Thursday, May 31, 2012

Writers Are Crazy

Tip of the Day: Have you seen the awesome You Tube video of Isaac Lamb's marriage proposal? It's got 8 million hits now and totally adorable. Check it out.

I saw this comic from being passed around facebook this week and it made me think a) it's so true and b) writers are crazy.

I go through this with each of my books. At first I think whatever I'm working on is awful and I can't get started the right way and no one will ever want to read it. Then as I get grooving along I start to love it. And by the end I'm pulling myself through and convinced I was nuts to think it was any good and it's dreadful. I put it aside and when I go back to it,surprise, it's awesome again and I wonder how I ever wrote it.

Could you imagine if people in other occupations did this? Say a taxi driver.

Me: Take me to Millennium Park.
Taxi Driver: Ugh. I'm such a bad driver. Probably won't even remember which pedal is the gas. Wait, I do remember. And I know which way to go to get Millennium Park. Hey, I'm an AWESOME taxi driver! Whoo hoo! Oh wait. Nope. This is Wrigley Field. Man I suck.

Or what about a Neurosurgeon?

Neurourgeon: Who is the genius that said I should cut into this dude's head? Really? I'll never get the tumor out. I totally suck at this. Oh wait. There it is. Maybe I can get it out. Oh wow, I'm totally getting it! I'm awesome! Look at me go! This tumor is history...oh wait. Darn it. That wasn't it. I hope that wasn't important. Ugh, I suck.

See? We're the only crazy people right? Are you crazy too?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who Loves You (or And Who Do You Love?*)

*with apologies to Messiah

Tip of the Day: I still want to answer the question about what YA genres are going out most in my library, but I want do do some more research on it first. Stay turned for next week's post with answers!

Now that I have attended seven Rochester Teen Book Festivals, I have seen a few patterns in the types of teen fans who come to swoon over their favorite authors. Keep in mind that it doesn't mean that fans of different authors/types of books do not exist; just that fans of certain types of books seem to inherantly be more "fangirl/fanboy crazy" than those of others.

So here are the authors/types of books that have long lines at the autographing sessions:

1. Manga writers/artists. These fans often dress up like the characters. The teens like to draw and identify with the artists.

2. Heather Brewer and her vampire series. These fans wore the iconic vampire smiley on their clothes and loved having a symbol of their fandom.

3. Edgy contemporary. Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson are ever popular because of their brutal honesty that teens can relate to.

4. Paranormal/Magic bestselling series romance authors. Alyson Noel and Libba Bray, for example, are well known names with series that teens can geek on more and more with each book's release.

This list is not exhaustive, but just an illustration of the types of teens who often come to these fests. There may be 100 more who love YA lit and the attending authors, but who just don't have that same fandom passion as those of certain genres/authors.

So authors, take heart! If your line is not long during the autographing sessions at book festivals, it may just mean your fans at in their bedrooms reading your books instead of joining a crowd where they are no comfortable.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What makes a Book Star (or how can you be The Hunger Game too)

Tip of the Day: did anyone else keep thinking it was Monday today? Which is why I'm posting a bit late. Let this be a lesson that you should always get your stuff done ahead of time. Now if I could only apply my "tip" to myself, I'd be all set :) 

After watching America's Got Talent this evening (yes, I know I watch way too much TV and reality TV and talk about it on this blog more than any normal person should, but oh well...that's life), Sharon Osbourne made a comment to a 6-year old performer (or more specifically a 3+2 child) that for some reason has stuck with me this evening. It was something to the effect of: "very few people in life have star quality--and you have it."

This got me thinking about books in general and what makes a book a "star." There's so many amazing books out there, but not all of them can have "star" sales like Twilight, The Hunger Games, or even Fifty Shades of Grey :) So what makes these books stars in the public's eyes (and pocket books)?

Obviously a push from the publisher helps. But what else makes a book a star? Here are some of my thoughts:

Neat, literal book star from
  • You need a killer title! Enough said. Would The Hunger Games have caught on nearly as much as it did if the title was something as simple as District 12? Maybe, but it doesn't command your attention as much. At least not mine.

  • You need a cool concept. And even more, you need a cool concept that can be summarized in one sentence, or better yet the title. Even though people say there aren't any new concepts, there are still ways to make a story stand out with a simple, yet intriguing concept. 

    All of the above titles I mentioned can be summarized in less then a sentence. Even just "YA vampire love" gets across the concept of Twilight. Though there are many vampire love stories out there now and I'm sure there were several at the time Twilight came out, so I guess we could expand it a bit to just be "teen girl falls in love with a hot, sparkly vampire." Which gets your attention if you like love stories. If you like adventure, then a story about "a televised competition to the death" pretty much makes you sit up and pay attention. And if you like "adult" romances, then you know the book for you. Though I do think Fifty Shades of Grey is a bit vague of a title, however, I'm sure that was probably done on purpose, in this case.

