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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Writer's Toolbox #2: More Must-Have Tools for Writers


This week Ruth Harris gives us more must-have tools for writers in the second installment of her "Writer's Toolbox" Series. Lots of stuff here that's available FREE or cheaply.

This is another post—like the one about global markets last week—that reminds me how much I still don't know about this business. I have to admit I've never made out a style sheet. My publisher kindly has done this work for me, but I do need to learn this stuff.

Ruth really knows what she's talking about here. Before she was a high-powered editor (and later, publisher) at several Big Six Houses, AND a bestselling author on the New York Times bestseller list, Ruth Harris worked as lowly copywriter in Macmillan's textbook department. She worked in a "bullpen" and learned the trade from experienced, no-nonsense copy editors. She says it was a great education and foundation for what was to come.

Once again, Ruth brings us the benefits of her years of professional expertise. Take it away, Ruth!

                                                                                                       ...Anne

The Writer’s Toolbox #2
Style sheets, style guides, code breaking + the best copyeditor’s query ever...and a copy editor joke
 by Ruth Harris

Style sheets

Look, guys, I don’t want you to freak out but you need a style sheet. 

Even if you’re trad-pubbing, you'll probably need one because publishers have cut back. Copyediting, like a lot of things, ain’t what it used to be. 

And if you self-pub and plan to hire a copyeditor, a style sheet will alert him/her to the basics of your manuscript and save you both time and money.

In case you don’t know what a style sheet is and maybe have never even heard of one, a style sheet is a list of all the important data—names, addresses, dates, people and places—in your manuscript. Making a style sheet is straightforward: the first time a character’s name (or any other data) is mentioned, add it to your list. Simple as that.

Basically, your style sheet is a road map to your book, a quality-control tool that provides coherence and consistency. A style sheet is analogous to continuity in a movie and will ensure, among other things, that your characters don’t suddenly change names—or worse—in the middle of your novel. Trust me, it happens.

Like this: Your MC is James Q. Black. You don’t want him to suddenly to become Jimmy Z. Brown and confuse the hell out of the editor you’re trying to sell. Because, guess what?, you won’t make the sale. A style sheet will save you from the vagaries of memory—and from yourself.

Or this: If you self-pub, you want to make certain your reader knows exactly which character is dangling off the edge of a cliff by the fingertips, don’t you? Is it James Q. or Jimmy Z, or, god forbid, Jane Z.—reader wants to know!

Example #2: Your heroine, Suzie Smith, lives at 21 Main Street. Add Suzie Smith plus her address to your style sheet. Will save you from calling her Suzy Smith a few chapters later and makes sure you refer to her address as 21 Main Street. Not twenty-one Main Street. And certainly not 22 Maine Avenue.

Suzie’s bff works at Lulu’s Bakery. Add bff’s name and Lulu’s Bakery to your style sheet. Loulou’s Bakery? What’s dat and what’s it doing in this story? A confused reader is a reader who’s going to lose interest.

Ace fiction editor Beth Hill, explains her approach to style sheets here and offers some useful how-to details. Deanna Hoak, star sf/f copyeditor, discusses the importance of style sheets here. She shares examples of actual style sheets here so you can see what they look like. You will find more about style sheets and a FREE downloadable template here.

Related to the style sheet are character descriptions that ensure a blonde is blonde (unless a change in hair color is critical to the plot). A six footer is six feet. A scar on the right side of a character’s face stays on the right side, doesn’t move to the left or completely disappear (at least not without a credible explanation).

Style guide or style sheet? Is there a difference?

Apple and oranges, bay-bee, although IRL ("in real life"...translation for the not so cool kids like me...Anne) sometimes there is overlap. Generally speaking, though, a style sheet keeps track of the nuts and bolts: 21 Main Street not twenty-one Main Street or 22 Maine Street, remember?

A style guide, OTOH (on the other hand), offer suggestions about how to write. Some publishers provide a style guide, a sort of house rules for writers. 

This FREE style guide from The Economist emphasizes clarity—a goal every writer is (or should be) aiming for.

Here are some samples from the Economist style guide: 
  • Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. (I heartily endorse this one. So much tech info seems to be written in Klingon...Anne)
The New York Times Style Guide ($13) is here. And here's a useful FREE overview of the AP Style guide. An entertaining consideration of the difference between a diaeresis and an umlaut (don’t forget the diphthong!) in The New Yorker.

FREE download of Fowler’s Modern English Usage here  (McAfee seems to think this is a dangerous site, but I went there with no dire consequences...Anne) . How to choose a style guide. William Strunk’s classic The Elements Of Style FREE download.

Elmore Leonard’s beloved classic 10 Rules of Writing is a style guide with the stated goal of keeping the writer invisible to the reader.

Writers from Zadie Smith to Hilary Mantel spell out their approach in a great article in the Guardian on rules for writers. Here are rules for writing dialogue and William Safire’s witty Rules for Writers.

Writing teacher Roy Peter Clark reflects on the power of the short sentence here.

Just remember, rules are suggestions, not iron-clad laws. Once you know them and use them confidently, you can (maybe) break them as long as you know what you’re doing.

Preparing your manuscript

Related to the good housekeeping aspect of a style sheet is preparing your manuscript so that your book looks professional. Here, from the University of Chicago Press, is an easy-to-follow FREE guide to the details of manuscript preparation.

You will find more FREE information about preparing different kinds of manuscripts for submission—books, journals, art—here from the Chicago Manual of Style.

Breaking the code, or: working with an editor

Your editor has just returned your manuscript and it’s covered with doodles, squiggles and hieroglyphics. Those weird-looking doodles aren’t top-secret CIA spy codes or the formula for making an H-bomb in your kitchen.

They’re called editor’s (or proofreader’s) marks and, in order to communicate with your editor, you need to understand his/her language. You’ll find a handy Rosetta Stone here.

Format your manuscript for publication.

I wrote about formatting in the first Writer’s Toolbox but, since then, other on-line formatters have turned up on my radar.

  • Legend Maker for Mac costs about $30 and will turn your manuscript into epub or mobi format. Comes with a user guide, validators and on-line support. Find out more about Legend Maker here.
  • Mobipocket Creator converts Word files to .prc files that can be uploaded directly to Kindle. Mobipocket Creator is a FREE download here.
  • Kindlegen is Amazon’s own FREE downloadable tool for formatting your book into a Kindle-friendly format. Kindlegen is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

Build your own website/blog

Even if you’re not a tech guru, a number of on-line helpers make the job of creating a professional-looking website or blog doable without fainting spells or hair-pulling. WordPress, Blogger.com, Wix and Weebly all have their proponents and all of them are FREE.

To help you decide, here’s more info: A Blogger vs. WordPress shoot out. A Weebly review. Weebly/WordPress comparison. Wix/Weebly compare and contrast.

Link shorteners

Google has one. Other flavors include is.gd, rd.me and tinyurl. Twitter and Hootsuite provide their own shorteners and bit.ly lets you create bundles, useful when you want to tweet a single link to send readers to your book at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc.

Best editor’s query


“It’s not clear whose orgasm this is. Please clarify.”

Thanks to @SarahFrantz for this gem.

