Monday, May 22, 2017

Reedsy To The Rescue

It’s been said that Vladimir Nabokov preferred to write in a parked car as it felt like a bubble of quiet and stillness; and that Agatha Christie would dream up plots for her mystery novels while sitting alone in a bathtub, munching on apples.

Images of writers in solitude with thought bubbles above their heads, playing out scenes in made-up worlds might be a romantic notion. But if you’re an independent author looking to publish a novel, then you know that image dissipates when the first draft of your manuscript is finished. In order to turn the manuscript into a finished, ready-to-publish product, what follows is teamwork — and that’s where Reedsy comes in.

Reedsy is a marketplace of publishing professionals. Here, authors in the process of publishing a book can browse through a roster of carefully curated freelancers with an extensive range of niche specialties. But Reedsy is more than just a marketplace, it’s a community for writers. Three of the most significant parts of this community are: the professionals, the courses, and the authors.

The Professionals 

Can you edit your own book? Sure. Can you design a book cover for your novel? You bet. Should you do either of those things? To put it gently: no.

“But I’m an artist — Picasso didn’t hire someone to look over his paintings before showing them to the world.” Well, you are not Picasso, and if you were, I would tell you that while your paintings are mesmerizing, if they were somehow translated into books a lot of people would probably leave Amazon reviews saying they didn’t quite “get it.”

Publishing houses do not employ teams of editors, designers, marketers, etc. just “for good measure.” They do so because the skills of those professionals are required to publish a novel people want to buy. And a self-published book is no different. Heed the advice of freelance book marketer and indie author Michael Doane: “You need to approach self-publishing with an entrepreneur’s perspective, because you need to invest money if you want to create a beautiful product that will earn you money in return.”

The Reedsy marketplace is currently home to over 600 publishing professionals including: developmental editors, query letter reviewers, cover designers, illustrators, typographers, blog tour and press coverage experts, ghostwriters, email marketing specialists, and more. The best part is that all of this talent is just a click away for anyone who wants to publish a book. Easily locate freelancers for specific services using the search function and then spend hours perusing detailed profiles of people who want to help turn your novel into a masterpiece.

Did you know: our list of freelancers includes Stephen King’s designer, Neil Gaiman’s editor, and Dan Brown’s publicist? To browse our marketplace of professionals, and to get $25 off your first Reedsy collaboration as a IWSG member, sign up here!

The Courses

Fans of Jack Kerouac will likely know the story of how the author wrote his novel, On The Road, on a 120-foot scroll of paper during a three-week typing frenzy. However, that’s just what it was, a typing frenzy. The actual conception and publication of the book required rewrites and multiple drafts just like any other book.

And that’s the thing about publishing a book: it can’t happen in one go. There is a learning curve involved in writing a book, and there is absolutely a learning curve in understanding how to self-publish a successful one.

That is why we launched Reedsy Learning, a series of free, online ten-part courses that cover a range of topics, from “Book Reviews and How to Get Them”, to “How to Build a Solid Writing Routine”. All of our courses are built to turn writers into publishing entrepreneurs. They'll support you throughout the whole journey — from the first writing stages to the distribution process.

Did you know: it takes up to 3 days for Amazon to register a “sale” and attribute it to your AMS ad? This is why you should never turn off an Amazon ads campaign in the first 72 hours just because you don’t see sales come in. Find out more about Amazon ads for authors in our newest course!

The Community

Author Neil Gaiman once said, “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” While we can relate to Gaiman’s sentiments, we also feel that calling in like-minded cavalry can help your fight.

This is why a priority of ours at Reedsy is creating a community of publishing professionals, and primarily, authors. There are a few ways in which we have sought to make Reedsy a place where writers can connect with one another:

The Reedsy blog
The Reedsy blog, where we post craft and technical pieces alike. But more importantly in terms of community, we host the From Our Authors series where indie authors who have used Reedsy to collaborate with professionals talk about their writing journeys. They share the learnings they have acquired throughout the publishing process, and offer tips for fellow writers going through the same process.


The #IWriteBecause campaign, which launched at the beginning of May, has been bringing authors from all walks of life together by giving them a chance to share what drives them to write. The core of this campaign is to empower a new generation of readers and writers, and to this end, Reedsy is donating $10 for every #IWriteBecause video submitted to Room to Read — a nonprofit that focuses on child literacy in Asia and Africa.

