Friday, June 29, 2012

Catch Me, I'm Falling

Tip of the Day: Help spread the word about your favorite indie writer on INDIEpendence Day!!!!
Sometimes the writing life isn't easy.

I think most writers have a sensitive soul. The past couple of weeks have been difficult for me, in a professional sense. It was one of those "perfect storms," where everything dropped on me at once.

Luckily I have incredible writers who support me. Friends who take time out of their European vacations to let me vent via email. Friends who talk on the phone with me for 90 minutes, making me realize I'm not wholly insane (maybe just Friends who tell me they love me and will follow me through this crazy jungle we call publishing.

I think publishing is one of those careers where you must bear your soul to your co-workers and the world. It's equally rewarding and frightening. Self-publishing makes it even more so, because that stamp of approval from trad pubs is glaringly absent.

I wrote a bit more about this on my blog a couple of days ago. If you're curious, you can find it here.

Since this blog's focus is authors reaching authors, I wanted to take my time this week to remind all of you that while your publishing path may be littered with pitfalls, you are never alone. We all experience the fear, the uncertainty. Band together with other writers who understand you - you won't regret it.

It's great to have friends to celebrate with when everything is going your way. It's even better to have friends who catch you when you stumble.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rotten Rejections

Tip of the Day: You HAVE to click on this link. I swear, it's so funny. It's the 10 Worst Book Covers in the History of Literature.

I was cleaning out my bedroom closet this past weekend and came across this feel good book that I used to love to read:

ROTTEN REJECTIONS by Andre Bernard. It's awesome. It was printed in 1990 and I bought it probably ten years ago for 95 cents at the used bookstore that used to be in my home town (sadly they've since closed). Andre is not only a writer but (at the time of compiling this) was an editor at a giant NY publisher. So he's been on both sides of rejection.

I'm going to share some of my favorite rejections from the book:

"JOURNEY BACK TO LOVE," Mary Higgins Clark, 1962
"We found the heroine as boring as her husband had."

SANCTUARY, William Faulkner, 1931
"Good God, I can't publish this. We'd both be in jail."

SARTORIS, William Faulkner, 1929
"If the book had a plot and structure, we might suggest shortening and revisions but it is so diffuse that I don't think this would be any use. My chief objection is that you don't have any story to tell."

UNTITLED SUBMISSION, Rudyard Kipling, 1889
"I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language."

"The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level."

THE TORRENTS OF SPRING, Ernest Hemingway, 1926
"It would be in extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it."

THE DEER PARK, Norman Mailer, 1948
"This will set publishing back 25 years."

IN THE CAGE, Henry James, 1898
"A duller story I have never read. It wanders through a deep mire of affected writing and gets nowhere, tells no tale, stirs no emotion but weariness. The professional critics who mistake an indirect and roundabout use of words for literary art will call it an excellent piece of work; but people who have any blood in their veins will yawn and throw it down--if, indeed, they ever pick it up."

Ouch! I guess we can say that rejections have gotten nicer over time!

I want to end with a memo in the book from George Bernard Shaw which makes me think he would have been a huge advocate for today's self-publishing authors:

"I finished my first book seventy-six years ago. I offered it to every publisher on the English-speaking earth I had ever heard of. Their refusals were unanimous: and it did not get into print until, fifty years later, publishers would publish anything that had my name on it...

I object to publishers: the one service they have done me is to teach me to do without them. They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettishness, without being either good business men or fine judges of literature. All that is necessary in the production of a book is an author and a bookseller, without the intermediate parasite." - George Bernard Shaw (July 26, 1856-November 2, 1950)

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conference Specificity (or I'm Gonna Stay at the Y-AL-S-A*)

*with apologies to The Village People

Tip of the Day: It's SUMMER READING time at your local library! See what great games and events they have planned!

I love SCBWI conferences, but my favorite ones have been those with a focus on writing YA, my personal first love, where I get the most bang for my buck.

And I love Book Festivals, but again my favorites are those that focus on teen books -- like the Rochester Teen Book Fest.

Likewise, for my allotment of library related professional development conferences I can attend, there are many choices, but to get the most out of it, I prefer ones that focus on YA lit.

So how lucky was I that the same year I started my job as a YA Librarian (2008), the first YALSA Symposium on Young Adult Literature was held in Nashville, TN.

This symposium is held every two years, and this year's is in St. Louis, MO on Nov. 2-4. The time to apply to hold a session has passed, but it's a great place for YA authors to schmooze with librarians who are obsessed with their works. :)

So if you're a YA author, librarian, teacher, or other fan of the lit, I highly recommend attending this event. You'll often leave with free books, and always leave with energy and inspiration from being around people who love the same literature you do.

Who will I see in St. Louis this November?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Am I anything like an Olympic Athlete?

Tip of the Day: if you are an avid gymnastics fan--like me--don't miss the upcoming Olympic trials this week!

It's not even July yet, but I already have London fever and have been watching a few of the Olympic trials.

What strikes me is how long many of them have been training for the Olympics.

Now it's pretty obvious if you want to be an Olympic athlete you are going to have to practice hours a day and start your sport from birth.

