Publishing

Introducing: Jennifer Pereyra and her take on Tate!

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Children's, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , |

I have to apologize for not getting this out yesterday. Suffice it to say that it’s been a long week. That said, I’m posting now in the hopes that people will see this and find some good information from the interview I did with Jennifer Pereyra.

This is a part of the author interview Jennifer so graciously gave me, and I hope you’ll find her insight helpful when you consider Tate Publishing. Following today’s post, I’ll be putting up another post tomorrow featuring Jennifer’s background and history. I hope you’ll stick around to read more about this budding new children’s author.

With no further ado, here is the Q&A session I had with Jennifer concerning her experiences with Tate Publishing. She was very thorough and answered all my questions with detailed information about her experience, and I think you’ll find it as informative and helpful as I did.

What process did you go through to finally find your current publisher?

A LOT!  I did a ton of research to figure out how I wanted to go about publishing.

I looked at what the process would be to get an agent and to hook up with one of the big NYC firms.  What I found, however, is especially in the children’s book genre, unless you are a previously published author or a celebrity with built-in marketing (think Tina Fey) where people will buy the book just because it was written by you, your chances of getting out of the slush pile are slim to none.  I wanted to make sure that this book got into print during a timeframe when my daughters would still be able to enjoy it.  It was, after all, for them that the story was written.

Next I looked at the vanity presses and also read a lot about self-publishing. The vanity presses out there offer little to no marketing support, they don’t have relationships with the major bookstore chains, and they will print anything as long as you are willing to pay. One can literally be nickeled and dimed up to the point of having to buy back your own work should you choose to sever the relationship.   Going the self pub route didn’t seem realistic for me either as you are completely on your own.  To be successful going either of those routes, one would need to be able to dedicate time as if it were their full time career.  I just don’t have that luxury.

Then I came across Tate Publishing.  Being a business woman myself and always trying to find non-traditional methods for achieving good business results, I immediately understood and appreciated their business model.  By requiring an author investment, they are mitigating their risk. They want to make sure that once they have invested their time and money into your book that you are going to reciprocate and work as hard as you can to sell your books when at signings and other marketing events that they schedule for you. (By the way, I did put together an Excel spreadsheet comparing what the vanity presses would charge for the same services that Tate provides and it ended up being from $12,000-$18,000.  Knowing that, the $4K charged by Tate is quite a deal!) Dangling the carrot of the 5,000th copy sold to get your money refunded (which also results in Tate publishing subsequent works by you at no cost to you), is their “insurance policy”.  It made perfect sense to me.

Did you attempt to get other agents and/or publishers before going to Tate? What was that like?

I did have a conversation with Mill City Press, however, based on how they do business, it would have cost me a minimum of $12,000 for a full color picture book.  They seemed reputable but that price tag was just too high for me to even consider.  Beyond that, there weren’t any out there that after all of the research I had done, I would seriously consider.

How long did it take you to find a publisher who wanted to publish your book?

As with the writing, I dove into this project head first so I think I had made a decision in a few weeks.

When you first began researching Tate, what were your thoughts on the company? Did you have any initial misgivings?

Honestly, I completely understood their business model from the get-go.  However, I don’t trust anything at face value so I checked the Better Business Bureau and they had an A+ rating.  They were also listed as one of Oklahoma’s Top 100 Companies to work for.  In addition, I set up a Google Alert for Tate Publishing and followed those for a while to see if any red flags popped up.  At the end of the day, I decided that they were indeed on the up and up.

If you had any questions or concerns about Tate, what made you change your mind?

After I looked at all of the information objectively, I didn’t really have any concerns.  All of my questions were answered as a result of the research I had done.

I know Tate is fairly up-front about the cost investment for first-time authors. Did that bother you in any way?

No…well, don’t get me wrong, of course I would have loved for them to have taken on my book without having to invest any money into it but that isn’t how they work.  It is exactly that model which allows them to take a risk on first time authors.

What is Tate’s process for vetting books from first-time authors? Can you tell us how the process worked for you from submitting your manuscript to getting the go-ahead for publishing?

In terms of the review process they go through, well, you’re going to have to ask them about that.  I wish I could tell you but once I hit the submit button on their website, my manuscript was off and I don’t know what they did with it from there.  All I know is I received an e-mail, about 6-7 weeks after submitting it asking me to respond to some questions about my motivation for writing the book.  I replied to that message and within 7-10 days, a contract had arrived via UPS at my house.  I remember because I had been taking an afternoon nap and when I came downstairs my husband had the package in hand.  It was very exciting!

How involved have the people at Tate been in getting your book from the manuscript stage to the final published format?

They have been extremely involved in getting it to this point!  I started off working with my editor, Hannah.  She was great and handled making sure all of the commas, quotation marks, etc. were in the right places.  She also made recommendations to me as to where she felt the story could be enhanced a bit more and even in some cases where she felt that something just didn’t flow properly.  I was very pleased with all of her feedback and my manuscript is definitely better because of it.

From there I worked with Liz, my illustrator.  Liz read the story and then contacted me to set up time to speak with me about the main characters in the book.  After going back and forth several times, we came to agreement on the character reference sketches (which can be seen in the photos section of my Facebook Fan Page).  A few days later, Liz contacted me so she could talk with me about her ideas for the storyboard.  She told me how she envisioned the illustrations and I was able to comment on some things that I thought should be included.  I will say, however, that I am a firm believer in letting the experts do what they do best so while I would share with her what I was thinking, I also made it clear to her to push back on me if anything I was saying wouldn’t have the desired effect…and she did in a couple of circumstances.

