Category Archives: Help Publishing Your Book

Sometimes Creativity Takes a Break


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I often find my creativity taking a leave of absence when I’m in the middle of a writing project. I typically binge watch a TV series or spend some time at my local library looking for a good book or series, then curl up on the couch at home and read. Or, I choose a handful of books from Kindle Unlimited, filling up my Kindle. It isn’t long before my creative juices start flowing again.

For the past month, I had been working hard on three of my five works-in-progress. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, you’re working on that many writing projects at the same time?” Well, yes, it’s pretty common among us writers to do that. I have ADD, so my brain can’t just focus on one thing as it’s all over the place. And being creative, I have so, so many ideas running rampant inside my head…

Anywho. I tend to get quite a bit of writing done this way. When the opportunity presents itself, why not take up on it?

Our minds need a break, just like our bodies. When we have a hard time focusing on something, it’s probably a sign that we need to take a break and let our batteries re-charge.

I often find myself stepping away from my writing. It gives me time to focus on other things. After a few days, or sometimes a week passes by, my creativity returns and I’m back to pounding out the words on the keyboard.

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Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing, Pros and Cons


There’s a big difference between choosing to publish traditionally than there is to self-publish. I have listed a few pros and cons that should help you choose.

Traditional:

Pros:

  • You have a chance of seeing your work in a lot of stores, especially the big name bookstores.
  • It isn’t as costly to publish, but it does come out of your sales.

 

Cons:

  • You have to market yourself. The publishing company is putting their faith in you when it comes to marketing your work. They’re making money off of this, too!
  • You have to sign a contract. If your work isn’t selling, your contract will be forfeit. Your publisher will drop you.
  • Publishers pay you 15-30% royalties.
  • Agents charge you at least 15-20%.
  • Not all publishers give you an advance. If they do, you don’t get paid till your books earn every penny the publisher gave you in your advance.
  • If you publish one book with a publisher in one genre, then write another book in a different genre, you may have to find a different publisher for that second book as your publisher may only publish a certain genre.
  • It takes a year, up to three years to get your work published.
  • If you queried an agent, it make take weeks or months for them to respond. Then it takes longer to read and edit your work. Then it takes even longer for them to find the right publisher for you and to get said publisher to accept your work.
  • You may have to change your story, plot, characters.
  • You don’t get the say in the formatting, cover design, pricing.
  • You may not get to publish your book the way you want such as paperback, hardback, audio, and ebook. Sometimes, you are only able to publish one or two of those styles.

 

Self-Publishing:

Pros:

  • You are your own boss. No contracts.
  • You set your own prices. You can also decide when to put everything on sale.
  • Sort of a pro and a con… If you want to see your books in a bookstore, you have to pay (a small fee) to use a certain service. If you want to see your books in the big name bookstores, you will have to write up a press release, requesting your work be placed on their shelves.
  • You can publish whatever genre you want, using whatever self-publishing service you want. Granted, there is a limit to publishing EVERYTHING.
  • It takes 3-12 days to have your work published, depending on the length of your manuscript, formatting, etc.
  • You get to choose your cover design – hire a professional, unless you are the professional.
  • You are paid 35-80% in royalties (Amazon will pay you 35% if your book is priced below $2.99, but will pay you 70% if it’s $2.99 or above.)
  • If you choose not to be an author anymore, you don’t have to wait on a contract to end, you can cancel your books at any time.
  • You can publish your book the way you like; ebook, paperback, audio, hardback. Plus, you can choose the size of the book.

Cons:

  • You market everything yourself, as if you weren’t already. You don’t make money if you don’t market your work.
  • Self-Publishing has a bit of a bad name to it, some people think that your work will be rubbish and not bother giving you a chance. You have to show them that they’re wrong.
  • You have to spend a little bit more out of pocket for services, such as editing, cover design, formatting, but you can budget yourself on this. Pro: I’ve learned to format my own work to save me money. It isn’t that hard. You can do your own cover design if you are very familiar with Photoshop and your cover designs look really good.

 

Hopefully I have answered some of your questions. If I missed something, message me. You can find me on Facebook. I am working on making some Youtube videos to share my writing/publishing journey with everyone.

If you haven’t already, check out my webpage: www.twistedcrowpress.com

Cheers,

JA

From Traditional to Indie Author


Some people think that indie authors make a lot of money from their books, or that they have a lot of money to self-publish.

Not entirely true.

Indie authors don’t get paid much for their books because some people would rather buy a $25.00 – $29.00 book written by a traditionally published author, plus the tax from the chain store that they purchased said book from. Indie books aren’t priced nearly as high and some of us aren’t found in large chain stores. However, it takes some leg work on our part to get our books on those shelves and at times, we aren’t always accepted.

