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Another great post over at BadRedHeadMedia!

Blog

In my continuing series where I answer questions asked by YOU (in this case, this question comes from writer Camela Cami Thompson), staff writer Naomi Blackburn takes on ‘What is a blog strategy and is it important for authors to have one?’ Thanks Camela for a fab question! Here you go….

 

I am always shocked when authors ask me if they have to blog. My resounding YES always leads to, “But I don’t know what to write about!”

Why Blog?

Blogs are wonderful because they give authors an opportunity to take an active role in marketing their works to their readers while also providing a way to network with other authors. Let’s face it. Before an author has name recognition by the public, a chunk of the effort is focused on relationship building with a readership base. What better way than a blog to help to facilitate this?

Develop a Blog Strategy and Calendar

As with everything in the business world, the key to success is always in the planning. Developing a blog calendar and strategy allows for seamless posts and provides alternatives to marketing and social media opportunities besides shouting “BUY MY BOOK!”

First, decide what you want to blog about. Ask yourself:

  • Is it close to the subject matter of my works?
  • What do I want my “brand” to be?
  • Who do I want my target audience to be?

Maybe you want to be recognized as a dynamic professional, such as Molly Greene, who is an author of romantic mystery fiction, but writes a blog specifically focused on blogging for authors. Or do you want to focus on your readers and write on topics close to the genre of your books? For example, maybe you write romantic fiction and want to use your blogs to discuss suggestions for romantic interludes with that special someone.

The next step in your blogging strategy is to plan out a list of topics on a calendar. For example, I have a desktop calendar that has my topics listed for the next three months. Having a calendar with mapped out blog post topics allows me to write ahead. My calendar is based on the topics for my forthcoming book, The Author CEO: The Book. Preplanning also allows for emergency posts and/or guest posts, as needed. Have a new book in the works? Having a blog calendar allows for scheduling pre-release blog posts announcing the new release.

(On this note, I am of the opinion that everyone must have a professional blog, no matter who the target audience is. Since your blog is essentially your corporate image, I always recommend hiring a professional to develop the site that hosts the blog.)

Still Not Sure What to Write About?

One of my favorite posts by Molly Greene that I frequently recommend to clients is 101 Blog Topic Ideas. The post is divided into several categories and Molly, in her own pithy way, addresses numerous topics—from supporting other authors to showcasing one’s own work.

Networking with authors is critical in blogging. It can get very difficult to come up with fresh ideas. Always having that “spot on” blog post can become stressful. Furthermore, the lack of networking and only writing for your own blog can lead to isolation, which not only costs you in terms of visibility, but also in potential lost opportunities for cross-promotional blog posts. So, come up with ways to have guests on your blog, and offer posts to others who may also be looking for fresh or new content.

I know that I am not an “expert” in everything. Being able to host subject matter experts—such as an author attorney writing on Copyright, Fair Use, and Book Reviewers—on my blog allowed me to present my readers with information I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to provide them.

Editing Matters

Regardless of what topics you choose, I can’t stress enough the importance of using an editor or, at the very least, having someone else review your posts. It drives me crazy when I see mistakes in author’s blog posts. This is your business. This is your craft.

Think about your favorite company. What would you think if you were looking at their marketing material and it was laden with mistakes? Would you think less of them? I recently had the chance to review an author’s blog. She had done a wonderful job of coming up with topics. One of the headings was a recipe section that contained some fantastic-looking recipes. As I went through them, I saw that they were loaded with typos, and some even had a couple of ingredients missing from the directions area. What was I to think?

In The End

So, what are you waiting for? Blogging is a must-do marketing opportunity for authors, and is also another outlet for creativity, interaction, and fun. Because I consider blogging to be such an important aspect of every author’s business development plan, I think it is worthwhile to bring in a blogging coach to learn the ins and outs of successful blogging. After all, it’s your business at stake, why not invest in it?

First Edition Design eBook Publishing

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Great post from LISA LICKEL at AuthorCulture

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

Ever wonder where to quickly find some bit of information on the web? You’re in the middle of a great sentence, and–Bam! you realize you need to know when the moon was full? Or which branch of government runs the Witness Protection Agency? Here you go. My latest updated resource list. Feel free to share some of your own, too. This list of one of a number of things I offer on my website in the Tips and Resources page. http://www.lisalickel.com.

