We have only one more week until Volition Agent releases for public sale. To honor this, and to get you wanting more, I’ve decided to share Chapter Two with all of you. If you haven’t yet, you can read chapter one here. Volition Agent releases on Kindle and Paperback on July 2nd. The Nook release is still TBD.
You can add Volition Agent to your Goodreads here, and please do.
If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can get an Advance Reader Copy in PDF or Kindle formats. All I ask is for a review on your blog. Contact me and we can discuss this.
If you want to pre-order your paperback copy of Volition Agent, you can do this through Createspace (an Amazon company), the book printer. If you order today, and use standard shipping, it should arrive very close to the release date (or earlier). There are currently no options to pre-order for Kindle. So if you’d like a Kindle copy early, the only way to get it is to be a book blogger/reviewer and get an ARC.
Here is Chapter 2:
Volition Agent: Chapter 2
Copyright Richard Flores IV
Lexia burst through the door into the alley, still cursing at Lance. She shut up when she saw the red and blue lights reflecting off the buildings. Lexia peaked around the corner slowly before pulling her head back.
“Please tell me that isn’t your car out front,” Lance said in her mind.
Lexia just nodded. She ran down the back of the alley. Two cops came around the back of the building.
“You, stop!” One ordered.
Lexia turned around and ran the other way. Two more came around the front of the building. Lexia looked back and forth at the cops. She took a few steps back and then ran her way through the door of the neighboring building.
She sprinted down the hall, ignoring the cops yelling at her. She hit the end of the building and came to a door. It was locked.
“Hurry up, Lance.”
“I didn’t exactly expect you to park right in front of the target.”
“This wasn’t an assassination assignment either,” Lexia said as the door clicked open. She sprinted up the stairs.
“She attacked us.”
“We’d disarmed her,” Lexia yelled.
“Listen, I handled it within regulations.”
“Regulations! She was a mom; that baby has no parents now thanks to your trigger finger.”
“Can we focus on getting out of here?”
They crashed through the last door and onto the roof. Lexia looked around quickly. “Well, how are we getting out of this?”
The building was shorter than the other two next to it. Three floors, if Lexia counted the flights correctly. This building was twice as wide too. She started to run to the back of the building. She could hear the cops coming up the last set of stairs. She looked over the edge. It backed up to the next street over. From down there she would have a better chance of escaping.
“No way,” she said.
“It’s a survivable jump.”
“It’s my broken bones.”
“You want to be arrested?” Lance’s voice rang through her head. “You know the rules.”
The Agency would disavow her in an instant. She looked back at the door. She took three steps back. “I don’t really have a choice.”
Lexia ran forward and jumped from the building. She opened her eyes for the landing just in time to see a cop car coming around the corner. Hitting the ground, Lexia rolled over several times. The cop car slammed on the brakes and swerved as she tumbled in front of it. The car hit a lamp post.
She jumped up in an instant and took off running down the street. Lexia heard more sirens in the distance, each getting closer. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw another cop car round the corner. The sound of the car behind her was close. She thought she could feel the heat of the engine as it barred down on her. At the last moment she cut down another alley.
Lexia heard the car screech to a halt. She looked over her shoulder to see another cop chasing her. She rounded a corner right into another dead end.
“Did you even look at any of the maps?” Lexia’s voice snipped at Lance.
“Shut up.” Lance’s voice chilled her spine.
The cop came around the corner. His gun pointed at Lexia.
“Hands up!” The cop ordered. Lexia was glad Lance listened. “Turn around slowly, in a complete circle.”
Lexia kept turning and turning until she spun one full time around and now faced away from the cop.
“Stop. Down to your knees.”
Lexia followed the instructions and put her arms on the back of her head. She waited nervously as she heard the cop approaching behind her. He was slow and methodical in his steps. She prayed Lance had a plan out of this.
She felt the handcuffs ratchet onto her right wrist. Just as the cop began to pull her wrist, Lexia dropped forward and pulled hard, toppling them both over. Her wrist screamed in pain as she grappled with the officer.
They rolled over and she managed to get a solid punch to his face. He shoved her off of him. Lexia began to topple backwards, but managed to catch her balance and lunged forward. Knocking the cop over again. Grappling with his arm until she finally pinned him to the ground, she pulled his arm behind his back. She used her other hand to flip open the cops handcuff case. She used his cuffs to restrain him. She pulled him up and sat him against the wall.
“I think he’s back here,” Lexia heard a voice yell out.
“I’m here!” The cop yelled.
Lexia knocked him out in one swift blow.
“Was that necessary?” Lexia asked.
“The fire escape,” Lance said.
Lexia looked up. She took a run, jumped up on a dumpster, kicked off the wall and just barely caught the bottom of the fire escape ladder. She pulled herself up quickly to the first landing. She checked the window, locked.
“Up there, on the escape!” A cop called out.
She scaled the next ladder and found an open window. Slipping inside, Lexia quickly made her way for the door. She flung it open and ran for the elevator. After hitting the button twenty times the elevator opened. Lexia pressed the basement button inside and leaned against the back wall trying to catch her breath.
“Now what?” She said between gasps.
“Basement parking garage.” Lance’s voice didn’t sound very reassuring in her head.
“They’re bound to have the building surrounded.”
