Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Publishing News: Small Presses Get Big Boost

Marcher Lord Press, the "premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction" founded by Jeff Gerke in 2008, announced that one of their authors, Jill Williamson, won the prestigious Christy Award, the highest honor bestowed upon Christian writers. This award isn't big just for Jill, author of By Darkness Hid, but it is a huge plume in the cap of the two-year-old press and a boost to small presses in general.

As large publishing houses get more swamped and harder to please, smaller presses have cropped up like spring flowers. Some fill a void, like Marcher Lord Press, and others were developed primarily to publish the founder's work (I've seen a few; they shall remain anonymous). New authors shouldn't rule out small presses as a viable alternative to the giants in the industry, but they need to do their research before signing the bottom line.

Among the things to consider:

  • The contract--what is your cut? What is expected of you? Of them? Are you signed on for just one book or for the rest of your life? Understanding your contract is vital. Several agent and editor sites give an idea of boilerplate and pitfalls. If you intend to work this end by yourself instead of through an agent, research and know what you're getting yourself in for.
  • Where will your book be distributed? Amazon and B&N at the very least, but smaller presses are also getting their books into chain stores like Hastings, WalMart, K-Mart and Target.
  • Look through the other books published by the company. Do the covers look professional? If possible (and on Amazon, it usually is), look at the type, illustrations (if applicable) and page set-up. Professional and appealing?
  • Read a few of the books before you submit and judge the writing as you would your own. How do they measure up? You want your book published by a company who puts out only the best. I've read small-press novels that shouldn't have gotten past a critique partner, much less an editor. If a publisher puts out mediocre books, their philosophy centers around quantity instead of quality. Be careful of the company you keep.
  • Contact some of the authors and shower them with questions. One thing about us writers, we are willing to help each other out. Present a professional letter with specific questions, and you're likely to get a response.
Any good market guide can provide the names of small presses. If you're interested in the Christian Market, The Christian Writer's Market Guide, by Sally E. Stuart is the must-have for your bookshelf. Aside from the book is the Christian Small Publishers Association, which has a directory of small houses (Port Yonder Press isn't on this list, but we too are a small press for edgy Christian and family friendly fiction of all genres). And, of course, there's always internet searches.

Congrats to Jill and MLP, and reputable small presses everywhere!
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Resource Roundup: Curing Writer's Block

As writers, we're supposed to write. It's what we do--until something malfunctions and we can't seem to pen anything more substantial than a grocery list. When that happens, there are a variety of ways to jump start our muses. Jesse Young is giving a list of fifty ideas in seven posts on Peevish Penmen (my favorite is in the second installment--Playing with Crayons. Taking out my frustrations in vivid red just appeals to me).

My overall favorite way to get myself going again is through prompts. Here's a list of sites I've used (some we've even used here on AuthorCulture for our writing contests):

Archetype Writing's Plot Scenario Generator, Character Generator, and Everyday Problem Generator (because "nobody's life is perfect").

I particularly like the problem generator. The one I landed on when getting the link was: "Your character has problems with impatience, is afraid of dependence on others, and can't stand meeting new people. Also wishes the world were free of witchcraft."

Dr. Wicked's Write or Die is an evil little devise that punishes you if your fingers stop pecking the keys. Everyone has to try this at least once. It's great for free-styling.

Dragon Writing Prompts throws visuals into the mix. For interesting variations, look through the Categories listed in the sidebar.

Andrew Bosley's Brainstormer is a roulette style wheel where you can mix and match theme, setting and character. (Andrew has also developed an app for this. See our right sidebar.)

Creativity Portal has a great list of sites that provide writers prompts, grouped by prompt topic, and The Book Chook has a list of sites designed to get kids interested in writing.

Of course, a good search can produce a boatload of prompt generators and sites, but don't waste too much time going through them--you're supposed to be writing!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Pervasive Computer Age

'nough said . . .