  • Then it needs to sparkle enough with the writing, characters, and plot, so that people start talking about it. And if the above two apply it makes it "very" easy for people to start talking and spreading the word, because they have a simple concept to relay with a unique twist, and a cool title that summarizes it all and makes it easy for the next person to pass the info along in a large game of "book telephone." And then, bam, before you know it the book is mentioned on every single show from The View, Saturday Night Live, and everything in between.

    So basically, also like Sharon mentioned, to be a "star" you obviously need to have some talent, but much of it is being able to move people and get them talking about you, or in this case "the book."

    --Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

For my Dad, who sailed around the world with the Navy. For my uncle, who served in Vietnam. For my Grandfather, who served in France in WWII. And for my brother, who is spending this weekend with the Army Reserve. Thank you!

As writers, we explore the human potential to sacrifice for others. We describe worlds created by people who were willing to give everything to make those worlds better and to keep them safe and free. I hope I can always do this with the proper respect and awe.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Let's Talk Money

Tip of the Day: Read this post by Nathan Bransford and swoon. I LOVE it when trad and self-pub come together. I'm a fan of ALL books, no matter how they're published.

If talking about money freaks you out, then avert your eyes. However, I'd like to encourage you to read on anyway.

Let me make a statement first:




I've been writing since I was seven - back when I thought a penny was the most valuable of coins because it was the same color as my hair. So, please, don't waste your time thinking I'm writing just to make some bank. No, I write because my over-active imagination needs an outlet.

Okay, let's get back to the today's topic: money, moolah, coin, bank, cash, the almighty dollar.

Self-publishing can be very lucrative.

I'm closing in on 20,000 sales overall, mainly spread across four books because I usually have two or three of my seven products free at any given time.

I'm on track to clear six figures this year.

Last year, I made under $5,000. This year I'm going to make over $100,000.

I've never made that much in any job. Granted, all of my jobs have been in the arts (bookstores, museums, libraries, teaching flute lessons, a stint at Hellmark, I mean, Hallmark).

Why bring this up? Am I trying to make you jealous? Ha, not close. Most of that money goes to business expenses, paying for my kids' education, and our house is aging which means every appliance is dying. If it weren't for this income, we'd be struggling a lot.

I wanted to share this because you need to know that money can be made in self-publishing. "They" say that less than 10% of all self-pubs make more than $10,000 a year.  Either I just happen to hang out with uber-successful indie authors, or the findings are skewed.

Many of my self-pub friends are pulling down double or triple or quadruple my sales, which leads me to believe their incomes are far exceeding mine.

When I wanted to get traditionally published, I expected, I hoped, I'd land a $5,000 or $10,000 advance - knowing full well I'd probably never earn it out. I'm not against traditional publishing. Self-publishing is not for everyone and I have no clue what my future will bring, so keeping all doors open is very exciting.

What I do want to stress are these points:

- Writing and publishing are two different jobs. Don't write for money, write for love of writing. But if you're going to publish, treat it as a business.

- Publishing is a business. Wait, I just said that! I cannot emphasize it enough. If you're going to self-publish, you are becoming a business owner. You must think like a businessperson.

- Network, network, network. Self-publishing is the biggest misnomer. Other than writing the first draft, there is NOTHING I do by myself. In fact, I could call myself a self-author and then say I run a small publishing business. That's more accurate (though self-author sounds really dumb - lol).

- Never give up. Last year at this time, I was selling just a few copies of my books here and there. Never in a million, billion, gazillion years did I ever think I'd make more than $500 a month. Seriously. My first goal was to make $100 self-pubbing. Then it was to make $550 a month to pay for my kids' tuition. Now, well, now I just hope it keeps up.

- Don't rest on your pile 'o' cash. Publishing is a fickle business. Last year's bestseller could be this year's dud. You never know what your income will be. It's impossible to predict when your sole income is based off the whims of the buying public. I grew up on a farm. Some years were better than others. Some years we barely made it. I use this mentality toward my publishing career. I'm saving money like crazy because I have no idea if it will be there tomorrow. I sit down at the keyboard every day and work around the clock.

I wanted this post to give you hope that maybe you could do it too. There are a million magical reasons surrounding my success. I can't quantify all of them and give you a clear path to success. I just want you to know - it is possible

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing Middle Grade Books

Tip of the Day: Midde Grade readers ARE using kindles etc. to read ebooks. I know this is something a lot of us authors wondered. We kind of thought that most ebook readers would be a little older, at least into YA. When I had a chance to hang out with a bunch of 4th and 5th graders the other day I took a poll and the majority of them said that they read ebooks on their parent's ereaders in addition to paperbacks. Want to hear more about my book club visit with the kids? Read my blog from Tuesday.