The elevator opened. A strong odor of urine entered. Lexia peeked out cautiously. She didn’t see anyone among the dimly lit rows of parked cars. She ran until she spotted a sedan and walked around it. Taking the handcuff still hanging from her bleeding wrist, Lexia swung hard at the glass. First time nothing happened, just a loud noise that surely told everyone she was down here. The second time the window shattered.
“Well, they know we’re here now,” Lexia said as she slid into the car. “I don’t know how to hot-wire a car.”
“I do. So just let me work,” Lance said.
Lexia just let Lance have complete control as he went to work. The sound of the orphaned child’s cries rang in her mind. She couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d done. She was sure this wasn’t the first child whose parents she had killed, but she just couldn’t get the crying out of her head.
The engine roared to life. She sat up and put the car in reverse and pulled out slowly. As Lexia drove up the ramp she was kept her speed within reason. She was glad Lance didn’t want to draw attention.
She came out to the street and pulled away slowly. She was careful not to look in the direction of a cop, who was just coming out of the alley. Two more cop cars screamed past her. As she turned on the next street she gunned it.
“Can you get to the safe house from here?” Lance asked.
“I hope so.”
“Don’t go home until I can get things in place with The Agency.”
Crap! They got my car out front. It wouldn’t be long until they figure out who I am. How could I have been so stupid as to park nearby?
“Lexia, you understand?” Lance’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Go to the safe house, stay there. I’m jumping out.”
Copyright Richard Flores IV
Yesterday I did my first KDP Free Promotion. For those that don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has an option to sign up for KDP Select. This is a 90 day period where you allow Amazon (and by default Kindle) to be the only electronic form of your book sold. Some people balk at the exclusiveness this implies. But there are some pluses. You get to be part of the Kindle Prime Lending Library. This means that people can borrow your book for free and in return you get a part of the collective “pot” of money. I’ve not had any borrows yet. Some authors have told me that you get more borrows for higher priced books, since prime users can only borrow one book per month. I don’t know about that.
The other thing you get to do is pick five days per 90 day period to make your book free. You don’t have to do that. You don’t even have to pick the days when you publish your book. You can go back and set up your days when you want. You can do all five together or pick and choose a few days spread out. The choice is entirely up to you.
As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I made Dissolution of Peace free in honor of Veterans day in the United States. It was free on all Amazon sites globally. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to see how well this KDP Free Promotions thing would work. Second, I have a special place in my heart for those that serve in the armed forces. It may even be why I enjoy writing military fiction. So I decided to honor those people in a way that was important to me.
The real question is, do promotions like this work?
Success is truly something only you can decide. But, I will show you what it did for me in just the one day since the promotion. You can decide from there if it could be successful for you.
I would also like to point out that I did not market my free book on anything other then this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook. I didn’t announce it on one the the many free eBook blogs. I just spread the word myself.
Getting Books in the Hands of Readers
The point in writing a book is to have it read. I’ve stressed that making money is not my goal in writing. My goal is to get readers and maybe get a few fans who want to read anything I write. So did the promotion get my book in the hands of readers. With out a doubt it is a huge success in that fashion.
In Amazon US, I had about 19 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. Nineteen times more readers in one day then in the four weeks since my book was released.
In Amazon UK, I had 88 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. The UK was phenomenal in this free promotion. I’ll get to more on that soon.
In Amazon Germany, I had 7 times more downloads yesterday then in the four weeks since it was released.
I even had my first download in Italy.
In comparison to other promotions I have done, this was by far the most successful. My own eBook giveaways resulted in only around 10 free eBooks being given away. This includes those sent to reviewers. But if I wanted to get more readers, this was certainly a great way to do it. They may not read it right away, I am sure there are people who just won’t pass up free, but there a whole lot more people with copies of my book now. This means there are a lot more people in the pool to write reviews, tell their friends, and look for future titles I release.
Creating Awareness of my Book
This is a really hard thing to do. Getting your book noticed by potential buyers is very hard for any author, especially the indie author. You are fighting an up hill battle with major authors, major publishers, and the rest of the indie market. It is not easy to be noticed.
One way to get noticed is on Amazon’s Best Seller Lists. The thing that always frustrated me about many “help” sites that talk about these best seller lists don’t let you know the secrets to getting on the lists. The truth is the secret is simply getting sales. But Amazon does one great thing here. The Best Seller Lists of the Top 100 eBooks sold is listed right next to the Top 100 Free eBooks. Number 5 in sales is right next to number 5 in free.
This means that when someone is looking for the best sellers on science fiction ebooks, they are also seeing the best sellers in free science fiction ebooks. You still have to get the downloads to get on the list, but you can get a lot of benefit once you get on the list. If nothing more than getting the cover of your book seen by more eyes.
I mentioned how great the UK was in this free promotion. The first time I checked my Amazon UK page yesterday was at 10:16 in the morning. My book had only been free for ten hours, which is a fair amount of time, especially considering the time difference. But at that point I was #48 on the Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks. And by the end of the promotion I was #19. In that time I had been on the same page as H. P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and more. I was even next to George R.R. Martin at one point. That is some good company to hang out with, even on a virtual level.
In the US, it was a slower start. This, in part, has to do with two factors. First, the US site has a much larger pool of shoppers. They include India, and many other places that don’t have their own sites. But, KDP free events also start at 12:01 am Pacific time. Right when most of the US is still asleep. But by 12:45 pm, twelve hours into the the promotion, I was on the top 100 list at number 61. And by the time it was over, I had made it to 28. So while the UK really came through on the Best Seller’s list, the US still put me along side the great names of Science Fiction past and present.