(Special thanks to Dawn Charles for sending this to us!)
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tips from a publicist--of sorts: Kathy Richards

If Kathy "Katdish" Richards believes in someone, she really gets the word out. And she believes in Billy Coffey. Actually, I don't know who I met first, her or Billy. She's been effectively promoting him, his blog and his book for over a year now, but she's hesitant to call herself a publicist. She's just a woman who's excited about a writer she believes in.~~~

When Linda asked me to write a guest post about marketing, I immediately agreed because I am spontaneous and generally agreeable. (Okay, maybe a bit more of the former than the latter.) Then it occurred to me that I am certainly no expert on the subject. What Billy Coffey and I have done over the past year has been a learning experience for both of us. For me to write an article about the Dos and Don’ts of promoting an author online is a challenge, because I don’t follow the rules. I follow my instinct. Which is not to say I break any rules, I’ve just sort of made them up as we went along. But maybe what I’ve learned can help someone else out there. I certainly hope so.

What I share with you comes not from the perspective of a writer, but from a person who has a passion for helping writers share their stories with the rest of the world.

I don’t need to tell you the importance of marketing yourself and building your platform. If you don’t believe me, simply refer back to your stack of rejection letters from agents and publishers. Oh, I know—the writing should speak for itself. After all, you’re a writer, not a spokesperson. If you’re willing to take your stand and die upon that hill, stop reading now.

Still here? Okay, good. It’s time for me to make a few assumptions.

Assumption One: You have a blog or (preferably) a website. How’s that working for you? Do you have an “About” page? If people take the time to visit your site, there should be a place where they can get to know you as a person, not just as a writer. Who are your readers? If the bulk of your readers are other writers, you may have a tendency to write about writing. And while a regular post about writing is certainly not a bad thing, your website should be primarily a place to spotlight your talent as a writer, not a how-to guide for other writers. (Unless of course, it’s specifically designed for that.) All writers are readers, but not all readers are writers. Don’t limit your audience.

Assumption Two: You have Twitter and Facebook accounts and you are interacting with people online on a regular basis. This does not mean sharing your latest blog post with your friends and followers and then logging out. Talk to people. Engage in conversations. Don’t wait for someone to talk to you, jump in. Promote others before you promote yourself. People will care more about you if they know you care about them. If all you ever do is promote yourself and your own projects, that is a huge turn off for most folks. A word of caution: social media sites can be a huge distraction and time waster. Limit your time there. Your writing should be your first priority.

Assumption 3: You are not trying to do this by yourself. Have you developed relationships online with people who seem to be connected with a wider and more diverse audience? Are they regular readers of yours? Do they support what you’re doing? Ask them for help. Connectors can be invaluable allies in your career as a writer. A true connector who is willing to help you doesn’t need much instruction on how to promote you. It’s second nature to them. If they believe in what you’re doing, they will convince others to believe in you as well.

If you are like many writers I know, much of this talk of self promotion and marketing flies in the face of your introverted nature at best, and at worst may make you feel like you’re a complete sell out. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to compromise your integrity in order to effectively market yourself. Above all, be true to yourself and your craft. Your current and future audience will appreciate your honesty and will reward you with their loyalty.

Kathy Richards (aka katdish) is not a writer, but she plays one on the internet. You can find her most days at her website Hey, Look! A Chicken! or giving unsolicited advice on twitter at She also designed and manages what she thinks is just about the best author website on the internet, What I Learned Today.

When asked to describe her working relationship with author Billy Coffey, she best describes it as follows: "I am Chloe O'Brien to Billy Coffey's Jack Bauer. If you're not a fan of 24, this will make absolutely no sense to you. If you are a 24 fan, it should be noted that Billy does not scream profanity-laced demands at me like Jack does to Chloe. Much."

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Interview with Digital Dragon Magazine Founder T.W. Ambrose

AuthorCulture: When you first started Digital Dragon Magazine (DDM), you wrote at the time that stories with a Christian worldview were being passed over in the marketplace. Now that you've celebrated DDM's first anniversary (congratulations!), how's it going? Have you detected that stories with a Christian worldview have picked up any traction?

T.W. Ambrose:
Yes and no. I still think there's just not a place for Christian Sci-Fi anywhere in the traditional marketplace, and barely a place for Christian Fantasy. Yet with the growth of Indie magazines like Digital Dragon and Flame in the Dark (yes, a little self-promotion), and the emergence and growth of the small press publishers, there is getting to be more and more of a place for that Christian Worldview in publishing.

Speaking of DDM, how time flies. How'd your first year go? What was the greatest challenge and greatest victory the magazine experienced in your first year?

