Posts tagged with: publishing

How Book Release Dates Work

Today is Tuesday, March 25, which means it’s the last Tuesday in March, which means that many April books are being released today.

Wait… what? April books are being released in March???

A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate CarlisleIt’s confusing, isn’t it? But it’s true. Several publishers release books the last Tuesday of the month prior to the official release month. Therefore, a book labeled “April 2014″ will be released on the last Tuesday of March, and a book labeled “May 2014″ will be released on the last Tuesday of April, and so on.

The Book Stops Here by Kate CarlisleTo make it more confusing, not all publishers do this. Not even close. Penguin, who publishes my mystery novels, release their books on the first Tuesday of the month of release. That means that the mass market paperback version of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY, which is a May 2014 book, will be released on the first Tuesday in May. And the hardcover and ebook debut of THE BOOK STOPS HERE, a June 2014 book, will be released on the first Tuesday in June.

To make it more-more confusing, Harlequin, which publishes the books I write for Desire, goes for the “second-to-last Tuesday of the prior month” system when it comes to category paperbacks, but their category ebooks are released on the first day of the month of release. April 1, May 1, June 1, etc.

However, bookstores often disregard the official release date, especially when it comes to category romance. When the boxes arrive, the books go on the shelves. Very few authors get the Harry Potter treatment, with booksellers under threat of penalty if they open the boxes a minute too early. Which is both good and bad. Good, because readers who are excited to get their hands on the books don’t have to wait. Bad, because it means that those too-early sales won’t count toward first-week sales when it comes to the bestsellers lists. And hitting the bestsellers lists means more attention for the book, which means more sales down the road. Or at least, that’s the hope.

What a Duke DaresAnd self-published ebook authors, of course, have book releases any day and every day.

Are you confused yet?

The point is, today is March 25, which means that today is release day for many authors! Here are a few anticipated books…

  • What a Hero Dares by Kasey Michaels
  • What a Reckless Rogue Needs by Vicky Dreiling
  • (side note: What a Duke Dares by our own Anna Campbell is available for pre-order!)
  • Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
  • Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
  • A Match Made in Texas by Katie Lane
  • Four Friends by Robyn Carr

What April 2014 book releases are you most excited to read? Do they come out today or next week? Did you already know all of this about book release dates, or was this new information for you?

All a’Twitter!

Do you Tweet? 

Grins.

Yes, I know, it sounds very, very silly, but in fact I have discovered that Tweeting is fun.  I did not like Twitter at first.  It seemed meaningless to utilize 140 characters to express some limited thought.  Yes, I know that Twitter is all the rages.

But really, who cares about what I’m doing, thinking, or eating at any particular moment in time?  I had read some tweets from various people and wondered why ANYONE would care that some random person had #toomanyonions at lunch, much less where and when they’d had said lunch with too many onions.

Also, I figured that Facebook had more than enough of that sort of meaningless nonsense for a lifetime of reading.  Seriously, how many quizzes and tests and bejeweled blitz scores can one person have?  (Wait – don’t answer that!  This blog post is limited in it’s number of words…) 

I liked Facebook well enough.  You could express your feelings as I did when I had my last mammogram, or post some fabulous info, like a friend or fellow Bandita’s book birthday, or award win.  So, why would I need Twitter?

However, I decided that I needed to let go of my snobbery and try it. 

Unfortunately, I liked it.  (Hey Mikey! She Likes It!) 

I’ve met a lot of new pals on Twitter.  Which is weird, considering the 140 character limit.  I’ve met @KTHanna who writes wry tweets and has gorgeous Corgis (technically, Pembroke Welsh Corgis – like the Queen of England has!).  I’ve met @StateofEgo and @EgmontGal, who is an editor at EgmontUSA and answers questions about writing YA for fun and profit.  Grins. 

I’ve met reviewers and readers and I even follow a few celebrities like @FlufflyGuy (who keeps me laughing – check him out on YouTube, you won’t be sorry!), @TonyRobbins and @JackCanfield, @AntonioGaray71 (LOVE the HelloKittySmartcar!), and @LLCoolJ (swooon!  NCISLA!! And I loved his book too).   

@BradPittUpdates keeps me up on what Angie, Brad and their kids are doing.  While I’ve not always been a fan of either actor, I do admire their dedication to causes especially the rebuilding of the Ninth Ward in N.O.  And it’s fun to hear how they’re doing on their movies, where they’re meeting with each other, and what’s new with their kids. 

Hey, we all have celebs we’d like to meet, right? I’ve always thought Angie would make a great heroine if one of my books went to Hollywood….she’d make a great Dana for Dark and Dangerous, or a straight up Ana from Deadly Little Secrets! 