I would say that overall that is a successful way of gaining exposure to my book. I don’t know how many people browse the Top Sellers list. But I do know that I often look for books online this way. So overall even if I didn’t get downloads, people saw my book cover. And book covers are the brand image of books. Like all brands, the more the image is seen the more it becomes known and in some cases trusted.
You might be wondering where my book ranked at in the over all ranking for Free eBooks. In the US it was #779 and in the UK it was #425. Not bad considering how many thousands, probably millions, of books are on Amazon.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth advertising is probably some of the best. People often choose books based on the recommendations of friends and family. While I doubt anyone recommended my book the same day they downloaded it. I got far more downloads then I have Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers. This means people had to hear about it from other people. So people were at least mentioning my book. I also noticed that many people were downloading my book in the US before it broke on to the top 100 list. So they had to find it some other way.
But this huge pool of new readers who downloaded my book will contribute to the word of mouth advertising that will continue to increase traffic to my book. And will hopefully increase my sales volume.
I don’t know if this will increase my reviews. Before the promotion I had two Amazon reviews, and one Amazon UK review. But, the increased reader pool also means an increased reviewer pool. So that has to cause a higher chance of being reviewed. But only time will tell on this.
Again, only time will tell on this. But my point has never been to get money. Some people see the free book giveaway as nothing but lost revenue. But to date, nothing has got Dissolution of Peace in the hands of more readers than the Amazon free promotion. I’ve never thought of writing as a way to make money. For me it is has been about readers, and maybe making enough money to cover the costs associated with publishing it. Would I complain if my book starts flying off the shelves? Of course not. That is the goal of most writers, but not for the sake of money but for the sake of the volume of readers.
From what I have heard from others, the sales will increase but that takes time.
I can’t really see it any other way. KDP has hit a home run with the idea of allowing authors five days to make the book free. And if you use those days through out your 90 day period as a promotional tool, you can really gather a lot of new readers. And many readers who might not have otherwise picked up your book. I’ll likely do another two or three of these free promotional things in the next few months. I see nothing but success here. And if I enjoyed this much success with limited announcement outlets, imagine if I branched out from my circle of followers.
Of course, many people are turned off be the exclusiveness of KDP Select. They feel like they are excluding a market of readers that use other eReaders. Personally I have had little request for ePub format. But, 90 days is a relatively short time. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew it. Personally I think it is worth a try.
When I started out as a writer, I went to work with short stories. There are tons of markets to share my stories with. When I got my first form letter rejection, I wasn’t surprised. I’d known rejection was part of the game and I had been warned that most markets use the Form Letter for rejections. The question no one could really answer clearly was: Why?
I’d first been told it was because of the sheer volume of submissions. Which I wasn’t sure about since I didn’t think it took but two seconds more to tell me why I was rejected.
I was told it has to do with editor policy. Which is true, but doesn’t really answer the why.
I was told it was just the industry standard. Again true, but not really why.
The point is, every writer danced around the topic because frankly none really knew why. We just accepted it as the way of the writing world, and went with it. After all there really isn’t anything any of us can do to change it, unless we all just stopped sending in submissions. But I’m not going to stop sending in submissions over the type of rejection I get.
I’ve been running Plasma Frequency now for five months and we’ve put out two issues. And up until yesterday we offered personal rejections on every submission. Even as our large volume of submission came in, we continued to provide personal rejection letters. Why did we do that? I thought that was what writers wanted. They wanted to be told why their story was rejected. They wanted to learn from the rejections. They wanted to know if the editor even finished manuscript. And if not, why. So I thought, lets tell them.
The problem is this. Authors don’t really want to know. Not truly. When they find out from the editor that the opening was boring, it upsets them more than the form letter did. When an editor say the manuscript wasn’t formatted and submitted correctly, they get aggravated they were rejected on a technicality. When the editor says the story was great but doesn’t fit the publication, they get mad that the publication doesn’t accept “great” stories.
I realize this is an over generalization. I get upset at personal rejection from time to time, but I really appreciate that they took the time to tell me why. And in the end, like most writers, I just move on. I fix the problem, or don’t, and send it off to the next place.
The problem is that there are a significant number of authors who are not professional enough to move on. They have to say something back. Those authors should read my blog post, “Inside an Editor’s Mind (Tips for Writers)”. The problem is they are rarely correct in their anger, and it is almost always misplaced.
My staff and I have been threatened, cursed at, CAP LOCKED, and cyber bullied. I already nearly lost one editor because of it. Here are some of the things we’ve gotten back from authors.
“Well you would know about “overly sexual” you whore.”
“I will find everything any of you have ever written and I will ensure everyone I know rates it as poorly as possible.”
“You can suck my dick!”
“I consider myself above your petty opinions.”
“You must be sleeping with the Lead Editor to get your job.”
“I will tell everyone about your lack of professionalism.”
“YOU CAN ALL EAT SHIT!”
“You are by far one of the UGLIEST people I’ve seen.”
“I will find you and you will regret rejecting ME.”
Your first thought might be that we are doing something wrong. That we are rude in our personal rejection. But I discovered I am not the only one getting this behavior, we just rarely talk about it.