TWA: Well it has been a great first year, and if you swing over to you can check out our 1 year anniversary issue, which has to be our greatest victory. This year we learned that putting out a monthly magazine is difficult. I have seen several magazines that started the same time as us fall by the wayside, and yet a year in, we put out our best magazine yet. Our submissions are up, our readership is up, our staff is growing. Things are good.

I think the biggest challenge we have faced throughout has been the technical side of things, As many early fans know, we crashed on our launch day and were down almost a week. We have also struggled with several of the additional URLs we own getting them to connect. In the end, I am not a technical person.

AC: You've mentioned that Randy Streu is one of your oldest and closest friends. What's it like publishing a project like DDM with an old friend? What happens behind-the-scenes at DDM?

TWA: Working with Randy has been great. I got to know Randy my freshman year of college back in 1996 when we were both hopeful communication students. We later spent time hosting an amazing morning show together and doing "couples" things as we both each got engaged, and eventually married. Unfortunately, we eventually went our own way; Randy pursued a career in radio out East, and I stayed here working in counseling and ministry.

Luckily, with the wonders of the Modern Age, when I decided to do Digital Dragon, I knew Randy was the man I needed helping me. More recently, over the last six months, my wife has really stepped up out of just copy editing to take on a full third of the DDM responsibility.

Behind-the-scenes, I get to do the fun stuff: talking with writers, promoting the magazine, and reading submissions. Randy helps me make final decisions on submissions, as well as putting together our HTML version of the mag. My wife Jen then puts together the .PDF, as well as organizing our team of awesome Copy Editors.

AC: What do you look for from story submissions?

TWA: The first thing I look for is a story that catches my attention. After a year of submissions, that alone can be a tough thing to do. After that, I make sure it fits our family-friendly guidelines. I then try to divide stories into what issues they will be placed. I try hard to place a variety of stories in each issue, giving it a feel of modern and traditional fantasy as well as classic Science Fiction and Space Opera.

AC: I've noticed (with appreciation) that you feature a fair bit of Space Opera at DDM. How did you get into that genre?

TWA: LOL, fishing for compliments, are we? I have been a fan of Space Opera forever in areas like television, movies, and the long-form novel. I never realized that there was a large market for it in a short format until I ran into Ray Gun Revival. I fell in love with Ray Gun Revival, and it became the inspiration for Digital Dragon Magazine with its family-friendly feel, and amazing monthly serials. [Wow! I did not know this. -- Editor.] When I started DDM, I knew I wanted to include Space Opera as part of the magazine.

AC: I understand big things are in the works for the DDM folks for the next year. Could you give us an overview of what you have in the works?

TWA: One thing will always be true, when Randy and I get talking, things will always be in the process of change. However, we do have a couple things that are already in motion, which you should see at some point this year.

First, when we started DDM, we always saw it as part of something bigger. Randy and I have both been passionate about quality Christian media since the beginning, and we really saw DDM as the flagship of a company to do just that. That being said, by the end of the summer we hope to launch Diminished Media Group, which will be the parent organization for Digital Dragon Magazine, A Flame in the Dark Magazine, and Diminished Publishing.

Speaking of Diminished Publishing, that's another big change on the horizon as we hope to launch our first DDM anthology as our first print piece. We also hope to use the small press publishing house as another place for Christian Writers to look to get their work published.

Finally, we also launched our second magazine this June. A Flame in the Dark offers a unique look at Christian Horror. Randy Streu is heading up that project, and I give him a hand with submissions.

There probably half a dozen other things that are possibilities, but until things get nailed down more, we'll just keep that as my little secret!

AC: In light of your experiences this past year, if someone was interested in starting their own e-zine, what one piece of advice would you share with them?

TWA: It's not what you think. I got into the magazine because I loved to write and read. Now so much of my time is taken up with the editing that I have less time to write and read then I ever did before. That being said, I wouldn't change it. Every month, I get to be one of the first people to read our hit serial Windrider, I've met so many great people I never would have met, and put something out there that I can really be proud of.

AC: We've seen some startling changes in the publishing industry over the past year. You have a multifaceted perspective as a reader, author, and editor. Where do you think the publishing industry will go in the near future?

TWA: You know a lot of people are singing doom-and-gloom to print media, yet I don't see that at all in the near future. Books are not like VHS tapes with a solid run from the mid 80's to the mid 90's. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press sometime around 1439 and the printed word has been popular ever since. I think over the next years we will see a growth in the small press, and well as self published books. We will see most books come out in multiple formats, including e-readers. Large publishers will have to change to keep up with the times, striving to offer more choices to an audience who has realized they can get exactly what they want. One thing I do see dying is the local bookstore, which is unfortunate as it's truly a gem we will miss.

