by 14 literary agents before number 15 said yes and look where he is today. Don't give up; someone is bound to say yes. In fact, many indie book stores welcome and want to help promote local authors. 

5. Self Promote: Be sure to promote yourself! You have to get the word out about your wonderful writing! What better way to do that than to create your own Web site and blog? Blogging on a regular basis helps to gain attention for your work and your writing. After all, if someone reads your blog and loves your writing style, he or she will then check out your book on the link posted in the margins of your blog. If you develop die-hard fans, then you could write a cereal box and fans will buy it! Stephenie Meyer is one such author, along with countless others. Meyer has fans of all ages lined up down the streets, waiting for hours at her book signings and book releases. This is not by accident. She was a great self promoter early on in her career. Another way to self promote is to create a venue for your writing in addition to blog posts. One way to gain fans and to self promote your writing is to enter writing contests. On big pages such as the Stephanie Meyer Facebook fan site, you can quickly hone your writing craft and develop a fan base at the same time. Winning or placing in contests will attract fans. Also, creating a short story page will help you to attract fans, as well, but make sure to keep posting updated material. You don't have to go nuts and post daily; however, a well-written short story or book chapter will keep fans tuning in weekly, waiting with bated breath for your next writing venture. 

6. Public Appearances: Several years ago, I stumbled across a book club interview with an author who was speaking about her vampire book on the Barnes and Noble Web site. I had no idea who she was, but I loved the intimate setting of just eight people discussing her books. She told about her books with such passion that I stopped what I was doing to listen. A few months later, a friend of mine told me of a wonderful new book she had just read and urged me to read it. Of course, it was Twilight. Then, I remembered the intimate author interview on the Barnes and Noble Web site that I had seen before and, sure enough, it was Stephenie Meyer. Even as big as the Twilight series is today, Stephenie Meyer started out doing book signings where only eight people would show up. However, she loved the intimate gathering and enjoyed discussing her books with fans. Now, she fills auditoriums at her public appearances with fans of all ages. Word of mouth traveled quickly. Also, another great venue for public appearances that is oftentimes overlooked is schools. If you write young adult fiction, then schedule public appearances and book signings at middle schools and high schools. Do you write children's books? Then, elementary school students will love you! Before you go, work with the media specialist and find out their criteria and their expectations of authors. Once, a children's book author I recently saw--who was previously a teacher--first gave students a quick nonfiction presentation on something interesting to the students before giving her "author talk." At the time I saw her, her nonfiction talk was on George Washington's teeth--and the students ate it up! No pun intended! (Okay, maybe just a bit!) Also, keep in mind that at school appearances, you are also there to entertain as well as to promote literacy and writing, so let your personality shine through! Give your talk, maybe telling how you became a published author and about your books, then take questions and give answers with respect. Also, don't be afraid to give the students a laugh or maybe a joke or two! Entertain students, pique their interest in reading and writing and you will have a fan for life! 

7. Be Professional: Any time you make a public appearance or talk to fans or other authors, it's very important to present yourself as a professional; otherwise, you will not be taken seriously. Always treat fans with respect, answer his or her questions, and tell about your book as many times as you have to--always with a smile on your face and in a professional, cordial manner. Also, dress for success. Nothing will put off readers and potential fans than eyeing an author in flip flops and shorts! Be professional in both dress, appearance and manner! Professionalism goes a long way and will add to your credibility as an author.

8. Never Give Up: Always strive for success and it will find you! Believe in yourself and others will, too! 

If you do all of the things I mentioned above, then you'll be on the right track of stepping into the indie publishing realm. Again, indie publishing is not for everyone, but it is very rewarding for those who take the risk. Also, it's a great way to get your work into the hands of readers while looking for a traditional publisher, as well. Indie publishing is very rewarding, but don't expect a free ride--it's also a lot of work! Happy writing! 

***
Theresa Oliver is the owner of Write More Publications and is the author of Star (Starland Vamp Series) (Vol.1) and Cambria, Cambria Series, Book 1, both available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Her next young adult gook, Thou Shalt Not Kill, is coming soon from Write More Publications, along with the next two books in the two series mentioned above. Also, her first children's picture book Five Loaves, Two Fish, One Boy and Jesus is coming soon from Mirror Publishing. Oliver will also be a guest on three panel interviews at the upcoming UtopYAcon 2013, Young Adult Book Convention, in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, June 28, 2013, at 8:00 AM - Sunday, June 30, 2013, at 11:30 AM (CDT). Oliver's next blog post will be "How to Pick a Publisher," which will be posted next week. For more from Theresa Oliver, please visit her on Facebook, her Web site at www.theresaoliver.com, and on Twitter, @TheresaOliverA. Also, visit Write More Publications on Facebook and on their Web site, www.writemorepublications.com. 

For more about UtopYAcan 2013, please visit their Web site at: http://utopyacon.com/

     

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Writing Contest

New Writing Contest
On Theresa Oliver's Author Page


NEW WRITING CONTEST: Write a short story or poem using this pic for inspiration! Entries can be in any genre. Why is the pearl or orb being held out to the angel? Is the angel crying or just looking at the orb? You make the call! Send all entries to theresaoliverauthor@gmail.com by 6 p.m. EST, Monday, April 8. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m.! Remember: the most LIKES wins! Good luck!