Then there’s the publishing houses like @Kensingtonbooks,  @AvonBooks and @HarlequinBooks and who are quick to promote new books (thank you @KensingtonBooks for the latest posts on Deadly Little Lies!) by me and by my fav authors.  I love seeing posts from @AceRocBooks and other publishers like @RandomHouse, @Dutton, @DKPublishing and so on.  Even my very cool agent is on Twitter @AgentSavant.

My favorite stores are on Twitter – @HomeDepot, @BagLadyNC, @ColdwaterCreek, @Nordstroms – and they frequently post interesting bits about sales and stories about their employees, like the one Home Depot posted about a WWII Veteran on Friday for Veteran’s Day.  Very Cool.

Most of my favorite authors are on Twitter – most of the Banditas, @KathyReichs, @LAGilman (Laura Anne Gilman’s been on the blog several times now!), @SylDay, @Pamela_Palmer,  @MikeDooley, @TrinityFeagan, @DiannaLove, @Loreth (Loreth Anne White), @Jean_Marie_Ward and so many more.

I follow @RTMagazine, @TheRomanceDish, @BarbaraVey, @BNBuzz, @GoodReads, @SOSAloha and @FreshFiction, and other reviewers.  I follow the Wall Street Journal at @WSJ, and the New York Times Book review at @NewYorkTimesBooks. 

@TweetofGod cracks me up, as does @DeathStarPR (if you’ve not seen this wry take on the Star Wars world, you’re missing a great laugh).  There are sports teams and fan clubs on Twitter – I follow the Braves, the Cubs, the Panthers, the Bears, and thanks to @AntonioGaray71, I’ve become a Chargers fan.

I even do research on Twitter.  I follow @NEAArcheology, @WAScotland, @WessexArch, and @CrimeLabProject to name a few sources.  I keep my finger on the pulse of the industry with @PublishersLunch, @GalleyCat, @LibraryJournal and @Trident_Media.

Oh, my.

Suddenly, something I never thought was worth my time it taking up waaaaaaay too much of it!  Eeek! 

However, I’m reining in my tuning in, and making sure I tune it out so that I keep up my page counts.  (Speaking of which National Novel Writers Month has a Twitter feed if you’re writing!).  I’ve learned a little about #Hashtags (Thank you Tawny and Kate), and about how to be brief.  This latter being the most difficult of all, for me.  Ha!

So Banditas and Buddies, do you Tweet? 

What do you think of it as a medium? 

Who do you follow that you think I should #FF?

What’s the most fun thing you’ve learned on Twitter?

If you’re staying firmly away from social media like Twitter, why?  I’ve gone through points where I really don’t want to deal with it, so I get it – tell me why YOU don’t “go there”!

Do you follow any celebs?  If so, whom?

Tell me alllll about it!  Grins.

Pitfalls in the Writing Road

posted by Nancy
I’m delighted to welcome New York Times bestselling author A. C. Crispin to the Lair today. I fell in love with Ann’s first book and have followed her writing ever since. She’s not only a bestselling author of science fiction tie-in novels (Star Wars, Star Trek and others) and original science fiction and fantasy but an acclaimed writing teacher (her seminars at DragonCon are always sellouts). As though that weren’t enough, she’s one of the spearheads of Writer Beware.

Ann has some tips we should heed as we go into January and people dive back into writing and submitting. Welcome, Ann!

In the Lair, we love to hear how people broke into publication. What was your first book, and how did you learn it had been sold? What did you do to celebrate?

My first novel was titled Yesterday’s Son, and it was a Star Trek book. I wrote it in 1978, submitted it early in 1979, and it was finally bought early in 1982.

The Star Trek editor at that time Mimi Panitch, called me at my Census Bureau job to tell me they’d like to acquire the novel. I’d been in touch with Pocket Books a few times over the years, so I knew Paramount had approved the novel for publication.

I was very excited. I told my boss I was taking annual leave for the afternoon, and left work at the US Census Bureau, and drove home. Then I called all my best friends and writing buddies. Everyone dropped what they were doing and gathered at my house for an impromptu party. They splashed Andre champagne over me, cheering, out on my deck, then we drank a better variety!

I believe I got the news on a Friday, so the party went on for quite a while…

What is Writer Beware, and what led you to join in founding it?

Back in 1997, my husband, Michael, who was then president of SFWA, and I noticed that there was a proliferation of “agents” and “publishers” on the internet. Because I was a published author who chatted in the Writers Cafe on AOL (now defunct), aspiring writers there often asked me questions relating to these ads, which is one of the reasons I spent time tracking them, and reading them online.

