Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From Agentless to Four Book Releases in One Year - Author Medeia Sharif

In 2013 I parted ways with my last agent. Yes, folks, I’ve had more than one agent. It happens—enthusiasm dies, bites from publishers don’t happen, there isn’t enough communication, and so on. Normally, when an agent and I break up, I’m a mess. It was different this time. During this last breakup, I was very calm and levelheaded. It was a new day and age in publishing. Despite the pitfalls of publishing and the gripes many authors have, there are more options today. One option is the small press. Some small presses are still relatively new, while others have been around for years.

While waiting and waiting and waiting for things to happen in the more traditional route, I had several beta read, polished manuscripts ready to go. They were HOT PINK IN THE CITY (Prizm Books, 2015), THE ATTIC OF SAND AND SECRETS (Featherweight Press, 2014), VITAMINS AND DEATH (Prizm Books, 2014), and SNIP, SNIP REVENGE (Evernight Teen, 2014). I submitted all four of them soon after my agent breakup. While I waited to hear back from small presses, I wrote new things. I won’t bombard you with my list of books, though, since I have other titles coming out this year. You can visit my site for my list.

Some people think that I write like a maniac. Yes, I do, and I’m able to write at least two drafts a year, but the major factor in getting three books published in 2014 was that I had them ready. I’m always working on something. If you’re waiting for one book to be published—whether it takes a year or ten—then you won’t have anything else to submit. No, I kept on writing, whether I was agented or agentless. Also, I was busy submitting. I made a folder of links to small presses and I keep adding to it. Googling, seeing what small presses blog friends are with, and noticing where my book purchases are from all led me to making this folder. I know which publishers will accept submissions for my middle grade, light YA, and dark YA. Because I write in different genres, but not all publishers are open to them, you’ll see that my books are all over the place, although some presses I’ve worked with twice.

So, this is why my 2014 was busy and why my 2015 will be equally as busy.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Monday, January 26, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge-The Networking Event of the Year

It's that time of year to think of spring and the biggest networking opportunity in the blogging world. Today, the signup list for the A to Z Blogging Challenge opens up.

As a writer, we're instructed to build our network and social media presence long before we're ever published. You can read instructions books on how to do and receive lots of advice from more those more experienced than us. But if you're looking for an easy, invigorating and fun way to build your presence online, than A to Z is for you.

The challenge is easy to follow. Simply blog for the entire month of April except for Sundays. April 1st use a word or subject beginning with the letter A. On April 2nd, used letter B and so forth. You can blog about whatever you wish though most participants will chose a theme. You can also label your blog with any of the convenient headings to make sure you draw interest from like-minded bloggers. More instructions and the signup list are available on the blogs of all those working behind the scenes to make this massive undertaking work.

A to Z Blogging Challenge the home base
Arlee Bird @Tossing It Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virag @ The Multicolored Diary
S.L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author

There is lots of advice on how to make the A to Z more fun than work. And you don't have to make up your mind on the first day of signups. You have lots of time to think about how you would do it and if it will fit into your schedule. Any of the administrators of the Challenge will gladly answer questions or give advice as will previous year's participants.

Are you game for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year? Feeling like offering some advice if you're a veteran? Are you following the blogs listed above?

Susan Gourley is a multi-published writer of science fiction romance and epic fantasy. She blogs at Susan Says and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ethical Reviewing for Authors

When we read a great book, we want to tell the world. Subsequently, when we read a really bad book, we want to warn the world. What is the proper balance though?

Our perspective changes when we become authors. We understand the value of a good review and the sting of a bad one. We are now in the public eye and have to think about our reputation. There is a balance between honesty and tact. Go too far with negative reviews and we open ourselves up to receive similar treatment, but go too far with positive reviews and we discredit our word completely. Some authors stop reviewing books altogether.

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to know what NOT to do. Below are some examples of unethical reviewing using both positive and negative reviews.

  • Giving 5 stars to everyone’s book to entice them to return the favor. When an author gives all 5 star ratings and reviews, it’s suspect, and seeking a return of the favor is often the reason. This becomes a discredit to that person’s opinion, as sub-par books receive the same treatment as great books. 