Last week Giora asked how we, as middle grade writers, get into the heads of middle grade characters and have the dialogue sound authentic. Since I'm working on a middle grade right now I thought I'd tackle these questions. I spend a lot of time thinking back to when I was that age and how I handled different situations. And while that was some time ago, things aren't THAT different. Sure we have more technology now so it's wise to pay attention to that kind of thing. You probably wouldn't three-way call your frenemy and hit mute while your best friend got her to say a bunch of stuff you weren't supposed to hear (which we did ALL of the time). But you'd have her forward you the e-mail she sent talking smack about you. And you wouldn't wear big hats and tease your hair ala Saved by the Bell:

So you should pay attention to fashion current trends. But the basic stuff that happened to us as kids at that age still goes on today. A middle grade girl is still hurt when her best friend starts hanging out more with a new friend. Or the boy she likes rejects her. Or she doesn't get the role in the school play that she wanted so desperately. So if you recall how you felt when things like that happened to you, it's easy to get into the heads of your middle grade characters.

When I wrote my first middle grade, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, I was thinking about my own 7th grade fake boyfriend and the trouble I got into because of him and my BFF at the time. It was in thinking about this that I came up with the idea for the book. And the idea of fake boyfriends must be eternal because people are always telling me about the fake boyfriends they had (or still have!) when I meet them at book signings.

And to answer your question about realistic dialogue, just listen to how kids are talking now. Turn on Disney or Nickolodeon and take note. Listen to a group of kids at the library chat. Kids today really don't speak all that differently than we did at that age. I hear my 9 year saying "Dude!" to his friends all the time. And I said "Dude!" at that age too. Though I can pretty much guarantee that no one today still says, "Like, gag me with a spoon!" :-)

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teen Book Fest Year 2012! (or Lucky Seventh Year)

Tip of the Day: Stay tuned for future posts from me on: 1) what teens in my lib are reading now; 2) how teen fans of different genres show their author/book love.
On Saturday, I volunteered as an author handler for the Seventh Annual Rochester Teen Book Festival in upstate NY. WOW! What a great day!

Highlights for me:

1. Meeting online writer aquaintance Cyn Balog in person for the first time (her paranormal romances are excellent because they are so different; no vamps, zombies, or werewolves for her).

2. Learning that everyone loves Beth Fantaskey's JESSICA books so I should read another vampire novel too.

3. Scoring an ARC of Cyn's cool new book TOUCHED (my review here). Thanks, Cyn!

4. Hearing A. S. King talk to teens -- and adults -- about how your high school self does not identify you for life. And how we all must learn to accept everything about ourselves.

5. Watching a teen volunteer whip up an awesome PowerPoint of Cyn and Beth's book covers in a matter of minutes, and then man the computer and slides during the next two sessions.

6. Hanging with my old awesome intern/new YA librarian Kelley (she blogs here).

7. Being in a gym full of music and teens and authors and noise and seeing people of all ages sitting on the bleachers quietly reading their new autographed books.

8. Seeing hundreds and hundreds of teens excited about books, reading, authors, and TBF!

Thank you to the librarians, authors, publishers, donors, and attendees who make this festival possible and FREE for all to attend!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tip of the Day: publishing continues to change, most recently with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt filing bankruptcy yesterday. Hopefully they can get all their finances restructured and continue to put out great books!

Last week Tina held an Ask A2A day and one of the questions for us working in a library is what books are most popular among teens. Deena is the expert on this and I'm sure she'll share her experiences tomorrow. I don't work in YA much, so I was actually curious about this question myself. So I decided to do a bit of investigating and pulled a report for the most popular books checked out in the YA department for the last three months.

By far the most popular ones were Manga, followed by anything with a movie tie-in. Not extremely surprised. But if you are curious, here are the top five books checked out at my midwest library.

5.) My Girlfriend's a Geek
4.) Catching Fire
3.) Marmalade Boy
2.) The Hunger Games
1.) Hikaru No Go

A bit more surprisingly were the most popular subjects checked out: high school students--comic books; survival; best friends--fiction; vampires--fiction (does a big sigh--hoping this phase is over soon); dating (social customs); insurgency--juvenile fiction (hmm...); spies--juvenile fiction; wizards--comic books; X-men; Spiderman; orphans

Just curious if this surprises anyone? Now, I do think a lot of what people read reflects what is available at the time. So I'm not sure this is exactly what people are asking for or not.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stage Direction (Exit Stage Right Even)

Tip of the Day: Anne R. Allen has an information-packed post on her blog called Who Are the Big Six and What Does Indie Publishing Really Mean?

Looking for a way to drop some word count? Check your stage direction.

I'm talking about the words in your manuscript that get your characters from one place to another. For example, your character is sitting on the couch and gets up to walk across the room:

"I sat on the couch. Then I stood up and walked across the room to my desk, where I keep my computer. I turned it on and logged in. I couldn't wait to look at my ex-boyfriend's prom photo on Facebook."