Copy editor joke

Q: How many copy editors does it take to change a light bulb?

A: This wording does not conform to our style guide.

Whew! Are you madly clicking on those links, scriveners? You don't have to do them all at once, the way I did. But you can ask Ruth questions about which style guides, web hosts, etc work for her, and what she'd recommend. Do you have any tools to add? 


Book Bargain of the Week





5 full-length novels by million-copy NYT bestseller and Romantic Times award winner Ruth Harris. 2000 pages of quality fiction.

Decades (Book # 1) Top 5 on Movers and Shakers. This bestselling classic is the compelling story of a marriage at risk, a family in crisis and a woman on the brink set against the tumultuous decades of the mid-twentieth century. "Absolutely perfect." ...Publisher's Weekly "Terrific!" ...Cosmopolitan "Powerful. A gripping novel." ...Women Today Book Club

Husbands And Lovers (Book #2) Million copy New York Times bestseller! Top 10 on Movers & Shakers! Winner, Best Contemporary, Romantic Times! The story of a shy wallflower who turns herself into a lovely and desirable woman and the two handsome, successful men who compete for her love. "A contemporary tale of passion and commitment. Steamy and fast-paced, you will be spellbound." ...Cosmopolitan

Love And Money (Book #3) #1 on Amazon's Movers and Shakers. Honored by the Literary Guild and the Book-of-the-Month Club. Rich girl, poor girl. Sisters and strangers until fate--and murder--bring them face to face. "Richly plotted. First-class entertainment." ...NY Times "Fast-paced, superior fiction. A terrifically satisfying 'good read.'" ...Fort Lauderdale News Sun-Sentinel

Modern Women (Book # 4) Million-copy NYT bestseller! #1 on Movers and Shakers! Three likable, dynamic women--and the men in their lives. The right men. The wrong men. The maybe men. "Funny, sad, vivid, and raunchy. Harris seeks to enliven and entertain, and she does it in spades." ...The Cleveland Plain-Dealer  "Ruth Harris's rapier wit spices up a superb 'rags to riches' novel. You'll love Modern Women." ...West Coast Review of Books "Sharp and stylishly written." ...Chicago Sun-Times

The Last Romantics (Book # 5)--A sweeping love story set in Paris and New York during the glamorous Jazz Age of the 1920's. He is dashing, handsome and celebrated but dangerously flawed. She is beautiful, talented, lonely, haunted. Fate brings them together but will the tides of history keep them apart? "I love it, I love it! Fantastic, immensely readable." ...Cosmopolitan "Gloriously romantic" ...Kirkus

Opportunity Alerts

WILDA HEARNE FLASH FICTION CONTEST $10 ENTRY FEE. 500 words. Any theme. Semi-finalists will be chosen by a regional team of published writers. The final manuscript will be chosen by Susan Swartwout, publisher of Southeast Missouri State University Press. Winner receives an award of $300 and publication in Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley. Deadline October 1st.

The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS podcasts. Get your short story recorded FREE for an online podcast! Fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

WILD LIGHT POETRY CONTEST The $25 entry fee is a little pricey, but this is run by the prestigious Red Hen Press and offers a prize of $1,000 and publication in The Los Angeles Review. Submit up to three poems of up to 200 lines each. Deadline October 15th.

***

This week Anne is visiting the Alliterative Allomorph, where she's talking about how the indie revolution has positively affected all readers, even if you still only buy paper books at brick and mortar stores. 

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Ebook Market No Author Should Ignore: Think Globally!


One of the biggest changes the e-reader has brought to the publishing industry doesn't get much cyberink in the online book community.

It's the huge international market that's opening up now that we don't have to pay to ship physical books around the world.

If, like me, you've ever experienced that terrible moment on vacation when you discover you have nothing left to read in your native tongue but a copy of Henry James' The Golden Bowl you got in trade for your last Agatha Christie in that Athens hostel...you know how tough it used to be to find English language books abroad.

But no more!

The e-age has given us a global book market.

This weekend, some health challenges kept me from the Central Coast Writers Conference—a big disappointment—but it allowed me to stay home and see the first installment of PBS's series of Shakespeare's history plays, dubbed "The Hollow Crown." I got to watch a breathtaking production of Richard II. It contains some of Shakespeare's most eloquent love-letters to the mongrel language we call English.

Since I had just received this post on the international book market, I felt a small sense of irony when James Purefoy as Mowbray spoke those famous words protesting his exile from the Sceptered Isle.

"The language I have learn'd these forty years,
My native English, now I must forego:
And now my tongue's use is to me no more
Than an unstringed viol or a harp."

In the 21st century, exile is not so harsh. As Jay and the crew at Ebook Bargains UK tell us in this week's post: a whole lot of people all over the world now speak English.

They read it, too.

Which means there's a global market for ebooks in English that indie authors can tap into—with no worries about translation, shipping, or "foreign rights."

But most authors who write in English still focus on selling exclusively in the U.S. That worked for some of the big indie success stories a few years ago, but this is a rapidly changing industry.

Do you know the country where people read the most books? I sure didn't. According to a July article in the L.A. Times, it's India. And you know where the second biggest population of English speakers lives? Again, it's India. Followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.

Combined, those three countries make up a larger population of English speakers than in all of the US.

I've mentioned in several posts recently that I've been getting a boost in my sales outside the US thanks to a new ebook promo newsletter that's venturing where the big US advertisers like BookBub, Kindle Nation Daily and Pixel of Ink don't go: the international markets.

For those of you who aren't published yet, you may not know the ebook bargain newsletter is rated by many as the most effective way for new authors to get noticed. Buying ads in daily newsletters like Kindle Nation Daily, E-Reader News Today, Pixel of Ink, and Bookbub is one of the best ways to get a new book in front of readers.

But they have some big drawbacks:

  • They're pricey. 
  • They only sell to the US. 
  • They demand a huge number of Amazon reviews: reviews on blogs, newspapers, or on other retail sites don't count. 
  • Most only link to Amazon.

I'm lucky my publisher connected with EbookBargainsUK (EBUK for short) early, so we got in on some of their initial freebie ads. But the ads are still remarkably low priced, and I have seen direct results. After a "spotlight" week in the newsletter, my boxed set reached #2 in Canadian women's fiction: right between Margaret Atwood's latest and the new Bridget Jones. A fantasy come true for a longtime fan of both Atwood and Fielding. It also charted in France, Germany and Brazil.

The EBUK newsletters don't have all the bells and whistles of the big American promoters, and they've only been going a few months, but as co-founder Jay Housden explained to me, what they lack in budget and fancy tech they make up for in enthusiasm and ambition.

A whole lot of ambition, as you'll see below.

And okay, I have a thing for all things Brit, as my readers know. (Yes, the next Camilla adventure will take us back to Swynsby-on-Trent. And there's a possible future jaunt to India, where Camilla's etiquette books are very big. Funny how our fiction can sometimes be predictive.)

EBUK's newsletters target English-speakers all over the world. And as they will tell you, ebooks are already a major factor in the global marketplace.

I'm a little embarrassed by my ignorance about this stuff. I didn't have a clue my books were on all these international sites. If you don't have a savvy publisher like mine, you may want to use self-publishing sites like Smashwords or D2D who will automatically put you on most of the international retail sites.