After the illustrations were complete, my file was passed on to Chris, in layout who was responsible for the cover design of the book.  Chris looked at the illustrations that Hannah had done and provided me with a few different options (they can also be seen in the photos section of my FB Fan Page) and this is where I decided to do something a little bit different.  I reached out to as many people as I could via e-mail and through Facebook and asked them to vote on their favorite.  In addition to voting, many people provided ideas for minor tweaks here and there that ended up getting incorporated into the final choice.

From there, Chris (not my layout designer, Chris…another Chris) my marketing representative contacted me to set up time to talk about the pre-release marketing plan for my book.  I told him what I had in mind and what I was already doing and he also provided me with some additional suggestions.  Chris has been great about getting review copies out to those that have expressed interest in writing a review on the book.  He is also in the process of coordinating the development of my media kit which will be ready by the official release date of the book which is April 5th.

Do you feel that Tate was the right choice for you in getting your book published?

I do.  Thus far, they have done everything that they said they would and there has not been one bump in the road.  Considering that the book was just printed, I am sure there is still much to write in terms of our relationship, however, for now, I have no complaints.

What were your experiences working with the people at Tate?

So far all of the interactions have been great!  My e-mails are always answered and my phone calls are always returned.

What would you say to those people who are curious about the claims that Tate is a vanity publisher?

I guess that I would say they are trying to stick a square peg into a round hole.  The fact is that as human beings, we like things to fit nice and neatly into predetermined definitions and whenever something is outside of the norm of how we understand things to work, we get uncomfortable.  I think that thus far, the publishing world has been defined by three means of publishing; traditional, vanity, and self-pub.  Tate doesn’t fit neatly into any of those and as opposed to creating a new “bucket,” folks would rather try to make Tate fit where they feel appropriate.

Do you believe the author investment is a fair one to make in order to get your book printed? And is Tate making good on their promise to invest a far heftier amount in publishing, advertising, and placing your book?

I do think it is a fair amount.  Like I had said previously, of course I would have preferred to not pay anything up front.  With that said, it’s the nature of the beast.  I am fairly confident that with the genre of my book and the fact that it appeals to a niche market, I would not have even gotten a first look from a traditional press.  They are looking for books that appeal to the market where everyone is a target reader.  There are few examples out there of a traditional press taking on a children’s picture book that was written by a first time author.  Also, I mentioned earlier that I had priced out what it would have cost me to go with a vanity press and get the same services that Tate offers and it was pretty astronomical.  Finally, if I had chosen to go the self-pub route, it would have cost me more than the author investment to hire an illustrator and layout designer.  On production alone, the investment has paid for itself.  I am, of course, definitely working towards selling the 5,000 copies to get the investment refunded altogether!

Since it is fairly early in the marketing phase, I can’t fully speak to all aspects of marketing yet as there is still much to be done once the official release date hits.  Perhaps we can touch base again in 6-9 months to follow up on that topic.

Overall, have you had a positive experience getting your first book published?

Yes, I can honestly say that I have had a very positive experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers who are considering getting a book published?

Do your homework.  Don’t try to tackle something that’s been done a hundred times before unless you really believe that you have a truly unique way of telling the story.  Also, start making your own connections, even before you have been accepted for publication.  Of course the writing has to be good, however, never…never…never forget that books make it on “best-sellers” lists, not “best-written” lists so good writing is never enough!  Finally, do your own research on what method of publication is best for you.  Read everything that is out there and look at both the positive and the negative.

Then take all of that information into consideration when deciding what will work for you.  I believe that ultimately, when provided with all of the necessary information, people will make the right decision for themselves.

And there you have it! Jennifer Pereyra is the author of “Mommy and Daddy Work To Make Some Dough,” which will be coming out in stores on April 5, 2011. She has already agreed to speak with people who have questions about her experiences with Tate, and she was gracious enough to offer her thoughts to me for the purposes of my blog.

Check out her Facebook page for more information about the book and her writing! And check back here tomorrow for more information about Jennifer, her book, and my review of the book before it hits shelves! Feel free to leave a comment as well!

– Rae


 

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The Tate Publishing Question

Posted on March 28, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Manuscript Submission, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , |

It’s been a while since I visited the question of Tate Publishing, and now I’m bringing it back up with a twist. I know a lot of people out there were interested in my original post talking about Tate, so I’m going to revamp it with updated information and begin a series of posts on Tate.

For this, I’ve brought in a Tate author, Jennifer Pereyra. Jennifer has followed my blog a bit, especially when she found my original post. At the time, she was just beginning her relationship with Tate and starting the publishing process on what will be her first children’s book. She was a little disappointed to see my negative views on Tate and made a point of writing a comment about her experiences with the company.

Thus, Jennifer and I began a series of comment and subsequently email communications that have proved enlightening to me in their detail. I feel that I’m getting to see a side of Tate that few people see outside of those who work with the company or are published through the company. For that, I have to thank Jennifer, whose communication has been honest, straightforward, and pleasant.

In the interest of full disclosure, I spoke with Jennifer and asked her if she would be willing to interview with me. Her answer was a resounding yes, and I will be breaking up the interview into pieces. I’m going to give you a brief overview of what most people already know about Tate, followed by the Q&A I had with Jennifer concerning her experiences with the company. Then I will change pace a little and tell you Jennifer’s story, how she came to write a children’s book, and her background. The last bit I’ll post is a review of her new book, Mommy and Daddy Work To Make Some Dough.

If at any time you would like to offer some questions about Tate, some commentary of your own, or any other dissenting opinions, please feel free to post them into the comments section of the blog. I’m also interested in getting a round table discussion going with Jennifer or some of the Tate employees and those people who are either dissenters or curious about Tate. If you’d like to participate in this, please feel free to send me an email at the address I’ve posted in the contact me section of the blog.