Update from the Reedsy community: Six months after hiring a Reedsy editor and publishing her debut novel, Until I Met Her, Natalie Barelli was signed by Amazon Publishing’s imprint Thomas and Mercer! On May 30th, her novel will be formally re-released.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Platform? What's That?

Platform? What's That?

Platform Is A Must

I asked myself that a lot when I started writing for publication, and I did a lot of research to find the answer. Finally, I boiled it down to this.

#1 Decide what you want to be and become an expert.

I wanted to be Young Adult and Middle Grade book author. That was simple. To become an expert wasn’t. But I signed up for SCBWI, I attended conferences, I joined a critique group. Several. I wrote, I read. Over the years I learned a lot about writing and marketing. I also learned that becoming an expert takes a while, and because nothing remains the same, you can’t just stop and be smug about what you know.

#2 Establish a presence online.

Tell people who you are and what you do. I set up a webpage and a blog. I signed up for Twitter and created Facebook pages. I joined Goodreads and LinkedIn. 

#3 Connect with other professionals in your field. Network.

I began locally. My critique group was the beginning, then I started meeting other writers and agents and publishers at conferences and by doing presentations or sitting on panels.

I offered to do workshops for writers, and now do that yearly. 

#4 Be clear, be consistent and be constant. (The 3 Cs)

This was excellent advice, simple to remember, but challenging to maintain. I’m still working on this.

#5 Ask for help.

Get feedback from those who know what they’re doing and are doing it well. I appreciate all the people I’ve connected with online and in person. I love their feedback on my work and really appreciate it. 

After doing this for a while, I figured out I just had to be me and tell people who that me is, using the principle of those three Cs. Your platform won't happen overnight, but it will grow and mature if you stick with it. 

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
~Judy Garland

Monday, May 8, 2017

Planning a Writer's Conference?

Have you ever wondered what’s involved in putting together a writing conference or book festival? Thinking of starting your own? Let author Austin Camacho tell you what’s really involved!

How far in advance is a conference planned?

The day after a conference ends we hold the first meeting to start planning the next one. There are a lot of moving parts and successful authors plan their calendars pretty far out. We need the details pinned down early if we're going to attract great talent.

Reader/Writer conferences very in prices. What’s the best way to assess the value versus cost, both as an attendee and an organizer?

For readers, the value of a conference is based on three things: will the writers I want to see be there? How much access will I have to those writers? And what is included? For example, at our Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Con all meals during the event are included in the registration price.

Writers should assess the value of a con based on three other criteria.
1. Networking – will I meet the movers and shakers in MY genre, am I looking for an agent, will I have access to major successes in the business?
2. Promotion- will I get exposure to new readers by being on panels, will I participate in book signings, will I be positioned to be associated with big name writers, will I get a story in an anthology, will I be listed on the con’s web site, in the program, on their Facebook page?
3. The Experience – Will I be talking to fans, being interviewed for radio or on camera, have a chance to pitch or buzz my book?

What are some of the key aspects to consider when planning a major conference? What are some things people might not think about?

Many of these are things we learned AFTER our first Con. Location is important, including access to airports and highways. The food really matters. You have to figure a set of panels and presentations that appeal to both avid readers AND authors. The venue personnel must be friendly and helpful. Venue personnel have to fully understand the schedule so chairs, tables, podiums etc are in the right place at the time. You have to market the Con all year. Con personnel have to be easy to spot so attendees know who to tell if there’s a problem. And you have to remember to treat your special guests like they’re special. The happier they are the better the Con will be.

What’s key to attracting big name authors/publishers/agents to a conference?

It’s best to meet them and know their work BEFORE asking them to attend. That most often happens at other Cons. It’s important to contact them several months before the event to get on their busy calendars. And it is vital to explain why attendance is good for THEM, not you.

What social media platforms work best for marketing a convention?

Facebook has been key for us, but Twitter is also important. We hold a Twitter contest every year. The attendee who uses our hashtag most in the month before the event wins a Kindle Fire and a gift basket of surprise goodies.

What can go wrong and how do you work around problems?

Our most challenging issue so far was a keynote speaker getting sick and being unable to attend. Luckily we had a list of people we wanted the following year and after contacting several we were able to get someone to fill in.