You don't need to include things we know have to happen. If you're sitting, we know you have to stand up to walk. We know computers have to be turned on to work and they don't float in midair. So all that can be cut:

"I sat on the couch. Then I walked across the room to my computer. I couldn't wait to look at my ex-boyfriend's prom photo on Facebook. Did he really wear a neon pink tux?"

See, I got to do something fun with the word count I saved.

Remember, we know you have to find your car keys to start your car. We know you have to open a box of cereal to pour the cereal. We know you have to turn a door knob to open a door. So cut out all that stage direction unless it matters to the plot. If your character is late because it took her computer 10 minutes to warm up and she lost her car keys, then your stage direction isn't really stage direction any more. Now you've created obstacles.

How do you know when you've cut too much? Because I cut too much, or don't write it at all. That's when my beta readers say things like, "Wait, she's speeding down the highway? I thought she was still stalking Facebook."

Stage direction is a balance game. You need just the right amount. Too much and your pace drags; too little and your readers have to go back and re-read to figure out where your characters are. In other words, it's not something I can get on the page perfectly on my first draft. I need feedback. Desperately. I know how she got to her car, so I often don't notice that I forgot to tell my readers.

How do you think you balance out? Do you naturally write too much stage direction or too little?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 18, 2012

Self-publishing, The Hunger Games, & Selling Out

Tip of the Day: We want to know if you have questions for us. If so, head over to Kristina's post from yesterday and comment! :D

What do self-publishing, The Hunger Games, and selling out have in common? A lot more than you might think.

I fully admit it - two years I ago I would have told you self-publishing was for failures (or small churches and historical groups looking to publish their own histories for a limited audience). I would have rolled my eyes and told you that I would never, ever consider self-publishing because traditional publishing was all that mattered.

2012 Megg would like to tell mid-2010 Megg, "You're a sheltered, close-minded idiot."

Self-publishing is a different beast than it was ten years ago. With costs at practically nothing, anyone can slap anything they want up on the web. But here's the kicker:

Those of us that want to succeed will work our asses off to make sure our product is the best we can make it. We will work hard to promote ourselves. We will recognize writing and publishing as two separate businesses, leaving the emotion for the first draft and implementing the business sense on the publishing side.

This is where I think The Hunger Games steps in as a great analogy. Katniss and Peeta taught us that even though we're forced to play a rough game (I think everyone would agree that traditional publishing isn't for the weak), we can find ways around the strict rules. We can find fans (in our case, readers) who will support us. We can win and change the entire game in doing so.

This is what self-publishing has done. The game isn't over, far from it. We're just rewriting the rules and gaining the respect of our readers at the same time.

But sometimes with winning comes change. I won't get into the plot lines of Catching Fire and Mockingjay because I know not everyone on the planet has read them (you should if you haven't). Sometimes an indie gets the notice of the big boys. If traditional publishing comes knocking, should a self-pub give them the finger and move on?


Now some self-pubs might call me a traitor for that. Too bad.

In my viewpoint, moving from self-publishing to traditional publishing isn't a crime. I also don't look at self-publishing as a stepping stone to traditional. I see a new model of publishing emerging.

Authors, like myself, can now weigh the pros and cons of deals and we can decide whether to accept or reject them.

It's not about who holds the power. Moving from self to trad is simply coming to a mutual decision about whether or not an author's work is something that will resonate with a wider audience.

That's it. It's not about who's better than anyone else. It's simply a matter of pure economics and the flavor of the day.

If I was offered the right traditional publishing deal, would I take it? Depends on the terms, really. I'm open to exploring any option. I'm also open to walking away from something that isn't worth it. It isn't my goal to tell people, "Ooooh, I got a trad deal." So what? If the deal isn't worth my time and money (because I'd be giving up a lot in royalties to take a trad deal), then I am okay with walking away.

Publishing is a business that provides people access to a form of entertainment. It is not here to fulfill an author's wildest dreams. The reading public does that. If a reader can escape through your book, then your wildest dreams have been fulfilled. If your only concern is seeing a copy of your book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, then you're not looking at writing the right way. Writing is a creative outlet for those of us with wild imaginations and good grammar. There simply isn't room for all of us on the shelf at your local bookstore.

And guess what? That's okay too.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ask A2A

Tip of the Day: This shirt is awesome ->

You can get it HERE.

It's ASK A2A DAY!!! What's that you say? It's a day for our readers to ask us anything at all (writing related, lol. We don't do religion and politics.) and we'll address it in blog posts in the coming weeks. We've got a lot of knowledge between the five of us:

  • 5 MG and/or YA writers
  • 1 Traditionally and 1 indie pubbed
  • 2 teen librarians
  • 1 editor
And we've all been through the querying and agent hunting process. So if there is anything you've bee dying to know or hoping we'd blog about, now is the time. You can either leave your questions in a comment on this post or if you'd rather stay anonymous (we won't mention names) e-mail us at @

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do you Book Fest? (or Catch the Festival Fever!)