But I've already watched a few diving and swimming athletes that have been waiting four years for one more shot. Maybe they lost the last Olympic team by 0.2 seconds (or whatever). Four years is a long time to wait to see if you've improved by that 0.2 seconds (or now it might be a minute, since everyone else has improved around you too) to be fast enough to make the new team.

Four years is a long time to prove yourself.

Luckily for us writers, even if we get rejected on one book, we don't have to wait four more years to see if another agent will pick up the book or even to submit another book.

However, sometimes it feels like it.

There's been multiple occasions when I've almost said out loud something to the effect of, "I honestly have to write a whole other book to see if that one will be the one that gets published?"

I'm not a speedy writer by any means. I've tried to practice every other writer's advice to start working on the next book, even before I stop shopping the current book. But still, there are occasions when it feels really daunting to come to terms with setting aside one book (or dream) and focus on a completely new book to realize the same dream. And the time and effort put into the new book often feels like an eternity (especially during those times of horrible writer's block). I'd imagine it's somewhat how these aspiring Olympic athletes feel: they had one shot to make the team and lost out. Now they have to focus their energy on the next task where they can realize their dream.

Not that getting an agent or a book deal is the end all of my writing career. It would be just the beginning. But there are days when it feels like that validation of receiving that honor would make all the hard work worth it. Being in limbo is hard to deal with at times. You don't know if you are a good enough writer or if you are just wasting your time. And you don't really know what to fully expect when that book deal does come around.

I'm just lucky we get more than one shot at making the dream a reality, unlike many of these athletes. Thank goodness.

Let's just hope it doesn't feel like another four years until I finish the next book and start submitting it.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today Is Thank You Day! Yes, Today.

Tip of the Day: Having trouble staying positive? I find that scratching a cat under the chin turns my attitude around very quickly. Take regular "pet your pet" breaks from writing! 

I was going to write today about cats and dogs and writing. My cat and dog keep me company while I write, so for me, cats and dogs and writing go together. But someone got to me first today and asked me how I keep going with my writing. And I admit that my pets help keep my spirits up, but they're not the major way I get recharged and excited about my writing.

The number one way I keep excited about writing is through the support of my awesome critique partners.

Now, I've realized this before, but today it occurred to me that maybe I haven't said thank you enough. Maybe I'm waiting for my first dedication page in my first published novel. I've mentally composed that page many, many times. It goes something like this:

This novel did not write itself. If it wasn't for my wonderful, intelligent, and talented critique partners, I never would've been encouraged to keep writing. Their ideas and inspiration kept me going, and I learned a lot from the privilege of reading their writing. Thank you so much, MiGWriters Christina Farley (who pushed me to add more romance and tension), Susan Laidlaw (whose main characters have the best sense of humor), Andrea Mack (who has one of the smartest writing blogs I've ever read), Debbie Ridpath Ohi (who keeps me working on perfecting point of view), and Carmella Van Vleet (we may have been separated at birth).

Thank you also to my Rochester writer friends. This book would not exist without you. Thank you Kelley Allen and Maureen Chu for reading so much of my writing, Vicki Schultz for some fantastic ideas and solutions, and the absolutely brilliant Lisa Tiffin, who has been incredibly supportive and keeps my fingers on the keyboard. And I never would've started submitting my writing at all if it wasn't for my mentor, Deena Lipomi. Deena, my writing buddy for so many years now, taught me everything from double spacing my work to what an agent is. I can't thank her enough.

Also thank you to my loving kids and to my dog and cat for keeping me company when writing got lonely. Most of all thank you to my husband, who knows how to shore up the tides of self-doubt and keep the spark of confidence alive.

I still fully expect to get a dedication page in a book, but I was tired of waiting to say thank you!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 22, 2012

Would You Like Some Spam with that Promotion?

Tip of the Day: Do you like cute, crazy, and cheap t-shirts? Then check out Tee Fury, they have a new design every 24 hours.

Every single day I get at least fifteen to twenty promotional notifications (via Facebook, Twitter, email, Goodreads, etc) from authors I don't know.

It's as if they think spamming thousands of people via social networks is a good way to promote their book.

Guess how many books I've purchased from one of these messages.

Go ahead, take a guess.



Because that type of promotion irritates the crap out of me.

If you want me (and other people) to look at you as an annoyance, do these things:

1. Start a Facebook group for your book release and invite everyone on the planet to join. Then post fifteen billion times a day so my notifications are filled with crap and I can't find notifications from my friends. (I used to be afraid to Decline or Leave Groups. I'm not now.)

2. Steal my email address from Facebook (or Twitter) and add me to your newsletter mailing list. I really love it when my inbox fills up with stranger spam. Even better? No link to unsubscribe! (This really drives me batty.)

3. Post on my Facebook wall telling me all about your book and how much I will enjoy it - particularly if I just accepted your friend request. (I will delete your post and unfriend you. Don't tempt me. If we're new friends, say something nice like "Great to meet you." That gives Megg smiles not the snarls.)

4. Email me directly, tell me how your book is so great, how badly you want a blurb from me, then direct me to your sales page so I can buy it. (I won't buy it. Even if it sounds like the best book ever.)

5. If I get so far as to 'like' your fan page, please talk about your book 24/7. (I fill most of my wall posts with things like the day my son rode on a lazy river with me and spent the whole time purposely tooting in my face. Trust me, people would rather laugh at my misfortune than listen to me blabber about my books.)

