Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Another new publishing path?

In this ever-changing world of becoming a published author, it seems there's never a shortage of new terminology to keep up on.

The newest craze is hybrid publishing. Okay, it's not really a new craze. It's actually just another term for a craze we've been talking about all along - anything that is not traditional publishing, or self-publishing.  

Brian Klems of Writers Digest says, "Hybrid publishing is not a term all publishers or authors in this space use; other terms that describe this type of publishing include 'author-assisted publishing, independent publishing, partnership publishing, co-publishing, and entrepreneurial publishing.' Hybrid publishing is the umbrella term."

Brooke Warner publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Green Light Your Book, says, "For people who like to think in black-and-white terms, the hybrid publishing and self-publishing space upends their sense of order. Without hybrid, there are just traditional publishing and self-publishing. Black and White. You get paid to publish or you pay to get published. The hybrid publishing space is not for black-and-white thinkers. 

Click here to read Brooke's full article.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Emotional strength from a literary agent

Self-publishing is not a passing fad. It's been growing in strength for nearly a decade now and shows no signs of stopping. 

In a time when our world is becoming more automated and more digital, it's nice to know that there are still some real benefits to working with a live person; someone who's willing to be your cheerleader and work with you towards success. 

This article is a fantastic look at why literary agents are still worth their weight in gold - for your emotional sanity as an author if nothing else.  

"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."                                - Bethany Neal

Click here to read the full article. 

...and read more about Bethany Neal here:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get kids talking - it's a good thing!

Earlier this week I read a great article written by 7th grade teacher Luke Reynolds  discussing how to not dumb-down your children's book.

This is often really tough for adults because, well, we’re not kids. It’s impossible to remember what we did and did not understand 20, 30, 40 (or more) years ago. 

I get it, I'm right there with you. What we need to remember is that reading teaches kids. An author’s main objective may not always to teach, but it’s one of those crazy side effects that we’re stuck with. Teaching is always happening. With every book, no matter the genre, our minds absorb language, sentence structure, new ideas, new theories, different worlds, bizarre characters, foreign human interactions… (both foreign interactions, and foreign humans depending on the book) 
...the list goes on and on.

So why do so many authors insist on dumbing down children's books? Instead, the goal should be to build up a new world with new ideas while keeping the context of a world kids recognize.  It's okay to use a few big words that they may not immediately understand. It's great to have your characters do something unexpected. 

That's how you get readers asking questions!

Kid questions are the best - they are thoughtful and genuine. 

If your story gets a dialogue started with a kid, then you my friend have done more than so many authors are able to do.

Monday, May 4, 2015

You can't have peas tomorrow.

Plant. Cultivate. Harvest.

It’s spring – a time of planting and growing. A time that just happens to line up with another
rejection letter on my book. It’s been four months and just over 50% of the publishers, and agents that I've sent my manuscript to have sent back “thanks, but no thanks” letters.

Since I am not one to dwell on bad news, all I can do is take what I've learned over the last year and add it to the story that, five years from now will accompany my success – a story that will be much stronger because it’s full of hard work and heartache.

After all, we all know that every story needs a middle. “Once upon a time there was a girl who had instant success.” Is neither compelling, inspirational, nor realistic. The problem is in this world of instant gratification we often forget that the middle is the most important part. Anything worth doing is worth doing well – and that means that we cannot skip the all important step of cultivation.

  • No one would expect that a seed planted on Monday would give you peas on Tuesday – you have to wait.
  • No one expects to walk into a fancy restaurant, order steak and lobster and have it on the table within five minutes.
  • No one expects a five year old to enter Kindergarten in September and graduate from high school the following May.
So why do we think that everything we want in life should happen now? 

  • I need to send a letter from Chicago to someone in New York. Pony express is long gone and the train just isn't fast enough. (enter air mail, 1920 via USPS
  • I need to talk to someone right now – someone who doesn’t live in my house (enter the “long range” telephone around 1876) 
  • It’s January, I need oranges, but I live in Canada. (enter the food trucking industry) I have food, but it's cold (enter the microwave, 1946) I don’t want to make dinner but I need to eat now! (Enter the fast food industry.) 
  • I need to know where my friends are now! (Enter Facebook.) I need to know what Kim Kardashian is thinking at this moment (enter Twitter)…

Clearly we've been working towards this point of instant gratification for hundreds of years – and more so in the last 60 years than ever before. But now that it’s here, is it possible that we've lost sight of the benefits of patience and hard work? Of having goals and working towards them for years instead of minutes? 

You can’t have peas tomorrow if you plant them today and any story worth telling has a middle. 

The middle is the best part 

Today is your "middle." Enjoy it, learn from it, and when you get to the end, look back on it with pride.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

14 Questions You're Afraid to Ask Literary Agents

This week I am re-posting a great article from Writer's Digest
It is well written, humorous, and worth the read.

(Full disclosure - if you are not interested in the publishing world, this one may not be for you.)