Tip of the Day: Anyone in the greater Rochester, NY area must come to our Teen Book Festival this Saturday!

Last Thursday, Tina talked about which author events are generally worth an author's time. One type of event she didn't mention are Book Festivals. I guess they could be considered similar to "Author Fairs," but I'm not sure; hopefully someone will weigh in with their opinion on if these are a "must" or "bust."

What I do know is that the Rochester Teen Book Festival has grown and grown over the past seven years, and there are thousands of teens who attend. Through the promotion and publicity for the event, the attending author's names are spread across the county, and much of Western NY. Authors now ask the Fest organizer if they can come, instead of her having to pursue them. Part of it is, from what I hear, because of how well the authors are treated by the organizers.

But some authors still say no thanks when they are invited.

For the authors who do attend, is it worth going? Like Tina said, it is an all-day affair that takes away from writing/family time. Some publishers do pay the authors' travel expenses, but some do not, so for a long trip that can be pricey and a lot of books would need to sell for it to be worth it financially.

If the authors want to connect with teen readers, they will often succeed at this event. But if teens have limited money to spend and can't buy ooks no matter how much they love an author and her presentation, is it worth it?

And if you are an author with a limited audience/brand new book without a following yet, some authors may worry that no teens will attend their breakout sessions which can be stressful.

Yet during the autographing session at the end of the day, it is hard not to get excited at all the teens who are into books and authors and reading!

What do you think about Book Festivals as worthy author events?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making your Manuscript Beautiful

Tip of the Day: check out this post at about 17 Reasons Manuscripts are Rejected. My favorite is because "the book is too complicated to be published." This one is especially important for me right now, since sometimes writing mysteries I have a tendency to over think things and want to make my manuscript way more complicated then it needs to be. Reining in sometimes is just as important as including lots of great details and descriptions.

Went to see my niece's fifth grade production of Beauty and the Beast this evening, so now I have nothing but adorable images of all the cast in my head. I also don't have much to share this week, so instead all I will say is good luck turning your "Beast" of a manuscript into a "Beauty."

According to the story, all the beast needed to turn back into a prince was the love of a woman. So going on that logic than I guess all you need to have a great story is to inject it with lots of love! Which I guess I need to do this week, especially since all I can see is all the negative to the story and it's looking very beastly to me. Maybe regrouping and then trying to remember all the positive and falling in love with my characters again is exactly what I need to do. Then the rest should flow from there.

At least let's hope so.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, May 14, 2012

Psyching Yourself Out

Tip of the Day: Leila Austin at YA Highway gives us 33 things to do when you are feeling a bit angry with your novel.

I've been taking Vinyasa Yoga classes, and I find a lot of the lessons very applicable to writing. For example, I can't balance. Any pose that requires me to lift one leg, I shake like a blender and topple over. As soon as I know it's time to balance on one leg, I think, "Ugh, this is going to be hard."

And my instructor tells the class: You can't go into a pose thinking this is going to be hard. Maybe it won't be, maybe it will be. The point is to live in the moment, not worry about the next moment. Maybe the pose will be easier today, or maybe it will be harder than ever before. But you have to experience it, not label it.

I try to think of this before I start writing. I want to say, ugh, the chapter I have to write today is going to be so hard! And querying is hard, and writing a synopsis is hard. After all, I'm not wrong. I know I can't balance on one leg and I know querying is tough on my psyche. But I'm not doing myself any favors by telling myself how hard it's going to be before I start. I just have to go through the experience, taking time to curl up in a fetal position when needed.

So when I think, like today, "I don't want to write today, this scene is going to be hard," I try to counter with "Why don't you try it and see if it's as hard as you thought? Maybe the universe has something else in mind."

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 11, 2012

Almost 1,000,000 Served on Wattpad

Tip of the Day: Make the BEST cookie bars you'll ever have - trust me, you won't regret it. Just wear your stretchy pants the next day ;)

About six months ago, I posted my first novel, Anathema, on Wattpad. I didn't know what to expect in terms of readership. I wasn't too familiar with the website or how readers would discover my work.

As of this moment, Anathema has had 987,374 reads. Crazy, I know.

So what is Wattpad?

Wattpad is an online community of writers. Anyone can upload a story to Wattpad, get critiques on their work, form writers groups,  make friends, and enhance their writing experience. Or if you're just a reader, it's a great place to find new talent!

My path with Wattpad is slightly different than most. A writer friend of mine suggested I join Wattpad and put me in touch with her Wattpad advisor. I submitted Anathema to them and was thrilled to hear they wanted me as a featured author. I agreed to post Anathema on Wattpad for six months, write a few blog posts for them, and run a contest.