John Joseph Adams, editor for Lightspeed, and in my opinion one of the better editors in the business recently tweeted: “This week, have been both called a “tool” for rejecting someone & had a writer reply “FUCK YOU!!!” Still so surprising when people do this.”
While he is one of the only ones I know to publicly say so, many other editors have privately shared the same types of stories. Writers who complain about how unprofessional we are, while writing to us in an unprofessional manner. Frankly it is embarrassing to writers as a whole, and if we editors wanted to be truly unprofessional we’d share with you their names so you could rise up against them. Because the fact remains that the main reason editors stop providing personal rejections is because of the abuse that writers like these give us.
The problem here is the professional divide. There are many websites warning writers of bad editors. Editors that take advantage of writers. There should be. There are also plenty of people who take to the internet in persecution of an editor or a company simply because of a rejection letter. That is not right. I personally have yet to find a website that warns editors of unprofessional writers. Writers who say things that I’ve mentioned above.
Why? We have to take the high road. We have to be professional and accept that is is part of our job. We are trying to give our opinions to help you understand why your story didn’t make the cut. They are our opinions. We are then persecuted, bullied, and abused for giving those opinions. We just wanted to help. It makes many editors quit. And as their boss, I can’t really allow it to happen. We can take limited steps to protect ourselves, such as switching to form rejection. That is why we, at Plasma Frequency, stopped providing personal rejections to first read rejections. We hope to continue to provide them to second and third read rejections. Hopefully the writers at that level can handle our opinions.
Once again, I recognize that most writers don’t behave this way. This might come off as a bit of rant. And in a way it is.But the point is, it is my opinion that many publications use form letters simply because of the abuse the get if they used personal rejections.
Of course, as an editor I still very much respect writers. I am thankful for the submissions we get. I couldn’t run my magazine with out them. I’ll likely still send out a few personal rejections to those who might appreciate the opinion.
I am blogging a lot later tonight because I spend my day time editing Dissolution of Peace. Though I finally went through all my editors notes, I am not finished. My editors made nearly 3,000 line by line comments on my manuscript and also provided me with four full pages of comments and suggestions. I still have 70 to correct, but I made the decision to fix what was easiest first. The points of story and character, I’ll go back and review. It was a lot of work just to correct those other 2930 comments, but many of those were punctuation mistakes, grammar mistakes, and typos.
Grammar is a touchy issue with me. It is also a pit fall of mine. I’m not afraid to mention that. But I do become incredibly grouchy when grammar mistakes are pointed out to me, especially in social settings. And while a few simple mistakes may not ruin a story for a reader, major slip ups will. And a pile of minor slip ups can make a mountain that becomes distracting. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and for that reason I dreaded reading these comments.
But if grammar bothered me, I was more worried that the editor would have listed a huge amount of plot problems. Or tell me he hated the story line all together. Thankfully I didn’t get that. There were even some plot points I was worried about that my editor made no comments on.
But in the end my editor caught 3,000 mistakes (in his opinion) that my three beta readers missed. That is 3000 things that were not brought to my attention before I hired an editor. And this is exactly why you need to hire an editor, especially for your longer projects. I don’t hire an editor for my short stories, it doesn’t make financial sense to me. But I will hire an editor for all of my novellas and novels.
Beta readers help you find those plot mistakes, story flow problems, and gauge overall reader enjoyment. Editors break out the find tooth comb and check for all the little mistakes (and even some big ones). Think of Beta readers as sand paper, they smooth out the story. And Editors are polish, they make the story shine.
There are some things you have to look for when you hire an editor:
First, do they have any editing experience. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they have edited. Don’t be afraid to ask other writers for recommendations. And do a search for information about that editor. Check out their website and other people’s posts about them. Ask for references. Remember you are hiring them.
See if you can get a sample. Many editors will provide a small sample of their work. Some won’t but I’d suggest they do. Even if it is just a few pages. If not, but you know they are a good editor. Find out what you get for the money you are paying. Some editors charge a lot of money just to give you a summary of thoughts. While others will offer line by line edits. Always ask if it includes proofreading. Some editors don’t consider proofreading part of editing. It is semantics if you ask me, but that is why you should always check.
Find out a deadline. Make sure the editor gives you a timeline. Don’t dump hundreds of dollars on an editor that plans to take an excessive amount of time on your manuscript. You may have to pay more if you want a rush on your edits, and you may pay less if you allow the editor some extra time. Again, establish that up front.
Last find out if your editor will continue to help you if you fail to understand his notes. Some editors charge for the markups and a separate fee if you want further opinion later. Others are willing to help you through the whole process up to publication for no extra charge.
Tips for handling editor markups:
Just like when you get feedback from Beta Readers, the feedback from an editor does not mean you have to change something. There were a number of suggestions my editor made, that I won’t be changing. Most of these are a simple matter of opinion. But, remember you are hiring an editor to provide you a professional opinion. So if you are not sure you agree with an editor remark, look it up for yourself. For example, my editor marked that “sickbay” should be “sick bay”. I won’t be changing that because my research shows that many naval traditions refer to it as one word, sickbay. So I will keep it that way. My editor is not wrong for marking that, I just prefer it the one way. The plus side is that by him pointing it out, I realized that in some parts of my manuscript I had it as two words. So for consistency I fixed that.