I realized almost immediately that these “agents” and “publishers” were bogus. They charged writers money, and they couldn’t cite any published books to their credit. The agents claimed their lists of author clients was “privileged,” the publishers claimed that all writers had to pay publishers to get published.

I knew this was all horse hockey, so I began digging into the subject. Michael suggested that I write an article for the SFWA Bulletin about what I’d discovered. I found that a friend of mine, Brenda Clough, was already working on such an article at the request of the Bulletin editor. Brenda and I decided to do a series of articles and team up to do them.

We wrote, I believe, 7 articles about assorted facets of writing scams. Agents charging reading fees, vanity publishers that claimed to be no different from Random House in what they did for authors, editors that had no editorial experience or credentials, contests that were bogus and designed to make authors pay steep entry fees…we checked it all out.

I kept digging on my own, going beyond the scope of the articles, and amassed a wealth of information. I also found that Professor Jim Fisher of Edinboro University, and a website called The Write Connection, were tracking scams.

Both Professor Fisher and The Write Connection stopped their activities when they were threatened with lawsuits. They both offered to give me their databases containing info about scammers.

I also became involved with helping the victims of another big case involving a literary agency. (All of these cases are written up on Writer Beware, btw.) I realized that the scamming of aspiring writers was a multi million dollar enterprise on the part of these con artists posing as agents, editors and publishers.

About that time, I encountered a website written and maintained by SFWA member Victoria Strauss. It was called Writer Beware, and it was part of her own personal website.

I called Victoria to tell her about the databases I had (and I’m not very computer literate!). Victoria and I kept talking. She agreed to incorporate the Fisher data and The Write Connection data into her already existing Writer Beware info.

My husband suggested that Writer Beware be sponsored by SFWA, and that was a great idea, because SFWA had INSURANCE for its officers, directors, and committee chairs who were volunteering for SFWA.

Soon after that SFWA officially sponsored Writer Beware, I believe in 1998. Victoria and I began scam hunting in earnest.

Victoria maintains the website, database, and blog. I do public outreach, including interacting with law enforcement and AG’s, etc.

So Writer Beware is the following, all volunteer endeavor.

1. A website. http://www.writerbeware.com/

2. A blog: http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com/

3. A group of volunteers, mainly Victoria and myself, plus assorted adjunct help as needed, that tracks writing scams and warns writers about them. Our info is free, and confidential.

4. A website and blog that gives lots and lots of information and links to aspiring writers to help them not only avoid writing scams, but helps with the business end of writing, as well as tips on writing well.

The best way to understand what Writer Beware is is to visit the website and click on the links. It’s an extensive resource nowadays, and is often listed on “best of” lists for writing resources.

I still serve as Chair of Writer Beware, and Victoria is Vice Chair. Our biggest and most challenging case to date is working on getting the most successful writing scammer EVER out of business. But, with the help of the Florida Atty Gen’s office, we hope he’ll be out of business, possibly this year.

What is the most common mistaken belief you see among writers seeking publication?

The most common mistake we see is writers who are looking for a “shortcut” to having a career as a successful writer. They really believe that publishing with bogus author mills or vanity presses will bring them the same attention and money as publishing with Simon and Schuster or HarperCollins.

These writers sign contracts in the belief that “if I can just get it out there” word of mouth will catapult their novel to bestsellerdom. POD publishers can’t get their books on the shelves in bookstores, so it’s highly unlikely that enough readers will see or buy the book for it to “go viral” as they say.

These aspiring authors also buy into writing myths such as “you have to know someone to get published by a New York commercial publisher,” (or even sleep with someone! Yikes!) Another myth scammers feed them is, “your book MUST be professionally edited before it can be submitted.” Horse hockey. Your book must be professionally WRITTEN. Editors don’t care how your book “got good” — they just care whether it IS good.

Aspiring authors also believe they can “shortcut” their way to getting an agent by various chicanery, visiting agents in person, etc. Nope.

Just write a really good book. I know…I know…there’s the rub, eh?

What are some of the scams with particular appeal for aspiring writers? Is there a particular one that seems to snare more people than others?

Aspiring writers with no support system, such as a writers group are often so hungry to know they’ve been read that they fall prey to scams. Scammers know just what to say that is music to these isolated writers ears. Of course the scammer hasn’t read the work (maybe a page so they can refer to a character by name), but they are very good at telling writers what they want to hear — knowing the writers will pay to hear it.

The scam that seems to suck in a lot of people is the one where they have to pay a nominal sum of money, usually under a hundred dollars, for a “critique.”

