A WARNING TO WRITERS AND A SOLUTION

Are you looking for a publisher to help get your book ready? Cover, edits, proofing, layout, uploading, marketing…these are all aspects involved. And there are many publishing companies willing to help you. You may have seen a few on television commercials, some with a religious element, others just a lot of empty promises. So how can you tell?

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

I’ve been a writer and a publisher for many years. I’ve seen many companies come and go, offering all elements for a fee, or sharing the royalty you make. Deciding on a company is easy; if they charge you anything, run as fast as you can!  But be warned, even those that claim to have no costs, may have costs that are only listed in the contract you sign, so be sure to read that very carefully.

• No costs to you (that includes cover, proofing & editing, layouts, ISBN, uploads, marketing and more.) Many companies will offer you a set number of free copies of your book; however it is reasonable that you pay wholesale costs for added copies. It is not reasonable if you are obligated to buy additional copies.

THE VANITY PRESS ROUTE WILL END YOUR CAREER!

Vanity Press companies make their money by taking a fee and printing a set number of copies. They are called Vanity Press because they appeal to your vanity; having a book in your hand is one heckuva ego stroke. After that they do not care whether you sell a single copy. Their job is done.

Small publishers will handle your work at no cost, and split royalties with you. They tie you to a contract ranging from a year to five years, giving them time to recoup their investment, and hope that your work sells. The problem with most small publishers is that they are NOT marketing companies, have little knowledge of how to promote a book beyond Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. They have no mailing list, limited site viewers, and as a result, have little to offer you. The appeal to being a publisher is as strong as the appeal to have your published book in your hand. So how do you know whether your publiser fits this category? Ask them for their marketing plan before committing and have, in writing, exactly what they are going to do. If they claim it is proprietary information, then I would suggest that you go elsewhere.

IT’S ALL IN THE CONTRACT!

The contract is the clue to all things. Everything should be spelled out in the contract. Trust me when I say that the publishing company will have no hesitation to demand that you meet the contractual obligations you signed on for. They are, after all, a business.

Trust is not something that you can bank on. Even with a beautfully covered, solid layout, well edited and proofed novel, you are faced with the one elephant of a problem. Everyone and their mother has written a book and is competing with you for attention. Amazon couldn’t care less whether your book is a hit or not. Their costs come from printing, as do their profits. And studies have shown that the average book might sell only a few hundred copies in its lifetime. Hardly an income for you, the writer.

Bookstores and other tangible outlets rarely deal with small publishers and authors, unless the risk is removed. They usually want a larger number of copies, shipping paid, with an option to return them after a designated period of time, at your expense, and no money takes place unless the books sell, and even those come with a waiting period before a check is cut. Even at wholesale that is one huge gamble for you to take, especially without any guarantee for placement in the store, or in-store promotion.

Because of this reason, so many writers have gone the self-publishing route. And rightly so, except for that elephant in the room; marketing. Writers are not pushy people, usually. They write. They observe. They do not negotiate well. They are filled with unrealistic hopes, and count on the success of one writer out of millions, that makes a living with their book sales.

MY CONFESSION:

A confession: When I started out as a publisher, while I was always up-front and honest, and never had a model that cost authors anything (you can read the TESTIMONIALS on this site about that), I found the same issues coming up, over and over. How to get a book recognized. How to make it stand out. How to get sales to keep generating. It is a HUGE problem. Every writer has a social media site and every writer makes sure to populate it with other writers (instead of readers). I had to change the way I operated.

But very few writers are merciless promoters who do not get discouraged and…give up!

POWERHOUSE WRITER

One such writer I have interviewed in Books ‘N Pieces Magazine, chat with often on Twitter, and even asked permission to use the opening chapter from one of his books as a source for other writers to draw from. He markets himself. He covers all bases. He tries all methods. He never gives up and yet still finds time to write books. His name is Mike Wells, an author out of the UK with a fascinating tale about how he started. You can read it HERE.

But Mike is a rarity, one of a handful of writers who have developed a suitable pattern that works.

And the rest? They hopefully still have full-time jobs that pay their bills.

THE TRIPLE PLAN FOR WRITING SUCCESS

As a publisher, I stopped offering services to authors with the hope of getting their books on a top list. I realized that I needed to change the ground rules, deal with the business realistically. And that means, for new writers. They need to do something different. I can help you. I can offer you a PLAN A, a PLAN B and even a PLAN C, none of which will cost you anything. 