It's been a really phenomenal experience for me. I've connected with so many new readers - readers I wasn't reaching through my regular outlets.

Whether you're a writer or a reader, Wattpad is definitely worth checking out. They have apps for your smartphone or tablet. You can access them online.

Now you're probably thinking... I bet Megg is making money off of this. I bet Wattpad paid her to write this post ... You'd be wrong. I'm writing it simply because I really love Wattpad and want others to check it out. No money exchanges hands between Wattpad and myself. That's right - everything on Wattpad is FREE!

I hope you take some time to check Wattpad out today. If you haven't read Anathema yet, now might be the time to do it. ;)

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Author Appearances: A Must or a Bust?

Tip of the Day: How To Publish a Book with Simon Pulse. Betcha didn't think it was so easy, lol!

If you've ever come home from a 6 or 7 hour author event having only sold one book, you may have wondered why did I just do that? I could have spent this Saturday with my kids or writing. This has happened to me several times. So how do you know which author appearances are a must and which are a bust?


1) Conferences

Conferences are awesome-- especially if you're speaking, presenting, or signing at one. The people that attend conferences pay to be there and are usually interested in your specific type of work. For example, Anderson's puts on a great Young Adult Literature Conference in the fall each year.

2) Book Club Events

I love book club events. I have one coming up in a week too. These events are great because you have an audience that has already read your book and will have great questions for you. Love them!

3) Skyping

Skyping with kids (whether it's a classroom, bookclub etc.) is a great way to reach out to readers without the expense of travel. I always do them for free. Plus you can totally go the professional on top/jammies on the bottom route and no one will know. :-)

4) Group Book Signings

Groups booksigning are awesome-- especially if you can promote it as a tour together. Tours tend to draw more attention and people love coming to see a big group of authors rather than just getting to meet one. And group booksignings are easy to put together. Tours are a little harder since you'll need to pick a number of locations and possibly travel out of state but still doable.


1) Author fairs that you have to travel far to get to or they ask you to pay.

Author fairs are free events and you never really know who is coming to them or if they're interested in you're genre. They also last anywhere from 4-6 hours on a weekend. While they're fun to do (especially if you have other author friends there), they aren't a good investment of your time if they're a far drive or they cost you money. One town recently invited me to come to their author fair for a $35 fee. Generally you only sell 10-20 books at an author fair (some days even less). I'd have to sell 35 books just to break even.

2) School Visits that don't pay you.

I'm not saying you can't do free school visits here and there-- especially if it's your local library or local school and it's easy for you to slip it in your day. But having to pay for travel, arrange and pay for babysitting, and create a presentation is too much to do for free. I've been asked to give a 45-minute presentation to an auditorium of students for free and the time it'd take me to write and practice that presentation, not to mention put together slides, would take so much longer than that. Like, probably a good 10-12 hours. Sometimes it's better to just keep writing.

3) Meet and Greets that don't have a clear audience.

In the past I've gone to events where a store wanted me to just sit at a table and be available to talk to people who might be interested in books or writing. These sounded like a good idea at the time but actually doing them was a different story. You never know who is going to come in and out of the store, if they're even interested in you or your books, or if they're just looking for a bathroom. Again, one of those times I could have been writing or hanging with the fam.

4) Solo Book Signings

For your launch party of your first book (or even if you have a party for each book) they're a great idea. All of your friends and family are happy to come out and support you. But unless you are a big name author or celebrity like Lauren Conrad (who drew 800 people to her signing at my local bookstore last month),

don't spend too much time setting up solo book signings or you'll be spending a lot of time alone or have an audience of only a few people.

If you're an author, which author appearances do you find a must and which do you find a bust?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teens Write (or Teens Are Right?)

Tip of the Day: I entered The Writer's Voice, a cool contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista van Dolzer of Mother. Write. Repeat. I'm #81 on this list if you want to read a blurb and opening 250 words for my YA novel. Whether or not I make the final 40 cut, it's been a great contest to enter and check out the other writers' works!

Two weeks ago, I hosted my library's Teen Lit Contest Award Ceremony and Reception. There were so many great poems and prose (fiction and non) entered.

This year's trends in teen submissions? Amongst the winners we had:

--Mermaids/Water creatures
--Fantasy/Sci-fi epic tales
--School settings

This year there were no vampires or zombies. Does that mean teens are tiring of them? That with all the school, sports, surivial, and angst pieces perhaps it is the time for contemporary realistic to come back?

The best part of the ceremony is hearing the winners read from their works. They put so much of themselves into the words that it makes their pieces even stronger. I do love this part of my job!

Anyone out there with teens, what are they clamoring for? If they are writers, what are they writing?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Story Structure and Plot (links to helpful sites)

Tip of the Day: outlining can be your friend in the long run!