That being said, never ignore an editor’s comments. They marked it for a reason. Good editors will also explain why they marked it that way. Mine did. I was also able to research it myself. I learned from it and now I know a lot more than I did in the beginning. There were a few times I thought I had done something right, but when I went and looked it up I was wrong. Don’t ignore a comment, learn from it even if you don’t change it.
Next, bit of advice is not to be overwhelmed. It is pretty scary when you see all those red markups on your manuscript. At first I didn’t really want to move forward on the edits. I was intimidated by the volume of notes. But I told me self I’d start working my way down. Anything that required extra thought I would skip. I would fix all the typos, punctuation, and grammar errors and other simple fixes. That got the ball rolling. And soon you realize that you repeat a lot of mistakes. For me, punctuation at the end of dialogue was a pit fall for me. That was probably the number one punctuation fix for me. A few spelling errors.
And a lot of repeated words. When I started to find out my editor was marking repeated words, I was a bit mad. I didn’t see the importance in it. I thought it was something trivial and a matter of opinion. But when I got back my manuscript I found that my characters “smile” a lot. They “stated” everything. And they “look” all over the place. And a lot of the time I used all three of those words as a filler. Something a simple “said” would work for. Or sometimes the sentence could be removed with no effect on the story.
My last tip for handling big project edits is not to read while you edit. If I had reread my entire novel while working on the edits it would have taking far longer. I simply went from comment to comment and corrected what was wrong. I only read the area of the comment to get the context. It helped me power through those thousands of comments leaving the real meat of the edit there. I will now read through the novel and as I hit the comments left behind I can decide how to best correct those.
I don’t need an editor.
If you are writing a novel (or even a novella) you are wrong. You may plan to publish the traditional way, or you may plan to self publish. Either way you need an editor.
If I was submitting my manuscript to an editor at a publishing house, I’d have just submitted them a manuscript with 3,000 errors on it. That is 3000 things the publisher will notice. I think my current manuscript would have a better chance of being picked up simply because I correct so many errors.
If I self published my manuscript, it would have went to readers with 3,000 mistakes on it. That could very well add up to low sales. And the number one way a self published author gets (or loses) sales is word of mouth. There is rarely a large marketing budget for the self published author. So hiring an editor is the best way to invest what little money you have available to improve your work.
Every writer needs an editor. At least one.
Who did I use?
I am sure you wonder who I used for my editor. I used Robert Wilson, editor for Nightscape Press. Robert is a self published author of multiple top rated novels and novellas, including the only Vampire novel I have truly enjoyed: Shining in Crimson. Robert was also an editor for Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology and is a freelance editor. His rates are reasonable (you can contact him about that). His work is very in-depth. He even took time to look up facts about how military ranks are capitalized, since this was his first story that dealt with so many ranks. I think that speaks volumes right there. He took the time to make sure he has it right. He provided me broad notes and line by line edits/proofreading. As I mentioned he took the time to point out repeated words. He did this by highlighting them a different color than the comments, and that was really helpful. It made them stand out and I really saw how much I was using some words. Overall, I highly recommend him. And I will use him again (provided he can stand working with such a needy writer again).
Last week I blogged about the different types of publishers. Well over the last week, mainly the last two days, there is a blog post that is going viral in the writing community. I thought I would talk a little bit about it, and in this community we all want to learn from each other (even our mistakes).
Mandy DeGeit published a post called “When Publishing Goes Wrong…Starring Undead Press“. If you haven’t read it, please do. The language is strong but if this happened to me, mine would be too. In short, Mandy wrote a story called “She makes me smile” and it was excepted by Undead Press for their anthology Cavalcade of Terror. Needless to say, Mandy rushed to read her work in this anthology. She opened it up to find the title had a typo (adding an apostrophe where there shouldn’t be one). I wish it ended there. However the editor took out whole chunks of her narrative and even added a very poorly written paragraph. Not to mention adding a gender to a genderless character.
Mandy contacted the publisher, which is a one man company run by Anthony Giangregorio (who also runs Open Casket Press and Living Dead Press), and she received a very unprofessional response. One that included vague legal threats. It appears this is not the only unprofessional issue he has had. It appears a soon to be released Anthology World’s Collider had some issues as well (read about those here).
Long story short this was a very bad press, run by someone without much skill in the area of business relations. It is a very unfortunate thing but fortunately writers and other independent presses have risen up to effectively cause some disturbances to Mr. Giangregorio’s businesses. On the heals of DeGeit’s post, Undead Press announced it would only be accepting submissions from authors living in the United States (DeGeit lives in Canada). I’m sorry Mr. Giangregorio, nation of residency had nothing to do with this. Today, as I write this blog, I can no longer seem to find Undead press on Facebook. Thanks to authors everywhere taking action and declaring this unfair and wrong, we can all hope Mr. Giangregorio doesn’t do business again. I encourage you to read Mandy’s article and then tweet it, post it, and reblog it until we see nothing more of Giangregorio.
Your first thought might be to steer clear of independent presses all together. While I can’t speak for DeGeit, I don’t think that was the intentions of her post. It was a warning beacon to us all to carefully check out an editor and publisher before doing business with them. I still champion smaller presses, in fact I am starting a magazine of my own, but we all have to be aware of what to look out for when we get ready to be published. Here are some tips:
- Research the publisher before submitting. See what they publish. See if they have had any complaints. If they are a new publisher, that is not a red flag. Red flags include multiple name changes, no contracts to sign, poor reviews by other authors, and negative ratings on social sites.