I know other Cons have crashed and burned because of unexpected bad weather. Not much you can do about that.

Tell us a little bit about Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity Con and what is your key role?

The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity (C3) Con is the Mid-Atlantic’s book lover event of the year. It’s held in Columbia MD, September 8-10 this year. We gather readers AND writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction. This year we have Peter Blauner and Jonathan Maberry as keynote speakers. Our little community hangs out on Facebook And you can register at Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity.

As one of the organizers my primary responsibility is to recruit keynote speakers and local guests. I also see to their care and feeding thru the Con. Thank goodness we have a small but motivated committee to deal with the hundreds of other details (registration, on site bookstore, panels, dealing with the venue, menus, scheduling, etc.)

Austin S. Camacho is the author of six novels about Washington Dc-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008 - and he is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey.

Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press, and works with their authors to improve their manuscripts. And Camacho is deeply involved with the writing community. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. Website / Facebook

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#IWSG - Insecure Writer's Support Group and the release of Hero Lost!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up.

We post the first Wednesday of every month. We encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG will be Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone! 

Our Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG

Optional May Question:  What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?


Want to know how the authors of the newest IWSG Anthology answered this question? Check out Admin/Co-host Michelle Wallace's BLOG today to find out!!!


It's finally here. 

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

In this marvelous collection of speculative fiction, we journey through twelve wonderfully written tales to find out if the tortured hero can be redeemed. - Christine Rains, author

The authors have done us a favour by all being darned good at their craft. Recommended for fantasy fans. - Gordon Long, author

Print ISBN 9781939844361 $14.95
eBook ISBN 9781939844378 $4.99


eBook -

Blogs/sites -
Jen Chandler -- L. Nahay -- Renee Cheung -- Roland Yeomans -- Elizabeth Seckman -- Olga Godim -- Yvonne Ventresca -- Ellen Jacobson -- Sean McLachlan -- Erika Beebe -- Tyrean Martinson -- Sarah Foster


 Check out the Hero Lost Blog Tour!

May 2 - Stephanie Faris - Guest Post
May 3 - Michelle Wallace - Interview

May 5 - Cathrina Constantine - Spotlight Post

May 7 - Ronel Janse van Vuuren - Interview
May 8 - Bish Denham - Guest Post

May 8 - Patricia Lynne - Guest Post
May 9 - ChemistKen - Guest Post
May 10 - M.J. Fifield - Guest Post
May 15 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Interview
May 15 - Juneta Key - Spotlight Post
May 17 - Nicki Elson - Interview
May 19 - Chrys Fey - Guest Post
May 22 - Christine Rains - Review

May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview



Ever thought about being a co-host for IWSG posting day? Co-hosting means a lot more visitors to your site and it’s a lot of fun. Please leave a comment if you can volunteer this summer!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why Getting Great Reviews Is Your Job - Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Today we have the honor of hosting a special excerpt from Carolyn Howard-Johnson's new book. Getting great book reviews is something we all want to know how to do, right? Well, Carolyn is here to tell us why it's our job to get them.

Take it away, Carolyn!

**Excerpted from Carolyn’s new How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career

You need this article! Here’s why:

In spite of a contract or even an advance your publisher may not be a true publisher. True publishing includes the marketing of a book, Think big names like HarperCollins, Knopf, and Writers’ Digest, the publisher of Nina Amir’s new Creative Visualization. They assign a marketing budget to your book and an actual marketing department complete with actual human-type marketers who are trained in the specialized field of not just marketing, but marketing books. Except for those who write only for pleasure, there is no reason to publish a book that doesn’t get read.

The sad part is: Even those big publishers need the authors’ help. There is no free lunch when it comes to the marketing of a book—including the getting of reviews.

Some publishers—even traditional publishers—may not respect tradition, be uncooperative or goof. One of my writing critique partners was published with a fine press. When she learned they had not sent advance review copies of her literary novel to the most prestigious review journals before their strict sixteen-week deadline, she was naturally upset. They explained it was a snafu that could not be fixed. That was no comfort at all. It did help her to know that because thousands of galleys sent to the important review publications lie fallow in slush piles, the chances of having a book reviewed by a major journal—even one published traditionally let alone getting a glowing review—is remote. Because she had me to nag her, she moved on to alternative marketing and review-getting strategies found in Chapter Six of this book. Using those methods, she was still able to schedule several major bookstore appearances that tend to favor established names and rely on big-journal reviews in their decision-making process. Nevertheless, it’s not the kind of loss any author wants to face.