Kitteh wants you to act professionally or you may find yourself sleeping with the fishes


Here's the thing - if people want to know about your books so bad, they will go to lengths to make sure they are kept informed. You can:

1. Start a newsletter. Let people know it's there so if they want to be notified immediately about new releases, they can sign up. NEVER add people on your own. Give your readers some respect and let them choose. Make sure you also have an unsubscribe feature. It's common courtesy.

2. Create a Facebook fan page. Invite your current FB friends (it's a one-time invite, so it doesn't seem so spammy). Don't treat it like a promotional page. Use it as if you're just hanging out with friends for the afternoon. Be fun and engaging. Be yourself.

2. Use Twitter, Goodreads, blog, etc, but don't post about your books unless you have something newsworthy to say. If your book has been out for three months, don't post about it every day. If someone is looking at your social network, chances are they already know about the book. Leave the promotional posts for things that truly need promoting - like a new book release.

3. Don't force yourself on people. Let them come to you. I know, it's frustrating. You want the whole world to know you and love you right this second. Guess what? Life doesn't work that way. Be yourself. They will come.

4. Don't stress so much about promo. Adding to the noise won't help you get discovered. It only makes readers more agitated. Instead, write a good book that people will enjoy and tell their friends about. That's the very best promo you could ever get.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Fun???

Tip of the Day: This is a great article about today's society and our lack of wanting to pay for things like music (and books too!).  People think it doesn't hurt to download stuff illegally but think about this-- if an author has 50,000 people download her book illegally and only sells 2,000 copies legitimately, well that author has a good chance of not get another book deal. So even if you absolutely loved that author's book you might not get to read another one from her.

Oh man, I am so doing nothing. And by doing nothing I mean doing so much of everything that my head is spinning and I'm dead tired each night so therefore I am doing nothing. Writing-wise that is. Who had the bright idea of giving kids three months off in the summer? They are KILLING me! My everyday is full of sunscreen, walks to the park, the zoo, swimming, crafts, the library, screaming (them, not me), and popsicles (again, them not me. I never could get into popsicles.)

Why is it so so hard this summer? Maybe it's the ages. I have four kids between the ages of 4 and 9 and they want to be doing something every second of the day. I keep trying to wear them out by taking them on long walks all over town, thinking aha, now they'll want to nap! But no such luck. I'm the only one wanting a nap everyday. They just want to move on to the next thing.


And I'm getting such little work done. I'm writing a page here and there. Or e-mailing myself a few notes. And I've been revising the same chapter (ten pages) for THREE WEEKS. That is really really bad.

Tell me writer mommies, how are you getting any work done over summer vacation?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Teen Me v. Adult Me (or Am I Becoming My Mother?)

Tip of the Day: Get all the stories of your parents' teen years while they are still around to tell you -- and still remember. There are some gems in there!

When I was a teen, I remember seeing my mom do certain things, or being with her during certain events, thinking, "WHY is she doing that?"

Wait, strike that. What I was thinking was, "Oh my god, she's SO EMBARASSING!"

And now? Even without having kids of my own to embarass, I find myself doing the following -- and I completely blame my mother. :)

1. Carrying one, if not two, big bags around with me to work, the gym, a 30-minute car trip instead of just a small purse.... Because what if I need a snack? Water? Adil? Toothbrush? Sweater? Book?

2. Carrying a travel mug of hot tea around with me.... Because what if I need caffeine? Something hot? Something soothing?

3. Not being able to sit down and just do one thing.... Because if I'm not writing AND/OR watching TV AND/OR reading AND/OR working out AND/OR cleaning AND/OR eating -- I might not have time to get everything done during the day and doing just ONE of those things is way too little taxation on my brain!

4. Being "allergic" to certain foods.... Because apparently as a kid I could eat McDonald's and candy and fried foods with no problems, but as an adult I have inherited my mother's inability to eat certain things without feeling ill.

What traits did you swear you would NEVER HAVE that your mother/father did...that now you proudly embrace?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things I'm liking (or a completely random post about nothing)

Tip of the Day: sometimes a list of things you like is a nice reminder of all the awesomeness in the world. It should also come as no surprise then that oddly the only song I probably know the complete "real" words for is "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music.

This week has already been really LOOOONNNNGGGG, so the only thing my brain will let me focus on writing about at this moment in time are things I'm liking right now. 

1.) Iced Fruit Punch--I'm obsessed with this drink right now that I found from Country Living. Basically, you just freeze fruit punch in an ice cube tray and mix with half ginger ale and half seltzer water. Yum.

2.) Stuffed Animal Sleepovers--we had a fun one staging stuffed animals for a sleepover at the library this evening. They got to play tug-of-war, competed in an obstacle course, robe climbed up our tree-shaped coat hangers, had pizza, and of course read books (among many other things). It's always fun to act like a kid on occasion. Isn't that why a lot of us love to write middle grade and teen books, to think like our old selves?

3.) That there will be a new Heather Wells mystery book. Even though it's an adult book, this is one of my favorite Meg Cabot series and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Now if only July 10th would get here sooner!

4.) The coolest pop (or soda for all your Southerns) machine EVVVEEERRR. Pop machines must be completely off my radar, because I had never seen one of these until I stepped into a Burger King in a neighboring city. And now I'm in love with the fact I could get Orange Coke if I wanted to! This takes the idea of mixing drinks that we used to love to do as kids to a whole new level.