- You take no risk by submitting your work to a publisher. Remember, until you sign the contract you can walk away at any time. If something doesn’t feel right, you don’t agree with wording in an acceptance, or if you just don’t like their publication any longer, you can walk away. And you should. No publisher, at least the good ones, want you to commit to something you are not comfortable with. It is easy to be excited over that acceptance letter, but don’t let your excitement blind you.
- Read the entire contract for yourself. Read every section of the contract word for word. Look for things that are either vague or overly complicated. Make sure the contract is something you can live with before you sign it. If not, ask the company to make changes to it. If they can accommodate you, or at least meet you half way, most publishers will try. If they can’t or won’t you can walk away.
- Editing is important. Nearly every contract has an editing clause in it. It should only allow for punctuation, grammar, and formatting. There should always be a line in there that says something to the nature of “All other changes must be agreed to in writing.”
- Always make sure payment terms are laid out. When will you be paid, how much you will be paid, and how you will be paid should all be spelled out. Typically pay times range from the day you sign the contract to 30 days after publication.
- When working with a publisher, MONEY SHOULD ALWAYS FLOW IN THE DIRECTION OF THE WRITER. That means no reputable publisher will ever charge you any fees to publish with them. Bottom line, no excuses. They pay you for your talent and that is it. I can’t stress this enough. Do not pay a publisher a dime, or even a cent!
- Rights is another important area on the contract. First Print and First Electronic rights are common (meaning your story is first being published with them). Rights typically last for only 365 days on short stories (with an option to extend say for a yearly anthology). Anything longer than that seems outrageous to me.
- Keep copies of any emails, letters, or other correspondence you have with the staff of the publisher. This may be very important if something comes to dispute. Keep a file cabinet for that stuff.
- It is not uncommon for an editor to ask for changes to be made. Usually this is done before acceptance and contract signing (in the form of a rewrite request). You don’t have to rewrite it and you don’t have to resubmit it to them even if you do rewrite it. If you don’t like their changes don’t change it. If requests are done after contract signing, you should be the only one to rewrite your story. Again, all parties should have to agree to this in writing per the contract.
- Know your opt out clauses. Know certain situation where it is okay for either you or the publisher to choose not to publish any longer. This could be a mutual withdrawal, such as if publisher and writer can not agree on a change. Or there could be other clauses thrown in there (don’t sign the contract if you don’t like it).
- I may have said this before, but if there is no contract then DO NOT PUBLISH, with them. Contracts are in place to protect you, just as much as they are there to protect the publisher.
Most independent publishers are reputable businesses that work to help writers reach the goal of being published. They share the desire to entertain readers. Every now and then a publisher surfaces that needs to be stopped. That is when we as writers and publishers unite to keep the problems out. I have to thank Mary DeGeit for being bold enough to share this and sound the alarm. I’d like to thank everyone else for taking her story and sharing it everywhere they can.
It is funny that most people ask me the question: Should I self publish or should I try the traditional publisher? There are other options for publishing your book that just those two options. We’ll explore some of those with this post. I’ll give you my thoughts on each of these, and you can give me your thoughts in the comments.
The Conglomerate Publisher
We like to say “Traditional Publisher” but truthfully traditions are changing and the term doesn’t really fit anymore. And, truth be told, traditional publishing can be divided up. So we’ll talk about the conglomerate publisher. These are the big guys in publishing. Orbit Books, Tor, Del Rey, Bantam, Baen, and Scholastic are just a few examples. And, if you look most of those up you will find a parent corporation they are under. The parent corporation often has a number of press names they use depending on the genre. They employe a ton of editors, copywriters, printers, and basically just a lot of employees that work to publish books.
Advantage: Well they are the big guys. Land a deal with them and you are likely to get exposure in a wide market area. They will handle most of your book’s marketing. They have the ability to print out mass copies. They may offer you a higher advance and royalties too (maybe).
Disadvantage: Getting accepted is hard. Many talented authors spend a lot of time just to get rejected from these guys. Nearly everybody submits to them. You often have to sell off a lot more copies to pay off your advance (they have a higher overhead then any other option). Even if you do get published you tend to find that it takes a long time to get anything going. And, I see a lot of people published by these conglomerates that are still marketing the heck out of their own works. The other HUGE disadvantage is that authors often think getting published by these guys guarantee a hit novel, it doesn’t. Plain and simple these guys can do little to make you any better of a writer and story teller.
The Mid-level Publisher
A lot of sites go straight from Conglomerate to Independent when they talk about types of publishers. But there are a few mid-level publishing companies. These companies may be only big in one genre, or maybe are big in one country. The main difference here is that they tend to publish more books then the independent publisher, but not as many as the conglomerates.
Advantage: They handle the major marketing. They can produce a moderate amount of books at one time. They offer you a good advance and royalties. They tend to have a smaller overhead which means more profit margin and hopefully more money in your pocket.
Disadvantage: Acceptance is still hard. Exposure is not as big, but in the days of the internet and Amazon it is getting much better. There can still be lengthy delays from acceptance to publish date.
The Independent Press
This is often confused with someone who sits in their basement printing books. That is not the case. These are simply smaller companies working to publish books. They tend to specialize is a genre or two. They often only have one or two editors (sometimes more). They often don’t work to make huge profits. Sometimes they are Sole Proprietorships (one owner) or Partnerships. But many are now LLC, LLP, or even incorporating.