I know, you are waiting for the answer here, but honestly, I need something from you as well. Sign up to be on my mailing list and I will send you the complete explanation of my three plans — THE TRIPLE PLAN FOR WRITING SUCCESS, how it works, why it works, and why, if you are doing the self-publishing route, you may wish to take notice. And yes, it has to do with the marketing end, but not as you might think. [NOTE:The TRIPLE PLAN FOR WRITING SUCCESS will be available April 25th and will be emailed to you at that time. If you have already joined the mailing list, you will receive a copy as well.]

Interested in learning more?  Join my mailing list and keep up to date with my news, and also receive a copy of the TRIPLE PLAN FOR WRITING SUCCESS completely FREE.

Whatever you decide, I hope that you have learned enough from this article to avoid the pitfalls out there. So many authors are locked into oppressive contracts. If you are one of those, I am happy to review your contract and advise you of options. No charge, no strings, and no expectations that you will work with me. But, I do hope that you will join my mailing list and at least know the TRIPLE PLAN FOR WRITING SUCCESS, even if you implement it yourself.

Cheers!

 

 

FREE DAYS: APRIL 9-12

FREE KINDLE DOWNLOADS FOR THE FOLLOWING BOOKS, April 9-12, 2018:

Keep returning for more FREE BOOKS thru April 12

Just A Little Death – William Gensburger
Synopsis: Returning to his old boarding school as a new housemaster, David Wilson must come to turns with a terrible truth about his past, that returns to haunt him as he assumes his new role. Can he find his place in this new life without the past conflicting him? Can he be an effective housemaster to the students in his charge? Will he survive the crisis that begins on day one, a test of his strength and compassion

 

 

The Zero-G Club – Ashley Adams
Synopsis: Emilee Stanton is a young, sexy, fem-tech aboard the USX Gallant, a battle class spaceship patrolling the local solar system. Her goal, membership in the exclusive Zero-G Club which means getting laid on the bridge, in the captain’s seat, a huge problem since someone is always there. However, unexpected events arise that challenge her abilities, placing her in a position where she is the only one who can save the ship.

 

 

World of Walls – William Gensburger
Synopsis: In a dark and lonely world where the individual has been relegated to a small cubicle amongst millions of cubicles within a corporate enclave, where the individual is no longer important, and love an inconsequential emotion, Robert Yamato must come face to face with his destiny, as foretold by a hexagram, and make the most difficult choice of his life.

 

 

 

• 50+ Writing Markets and Resources To Land More Clients and Skyrocket Your Income – Kristy Rice

Synopsis: Are you struggling to break into freelance writing?
What you need are proven and effective ways to market your writing…and your business. Strategies that get you the right clients AND will pay you well for your work.

There are over 200 links included in this book that will take you straight to the resources professional freelance writers use to find new clients, land assignments from editors, and line up recurring work. Use them to shake up your marketing with a new (effective) strategy so you can land steady, well-paid writing work – whenever you want!

 

 

• Your Irresistible Love (The Bennett Family Book 1) – Layla Hagen
Synopsis: Sebastian Bennett is a determined man. It’s the secret behind the business empire he built from scratch. Under his rule, Bennett Enterprises dominates the jewelry industry. Despite being ruthless in his work, family comes first for him, and he’d do anything for his parents and eight siblings—even if they drive him crazy sometimes. . . like when they keep nagging him to get married already.

Sebastian doesn’t believe in love, until he brings in external marketing consultant Ava to oversee the next collection launch. She’s beautiful, funny, and just as stubborn as he is. Not only is he obsessed with her delicious curves, but he also finds himself willing to do anything to make her smile.

 

• Telling Lies (A Sam Mason Mystery Book 1) – L. A. Dobbs
Synopsis:  A campsite killer. An off-the-record investigation. For two small-town detectives, murder is only the beginning…

Chief Sam Mason and Sergeant Jody Harris don’t have the luxury of being off the clock. When a drowning disrupts the funeral of a fellow detective, they have no choice but to leave early. After the body is pulled ashore, Sam and Jody suspect the camper’s death was no accident…

 

 

• Eat, Pray, Die (An Eat, Pray, Die Humorous Mystery Book 1) – Chelsea Field

The one side of the job that lives up to expectations is the money. Which is just as well for Izzy, since she needs an awful lot of it. Who knew when she made a lifelong commitment to a man that it would be one year living with him and the rest of her life paying for it?

But even her scoundrel ex-husband doesn’t look so bad compared to her new client. He’s competent, condescending, and annoyingly attractive, and Izzy doesn’t know whether to sleep with him or poison him herself. Throw in a loan shark, a nosy neighbor, and a murder attempt, and Izzy will have her work cut out for her.