5.) Taking a writing break!!! Sometimes it's hard to admit it, but taking a break from writing every now and then can be lots of fun. And just want I needed. After relaxing my Writing Brain, I'm even more motivated and excited to get back to several book projects next week (or possibly the week after that).

Is it odd that two of my five favorite things at this moment are drink related? Or that several of them have me wanting to be a kid again? Hmmmm....something to ponder as I take a brief break from writing.

Which also brings me to the fun idea, of how wonderful would it be to keep just a random journal of five things you are liking at that moment in time? It would be pretty interesting to be able to step back into time and relive my amazing love for slap bracelets, roller skating parties, the game MASH, and so much more. If only I'd thought of this 20 years ago. Maybe that should be my Tip of the Day for all our younger blog readers: think about making a journal of your favorite things. When you are older, you'll totally want to read it!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, June 18, 2012

The First Chapter Read Aloud

Tip of the Day: Futurama season premiere on Wednesday night!

I did something this week I rarely do. I read my first chapter out loud to my daughter. I know a lot of you let your kids read your work, and I admire your bravery, or perhaps your kids. My 13-year old daughter is hypercritical of Mom. (Was that sentence redundant or is it just me?) She lives to pick over my flaws, so I rarely let her read my work.

Upping the bravery quotient, I read my first chapter while my husband was in the room. I never share my writing with my husband. Oh, I tell him what I'm working on and ask him for suggestions if I'm stuck because he's good with technical, sciencey things. But he doesn't read fiction. He doesn't watch anything on TV but documentaries and the Walking Dead, which I suspect he thinks is a  documentary of the near future. Basically, the most my husband feels qualified to comment on in my work is "Wow, that's a lot of words."

The verdict? My daughter said "I like it." I asked her if she thought something bad was going to happen in the next chapter, and she said yes, so I guess I've built up some tension. And I found a mistake or two as I was reading. She didn't ask to hear Chapter 2, but that's okay. She doesn't think it's cool anymore for Mom to read to her, and frankly I was amazed that she sat still for Chapter 1 so willingly.

But for the most part, I'm going to stick to my wonderful critique partners for opinions. It's much less stressful and more informative.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 15, 2012

Should a Movie Follow the Book Exactly?

Tip of the Day: Looking for a new online magazine to help your writing career and entertain you? Then check out Writing Fools!

I swear, at A2A we did not discuss theme in advance this week, and yet we've done a great job of feeding off each other posts.

I'm going to touch on the book-to-movie angle today.

( I originally wrote a really controversial post about authors who scream how much they hate, yet still continue to sell their books on there...but decided against it and deleted it. :p )

So, let's ask the question: Should a Movie Follow the Book Exactly?


I know, I know, I always say the opposite of everyone else. How many times has a theatrical version of a beloved book caused hordes of people to tear out their hair and gnash their teeth because something wasn't "right?"

I don't do that. I don't really care if a movie is faithful to a book.

My dear cousin, who is a fan of all things fantasy, hates the Lord of the Rings movies because they aren't an exact reflection of his beloved novels. Peter Jackson changed too much and left out the parts that were important to him.

I thought the movies were amazing and have seen them a billion times. Same with Harry Potter. Twilight. Eragon. I could go on and on.

A movie is a totally different art form than a book. So why do people expect them to be a direct visual translation of the written word? It simply isn't possible.

Have you ever listened to a book on tape? It can take 40 hours to sometimes read the whole novel aloud. 40 hours. Do you want to sit in a movie theater for 40 hours? I didn't think so.

Screenwriters have to make compromises. It's the nature of adaption. I prefer to listen to my dad (who just happens to be the wisest man on the planet) when he says, "I go to the movies to be entertained, not to analyze. Sit back, relax, and enjoy."

Yeah, I know you're thinking: Well, I bet if Megg's books were made into movies, she'd feel differently. Nah, pretty sure I wouldn't change my mind. One of my friends is a screenwriter and I'd love to see what he could do with Anathema (which is still free on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBookstore, Smashwords, Kobo, Wattpad, etc - so download it now). He even discussed adding a dance scene - which I LOVED because I am a dancer. See, it's all about taking a concept and translating it in a way that entertains. I would totally be entertained by a dance scene between Reychel & Mark, even though there isn't one in the book.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Should I Charge for an Author Visit?

Tip of the Day: Check out this Monster Cookie Dough Dip. It looks way yum.

I was sitting next to a lovely brand new author at an event recently and I heard a very interested teacher ask her to come do a school visit and ask her what did she charge.


If you're an author and you've ever been in this position and you're not prepared with an answer, you kinda panic. Because what DO I charge for a visit? What is my time worth? How much planning do I need to do? These are all things racing through your head while the teacher is staring at you waiting for an answer.

I watched this author struggle with and finally just tell the teacher to e-mail her and they could chat more later. I badly wanted to whisper to her "charge $200". Or some such thing but I kept quiet because I had just met this author. Soon as the teacher walked away though the author turned to me and said that she was so uncomfortable and had no idea what to say.