Some people sneer when you say you’re an indie author as they think that anyone who self-publishes their work writes complete rubbish.

Not entirely true.

It is true that some of those who self-publish their work may skip the steps it takes to publish a good book, which can give the rest of us, who go through the checklist of things to do before publishing, a bad rep; editing being the first on the checklist.

There are many reasons why a lot of us authors are going the self-publishing route.

  1. Royalties – You don’t have to go through another person to get your royalty check. There were times when I didn’t receive a royalty check. And when I did, it wasn’t much to brag about. With self-publishing, you can receive a higher percentage of royalties than you would at a traditional publishing company. So, yes, the royalties are much better as an indie author. You’re not getting a smaller percentage.
  2. Marketing – I paid my publisher money to market my work for me and it was a waste of money. As an indie author, you do all the marketing yourself. True, it may cost a bit of money, but you can choose where to market and how much to spend. There are places that are free, and there are places that will charge you. I may be doing all the work marketing my work, but I know it’s getting done. Plus, I was doing most of the leg work when I was a traditionally published author anyway.
  3. Cover art/illustrations – A lot of times, authors don’t have a say as to what the cover looks like, or has a limited choice. As an indie author, you will have to find someone to do the book covers for you.
  4. Editing – At times, you would have to cut out a lot of things out of your work, or would be asked to redo a lot of things, or change up characters. As an indie author, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. However, it is highly suggested to find yourself a good editor to fix all of your grammar and punctuation.
  5. Pricing – As a traditional author, you don’t have the capabilities of setting and changing the price of your book as you would as an indie author. Plus, I can choose to publish as both, an ebook and a paperback. Whereas, I wasn’t allowed that opportunity as a traditional published author.

Basically, as an indie author, you are more in charge of what happens to your work and how much you get paid for it. But, not all of us publish complete rubbish. We’re the mom-and-pop to the big name brand chain. We need your business just as equally, if not more. We have a family to take care of, too, lol!

Bad editing and or book covers is what gives self-publishing it’s awful reputation. As the saying goes, ‘You have to spend money to make money’. As an author, traditional or indie, you’re spending money to make money. If you’re not spending money on services that molds and shapes your work into perfection, then you’re not making money.

If you visited my website, www.twistedcrowpress.com head over there and click subscribe to keep posted. All ebooks are $0.99 right now on Amazon, or FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Chaos, the first book in my young adult series Supernatural Realms, comes out 27 March. I will be running promos for it for two weeks. Be sure to subscribe to my website, or follow my author page on Facebook.

Cheers,

JA

Redrafting a Query Letter


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I’m often asked, “You’re so busy, when do you find time to write?”

Of course I reply with, “I find the time.”

I do have a full schedule, or a full plate, whichever way it’s put, I am quite the busy person. Single mom, work, college, plus a huge list of other things to add that I wish not to discuss publicly. I’ve often stated when I fit in my writing. It’s usually scribbling ideas down onto paper whenever I have a free minute, such as standing in the grocery store check out lines. Then late at night, or right before class, I’ll type them up. Usually, it helps to have a printed manuscript for me to scribble on, but I always have a notebook where I keep all my notes.

Currently, I’ve been adding the last pieces to my manuscript. A sentence or two here, cut and paste that over there… As I type this, I’m 200 words shy of making 60,000 words. Wow! Well, isn’t that enough? Apparently not! It is a young adult novel, so there is a minimum and a maximum amount of words required for a publisher to actually look into publishing an author’s book…so I’ve been told…by a couple of actual publisher’s.

I didn’t come up with that entire word count over night…I wish…It took me five, long years to come up with that amount. So, you can see, I may seem to have accomplished a lot, it just took me a long time to get here. I don’t spend all of my time on the computer, writing…though some of my relatives may think otherwise.

Honestly, after hearing other authors tell me how long it’s taken them to come up with their first manuscript for a full novel, I don’t feel so bad on how long it took for me to get this far.

I’m now at the point to where I should prepare a query letter. I have written and rewritten a query letter for this manuscript, though it just hasn’t caught an agent’s attention. It’s taken me five years to write a novel with 60K words, why should it take me so long or be so hard to write up a short professional letter? Well, it is a hard market for us authors. So hard in fact, that a query letter has to have the essentials, yet catch an agents eye for them to pick you and your manuscript. It has to be perfect.

I’ve had a few ‘maybes’, but they weren’t a definite ‘yes’. So, it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. I couldn’t understand what my query letter lacked. It had all the important details; genre, word count, title, synopsis, a little bit about me…yet, no yes’s. I had a hard time coming up with my query letter. I honestly didn’t know how to write one. I had to research and research this on the internet, through the writer’s digest magazine, even thumbed through several books on ‘how to get published’.