One of the scammers on our “Thumbs Down” agency list has suckered thousands (no exaggeration) of writers with this one. Writers are so desperate to know they’ve been read, and that the “professional” reviewer liked their work, that they queue right up to hand over their money for this one.

The “critiques” of course, are a bunch of boilerplate phrases that the freelance “reviewer” (often with no professional credentials at all in the writing field) can copy and paste together to form the critique. Two writers I know of, with two entirely different novels, even different genres, got the same critique from this company, word for word.

The “critique” will often suggest that the writer needs a “full edit” of his or her book, and that’s where it gets pricey (though no more professional).

As a writing teacher, do you see any particular problems in manuscripts or any particular mistakes people make in the submission process?

The biggest single writing-related cause for rejection is having a poor style. The style doesn’t flow, it’s awkward, the sentences are monotonous, there is lots of repetition, and the prose is just plain dull.

The best way I know to develop a great style is to read, read, read, and then read some more.

If you aren’t reading at least a novel a week, you’re not reading enough. (In addition to research books for your project, etc.)

You have an exciting new tie-in book coming out in May, and I’m thrilled that you’re joining us then to talk about it. How did this project come about, and what can you tell us about it now?

When an editor at Disney was given permission to commission a tie-in novel about Jack Sparrow’s backstory, from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, her first thought was to read the Star Wars novels dealing with Han Solo, another “loveable rogue.”

Luckily for me, the Disney editor thought I’d handled the character the best of all the other authors who’d been hired to write Han Solo adventures. I’d also written Han’s “backstory” so she knew I could handle the “reverse dominoes” effect it takes to create a character’s backstory.

So the editor phoned my agent and asked whether I was available to write the first Pirates of the Caribbean novel aimed at an adult audience.

Now, three years later, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom, will be an epic (624 pages) hardcover from Disney Editions, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide.

The book will be released May 17, 2011.

Anyone interested in a sneak peak can read excerpts from it on my website:

http://www.accrispin.com/

Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you all!

Ann also recommends www.absolutewrite.com as a good writing reference.

Do you have questions for Ann about the publishing industry or about writing and submitting for publication? Please make any questions very specific so she can keep her answers brief and to the point. Since Ann’s first book was a Star Trek tie-in, do you (or someone you know) have a favorite Star Trek character, book or episode?

Ann is traveling today, with irregular internet access, so it make take her a while to answer questions, but she will get to them.

(photos for this post came from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/)

"Never Tell Me The Odds!"

by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

I’m sure you recognize the title of this post. It is one of my favorite movie quotes and is from the original Star Wars (now called Episode 4). C3PO has just told Han Solo the statistical probability of successfully navigating through an asteroid belt (a truly astronomical number) and Han snarls in reply, “Never tell me the odds!”

In my previous career, I toiled as an analyst for the State of California. I played with numbers and statistics every day and got to do fun things like budget change proposals and cost benefit analyses. Ah yes, Aunty loved to ‘run those numbers’ and make them yield answers!

Then I entered the crazy world of writing for publication, and numbers ceased to be my friends or even my friendly tools. The numbers I discovered in my pursuit of publication were not the answers I wanted to hear. “Never tell me the odds!” became my rallying cry!

If I had stopped to think about the odds, I probably would have never entered the Golden Heart. Only 70 entries were selected as finalists out of 1000. My manuscript had to be judged in the top 7%. YIKES! And yet all 20 of us Banditas beat those odds and went on to final in the Golden Heart in 2006!

A few days ago, our talented Bandita (and my wonderful CP) Jo Robertson beat some very significant odds and became a semi-finalist in Amazon’s Break Out Novel contest. Jo’s historical manuscript Frail Blood became one of only 100 entries out of 10,000 to be selected. Yes, Jo’s manuscript is in the top 1%! I remember when we discussed whether or not she should enter the contest. Since there was no entry fee and the entries were electronic, I remember telling her, “What do you have to lose?” We did not discuss the odds!

But Jo’s recent success and the many other successes we Banditas have had since 2006 led me to start thinking about the odds. I found some very interesting “food for thought” and I’d like to share a little hypothetical situation and the resultant numbers:

Let’s pretend that there are 1 million people who decide they are going to write a romance novel for the very first time. (Yes, the number is probably much higher but play along with me for now.) Based on what Aunty has seen and read over the years, out of those 1,000,000 only 10% (or probably much less) will ever finish writing that novel. (It’s a lot more work than most people think!)

So in our imaginary sample, we now have 100,000 finished (at least in the first draft) romance novels. Probably only 25% of those will ever be submitted anywhere. I’m not talking queries or partials here, but full manuscripts. And out of those 25,000 only half or 50% will be submitted to someone who even publishes romances (sad but true, I’ve read this on many editors’ blogs)! Or if they do publish romance, they don’t accept the sub-genre of romance the writer has written.