AC: If you could meet any one writer right now, who would you like to sit down and talk to over coffee?

TWA: Well, I guess that would depend on a number of things; living or dead, fiction or non-fiction. I will say one person whose writing has been a huge inspiration for me as well and millions of others is J.R.R. Tolkien. I've always felt he would be a fascinating man to talk to, and I think a cup of coffee would be the perfect way to chat with him. Although he's English, so we may have to sit down for tea. And he's dead so...

AC: What's coming up for you personally?

TWA: A lot, actually. I've been employed through the state as a Career Counselor for the past year or so, and unfortunately, with the lowering revenue base, that job will be ending. So over the next few weeks, I'll be trying to figure out what God has for me. Unfortunately, I am not yet to a point where I can make a living with DDM. One thing I do hope to do with the time is to get back and do some more writing again. I have a number of projects in the works including a Fantasy Epic, and a Space Opera serial, so let me encourage everyone out there to keep an eye out for them.

AC: How can we keep track of you and Digital Dragon Magazine?

TWA: Well the best place to keep track of Digital Dragon is at our website at: Also, check out our new magazine at: Finally, you can see what I have going on at my often not updated website:

In closing, I just really want to thank you, Johne, for taking a moment to speak with me about what has truly become a passion of mine. I hope you'll all check it out.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Fabulously Fun Friday ~ Writing In Tandem

Teacher Sharon Melnicer from Winnipeg recounted the following story.

I gave my Grade 12 English students a memorable assignment in the late 1990s, one that I used again several times.

I found the idea buried in a professional journal. It's a prime example of John Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

An English professor from the University of California described it in her instructions to a first-year English class: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the 'tandem story.' The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story.

"You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph and so on, back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely no talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

Here's what two of my students turned in. Let's call them Marla and Neil.

The Tandem Story:

(First paragraph by Marla) "At first, Betty couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favourite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Bruce, who once said, in happier times, that he also adored chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Bruce. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question. She'd switch to chai."

(Second paragraph by Neil) "Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Bruce Harrington, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Zontar 3, had more important things to think about than the neurotic meanderings of an air-headed, asthmatic bimbo named Betty with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. 'A.S. Harrington to Geostation 17,' he said into his transgalactic communicator. 'Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far ...' But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit."

(Later in the story: Marla) "Bruce struck his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Zontar 3. 'Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel,' Betty read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. ... "

(Even later in the story: Neil) "Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Meribian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted, bleeding-heart peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through parliament had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. ... The prime minister, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the floor of the Arctic Ocean, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, pathetic, stupid Betty."

(Marla) "This is absurd, Mrs. Melnicer. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent."

(Neil) "Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centred, tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. 'Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of freakin' TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air-headed bimbo who reads too many Jackie Collins novels!' "

(Marla) "Brain-dead jerk!"

(Neil) "PMS witch!"

(Marla) "Drop dead, you neanderthal!! "

(Neil) "In your dreams, you flake. Go drink some tea."

Time for the teacher to interject.

(Mrs. Melnicer) "I really liked this one. Good work!"
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do You Know What Your Characters Want? Part 2

Okay, so last time we talked about figuring out your character's desire. Hopefully you've all thought through your story and have been able to discern what it is your hero or heroine really wants, because if you don't know, it generally makes for some saggy story middles.

Let's talk now about a few more things to consider when it comes to character desire. 

First, you need to go through each of your main POV characters and make sure you know the desire of each one. (They don't have to mesh. In fact, opposing desires from various characters is a great way to introduce some conflict into your story.) Then look at each scene in your story and make sure your character is acting in accordance with that desire. If your character seems flat, look at their actions. Generally flat characters arise because the author didn't take the time to really figure out the character and what they wanted. Vacillating characters are not only annoying, but hard to relate to, and thus may appear contrived on the page. 

Second, once you've determined each characters' driving ambition you have to figure out when to introduce it in the story. Do they come into the story knowing what they want? Or does something happen to them at the beginning of the story to spur them along their chosen path, like Kino in the The Pearl

Thirdly, does your character's desire change part way through the story? A distinct possibility as your character grows and matures.

