Publishing Tips

How I sell books (Part 2) – A guest post by David McLain

Now that I’ve scared off half the readers talking about what hasn’t worked, let’s talk about what has. (See Part 1 here.)

So far nothing I’ve said has anything to do with you as a writer. I don’t know you, but if you are reading this, you’ve made it as far as finding my publisher’s blog. That’s a good thing- It means that you’ve probably figured out that self-publishing is, well, a crappy idea. Good for you. So, skipping ahead a moment, I can tell you that roughly 20 weekends a year I can be found sitting at either a booth or a table at either an art show, a steampunk convention, or a comic con, with copies of my last two books, in paperback and hardcover. This is the long, slow grind of indie book sales. People who come over to look at my book nearly always pick up the hardcover copy, admire it, and then buy the softcover, if anything. This is actually by design.

When you are working a show, you need to be able to explain your book in a sentence or two. This is called the strap line. It’s preferable if the strap line makes for a pretty good bit of dialogue, and I think it’s usually best if you keep the number buzzwords to a minimum.

Guy dressed as the tenth doctor: What’s this?

Me: That’s my book, The Traveller’s Resort and Museum.

10 Doc Guy: What’s it about?

Me: It’s the story of a Time Traveller who falls in love with three men- one from the present, one from the past, and one from the future. She misjudges them all.

I feel this compares pretty well with the line the guy at the next booth over was giving people: Okay, so strong female protagonist. Epic fantasy. Some steampunk. It’s a hero’s quest. The dwarves have lost the jewel of…. or something. I don’t remember. I don’t know how the book was written, but the pitch was surprisingly devoid of complete sentences.

coverimagettrmAt this point I have an advantage in that my book is surprisingly beautiful. It as a beautiful painting of a woman with red hair drinking tea and holding a pet triceratops on a leash on the cover. It has two dozen black and white pictures in it, and every chapter begins with a font indicating the location the chapter is set in- so if the chapter is set in the Stone Age the first two words look like carved stone. (By the way, people don’t judge books by their covers. But they do judge book covers by the pictures on them, and when they first pick up the book, all they have is the picture and the title.)

Now, if you ever been to one of these shows, you might have seen someone doing this. Most of them are going it alone, and have basically opened the one author book store. This is a good way to distribute your books to the public and attract a little attention for your work. It’s also financial suicide. So, to make this work, you’re going to need to have something else to sell along with your books. I don’t know what that is, you need to figure that out yourself. If you’re at my booth, you’re usually more likely to buy one of my wife’s embroidered bags with steampunk animals on them than my book. This is OK. The bags are the reason my wife doesn’t have another job, and that I can keep doing this. They’ve made the whole thing sustainable. Sustainability, and a good quality book is the reason I am still signing copies of my second book five years after it came out.

So, someone is holding a book of mine, they’ve looked at my beautiful cover, and they’ve heard my pitch. Maybe they’ve read the back of the book. (This is good. The back of my book is pretty funny.)

They now get that idea in their head- I can get this signed by the author. I think a lot of people picture themselves on the antiques roadshow. “I bought this copy of The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum from David McLain in 2017 at the East Aurora Barn Art Festival, and I got both him and his wife to sign it. She did the cover.”

And then they buy it! Although I must admit, they don’t usually buy it in huge quantities. I don’t care though. My book gets out there, little by little, and I get to go to shows, and sign copies of my book, and do readings, and sometimes, just sometimes, meet a fan. A real genuine honest to goodness fan, who thinks my work is awesome and wants to read more. Not only that, but over time, the money adds up. Sales of my books are already over 7000.00 gross in the last five years. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but would you turn it down if someone handed it to you? I thought not. I wouldn’t either.

When I go to shows, I frequently ask other writers about the best line from their work, their ‘To be or not to be’ if you will. You know what the most common answer is? ‘I don’t know.’ Think about that. ‘I don’t know.’ I would suggest that means something- that we’re all making this up as we go. Writing isn’t easy. Even Shakespeare quit and became a landlord. Keep at it, and good luck.