Now, with that said, let’s begin looking at Tate Publishing. This post will be an overview of the company and their practices. I’m no expert, and I am trying to be as objective as possible while pulling from different online resources. Please be aware that I am in no way employed by Tate or published through the company. I’m simply a person who is curious and trying to find the most up-to-date information about the company on the off chance that I ever decide to publish one of my works-in-progress.

First, I know that Tate has been criticized in the past for its author investment practice. On many websites, forums, and blogs, people have complained that this investment makes Tate a vanity publisher. I’ve read several author blogs that state quite firmly that no “traditional” publisher would ever require an author to pay to publish his works.

The argument here is that if a publisher likes your book enough, he will publish it. Simple as that. No author investment required.

This is my opinion, but I think there’s a bit of a problem with this scenario. Unfortunately publishing today has been changing. Instead of having publishers eager to see new names that might one day become best-sellers, there are more and more publishers balking at the idea that they should publish a no-name author who has never been seen in print before. Why? Because public opinion is king in this industry.

If you’re a no-name author, the chances that you will write something spectacular enough to get you listed on the best-sellers list are slim to none. That sounds harsh, and I’m criticizing myself here, but most authors today are unfortunately required to write to the audience instead of writing for themselves. If you want to write a story, most publishers will evaluate it based on whether it will sell to the mass of readers. That’s it. No consideration for the caliber of writing, no consideration to the uniqueness of a plot, nothing. Now, I can’t speak for publishers in general as I’m not affiliated with a publisher in any way, shape, or form, but it seems to me that the mass of books being published today are either big name, well-known authors who have a huge following, or concepts that are similar to the biggest trends in publishing right now (i.e. vampire fiction for young adult readers).

It’s obvious, isn’t it? Several big name authors have already begun “presenting” works by unknown authors. James Patterson, for example, “presents” several books that are not his own writing. This marketing ploy to get new authors out there sometimes flops because readers have recognized the way these things are phrased on the covers of books. But the point is not that it’s happening; the point is that this is one of the few ways unknown authors are finding to get recognized enough to get on the reading map, so to speak.

With that said, is it any wonder that more and more unknown authors are turning to self-publishing and e-books? Why wouldn’t they want to go with a publisher that promises to treat them fairly (as Tate does in their author FAQs) and work hard to get them noticed in the dog-eat-dog world that is the publishing market these days?

The only thing I can think of keeping people from flocking to Tate is the author investment. And I think that’s the way Tate wants it. With so much information out there claiming Tate as a vanity press or charging exorbitant amounts* for their authors, it’s not surprising that more people aren’t polishing up rough drafts to send in to the company.

Instead, countless authors are sending their manuscripts to agents and publishers, accepting the rote responses that tell them they aren’t worth the agent’s time or publisher’s money. And Tate, on the other hand, gets to sift through its smaller slush pile at a more leisurely pace, picking and choosing its authors with care as it considers what authors and books are going to be worth putting in a substantial investment of time and money to publish.

The author investment aside, Tate is also different from traditional publishers in another way. The company is doing everything right, as they claim on their website. Competing in the publishing world is a matter of marketing and placement. So Tate has started their own marketing via short TV commercials. Instead of simply allowing their books to go into a bookstore where they may or may not be seen, promoted, and sold, Tate puts money into marketing campaigns for the author, showing commercials, facilitating book signing events, and finding other ways to promote their authors.

On its website, Tate also claims to have good relationships with all of the big distributors. Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders – all are listed as companies that Tate has relationships with. While I don’t know the process of getting a book placed in a store, I do know that working with someone who already has relationships in place with the store I want my book in is a bit of a comfort to me. I somehow doubt that vanity publishers and self-publishers offer you quite the same deal.

Tate Publishing states that they will give each author a competent team of editors, marketers, and whatever else they believe is needed to get that author into the wider world of published works. I’ve read on other websites that many people don’t “see” Tate books listed on major bookseller websites, and I haven’t done enough research on that to comment. However, I can’t imagine a company that has won awards for being one of the best companies to work for in Oklahoma being so successful without practicing what it preaches at least to an extent.

So now I’ll end this little post by asking you not to lambast me with negative comments. If you have thoughts about this, please feel free to comment, and I will respond; however, if your only aim is to tout how terrible Tate is or vice versa, please do so in a structured, considerate manner. Most of the above consists of my own opinions mixed in with the facts about Tate Publishing, and I would appreciate if you read this post in that light.

I am going to be posting the Q&A with Jennifer Pereyra tomorrow for your reading pleasure. I hope you’ll all be looking forward to that. Again, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Jennifer has also been very responsive to the comments here, and I’m sure she would be happy to answer any questions that are not already answered in her interview.

Thanks again for reading, and I hope you do your own research into this and other publishing opportunities that come your way.

Rae

 

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Getting the Low Down on E-Books

Posted on March 25, 2011. Filed under: Books, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Hello from the wonderful world of China! It’s been an interesting week here, and what with recent current events (i.e. the earthquake in Japan), I’ve been kept on my toes. Teaching, submitting job applications, waiting to hear from friends in Japan, and trying to get my proxy server working again have kept me from the blog. But I’m back now and ready to chat about e-books.

For those of you who are watching this blog, you’ll be happy to know that with my access to the proxy back in place, I should be updating more frequently. In fact, today begins a series of posts on e-books that will go through the weekend. I’m writing because I received a request from an author’s production coordinator about doing a possible guest post on the blog.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received the request and did not seek out the author. However, I believe you’ll find that his experiences are interesting, especially given his field and current occupation. That said, I’ll tell you a bit more about him when I post his guest post tomorrow. And on Sunday, I’ll post the author interview I did with him.