Some of the best story lines arise from characters whose desire is born through circumstances thrust upon them. Take Luke Skywalker, for instance. He didn't want to leave his home to save the universe, but when his uncle and aunt are killed, his path is immediately altered and suddenly he WANTS to do what he can to stop the madness.

Mitch McDeer, in John Grisham's The Firm, first wanted nothing more than to get into the law firm, but once inside he soon discovers that his desire has changed and he now wants out. This desire is thrust upon him due to the actions of others.

Any questions for me about character desire? Added thoughts? 

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Do You Know What Your Characters Want?

I recently had the privilege of sitting in a writer's class taught by prolific suspense author, Brandilyn Collins. Much of the information contained in this post came, either directly from her class, or from conversations with other writers afterward.

It has often been said that conflict is the catalyst that keeps readers connected to a tale and flipping pages madly. But if there is no underlying foundation of character desire in your story, then there will be no conflict. Desire drives conflict.

You have to know what your character wants in order to create conflict in your plot. If your character has nothing that motivates him, there is nothing to prop up the conflict obstacles that appear along his path.

Let's take a look at an example:

The Pearl by John Steinbeck.

Kino is a poor diver who has a wife and son that he can barely provide for. At the beginning of the book, Kino's son is attacked by a scorpion. They rush the boy to the doctor, but because they are so poor the doctor won't treat him and he almost dies. Kino loves his family very much and this frustrates him most grievously. However, Kino finds a large pearl on one of his dives. The most valuable pearl in the whole world.

Thus arises Kino's driving desire throughout the book.

Kino wants to 1. sell his pearl 2. for its full value so that he can 3. provide for his wife and son.

Can you immediately see how that raises the potential for conflict? There are all kinds of ways we can prevent Kino from achieving what he wants now. We can stop him from selling it altogether. We can tantalize him with a sale and then only offer him part of what it is worth. We can make the wife and son unappreciative of what he's trying to do for them. And so on.

The more detailed your character's desire, the more potential there is for great conflict.

Don't just say, "Tracy wants to make lots of money." Answer the why at the heart of their desire. "Tracy wants to 1. become the best sales associate at her company so that she can 2. improve her lifestyle and 3. hopefully attract the attention of Johnny Begood."

You'll find that as you nail down your character's desire, a lot of other questions about them will get answered, as well. For instance, why isn't Tracy the top associate right now? And why is her self-esteem so low that she feels the need for more money in order to attract Johnny Begood? The closer you get to nailing down their wants, the better you will know your character. Be sure to think things through carefully and make sure you have it totally figured out. A character desire that is a little off of plumb can throw the whole story into the Leaning Tower of Fiction.

So with these thoughts in mind... Anyone care to share the desire that drives your character throughout your story?

On Wednesday we'll talk a little more about character desire and how to create super stories.
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Fabulously Fun Friday: Perils of Book Signings

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do You Know What Your Characters Want?

Without question, the driving force of fiction is conflict, and the only way to create conflict is to create a character who wants something he can’t immediately have. This takes many different forms, everything from a bereaved father who wants vengeance, an orphan who wants a family, or a crook who wants to rob a bank. But the key factor in all good stories is giving characters a strong goal.

In Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger’s highly anticipated second novel, she masterfully keeps readers glued to her large cast of characters and their rather leisurely existence in a London block of flats by giving each character a strong goal. For the most part, her characters’ goals are simple and pedestrian, but the fact that they are clearly driven toward a desire and are taking steps to reach that goal, keeps readers flipping the pages to find out if they’ll achieve their objective and what they’re willing to do along the way to get there.

Goals are best when they’re something concrete. The character needs to physically do something to achieve this goal. Sitting around daydreaming about the goal doesn’t cut it. As in Niffenegger’s book, goals are strongest when they’re motivated by a deep and corresponding inner need, such as the grief that drives the vengeful father or the loneliness that fuels the orphan in search of a family. The effect will vary depending on your story’s needs, but just remember that strong characters always have strong goals.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Review of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas

Countless books have been written about the writing trade. Few, however, are able to achieve what this book does. In a witty, engaging style, Maas guides his readers upon a journey through the most important elements of crafting, not just a “breakout” novel, but a superb novel. Like so many authors have done in similar works, he discusses premise, time and place, characters, plot, and theme, as well as miscellaneous other factors. But, unlike so many other authors, he does more than simply point out the necessity of such components—he explains, using examples from an array of successful fiction, just how to achieve excellence in each of these areas.