We are now left with 12,500 novels that have even a glimmer of a chance of being published out of our original 1 million hopefuls. Or slightly over 1%! Only 1 out of 100. So now you know, if you have ever finished writing a manuscript and submitted it somewhere, you are very special indeed!

But if you think those numbers are depressing, consider this. There were slightly over 8,000 romance novels published in 2007 (according to the ROMStat report in the Sept. 08 RWR). Now before you tell Aunty that 12,500 books vying for 8,000 slots doesn’t sound that bad… REMEMBER: these are first time novelists. The vast majority of the 8,000 romances publishers will buy are written by existing authors. Someone with a ‘track record.’ Someone with a ‘readership base.’

Aunty’s best guess is that only about 5% of those 8,000 books published will actually be by first time authors. Those 12,500 hopefuls are vying for 400 slots. Yes, dear readers, only about 1/3 of 1% of those 12,500 writers will ever see their book published! But in the spirit of Han Solo, some new writers will fill those 400 slots. Someone will beat those odds!

Writing is definitely not for the ‘faint of heart!’ Nor is it for those who are intimidated by long odds. After all, 1/3 of 1% might be an abysmally small number, but it is still better than the probability of successfully negotiating an asteroid belt!

Have you ever done something even though your chances of success were extremely small? Run some numbers by us. Dazzle Aunty and the rest of the Banditas and BBs with your daring exploits!

THE NUMBERS GAME

by Suzanne Welsh

Have you ever read a book and just loved it so much you gave your copy to every person you knew so they could read it too? Well, I used to do that. In fact, I did it so much, I was my own lending library! But then I started writing, hanging out with other writers and learning about the business of publishing from my published author friends.

Guess what I learned? While passing around a book might flatter the author and give our friends a good read, it does little to help the author’s sales numbers. Why should we as readers care about the author’s sales? Because, unless they’re a household name with a regular spot on the NYT bestseller list, each author’s next contract depends on the percentage of sale-through their last book had. In other words, if they had a print-run of 30,000 books, they needed to sell a large percentage of those books to get offered another contract. Each time we give that brand new book we just read to someone else whom we know would just love it, we’ve taken a sale away from that author.

So what do we do? We want to get that author’s book to as many people who read as we can. We want to make sure that author has lots of sales so she/he can give us more great stories to read. The answer is simple. Word of mouth.

I no longer hand out my copies of books to people. I show them the cover, give them my glowing verbal review, tell them where they can buy the book. Sometimes I buy them a copy and mail them off. Whenever my critique partner, Sandy Blair, has a new book out, I buy five copies. One for me to read, one for my mom, one for each of my girls and one for my two aunts, (they live in the same house so they share). Recently, Sandy’s newest book, A Highlander For Christmas, came out and I was actually a character in the book! Needless to say, I not only bought my five copies, but challenged everyone I work with to buy the book and try to find me. It’s been great fun having them not only tell me how much they loved her book, but that “Yep, I found you!”

Last year at National, Anna Campbell’s Claiming The Courtesan had just come out a few months before. I’d read it before going to the conference, so when she was in the Avon signing, I took the time to stand a few feet off and recommend to everyone who came in that they needed to get a copy from her. These books didn’t give Anna sales, but they did give her lots of new fans, whom are happily reading Untouched and salivating for her next regency noir!

I got Julie Garwood’s newest book, Shadow Music, for Christmas. I read it over four days, (stretching it out because I knew it would be a while before I got another new book by her). I loved the story. Have recommended it to everyone on my e-mail list who reads. And today I went to Amazon.com and ordered another copy to send to my mom. She’ll love it and it repays her for that copy of Julie’s book,The Gift, that I “borrowed” years ago and never returned. It also helps my favorite author’s sales numbers! Because I want to read more of her books for years to come.

So here’s my list of books I’d like you to buy:
Untouched by Anna Campell
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Warrior by Kinley MacGregor
Hot Wheels And High Heels by Jane Graves
The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritson
Does She Dare by Tawny Weber
Just Wicked Enough by Lorraine Heath **the perfect romance novel**
Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
A Highlander For Christmas by Sandy Blair **let me know if you find me!**
The Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans
Scandal’s Daughter by Christine Wells
Texas Princess by Jodi Thomas
Touch Of Texas by Tracy Garrett
Every Night I’m Yours by Christie Kelley

If you could give me a book to read to hook me on an author, new or established, what one would it be? Who would you buy books for to hook them on reading romances?
One lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of A Highlander For Christmas!