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David McLain studied writing at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of the two novels: Dragonbait, and The Life of a Thief. His stories have been published in the anthologies Metastasis, Penny Dread II, and the upcoming Doctor Who Anthology Time Shadows, as well as over two dozen magazines, including Harvard’s Dudley Review. He has been featured on NPR’s Off the Page and the History of England podcast. He lives in New York.

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How I sell books (Part 1) – A Guest Post by David McLain

coverimagettrm(Spoiler: It doesn’t involve the internet much)

Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m David McLain. I’m the author of, among other things, the Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum, available from Mirror World. I made enough money last year off of the sale of books to make maybe two payments on the mortgage on my house, not that we necessarily spent the money that way. I’ll let you make of that what you will. Usually, when I go out with other writers, someone scoffs at- frequently in spite of the fact that they’ve never published anything in their entire lives. All the books that I’ve ever written will never compare to all the books in their head just waiting to come out, someday.

As an independent writer who has never landed a book with a major publisher, I can’t tell you how to become a bestselling author. Nobody can. There are a few unpleasant but obvious truths I’m going to have to mention here, and the first one is that if you met JK Rowling, and asked her how to become a famous author, the most honest answer she could give would be ‘I don’t know.’  People like that are just lucky, and luck is considerably more difficult to predict than lightning strikes. Having that kind of luck should not be your goal in life, no matter you are trying to achieve.  What I can tell you how to do is how to make two mortgage payments a year with book money. You can decide for yourself if that’s worth it. What say next may be a little more surprising- it doesn’t involve the internet very much.

I’ve been a writer for a long time now, and I’ve seen people do a lot of strange things in the interest of self-promotion. Once, many years ago, I was part of an online writing group where a young man created an account under a fake name so that he could review his own story. His glowing review of his own work was enough to project him onto the board’s list of the best reviewed stories of the month. (It wasn’t a very big board.) he then logged in under the fake name and congratulated himself for getting such a good review, and then logged out again, logged back in as himself, and congratulated himself for thanking himself. I googled his name shortly thereafter. I found a list he written of ‘The Top Ten People to Watch in 2005.’ It was a list of nine celebrities and himself.

The young man was suffering, I believe, from two of the more popular delusions among writers. The first, and most common, is the mistaken notion that the place your book occupies in the world will be similar to the very, very large space it occupies in your head. The second, and only slightly less common mistake is the idea that internet traffic will somehow reach a critical mass that will end up with the author achieving best seller status. Now, it’s possible you might be doing something, anything that might generate a lot of interest in you as a person, meaning people want to buy a book from you. However, and I take no pleasure pointing this out, to the best of my knowledge no novel has ever gone viral on the internet, ever. The closet anyone has ever come was when three unpublished stories by JD Salinger came out a few years ago. That was JD Salinger, someone who originally got very, very lucky, and even then, calling it viral is kind of a stretch. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things to generate sales online- I’ve guest hosted a podcast called the history of England several times, I had my friend Jeff Mach promote my book on the Steampunk World’s Fair Page, which gets thousands of visitors. I have a Facebook group for fans, a Goodreads page, an author page on Amazon, and a blog. My biggest online success was the time I got a like and a follow from the actress Carrie Fisher on Twitter right before she died. This involved no sales but I did get to strut around my regular job all day like I owned the place. In short, I’ve tried probably everything you’re probably thinking of doing to create an online presence, and by and large it hasn’t worked, at least so far. This generally has to do with the internet’s inverse relationship between interest and effort, as demonstrated in the following graph:

chart

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David McLain studied writing at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of: The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum, Dragonbait, and The Life of a Thief. His stories have been published in the anthologies Metastasis, Penny Dread II, and the upcoming Doctor Who Anthology Time Shadows, as well as over two dozen magazines, including Harvard’s Dudley Review. He has been featured on NPR’s Off the Page and the History of England podcast. He lives in New York.

To be continued… Subscribe or check back next week for Part 2 of this guest post!!!

 

 

How many words is too many words?