Now, onto the world of e-books!

Today I’d like to start with a discussion of how cyclical things seem to be. A few years ago, people were saying that print newspapers would be eclipsed by their online counterparts. Years before that, they were saying the DVD would be the end of VHS. And the same goes for cell phones and their older counterparts. So now the question is: will e-books grow more popular than their print companions?

The internet age has opened up a great deal of opportunities for people to make money. Technology is advancing at a frightening pace, and with it, we’ve gotten more options to make our lives more convenient, comfortable, and technologically savvy.

With Apple’s introduction of the iPad, competitors like Amazon’s Kindle are having to amp up their offerings. Being able to get the Kindle app on your iPad means the best of both worlds: beautiful Apple graphics and functionality with access to the giant library associated with Amazon.com.

Here in China, you can buy a legitimate iPad for around 3,000 RMB, which is equivalent to US$450. Not a bad deal when you consider the reasons people are getting into e-books.

Some of the reasons are simple: convenience. Instead of purchasing a paper copy of a book, I have it on my computer and e-reader with the touch of a button and the transfer of a few dollars from my bank account. The ease of downloading multiple books to a device with graphics designed to make reading on a screen easier has many people purchasing the various e-readers on the market.

Not to mention the fact that several e-book sellers are promoting their services by offering free books on their software. With Amazon, there are a number of classics that you can download to your Kindle for free. You can’t go to your local Borders and pick up a classic off the shelf for free. And for most people, free offers are something they just can’t seem to pass up.

E-books are also convenient for the traveler. I should know. Since I have yet to really purchase an e-reader, I am lugging my limited amount of books around with me. Getting to China with packed luggage is hard enough. Adding extra weight in terms of novels that I want to read really limits my space for clothes and other things I might need.

With an e-reader, however, I could have brought many more books to China without having the added weight. I know that would be an easy solution to my desire to read; however, I balk at the idea of paying for books I already own in print to put them on an e-reader.

There are other advantages to having an e-reader. Manufacturers have really done their homework. They specifically design e-readers with screens that are easy to read. Some of them allow you to adjust the size of the print (and wouldn’t some people love to do that with their printed books!), others have LED backlights to keep the light crisp and clear without being too overwhelming, and still others have more perks to pique your interest.

I still have misgivings about e-books despite those things I listed above. Perhaps it’s because I’m a traditionalist, but I love the feel of pages under my fingertips. And I, like so many others, love the smell of new and old books. A new book always smells like an adventure to me. An old book smells like a familiar companion.

These are things you can’t experience with e-books. Sometimes I’m enticed by the feel of a book’s cover under my fingertips. You don’t get the same feeling when you’re looking at a cover on a screen. You can’t trace the imprints of letters and feel the shiny bits to see if they’re muted or not. Call me old-fashioned, but I love having a library.

My little girl dream was always to have a library like the one in the Beast’s castle in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast. No offense, but that library was amazing. And I always dreamed of having my own home with a room full of books, even if it wasn’t as spectacular as that one.

That aside, though, I’m more willing to try e-books now than I used to be. And I’d be willing to publish one as well. The possibilities for e-book publishing are growing now, and new authors are paying attention. Getting your book published for the Amazon Kindle is as simple as going through a self-publisher who will format it for you. For first-time authors, that’s a tempting author.

Having an e-book to your name gives you another advantage: you’re potentially reaching a wider audience. I think the prices of e-books are typically comparable to print, but the audience you target grows exponentially. Many people have purchased Kindles, Kobos, Sony Readers, iPads, and others. The market is exploding, and it’s time that new authors find their niche in this field.

Think about the possibilities for writers. More and more people are moving to self-publishing venues, finding ways to market themselves, and gaining small but loyal audiences who will buy their books. Authors who do this might find publishing an e-book to be complimentary to their print versions. I may write a future article about marketing yourself and your e-book, but I think the obvious conclusion is that if you know how to market yourself properly, having an e-book only enhances your marketing strategy.

And having an e-book has enhanced the strategy of one Dr. Edward Group. His book, The Green Body Cleanse is a new edition of an earlier book. His research in the health field has given him insight into how the body functions and led him to write this book that explains the vital role keeping a “green” body and diet has in promoting total body health.

The Green Body Cleanse has made its debut on the Amazon Kindle and is now selling for $2.99 on the Kindle, which is a steal of a deal for readers who want to sample the book without having to purchase a bulkier print version.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the gust post written by Dr. Group to explain his decision to make an e-book version of his book. I hope you’ll stick around and read it as it’s quite interesting. Look forward to that and a brief author interview with Dr. Group on Sunday.

Also, I’ll be following up on my previous Tate Publishing post with some new information. I’ve interviewed Tate author Jennifer Pereyra, whose new children’s book will be on sale in April. This series of posts will begin next week, and I’ll be reviewing Jennifer’s book and doing a two or three part series on the interview I did with her. For those of you who have paid attention to the Tate Publishing information here, you’ll be pleased to see what Jennifer has to say about the company and her experiences with it.

There are lots of things to look forward to here, so I hope you’ll bear with me. And I’ll be back tomorrow with the guest post from Dr. Group.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave some comments and questions!

Rae

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Things To Come and Getting In The Groove

Posted on February 26, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Publishing, Reviews | Tags: , , , |

After flying back to China and going through my first week of classes, I’m officially tired and enjoying a hard-earned weekend of relaxation. It’s going to take another week or so before I’m really back in the groove around here; though it feels a bit like I never left because it’s that comfortable feeling of being back home.