If you were to check out one of my notebooks or randomly scan my desk, you'd find out that I'm a huge fan of lists. So it's no wonder that when I'm writing or outlining a new book that I like to find a variety of lists to help in the process: from how to structure a novel to important character attributes to include.

Example of Three-Act Structure from
Story structure and plot lists, however, are some of my favorite lists to find. Because using one can help you tremendously with outlining your novel. But wading through them can be difficult because there's many different types of suggestions out there: from the three-act structure to the four-act structure and everything in between. So I thought I would make a list (of course, how could I have a blog post about making lists without making a list!) of a few places on the internet to find various story structure or plot lists.

  1. Three-Act Structure: a good summary of this can be found on the Elements of Cinema page here. Basically when used to structure a novel (or screenplay--as it's most well known for) you'd have three-acts: set-up, confrontation, and resolution. If you want the three-act structure outlined in relation to novels, here is a good link.
  2. Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" Beat sheet: here's an excellent summary of the beat sheet that basically breaks the three-act structure up into bite-sized sections, from having an opening image, stating the theme, the b story, and a ton more.
  3. Four-Act Structure: Diana Peterfreund did a nice summary awhile ago on why she likes the four-act structure. She outlined the four acts as:
    Act One: Ordinary world and inciting incident
    Act Two: Complications leading to a crisis.
    Act Three: Consequences of that crisis leading to a climax.
    Act Four: Climax and resolution.  
  4. Five-Act Structure: here's a good description on of the five-act structure. Basically the five acts are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and then the resolution.
    Example of Five-Act structure (or the Freytag Pyramid) from
  5. The Snowflake Method: here is an article about that on This is more of a process than how to structure a novel. But you go through 10 steps starting with creating a one-sentence summary of your novel and then ending with writing the first draft.
And if you just want a summary of different ways to plot a novel Darcy Pattison lists 9 ways to plot a novel on her website.

Any other lists or plot/structure outlines that you use? I'd love to hear about them!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Do You Promote a Book on Twitter?

Tip of the Day: Lots of tips, actually, on blog tours from agent and writer Marie Lambda.

I follow a lot of writers on Twitter, which means that at any given time I log in, I may see up to 10  books being promoted at once. Right now someone wants me to check out a review, there are two cover reveals, two giveaway contests, an offer for a free copy ... and I haven't even scanned down yet. If I was on Twitter a lot, I'd probably read promo tweets for about 25 different books a day.

Obviously I can't look at all of these books. So what catches my eye from the sheer volume of promotions?

Things Not To Do

1. Don't tweet random lines from the book. I mostly see people doing this for their friends instead of authors doing it themselves. I know, that sentence in your friend's novel was really powerful when you read it, but out of context, it means nothing. Some people will tweet ten or twelve of these in a row, qualifying as spammers. Seriously, don't tweet about something ten times in a row unless you're at the Super Bowl or something more immediate in real time.

2. Don't rely on price point. I see this a lot. My book is free today! But like many readers, I have this place near me called the public library where many books are free. I'm not going to download your book only because it's a freebie.

3. Don't beg. "No one will review me, what am I doing wrong? Please help!" You're probably not doing anything "wrong," and there are a lot of great books that don't get the attention they should. But if your novel sounds compelling to me, I'm more likely to read it than if you beg me to do you a favor, Stranger I Don't Know on the Internet. Plus what if I hate your book? How do I review it?

Things That Draw Me In

1. Snippets of reviews or fan mail. "I couldn't put this down." "My new favorite character." You don't need a ton of reviews, but if you get a good one, let me know. I love recommendations.

2. Promote novels you like with a personal touch. "Stayed up to 3 am to finish this, need coffee." "This novel about a cruise makes me want to go on a cruise."

3. I think giveaways still work. But there's a difference between a giveaway and giving a copy away for free on Amazon. Giveaways are often connected to special content and often writers team up to give away a few things together.

One thing I'm becoming more aware of is that I should make it more of a habit to leave reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for books I love. Now that I have an e-reader, I read these reviews a lot. I think a book needs quality reviews rather than quantity, but correct me if I'm wrong.

What book promotions work for you?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blank Page

Tip of the Day: Think you might fail as an indie author? I think success is a good bet. Check out this incredible list of success stories!!!

...and so it begins...

Is there anything more frightening than a blank document? It's possible you've outlined your book and you're confident in the direction it's going to take. Or maybe you're like me, writing on faith with only an inkling of what's to come.

The first word and first sentence carry a lot of weight. Every writing class you take tells you that your first page needs to be the strongest part of your novel. No pressure, right? Ha! The first blank page of a new document can be really intimidating.

This is how I used to feel.

That's right - used to.

Before I started self-publishing, I thought that writing the book was the hardest work I would ever do.

After experiencing the roller coaster of self-publishing, I can tell you now that the greatest joy in this whole experience is in creation. Writing is why I got into this business. Writing is in my soul. Why would I be afraid of the one purely creative outlet in my life?