I know this piece is more promotional than what we usually accept, but I was so blown away by the info, I had to share it with you. Plus I'm a big fan of Mark Coker at Smashwords, and he echoes their vision in a great post about the Indian market here. Smashwords is working at putting indies into as many of these markets as possible. It looks as if this will make Smashwords a much bigger player in a few years.

Maybe someday, like Camilla in No Place Like Home, you'll be able to put a down payment on a little cottage with the proceeds from your international sales.

So Mick, Jay and the EBUK tech geniuses—take it away!
                                                                                                             ...Anne

Why Every Author Should Start Thinking Globally

by the EBUK Team




Given we only launched Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) this summer, on a shoe-string budget from a bedroom in Bedford, with the impossible ambition of promoting English-language ebooks to a world that supposedly doesn’t know ebooks exist, we’re pretty pleased with how things are going.

We started the first EBUK newsletter because we were tired of seeing newsletters that only linked to Amazon—usually only Amazon US. We'd search for the book on Amazon.co.uk or another UK site, and find it wasn't on sale to us.

We also wanted to know about ebook bargains to be found at our own UK bookshop sites, like Foyles, Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Tesco etc.

We soon realized such a newsletter would be useful in Canada and Australia and India...and English speaking countries all over the world. So our one newsletter rapidly expanded to ten. We hope to have twenty by the end of the year.

Okay, so right now our number of subscribers is pitiful compared to BookBub's million. But it's important to bear in mind EBUK is targeting the nascent markets, not a mature market like the United States. The vertical expansion (subscribers) is inevitably going to be slow to start. But the list is growing daily.

We believe the international English-language ebook market will dwarf the US market in the coming years. Which is why we’re happy with our gradual vertical expansion and are instead focused on our lateral expansion – reaching out to readers around the globe.

By the time you read this we will have just launched Ebook Bargains S.E. Asia, the twelfth of our international newsletters. By no coincidence it coincides with the launch of the new Kobo store in the Philippines.

The S.E. Asia newsletter (Not just the Philippines but Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc) will join daily promo newsletters already shipping to:
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • the Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • UK
  • USA
Ebook Bargains France, Italy and Scandinavia will be following next month, with another five to add before the year’s end.

Each daily newsletter carries the same titles, but the Australia newsletter only has links to retailers available in Australia. The German newsletter only has links to retailers available in Germany. The Dutch newsletter only has links to retailers in the Netherlands. Etc.

Ebooks Down Under

Guess what? Oz has been selling ebooks since the last century.

You’ve probably never heard of ebooks.com but they’ve been selling ebooks since 1997, ten years before Amazon introduced the Kindle – and are still going strong.

Amazon is estimated to have just over a 60% market share in Australia, which means four out of ten readers are shopping elsewhere.

Some of you may be familiar with Angus & Robertson and Collins, both supplied by Kobo.

What you probably don’t know is that Australians can also buy ebooks from:
  • Booktopia, 
  • Bookworld
  • Dymocks
  • QBD
  • Fishpond 
  • Here’s our host Anne R. Allen in Bookworld.
  • Then of course there’s the Apple iTunes Australia store
  • and the GooglePlay Australia store. 
  • And not forgetting the Sony Australia Reader Store. 
Sony have been quietly reinventing themselves while your back has been turned and now have seven international stores – here’s Anne R. Allen in their Australian store.

Even the German ebook retailer 'txtr (no, that’s not a typo) has an ebook store in Australia. And guess who’s got her ebooks there...

All these stores are selling ebooks to Australians in Australian dollars. Well, all except Amazon. They haven’t got a local store yet. And Australians have plenty of devices to read on. Not just Kindles and the now ubiquitous Kobo range, either.

Then there’s the indie stores! Sydney bookstore Pages & Pages has been tempting patriotic Aussies to trade in their Kindle for AU$50 and buy a BeBook ereader instead. And for every AU$50 you spend on books or ebooks in a month in their store you get a AU$5 discount the following month.

Don’t under-estimate the niche marketing power of indie bookstores as they turn digital, be they in Australia, New Zealand, the UK or the USA.

What about Europe?

Most people know there's an Amazon store in Germany (Amazon.de) But you may not know there are many others:
Sony also have a Reader Store in neighbouring Austria, and guess who’s there....

In fact there seems to be no escape from Anne R. Allen.  It would be easier to tell you where she isn’t!

Here’s Anne R. Allen in Ireland’s prestigious Eason ebook store in Dublin. Eason will shortly be releasing their own ereader. 

Her ebooks are even in Iceland!

The Netherlands? No Amazon store there yet, so no Anne R. Allen, right? Ah, but there is:
  • A local Dutch language Kobo store. 
  • And an Apple iTunes Netherlands store
  • And a GooglePlay Netherlands store
  • And of course a ‘txtr Netherlands store 
(Here’s Anne R. Allen for Dutch buyers in ‘txtr NL). And that’s before we start on the local competition: local Dutch ebooks stores. The Dutch retailer Bol has been busily selling ebooks in Holland since 2009, the same year Amazon launched KDP in the US.

No doubt you’ve been reading excitedly about the new US start-ups offering ebooks subscription stores.

Guess what? Skoobe in Germany and 24 Symbols in Spain have been doing it for years.

Denmark has two rival ebook subscription services, Riidr and Mofibo.

Incidentally 24 Symbols is dual language Spanish and English, acknowledging the huge number of Brit expats living in Spain with nothing to read. Come to that Skoobe is dual language, too.

 Far more people speak English in Germany than most people imagine. How does 40 million English speakers in Germany grab you?

The truth is, Europe is an untapped ebook goldmine. 

GooglePlay has figured that out. They already had ebook stores in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain and Italy as of July this year. Oh, and also Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea and Russia. Pretty impressive.

Then across the summer they rolled out additional ebook stores in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. That’s twenty-seven ebook stores around the world. So far. Not in GooglePlay? Might be worth the effort.

Then there’s that bizarrely named 'txtr (no capital, the apostrophe is compulsory, and despite the lack of vowels they are German, not Welsh) has no less than seventeen ebook stores around the globe. Mostly in Europe, including a 'txtr UK store, and also in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and America.

And 'txtr has some big surprises lined up. You may never have heard of them until now, but if you’re not in the ‘txtr international stores then you will be missing out on some big opportunities ahead. Here's Anne in ‘txtr Ireland. And in ‘txtr Poland.

Africa

Here’s Anne R. Allen in ‘txtr South AfricaSouth African readers can also buy Anne’s books in the local Kalahari store, where they might choose to read on the local gobii e-reader rather than a Kindle or the Kobo devices sold nationwide by the country’s biggest supermarket chain Pick-N-Pay.

Nor is it just Europe, South Africa and Down Under that have been busily enjoying ebooks. 


Latin America

Over in Latin America you’ll be surprised (or maybe not by now) to learn they don’t just have the Amazon Brazil and Amazon Mexico stores to buy from.

Here’s Anne R. Allen in Livraria Cultura in Brazil. Okay, no more plugs for Anne’s titles (thanks guys...I was feeling a little embarrassed by all that...Anne) You get the picture.