 

• DAMAGED (The Kate Lange Thriller Series Book 1) – Pamela Callow

Synopsis: Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiancé’s accusations, lawyer Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.

When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it’s just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn’t only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl’s death.

 

 

 

Stay tuned: More to come.

 

Writers: If you have a Kindle book with FREE DAYS April 9-12, and would like free publicity, please email info@altpublish.com and include a cover, brief synopsis and link to the free Kindle and it will be included here.

 

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the listed books are free between April 9-12, we have no control over the free days selected by the author. Please verify the free price when you click the links provided and notofy us if you encounter any problems – info@altpublish.com

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READ OUR ISSUES

In this issue, interviews with Eileen Cook & KJ Howe (Thriller authors), Ashley Adams (Romance), Kurt Koontz (Travel), Book Review by Jill Hedgecock, DVD Review by William Gensburger, Short Story by Peter Ford. Enjoy.

SUBMIT YOUR WORK

Want your short story in our Books 'N PIeces Magazine? Click SUBMIT to learn more.

We accept short stories in the 2000 word range, and we do pay upon acceptance. 

 

 

Books ‘N Pieces Magazine Mar/Apr 2018 is here

Despite a delay, we’re happy to announce that the Mar/Apr 2017 issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine is now available.

Featuring 4 interviews – Eileen Cook (Thriller), K.J. Howe (Thriller), Kurt Koontz (Travel) and Ashley Adams (Romance), as well as an insightful short story by Peter Ford, DVD Review of ‘The Last Jedi’ by William Gensburger, Book Review by Jill Hedgecock,and FREE DOWNLOAD DAYS for April (be sure to catch those), this issue is packed.

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FREE DAYS ARE COMING

BOOKS ‘N PIECES MAGAZINE is having FREE DAYS, April 9-12 (Mon-Thur) where you can download select books and stories for FREE from our site, or Amazon Kindle. Here is the LINK to the books.

WRITERS: If you have books that can use FREE Kindle days on those dates, set it up, email us info@altpublish.com with your cover image, synopsis, and link to the FREE D/L at Kindle, and we will include it in the list of FREE BOOKS that will be posted on our website www.BooksNPieces.com (NOTE: We are getting around 2500 views a day on our website), our Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/BNPMagazine/), Twitter, (www.Twiter.com/Misterwriter ),and the FREE DAYS have already been advertised in the last issue of BNP Magazine (http://www.altpublish.com/2018/04/books-n-pieces-magazine-mar-apr-2018-is-here/). And we will do so at no charge to you at all! FREE! Join the fun, but hurry!

New Author | Sizzling Book

New author, Ashley Adams, has her first published romance novel: The Zero-G Club : Lust & Honor coming out March 1. It’s not a book I have published; however, the cover design is mine, so I thought I would give her a plug. New authors need all the help they can get. The story is a hot romance set in space. A young female technician (fem-tech) aboard a battle spaceship, comes aboard with one goal—to join the galactic equivalent of the Mile High Club. This requires her to have sex on the bridge in the captain’s chair, a somewhat impossible thing to do. However, her goal gets sidetracked as the ship is attacked and she is suddenly propelled into action, pushed beyond her abilities, to help save the lives of everyone on board.

Ashley gave me a Beta copy to read and it is sizzling in parts, but the story is quite solid, the pace quite quick and the ending leaves you wanting to know more, all signs of a good story.

Her Beta readers gave her the following reviews:

“One Hot Space Saga.” – Victor Alvarado

“Space travel better be this much fun.” – Shoreena Thompson

“Please, please, get book two written soooooon.” – Cammie Bremmer

It is on pre-order on Amazon until March 1 when it will officially be released. The pre-order price is just 99 cents, and the price will be higher after release, I am told.

I am also designing the cover for Book 2 which I am allowed to tell you is titled: The Zero-G Club : Faith & Destiny.

And finally, Ashley would love it if you are a fan of romance/fantasy/erotica to join her mailing list at http://Bit.ly/JoinHotAshley

Her Website is at www.HotAshley.com

Notebooks, Apps, Programs and How You Prep to Write

If you’ve spent any time reading up on other writers and how they manage their work, you probably have an idea of how to arrange, organize, manage the elements that are involved.

Certainly, it is easier to manage a short story––although it is more difficult to write a good short story than a novel––than it is to manage the elements of a novel. You might write a short story quite quickly, a short enough time period to be able to remember all the parts in your head; however, a novel, which extends over vast pages and time frames, character arcs and so on, it is easy to get lost.