Until one day, I had stumbled upon a blog that proved most helpful in every way. Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant, with many years of experience, had written a ‘Complete Guide To Query Letters…’ After scrolling through this post, I finally had the understanding of how my query letter should read. It clicked. The part about her ‘Hook Instruction’ was proved most helpful to me. After having a few people read my query letter, it seems that’s what it lacked, a hook.

Now it’s time for me to go re-type my query letter, though with motivation and determination that I will have the perfect one written and sent out to all those agents I’ve picked to query.

Be sure to check our Jane Friedman’s post about, ‘The Complete Guide To Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests’. Also scroll through her other posts, you’ll find them all very helpful.

Happy writing!

The Query Letter


You spend months…years, writing your manuscript (novel). Then you spend weeks…months, editing, editing, and editing some more, until it is finally perfect. Now comes the hard part, yes, the hard part. All that time spent writing a book was the hard part, so you thought. To me it was hard finding the time to write. And though it took me four years to complete just one manuscript, I have finally, successfully finished it, edited, and polished it, so that it is ready to be published. And that hard part you ask, that’s called the query letter.

I don’t know why, but I had a hard time coming up with the words to put into a query letter. I think it’s because it’s a formal letter that goes out to someone who has the power to either reject your manuscript or accept it. You spend all that time writing one manuscript for someone to just say, “We’re not accepting that genre as it isn’t what’s trending right now.” But how did you get their attention to begin with?

You need to know who you’re sending your query letter out to for starts. Most agencies have a webpage you can go to and they have a list of agents and their bios, which will tell you what they’re looking for. That’s the crucial part of the query letter. You don’t want to send out a query letter about your fiction novel to an agent that only accepts non-fiction. It’ll just end up in the trash and no one will see it.

You start your query letter addressing that agent. Then you tell them what genre your novel is, as well as the word count. Then you write a synopsis (a short description of your book; what you would normally find on the back cover of a book). Then you end your letter with sincerity. Some agencies want you to paste the first chapter, or the first ten pages into the email, right after your query letter. If you went to their website, each agency will have a tab called ‘submission’ to which will instruct you on what they want you to send them and who to address it to. Following directions is very important.

Searching for a Literary Agent


For the past month or so, I have been working diligently on editing my young adult manuscript. I found a wonderful editor, who taught me a lot about what is important and what isn’t, pertaining to certain characters, as well as paying attention to detail. (I’m still horrible with comma usage).

I had cut a huge section out of one area which wasn’t really important to the story; sometimes, too much detail is just that, too much detail and it has to be cut. I then added more here and there to help strengthen certain areas. I also changed a character’s name after seeing it closely resembled another character’s name.

After deciding my manuscript was finally polished, I began to send out query letters to literary agents in hopes of finding someone to represent me and my work. This can either be hard, or easy. I have a book called, ‘A Guide to Literary Agents’. Over half of the book is nothing but agencies and agents. I started out with a few, checked out their websites, then checked out each agent’s bio, as well as their submission rules. It’s crucial to follow their submission guidelines.

Though I’ve received two rejections so far, I’m not letting that bring me down. It just tells me that there’s someone else out there, I just have to find them. Plus, it also tells me that someone actually read my query letter; some agencies receive over 100 query letters a day, so they don’t have time to read every one of them.

If you are in the same boat as I am, searching for a literary agent, I wish you the best of luck, and remember to stay positive.

 

How I published my children’s book


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Image found on Google images

I’m often asked, “How did you get published?”, “What all do you do to get published?”, “Did you do the illustrations in your children’s book yourself?”, “Do I have to do my own illustrations?”.

About a year ago I wrote a blog post on how I got published, the steps I took, and the process I went through (click here). I thought I would share it again with everyone as it seems to have helped those I shared it with and answer quite a few questions.

Publishing your book can be a lengthy process, but worth the wait. Also, never give up on getting published. Just because you continue to receive rejection letters, doesn’t mean you should stop sending in your work, it just means they weren’t the publishing company for you. Stephen King was rejected several times before his first book Carrie was accepted.

I found another blog by Jane Friedman on some interesting, yet very helpful tips on how to get published.

Check out those links and see if those are helpful to you. I wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors!

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Image found on Google images

To show, or not to show…


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Image found on Wikipedia

Not only am I an awesome mom, I am also a writer/ author. I’m not a professional…yet, just a budding author. I have taken a few classes to help me learn the right and wrongs of writing. I am still learning new things as I go. One of the important things that I have learned, and this is coming from the professionals, is that you are either a writer, or you’re not. You can’t be a writer and call yourself ‘an aspiring writer’ or ‘an aspiring author’. To aspire means to want. In other words, what you’re saying is, you want to be a writer, but you don’t write. Either you are a writer/ author, or you’re not.