  • Excessive gushing, either for a friend or for a return review. Some books do deserve high praise. But excessive gushing is embarrassing and can feel really shallow. A review can be really good without appearing to be over-the-top or a suck-up.

  • Poor ratings for others to make yourself look good. This is a trick some try to lower the ratings of other books in their genre.

  • Reviewing books you haven’t read or didn’t finish. This one should be really obvious. If you didn’t read it to the end, you shouldn’t review it, because you didn’t give it a fair shake.

  • Finishing books just so you can leave a bad review. This one isn’t so much unethical as just confusing. Life is short. Go read a good book instead.

  • Bashing the author personally. A review should always be about the book. Personal attacks on the author should never appear in a review. Mocking or making fun of the author is shallow and unprofessional.

  • The one-line review of “This book sucks.” You’re a writer - that’s the best you can do?

Bottom line - write reviews that are honest but fair and tactful.

What are some other unethical book review practices?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Using Control Most Effectively Pre and Post Contract by Martina Boone

I just sent the second book of my Heirs of Watson Island trilogy back to my editor for the final time before the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) come out. And I know it isn’t perfect. ARCs almost never are — they’re uncorrected proofs, that’s what it always says on the cover. But if I could just have one more draft . . . one more pass . . . one more day . . .

Recognize the sentiment?

Regret, what-if, and could-a, should-a are the writer’s constant companions. That’s one of the aspect of being an author that is the most difficult for me. As a writer, I’m in total control of my work and the fictional world in which my characters live. There, I’m GOD. (And it is good.)

But once the manuscript leaves my desk in any form, my level of control dwindles the closer the book comes to publication. Why? Because the book goes from being my brain child to being a product that needs to be appealing to as many people as possible so it can be economically viable. At least if I want to make a living as a writer.

Looking back from this side of traditional publication, I’ve come to recognize that there are steps along the path to publication where we writers have control, and there are steps where our control is minimal. Based on what I’ve learned to this point, here are some ways I think we can make the most of the control we have. And I do think that most of these apply whether we are publishing traditionally or as indie authors.

Using Absolute Pre-Contract Control Most Effectively

1)       Take as much time as we can to master craft. Read widely, take workshops, know grammar inside and out, keep learning!
2)       Examine the premise of our manuscripts from every possible angle. Look for ways to make them bigger, fresher, more unexpected, and more interesting; good is the enemy here. Competition is stiff, and the premise, more than anywhere else, is where we can ultimately create a salable manuscript.
3)       Figure out who the audience is going to be and what they generally expect/want in a book.
4)       Re-examine the premise with the audience in mind. Does it meet conventions and then twist them?
5)       Write the best book possible that meets the promise of the premise and promises to entice the audience.
6)       Develop a network of trustworthy critique partners and beta readers who will be brutally honest with you. Shut up when you hear their advice. Put the manuscript away for a few months. Then look at it again, and be as critical and objective as you can be when addressing what the readers suggested.
7)       Write a brilliant pitch for the book you’ve written. When the book is salable and well-executed, this is easier than you might think. Frequently, problems crafting a query/pitch suggest there are still problems with the premise or the execution of the book itself.
8)       Create a list of agents you’d like to work with. Get references. Do your homework. Take your time and make sure you’d really love to work with those agents and that your communication styles and tastes are going to be compatible and that they are going to represent all the genres that you want to write in the course of your career.

Now that’s where your control stops. Because from this point, we are at the mercy of market conditions, trends, individual tastes, and yes—let’s be honest—luck.

I am under no illusions that my book is better than a LOT of books that didn’t get published. It’s a solid book, with a lot going for it, and I did as good a job writing it as I could. From there, I was pulled out of the machine by the giant claw of luck. Other books, other writers, are not always so lucky.

Here’s the thing though, we can help to make ourselves more “lucky.”

If COMPULSION hadn’t landed me and agent, and if it hadn’t sold, I would still have kept writing. Work is never wasted. I’ve learned something with each of the manuscripts I’ve written, and all of that goes into making the next book better, and that means that I am more likely to be nearer to the top of the pile when the claw of luck swoops down again to grab someone.