I will admit my mother would hate to read that I’m back to calling China home, but that’s what happens when you live somewhere for a few months, right? So this little apartment with the hideous furniture is home.

And since I’m back home, I have some news for you all!

Get ready, cause this blog will be having a few new posts coming up that might be of interest to you. Of course, it might bore you at the same time, but I hope it’ll be interesting. At the very least, I’m excited.

I’m going to be doing a series of posts on eBooks in the next week or so that will include a guest post by an author whose book is now available for the Amazon Kindle. He’s graciously offered to answer some interview questions for me as well, so I’ll be writing a post about him and his career as well that will follow up the eBooks posts.

Now, I’ll add my disclaimer that this person came to me and requested to do a guest post on my blog. Ah, I should say that it wasn’t even the author but a marketing agent who asked on his behalf. I agreed because I was curious about the man and what he would say. So be looking for those posts.

In addition, I’m pleased to say I’ll be doing another series on publishers, including Tate Publishing. My original post on Tate has by far been the most popular one ever on this blog and has gotten more comments and readers than any of the others. Because of one of my commenters, I will be doing a follow-up series on Tate, looking at it from the viewpoint of those authors who have gone with Tate.

I will be writing a series on Tate, reviewing what I initially posted. Then I’ve got a lovely surprise to spring on you. I’m hoping to finagle a few extra posts on Tate that will include some insider information and facts, and maybe we can finally make a decision on whether Tate is worth going to for publishing or not.

Other than that, I’ve been reading the same (long) book as before and enjoying the slower lifestyle of being in China. It makes it harder for me to get motivated to finish reading my books, but I also have a number of books that I still need to read here with me, so hopefully I’ll be able to do that as well.

Be looking forward to my new posts, and I will definitely be back soon! Leave a comment and let me know what you think… and I hope you’re all doing well!

Rae

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Just a Quickie…

Posted on May 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Manuscript Submission | Tags: |

…to encourage those of you wondering if you would ever get published.

I’m not sure how I missed it, but apparently a man submitted chapters of some of Jane Austen’s most popular novels to various agents and publishing companies back in 2007. The response? Mostly a great number of rejections.

This article highlights the story and explains that David Lassman hand typed the first two or three chapters from some of Austen’s works including the most famous, Pride and Prejudice. Lassman changed only character and place names. Of the various publishing houses he submitted to, he received no reply from several houses and varying responses along the lines of the work being original but not publishable.

Only one agent bothered to write back that he might check his copy of Austen and not plagiarize.

Honestly, you should read the article to get the full effects. I laughed when I saw just the title, and the concept is fantastic.

I’m writing this as encouragement. I know everyone always cites authors such as J.K. Rowling and Stephen King as examples of well-known authors who faced multiple rejections in their bids to be published. But the truth is, that doesn’t really encourage me.

What does encourage me is knowing that there are still amusing moments in publishing. When publishing companies don’t even recognize the opening lines of some of the books they’re currently publishing, I think it’s quite entertaining, almost enough to break out the popcorn!

So when you’re wishing that agent hadn’t rejected you or wondering if you’ll hear back from a certain publisher, just remember: at least you’re not blatantly plagiarizing the classics! (And if you are, let me know. I wanna hear about your experiences getting published!)

I know this was short, but it’s been a long day of work and cleaning. I feel rather nasty, actually, and my poor room is still a disaster zone. (They haven’t called in reinforcements cause I finally managed to make a walking path to the door.)

In any event, I hope you all got a chuckle out of this post, and let me know what you think.

-Rae-

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The Inevitable Rejection

Posted on March 28, 2010. Filed under: Manuscript Submission, Musings | Tags: , , |

I’ve trumped up topic after topic with no success. Everything is either too boring, too cliche, too overdone, or too much information for me to wade through. I’ve rejected every last bit of it with nary a look back.

And that’s only in topics to post about today.

Holly Lisle? Seen posts and forum topics on her amazing website for ages. I’ve joined her email list, but I haven’t begun to browse the website and don’t have any opinion on it yet.

Absolute Write? Well, I haven’t even joined there, so I definitely have no opinion on that.

Post about another blog? I would, but I’m not sure how much linkage I want to do today, and I don’t think I’d do any blog justice if I were to do that.

Review a book? I could, but then what would I do during the week? Besides, I haven’t finished reading The Luxe or If I Perish yet, and those are the only two books I’m currently reading.

Each idea is tossed, trashed, thrown out to be burned.

Just like that novel you submitted to the agent six months ago.

You lovingly crafted it. Every painstaking moment was filled with anticipation. You outlined the plot, wrote the vital stats on all your characters, developed the world they would inhabit, and then the writing began. You chose from a myriad of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and *gasp!* even adverbs. Each chapter was an adventure, each scene was a dance. The words sometimes flowed, sometimes stalled.

Eventually you passed that dangerous place called the introduction where the majority of aspiring novelists would give up. But not you. Your story begged and pleaded for a life of its own, and you breathed that life into the pages you filled. The intro melted into the exposition; exposition churned into climax; climax fell into denouement. Before you knew it, the ending filled the last pages.

It was breathtaking. This creation that only you could have written was worth every moment of worry that the main character was going to get himself killed, every time you ripped your hair out in frustration at a scene that didn’t end quite right, every chance you took on deviating from the original plan. Now it was complete.

Now it was time to edit.

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. First drafts became second, seconds became thirds. Adverbs were plucked with care. Verbs modified to express more action. The plethora of nouns and pronouns were worked seamlessly into the drafts, and continuity errors were fixed.

Six drafts later, your baby was all grown up and ready to get a job.