In one of my creative writing classes, I’ve learned the writing process of ‘show, don’t tell’. At first, I was clueless. What does that mean? Someone had to explain it to me. When telling a story, you have to show people your story, not just tell it. You already know what your story is about, what your characters look like, what the scenery looks like, your readers don’t. You have to show those details in your writing, so when someone is reading it, they can get the visual of what your story is about and what it looks like.

I had also learned the saying, ‘gun on the mantel piece’. Which means if you explain everything in your story, such as items in the room, like the gun on the mantel piece, you better use it in your story somewhere. This is a such thing as too much detail.

There are some instances where you have to tell and not show. I found a blog where she explains it perfectly, click here.

Guest blogging for Emmy award winning filmaker Gayle Kirschenbaum


Recently I was asked to guest blog post on Gayle Kirschenbaum’s blog. I had to read the email three times to make sure I read it correctly. I know who Gayle is and have seen some of her work, so that is why I was shocked, excited, thrilled to have even received an email. It is really an honor to have been asked to be a guest blogger on her website.

Gayle is an Emmy Award Winning filmmaker and TV producer. She is also a published author, artist, and a motivational speaker. Some of you may have already seen some of Gayle’s work on TLC or Discovery Health; Little People, Big Charlie, Little Parents, Big Pregnancy, Little Parents: First Baby. She has even co-created a TV series on HBO called Judgement Day: Should the Guilty Go Free. Those are just to name a few.

She is currently working on a documentary film called Look At Us Now Mother. It is true story about a mother-daughter relationship between Gayle and her mother. It is truly an inspiring film about family. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. You may even relate to the relationship between Gayle and her mother. It is a film everyone should see.

Please go to this website and watch the trailer of her upcoming documentary at: http://www.lookatusnowmother.com/Home.html

You can check out her website at: http://www.kirschenbaumproductions.com

And to view my guest post on her blog: http://www.kirschenbaumproductionsblog.com/my-daughter-is-my-inspiration-for-my-childrens-books/

You can also follow Gayle on her twitter: @MyNoseBV   @glkirschenbaum And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KirschenbaumProductions   https://www.facebook.com/kplookatusnowmother

Summer is halfway over


When I got up this morning I said out loud that I hope to get some writing done. My grandmother heard what I said replied, the summer is almost over. I had to stop and think for a few minutes, she’s right, it’s the last day of June. I have at least a month and a half before I start another semester of college. I have two more semesters left until I received my Associates degree, then start working on my Bachelor’s.

I wanted to get some writing done this summer, but it turned out that didn’t happen…so far anyway. I have been kept busy working with my publisher on the final approval of my book, working with the illustrator on the final draft of the illustrations. I had sent my book back twice due to a misspelled word and to also correct some illustrations. I then began working with my marketing manager on ordering my book for my personal use, and not to mention promotional items such as posters, book marks, and business cards. Fixing up my personal business cards took me at least an hour. I was picky on how they should look. I went through several styles, then went through several fonts and coloring of the font, then should I add a picture, should I add my phone number. It was hard to make up my mind, but I finally came up with something that I truly liked.

Then I needed to prepare for upcoming events events (please check my upcoming events and book signings), do I have a table, who’s going to sit with me and help me with my events, what should I bring, all these questions needed answers and quick. I also began to promote my work, emailing everyone in my contacts about my book coming out. I became a member of the Bryant Chamber of Commerce, which is a huge way of promoting my work. I talked to the ladies in the office for at least a half hour on setting up a booth for local events, getting published, other authors in town, and adding myself to their website.

You can say that I’m finding out myself that there’s a lot of work involved to being an author. Not only do you take the time to sit down and write a manuscript then turn it in to a publisher, you also have to find the time to go out and promote your work. That is the most important part. Though I’m only promoting myself locally and through social media, my marketing manager helps promote my work through bookstores and news media. All and all it’s a busy process.

I also have been kept busy with my daughter who has three therapist that see her almost every day. It also turns out that my daughter may have Autism, she has many signs of Autism and has been working with a couple of therapist who specialize in that area. I’m truly blessed to work with them as well, as I learn how to react to my daughter’s meltdowns and also how to work with her on other things. Just working with my daughter daily keeps me busy in itself that I find it hard to take time to do anything else. I don’t put her in daycare during the summer because I want to spend time with her. There’s always so much to do during the summer.

This coming Thursday is the 4th of July and I haven’t even looked to see what festivities there’s going to be here in town. Usually I already know and have made plans, but this year it seems to have sprung up on me quickly. What are your plans for Independence Day?