OnLine Resources

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The Bait

Posted: September 5, 2014 in Publishing
Tags: , ,

First Edition Design eBook Publishing

Originally posted WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014

By the good folks at AuthorCulture

There’s a reason it’s called a “hook”. We bait our hook with the best story in us, cast it into the great ocean of readers, and then hope to get a bite. I have daily access to nearly 80,000 books (I work at a library). Since the day I heard that writer describe the “tossing” process, I’ve developed the habit of reading the first sentence of many, many books over the course of a work day. The stories that make me want to turn the page all seem to have one thing in common. They create a question that I must know the answer to. Our local writer’s group has hosted a noted western writer as guest speaker several times. His discussion about the publishing process left an indelible impression on me. He spoke of visiting his publisher in New York where he hung around the offices after a meeting. The staff had had a very long day, yet they ordered pizza and then kicked back to go through the slush pile, a huge backlog of unsolicited manuscripts. He said he watched as they “tossed” one manuscript after another. If the first sentence or two didn’t grab them, well, “that’s all she wrote”, so to speak.

Does this make you want to read on? “It dropped out of the sky at 3:41 p.m. central daylight time on Friday, May 10, 1963, into a field in southeastern Oklahoma eight miles west of Tishomingo.”  What, pray tell, dropped out of the sky? That’s the first sentence from Five Days in May by Ninie Hammon.

“I remember…I was supposed to be sad that day.” Why? That’s from Dan Walsh’s The Discovery.

“The screech of brakes split the silence just before the Buick smashed through the guardrail and tumbled down the steep embankment.” Nicola Beaumont’s Silent Witness makes me wonder who wrecked and whether they made it or not.

All three examples caused me to nibble and download to my Kindle.

So, what question are you creating in the minds of your readers with the first sentence or two of your WIP? I’d love for you to post some of your first sentences. Here’s mine:

“Bailey’s not going to like this. Dizziness swirled my brain to jelly the moment I realized I’d have to tell her.”

Go!

 

POSTED BY JODY AT 7:00 AM

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Great post of resources!

· · in Books, Publishing. ·

kindleAs far as I’m aware, this is the most comprehensive list of book promo sites anywhere on the internet. The list was compiled from various online sources, most notably – Rachelle’s Window (go there and thank her! :) she also lists Alexa rankings for the sites) and my own research. As of posting this on August 10th 2014, all the links below are working. Note that I can’t guarantee that the sites themselves are still working, that the forms lead anywhere, or that you will actually get anything for your money.

Majority of these sites advertise books when they’re free, as part of KDP Select or Smashword promo. If you want to promote a paid book, you usually need to pay extra.

If you think I’m missing something, let me know in the comments.

As always, you can express your gratitude by purchasing one of my books :)

 

. URL Free Ad Paid Ad Comments
. 100 Free Books Guaranteed no longer accepted
. Addicted to eBooks Guaranteed registration required
. Ask David Guaranteed
. Author Marketing Club Membership + listing
. Awesome Gang Guaranteed $10
. Bargain eBook Hunter – now Hot Zippy Guaranteed
. Best Indie Books $8-$60, free to premium members Requires registration
. Book Blast Guaranteed  Must be deal, not free
. Book Canyon Guaranteed
. Book Deals Daily $5 $5+
. Bookpinning Guaranteed “Pinterest for Books”
. Book Worm Empire $5-$15 also do paid reviews
. Book Daily Membership + samples
. Book Goodies Guaranteed
. Book Goodies $5
. Book Goodies $25
. Book Goodies For Kids Guaranteed Children only
. Book Matchers Listing + search service
. Bookish Must ask by e-mail
. Book Tweeting Service $29+
. BookBrowse $2-7 pm
. BookBub Various options. $60+ probably most effective right now. Novels only.
. BookBub $40+ May also post deals from other sites
. BookSlut $175-$450
. Daily Free Books Guaranteed $7.5
. Digital Book Today Not guaranteed 4 stars minimum
. Digital Book Today Various options, $30+
. eBook Daily Deals Guaranteed
. Eat Sleep Write Book plugs from $50+
. eBook Impresario $20+
. eBooks Habit Guaranteed
. eBooks Habit $10
. eBooks Grow on Trees $20-$60
. eFiction Finds Guaranteed $5+
. eReader Cafe Guaranteed
. English Books XTME $9-$30 No longer guaranteed. ForAmazon.de
. EReader News Today Not guaranteed Very limited selection, 4 stars minimum
. Fire Department $50
. Fiverr $5 per service individual people advertising your book
. Flurries of Words $4+
. Free Books Hub $5
. Free Digital Reads Not guaranteed 4 stars minimum
. Free eBooks untested
. Free Kindle Books Not guaranteed 4 stars minimum
. Free Kindle Fiction Not guaranteed
. Free Kindle Fiction $5
. Free Kindle Giveaway $10+
. Freebooksy Not guaranteed $50
. Frugal eReader Not guaranteed no longer accepted
. Frugal eReader $50+
. Frugal Freebies $3-$8
. Fussy Librarian Guaranteed
. Good Kindles $7
. Goodreads custom budget largely ineffective
. Hot Zippy Not guaranteed $15 own several other websites
. iAuthor UK £0.6 per click
. iLove Ebooks various options, $25-$300
. Indie Author Anonymous $5-$10
. Independent Author Index Membership + listing $19 one-time fee
. Independent Author Network Membership + listing $25 one-time fee
. Indie Book Promo Guaranteed Four options, $25+ or small options, $8+
. Indie Promotor various options, $25+
. Indie House Books Guaranteed various options, £25+
. Indies Unlimited Freebie Friday, 99c Thursday
. Just Kindle Book Guaranteed
. Kindle Book Promo Guaranteed
. Kindle Book Promo $10+
. Kindle Book Promos Guaranteed
. Kindle Book Promos various options, $10+
. Kindle Book Review Not guaranteed $5+
. Kindle Mojo Not guaranteed $25+
. Kindle Nation Daily Guaranteed
. Kindle Nation Daily Various options, $100+ number of options, effectiveness reduced lately
. Kindle Romance Review various options, $25+ Romance only
. Kindleboards Free post in the thread  One per book
. Kindleboards Guaranteed
. Kindleboards various options, $35+
. Lendle various options, $35+
. My Book and My Coffee Guaranteed On Hiatus
. One Shot Pitch Guaranteed pitch design £5-£20
. Orangeberry Not guaranteed
. Orangeberry Promos various book tours, $29+
. Pixel of Ink Not guaranteed Very limited selection
. Pixel Scroll – NOW HOTZIPPY $5+
. Read Cheaply Not guaranteed Must cross-promote
. Reading Deals Not Guaranteed $5
. Reddit Guaranteed On the day. Must have account.
. Snicks List Guaranteed On the day
. The Cheap Ebook $15+
. YA Book Promo Central Same as Indie Book Promo YA only