These days most small publishers have no marketing department—or marketing plan. In fact, many admit that when it comes to marketing, you are on your own. No offense, publishers. I know many of you do a terrific job considering the profit margin in publishing these days. Let’s face it, you can use help, and you don’t need to deal with disappointed (irate?) authors. And, authors! We are ultimately responsible for our own careers. Sometimes when we wait to take responsibility, it is too late in the publishing game.

Some publishers charge the author an additional or separate fee for marketing. Many who offer marketing packages do not offer a review-getting package. If they do, the review their authors get is a paid-for review, which is definitely not the route you want to go. More on that later in this chapter.

Many publishers do not even have lists of people to contact who might help your marketing with endorsements or reviews. Further, many big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process more and more as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. And bloggers? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself.

My first publisher supplied review copies only upon written request from individual reviewers. They did not honor requests generated by their authors’ initiatives. This meant that I could not count on them to supply books to reviewers I had successfully queried for a review. Unless the reviewer accepted e-copies (and many reviewers don’t!), I had to order copiesdirectly from the publisher and then reship them to my reviewers. This method is slow, cumbersome, unnecessarily expensive, unprofessional, and discourages authors from trying to get reviews on their own.

Publishers should offer review copies to a list of reviewers—even unestablished grassroots bloggers—who have been responsive to their authors in the past. And they certainly should not charge an author for review copies. Publishers have a profit margin and publicity obtained by their authors (including reviews) affects their bottom line, too. They should send their author a thank you (or a red rose!) along with encouragement to keep up the good work

Publishers should also market their books. That means that even if they are too small or underfunded to have a marketing department, they should have a list of reviewers to query for reviews, a list of influential people to provide blurbs for your cover, access to book cover designers (not just great graphic designers) who know what sells books, and a whole lot more. Ask potential publishers about their marketing process before you sign, but—even if you feel assured after having that conversation—it’s best to assume you may be on your own.

And here’s more: Big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. Bloggers, you say? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself

So, the marketing part of your book that includes finding the right reviewers to read and comment on your book will—in most cases—be up to you and well within your skill set after reading this book. And even when you have the luxury of a marketing department behind you, those authors who know how to get reviews on their own can keep a book alive for an infinite amount of time after their publishers relegate their books to a backlist or their contract expires. 
Note: If it is too late to apply this information to the process you use in choosing a publisher, tactfully take hold and guide the publisher you have through the review process. There are lots of ways to do that in this book. I love Nike’s advice to “Just do it!” only I add “yourself” to the motto. Many publishers are in your employ. You may be paying them for services. At the very least, when your book sells, it makes money for the publisher. You don’t have to ask for permission (though it never hurts to listen to their reasoning before you make a decision).

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions ofThe Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Multi award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

Twitter: @FrugalBookPromo

Thank you for sharing your insight on book reviews and how to get them, Carolyn!

Please leave Carolyn a comment. :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Three Publishers Weigh in on Queries, Marketing, and the Publishing Model

Please welcome the following publishers and their founders:

Describe the setup and function(s) of your publishing company.

At Acorn Publishing we combine the benefits of traditional publishing with the freedoms of self-publishing while allowing our authors to keep the rights to their work.
By choosing to self-publish, you are able to maintain control of every aspect of the process, but by doing it with us, your work assumes another level of legitimacy with the cover appeal and expertise of an established publisher. Traditional publishers take a cut of each sale, as does the retailer & agent. With Acorn Publishing, you pay us a flat fee in the beginning and that’s it. If you make 100,000 sales, you keep whatever profit you make.
Submission guidelines:

Dancing Lemur Press, LLC is a traditional publishing company. We accept direct queries for several genres - sci-fi, NA, mystery, Christian, non-fiction, fantasy, etc. We produce print, eBooks, and audio books and pay royalties quarterly. We also have an imprint, Freedom Fox Press.