Now here’s the part we don’t see written about as often.

Using Absolute Post-Contract Control Most Effectively

Once the claw of luck grabs us, we have very little control, and we have less and less as the book gets closer to sitting on the bookstore shelves. Which really, when you think about it, is fine. We’re writers. We’re not marketing experts, or copeditors, or keyboarders, or cover designers, or sales reps, or publicity. (Unless we’re indie publishing, in which case we have to be all of the above.)

Once the book has left our desk, and if we aren’t indie publishing, all we can do is . . . wait for it . . . write the next book and make it better. Be GOD in a different universe.

Because you know who ultimately has control?


And what they want is plain and simple. They want books that make them feel something new, experience something new, and make them want to keep reading more.


Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. Shes the author of Compulsion, book one in the Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall 14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editors Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published in October 2015. Shes also the founder of, a Writers Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Have a Schedule Yet? ... Write Already!

We’re a dozen days into the new year and I’m sure you have some writing resolutions all worked out. For me, I’m just trying to stick to a schedule and write consistently

Some of us write at a snail’s pace and others can complete books within a few months of intense writing sessions. If you’re in the hit-and-miss category, here are some tips to keep you moving in the right direction

Create a writing schedule – it’s been said many times before, but it bears repeating. Carve out sacred time each day that belongs to you and is meant to increase your word count and/or help you tidy up that manuscript.

Work with an outline – if that helps to increase your word count. I’ve had sessions where I’ve wasted time staring at the monitor when I could have brainstormed for a few minutes to decide the direction of the next chapter before I sat down to write.

Think about your fans – it’s not unheard of for fans to contact writers through Facebook or via email. One question that’s sure to be asked is ‘when’s the next book coming out?’ That question should help with your forward motion and keep you working on those plots that writers always have going.

Remember you’re building a career – If writing is more to you than a hobby, then you need to have a regular production schedule. In today’s fast-moving world, unless you’re a famous writer, fans won’t sit around waiting for your next book to drop. What’s more likely to happen is that you’ll get lost in the shuffle if you leave it too long before you produce the next book.

Relax and breathe – acknowledge that things don’t always go according to plan and that schedules get derailed. When you’re flung out of the saddle by life and its unscheduled interruptions, don’t despair, just get back to writing as soon as you can.

What are your tips for increasing your productivity in the writing department? Have you settled on a schedule yet for 2015?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Introduce Yourself and 2015 Goals

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. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!

To kick off a brand new year, we invite all members to introduce yourself, either on your blog or at the Facebook site. Please keep your introduction to a hundred words or less.

Let us get to know you – and get to know others in this awesome group!

Now, what are your goals for 2015?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Does Outstanding Cute Count?

If you're like me, you've struggled over the right headshot for your blog or your novel. You may have excluded a picture altogether or chosen instead a symbol that best illustrates who you are as an author.

We all struggle with this issue, an issue seldom spoken of. 

For a long time, although my hair is white, I opted for a younger face staring back at me on my profiles.

You're probably thinking: Easy for you, Joylene, but I'm not photogenic.

Trust me, I’m not either.

The publisher chose not to have my headshot on the back of my second novel, Broken But Not Dead in 2011. I never asked why.

Before Dead Witness was published in 2008, I almost had them use my initials instead of my name for the same reason I used Photoshop on my photo. My books have dark themes about war, child abuse, and the complexities of the parent/child relationship. I wanted the face on the back cover to reflect the seriousness of my subject matter.

My point?

One day I asked myself: When was the last time you judged a book by the author’s photo?

By all means, clean up. Put on your best duds. Use PhotoShop if you must. Your novel will be around for a very long time. Look your best. But know that readers, the intelligent beings that they are, could care less if your hair’s grey or you’ve got red botches around your nose or chin; or whether there’s a huge ZIT on your forehead. Okay, depends on how large the zit is. But honestly, in the end it’s about the story.

To have a headshot or not to have a headshot?

Doesn’t matter. I promise if you want to write and publish good fiction, you start by loving yourself. Start with that, and everything else will work out just fine. Maybe even outstanding.