First Edition Design eBook Publishing

 

Another great post from over at Bad Redhead Media

AUGUST 17, 2014 BY

I asked my Facebook friends last week what confused them the most about author marketing and social media. So for the next several weeks, myself and several esteemed guests will be answering those questions for you! Thank you to all who answered. Here’s the first question:

How do you build an audience before you have a product? MJ Kelley @themjkelley 

Many aspiring authors or bloggers ask this question a lot, and really I see this as a question of confidence more than anything — what do I have to talk about? Why should people tune into my blog or social media channels if I don’t have anything for sale yet? Is this an ‘author platform’ issue?

Let’s deconstruct.

PRE-MARKETING

Many authors start off blogging, so let’s begin there (and if you’re not blogging, you should be!). Your blog is your your home, your place for folks to come in, take off their shoes, have a drink, hang awhile. Get to know YOU, and you get to know THEM. In other words, start building a relationship now (not to mention, it boosts your SEO and SMO, but that’s a whole other post).

Did you hear me mention anything about product, or selling? No, and it’s not because you don’t have anything to sell (because you do — you’re selling you, whether you realize it or not). You are utilizing relationship marketing skills as opposed to more old-school transactional (sales-focused) skills — building relationships for future sales and customer satisfaction. You’re also genuinely and authentically being yourself — letting people know you, and they are letting you know them. This is invaluable foundation building time for whatever it is that you will be ‘selling’ in the future — a product (book), a business, or a service.

I suggest you begin your pre-marketing at least six months to one year prior to the release of your book. Even earlier is fine. Why? Because you are building relationships with your demographic, people who read your genre, people with whom you share a common bond.

WHERE

Where do you pre-market your non-product? I know, it seems kind of ridiculous but… remember, we ‘brand’ the author, not the book. So since we’re marketing YOU, let’s make you easily visible. Twitter, Facebook (you must have a personal account where people ‘friend’ you to manage everything else over there — even if you never use it — so grin and bear it), a Facebook page (required for any product or service), Google+ (you may think it’s silly but Google is the largest search engine in the world, and they own Google+ so…), plus either Pinterest or SnapChat or Instagram or YouTube — pick one.

You may think these new visual apps are silly but frankly, who cares? This isn’t about you or me — it’s about your buyers — your readers. If you are a YA author, you best be on SnapChat because that is where your demographic is. Most importantly, remember that social media is about building relationships, not ‘selling.’ Not having a product to sell is actually an excellent way for you to focus on being a person, not an automaton who constantly spouts ‘Buy my book!’ links, which is a turn-off anyway.

BOOK RELEASE

Once your book is ready to go, you’ve built this base of people who have taken an interest in you, Jo Author. So now, when you tweet or post that your book is ready to go and is anyone interested in beta-reading or reviewing, you will have people READY TO GO. We’ve all seen the desperate, ‘Will anyone, anyone, review my book? Please?’ tweets go by and feel kind of sad for the lonely, misguided soul because clearly, they have done ZERO pre-marketing. Not only that, but by asking anyone and everyone to review their book, they aren’t focusing on their demographic, risking poor reviews by having say, a sci-fi fan review their romance book. Not a good fit. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty.