I was in the exact same position years ago when approached at an author fair and was at the part when young adult author Kristin Walker piped in and said "she charges $200 an hour." It was a huge relief for me when she did that because I was totally flailing. (and Kristin could get away with it because we're such good friends. I didn't feel I could jump in for the new author mentioned above.)

Instinct for most new authors anyway is to try to do the events for free. Why do this? I don't know. For some reason do we think our time isn't worth it? Or that we don't know enough about being an author to get paid for our wisdom? Or is it a female thing and we just want to be nice? I have been at an event before where I heard a woman asking a number of authors to come to an event she was planning and the first three women said sure they'd do it to free and when she reached the male author he said he wouldn't leave his front door for less than X amount of dollars. So maybe it's also a female/male thing.

But our time IS worth it. Think about this:
- we've been through a process that not a ton of people have done and is interesting for students to hear about (writing a book, selling it, editing it, having it published etc.)
- we take hours putting together neat props and cool slide shows to bring to these visits
- we have to travel to and from these visits
- we have to secure and pay for babysitting for our kids in order to go to these visits
- that three-four hours it takes for me to dress up (yes, they don't want you in your PJs), drive to your school, give a presentation, and drive back, I could be writing.

So you're definitely worth it. Say the visit you're doing is $100 for a one hour presentation. Even if it's local I need a babysitter for at least two hours. $20. I spent two hours putting together a presentation. So right there is at MINIMUM (and I do mean minimum-- I usually take a good 5-10 hours to put together a presentation) you're taking home $20 an hour. And then you have to pay taxes on that too. Really, you're worth it. Go ahead and charge for that visit. But how much? Let's look at a few authors' pricing for examples:

From children's and middle grade author Brenda Ferber's web site I found she charges:

"Half Day (1 or 2 presentations) $400
Full Day (Up to 4 presentations) $800
Book Clubs (Within 20 minutes of Deerfield) $100
NEW! Virtual Classroom Visit using Skype $100
Travel expenses are not included in the above prices and will be added as they are incurred."

From children's and middle grade author Cynthia Lord's Web site:

"$1,600 per day plus travel expenses (flight + hotel)."

From young adult author Saundra Mitchell's Web site:

"As she grew up in Indiana, and understands that author visits there are rare, she offers reduced rates for schools and libraries within the state. Within Warren Township, 1 hour visits are free. Within 50 miles of Indianapolis, 1 hour visits are $35.00. 50 miles or more outside of Indianapolis, but within Indiana, 1 hour visits are $75.00."

From children's, middle grade, and YA author Lisa Schroeder's Web site:

"Portland Metro Area: $800/day
Other Oregon/SW Washington: $800/day plus travel and hotel as necessary
Out of state: $1,200/day plus travel and hotel as necessary"

For me, I don't do a ton of presentations but when I do I go with the standard $200 per hour long presentation. If you're a very local school or library and I like you I do it for free (if I don't have to pay for babysitting. So evenings generally.). If I'm just hanging out and doing a Q&A for an hour I charge $100. If you're a very local book club and you all bought and read my book then I'll visit for free. If I have to travel, $100. And if you want to skype with me it's always free. And I'm not the only one. Here's Kate Messner's list of authors who skype with book clubs for free:

So plan ahead as to what you want to charge for a school/library/book club visit and next time you're asked, you'll be ready.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Books to Movies (or Movies to Books)

Tip of the Day: Good sci-fi movie that was totally underrated -- though not based on a book to my knowledge: MOON, directed by David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. Great minimalist film.

Kate's post from Monday on how many times her daughter saw Hunger Games in the theater got me thinking about other current YA books that I would like to be made into movies. Here's a short list (and if some of these already are optioned for film, comment and let me know!):

1. TRAFFICKED by Kim Purcell -- this contemporary story of human traffiking from Europe to America could make a great thriller/drama.

2. ALTERED by Jennifer Rush -- this novel that releases in Jan. 2013 is like a Bourne Identity for teens starring a kick-butt girl.

3. THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman -- this clue-following novel is like The Davinci Code starring smart teens and a cool European setting.

4. THE BUTTERFLY CLUES Kate Ellison -- this murder mystery stars an OCD sleuth who won't give up until she finds the killer.

5. CINDER by Marissa Meyer -- an alternate future China with cyborgs and a Cinderella retelling: the perfect combination.

Some other books I could see as TV dramas or series. I'll talk about those next time.

What recent YA novels would you like to see in movie format?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Library Programs for Authors

Tip of the Day: don't forget about your library's Summer Reading Programs. You might get some fun prizes just for reading!

Summertime is always a busy programming time at my library, and since I book a lot of authors and other performers for my library, I thought it might be helpful to go over some program suggestions if you are looking to make extra money as an author.

Not every program as an author has to be about selling books. Sometimes you can just earn extra money doing school visits or library programs. Most libraries have Friends groups that help provide thousands of dollars worth of programming for their local communities.

I think many authors have this assumption that they can't make money doing library programs and from my experience that couldn't be further from the truth.

Here are some of my tips if you are interested in pursuing this further:

1.) Make all your marketing materials professional looking and don't be afraid to send libraries a sheet of the programs you offer or even an email. We get them ALL the time and are used to it. The more professional they look, the better. You are competing for programming funds against magicians, singers, jugglers, etc. that travel around to libraries for a living. Some of them do up to 200 shows a year and are used to marketing heavily to libraries. It's a much bigger business than I think a lot of people are aware of.