And the rest of Latin America? BajaLibros is third largest Spanish language ebook store in the United States, and they’ve been selling ebooks in Argentina since 2010, the same year the Kindle arrived in the UK. They produce their own ereaders which, along with their ebooks, are sold across Latin America and also in Spain.

Wonderful as it was to see the Kindle store arrive in Brazil, and more recently Mexico, the truth is Latinos were buying ebooks long before. Here’s BajaLibros in Brazil. And here in Mexico. They also have stores in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, not to mention Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. BajaLibros produce their own ereaders too.

Argentina
was the UNESCO Book Capital in 2011, and earlier this year managed to cram over one million visitors into the Buenos Aries Book Fair, so let’s be in no doubt Argentines like reading.

But don’t go thinking BajaLibros is the only ebook show in town.

Grammata have also been selling ebook and ereaders in Argentina since 2010, and are now pretty much everywhere where Spanish is spoken. Here in Colombia, for example. They’re even in Spain! And if you don’t fancy buying from Grammata, pop along to Movistar (started 2011, has own ereader) or try Amabook. Amabook too has ebook stores across Latin America, as well as in the US! And it too beat Amazon to Mexico.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg growing at a phenomenal rate.

Ebooks are being sold on six of the seven continents.


But let’s end where we began, in Asia

In Thailand Kobo is working hard to launch a Thai store, but meantime local retailer Ookbee has well over 80% of the market. Ookbee already has a three million strong customer base and is currently picking up new customers at the rate of 6,000 a day. Ookbee launched in Malaysia this summer, where it picked up 100,000 customers in its first two months.

They are opening an ebook store in Vietnam where competition is already fierce from Aleeza and Biitbook `– Biitbook even has its own self-pub portal!

Ebooks have been slow to come to the Philippines. But that all changed this month with the launch of the Kobo Philippines store, in partnership with the National Book Store chain, which now sells both print and ebooks to Filipinos.

What if we told you National Book Store is not a translation from the local Tagalog language. Most of the signs in store – and most of the books – are in English? 

There are 75 million English speakers in the Philippines. More than the entire population of the UK!

Did we mention we launched Ebook Bargains S.E. Asia this week?

China is not the easiest market to get into, but just this month OverDrive signed a major distribution deal with the Chinese authorities, which means their entire catalogue will be available to Chinese readers in due course.

At Ebook Bargains UK we are trying to stay a few steps ahead as we watch the international ebook market blossom. What we lack in fancy high-tech websites and slick newsletters (that will come as the advertising revenue builds) we make up for in knowledge of the international ebook scene and unbridled enthusiasm. 

We produce regular helpful newsletters for authors about how to reach and promote in these markets.

We all know how difficult it is to break into a mature ebook market. Most best-selling indies got in to either the US or the UK markets very early on. Very few have managed to do well in both.

But what is happening now is unprecedented in publishing history. In the old world, book distribution was physical. It was simply not viable to print and distribute English language books en masse even to countries like Australia or New Zealand, let alone Iceland or Indonesia, or Paraguay or Papua New Guinea.

Digital changes all that. Here’s some numbers for you.

There are about 150 million English-speakers in India, and while local languages books and ebooks
are available, the ebook retailers’ sales report mostly English-language titles selling, and with increasing rapidity. The question is how to get your books noticed and bought in this huge potential market.

Indians have been enjoying ebooks for several years. The Amazon India store is actually a bit of a late-comer. Way back in 2011 Indian retailers were selling Android tablets for... wait for it... $35. And buying ebooks from local stores like Flipkart, Infibeam and Pothi. Here’s Anne R. Allen in India’s Infibeam, the country’s second biggest ebook retailer after Flipkart. (OK, but that's the last one, guys...Anne)

Flipkart? India’s on-line giant Flipkart has an estimated 80% market share. 

As of this month Smashwords is distributing ebooks in India. 

You can also upload direct to another key Indian ebook retailer, Pothi. Along with Amazon India that’s a great base from which to become a future indie best-seller on the sub-continent, if only readers there knew your books existed. (Say, did we mention we have an Ebook Bargains India newsletter?)

But back to those numbers. When we said we expect the international English-language ebook market to dwarf the US market we weren’t joking.

In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States!

And the rest of the world? Well, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland. 12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain. 10 million in China.

Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each.

A very conservative estimate puts the number of English-speakers outside the USA at around 750 million, quite apart from the UK (60m) , Australia (20m), New Zealand (4m) and Canada (25m).

Because of the logistics of print distribution English-language print books have never even begun to approach their true sales potential. Digital changes everything.

And you have a chance to get a foot on the first rung of the international ladder now, before everyone else does.

How to find and get into these retailers you’ve never heard of and promote in countries you thought were still reading on parchment? That’s where we come in.

One small fee (and we do mean small – prices start at just $5 a day) will get you in however many international newsletters we have. Right now that’s $5 to appear in twelve newsletters going around the globe. The small fees reflect the small returns you should expect at this stage given these are nascent markets and our subscriber base is still building. Be realistic. But every paid ad gets a credit for a free ad of equal value, so effectively it’s two for one. And there are plenty of listing options. We’re a little bit different from all the other newsletters out there.

You can find links to the daily newsletters on our Facebook page. And connect with us on Google+. You can subscribe to the reader newsletters by country /region, sign-up for the authors’ newsletter, or check out the author page on our website. 

We all dream of becoming a truly international bestselling author. Ebook Bargains UK can help make that dream come true.
***

Pretty amazing stuff, isn't it, scriveners? (Although I think the penguin community should lobby for an Antarctica ebook store.) The guys say they're going to check in on the blog when it goes live on Sunday (nighttime in the UK.) So ask your questions. I know I have some. Like how hard is it to get into all these bookstores? Ask away....

Book Bargain of the Week

Sale extended! No Place Like Home is still 99c
 on Amazon USAmazon UK, and Amazon CA (and yes, after reading this post, I'm going to get my publisher to take it out of Select and make it available on other platforms, lickity split!...Anne)


"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." Deborah Bayles

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.

Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest. They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS podcasts. Get your short story recorded FREE for an online podcast! Fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

WILD LIGHT CONTEST for poets. The $25 entry fee is a little pricey, but this is run by the prestigious Red Hen Press and offers a prize of $1,000 and publication in The Los Angeles Review. Submit up to three poems of up to 200 lines each. Deadline October 15, 2013.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blog Communities: Forming a Safe Place for New Writers in a Scary Online World


Some pretty scary things have been happening in the online book world recently—stuff that's been shocking to those of us who expect our fellow book-lovers to behave like civilized adults.

I spend a lot of time telling new authors how to use social media to create a "platform," but I probably don't warn you enough about the dangers. I did write a post last spring on Gangs of New Media, talking about how the "hive mind" and rage addiction are adversely affecting our industry.

Unfortunately, so many authors have turned into non-stop spam machines that anti-author sentiment is on the rise. There are sites where anti-writer gangs dominate, and others that are tyrannized by groups who treat the Internet as a giant video game in which naivete is a crime and innocents are there to be slaughtered.