Advantages: Acceptance times are often faster. They are far more approachable. They will market your book as well. And, with the internet as big as it is. They are often on the virtual shelves of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and their own private stores. They often pay lower advances but higher royalties (though not always). It often takes less sales to “burn off” the advance and start earning royalties. They are in the business of getting good writers out to the readers that other presses are simply over looking. But, you will find more and more authors are going with smaller presses to get their voice heard. First, you still have to market your book no matter what way you go about this. Here you get a little help. Plus, even if your Novel is rejected. The smaller presses are far more likely to tell you why. Giving you a chance to fix the mistake and try again.
Disadvantage: They simply aren’t the big guys. Most don’t stock book shelves of brick and mortar book stores. But, some do. But with how many books are purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. It is starting to be irrelevant. Last, many authors worry about using a Independent press simply due to brand recognition factors. But, I frankly never looked at who published a book until I started writing. Most readers don’t care who published it, only how the story is written.
A vanity press is often confused with a Independent Press. But they are vastly different. A vanity press publishes almost every thing they are sent, provided you cut them a check. That’s right. You pay them to publish your book. They offer many of the services other presses offer, editors, marketing, ect. But you have to pay for it. They slap a publishers name on it and sell it. They came is to play when self publishing was hard, and carried a much more negative image then it does today.
Advantages: Frankly it is hard for me to think of any. Money should always flow in the direction of the author. I suppose if you wanted to self publish, but didn’t want to let people know you did it. This is the way. But why?
Disadvantages: It’s a rip off. Frankly they over charge for just about everything. You may as well hire a good independent editor, and publish it yourself. Or better yet, give a few of these Independent Publishers a shot and not have to pay a dime.
This is just as it sounds you self publish your works. You pay for the cover art (or make it yourself), you solely market, you format it on Createspace, KDP, or where ever. You are the publisher of your own book.
Advantages: No middleman to work with. You get final say on everything. You do it all. You are guaranteed to get published.
Disadvantages: You do it all. Self publishing is the most underestimated form of publishing. It is by far the most work. You have to pay for an editor (and you really need to do that if you plan to self publish and maybe even if you plan to use a different method). Sure you could just take your story, look it over and then throw it together on KDP and tell you friends to go buy it. But, is that really getting published? Or just perpetuating the stereo type that nothing good is ever self published? Of everything I mentioned here, self publishing is the hardest.
You can see there are a lot of options, you can choose what works for you. I strongly recommend that you look at them all. I think Independent Presses give you the best balance between self publishing and “traditional” publishing. That is just my opinion though. Perhaps in another post I’ll highlight a few independent presses that specialize in certain genres. If you know of one, visit the contact page and let me know.
I can’t believe we’re already six days into March. A lot has happened since my last updates and as a result my regular scheduled blogs had been disrupted. I hope to start posting every week again, but instead of Sundays it will be on Tuesdays. So keep an eye out for regular blogs posts again, hopefully I can keep up the advice blogs.
Let’s start with some personal updates. I spent President’s Day weekend moving. I didn’t move far, just back to my hometown of Vacaville, but the move still took three days. My advice… DON’T USE BUDGET. I reserved a truck with Budget Truck rentals, and AFTER I confirmed the reservation they decided to tack on a $200 deposit. Had the online reservation tool mentioned that prior to confirmation I would have canceled. So, I called Budget and told them I wanted to cancel. They charged me $50 to do that. I can’t possibly believe that the 10 minutes from the time I pressed confirm to the time I canceled, inconvenienced them that much.
Well, that took away half my moving truck budget and made it impossible for me to rent from anywhere else. So I had to move my whole three bedroom house with my minivan. That made the move tiring, exhausting, and LONG. But we got everything moved but we are still working on unpacking.
I finished that move on a Monday and started my new job on the Wednesday after I had been out of work for just under a year. I know many other people have been out of work even longer so I feel blessed and fortunate to have found work. That being said, it is still hard to get back into the rhythm of working full time after so many days off. I hope to get a schedule figured out soon so that I can fit in my scheduled writing and gym time. But it feels good to have a reliable income again.
On the writing front, I haven’t got much done. My January short story is still in it’s infancy. I think it is just short and it needs to be developed more. I didn’t get one done in February, but I may start in on another novel based on the Characters and world of “Dream Job” (you can read it here in the first issue of Cygnus Journal).
The two short stories I have out are still making their rounds. “Miles from the Future” recently received another rejection. However it was a rare personal rejection explaining that it made it all the way to final stages, but was apparently just nudged out by other works. I am debating on where to send it next. I have a very promising story called “Compassionate Death” that is currently still circling with some Pro Markets. I haven’t got much feedback on it from editors, but my trial readers really seemed to enjoy it. I think it could still be some time before either one is published, but I look forward to when I can share them with you.
My son’s Children’s Book, Daddy is Tired, has hit yet another road block in its journey to publication. The illustrator has developed a medical issue that has impacted her drawing arm. While it is not anything major (as in life threatening) it is very painful. I hope she can get the treatment she needs and gets well soon. There is one plus side. I did get this sample image to share with you all:
My recently completed first draft for my untitled novel, is still resting. I plan to get to the first rounds of edits this month, schedule permitting. I am excited to get that one out to you guys as well. I know it is a bit premature but I already wonder about cover art for that one. I also hope the sample readers like it. It will be a ton of work, and I do intend to use professional help for the final draft. But that is still a long while away. If I can think of a good title, I will certainly share it with you guys.