2.) Just because you are an author, doesn't mean you only have to offer programs about writing. If you are comfortable branching out, you might be able to get more of an audience. Do you have something interesting about your book? Maybe it's a book on cupcakes, could you offer a tea and cupcake party with an author program? Or if your book has a singing component, you could actually perform if you are able. The added bonus that you are an author will help sell it, but the more interesting the program the more likely you are to have libraries want to bring you in. Which brings me to...

3.) Give all of your programs a clever name (having more than one-type of program is nice too) and make sure you give prices. If I have a clever name to sell it to my patrons then I'm more interested. And I don't want to waste my time emailing someone or calling them to get their price information, only to find out they are way out of my budget. If you want to work with people, you can always put in your materials that you are willing to work with schools or libraries that might be more financially strapped. But be realistic about how much you charge too and you are likely to book more libraries.

4.) Even if you write books for teenagers, it doesn't mean you might not have a cool program  you can give for kids. Kids are by far the largest audience in libraries. Even though this would be awesome to change, it still remains a fact that most librarians will spend more money on children's programs because they bring in many more people than other programs. So if you can gear anything to kids, even a hands-on kid friendly writing program or something like that, it will help. Just think big, broad, and creative.

5.) Try not to charge mileage if you can. Work it into your price, so we can just pay you a lump sum. If you have to limit that to a certain radius of where you live, then that's fine. But if you can work it out to do several library visits at once, then try that, so that way everyone benefits. Libraries are used to working with authors or performers on getting discounts by setting up programs on the same day or a day apart.

If you are curious how much authors charge, you should be able to find sheets like this online. But I will say on average, in my area (the Midwest) most authors charge between $200-$400 for an hour program. For some authors I would pay that, but for others I won't. Now for New York Times best selling authors, it's more like the top end of that and higher just for a Skype visit. There are also many local authors that will do library programs for free. And to be honest, I usually feel more secure when I'm paying even a small amount to an author. On top of that, our Friends group usually sells books for the authors too or some of them do take care of that, depending on what type of books they are.

School visits are usually far more money than that, but then you do three to four times the programs in one day.

For some people this is enough for them to plan programs. For others they would much rather be writing. But if you want to be a full-time author, just don't forget there are other options out there to supplement book sales. And libraries are always open to the possibilities of authors doing programs. But if I don't know you offer library programs, the chances are pretty good that I'm not going to go to your website or look you up to double check. So if you want to do this, you need to market directly to libraries. I would say on average, I get between 50-75 mailers, phone calls, or emails a year related to those that offer library programs (that is not including all the talk on list-serves from other librarians on programs they have's just cold calls or mailings). So I'm used to people trying to sell their stuff and don't mind at all.

So do any of you do library visits? Or school visits?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, June 11, 2012

How Many Times Have You Seen the Hunger Games?

Tip of the Day: If you have an eye appointment in the morning, write your blog post before the doctor dilates your eyes!

So how many times have you seen the Hunger Games? If you're 13 like my daughter, you may have seen it three or more times. She's also read the book three times. And she's seen Dark Shadows twice.

I would say that adults don't do this the way teens do, but honestly, I think my husband has watched Zombieland upwards of 12 times by now.

Personally, I would like to go see Men in Black 3 with my daughter, but she's dying to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. Really, Hollywood? Although don't get me wrong, if they come out with the movie of Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters, I'm first in line.

In my opinion, there aren't that many movies with interesting women in them, or women at all. I mean other than Tiffany or Megan Fox playing the unlikely astrophysicist. (The sci fi nerd in me tolerates it for movies like Men in Black, but normally, I find the absence of women characters annoying.) The Hunger Games and Katniss have been a breath of fresh air. Yes, Hollywood, people will go see movies with female leads. They can be hits too. And teenage girls don't all want to be Bella Swan. Heck, I might even help my daughter buy a ticket to go see Hunger Games a fourth time. Even my Dad went to see it.

Yes, I know it can be a violent movie. But is that worse than the new trend of taking young women out of popular movies altogether, unless they've graduated from the Pinup Calendar School for Astrophysicists Whose Fathers Specialized in Monsters/Plagues/Disasters? I don't think so.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 8, 2012

Time to Quit the Day Job???

Tip of the Day: Still think self-publishing is a bad idea? Check out Jessica Park's story on The Huffington Post. Jessica is a traditionally published author turned self-pub.

Warning: I come from a family filled with accountants, so money management is a high priority for me.

Before I started self-pubbing, I did have a quasi-day job (other than being a full-time mom). I worked as a freelance journalist for seven years. My articles appeared in national magazines like Parents and in many local parenting magazines. I worked about 15 hours a week - from home - and brought in a bit of income. It took me six months back then to make what I make in one month now. Fiction has not only proved more lucrative, but also more fulfilling. I'm chasing my imagination - there's nothing better than that.

Let's say you have a 9 to 5 job. Maybe you're making $50,000 a year. You might look at your self-pub (or trad pub) sales and assume that since you're making nearly the same amount selling books that it's time to quit the day job. You'll save money because there's no more dry cleaning, no more lunches out, and no more gas.