The bigger and older the site, the more likely it is to attract sociopaths and semi-literate potty-mouths. I'll be writing a series of posts starting in October about how to stay safe in this increasingly hostile environment.

But international legal teams and the media are gathering information. You can leave an incident report for NBC news here. It's better not to discuss specifics in the comments of this blog, or we'll attract trolls. (If you see a nasty comment, don't respond. That's what they want.)

However, a few out-of-control thugs don't make the entire online book world a bad place.

There are wonderful communities where new writers can network, learn, and comfort each other as they learn the ropes and go through the long and often painful process of learning to be professional authors. As creatives, we're confronting our demons and putting our raw souls out here in public every day, and we need places where we can feel protected and safe.

One of those places is the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Alex is one of the writing world's most prolific bloggers as well as the author of the bestselling Cassastar sci-fi series.

He's also one of my fellow contributors to the Indiestructible anthology, which donates profits to charity.

The IWSG, which turned two years old this week, is one of the most helpful online writing communities I've come across.

Blogger Julie Luek of "A Thought Grows" says, "I feel like I need to throw a little confetti in honor of Alex and the two year IWSG birthday. Thanks, Alex, for pulling a bunch of disconnected, fearful writers together. You've left quite a legacy in the writing-blog world."

IWSG a kind of monthly blog hop for writers who want to network, but prefer to avoid the "I'm-42-and-still-in-middle-school" atmosphere we find in much of social media.

As artist and blogger Donelle Lacy said in the comments of last week's post "writers need a support group of people who give helpful advice and encouragement. When you get buried under rejections, they can help pull you out. "



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writers.

Their Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
Alex's Twitter handle is @AlexJCavanaugh

I recommend the group to writers who are just getting their feet wet in this business. It's a great way to get new blog followers and members are helpful and kind.

When I was feeling pretty down on the whole online book world recently, I found it uplifting to to visit a community where people haven't forgotten the Golden Rule.

Alex has a success story that proves my theory that a blog is the author's most important tool in establishing platform. Alex doesn't use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, or Google+. His blog, Twitter—and his visits to other blogs—are his major online activity. Try Googling him and you'll see how well this has worked for him. I ran out of time after the first thirteen pages of 100% Alex in the search results, but the pages probably go into the hundreds. 

As gangs are allowed to terrorize big book and retail sites, the one place where we know we can be safe is in blog communities we choose for ourselves. Each blogger has the right to block hostile trolls and delete offensive comments. We can set the tone for our blogs and make sure they reflect our brand and standards.

"Insecure" writer Damyanti of the Daily (W)rite says, "I think blogging brings out the best in writers– we become a sympathetic, helpful community (which sometimes doesn’t happen in real life.) IWSG has become a safe place for blogger-writers on the web, and I personally have learned a lot from some of the posts I’ve read, be it writing advice or publishing tips."

Evolved, generous spirits tend to attract other evolved, generous spirits, and that is what what Alex J. Cavanaugh has done. He volunteers with literacy programs and is always looking for ways to make the world a better place.

Today he's going to talk about how to create a blog community of your own.

Yes, I'm always telling you not to market your books exclusively to other authors, but the first step in building platform is to network and build a solid core of online friends. Connecting with a group of writers in similar genres can benefit your career in many ways. Not only can you prop each other up during tough times, but you can publish anthologies, put on joint 99c sales and and team up for newsletters. Writers need writer friends. Forming your own community can pay off in huge dividends later.
                                                                                                                                                    ...Anne

Creating an Online Community

by Alex J. Cavanaugh


When I first began blogging, I was one lone writer. Little by little, I discovered other bloggers and writers and began to immerse myself in this awesome community. Through events, blogfests, and memes, I connected with others.

And I noticed something – writers are an insecure bunch!

Most writers are quick to offer encouragement and support of one another. I started to wonder if there was a way to focus that positive energy and make it even more powerful. I wanted to bring everyone together as a group and let other writers know they weren’t alone.

Thus two years ago the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was born!

Its purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting schedule: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

The success of the group has exceeded all expectations. Every month there are so many touching posts as writers bare their souls, followed by a slew of encouraging comments. Sometimes writers post encouragement, providing others with hope. Now three hundred strong, the group has come together in ways I never imagined.

Groups and communities like the IWSG are where we connect and thrive. Other groups have risen, including the Indiebles’ Indie Day, where writers and bloggers can come together and share their wisdom, knowledge, and experience. It’s a powerful force.

There are five ingredients and steps in creating a successful group:

1) Leadership - In any group, there are those who participate and those who facilitate. You get more when you are directly involved. Whether organizing or teaching or leading – you learn and benefit. You are able to give back. This benefits you in countless ways.

2) Value – There has to be a purpose and meaning behind the group. What can you and the other members offer? How will everyone benefit? Is there a real need that can be met?

3) Time –Do you have the time? Plan it out first. Perhaps get feedback from a couple key blogger friends. Make sure you think of every aspect and how long it will take to implement. Setting up the mission statement, sign up lists, badges, pages or group blogs, etc. – it all takes time and a commitment.

4) Involvement – Entice others to get involved not just with the group but with each other. This starts with you first. The leader must be involved. He must promote and uplift more than anyone else and set the example for others to follow. Find ways to actively involve the members.

5) Keep it going – Never lose the passion. If the leader loses it, the group falls apart. Delegate where necessary, because you can’t do it all. Evaluate members and make sure everyone is participating. Continue to promote and encourage. Be prepared for growth and adjust for it.

The IWSG has been a huge blessing to me and all who’ve participated. The comments and emails of thanks often pour in as writers tell me it’s their favorite day of the month. I’m no longer able to visit every single post (despite rumors I have clones) and have three rotating co-hosts every month. The group has grown large and I’ve already made plans to take the next step up and propel it into the future by setting up an IWSG dedicated site.

***

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He's experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

For more on creating online communities check out this post by Alexis Grant on Jane Friedman's blog.

Are you part of the IWSG? Have you ever thought about starting your own online writing group? Have you been bullied or treated rudely in other online communities? What other communities can you recommend that are friendly to new writers?

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Available in paper at Barnes and Noble & Amazon 
and for Kindle for $4.99



From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorm is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK


2 Bestselling Thrillers for the price of one
Killer Thriller boxed set by Ruth Harris and Michael Harris only $4.99 at Amazon,  Nook, Amazon UK and $4.93 CND at Amazon CA



"Slick and sexy. All the sure elements of a big seller written by pros who know how to tell a story." -
-Publishers Weekly

"Delivers the goods: thrills, gut-churning suspense, nightmarish terror. Ruth and Michael Harris have delivered another great read and sure bestseller. I dare you to put it down!" --Bob Mayer

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS

The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.

Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest.
They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1. 

Get your book international visibility for a reasonable price. EBookBargainsUK
 is now advertising bargain books to close to a dozen countries, including the US and Canada. You can get more info here. Make sure your book is under $3.99 and provide links to all stores, not not only Amazon (unless you're in Select.) Ads go for as little as 10 bucks. These guys made my Camilla boxed set a bestseller in Canada: #2 in women's fic. between Margaret Atwood and Bridget Jones! (Which kind of perfectly describes what I aspire to in my fiction.)