Here’s why that’s a mistake: it comes across as disingenuous. What’s in it for the reader to purchase and read your book if you’ve never approached them before? Nothing. It’s all about you, the author. But what if that person has known you for six months already, is part of a private reading group or inner circle you’ve created, has signed up for the newsletter you’ve set up after you read this post (hint, hint —Mailchimp is easy to use and totally free), knows that your kitten died, you know that their Uncle Mort just turned 90 and danced on the table at his party even with his arthritic knees, etc. That makes them special to you, and you to them.

That’s what relationship-building is all about!

CHANGE YOUR PARADIGM

Ask not how to build your audience before you have a product, but how can you build relationships leading up to the release of your product. And remember this: your product will change with each book release — but you, the author, will not. Don’t open a new Twitter account or Facebook page with every book — it’s a waste of your time and effort. Focus your marketing efforts on what we’ve discussed here today — say it with me one more time — building relationships! — and you will build a readership that will last through many years, not only one book release.

First Edition Design Publishing

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

 

First Edition Design eBook Publishing

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2014
Another great post at AuthorCulture

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview a lot of authors. Hundreds, in fact. Some were fabulous and I wished I could have crawled through my computer monitor and hugged them. And some? Meh. The problem is the ones that were “meh” are also the ones who seemed to be the most difficult to work with.

Authors really need book bloggers, today, so we can’t afford to leave a “meh” (or worse) impression behind. Here’s some stuff that I personally appreciated when working with authors that left a good impression.

No Drama

There’s nothing worse than getting a last minute request to schedule a post (or worse, review a book) while an author drones on and on about deadlines and how exhausted they are in promoting this book and how busy they are and… sigh…

Know why bloggers hate this drama? Because they have jobs, too. They also have a limited amount of time in a day and while your book is the most important thing to you it isn’t the most important thing to them.

The best authors to work with have been respectful of my time and effort and answered my interview questions without drama.

Personalized Thank You Notes and Even Gifts

Writers are always on a budget, so gifts are a really rare thing, but I was given a couple things by authors and guess what? I remember them fondly. One sent me a cool Elizabeth I notepad from London and Starbucks gift card for being a first reader for her Tudor fiction book. Another sent me an antique coin. Both gifts tied in with their books, and the added effort was noticed and appreciated.

But I’ve also received personalized, handwritten thank you notes from several authors and those meant just as much to me. In fact, I’ve decided to make this a habit for the people that host me on a blog from now on, too. Sending a note doesn’t take much time but it does mean an awful lot to someone who made the effort to put you on their site.

Be Interesting

When you’re doing a blog tour, and answering the same questions over and over, it can be a challenge to be interesting. But resist the urge to cut and paste answers, and really try to make every question, even the ones you’ve answered a bazillion times, reveal something cool about yourself.

Tell a story with your answer. Compliment other writers or the blogger who is hosting you. Add a photo you haven’t shared too much. Find a unique way to interact with readers.

Some of my favorite interviews have been the ones where authors took my boring old questions and were so funny and charming they made me sound like James Lipton.


Follow Their Rules

When you have a book to promote and a blog tour to do, you want to control the show. You might even send an email that says “I’ll do an interview, guest post, and giveaway” but be careful about being too limiting. Some bloggers like to do it their own way.

Several years ago I stopped doing giveaways on my writing blog. My readers seemed to hate them. They enjoyed finding out about new writers but weren’t wild about leaving comments for books, and some even wrote me to tell me they’d like my blog a whole lot better if I didn’t give stuff away.

What did I know? I thought everyone loved giveaways, but if my readers weren’t fans why should I do them? So I stopped the practice but some authors get very testy about this. One insisted I do a giveaway because her publisher required it. (I’m still not sure she had that correct, but maybe it was true.)

I once did an unusual interview where I had to answer a lot of hypotheticals about my dating book that related to pop culture. It was super fun and I got a lot of positive comments on it.  Sometimes bloggers like to mix it up by having you answer questions as your character, or having you answer rapid fire, silly questions… whatever their preference, go with it.

Gratitude

Be sincerely grateful when bloggers are hosting you, because they really are helping your career. One author followed up an appearance on my blog by doing a post on her blog listing the top 10 things she loved about getting interviewed by me. I did mention that my questions are rather boring, right? So this was a clever and creative thing to make the interview stand out, and I was touched that she added that to her site.

However you decide to respond to and thank your bloggers, be sincerely grateful. Your intentions will show in the words and actions you choose, and your bloggers will be happy to welcome you back again when your next book is out.

Cherie Burbach has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.

First Edition Design Publishing

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

9781622875252_frontcoverMED

 

click here to take a peak inside the book

A Bear Discovered, by Andrew Lysaught is a search for love, acceptance and understanding – indeed a fable fit for us all.