It's simple, right?


Don't quit your day job.

I'm making almost as much as my engineer husband, who has supported our family on his income for the last ten years (I lost my job while I was pregnant and never went back to working outside the home). Not once have we ever considered having him quit his job.

Publishing does not guarantee you a steady income. I know self-pubbers who were hitting big numbers last year, numbers that still beat my current sales, who are now languishing in the low-sales club.

If they had quit their day jobs, where would they be today? Frustrated with publishing because they can't seem to get their sales off the ground? Likely. Looking for a job in a crappy economy wishing they'd never quit their perfectly fine day job the year before? Definitely.

If you're publishing and considering quitting your day job, ask yourself the most important question: If I never sell another book after today, will I still have enough money to live my life the same way I'm living today? For most of us, that answer is a resounding no.

Yes, I'll probably pull down $100,000 this year. No, I will not ask my husband to quit his job.

What's my magic number?


Yeah, you read that right. I'm in my mid-thirties and I have two kids who probably want to go to college someday. I have a mortgage and one car that desperately needs replacing. I fear taxes will only get higher to support our failing economy, not to mention the looming shadow of inflation. I can't even contemplate what health insurance will cost when I hit 65.

This topic isn't sexy. It ain't controversial. But it's important to your future and if you have a family, their future too.

So, unless your name is JK Rowling or James Patterson, don't quit your day job. Please.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Blog Tours: Yay or Nay?

Tip of the Day: Read how author Rachael Aaron boosted her word count from 2k to 10k a day. And a side question to coffee baristas out there. Do you get very annoyed with the people that spend half a day in the coffee shop working on their laptops? I know I get very self-conscious of the looks from staff if I spend more than 2 hours somewhere.

I was reading author Maureen Johnson's blog post on Book Blog Tours yesterday and why she doesn't do them. Here it is: Blog Tours, and the Word NO. And she makes a lot of sense. Blog tours are part of the standard marketing plan for books these days and they take a heck of a lot of time between answering 30 or so interviews, sending books out for review, writing witty guest posts, and then advertising the places that you're touring. With my first book I kept track of how long it took me to fill out the interview questions I had been sent: 30 hours. 30 HOURS. That's kind of crazy right? And did they do any good? Hmm. I don't know. I would like to think with my first book that they did do some good because no one had heard of me before so at least there was some mention of me and my book on various Web sites. But three books in now and I'm not so sure the interviews are effective. How many times can people hear about my writing process or how I get my book ideas? These kind of questions are shiny and new at school or book club visits because they aren't the ones reading the blogs. But the people who are faithful blog readers have probably seen my interviews a few times and don't really need to see them again.

I do think that cover reveals and hey, here's my new book and here's info about it is a good thing to do to get the word out when you first release. But if authors keep pushing and pushing talking about their books I do tend to tune them out (or hide them on facebook or unfollow on Twitter) because it gets really really old. No one wants to constantly hear about your book. Like what Maureen had pointed out about Jennifer Laughran's tweet:

"And someone just said something I enjoyed a lot:
YA marketing panel: “do blog tours & cover reveals!” My question: since EVERYONE does those, how is it not just noise? #bea12 "

It IS starting to seem like noise right? Sometimes twitter feels like one big advertisement. Each person saying check out my review, download my book, see my new cover. And I know no author can entirely get away from doing these things because it's part of the job to market yourself. But it gets to be too much sometimes.

There are also the book blog tours that are set up by blogging groups where they make a list of bloggers who will read your book and review it. You (or your marketing people) send a copy of your book to the first blogger and they pass it to the next one within a week. These can be really great because then you're getting a lot of thoughtful reviews out there. Which is probably the best way to market your book. It's hard to get people passionate enough to go review a book on goodreads or Amazon. Usually it's because they really really hate it or they love it so much they are dying to share. There's a lot of in between there. :-) Not that these type of book blogger tours don't occasionally fail too. I've had some tours where 20 bloggers read and reviewed a book and then I've had some where they only passed the book to maybe five bloggers and only two posted a review. So it can be hit or miss.

What do you guys think? Are you a fan of the book blog tours? Or do you get tired of all the "noise"?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What the Teens are Reading Now (*or Hunger Games and What Else I Don't Have to Weed)

Tip of the Day: Catch up with the books I read and what I think of them here.

A few weeks ago, a reader asked what teen books are currently going out from the library like hot cakes. I've been monitoring my YA library collection in order to properly answer this question. And I've learned that the answer is: It depends.

Here are some observations.

1. I had a YA display up for all of May, Asian American Heritage Month books; titles that featured Asian characters or themes. And over the course of the month, only a handful of books were checked out -- and I have a fairly large Asian population in my town. These books were a mix of historical, contemporary, and fantasy stories.

2. I had a YA display up for two weeks in May, Jewish Heritage Month books; titles that featured Jewish characters or themes. And over the coures of the two weeks, a large number of these books were checked out -- and I have a very large Jewish population in my town. These books were a mix of historical (WWII/Holocaust primarily) and contemporary.

3. I had a YA display up for four days in June (so far), Gay Pride Month books; titles that featured GLBT characters or themes. And over the course of the four days, a lot of these books were checked out (and this display was super popular last year over the course of June as well) -- and I have no idea how big the gay population is in my town. These books are primarily contemporary fiction.