And you can sign up for the newsletter for your country right here. I've signed up for the new US version. If you like bargain ebooks, this is a great free service.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rejection 101: What Authors Should NEVER Do When They Get Rejections


I know. Rejections hurt.

But they're also a necessary part of your career as an author. So when you get your first one, give yourself time to feel the pain, then do something to celebrate. Maybe even print it out and frame it.

Yup. You read that right. Congratulations!

You now have the one thing that all professional writers have in common. Every single professional writer gets a boatload of rejections.

But you know what's worse than rejections?

No rejections.

The rejection system is part of your education in the publishing industry. Getting your work accepted before you've had time to learn about the business can backfire. Big time. You can get scammed or talked into signing a bad contract, or you can bumble into a comedy of errors the way I did.

The first agent I queried accepted me as a client. Great, right?

Not so much.

I'd sent out my query to one of the top agencies in L.A., got a request for a full manuscript, and a week later I heard from her assistant—a man about to become an agent in his own right—who was in love with my manuscript.  In a delightful British accent, he pronounced my story "hilarious" and said he'd "show it around to a few people."

So—since I'd heard you should  never phone an agent—I sat around and waited. And waited. Six months. Nothing. No contract. No word of anything. Finally I sent off a letter (no email in those days) asking if anything was happening. No word. So I waited some more. A month later, I finally phoned the agency.

Seems "my agent" had left the business a couple of weeks after we'd talked and gone back to England.

Thunk.

So I queried another agent. (No, I hadn't thought to keep querying during that eight months. I was naive enough to think that phone call meant what I had was a done deal.)

So did I finally get a rejection? Nope—acceptance, but again, no contract. My book went out to a dozen editors over six months, with no takers—so the agent dropped me.

Double thunk.

But I soldiered on. I bought Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents and sent well-researched, targeted queries to dozens of agents. I was sure if I got two agents right off the bat, I could get my pick of others.

Ha! That's when I got the rejections. Hundreds of them. And they hurt worse because I'd set myself up to think I'd be easily accepted.

I'd search every one for clues to what was "wrong" with the book and go into a frenzy of rewriting.
  • When an agent said, "I just can't connect with these characters," I'd make every character a little more bland.
  • When an agent said "this plot is confusing," I'd eliminate the subplots. 
  • When an agent said "humorous fiction is a hard sell," I'd remove the jokes. 
  • When an agent said she was no longer taking adult fiction; she only wanted YA, I'd try to rewrite the story as YA.
So after years of rejections and rewrites, did I have a gorgeous, perfect book every agent would love?

No. I had an unreadable mess.

I wrote other books and went through the submission process with a few more agents and finally got my big break with a small UK publisher.

But that poor, much-rejected, over-edited book sat in a drawer, unloved.

I figured it was that practice novel that would never see print, even though my beta readers kept asking why I hadn't published it because it was their favorite.

Then about a year ago an old friend who had been cleaning out his garage came by with the manuscript of that abandoned book. He had one of the earliest versions, in printout and on a CD.

I looked over that old, unedited version and realized it was a pretty good story. It needed a polish, but it was 100% better than the Frankenbook I'd created while editing it to death—trying to please all the people all the time.

Recently I sent that ancient ms. to my publisher.

He loved it.

He wants a ton of edits, of course, and a new title.

The title we've decided on is The Lady of the Lakewood Diner. It will be #3 in my Boomer trilogy together with Food of Love and The Gatsby Game.

It's a fun, breezy romp through the last six decades, as a sixty-something small-town grandma tries to figure out who's trying to kill her childhood best friend—an aging rock star who calls herself Morgan le Fay. Think Beaches meets Mama Mia! at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

While I get to work on the edits, my friend and mentor, the phenomenal Catherine Ryan Hyde will tell you why you should never, ever do what I did.

Catherine is not only the author of the iconic novel that gave us the phrase Pay it Forward  but her three newest titles Walk Me Home, When I Found You, and Where We Belong rocketed her to the top of Amazon's bestseller list this summer.

She even knocked J.K.Rowling off her perch as the #1 top selling author on Amazon.

And now you're going to see why Catherine's career has been so successful: she never doubts her muse.
                                                                                                                                                        ...Anne

The Year of My 122 Rejections
by #1 Bestselling Author 
Catherine Ryan Hyde


Between the time I wrote my first novel (my critique group didn’t much like it) and the time I wrote my third novel (ditto) I was unable to interest an agent in my work. Sound like anybody you know?

I sent out about 25 queries with synopses and sample materials, just like they asked me to do. And I waited. And not one single one of those agents wanted to know anything more about me or my novels. They either were not accepting new clients (or claimed they were not), or were “unable to give my work the enthusiasm it so obviously deserved.”

Right, I know. It’s incomprehensible. It’s not just you.

In an effort to batter down that brick wall, I decided I would market my own short fiction. Much easier. Right?

Over the next year or so, I received 122 rejections on about a dozen short stories. And no acceptances.

How did I keep going? A little bit of mentorship. A couple of authors in my critique group were much better published, and they said things like, “This happens to all authors,” and, “It’s right around the corner for you.”

Finally…finally, finally (did I mention that it was after a bit of a wait?) I received my first short story acceptance.

Five days later I received my second.

Nine days after that I received my third.

So, a year of nothing but rejection. Followed by three story acceptances in the span of two weeks. What does this say about the pattern of acceptance and rejection? So far as I know, nothing. There’s not much to be said, because there really is no pattern. A lot of it is just the luck of the draw. Getting the right story to the right editor on the right day.

Here’s the most important thing I want to tell you about my short story rejections: every one of those stories went on to find a home. And I did not rewrite them based on what each editor said.

It’s a good thing I didn’t, too.

That first acceptance was from a magazine called South Dakota Review, for my short story Earthquake Weather. South Dakota Review was a pretty darned good magazine for my first time out. Based in a reputable university, they’d been publishing stories for over 20 years.


Just before I sent Earthquake Weather to South Dakota Review, I got it back rejected from a magazine of much smaller reputation. It was called the Belletrist Review, may it rest in peace. They said they liked the story as a whole but felt there was a “hollowness” to the characters.

The editor at South Dakota Review was one of a very few who was nice enough to write an actual acceptance letter, telling me why he chose the story. He said I showed poise in the way I depicted the characters with brief brush strokes.

Hear what just happened?
  • The characters have a hollowness. 
  • The characters are depicted with brief brush strokes.
One editor took it for the same reason the other editor rejected it.

Now picture me getting it back from Belletrist Review and revising it. After all, I don’t want the characters to be hollow. Then I send it to South Dakota Review, and the editor shakes his head. Because I’ve shown no poise in the way I depict the characters. Because I used far too many brush strokes.

Yes, I do mean to say you should not revise based on rejection. 


If you had a first date with someone who didn’t fall madly in love with you, would you just keep changing yourself until they did? And, as a follow-up question, do you think they ever would?

You should fix a story if you agree that it’s broken, but for no other reason.

In the meantime, just keep looking for someone who loves it for what it is.

Even if you have to weather 122 editors who don’t.