For me, there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than when a first-time author announces that their manuscript is over 200,000 words, or worse yet, 300,000 words. The worst part is that they usually say with pride, like they’re looking for praise. I’ll admit, writing that many words is quite an accomplishment and for that reason, they should be proud, but announcing a single volume manuscript that long tells me that the writer has not done their research in regards to how long their novel should be to fit established guidelines.

Now, most word count guidelines are just that; guidelines. That said though, there are practical reasons why those guidelines exist. That’s not to say that a 200,000 word manuscript can’t be published that way, but it’s less likely to be and it will run into a few problems trying to get there.

First, let’s look at traditional publishing. First, a publisher (or agent) is going to be looking within a certain range for the length of books they’re willing to work on. One reason for this is that the longer the book is, the more effort and time it takes to get it ready for publication. A second reason is that for marketing purposes, each genre has an established word count range which readers expect to find when they pick up a book in their preferred genre.

According to ‘The Write Life’, here are the guidelines for most genres:

too-many-wordsFiction Genres

  • Mainstream Romance: 70,000–100,000 words
  • Subgenre Romance: 40,000–100,000 words
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy: 90,000–120,000 (and sometimes 150,000) words
  • Historical Fiction: 80,000–100,000
  • Thrillers / Horror / Mysteries / Crime: 70,000–90,000 words
  • Young Adult: 50,000–80,000

Now, what about self-publishing? You might think that if you’re not trying to get the attention of a publisher or an agent that word counts don’t matter, but you’d be wrong. Readers also have expectations and it is easier to market to people if they know what to expect. Not only that, but printing costs come into effect. If you’re book is monstrously long it’s going to cost waaaay more to print than your average book that that’s going to impact what price you set and therefore your bottom line.

So if you have a manuscript that’s way over or under the word counts suggested for your genre, I recommend taking a closer look to see if you can add or remove sections, or consider making your monster of a manuscript into several volumes. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

keep-calm-and-edit-later

Here’s another handy breakdown:

General

  • Flash Fiction: 300–1500 words
  • Short Story: 1500–30,000 words
  • Novellas: 30,000–50,000 words
  • Novels: 50,000–110,000 words

What about you? Do you think about word counts when preparing your manuscript? Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts below!

The importance of being organized

I’ve always found scheduling and organizing to be a challenge. It’s probably because I’m really not a planner. Most things, including my day-to-day schedule exist in my head, or on little scraps of paper when I choose to jot something down. However, since I became an entrepreneur I’ve had to do more in the way of keeping myself organized.

Here are two methods I’ve taken to using that really work for me.

906e13Professionally, I’ve grown to love Asana. It’s a free web-based program (which also includes a phone app). It’s a wonderful tool for project management and it really helps to keep everyone on the same page when working in team environment. We use it here at Mirror World to keep track of the progress of each book and also our submissions. Each member of the team gets an account, then you create projects and can assign them to people along with due dates. You can see them as a list, or on a calendar, and there are progress bars and check-ins so you can see how everyone is keeping up as well as leave notes and files for each other. You can check it out for yourself here: https://asana.com/

IMG_57351The other system I’ve very recently taken to using is Bullet Journaling. This method is manual and the cool thing about it is that you can use any notebook you have lying around to get started, so again, it’s free. The premise is that there are a series of symbols you use to track your tasks, notes, and events, and you add and change them as you go, marking when something is complete, or still needs attention. It’s very simple and doesn’t involve me remembering to access some app or website to use it. If you want to learn more about this system, check out their website: http://bulletjournal.com/

With how busy my life is between running a company, writing and publishing books, and working part time, these two systems have been a life-saver. What about you? Do you have trouble staying organized? Would you consider one of these systems or do you have your own? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Public Speaking for Authors

 

Lately, this has been the topic I’ve been tackling in my day-to-day life, so I thought I should tackle it here as well.

Stage-Fright-Holding-You-BackLike most writers I know, I’m an introvert. I prefer to write, read, edit, and generally work behind the scenes. When I go out to network, sell books and meet people, I often find myself needing to hole up and recharge afterwards. It takes a lot out of me. But, it’s also a big part of what I do as a publisher and a published author.

Especially this month. Somehow this month’s schedule got filled with speaking engagements, and opportunities to read my book aloud in public. And all of those opportunities happening to fall within the same week and a half have caused my nerves to fray terribly.