For Immediate Release – (Chicago, Illinois. – March 17th, 2014) Andrew Lysaught’s, A Bear Discovered takes us on a journey from loneliness into friendship, from feeling lost to being found.

The tree must learn to dance in the storm like the stone must learn to be shaped by the ever flowing river”

But this story is “not that of trees or stones, but that of a creature with a heart.”

Polla is a white bear in a black and brown bear world. A misfit to her family, she decides to leave home and seek a place where she belongs.  Her journey is born of frustration and loneliness.  “Who am I?  What am I?  And why do I feel as if I don’t know how to be myself?”  These are only a few of the difficult questions our strong and fearless bear unearths in her search for happiness.

Come join Polla on a journey to the inner working of her own reality.

Keywords: Journey, Home, Loneliness, Belief, Friendship, Happiness, Peace, Oneness, Life, Self-Discovery, Spiritual

The ebook version of A Bear Discovered, ISBN 9781622875252, published by First Edition Design Publishing, is available on-line wherever ebooks are sold. The 32 page print book version, ISBN 9781622875245, are published by First Edition Design Publishing and distributed worldwide to online booksellers.

###

First Edition Design Publishing

Another great guest post at  Writer’s Digest

Categories: Brian Klems’ The Writer’s Dig Tags: Brian Klems.

OK, class. What sets a middle-grade novel apart from a young adult novel? If you said MG is for readers ages 8–12, and YA is for readers ages 13–18, then give yourself a check plus. But if you’re writing for the juvenile market and that’s all you know about these two categories, then I’m afraid you still need to stick around for the rest of this class. A book that doesn’t fit within the parameters of either age category is a book you won’t be able to sell.

In my work with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, I see my inbox flooded every day with queries for manuscripts that suffer from an MG/YA identity crisis. Like when a query says, “I’ve written a 100,000-word MG novel about a seventh-grader who falls in love and has sex for the first time.” Or when one states, “In my 20,000-word YA novel, a 14-year-old holds her first sleepover and learns the meaning of true friendship.” Both queries would earn a swift rejection, based on both inappropriate manuscript lengths and on content that’s either too mature or too young for the audience they’re targeting. Sadly, by not understanding what makes a book a true MG or a solid YA, these writers have hamstrung their chances for success, regardless of how well written their stories may be. It’s like they showed up to a final exam without ever cracking a book.

On the bright side, writers who study up on the many key differences between MG and YA will be able to craft the kind of well-targeted manuscript that will make both agents and editors take notice. Pay attention, because someday your manuscript will be tested.

*******************************************************
This guest post is by Marie Lamba (marielamba.com), author of the YA novels What I Meant…, Over My Head and Drawn. She’s also associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (jdlit.com).
******************************************************

Mg At A Glance

Age of readers: 8–12.
Length: Generally 30,000–50,000 words (although fantasy can run longer to allow for more complex world-building).
Content restrictions: No profanity, graphic violence or sexuality (romance, if any, is limited to a crush or a first kiss).
Age of protagonist: Typically age 10 for a younger MG novel, and up to age 13 for older, more complex books.
Mind-set: Focus on friends, family and the character’s immediate world and relationship to it; characters react to what happens to them, with minimal self-reflection.

Voice: Often third person.

Ya At A Glance

Age of readers: 13–18.
Length: Generally 50,000–75,000 words (although there’s also a length allowance for fantasy).
Content restrictions: Profanity, graphic violence, romance and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowable (though not required).
Age of protagonist: Ages 14–15 for a younger YA with cleaner content aimed at the middle-school crowd; for older and more edgy YA, characters can be up to 18 (but not in college).
Mind-set: YA heroes discover how they fit in the world beyond their friends and family; they spend more time reflecting on what happens and analyzing the meaning of things.

Voice: Often first person.

MG vs. YA Characters

When picking your hero’s age, remember that kids “read up,” which means they want to read about characters who are older than they are. So an 8-year-old protagonist won’t fly for the MG category, though it’d be OK for a younger chapter book or easy reader. For the widest audience, you’ll generally want your protagonist to be on the oldest side of your readership that your plot will allow. That means a 12- or even 13-year-old hero for MG, and a 17- or 18-year-old for YA (just remember your hero can’t be in college yet—that would push it into the “new adult” category).

MG vs. YA Readers

Middle-grade is not synonymous with middle school. Books for the middle-school audience tend to be divided between the MG and YA shelves. So which shelf do those readers go to? While there is no such thing as a ’tween category in bookstores, there are degrees of maturity in both MG and YA novels that’ll appeal to the younger and older sides of the middle-school crowd. A longer, more complex MG novel with characters who are 13 could take place in middle school and be considered an “upper-MG novel.” But the material can’t be too mature. It’s still an MG novel, after all, and most readers will be younger. Writing a sweeter, more innocent YA? Then it’s pretty likely that your readers will be ’tweens, that your characters should be around 15 years old, and that your book will be marketed as a “young YA.”