Book Deal of the Week

Catherine's #1 Bestseller is only $3.99 right now on Amazon. Digital list price reg. $9.99



Since their mother’s sudden death, sixteen-year-old Carly and her eleven-year-old sister, Jen, have been walking and hitchhiking across the Southwest trying to find Teddy, the closest thing they have to a family. Carly desperately hopes Teddy will take them in and save them from going into foster care—and forgive them for the lies told by their mother.


But when the starving girls get caught stealing food on a Native American reservation, their journey gets put on hold. While the girls work off their debt, Carly becomes determined to travel onward—until Jen confesses a terrible secret that leaves both sisters wondering if they can ever trust again. 

Set against the backdrop of the American Southwest, Walk Me Home and its resilient heroines will inspire readers and renew their faith in recovery and redemption.

What about you, scriveners? Do you have any questions for Catherine about rejections? She'll be here Sunday September 8th  to answer them. Have you ever rewritten a piece after a rejection? 


Next week: Blog Ninja and Sci-Fi author Alex J. Cavanaugh will tell us about blog community and forming his Insecure Writers Support Group.

Opportunity Alerts

REAL SIMPLE'S 6th annual Life Lessons Essay Contest NO ENTRY FEE. A prize of $3,000 and publication in Real Simple magazine is given annually for an essay on a theme by a U.S. writer. 2nd place is $750 and 3rd place gets $500 are also given. This year's theme is, "What's the bravest thing you've ever done?" Submit an essay of up to 1,500 words. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Deadline September 19th.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction Entry fee $10. A prize of $1,000 and publication in Rosebud Magazine. Submit a previously unpublished story of up to 4,500 words. Deadline September 15th 

 The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

BARTLEBY SNOPES WRITING CONTEST - Can you write a story that's in dialog only? $10 ENTRY FEE A minimum of $300 will be awarded, with at least $250 going to first place and at least $10 to four honorable mentions. 5 finalists will also appear in Issue 11 of the magazine due out in January 2014. Last year they awarded $585 in prize money. For every entry over 25, an additional $5 will be awarded to the first place story. Compose a short story entirely of dialogue. You may use as many characters as you want. Your entry must be under 2,000 words. Your entry does not have to follow standard rules for writing dialogue. Your entry cannot use any narration (this includes tag lines such as he said, she said, etc.) Deadline September 15th

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.


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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anthologies are Hot: How to Tell a Great Opportunity from a Pay-to-Play Scam


The Oxford dictionary says the word "anthology" comes from a Greek phrase meaning a collection of flowers. I love that image. An anthology is a place to display literary or musical works that have been chosen to work together—like a floral bouquet.

I've had the privilege of contributing to seven great anthologies over the past few years. The latest, a collection of personal essays from a broad spectrum of successful authors, debuts this month: Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle.

It's especially empowering for writers thinking of going the self-publishing or small press route. But all writers will enjoy the stories of authors' struggles and successes on the road to publication. It's a wonderfully inspiring book—and only 99c!

Anthologies have long been one of the best ways for a new writer to get publishing credits and start building an audience. They're also a great way for an established author to increase visibility. Collections of short personal essays do especially well, but theme anthologies that include fiction and poetry are strong sellers, too, and their popularity is growing.

Unfortunately, anthologies have got themselves a bad name among a lot of savvy people in the industry, because so many vanity publishers and scammers have used them to bilk naïve writers.

Here are the types of good and not-so-good anthologies you may encounter:

Scammy

The Vanity Anthology

The vanity poetry anthology has been around for at least half a century. I remember when a sweet older poet in my town got so excited by her "acceptance" that she sent out press releases before she realized she'd been had.

The operation works like this: writers are invited to enter a "free contest" with a "prize" of inclusion in an anthology. Thing is, every piece entered gets accepted and the books cost $40 or more. So for $40 a copy, you get the privilege of seeing your work crammed into a huge book with a boatload of dreck. As Joe Konrath says, "Do the numbers. If there are 3000 poems in the book, and each writer in the anthology bought at least one copy, the publisher made $120,000."

Poetry dot Com was a famous vanity anthology outfit that flourished in the last decade. (The domain name has been bought by Lulu, where they're attempting to rehabilitate the brand.)

The Pay-to-Play Anthology

The bogus poetry anthology is bad, but there are other, even nastier scams out there. Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware tells of two vanity anthologies who have bilked writers out of up to $5000 each in what she calls the "pay to play" anthology scam. These anthologies of personal essays often mimic the highly successful Chicken Soup books, but instead of paying you, they expect you to pay them. Lots.

The Wake Up…Live the Life You Love series publishers boasted they included articles by well-known inspirational speakers like Dr. Wayne Dyer...but the pieces were simply reprints of old articles. Then they required contributors to buy up to 500 books each at a cost of several thousand dollars.

Another series, published by Inspired Living Publishing, required contributors to pay big bucks for worthless “marketing packages” as well as a huge number of overpriced books.

Always check Writer Beware before you sign on the dotted line.

However, most anthologies are fantastic venues for your writing. There are many good ones, both in print and ebook.

Great Opportunities

The Traditionally Published Inspirational Anthology

These are a boon to newbies. The venerable Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and their cousins are an excellent way to start a professional writing career. (Alas, the Cup of Comfort series from Adams Media has quit production, and I see McAfee blocks their old site as dangerous, so don't go looking for them.) These collections usually pay a flat fee for a personal essay, plus a generous number of copies.

Acceptance can be a big ego boost, and it's a nice credit for your query letter or author bio. (Authors planning to go indie should work on getting credits, too. They show you have a body of work that has been vetted, which helps you stand out from the crowd.)

The Traditionally Published Fiction or Poetry Anthology

Right now, short fiction anthologies are trending. Short fiction is ideal for reading on phones and tablets. For more on the new popularity of short fiction, see my posts, Short is the New Long and Why You Should Be Writing Short Fiction.  and a piece in praise of short stories in BookRiot this week.

Because of all this, some publishers are bringing back vintage short fiction in new collections. This week, Sarah Weinman's compilation of vintage Ellery Queen stories, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspensemakes its debut from Penguin.

Publishers often put together an anthology with a theme and issue an open call for submissions. They usually pay a flat fee for first rights and may also give copies.

C. Hope Clark's Funds for Writers and Poets and Writers classifieds are good places to find vetted anthologies looking for submissions.

A few years ago, I found a call for submissions from the Silver Boomer press in Hope's newsletter and sold a poem to the anthology: From the Porch Swing, Memories of our Grandparents . I got paid and became a "published poet" at a time I couldn't give my fiction away. An excellent experience, (although I might have wished for more colorful cover.)

The Indie Fiction Anthology

Indie publishers often put together short story anthologies to showcase their clients' work. The Saffina Desforges Presents Coffee Break Collection is a showcase of MWiDP authors. Inclusion helped me get the attention of fans of their better known authors when I first signed with them.

Genre groups like Sisters in Crime sometimes put together themed anthologies like Somewhere in Crime, a collection of historical mysteries written by the members of the Central Coast Sisters in Crime chapter. It's a fantastic collection by some of the area's best crime writers.