4. In the books that were NOT recently on display, I've noticed these titles/genres going out:

a) high fantasy (ex. Cinda Williams Chima's HEIR series)

b) spy novels (ex. Ally Carter's series)

c) action adventure novels (ex. James Patterson's series, Anthony Horowitz's series, Cassandra Clare's series)

A lot of "midlist" books that I bought in 2009/2010 are now languishing on the shelves, even if they are good books, and sadly I will probably have to weed them to make space for new stuff soon. BUT it's amazing how much these same titles can suddenly take off when they are put on the local school's summer reading lists or for assignments. I can see why authors get so excited when their books make the "state award lists."

Another conclusion is that while high fantasy and some paranormal romance are still going strong, contemporary is being read a lot, too, compared to the past couple years (during the TWILIGHT series' debuts).

Oh, and if you want to know the title in general with the most holds in our system, it is 50 SHADES OF GREY (about 700 holds between the hard copy and ebook versions; yes, it's beating out HUNGER GAMES).

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Please give me a laugh...

Tip of the Day: want to try some fun, summer drinks? Check out this list of 60 delicious looking beverages on Martha Stewart's website.

You know how sometimes you have those weeks when you have to double check every five seconds to make sure it truly is Monday and not really Friday? Yeah, it's been one of those weeks already.

All I need today is a laugh.

So please let me know the funniest book you've read lately in the comments. I need to get my hands on it.

Anything along these lines will do!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, June 4, 2012

What I Learned from Game of Thrones

Tip of the Day: Help us congratulate my MigWriters partner Susan Laidlaw on her February 2013 debut novel, Infidel in Paradise!

Last night was the Season 2 finale of Game of Thrones. Wow, some of my favorite characters are in trouble. I've read all five books, so I know things aren't going to get any better for them.

What I learned from Game of Thrones? You can torture your characters too much.

A happy ending is sort of like a puzzle. We want to figure it out. It's exciting to speculate on how your favorite characters are going to get out of this mess. It's exciting when it seems there's no way for your favorite character to triumph and there are only 50 pages left in the book, but you know they'll win in the end. It's somewhat less exciting when there are several books left. Eventually you stop hoping for something good to happen because it never will.

"Okay, Sansa and Arya are in trouble but it's okay because their direwolves ... no, huh? Well, their father realizes that the king is a ... oh, they killed off their father. Well, they'll be okay. Arya is being brought to Winterfell by the Night's Watch ... okay, no. Well, Sansa and Arya have the Hound and Gendry to protect them ... Dammit! I'm turning this off and imagining my own story where the Starks take back Winterfell. With lots of direwolves."

The Walking Dead is kind of burning me out, too. Those characters in that world will only continue to go from bad to worse. There will be no happy endings. I'm only watching now to see Daryl's crazy brother Merle return. It's like a watching a train wreck.

I'm not sure if I need every ending to be a happy ending, but complete, unmitigated character torture with no redemption possible just doesn't compel me any more. Let me think there's some way for my characters to find some peace. Give me some hope.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Typos

Tip of the Day: Want to do a very in-depth typo analysis in your manuscript? Put your document into a program that will read your story out loud. That's a great way to find those tiny typos!

Clearly, if there's a typo in your book, you suck. Right?

Especially if you're a self-pub. It proves that not only are you illiterate, but that you are sloppy.

If it happens in a traditionally published book (and it does more often than you might think), then it's just a simple boo-boo and no one was harmed.

Sadly, this is what many people believe...  :((((

Guess what? Typos happen to everyone!

Here's why it doesn't mean that the author is an illiterate idiot. Remember this little Facebook meme that went around a year or two ago:

Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Now, whether or not there was actually a study like this done in Cambridge (I think that's an urban legend), the point is that we are all capable of reading the above passage even though it's technically jibberish.

Now imagine one of these little puppies hidden in a 200 or 250 page manuscript. You might miss it because your mind automatically translates it. Imagine 'first' instead of 'fist' got through spellcheck and eight different highly educated readers who also happen to have extensive experience in editing.

It happened in Anathema.

Yes, I was horrified. Yes, I fixed it. No, it does not mean I'm an idiot or that my entire novel sucked (novel suckage is totally subjective). Nor did I blame my early readers.

Sometimes a typo, or two or three, are blown up to such huge proportions. Reviewers take off one or two entire stars because a typo distracted them so much. The author gets flamed and another ding appears in their already-fragile armor.

If readers think authors aren't bothered by typos, trust me, we ARE! We obsess over editing far more than you might guess. It's important for readers to understand that we are all simply human. I honestly and truly believe that all authors want error-free books. I think if you read a book and it has an occasional typo, maybe you could forgive them. If the book has typos on every page, then yeah, maybe it needs some extensive editing. But if you find occasional typos, does it really take away from you enjoyment of the book?

If you don't believe that typos or story inconsistencies happen in well-vetted traditionally published books, then here's two examples to show you that they do. I have no intention of flaming these authors at all. In fact, I happen to have a literary crush on one of them (the dude, not the chick). It's simply to illustrate that these things happen.

Ex #1: James Rollins
Ex #2: Veronica Roth

Why do typos and inconsistencies get through sometimes? Because we're human. At least I am. I think... ;)