March 31, 2014

Querying Far & Wide

Advice for aspiring authors online abounds, and we soak it up.  Some advice is so pervasive that we don't question it — after all, so many industry professionals agree as do the stories of other writers' successes, so who are we, as new writers, to think otherwise? But you know what, I disagree with one of the fundamental tips for traditional publishing success

I read quite recently in an interview with an agent I'm considering querying her opinion that considering small presses is perfectly valid — if you've already queried and been rejected by about 400 agents. This idea that we as writers should query any and every agent who represents our genre is quite common, but frankly, absurd. It places us in the position of begging for acknowledgement, as though we need the stamp of approval from absolutely anyone with the title "agent" before we can be taken seriously, which devalues our work, our talents, and our voice in this process. 

March 28, 2014

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-16

Flash! Friday time! Quick refresher of the rules: 150-word story (+/- 10) on the photo below, which must include the dragon's bidding. This week's bidding: Space Travel.  Ready?

March 24, 2014

Foundation of the Author Platform

Nowadays, aspiring authors know the importance of building a platform — of becoming as easily accessible for potential and current readers as possible.  To that end, we join Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and more, each with its own customs, quirks, and ultimately benefits. 

But the original version of the author platform, the one that predates even the internet, continues to exist, and its importance has not diminished.  I'm talking, of course, of the Author Bio.

March 21, 2014

Not Quite Flash! Friday

Okay, so, I'll admit — even with 4ish hours to go before the Flash! Friday deadline, I'm deciding not to participate this week. Frankly, I have lots to do after some feedback on my work in progress, my adorable nieces coming over in a couple hours, and two meetings this weekend, both of which require reading and commenting on others' works.  And to top it off, no matter how I try to mull it over, the prompt just isn't inspiring me.  

Miss Flash! Friday stories? Check it out for yourself! Plenty pieces to keep you entertained in the comments at the link!

March 16, 2014

On Contest Judging

Fair warning: this post is mostly a rant.

I am intentionally writing this (and posting ahead of my standard Monday schedule) before Pitch Madness results go up, because this is not about results.  To be clear, I think Pitch Madness, and other such online contests, are wonderful on the whole. They are useful to aspiring authors, they bring the community together, and they generally bring the work of unrepresented writers out of endless slush piles and into the light.  Quite a bit of the advice posted publicly as part of these contests is helpful. (Did you miss this round's #PitchMadness tweets? Check out this synthesized version.)  This post is absolutely not about bashing these contests, those who organize them, or those who volunteer to be slush readers / judges.

That being said, for the most part said volunteers are not authorities, and their comments should not be taken as gospel! 

March 14, 2014

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-14

I admit, I've been remiss in my Flash! Friday entries for a couple weeks, but now that the first draft of G&H is finished, and Muse awaits readers' feedback, it's time to dive back in!  Luckily, this week's dragon bidding is fairly simple: including a dancer in a 150-word (+/- 10) story on this photo:

March 10, 2014

Contract Basics: Termination & Reversion of Rights

Believe it or not, we've made it to the final post in this publishing contract sequence!  The Termination and Rights Reversion language basically covers what happens when things just aren't working out.  How can the publisher get out of the contract? How can you? In some circumstances, the contract ends automatically, and those circumstances will be defined in your contract.
  • The most common reason, stemming back from the days when books were only physical and took up storage space, for a contract to end is lack of sales. 
    • In such case, your contract should say something like "If ____ years from the publication date, sales drop below ____ per payment period, for ___ consecutive periods…" the contract is automatically terminated.
      • This is also known as an "Out of Print" clause, though it's been adjusted for the new understanding of "in print," meaning basically "available for purchase in any format."
      • Without such specific language, it may be difficult to get your rights back from a stubborn publisher, as with digital "printing," a book cannot really be "out of print."

March 3, 2014

Contract Basics: Noncompete

We are almost at the end of this Publishing Contract Basics series, which means it's time to get quite serious. The Noncompete Clause is intense legalese, and it can destroy your future if you don't pay attention. While it's a bummer to be paid less than you deserve, and it's frustrating not to have a say in your cover, and it's impermissible (in my humble opinion) not to have a say on editorial changes made to your work, it is the noncompete clause which can most easily kill a writer's career.

The noncompete clause can also be called "Competing Works," but it boils down to the same thing: the publisher doesn't want you putting out any work that could detract from the sales of whichever book it is they're buying. Now, in some ways, this makes little sense, as everyone seems to agree that having multiple books out is one of the most successful marketing strategies. On the other hand, the publisher wants to make sure that any marketing efforts on their end will translate into money they are making, not a simultaneously published work of yours, whether self-published or from another publisher.

Now, agents hate this clause because of how stifling it can get. Don't believe me? Check out Agent Kristin Nelson's in-depth post on the noncompete

When it comes down to it, the noncompete says that you, as the author, will not publish or allow to be published a competing work within a certain timeframe (e.g. 6 months) of the publication date of the work being negotiated in that contract. Unfortunately for writers, publishers' very smart lawyers will try to define a "competing" work as "any book-length work." And, as we know from discussing publishing clauses, publication can frequently be delayed, beyond the control of the author.