As an agent of more than five years with the Irene Goodman Agency, I am oftentimes approached at writing retreats, conferences, children's birthday parties, nail salons, shooting ranges and quinceaneras, and asked a variety of questions about my take on the inner workings of the publishing industry.  I have no problem straight-shooting the goods in those moments ("Honestly, Father McKenna? I think a young adult series based on Fifty Shades of Grey is a terrible idea...") and in fact quite enjoy the discourse. 

Earlier this year, Writer's Digest reached out and invited writers everywhere to anonymously - without fear of judgement or need to be overly polite - submit the questions they'd always secretly wanted to ask a literary agent, but had been afraid to voice. When WD then approached me and asked if I'd be willing to answer a selection of those questions in print - and to do so with a level of candor that writers would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere - I applauded their creativity and immediately grabbed my thinking cap (read: flask) and dove in. 
by Barbara Poelle
I found the questions to be insightful, and I hope I did the responses justice. If not, I am not Barbara Poelle - I am Enid Snarkleftitz and I have anger management issues.

Here's the full article:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


To Publish Together. 

The options that exist for getting your book out into the world are growing.

let's review:

There is the modern way of self publishing – there are many companies to choose from, you are responsible for all of your own illustrations, editing, marketing, but you retain 100% of the rights to your book. Usually digital only or printed on demand (when an order comes in, a book is printed and shipped)

There is the traditional way of submitting your manuscript to an agent. That agent represents your book and often prefers to work with a separate illustrator. They take control of the editing and layout and work with you to strengthen the plot and rework any sections that may need to be refined. For that, they take a cut of sales. They may or may not help with marketing efforts depending on the agency.

There is the less traditional way, but still very selective way of submitting your manuscript to a publisher directly.  Similar to working with an agent, they work with you on editing, layout and plot structure. There is less marketing and and in most cases, they take less of a smaller portion of the sales. The large majority of publishers choose to only work with agents. That vastly limits the options of publishers that you can submit a manuscript to directly.

And the one I most recently ran into, co-publishing. I’ll get back to this in a bit… but first, a story.

At the end of 2014 I buried myself in research and narrowed down a list of publishers in the US that might be a good fit. The publishing agency had to be:

  • Willing to look at unagented submissions (I do not have an agent after all)
  • looking for beginning chapter books (such is my current manuscript)
  • open to topic content with elements of fantasy mixed with the struggles of youthfulness. (Pumpkin Lou is both fantasy and a kid) 
I came up with a list of eight.

So before Christmas, I sent out my eight manuscripts – some via email, some via snail mail, but all with very specific (and very different) submission guidelines.
Six days later, I got an email from Renaissance House

“We like your manuscript, we feel it has a lot of promise, we want to work with you, but…” 

I know I was excited too!

“… we aren't accepting new projects at this time. However our co-publishing partner is . Would you be interested in working with them?”

Still exciting. 

"Perhaps." I told them… let me ask a million questions and see where this ends up.

I learned that co-publishing is supposedly the best of both worlds – you get the control of your story and the fast turnaround time of self-publishing.  But you also get a professional editor, layout and graphics department, and possibly illustrator depending on the type of book you are publishing.
All for the low, low price of…?  Well in this case it was $2400

You do still have to be accepted by a publisher, so not every Random Joe off the street has this option. But at the same time, publishers can clearly be less picky about who they are selecting because there’s not quite as much time or effort at stake like there is for traditionally published books.

The question that I never got a clear answer to is that of “Returnability”.

What is returnability? Great question.  Let’s say you are Barns and Noble - book store giant. You have thousands of new books at your fingertips every day. How do you possibly narrow down which ones to put on your shelves?  One quick way to shorten the list is the “Returnability Guarantee.” If the book you choose does not fly off your shelves at break neck speed, those books need to be returned to the publisher ASAP. You are wasting useful shelf space!

This means that if the books cannot be returned, Barns and Noble will not risk putting them on their shelves. Or any other large books store for that matter. They may offer them online – because they don’t have to keep track of any physical stock - but that's the best you'll ever do.

With self-publishing, the publisher does not ever want books back. They are not in the business of helping their authors get books sold, so they do not care if your book flops. You can often pay extra for the option, but it’s usually a lot extra. From what I can gather co-publishing falls into the same non-returnability category.  This may not be true of all contracts, but if you find yourself with a co-publishing offer, you now at least know to ask the question.

Needless to say, I turned down the offer from Renaissance House. I have set my standards high and refuse to give in just quite yet. 
It’s coming up on one year since I first submitted the picture book manuscript of this same story. It has gone through major revisions, lengthened by about 9000 words and changed titles twice. 

I have learned a lot, and when I do finally get this book published, it will definitely be because of hard work and perseverance.  And that in itself makes for a good story – and hopefully an interesting blog.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I heard this song on the radio the other morning on my way into work and thought it was a great way to kick off 2015.

Thank You Natasha Bedingfield!


 ...And here's a link to the lyrics if you just want to read her poetic message.