Lovingly you searched for those agents that would treat your baby with care. You vetted the lists and vetoed the ones who were not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, were focusing on non-fiction for now, were on hiatus in their work. You searched and breathed agents and guidelines for days.

When you finished, you broke into the sweet smile of success. All this work, all the preparation had led to this moment. Putting the finishing touches on the query letter, you submitted it to the agents in your list. Perhaps one requested a query with the first three chapters, the other an excerpt, and several only a query. Either way, you followed the rules to the letter, went through the proper channels, and submitted your baby for the first big interview.

One or two responded with outright rejections, but it didn’t matter. It burned, but they only had a query synopsis to go on. You knew they wouldn’t understand true genius from a mere synopsis. It would take a little more effort for them to see how truly exceptional your writing was.

One requested a partial. You warmed to the idea, sent the partial, and counted the days to a response. The interest was there. Your heart beat as you opened the email from the agent. The coveted request for a full manuscript was finally in your inbox. With all haste you attached the final draft and sent it off to the agent.

Rejected. A personal note but still a rejection. And on this beautiful work of art you created by hand and made certain was almost error-proof. Your heart sank, and a few tears stung at your eyes as you balled up your fists.

I spent the night rejecting ideas. They flitted through my brain and back out again without consequence. It’s not with the same care that an agent goes into in picking out the next book he’ll try to sell, but it’s with the care of knowing that I have an audience and want to write with some clarity to those people who read these humble posts of mine.

A novel and a blog post spawn from ideas. The funny thing about ideas? They don’t care if you reject them. That novel your favorite agent turned down? It had no opinion on the woman, even if you thought she was giving a cop-out excuse by saying she wasn’t certain it would sell well to your target market. The idea to write a post about Holly Lisle? It doesn’t mind a delay for me to make an opinion on her site.

Rejection is, unfortunately, a fact of life. I haven’t experienced the crushing rejection of an agent saying my manuscript needs work, lacks believable characters, or simply doesn’t cut muster yet. I am, however, expecting it.

And I’m also preparing for it. Unless an agent directly takes an author to task on a personal level what that agent is rejecting is the writing, which is an idea. So when I get that inevitable rejection, despite the fact it will hurt, I’ll simply remind myself the agent was rejecting my idea, not me.

It never gets easier, even on a personal level. But it does help to dissect what a person is rejecting, and this is true for personal and writing rejections. Once again, it’s true that there’s always something to learn from a situation, even if that situation is rejection.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to post this, but I do hope it made sense. How do you cope with rejection? I’d love to know.

-Rae-

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Margins and Remainders

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Books, Musings, Publishing | Tags: , , , |

I have a job offer. Yes, that’s the subject of the post today because I’ve been busy with all sorts of craziness going on with interviews and the like. And today I did an interview, and the store owner told me I could start next Wednesday.

What makes this at all writing and/or reading related? The nature of the beast–er, job,–of course.

I have to call the owner back and let him know I’m interested, but it’s a job I’ve always wanted to do. The position is as a part-time bookseller in the Book Gallery Outlet here in town. It’s one of a group of bookstores that sell on remainder, which means, in essence that they resell books.

Now I know this isn’t a full-time position, but in this economy, a job’s a job whether it’s full-time or part-time or freelance or contract. Let me add: I’ve done contract work, and I don’t like it. If the tax obligations of the contracted employee aren’t bad enough, the health insurance issues are worse. So I’m pleased to have a potential position in a job where I’d be an actual employee, taxes deducted from my paycheck and all. Who knows? I might even get one of those coveted refunds next year in taxes…

For now, though, I can live with a part-time job where I’ll be making money. And since I’ve always wanted to work for a bookstore, I’m pretty pleased about the opportunities this will give me.

Now I did work for an online bookstore that’s run similarly to Amazon on a much smaller scale for a while, but it’s definitely not the same as being able to walk around and pick up books to peruse while maintaining the store.

The other fun thing about today’s interview? I got a lesson in book selling. Book Gallery Outlet sells on remainder. So what does that mean? Here’s the example the owner gave me.

Say author Rae Reneau’s new book comes out. It retails at $15.99. Of course, wholesalers were able to sell copies to the Borders and Barnes & Noble’s of the world for $10.99, which turned into the $5.00 markup for the bookstores. So Borders purchased 100,000 copies of Rae Reneau’s book because she’s obviously going to become a bestseller. When Borders only sold 60,000 and needed to free up room for new inventory, they estimated that they could sell another 10,000 copies in the next month. The remaining 30,000 copies were promptly shipped back to the publisher in exchange for credits towards new purchases.

The publisher doesn’t really want to keep all that excess inventory and can’t resell it as new material since it’s already been stickered by Borders. Instead, the books are sold to resell wholesalers at $1.99 per book. The wholesalers charge stores like Book Gallery Outlet $2.99 per book, and Book Gallery Outlet sells to customers for $4.99.

So Rae Reneau’s bestseller goes out in still-new copies from Book Gallery Outlet for $4.99 instead of the retail price of $15.99. And that, my friends, is selling on remainder. It’s a pretty simple lesson, and I understand how it could be profitable for those bookstores that want to get cheaper books and still make a profit.

Perhaps its my business education coming forward, but I think it’s all very fascinating how this business works. And even if I am doing part-time work, I was told if I do well I’d have the opportunity to do things like attend book fairs and trade shows where I could sell books. I imagine that would be a lot of fun for a book junkie like me.

So hopefully I’ll call the owner back and tell him I’m thrilled and excited to be starting work with him next week. The great thing is this particular job allows a lot of freedom, initiative and creativity, so I’m not going to be forced into a corporate box.

And I might learn something about starting my own bookstore one of these days…

Anyway, I thought you all might enjoy the business lesson and the fun news from my end. It’s always nice to have good news, isn’t it? Does anyone else have good news? Let me know!

-Rae-

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Considerations on Tate Publishing

Posted on March 18, 2010. Filed under: Publishing | Tags: , |

Recently, Ed Wilson wrote a post on self-publishing. She made a great number of points about the process of getting your book self-published. On that particular post, a person made a comment about a certain publisher, and I decided to investigate.

The commenter pointed out some research she was doing on publishing and mentioned Tate Publishing, which bills itself as a Christian publishing agency for new and unpublished novelists. I’m always on the lookout for new publishing agencies to check out if and when I decide to search out publishers of my own, and I was intrigued enough to click on their link.

The home page for Tate explains that the company is looking for new authors to both publish and market. Tate has connections in major bookstores, like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and others. According to the website, Tate also has the ability to edit, design covers for, publish, and market writing from unpublished authors.

Accepting unsolicited manuscripts is no big deal for Tate as they are constantly on the lookout for authors. Unlike a majority of other traditional publishers, Tate is accepting manuscripts in various ways, including through their manuscript submission link. The company thrives on helping new authors find their way into the wide world of publishing, so long as the authors write works that do not contradict the Christian values of the company. (I found nothing indicating that they published solely Christian books, so I’m assuming they publish in the general market as well.)

So what’s the catch? Tate accepts manuscripts, assesses them for their publishability, and takes on the authors who fit the criteria. It’s a dream come true for aspiring authors everywhere, and like certain other publishers must receive ridiculous amounts of manuscripts each year. If you’re good enough, your passion for writing and submitted manuscript could land you a publishing contract with this distinguished publisher.

In addition, Tate offers some of the highest royalty rates in the industry, according to their website in any event. After reading all that, I was hooked. No, I’m not jumping right in; I have nothing to jump in with yet. However, I’m cautiously seeing what I can find out about the company.

I originally wrote this post with some suspicion. I was concerned about Tate for a few reasons, mostly having to do with their required author investment remarks. I decided to do a more in-depth probe to see what I found out and submitted my name and email to receive more information.

As the email mentioned being copyrighted and confidential, I’m afraid I’ll have to be vague on what it said. However, it did offer much more information than I found on their website, very detailed, and full of insight on how the author investment idea works. I’m not completely sold as it seems a tall order to fulfill, and I have a few questions I’d like answered that weren’t addressed on site or in the email. However, I’m curious enough to keep searching.

With that in mind, does anyone have any good tips for finding information about publishers? Distribution rates? Average number of volumes sold? I’d be interested in doing a more targeted search on Tate before I commit to anything. (Granted I need a nice, finished copy of a novel finished, first.)

I’m also considering calling the number provided in the email and asking to speak to the founder. If you happen to fill out their information sheet, take a look at the video that pops up with the ‘thank you’ page. You’ll find it as entertaining and amusing as I did, I’m sure.

What are your thoughts on Tate? Not even on your radar? Heard any good or bad opinions? I’d be interested in hearing about it.

-Rae-

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Self-Promotion Websites – Still Iffy

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Musings, Publishing | Tags: , , , |

Here I sit, an author of one finished novel that I’m currently self-editing for grammatical errors before going on to the process of fixing character consistency and finally looking into the massive number of rewrites I need to do to get its plot holes filled. After that, I plan to send it out to a few beta readers or proof readers or whatever else you want to call them. (I’ve heard crit partners as well from the NaNo forums, but I don’t use the term myself.) Then when all is said and done, I’ll put it together in pretty packaging, make it a nice PDF, make sure to have all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed by doing such things as title pages and page numbers, and send it off to CreateSpace for that fabulous, free proof copy.

So why, do you ask, am I looking at websites like Authonomy again? Simple: I found a new one. It appears HarperCollins is cashing in on these new-fangled means of getting manuscripts to read. Through Joana’s blog post, I realized that HC has yet another of these wonderful self-promoting websites.

What’s this new website? inkpop – a place where, you guessed it, you can post your manuscripts for review and hopefully make a hallowed Top Five place one month and get a review from the distinguished editors of HC.

How is inkpop different from Authonomy? There are a couple of ways, actually. First, Authonomy is actually run by HarperCollins UK division while inkpop is run by HarperTeen, the division that covers all YA books. And that leads me to my second point: inkpop is geared specifically towards finding those talented YA writers that are out there. Last difference that I noticed? Authonomy only publishes 10,000 words to an entire novel manuscript while authors on inkpop can post their poems, short stories, and YA novels.

inkpop is the property of HarperTeen.

You can see the difference even in the logos. inkpop shares a similar format with Authonomy. Become popular, interact with other authors and readers well enough, get your name out there, and you, too, can get your book on the Top Five list for the month. If you do, the HC editors will read and review your poem, short story, or the first 10,000 words of your novel.

Get really lucky and you could win a publishing contract!

Or so they imply. I’ve been reading around, and even in older posts on the subject (of Authonomy – reviews are out on inkpop for now), the reviews are mixed. People complain of not getting good reviews by the HC staff and knowing from other “top” writers that HC did not request full manuscripts. In fact, for a while, HC was merely offering authors the wonderful ability to offer their novels as Print On Demand books from Authonomy’s website.

Published indeed.

Apparently at least one author received various requests from agents perusing Authonomy. He heard back from five agents who wished for a copy of his manuscript. So the inkpop and Authonomy communities might be worthwhile after all.

However, what started as a website billed as a way to “beat the slushpile” has become the virtual slushpile where HC can peruse the talented authors that are out there without being forced into offering any kinds of publishing contracts. Doesn’t sound very different from the old version if you ask me.

Authonomy now asks this at the top of its page:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to make it on-screen if it’s not paying off. Give me that publishing contract any day over the cliques of these new social networking sites for writers.

-Rae-

P.S. I’m seriously considering getting a Twitter account for my blog and setting up a few other odds and ends for my own form of self-promotion. Good idea? Bad? Think it’s hypocritical to do that when I just lambasted Authonomy? Let me know!

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Writer Beware

Posted on February 27, 2010. Filed under: Musings, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Okay, I’ll admit the title of this post is a gratuitous stealing of the title of a blog put together by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as well as the Mystery Writers of America. Of course, the blog isn’t the only thing they do, but it’s what I first saw, so that’s why I write that it’s stealing from the blog.

After my post yesterday, I went back to the same thread from NaNo that I’d been reading and saw a number of my fellow writers were concerned with this girl’s lack of knowledge on the subject of the Christian Manuscript Submission and other companies designed to take your nominal fee (read: almost $100) to offer you a slim chance at publication. Quite a few of the NaNo-ers commented that she needed to be careful not to get taken in by a vanity press and other so-called publishers of the same ilk.

I’ll admit: I have no real idea what a vanity press is. And I’m not even very sure what makes it different from self-publishing sites like Lulu or CreateSpace. Granted, I have no intention of self-publishing. If I ever get published, I want to do it in the traditional way: find an agent, have said agent market my work to publishers, and eventually sign that gleaming contract that speaks of royalties and other odds and ends I still haven’t researched thoroughly.

This is a little pre-emptive considering I wouldn’t even begin to query agents with the manuscript I have now. I don’t want to start the process too early and risk getting a bad deal, obviously, and I honestly want to edit my manuscript a good three or four times before I let some proofreaders come in and rip it to shreds for me.

But I thought I’d write a little about this particular blog and the thread again because I think it’s a good idea. One of the big aspects of NaNoWriMo that I enjoy is the sense of community. I’ve been referred to other writer forums where people have found similar communities to enjoy, but with NaNo, the pressure isn’t as high to edit, get an agent, and get published.

If you do, that’s great! They’ll add you to their list of published authors, and you can throw that out in your forum signature and use the shameless promotions and self-marketing threads to get your name out there. If you don’t get published, that’s fine, too. How many of the people on NaNo are published anyway? Not that many.

I was thinking about it, though, and I’d add a caveat after having read through so many forums. A lot of the people who participate in NaNo have researched the publishing process quite a bit more than I have. I’m new at all this, and I’m piggy-backing off others who have the know how I don’t yet. But I think there’s something anyone on NaNo or other similar forums should be aware of.

Just because someone’s done the research and read the agents’ blogs and fielded massive FAQs from publishers doesn’t mean they’re an expert. Offering advice is a good idea, but there’s something to be said for doing your own research, querying agents on your own, and getting those rejection letters. You get experience doing that, and there’s nothing that can replace good experience in my mind.

Again, I’m not saying I’ve done any of that. I’ve just been reading the forums and surfing the web with an eye to the publishers and agents that I come across. I don’t want to get into vanity publishing, I’m not planning to self-publish, and I don’t have an agent. I barely have a finished manuscript at this point. But it’s going to be self-edited, which is one of the first steps of experience I have to go through. And while I’ll most likely whine and complain about how difficult it is to edit my own writing and how much I like how this or that sounds but know it should be changed, I can appreciate the experience.

This much I’ve learned: being a writer requires putting all your effort into it. If you’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, you’re not going to make it.

So eventually I’ll put together the end results of all my work into the form of a manuscript. I’ll bravely search out those agents that might be interested and work through their submission guidelines. I’ll draft and redraft a query (or two) to send out, and I’ll begin saving those rejections I get. I’m not overly optimistic. In fact, technically I’m a pessimist, but I do believe I’ve got talent. And that talent is in writing. It’ll take time to iron out the kinks, get the agent, and secure a contract, and that might not happen till I’m 40, but I want to try for it.

Besides, I go by what my father taught me when I was in high school. In my senior year, I wanted to quit working as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. It was a class all its own, and you were required to sign up for the entire year, and by the end of the first semester, I was ready to do battle with the principal for my right to quit.

My father sat down with me when I was frustrated and angry with my teacher and the rest of the class. I can still remember telling him all my problems, and he listened patiently. It seems silly now, but he knew, and I know now, that the advice he would give would follow me for years to come.

“You can try to get out of the class,” he told me, nodding his head, “but you know it won’t be easy. Or you can stick it out.” I started to argue, and he ignored me. “If you stick it out, you can learn something from this experience.”

“What can I learn?” I asked him. It’s really annoying to admit your parents are right, but it’s always a good lesson to learn.

“You can learn something from every experience you have,” he said. “You just have to look for it. Sometimes you’ll learn how to be, and other times you’ll learn how not to be. This is a good example of how not to be.”

He was right, of course. And I’ve applied his advice to various experiences since then, and it holds true. So in this particular instance, I’m going to hold up his advice, and while I work on editing, when I’m frustrated that a scene isn’t going well, as I talk about plot holes with Desteni and others, I’ll have to remember this piece of advice: I can learn something from every experience.

Anyway, this has turned into a teaching post, which is weird for me. I don’t usually offer up stuff like that. So I apologize if it was boring, but it’s worthwhile advice in my opinion. Anyone else have some good advice for the writer? I’d love to hear what pieces of advice you hold onto as you’re trying to accomplish your goals.

-Rae-

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