Maas’s focus is primarily on bestselling genre fiction, and in some instances his emphasis can seem skewed toward writing stories that sell versus stories of quality. Happily, however, since the best stories often fit both categories, his information provides a useful foundation for any writer wanting a solid overview of the elements that constitute a good story.
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Fabulously Fun Friday ~ Write a Sentence that Illustrates a Redundancy

So what's your sentence?
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Show Me the Money! Guest Post by Lyn Cote

AuthorCulture welcomes the multipublished and award-winning author, Lyn Cote. Prepare for an eye-opening post:

Today, I'm parting the curtain and letting you know how much an author earns from writing a book. Of course, this varies widely from author to author and even from book to book by the same author. That's because it all depends on you-the readers who buy new books.

When I first began the trek to publication, my DH glimpsed the headline of a writing magazine which touted a first time author receiving a six figure advance. I grinned and said, "Honey, if that were commonplace, it wouldn't be on the cover of a national magazine." If you dream of six figures advances, drop by Brenda Hiatt's Show Me the Money for a reality check.

Look at the list and find Steeple Hill, the publisher of my Love Inspired mass market romances. (Mass market's what the small paperbacks that fit in your purses are called. The larger paperbacks are called trades or trade-size.)

Brenda uses three important phrases for writers:

1- advance or advance on royalties, which is what the publisher pays the author after approving a finished manuscript or a book proposal. (Its purpose is to keep the author alive till the book is on the shelves and earning royalties.)

2- earn-out, which is how much money the book brought in over the author advance. When the book comes out, the author receives no more money until the book has "earned-out" the advance on royalties.

3-standard royalty percentage-which is the amount of the price of the book that returns to the author in royalties. This varies with publishers.

Now to figure out what an author will make on a book in the form of a monthly income-

1-take the earn-out amount and divide it by six or twelve for the months that it takes to work through from inspiration to finished and accepted manuscript. If an author earns $7000 for a book but it took her six months to write, that's roughly $1100 a month. Not enough to quit her day job.

2-And notice the range of earn-out (what the book makes in royalties total including the advance.) It all depends on how many readers buy the book, and buy them new, not used. An author receives nothing for any book sold used or shared. The author receives a single sale to a library no matter how many times a book is checked out. (In Canada and many European countries, authors receive a stipend from the government according to how often their books are checked out at public libraries.)

So the next time you meet an author, unless you're shaking hands with John Grisham or J K Rowling, you are not shaking the hand of a wealthy person (unless they have already won the lottery or have a trust fund).

Writing is the road to fame and riches for very few. So why do we writers write? What's your guess about that? And are you surprised about what an author earns per book?

When Lyn Cote became a mother, she gave up teaching, and while raising a son and a daughter, she began working on her first novel. Long years of rejection followed. Finally in 1997, Lyn got "the call." Her first book, Never Alone, was chosen by Steeple Hill for their new Love Inspired romance line. Since then, Lyn has had over twenty-five novels published. In 2006 Lyn's book, Chloe, was a finalist for the RITA, one of the highest awards in the romance genre bestowed by Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Lyn’s brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories” always includes three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail and a multicultural cast of characters. Lyn also features stories of strong women both from real life and true to life fiction on her blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories (Lyn also can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Drop by and "friend" or "follow" her).

Now living her dream of writing at her lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, Lyn hopes her books show the power of divine as well as human love.

Keep an eye out for Lyn's newly released Her Abundant Joy, which can be purchased, among other retail sites, at her website, If you visit her blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories, this month and leave a comment, you'll be entered into a drawing for the book.

Final book in the Texas Star of Destiny series
Her Abundant Joy
Avon Inspire
ISBN # 978-0061373428
Tagline: Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

In 1846, young widow Mariel Wolfe survived the grueling voyage from Germany to start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Forced by circumstances to become a servant, Mariel is now determined to quit a harsh master. But how can a single woman face the frontier on her own?

Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of German immigrants safely through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high in spite of everything, he will stop at nothing to protect her.

But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes? Will the tide of history sweep them far from peace, far from a life together?

Lyn Cote
Her Abundant Joy 6-1-10
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