A famous ball pen drawn grid from author JK Rowling, shows how she plotted the elements for her Harry Potter books, using each box to capture relevant information that she could then use as reference in order to stay on track. Nice!

My problem is finding one thing that I can stay with, given the plethora of apps, programs and other tools. I prefer notebooks, but find that I always carry one with me, often jotting down odd things without a set format—more a free flow thought palace.

There are many apps that will help you to arrange things, including the very popular Scrivener app that will allow you to have all your notes, imagery, scratchings and more, all in folders, apart from the main writing area. At the end it compiles for you. And voila….

I have Scrivener, but find that I have to have my thoughts immediately handy, with me at all times, even when there are no electronic devices with me. But that’s just me. I know authors who write their points on Post-It notes and stick them on a wall or mirror, moving them as needed. I tried that once; but my wife was not so impressed, especially when a few would peel off and wind up on a floor, later vacuumed up––gone!

And then there are the choices of notebooks available. I collect fountain pens. I also find that, just as my mood changes for the pen of the day; so to does my notebook choice. Something small, but not too small. I used to like the cheap notebooks used at schools everywhere, but found that certain brands absorbed my fountain pen ink into blotchy messes. I tried small pocket-sized notebooks, but find that I have to write small to they everything to fit; quite annoying and also not conducive to fountain pens.

Barnes & Nobles offers a variety of hand-crafted leather notebooks, some with leather strip-ties you wrap around; all too fancy and pricey for the scribblings I have. I certainly don’t want something that says WRITER across it. Too amateurish.

These days I use a 5×8 hard cover notebook. These are available anywhere for a decent price. With a hundred plus pages there is a lot of room for whatever I wish to write. I segment the book, find the mid-seam and use that as a natural book break. I can scribble pieces of the story there. So far it works.

As for plotting, I still like index cards, each numbered in order (and renumbered when the order changes.) I can keep them with me, elastic band-wrapped. No pencil – just fountain pen with redundant items single-line deleted. It’s neat, ordered and works for me.

What works for you? Let me know if you have any good ideas that you’ve found works.

And don’t forget to submit short stories to BNP Magazine – we do pay for the stories we accept. Click the SUBMIT tab for more information and guidelines.

Writers-Submit Your Stories

BNP Magazine is accepting short stories for possible publication in Books ‘N Pieces Magazine. Payment on publication. Click the SUBMIT tab for more information.

Your Short Story is Rejected. Now What?

Your Short Story is Rejected. Now What?

 

I get many short stories submitted each month. Sadly, most are not at a stage where I can publish them. For many authors, short stories appear to be the easiest form of writing; short, easy to finish. This is deceptive; a good short story is much harder to write than a novel.

A novel offers anywhere from 250-500 pages to develop characters, flesh out the details of scenes, include descriptive, yet non-essential narrative to fully flesh out the world in which the story takes place. You also have the luxury of slower pacing.

For a short story to work, the writing needs to be sharp, crisp, concise. Irrelevancies have no room. The reader must be pulled in from the start. The story must have a point in being told; it is not an excerpt. A short story is not a narrative; it requires action, dialogue that propels it along, marker points that the author sees, like mile-markers on a highway. The story will come to an end, and when it does, something must have been gained in the telling or it was a pointless time waste.

I know this sounds harsh; but writing is not for the weak-hearted. Writing is rejection. Writing is like that endurance event you just come close to; you want to cross the finish-line so badly.

Start at a place that will grab hold.

A vast majority of the short stories submitted to BNP Magazine are not, in fact, stories. They are, instead, snippets of a story kernel, ideas being explored through pages of dialog with little or no solidity. They may be well written, and many are; but that does not qualify it for publication.

In a short story you have a novel worth of ideas compressed tightly into around 2000 words. The story must not languish in its own adulation. Yes, you put the sentence together nicely. So? What’s the point? Why should I read it? What do I get out of it? Do I really care? All questions that you should ask before submitting a story anywhere.

Every story, like every novel, film, television show, has a start point, a mid-point, and an ending of one kind or another. That said, the starting point is not the start of the story. Your reader wants to be sucked in. Start at a place that will grab hold. You can always go back and flesh in the details you had originally started with.

Let’s use a film example everyone knows: The original STAR WARS (now Episode IV). The film opens with a star destroyer chasing, and firing upon an rebel ship carrying Princess Leia. Now, the whole story really starts when Luke Skywalker was born, raised on that nasty and barren Tatooine place with his uncle and aunt. Maybe he got up and had breakfast. They discuss crop harvests. YAWN!

So, instead of useless back-story, we start with action, grab the reader enough to make sure they linger long enough to get the back-story (Luke and his uncle and aunt discuss his going to the Academy, and how he is stuck there.)