On this blog, I plan to work on another help piece for authors on the subject of properly critiquing other writer’s works. I have found that helping others with their works has helped my writing improve more than any other method. In any case, I am not sure if that post will be out next week or the week after.
But, I will have something to share with you next week. So, until then, happy writing. As always you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
A lot has gone on since I wrote my January Updates in the first part of January. There are new announcements and progress reports to share. Let’s get started, shall we.
On February 5th, I finished the first draft of my still untitled novel. It game is at just over 67,000 words and only took forty seven days start to finish. As I mentioned before, I didn’t write everyday. Life gets in the way sometimes. So, it took 21 days of writing. I am pleased to be finished, but now the real work starts. There are many other steps ahead and I will probably start the self editing in March.
I did write a January short story. I put it out for critiques and the overwhelming response is that it seems unfinished. I originally wrote it with a quick little idea, thinking a flash piece. But it seems it needs some expanding. The problem is, I am not sure where I will go from here. We will see.
Daddy is Tired, the children’s picture book, is still waiting on the illustrator. So, unfortunately there is no cover art to show you yet. I also don’t think a March release will happen either. The lead time from the publisher is lengthy. So, perhaps April. The illustrator has told me she will be staying up late tomorrow and hopes to finish then. Official release dates will be announced as soon as I have them.
I’ve done a lot of reading since I finished Shining in Crimson by Robert S. Wilson. I read Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card and The NanoTech Murders by Lee Gimenez (review here). Right now I am reading I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I know it is amazing that I have not read this book yet, not sure why I never got to it but I am reading it now. Once I finish that, I will have to head back to the book store.
I’m planning a move any day now. I plan to move back to Vacaville, my hometown here in California. I’m living just up the road in a neighboring city right now. We moved here for cheaper rent, but we miss home (even with it being so close) and we hope to move before March 1st. But, that may not be possible. It all depends on if we hear back from the applications we have put in.
Well, that’s the updates for February. We’ll have to touch base on these again in March. Hopefully then I will have release dates and other fun stuff to share.
I haven’t mentioned this much, maybe a few posts here and there, but I love video games. Like many people in my generation, I have grown up with the video game industry. As it has grown so have I. I started with Mario on the NES, and this week I began playing Battlefield 3 for my PC. That is a lot of growth in a short amount of time.
Just like writing, I don’t have as much time for games as I used to. In life, you have to make time for the things you love to do. So I make time for the games when I can. And, of course, when a new game I love comes out (such as Battlefield 3) I tend to spend a lot of time with it. And, while getting my butt kicked last night, I thought a lot about my uncontested favorite video games: Tomb Raider. It got me thinking about a different aspect of video game evolution. So this morning, I figured I better get this blog out now before I started in on the Battlefield.
Its easy to notice the evolution of graphics, controls, consoles, or even the sheer size of the games. But, story telling has almost become a requirement in the video game world. Take a look at the original Mario Bros., a game that is still great today, but really tells a limited story. Scroll Right and save the princess. The story has since grown, so that even the newest Mario games have a far more detailed story.
But stories have gotten even more important in the over all game play. Characters’ stories are often crafted and even the slightest of changes are contested by the fans. Katie Fleming, the Queen of Tomb Raider Fandom, recently hosted a Youtube video debate on the changes to Lara Croft’s character bio. I mention this because it demonstrates the affect of story telling on today’s games. This was a very passionate debate by loving fans to Lara and the Tomb Raider franchise. There is true love there for the character and her story.
People can now get even more immersed in the game world by an entertaining story, a creative world to be explored, characters you care about, and a protagonist you love to hate. Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? The same recipe for a good story has now become the recipe for a good game. Games have become more about being playable stories then just a game. I have spent many nights up late playing one more “level” just to find out what happens next in the story. Just as I have done so many times with the pages of a book.
I think the evolution of gaming in the direction of story telling started early. Almost all games had a story of some sort. But, it has become so important now that even games like Battlefield 3, that are primarily played for their massive multi-player interaction, have ensured they have a story to go with their game. Picking up a gun and shooting other players has no longer become good enough for most of the gamers.
With the development of another Tomb Raider in the works, story telling comes to the forefront again. Almost all the buzz about this game has been about the story: The reinventing of Lara (again) for our playing enjoyment. I have not heard much talk of graphics, moves, or controls. The talk has been about Lara’s new look, the story of Lara’s past, and the world she will be stuck in. The same things I talk about (and look for) in a good book.
In fact, video game characters have made the move into other story telling medium as well. Of course you have movies like Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, and Prince of Persia. Tomb Raider had a great run of Comic Books. Some have even made their way into novels. In fact, if the right people are reading this I should note that I would love to write a Tomb Raider Novel (HINT HINT SHAMELESS PLUG).
As a writer you may have considered writing a novel, a comic book, or even a movie. But the world of video games offers another chance for story telling. And, video gamers can be the most fun and challenging group to write for. We love our games, their characters, their worlds, and the story they have to tell.
Now if you will excuse me, I am needed on the Battlefield.