This year, WiDo’s 10th in business, we opened a hybrid publishing imprint called E.L. Marker to meet the large demand of writers interested in self-publishing, while still wanting the security and know-how of an established publishing team behind them. With our experience, WiDo is in the ideal position to fill that need. We have 10 freelance editors to do the content editing, copyediting, and proofreading of our manuscripts, whether WiDo or E.L. Marker. The books then go to the cover designer followed by professional layout and typesetting to prepare them for print and distribution. Our distributor, Lightning Source, has worldwide distribution to all online as well as brick and mortar bookstores.

What does your company offer over self-publishing?

Vetting Process
By being selective about the books we include in our imprint, we ensure that our catalogue is of good quality. Our books are set apart from the vast amounts of self-published work flooding the market.
You get the support of a team of professionals to help you along the way. We promote your book, represent your work at numerous book festivals, and answer any questions you may have about the process.
Even though behind the scenes you will technically be self-publishing, to the rest of the world your work will appear “traditionally published” with a branded logo and “published by Acorn Publishing” on all retailer websites.

An established brand and image; a large network; professional editing, formatting, & cover design; marketing materials, and experience. (There is a clout that comes with traditional publishing - for instance, self-published books aren’t reviewed by Publishers Weekly or Library Journal.) Our imprint even offers higher royalties for authors who are promotional savvy. All of it is at no cost to the author.

Our company, both the traditional WiDo or the hybrid E.L. Marker, offers the clear advantage of having a seasoned, professional team on your side. From editing, layout and typesetting, cover design, print and distribution as well as marketing support, we're there to help you make your book a reality.

What turns you off in a query letter?

Really horrific topics and/or bad writing. That’s pretty much it.

One that lacks what we clearly state in our submission guidelines as requirements. (Those who start off with “I want you to publish my book” are a big turnoff, too.) Writers who don’t learn how to do a proper query letter or don’t include requested items only demonstrate that they can’t follow directions - and will be a nightmare to work with.

People who don't even bother to make an effort: Forwarded mass letters going out to dozens of publishers at a time. A brief statement like "here's my book, please read" with the chapters attached. Or no letter at all, just the attached chapters.

What catches your eye in a query letter?

Good writing and an original topic.

Sadly, what catches my eye first is one that’s actually done correctly.
After that, a synopsis that is straightforward with a refreshing story catches my attention. If I can see the potential, it has my attention. I also look at writer experience, although a solid marketing plan and online connections will offset no experience.

We look for polished manuscripts with exceptional stories and identifiable characters. For WiDo, we also expect a strong, well-established marketing platform. A query should summarize the book along with information about the writer, especially what makes you the best writer for this book. Including pertinent information about your marketing plans is key if you want publication with WiDo, as it is with any traditional press. Please see our website at for information and submissions guidelines for both our companies.

What do you expect your authors to do as far as marketing?

Their best…we do a lot, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there as best as you know how. We guide our authors and put them in touch with blog tour managers and book clubs etc., so with us you’re never out there on your own trying to figure out what to do.

We expect them to market online, using their social sites and connections to reach a wide audience. We want them to make physical appearances where possible - book signings, conventions, libraries, etc. Since we also produce bookmarks, postcards, and other promo materials, we expect author to distribute them. We guide our authors as much as possible.
Freedom Fox Press authors are expected to do a large portion of the marketing. (The trade-off for higher royalties.)

We expect them to care as much for the success of their books as we do. What is disheartening is when we've invested time and money into creating their book, with the trust that the author will then carry out the marketing plan they submitted, and then after the launch they do a couple things then give up.

What advice would you give writers when they are seeking a publisher?

Try to get the agent and the big deal, but remember A LOT of it is luck. If it doesn’t happen for you, it doesn’t mean your work is unworthy of publication. There are other avenues where you can be just as successful.

Do your research first. Compile a list of publishers who accept your genre and then check their listing on Preditors and Editors. (If you see red, run away.) Read AND follow their submission guidelines. (As I’ve already stated, you really will stand out when you do that.) Finally, never, ever pay a publisher to produce your book. That is subsidy publishing - neither self-published (you don’t own the ISBN, they do) nor is it traditionally published (because you paid.)

My best advice for landing a publishing contract is to submit the best, most polished manuscript that you can. But don’t edit out your own voice and emotional investment in the process. Put your heart into your work, along with all the talent you possess, then submit with a professional, informative query.

Any questions for these publishers? Do their answers surprise you?