A short story should begin at the point where the reason for the story begins. And that point should be strong, action oriented, gripping, or unusual enough to make the reader want to continue.

Quite often, even though a story is rejected, I will offer some thoughts on how to up the game. Sometimes this requires some juggling of where things are in the story. Sometimes this requires rewriting a stronger opening scene that leads forward, rather than just being presented. Make the reader work a bit. Do they want to know.

Here are some examples:

John arose from a heavy sleep and, after using the can, threw water across his face, stopping only to stare at his image in the mirror. His furrowed brow was…. YAWN!

How about…

It was the ear-splitting thunder of a bullet being fired that snapped John from a deep sleep. Upright, he froze, his mind desperately searching for clues. Where had it come from? Although it was loud, it had come from outside his cabin. Had he been the target?

Of the two examples, one grabs you while the other just presents itself.

Avoid clichés. Who cares if his brow was furrowed? Be accurate in action. Did he throw water across his face or splash it. Were his hands cupped or was it one handed?

Avoid boring descriptions; but don’t go all exotic on me. A bullet sounds a certain way, depending what type and how far you are from it. Have you ever fired a gun? Perhaps you should go to a shooting range so you can get a good idea. There is more than sound involved. Vibrations saturate your body. Holding the gun steady as it is being discharged takes a lot of practice, otherwise it’s like someone holding a barbell out for you and suddenly letting go, only in the other direction. With all the crime novels, bullets fire, pierce, shatter, thunder, crack, snap, pop, go BANG!, pinged, thwacked…. What they do not do is sound like a herd of buffalo hooves smacking the empty tundra!

Avoid writing styles that interrupt the reading style. If a reader has to stop and mutter, “Huh?” Then you have destroyed the wonder of a well-written short story.

Of all the stories sent my way, the rejections always come with suggestions.

So your story has been rejected. What do you do now? Have a drink? Curse the publisher while waving your fist holding the crinkled rejected letter? Or do you read your story again, this time in a different way. Perhaps you read it out loud so you can hear what it sounds like. Perhaps have your spouse/partner/friend read it to you.

If you were fortunate to receive comments in the rejection, examine their validity. Is there a way to adjust the story, amp it up, refine, fine-tune, adapt, add or subtract elements, reorganize, or totally rewrite?

So here is a question for you! Was your story worth writing…to you? If you do not say yes, then you already know what to do. Your story must be worth writing to yourself. If so, a rejection letter is merely an opinion, a tool, a suggestion or a hint at how to improve it. Are you going to give up?

Of all the stories sent my way, the rejections always come with suggestions. It is not a personal opinion of whether I liked your story theme or not; it is, hopefully, a tool to help you fix what is wrong, and then resubmit it.

I am happy when a story comes back. I will confess that it may get rejected again and again until it is just right. I have one author (no names) who submitted to me seven or eight revisions before we got where we needed to be. That author understood that I was looking for a good story, not just interested in rejecting those not ready for publication.

What you do now is up to you. From experience I will tell you that around 80 percent of rejection end right there. Do I feel bad for the author? Of course. Writing is tough to do. Good writing is extremely tough to do. But if it was easy, everyone would be writing…wait…looking at Amazon, everyone and their puppy has a book out there.

You just know when you read a great writer, even when they are fresh and young and naive. You feel their story. It’s innate. You just know.

Mike Wells (http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com) began his career by having his first book self-printed. Thousands of copies. You can read his story on his Website, but the condensed version is that ultimately all the copies were thrown out. They wouldn’t sell. From there he went on to be a best-selling author. I won’t spoil the story—go read it. His career has exploded since then.

Another author, John Scalzi (https://whatever.scalzi.com), could not sell his first novel, so he gave it away free. After thousands of downloads and followers, a major publishing company snapped him up. Most sci-fi readers know him well. Read his story on his Blog site.

What do both have in common? Go to Amazon and read the samples and you will understand. They both get you from page one, line one, and they do not let go.

 

So, after all this, what are YOU going to do? To steal from Yoda, “Do, or do not; there is no try.”

Best wishes,

W

PS: BNP Magazine (www.BooksNPieces.com) accepts short story submissions, and we do pay upon acceptance. See the guidelines under the SUBMIT menu tab.

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BNP Magazine-January 2018 – Read It Here

Interview with YA novelist, Kelly Charron, travel writer and explorer, Kurt Koontz (part one), fiction by Alexander Greene, and an article on why covers and titles are so important. Enjoy and be sure to sign up for our mailing list.

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