While it’s useful for you to understand these nuances as you craft your story and relate to your true audience, when it comes time to submit, don’t go so far as to define your novel as upper MG or younger YA in your query. That’s already pointing to a more limited readership. Instead, just stick to calling it either MG or YA when you submit, and let an interested agent draw conclusions about nuances from there.

MG vs. YA Content and Voice

What’s cool to a fourth-grader differs from what a 10th-grader will idolize. Same goes for the way they speak and the way they view the world. Which is why if romance appears in an MG novel, it’s limited to a crush and maybe an innocent kiss, as it is in Shugby Jenny Han. A YA could involve deep, true love as well as sexuality, as in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Another key difference? Overall, MG novels end on a hopeful note, while YA novels could have less optimistic endings, as in Green’s tearful story. You could say that that’s youth vs. experience coming into play.

When it comes to content, here’s another important thing to keep in mind: There are gatekeepers between your book and your targeted audience. MG readers typically don’t have direct access to their novels. To get a book, kids first go through a parent, a teacher or a librarian. While you might want to have that gritty character in your upper-MG novel drop a few four-letter words, doing so will hurt book sales, so choose your language wisely.

Also, think carefully about your content. MG is not the place for graphic or persistent violence, but can it be scary and dark? Sure—look at Holes by Louis Sachar, where boys are threatened by a crazy warden and nearly killed by poisonous lizards. (Note, however, that book does have a happy ending.)

If you’re writing a YA, you don’t have to worry about those gatekeepers as much. But while YA authors cover just about anything in their novels, keep in mind that gratuitous sex, foul language or violence won’t fly in any great literature. And do remember that school and library support can really catapult a YA title to success. While dropping a ton of F-bombs is OK if it fits with your characters and setting, be prepared for your book to be perhaps on fewer school shelves as a result, and make sure it’s worth that risk.

Exceptions to Every Rule

Like any rebellious teen can tell you, rules are made to be broken. Word counts often vary from the suggested norms. Just don’t deviate too low or too high, especially for a debut. I know what you’re thinking: J.K. Rowling.
True, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came close to a whopping 200,000 words, but her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was roughly 77,000 words—which is still long for the genre, but not outrageously so for an MG fantasy. Hey, once you get as popular as Rowling, you can write doorstopper-sized tomes, too.

Content can also stray from the stated guidelines, with good reason. You might, say, choose to have an MG with a swear word, or with a more edgy storyline. Whatever norm you do stray from, just make sure you do so for a specific and valid purpose, that your book still fits your audience’s point of view, and that you understand what deviating from the norm might mean for your book’s marketability.

Whether you aim to write a YA or an MG novel, there is one thing you absolutely must do: Tell a story that is meaningful to your intended reader. And to do that, you must first know who that reader is.

So which shelf does your book belong on? Know that and your book will surely graduate with full honors, moving on to a long and happy future in your readers’ appreciative hands.

First Edition Design Publishing

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Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market

Publisher – Aggregator – Master Distributor

Another great guest post at Writer’s Digest
| Brian A. Klems

With self-publishing becoming more widely accepted and Amazon waging wars with publishers, more and more I get the sense from aspiring authors that they don’t think landing an agent means as much as it used to.

They believe “traditional” publishing is going the way of VCRs and none of the old rites of passage apply anymore. That’s fine if you think that, but, in my experience, it simply isn’t true.

I signed on with my agent, Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, in September of 2010 for my first (unpublished) young adult, suspense novel and it has solidified some valuable lessons.

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MyLastKissBethanyNeal_headshot copyGuest post by Bethany Neal, who writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. She graduated from Bowling Green State University and is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert.

My Last Kiss is her first novel. You can connect with her online atwww.bethanyneal.com.
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Searching for an Agent

The beginning of this journey started with little more than a polished draft of my manuscript. I started simply by researching agents through Literary Marketplace, which is a massive tome that sits behind the reference counter at most public libraries.

Some of this research was review because I had previously queried a paranormal YA trilogy that ended in 32 rejections.

Having revived my search, I made a shortlist of reputable agencies looking for YA. I browsed their sites and found agents within each agency looking for my specific flavor of YA. I write a little on the dark side—somebody is almost always dead—and I write a lot of kissing. Not everyone wants to represent that, and that’s fine.

I think the most important part in the agent search is reading every agent’s bio and only querying those you feel a connection with and who are interested in not just your genre but also your style. My agent, for instance, at the time was looking for darker YA projects with a strong voice. That’s my writing in a nutshell.