Don't think about publishing when you're writing.

Please, don't throw highlighters and red pens at me. I'm talking about the first page of the first draft, here, people, not the entire process. Write with abandon. Write without fear. Allow your inner creator to play in the finger paints with her toes. Give yourself over to the one time in your writing when you should be letting loose.

Tamp down those fears that your book won't be marketable. Don't worry about wasting time on something you might not sell. Here's the thing - YOU NEVER KNOW. Your way-out idea could be the next high concept trend.

When you're facing that first blank page, kick fear on the butt. Go with your flow, your spirit, your muse, doesn't matter what you call it, just run with it.

If you're not creating, then there will be no content to eventually publish.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sometimes You Have to Make Yourself Do It

Tip of the Day: I sold film option rights to The Espressologist! Details on my blog.

I'm going camping this weekend. All weekend. I have to be out in the woods somewhere for two whole nights.


I really don't want to go camping. Like, I've thought of every possible excuse not to go. I don't camp. I burn. Bugs love me. I like sleeping on a bed. If I want to hike I can do it on my treadmill while watching Real Housewives. Outhouses gross me out. And don't even suggest that there is a chance there may not be an outhouse. Last time I remember camping was at least twenty years ago when I was a kid. But, my daughter is a girl scout and they're all going this weekend. And she's only 7 so I have no choice. I have to go.


This is one of those times where even though I really really REALLY don't want to do something, I'm going to do it. I have to. She insists that she will be completely devastated if we don't go on this trip. And while I'm sure there are many many more times in her life where she will be completely devastated if she doesn't get something or get to go somewhere, this one I can do.

I do this with my writing sometimes. Writing isn't always easy. Sometimes it gets really hard. Like when I'm in the middle of a book and thinking, okay, there is no way out. I can't get past this point in the book. This book sucks and I don't even know why I'm bothering trying to write it. I should delete the whole thing. Or just start working on a new book and put this one away until it sucks less. But I don't. I make myself write through it, telling myself that if I just get through these few awful chapters then I can get to a part I want to write. And that usually gets me through it and I can finish the book. And by the time I've finished I've usually thought of what to do to fix those awful chapters and I can go back and work on them. The important thing is that I didn't give up just because it seemed too hard.

And that's what I'm going to do this weekend. It may kill me (bear attack?) but I'm going camping.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Happens in Vegas... (or Forget It; It All Ends Up on FaceBook)

Tip of the Day: Heading to Las Vegas? Stay south of The Strip at the M Resort for the best buffet, gorgeous rooms, amazing spa, and fabulous pool!

While in Vegas this past weekend, I spent some time analyzing the scenery for one of my WIPs that takes place there:

What color exactly are the mountains? (Brown, red, pink?)

What does dry desert air feel like? What do the neighborhoods look like away from The Strip?

What does the skyline look like from them?

What are the music venues/clubs like in the resorts/hotels?

What do the casinos sound like?

Vegas isn't so much a "character" in my WIP as it is a setting that I want to get right. With so many people who visit and vacation there, I feel it has to be "right" so the rest of the book that is of a speculative nature is easier to buy. Because if I can't get the feel of the desert sun accurate, who will believe in my pseudo science fiction? I usually write about places like my home in Rochester, NY, because I know it so well, so writing about another city is a stretch for me.

How do you select your novel settings?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Too much description (or enough with the plants already)

Tip of the Day: want a good laugh? Check out some of these "de"motivational posters.

Most of my first drafts are written in movie format. And by that I mean it's bare bones scenes that just include dialogue and then people entering a room and exiting a room, but really no description of said room at all.

"Sitting in the principal’s office on Monday morning when I was supposed to be in Biology, I couldn’t help but notice it was my second visit here in the past two weeks." The extent of my descriptions include merely stating what room they are in. At least at first.

Then comes the tricky part: how descriptive should you be?

Chances are high that everyone has been inside of a principal's office before or at the very least a school office, so is it really necessary to describe if it had "light tan walls, large square tile floors, and a plant sitting on the corner of the desk." Snooze fest. Especially when the plant has absolutely no relevance.

It's definitely a fine balance. If you are too descriptive, the reader gets bored and puts the book down. If you don't have enough description, then the reader can't get into the story because they can't visualize the people or places.

One of the things I try to do when I add in descriptions is to make them relevant to the situation at hand. Otherwise I leave them out. For example, in this case maybe it would have been important to point out if there was "ironically a teamwork poster hung low on the wall that said 'when we all work together, we all win together.' When dealing with Heather McHeather this couldn't be further from the truth." This is a quick example, but you get the picture. It not only helps set the scene, but does double duty by giving the reader another feel of the situation.

So what are some of your tips for writing good description? Both with what to hold back on and what to include.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious