Publishing Tips

From Blurb to Pitch, how to describe your novel.

Answering the question, “What is your book about?” can be hard to do. You feel put on the spot, at a loss for words, or maybe when you do try to answer the question, it doesn’t sound as interesting and engaging as you know your book to be.

There is a simple way to fix this and the answer is to prepare your response in advance and then practice it until it sounds natural when you say it. That way when asked what your book is about, you’ll answer instinctively in exactly the right way to get the person you’re talking to interested in reading your book.

That one-sentence version is called your elevator-pitch. It’s the same one-sentence that you would presumably give to an agent or editor to get them interested in your book. You could do this in person, say, in an elevator, or like most people you can use it in your Query Letter. You can also use it to tell readers what your book is about so they want to read it.  

elevator-pitch

So how do you come up with that crucial 1-2 sentence pitch? Well, I start with the blurb, or what I like to call the BOB, the Back Of the Book.

This is assuming you’ve already written this. If you haven’t, you might want to check out our last post: How to write a good blurb.

But say your blurb goes like this:

Destiny is not matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.

Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact. Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner,  the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.

By the way, this blurb is from Uncharted which is set to launch April 17th. For more information on Uncharted, click here.USSConstellationVsInsurgente

In order to make your pitch, you want to distill this down as much as possible, preferably to one or two sentences at maximum. You don’t have to do this in one step though. You could take your blurb, trim it down to size, and then adjust the results or you can list the crucial aspects of your story and then try to form your pitch from there.

Let’s try it, shall we? You want to make sure to include your main character(s), your setting, your inciting incident, and a hint of your theme.

For Uncharted, that’s:

Characters: A priestess, a Captain and his business partner
Setting: A fantasy realm, a navy ship
Inciting incident: becoming a Fugitive and stowing away
Theme: Destiny is choice

The Pitch: A fugitive priestess alters her destiny by stowing away on a ship belonging to a naval officer and an ex con man.

I added the ‘ex con man’ part to give more of a hook, but essentially I’ve covered all the crucial bits of information and arranged them into an enticing pitch. I hope this makes you want to read Uncharted when it comes out on April 17th!

What about you? What’s your book about? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

How to write a good blurb

Summarizing a 300+ page novel into a few paragraphs is hard and it’s not something that usually comes naturally to us novelists. It took me a lot experimentation to get good at it, but here’s how I learned to do it.

I read the backs of a whole pile of books, and then I emulated them, practicing narrowing my book’s crucial aspects into 2-3 paragraphs.

At least for fantasy/sci-fi there seems to be only a few styles when it comes to the blurb. But no matter what genre you write in, I recommend finding bestsellers within that genre and critically breaking down their blurbs to see what makes them so successful.

For our purposes, I’m going to break down the two most popular styles in sci-fi/fantasy that I’ve come across. The Plot-Oriented style and the Character-Oriented style.

The Plot Oriented Blurb

Example: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

First, we have a powerful statement, a hook to draw the reader in. What makes this book interesting, what is it about?

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Next we have the time period (which tells us this is a historical piece, or a futuristic sci-fi if the year was 2750 instead), we have the main character’s name and identity, we have the inciting incident and we have the setting.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart.

A little more detail about the plot and subject matter of the book.

For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

And then we have the theme, and the last sentence drives the hook home so you want to pick the book up right away and read it.
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The Character-Oriented Blurb.

Example: Mirror’s Hope by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred.

Everything has a price…

The tagline

In a self-serving dystopian society, Mirena’s kind-hearted nature leaves her socially outcast. Daunted by the task of trying to initiate change herself, she tries desperately to conform to the expectations of the cruel society around her.

The setting, the main character and her identity/circumstance.

That is, until she meets Tendro… General to the Panarch’s armies and a rising star in government, no one expects Tendro Seynor to be the prophesied Avatar of the Light, but that’s exactly what he’s become. Alone, he doesn’t have the resolve necessary to follow the path destiny has set before him; but that all changes when meets Mirena and falls in love with her simple faith.

The secondary character and his identity/circumstance.

Brought together by fate, Mirena and Tendro must find a way to change their world for the better or risk the consequences of being on the wrong side of an all-powerful tyrant and his unforgiving Generals. Can they tip the balance of power in their world, or will the lengths they have to go get them in too deep to get back out again?

The inciting incident and a hint at the theme, while giving the hook.

If you’ll notice, all the same crucial aspects are present in both styles: the setting, the characters, the inciting incident, the theme and the hook. They’re just presented in a different order with a different aspect emphasized. As for which style is right to use for your book, it’s probably best to ask yourself, what is the most important aspect of your book? If your story is character-driven, maybe the character style. If it’s more about the setting or the plot, then maybe the plot-oriented style. You can always do what I do and write out a few options in each style until I find one I like.

Thanks for reading!

Have you written a blurb for your book? Share it in the comment section below!

 

Cover Design 101

Cover designer is one of those hats I didn’t expect to wear when I started Mirror World. At the time, I was fairly new to Photoshop and I’ve never considered myself to be an artist. But the most important part of designing a cover for a book is having a vision of what it should look like and being able to communicate that vision to create a final product, whether you end up making it yourself, or finding an artist or another cover designer to realize it for you.

So how is it done, then?

Step 1 – The Vision

As I read or write the book, I try to keep an eye out for a scene or for facets of the book that would make for a good cover image. For Unintended, for example, the scene on the cover is the from the end of the first chapter. It takes place after our main character Kenzie has just accidentally married someone other than her intended prince and looked back to realize that he’s left the symbol of their union, the white flowers, to be run over by a wagon wheel.

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“He was right behind them, hurrying to fall in step with the procession, the white-flowered wedding bracelet shredded where it lay discarded by the wheel of the carriage. As Kenzie watched, the carriage started moving again and the perfect white flowers she had so painstakingly woven together from a rare out of season patch in her homeland were crushed and forgotten.”

If the book is by another author, I usually ask them what they have in mind for the cover and their suggestions, even if they don’t have a full cover image in mind, will usually lead to me having some ideas.

 

Step 2 – The Concept

Once you have a vision of what the cover should look like, it’s time to start looking for concept images. These are images that represent parts of, or the whole of the vision you have in your mind. Keeping with Unintended’s cover, this involved finding a wheel, an example of the white flowers, the cobblestones, and a puddle with the reflection of a castle in it to give the fantasy feel. You want to find examples of the colours you want to use and the things that will appear in the image and get them as close to your vision as possible. It’s also helpful to gather passages from the book that describe the various elements you want to include, especially if you’ll be giving these things to an artist or designer to work from like we did with Unintended.

Step 3 – The Design

Now that you have your concept art, it’s time to put those ideas together and create a cover image. This can be done any number of ways. We have artists who paint, those who sketch, and digital artists, and then there’s also the method of using composite images. For the purpose of this blog, let’s say we’re using composite images. For Black Lightning, by K.S. Jones knew she wanted a certain scene from the novel, but she didn’t want to show her main character, Samuel’s, face. Out of the concept images, I found the ones that most closely described what we were looking for, and that I could blend together using Photoshop to create the image we needed.

Step 4 – The final image

Typically in step three, I will be working with low quality watermarked sample images and playing around with them until I get something that works well. If working with an artist, I’ll be seeing their rough work as they try and recreate what I’ve described to them. In this step though, the design has been agreed upon and approved by all parties, and now it’s a case of making the finished product using quality materials and attention to detail.

After that, you just need to add the font – which is of course another crucial design choice 😉

black-lightning

Black Lightning1.jpg

 

Our Submissions are OPEN – Here’s what we’re looking for…

This is it. The moment you’ve been waiting for;our submissions are open once again!

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As a small independent publisher, what we’ve found works best for us is to open our submissions in the fall and leave them open until we’ve confirmed our new releases for the upcoming year. This year we’re looking for 3-5 titles to release in 2017 and we’ll keep accepting submissions until we find them.

So how do you submit to us? Well, it all starts here. On our website’s submissions page we list all the types of books we’re looking for and all the ones we absolutely will not be interested in. We also outline what to send us, where to send it, and how long you should expect to wait for a response. We’ve also included some helpful links to videos we’ve made to help you prepare your manuscript and submission package, not just for us, but for anywhere you choose to send it.

But what’s going to set your submission above the rest? What are we really looking for? Well, I’ll tell you.

Your Query Letter

When we receive a submission, the first thing we look at is your query letter. Typically this should be in the body of your email to us. What we’re looking for here is a sense of who you are and what your book is about. Your ability to write well matters even in your query letter because it is your first impression. We’re also looking for the following bits of information:

  • Your genre (or target audience)
  • Your word count (or scope of the project)
  • Your credentials (or writing history)
  • Your concept, what hooks your reader.

Your Synopsis

Next, we’re going to look at your synopsis. This should be no more than one page and is simply a way of introducing us to your story, your setting, your characters, and the plot. We’re looking to see if the story interests us, but we’re also trying to gauge your ability to tell a story and wrap it up effectively. We want to see how the story ends and we want to see your style as a writer. Please include:

  • Your setting
  • Your main characters
  • Your concept, what hooks your reader
  • Your major plot points
  • A satisfying conclusion

Your Sample Chapters

We ask you to send three chapters with your submission package. We’re looking specifically for an engaging opening. We want to be drawn into your story’s world immediately; We want to care about your main character and we want to be interested in what’s going to happen to them. In short, you need to hook us, your reader. Then, you need to hold our attention for three chapters. If you can do that, we’ll ask to see more. We’re looking for:

  • Your style, or ‘voice’ of your writing
  • Your inciting incident, (again, what hooks your reader)
  • Your writing ability (and level of polish)
  • Your world-building
  • The believability of your characters
  • How well you’ve realized the potential we detected in the query letter or synopsis.

If you receive a rejection letter from us:

There are a number of reasons that we might not want your manuscript and we will do our best to tell you exactly why that is. We strive to provide detailed notes for you so that you will be better prepared no matter what steps you choose to take next in your publishing journey. Keep in mind that publishing is a very subjective and selective business and that what doesn’t work for one publisher, may work well for another. Some of the common reasons we pass on a manuscript are as follows:

  • It’s not in our genre, or doesn’t fit with our current list of titles (see our collection here)
  • It’s not ready for publication and needs improvement of some kind
  • Something in it conflicts with our message or values (learn more about us, here)
  • It just didn’t interest or engage us
  • We ask for the full manuscript, but the story doesn’t realize the potential we see in the sample

submissions

I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful and I look forward to reading your submissions!

Go to http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/submissions to get started!

 

What are your Publishing options?

A couple of days ago, I facilitated a workshop at the Arts Council Windsor Regions’s Artspeak Gallery as a part of their Art.Work series and in partnership with Bookfest Windsor. The subject of the workshop was Publishing 101 and I’m happy to say it went well and we had a really good turnout.

Since the workshop was a one time thing, and only available here in Windsor, I thought I would share with all of you the materials I prepared for the workshop, so you too can benefit from them. Here goes:

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You’ve finished your manuscript, edited it, had beta readers go over it, edited it again, and now you’re ready for the next step. But what is the next step? As a writer with a completed manuscript, what are your options?

Barring doing nothing more than putting that manuscript 2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226aside and starting the next one, here’s what you can do to get your book to the public:

  • Self Publish
  • Pay for Publishing Services
  • Find an Agent
  • Find a Publisher

Which option is right for you? Well, that depends on what you’re willing to put in and what you want to get out of the experience. Let’s look at each option individually.

  1. Self Publishing

The success of a self-publishing venture is directly related to how much money, time, and effort you put into it. You can do everything yourself cheaply and easily these days and print as few or as many copies as you’re willing to pay for and then do what you wish with those copies, whether it’s giving them away or selling them on a consignment basis at local stores, or directly at local events. Or, you can become an entrepreneur and make a business out of selling your brand and your book, doing all the learning and legwork required to be successful in a challenging industry.

The Pros: When you self-publish, you have control over everything. You make all the decisions, creatively and financially. You get the largest percentage possible of the revenue from your work.

The Cons: You have to do all the work, or pay professionals to do that work for you. You risk a lower-quality book and you face a lack of support. There is a lot to learn and a lot of market-research to be done. You will have less access to the market as a whole and may struggle to get your book in front of readers.

  1.  Pay for Publishing Services

I originally had this under the heading of ‘Find a Vanity Press, or Hybrid Publisher’ but I want to be clear about what this option entails. There are a number of companies out there for whom authors are their source of income. They sell publishing services, which allow you to end up with a published book by paying them to produce it for you. A lot of vanity presses are scams, though not all of them are, you just need to be aware of what you’re getting into. Vanity presses are not selective, they charge you to publish your book, and they will often not provide much beyond that original transaction and allowing you to purchase copies of your book from them to re-sell. Hybrid Publishers are a little different. They combine the vanity press model with the more traditional style publishing model. They can be selective, they may offer you more support, but you may still have to pay for their services. Each hybrid publisher is different, depending on how they’ve constructed their business model, so do your research and read your contract very carefully before signing, especially if you’re being asked to pay for any part of the publishing process.

Pros: Your book will be published by professionals. You’re paying for a quality product. The press may offer other benefits at a price.  

Cons: A lot of vanity presses are scams. This method can be expensive. You may receive no support beyond the production of the book, leaving marketing and distribution entirely up to you, just as it would be with self-publishing.

  1. Find an Agent

Agents are brokers. They represent your work to publishing houses and try to broker a deal on your behalf, making their profit from this arrangement. It makes sense then that an agent would try and bring your manuscript to the larger, more reputable publishing houses that have deeper pockets. A number of publishing houses prefer to, or will only, accept manuscript submissions from agents, so your chances of being accepted by a larger publishing house are much better with an agent. However, with a smaller publishing house, an agent will likely be of little to no use for you.

Pros: You will have someone other than yourself championing your manuscript. The agent has contacts within the publishing industry they will use to your advantage. The agent can get you a better deal than you might be able to get yourself, and some will offer their advice with the contract process.

Cons: The process of finding an agent, then having that agent find a publisher who wants your manuscript can be a long and frustrating one. A part of your revenue will go to the agent. An agent accepting your manuscript, does not guarantee that a publisher will.

  1. Find a Publisher

Publishers are selective. Depending on their size, they have a certain number of books they put out each year and they usually have certain genres or types of books they specialize in. When looking for a publisher, it’s important to consider only those that would be interested in your manuscript, as in ones where your book will fit. A publishing house is essentially a team of professionals that exist to find books they can bring to market and sell. The publisher will handle all aspects of getting your book from manuscript to finished product, including but not limited to: editing, cover design, layout, e-book production, printing, distribution, and marketing. You will still be expected to promote yourself and your book to help it sell, but you will have what support the publisher can offer throughout the entire process.

Pros: You will have a team of professionals behind every aspect of the production and sale of your book. You will have the reputation of the publisher behind you. The publisher access to distribution to get your books to the market. You do not have to pay for any part of production.

Cons: Your contract with the publisher will determine what royalties you are entitled to. You may have less creative control over the final product. The publisher’s schedule decides the release date of your book.

So there you have it. Which option is right for you? Well, that’s a decision only you can make. Even though I’m a small publisher myself, I hope I’ve given you an unbiased view into your publishing options.

 

Ps. As a reminder, our submissions open October 24th! You can find our submission guidelines on our website: www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/submissions 

Mirror World News: Publishing 101

2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226Adam Giles and I cover the basics of Publishing and your options as a writer with a finished manuscript in this episode of Mirror World News. Usually I provide a more in depth breakdown here on the blog to accompany the video, but this time I’ll be doing it in person on October 12th at the ArtSpeak Gallery in Windsor! There’s still time to register for this workshop on publishing and query-letter writing, through the Arts Council Windsor Region’s website acwr.net.

For now though, here’s the episode. Enjoy!

Mark your Calendars!

We’ve got a lot of important dates coming up that we wanted to make you aware of. Book launches, opportunities to meet us and browse our selection, workshops, and even our submissions re-opening, we’ve got something for everyone!

September 18th – Open Streets, Windsoropen-streets-windsor

This Sunday Windsor is closing a large stretch of road from one end of the city to the other and we’ll be right at the heart of it in the artist fair, which is part of the Downtown Hub. The event runs from 9am to 1pm, so if you’re looking to take part, make sure to come early!

Here’s a link to more information on this event: http://www.citywindsor.ca/residents/planning/open-streets-windsor/Pages/default.aspx

 

contrastSMSySeptember 19th – Launch Party for The Secret in Mossy Swamp, online

Rita Monette’s newest Nikki Landry Swamp Legend actually goes live on September 17th, but we’re celebrating on Monday, September 19th and you can join us on Facebook for an online launch party. There’ll be prizes and games, a Q and A with the author, and general hanging out with the Mirror World team and other fans of the series. 4 pm to 6 pm EST.

You can get more info and RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1158930637504097/

 

September 25th – Word on the Street, Toronto

We’ve mentioned this one before, but on Sunday, September 25th we’ll be in Toronto for what promises to be a MASSIVE literary event. We’re excited to be a part of things and we’ll be a booth #13 in the Fringe Beat section if you’re local to Toronto and want to come out and see us. We’ll be there from 10 am to 6 pm.

Here’s a link to more information about this annual event: http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/

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September 30th – Worlds Collide Gala, Windsor

This will be the event of the year for us. In partnership with our new imprint, Adventure Worlds Press, and local theatre arts group, Sho: Art, Spirit, and Performance, we’re celebrating different worlds coming together. We’re also celebrating the launch of all of our 2016 titles and an illustrated version of Adventure Worlds Press’ sci-fi anthology, No Light Tomorrow. Cash bar, prizes, readings, music, author Q and A, what more could you want?

7 pm at Sho: Art, Spirit, and Performance. 628 Monmouth Rd, Windsor.

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1186485788080361/

 

2.ArtWORK.Oct16-350x226October 12th – Publishing 101, Windsor

Arts Council Windsor Region and Bookfest Windsor have asked me to facilitate a workshop on the ins and outs of publishing for beginners. This workshop will give an overview of a writer’s options once he or she has completed their manuscript, then we’ll go over some tips and tricks for creating a query letter worth taking notice of. $10 for members, $15 for non-members. 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Artspeak Gallery. 1942 Wyandotte ave, Windsor.

More info and registration for this workshop can be found here: http://acwr.net/event/publishing-primer-acwr-art-work-workshops/?instance_id=183852

lightertkdscoverwithfontOctober 17th – Launch Party for The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, online

Like Time Travel? So do we and we’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of book two in The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Series by Sharon Ledwith. Monday, October 17th is the day and you can join us to celebrate the launch of another book in this great series. Again, there will be prizes, games, Q and A with the author, publisher and fans of these books. Best part is, you don’t even have to leave your computer to attend. Time TBD.  

RSVP here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1669063423411610/

 

October 24th – Our Submissions Re-Open

I’m sure this is the announcement you’ve all been waiting for. On Monday, October 24th, our submissions open for our 2017 season. So if you have a manuscript that you think would be a great addition to our current list of titles, then I suggest you take this time to go over our submission guidelines and start preparing your manuscript to send it in. And, if your manuscript still needs a little bit of work, maybe you’ll find our Mirror World News videos of use.

Our submission guidelines: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/submissions
Our YouTube Series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-d6tf8fpn4_mjraKjM-hUQ

October 30th – Retrorama, Windsor

Sunday, October 30th, we’ll be at Retrorama in the vendor’s room. An annual event celebrating geek culture and collectibles, Retrorama is not to be missed and is the perfect opportunity to come out and meet us. Mirror World and Adventure Worlds will be sharing a table and we’ll have all of our books for you to peruse and pick up! $10 entry fee, 10 am to 7 pm at the Caboto Club, Windsor.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/207296576294831/

david-mclain.jpg.jpegNovember 17th – Launch Party for The Time Traveler’s Resort and Museum, online

Another launch party! Yep, we’ve got more books coming your way, and this one is worth raving about. The Time Traveler’s Resort and Museum by David McLain is a time travel book like no other and we’re really excited about this one because it encompasses every single genre we dabble in. Time Travel, Science-Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Fantasy, it has it all! Join us to celebrate this ground-breaking launch!

Event listing coming. Like our Facebook page to be kept informed! http://www.facebook.com/mirrorworldpublishing

toudesketchDecember 1st – Launch Party for #Tourdesketch Windsor, location TBD

We’re wrapping 2016 up with another book launch. This one’s special to us because it’s all about our home town. As you know, we’re about different worlds, but how can we celebrate other worlds without also celebrating our own? Owen Swain’s colouring book #tourdesketch Windsor will do just that. And, it’s coming out just in time for Christmas… which means, presents! Join us to celebrate this launch!

Location and time TBD. Subscribe to this blog to be kept informed!

 

Thanks for reading! Are we going to see you at any of these events? Let us know in the comments below!

Editing 101

Mirror World News is back! That’s right, this week and next you’re being treated to two ALL NEW episodes of our YouTube Show. This week’s episode is about Editing in all its forms, so I thought I would supplement that with a blog post on the subject.

But first, here’s the video:

So let’s recap. Step one, write the first draft of your manuscript. Step two, edit. That seems simple, right?

Well, editing can really be broken into a whole bunch of steps. Or that is to say, you should edit multiple times for different reasons. It’s impossible to catch everything in one pass anyways and as you make changes, or have other people offer their feedback, you’re going to want to edit again.  

So what are the types of editing, or the things you should look for? Here’s my list In the order of how I usually approach it:mistakes

Self-Editing

I’ve written a whole blog post on this topic already. You can find that here, but essentially this is the part where you go over your own work and improve it to the best of your ability. I look to correct errors and my own particular weaknesses, while improving style, word choice, and pacing.

imagesBeta Readers

I’ve also written a whole blog post on this topic. That one’s here. This is where you let other people read what you’ve written and offer feedback and suggestions. It’s important to keep an open mind when being critiqued, but also to take the suggestions of your beta readers with a grain of salt. Their ideas of what would improve the story may not always coincide with your own, and in the end, it’s up to you to decide what to change and what not to.


Content Edit

Tinfo-dumptruckhis edit can be done by a friend, or a professional. The editor in this case is looking for content-related issues such as inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or details. They should watch for places where there is either too much detail or not enough, and comment on anything that is unclear or confusing. Style, voice, pacing, and descriptions should all be paid attention to as well.

Line Edit

No matter what order the other edits are undertaken in, the line edit should come last. Again, this can be done by a friend as long as they are very strong with grammar, but I would recommend a professional or semi-professional for this part. The editor at this stage will be looking to fix any technical issues including, but not limited to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

 

Hope that helps! If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and/or our YouTube Channel for more publishing and writing advice. If you have any editing related questions for me, or would like to suggest a future topic for me to cover, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

The Publishing Process

If you’re a writer, you may have wondered: What happens after the contract is signed?

Every publishing house is different. There are large publishers, indie presses, hybrid publishers, vanity presses, and a whole slew of other styles of publishers out there. It’s likely that I will one day do a post breaking these down for you, but for today, let’s focus on how we at Mirror World do things.

mwpubsmallblackWe’re a small, independent, traditional-style, publishing house. What I mean by that is we’re sized to be able to comfortably publish three to five books a year, with a small staff of three people plus volunteers and contractors. We’re owned by private individuals (myself and Murandy Damodred) and we do pretty much everything in house, and we’re not say, an imprint of a larger publishing house. We also don’t charge our authors for any part of the publishing process and we pay them royalties as per a contract that is signed with them at the time of acceptance of their manuscript.

So, in our style of company, after a manuscript is accepted for publication, the first step is that a timeline is established. Looking at what other books we have slated for the year and at the schedules of our staff, I work out who would be best to work on the various stages of the project and what would be a reasonable deadline for them. There are a lot of little steps, but here are the main ones:

1. First Round Edit
Keep in mind, we already read the manuscript through once as part of the submission process, but now the book will be assigned to an editor who will read it through (again, if they were the one to have acquired it.) In this pass, the editor is looking primarily for content-related edits. This includes, inconsistencies with plot, characters, description, or world-building as well as things that don’t make sense or made need more clarification. On the other end of the spectrum, it may also be to look for parts that drag or contain too much exposition in an effort to tighten up the story.

2. Beta Readingimagesd
Once the author has had a chance to make the changes suggested in round one, the updated manuscript is then sent to a team of three to five beta readers. (See my discussion on beta readers for more information on this part of the process) The beta readers’ notes  are then forwarded to the author who then chooses what changes to make based on this feedback.

3. Line Edit
Once the author is satisfied with the changes made and has made the manuscript the best it can be, the editor makes one last pass through the story line by line and corrects all the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and anything else that may have gotten missed earlier.

4. Cover Art
While the above steps are taking place, I find a cover artist whose style reflects the book and the design for the cover that the author and I envision. While the editor and the author work on the content, the artist or designer creates the cover art.

5. Interior Formatting
When the line edit is finished the editor passes the manuscript on to me and I format it for e-book and paperback. This is also the point where any design elements such as chapter headings and page breaks are decided upon. I also gather and format all the necessary information for the interior such as the ISBN number, the author bio and photo, and the dedication.
Piratescoverlayoutyellow copy
6. Cover Layout
Once the interior format is complete and I know how many pages the final version of the book will be, I can design the book jacket. This is where the back of the book blurb is added, though it may have been created at any point earlier.

7. The Rest…
At some point early on in  the process a marketing plan is developed and it is now that it is really put into action. We plan the details surrounding the launch, whether it will be in person or online only, we create a press kit and a press release, schedule a blog tour and decide where best to advertise and sell the books. We also order inventory and encourage the author to do the same so they can promote and sell the books in their hometown.

I hope that helps give you some idea of how we operate and what process a manuscript undergoes once we accept it. If you have any questions about the publishing process, or Mirror World in specific, make sure to leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get to them!

TNS Banner blog tourAnd as you know, our most recent  release, This Night Sucks is now available! You can follow the blog tour this week, or until the end of the month get the e-book ON SALE for only $0.99 in our store with the promo code: SUCKS

 

A Publisher’s experience at a Writers’ Conference

Last month I had the honour of attending the second annual Windsor Writers Conference. For writers, a writers conference is a place to hone their writing skills by attending workshops, listening to guest speakers, approaching experts, and networking with other writers. For publishers, the experience and the goal of the conference is a little different.

Let me walk you through it. The conference began on Thursday with a ‘pre-conference day’ where some attendees were there specifically to meet with agents, publishers, and editors that they might like to work with or that they could simply get some advice and feedback from. After sitting on a panel where we introduced ourselves and talked about what kinds of books and authors we represented, I met with groups of three to five authors to read their work. At these round tables as we called them the writers not only received feedback from me, but also from the other writers at the table. My table tended to finish before the time was up, so we also had a chance to talk a little more about publishing in general and Mirror World in specific.

That night I was invited to a dinner with all the guest speakers, agents, and other publishers that had mostly come in from out of town. It was a great networking opportunity for me as I got to meet industry experts, including bloggers, marketers, syndicated columnists, novelists, and agents. Also, the Dim Sum was excellent!

Friday the conference began in earnest. I attended the guest speakers lectures where I could between meeting one on one with writers who had taken an interest in Mirror World and wanted to pitch to me, or learn more about what we do. The Windsor International Writers Conference is known for being a place where writers connect with agents and publishers and has a history of seeing contracts happen, so it was exciting to be a part of that tradition and to take a look at ‘submissions’ in person. And, in fact, I was able to find several very talented writers that I was able to ask to submit to us more formally, so hopefully we can have some good news on that front for next year’s line up of new releases.images

Saturday the one on one meetings continued, but the focus was primarily on the events of the conference. An aboriginal playwright came to give a talk and read a part of her play and we also had a mexican feast in addition to the guest speakers for that day.

Sunday morning was closing ceremonies and on this last day, I again sat on a panel with the experts I had come to know and we answered all sorts of questions about the publishing process from manuscript to agent to editor to publisher and finally to market. Come to think of it, that might be a great blog topic to cover later on. That’s all for now, though. If you have any questions or thoughts about Writers Conferences, please leave them in the comments below!