[Get Query Help: Click here for The 10 Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Query Letter]

Landing an Agent

I had two full manuscripts and one partial out with various interested agents when I got the email.

The email that said Stacey read my manuscript and wanted to set up a time to discuss it. I’d been rejected by 14 other agents already, so I wasn’t even sure what that meant. Then I got the call.

Thus began a string of very important lessons for my writing career.

1. Look before you leap.

My agent told me what she liked about my writing and the story and answered every single one of my questions.

I was so out of my mind excited that she wanted to represent me. So I told her I didn’t need to wait to hear back from the other two agents interested and I wanted—needed her as my agent.

This is my one regret in my agent search. I should have given myself a day to regain sanity and speak with the other two agents. I don’t regret signing with my agent because she’s been an enormous support throughout the years, but it’s something I know I should’ve done for peace of mind.

Take that day to pause before you jump on the first agent who smiles at your manuscript.

2. Prepare to move.

Almost immediately, my agent was requesting more information.

Stacey asked me to send her an author bio and a synopsis for the other novel I’d written, then emailed me an agency agreement that stated DGLM exclusively had the right to sell my novel for one year.

Right out of the gate there were deadlines. This one at least was a soft deadline, but it stoked a sense of urgency.

We went back and forth on revisions for a few months and ended up pushing back the submittal date so she could feature my novel in DGLM’s Upcoming Projects newsletter to generate interest with editors.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

3. Anticipate nice, bad news.

After about a month being out on submittal, she sent me an email chocked full of the most positive, helpful, optimistic rejections I’ve ever gotten in my life. It was the best of a worst-case scenario I could have hope for.

I made revisions based on feedback and we made a round two submittal, but the basic consensus was to move on.

Luckily, I’d been writing away during all this waiting and close to finishing a draft of my new project that editors were eager to read because they remembered liking my first novel. That new project is titled MY LAST KISS and was published by FSG/Macmillan on June 10, 2014.

I didn’t expect to feel encouraged by rejections, but aligning with an agent allowed me to receive bad news in a way that turned out positive.

4. You’ll idolize your agent a bit.

It’s strange waiting with bated breath for someone’s email while also kind of loving and worshipping them even though you’ve never physically met them. I don’t think I could ever do online dating because it was weird. I’ve since met (and loved even more) Stacey in person.

I wasn’t anticipating, though, how many emotions I would wrap up in whether or not I heard from her.

5. You will hurry up and wait.

There is a lot going on, but the process from signing with an agent to publishing is a pretty drawn out experience.

I had no idea how long every step would take. It took us five months to get my first novel revised and ready to get out on submittal. It took another couple months worth of waiting to hear back from editors. And there’s more waiting once you get published. You can make good use of the time spent waiting though. For me it became an opportunity for uninterrupted writing time, which is invaluable.

[Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.]

6. Expectations will drive you mad.

The biggest, dirtiest little secret about getting an agent (and being published) that no one tells you: Expectations, albeit mostly self-imposed, will drive you mad.

You start worrying about what will sell. Don’t. It will lead you down a dark, dark path—like Van Gogh, cut-your-ear-off dark.

Do yourself a favor and don’t go there because it’s extremely difficult to climb out of that pit of author-ly sorrow. You can’t predict the market and what will or won’t sell. The sooner you accept that, the saner you will be.

7. Agents breathe fresh life into your work.

An incredibly positive, unexpected bonus to finding my agent is how insightful and willing she is to collaborate on revisions.

Stacey will send me an email with literally one sentence asking something about my manuscript and it will enlighten me to the exact issue I’d been trying to fix for eight months. Having access to an expert with a keen eye is invaluable.

8. An agent is a partner in your journey.

On the warm and fuzzy side, how much she believes in me and my writing is something I couldn’t have anticipated.

Being an author still feels like this soap bubble that might burst at any moment. Even after having my first novel published, that insecurity hasn’t gone away. If I didn’t have my agent to give me pep talks and reassure me of my talent when the chips are down, I don’t know where I’d be.

Being a writer is hard work. Getting published is even harder work. Having an agent can give you a much needed hand. Just know that there are some surprising twists and turns along the way.

First Edition Design Publishing is the world’s largest eBook and POD (Print On Demand) distributor. Ranked first in the industry, First Edition Design Publishing converts, formats and submits Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic and Children’s Books to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, and scores of additional on-line retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. The company is a licensed and approved Aggregator and holds licenses with both Apple and Microsoft.

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

 

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From the good people at AuthorCulture

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014

 

People have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s group or workshop. Some authors like Dean Koontz abhor them. Some say they will cause you to quit writing or destroy your writing style. Others say they could not write without them.

I have experienced both points of view. Over the years, I have belonged to three writer’s groups. The first was the Frisco (Texas) Writer’s Group. It was a hybrid group. Some sessions focused on the learning the business of writing. Other sessions were for critique. Over time, I outgrew this group of mainly want to be writers. I attended the group from 2006 through 2009.