So, how, as an introverted person, do I deal with this?

Be prepared

This might seem like a no-brainer, but picking out what section you’re going to read in advance and/or writing out your presentation or speech beforehand and editing it as thoroughly as you might edit your query letter to a publisher will help you feel more at ease with what you’re doing and it will make you more familiar with what you’re going to be reading or saying.

keep-calm-and-let-s-practice-11Practice

Once you have your words picked out, practice saying them out loud. Read to your cats, or like Murandy did, your baby. Read alone, or to someone you trust. It’s all about practicing in a judgment-free zone until you feel more comfortable.

Try not to dwell on it

Whenever you start thinking about it and you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, try to force it down, or will it away. Find something else to focus on and whatever else you do, don’t wallow in that feeling; that will only make it stronger. Find a friend to distract you, or play a video game or something, it will pass.

Speak confidently and slowly

When you get to the actual moment of reading or speaking start loud and keep that pitch, then make sure everything you say is said with emphasis and that you don’t speed up out of nervousness. Speak slowly and enunciate, just like you practiced.

a076a7851bc423dcd8645975b8d4e2c2Make jokes

If you can get the audience to laugh, you’ll feel loads better. If your subject warrants it, or if comedy helps you feel more comfortable, then use it. Engage with your audience and make eye contact with them when you can so speaking to them feels more like a conversation and less like a speech.

Celebrate afterwards!

Never underestimate the value of rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you got over your fear and accomplished what you set out to do, then go celebrate. You’ve earned it.

How to Choose a title for your novel!

First, I would like to note that I usually find this to be an easy task. Or, at least, usually a title comes to me either before the book is written or while I am writing it. However, that’s not the case with the third book in the Mirror World series, which despite being nearly done the first draft, Murandy and I do not have a title for yet! And it’s soooo frustrating.

If you’re trying to figure out a title for your novel, here’s what usually works for me.

The title should be relevant to your story.
This can be something to do with where the story is set, with the theme, a line of dialogue, or the name or title of a character. What’s important is that your title ties into your book somehow. For example, Neo Central, is the name of the only remaining city in my first novel.

The title should be meaningful.frontMW1copy
At first, the title may only have meaning to you, the author, but at some point in the process of reading your novel, the reader should have an ‘ah-ha!’ moment where they understand the reason for your selection. This moment can happen as early as when they read the blurb on the back of your book, or as late as the last line, but there should be some connection made between the title and something within the story.

For example the title, Mirror’s Hope, is chalk-full of meaning. One character goes by the name of Mira and the other, Hope. It’s a romance. Also, there are parallel worlds called, Mirror Worlds, in which everyone has a double of themselves, called a Mirror. So the title has multiple meanings, just by being a play on words.

The title should be memorable.
Essentially this boils down to the title should stick in your potential readers’ minds. It should be short, catchy, possibly mysterious. Whatever you need to make sure whoever sees it will want to read it and remember it for later.

Uncover3The title should try and evoke a sense of genre.
Each genre comes with its own set of tropes and expectations. I’m not saying you have to abide by them, but if your title can evoke a sense of genre, your reader will more easily know what to expect and potential readers may be drawn to your novel more easily. To do this, research some titles in the genre you are reading and see if you can spot some patterns.

For example, Unintended, is a play on the word ‘intended’ which implies marriage in a historical or fantasy setting. Adding the ‘Un’ before it, implies comedy. At least I think so.

Your title should be as original as you can make it.
This is tough because a lot of names have already been taken. A good rule of thumb is to do some research and make sure that no other books, especially in your genre, have the same name. If you do end up with the same name as something else, it could cause problems or confusion down the road which is best to avoid.

coming-soon

So as you can see, coming up with a good title is no simple matter! That’s why Murandy and I need your help! We’re going to be putting out a poll next week to help us choose the title for the next book in the Mirror World series. Stay tuned, or subscribe to this blog to be kept informed of developments!

Thanks for reading and good luck with your book titles!

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.
MH1Descwide copy

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.

Uncover3

“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!