These days, a launch party for a single title isn't terribly cost effective, but launching an anthology for a large group of local writers gets on the local news and can garner everybody more visibility on their home turf. I didn't have time to contribute to Somewhere in Crime, but I got to go to a great party and buy a wonderfully entertaining book.

Sometimes indie authors get together to put out a theme ebook anthology like the WG2E Martini Madness. Since I happened to have a story on hand about drinking appletinis with an alien, I rushed to contribute to that one.

The overhead on an ebook or POD anthology is much less than the old print anthologies so they're cheaper to put together—and they showcase all the authors to each others' fans

The Charity Anthology

Charity anthologies are hot. These are the ones where you donate your work and the proceeds go to a good cause. Both small publishers and self-publishing collectives have had success with these. Jump on the chance to be included if you get an invitation. No, you won't make any money directly, but you'll get a huge amount of free publicity and exposure to new readers.

Plus you're doing a good thing.

Also, a charity anthology saves the editorial staff the paperwork headaches trying to get small royalties to dozens of people. It's win/win. Just make sure you run it by the charity first to make sure you can use their name.

Author Paul Fahey—former editor of Mindprints magazine—put together an anthology of essays by well-known LGBT authors called The Other Man, published by JMS publishing this summer. It is getting fantastic coverage in the trad print magazines as well as online. Many of the contributors are well known, established authors. Profits go to the "It Gets Better" project that helps bullied LGBT teens. (I personally recommend this one for readers who don't mind a little "R" rated content. Every essay is fascinating—and what a great cause!) And it's 40% off on the JMS site this weekend.

Probably the most successful charity anthology I've been involved with was the inspiring Indie Chicks Anthology of personal essays by independent women authors, which donates all its proceeds to breast cancer research. I'm sure the Indie Chicks are partly responsible for the success I'm having now. The anthology included some of the top indie authors in women's fiction, mystery, and romance. Since they invited
me just as my first novel Food of Love was being republished in 2011, I got a ride on their coattails. Their many fans read my piece and checked out my work. I'm very grateful to this terrific group of women.

I'm also grateful to the (now disbanded) Literary Lab, who accepted my work for two of their anthologies: Genre Wars and Notes from Underground at a point when my fiction writing career was stalled and I was starting to despair. Proceeds went to literacy charities. Not only did I get my work into print again and put my name back into the marketplace, but I met a group of awesome writers who were supportive and helpful at a low point in my career.

Now it's four years later and I'm totally jazzed to be included in Indiestructible with some of the authors who appeared in the Literary Lab books. It also includes a number of authors who frequently visit this blog. It gives 100% of proceeds to BUILDON.org, an international movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Indiestructible brings together the experiences of 29 indie authors—their passions, insights, and successes—to help new authors who are trying to decide if they should make the leap into indie publishing.

It's not a how-to guide, but it gives you first-hand information to help you on your journey.

The editor of Indiestructible is author Jessica Bell, whose blog, the Alliterative Allomorph was one of the first blogs I followed when I ventured into the blogosphere.

Remember how I keep telling you networking on blogs will help your career? This is one of the ways. Invitations to six of the seven anthologies came to me through people I met on blogs.

Or you could try putting together an anthology yourself. If you know a group of writers who write in a similar genre, whose work you admire, think about asking them to join you. It's hard work, but if everybody works on the marketing, you can reach a huge audience you'd never find on your own.

What about you, scriveners? Have you ever contributed to an anthology? Was it a good experience? Have you ever been scammed by one? Have you discovered new authors reading anthologies? 

This week: I'm visiting Canadian author June McCullough to talk about my upcoming books any my own favorite characters. (And thanks, my Canadian fans, for making the Camilla boxed set #16 in single women's fiction this week!)

This month: while I recover from some surgery that's turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected, we'll have a parade of superstar guest posters:

September 8th: Catherine Ryan Hyde, a literary icon who reached #1 author status on Amazon this summer—she even knocked J.K. Rowling off her perch—will talk about rejection: what it means and what it doesn't.

September 15th: Alex J. Cavanaugh, sci-fi author, blogging ninja, and one of my fellow Indiestructible contributors, will post about forming a blog community, something he knows a lot about.

September 22nd: The blokes from EBookBargainsUK will tell us about the vast, untapped international market every indie needs to know about. (BTW, EBUK has had some technical difficulties this weekend but should be up and running by next week.)

September 29th: Our own NYT bestseller Ruth Harris is back in her regular spot, talking about how to protect yourself from writing scams.

On a personal note: For those concerned about my health, the lump they removed was benign and I'm going to be fine. I just need more time to heal.

It's been complicated by the fact I broke my own rules recently and let my inner Atticus Finch speak up at an ill-advised moment. (Never try to reason with rageaholics: you're only volunteering to be their next fix.) A legal team who monitors online hate groups informed my publishers I've been marked to be targeted with negative reviews and other harassment. So if you see any trollish comments here, ignore them—don't make my mistake and respond—and I'll delete ASAP.

And please, anybody who has read and enjoyed the humor of the Camilla Randall Mysteries, if you could take the time to write a genuine review on Amazon—I desperately need your help. It would make all the difference. Only a couple of sentences are necessary and all that's required is to be an Amazon customer. Waking up every day to a new nasty review by some "reviewer" who only repeats what other negatives has said and has never reviewed anything else gets pretty discouraging.

Bonus: any English major who notes in a review the parallels between the first Camilla book and Fanny Burney's 1796 novel, Camilla, a Picture of Youth, gets your choice of any of my books—paper or ebook—free.

Book Deal of the Week

The fourth Camilla Mystery, No Place Like Home 
99c for one more week on Amazon US, Amazon UKAmazon CA etc.



It's #4 in the series, but reads as a stand-alone.

"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy mystery, No Place Like Home offers lasting laughs beneath which a message resounds – Being homeless is scary. 

There’s a dastardly dead husband, a Ponzi scheme, a long-lost love, a new love who keeps vanishing and a tiny dog named Toto. Add a cross-dressing hooker and a Colombian drug cartel, and the pleasant little community Oprah named “The Happiest City in the USA” is revealed to be a bit more complex than the lady noticed.

The perfect read for the next time an escape from everything sounds like fun!"...Abigail Padgett

Opportunity Alerts

1) Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest. They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1. 

2) Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Since most short fiction contests tend to favor literary work, this is a great one for genre authors. Choose your favorite genre and enter your best in 4,000 words or less. Six first prizes of $500 each and a Grand Prize of $2,500 and a trip to the 2013 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. Deadline September 16th

3) The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

4) BARTLEBY SNOPES WRITING CONTEST - Can you write a story that's in dialog only? $10 ENTRY FEE A minimum of $300 will be awarded, with at least $250 going to first place and at least $10 to four honorable mentions. 5 finalists will also appear in Issue 11 of the magazine due out in January 2014. Last year they awarded $585 in prize money. For every entry over 25, an additional $5 will be awarded to the first place story. Compose a short story entirely of dialogue. You may use as many characters as you want. Your entry must be under 2,000 words. Your entry does not have to follow standard rules for writing dialogue. Your entry cannot use any narration (this includes tag lines such as he said, she said, etc.) Deadline September 15th

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