While attending the first group, I learned of the Dallas-Fort Worth Writer’s Workshop. It is a larger group with many full-time and published writers. They sponsor the DFW Writer’s Convention. In 2008, I attended convention.

I joined the DFW Writer’s Workshop in 2009. I was a paid member through 2012. For several years, I drove twenty-five miles each way through heavy Dallas – Fort Worth traffic and freeway construction to attend the group.

The meetings had a set agenda. They began with an introduction of guests and new members. Next was a time of sharing submissions, rejections, being asked to send a full manuscript, and getting an agent. You could also sign-up to read. You were assigned to critique groups for the evening. There you read. Then others commented on your work. You did not respond to their comments. The comments were extremely helpful and required a thick skin at times. The group has been around since 1977. Over the years, members have had over 300 traditionally published books. The group charges $100 per year to be a member. It meets 52 weeks a year.

I had published over two-dozen magazine articles before joining the group. I credit the group with keeping me motivated. It caused me to look at my writing at a level I did not know existed. It provided encouragement as I witnessed fellow members being published. The group was a first-amendment group where you could write anything. The critique group helped me write, as I needed something new to read each week. While in the group, I published over a dozen pieces. I also completed the 80,000 words book that I am currently shopping.

In 2011, I joined Wholehearted Writing Group. It is located less than two miles from my day job. The location was the reason for joining. The group is more about writing prompts than analyzing or working on your current project. It meets 26 times a year with the cost of $10 per meeting.

Whether you are joining the writers’ group to gain new friends, network, or to improve your craft and motivation, you need to make sure it meets your needs. Below are some points to consider when selecting, joining, and attending a writer’s group.

  1. Does the writer’s workshop have in writing defined goals?
  2. Does the group start on time and stay on mission? I will use the DFW Writer’s Workshop that I belonged to as an example.
  3. Does the group have an interest in your writing or is it just a niche group?
  4. Are there rules for people whose work is critiqued to follow?
  5. Does the organization allow you time to network and develop relationships with others in the group?
  6. Should I pay to attend a writer’s group?
  • Does the group know where it is going?
  • Does it regularly meet?
  • Are members submitting, progressing in the craft and publishing?
  • The group starts on time – 7 PM. It began with a large group session.
  • They recognize guests, ask them what they write, and how they found out about the workshop.
  • They ask for rejections followed by asking for submissions.
  • They ask is anyone has sold articles or gotten a contract for their manuscript.
  • After the large group session, they break into small critique groups.
  • Writer’s read for ten minutes followed by a critique of five minutes.
  • They have a monitor for a group who times and moderates the readings and critiques. The monitor keeps the group on track.
  • The group ends at 9:30 PM. Ending on time respects the participants.
  • Is it a first-amendment group allowing freedom of expression?
  • Does the group focus only on fiction or non-fiction?
  • Does it require you to filter your writing through the scope of the group? For example, you would not want to attend a Christian writer’s group if you write erotica.
  • Having guidelines is essential.
  • People get defensive when others are telling them what they did wrong.
  • The man or woman receiving the critique needs to have rules to follow.
  • We have him or her listen with no response or rebuttal.
  • You need to listen to what people have to say about your writing and learn from it.
  • Do the group members like each other?
  • Are they happy to see you and urge you to participate?
  • Does the group assimilate new members?
  • Does everyone get to read?
  • If the group members spend more time telling you how great they are or what they hope to do instead of staying on schedule and mission, find a different group.
  • Most writers’ groups in the USA are free and run by volunteers. Fee-based groups are also common.
  • One of the most expensive writer’s groups in the USA is the Original Los Angeles Writers Group™. The cost for new members is $475 a year while returning members get a break at $450. That is about $9.00 per week.
  • The Kansas City Writer’s Critique Group meets in ten-week sessions with each session costing $65.00 ($5.50 per week).
  • The DFW Writer’s Group in Texas is $100 per year (paid in advance). You must be a paid member to read.
  • The Burlington Vermont Writer’s Group cost $12.00 per month.
  • Wholehearted Writing in Dallas, Texas is $10 a session.
  • I have attended pay and free groups. Most pay groups are very polished, professional, stay on task honoring the attendee’s time by starting and stopping on time plus having a set break. Many are connected to educational institutions or are legal nonprofits with a constitution by-laws and elected leadership from the paid membership that manage / lead the group. They are not social in nature and have had an evaluation element. The leader in the pay group may receive your writing assignment in advance. They check your style, grammar, and transitions as a proofreader or outside editor. They may lead you in structured revisions.

While people have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s workshop, a writer’s group is not for everyone, but it could be what you need to get to the next level.

 

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