Friday, January 2, 2015

Authors' Misconceptions of Being Published Before the Book Deal

Maria V. Synder
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads
I have to admit up front that I didn’t have any big misconceptions about the business of publishing because I’d done my research and had a pretty good idea how things worked. However (yes, there is always a however ;>), there were a few surprises along the way. My first surprise was that my publisher kept my title of my book, Poison Study. All my research had led me to believe that publishers change all the titles. They don’t change them all and I’ve been able to pick my titles for all my books (well...with a few tweaks here and there).

Another surprise was that other people in the publishing house like the sales staff, marketing, and publicity had all read my book before it was printed. I know that warrants a “du’h,” but I’d believed only my editor and the copy editor would read it. So when I went to Book Expo in New York city for the first time, I was unprepared for the outpouring of comments (good ones!) from everyone. My editor looked at me like I was nuts and said, “What do you think we did with your book?” Ah... I didn’t.

Last surprise (for this article – believe me not the last surprise of my publishing career!), that the book buyer from Barnes & Noble has sway in decisions like cover art. When presented with two shades of green for my book, Magic Study, the book buyer picked the tealish shade. I liked the more emerald green. But guess which cover my publisher went with? Yup – the teal! (Yes, I know the book buyer has lots of experience in which covers sell books – and a bad cover can kill a good book, but...I can pout...can’t I?)

Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Study Series. She has written eleven outstanding novels and has been contracted for four more from Harlequin Books. SCENT OF MAGIC (Healer Book 2), is now available on Amazon.

Jessica Bell

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
When I signed with my publisher I thought that was it. I had a publisher for life. They will want to publish every book I write, my career will grow, my readers will increase, and I'll have a lifelong relationship with them. Never ever again will I have to send out those dreaded query letters.

Not so.  Publishing is a business, not a family. (If you're lucky to find a publisher that is both, hold on tight.)

Only six months after my debut, String Bridge, was published, my publisher closed down. All the hard work, the rewrites, the editing, the marketing. Down. The. Drain. 

I had to start all over again...

Looking on the bright side, now I know I've got the goods, and I feel confident enough to self-publish my work until I find another publisher or agent. 

But never for one minute, think that signing a contract with a publisher means the hard work is over. It just gets harder and harder. And you need to have the strength and passion to work as hard and as long as the waves are going to take you. The waves are rough and high. But surfing is so much fun, don't you think? 

Jessica Bell is an award winning poet, the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the hostess of the Homeric Writer's Retreat & Workshop on the Isle of Ithaca, Greece. Her latest novella, THE BOOK, is available now on Amazon. 

Lydia Sharp
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
By the time Twin Sense was published I had been writing and pursuing publication for years. I watched debut authors as they transitioned from pre-published to post-published and noticed their observations through every stage. So when it was my turn, I thought I knew everything that was headed my way. I was wrong.

My release date changed once and my editorial deadline changed twice. First pass edits pretty much crushed my soul. I'd heard people say this before but didn't realize just how hard it is to read those notes (notes on every page of my ms), and not know how to implement the necessary changes without ruining the whole story. And all of this on an ever-shortening deadline. 

It was a learning, and toughening, experience that I feel privileged to have had because it means an editor believed in my story and in my skills as a writer to take a chance on me, to spend time and effort reading my story multiple times and figure out how to make it better. That is something I will never take for granted.

Lydia Sharp is an author of young adult contemporary, fantasy, and romance. She has been dedicated to helping fiction writers improve their storytelling skills through her award winning blog. Her novella, TWIN SENSE, is now available on Amazon. Her fantasy romance, Mismatched, releases in May 2013, also from Musa Publishing. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

Jadie Jones
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Before signing with a publisher, I thought the editing process went something like this: editor reads manuscript, tweaks words here or there and fixes typos, and then sends it off to be printed. So when I received my first email from my editor, and she said: “I like your main character, you can keep her as the main character,” I literally read the sentence four or five times, pinched myself, and then read it again. A single thought circled my brain like a shark: If she can change the main character…. what else can she do?!

Turns out, a lot. But here is where the misconception carried on. I thought she would reign down from her laptop in the sky, frowning at my adverbs and weak spots. 

But it wasn’t like that at all. At last, on this island of writing, I had a fellow castaway – someone who was just as obsessed with Moonlit as I was. We did so much to enhance the story, subtle changes that pulled the noose of urgency a little tighter, and sweeping changes, like eliminating characters who were simply in the way."

Jadie Jones' debut novel, MOONLIT, from Wido Publishing, hits stores April 16th. It's available now for pre-order on Amazon.

If you would like to have your book reviewed, please contact me here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


My friend, Jessie, is entering her developing bakery into a contest.

Instead of a box of chocolates, it's an original assorted box of cakelates. It's absolutely ingenious! I can't wait to try them!

Until Jessie can get the The Treat Tray running as a business, she will only be baking for non-profit charitable causes. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Why must one care what someone else thinks? Why is there this constant need for approval? I believe it is human nature that makes you feel like you need to belong. You constantly seek out advice from trusted individuals, only finding that in the end, that decision was yours and yours alone. Do you go with the crowd or express yourself?

When you worry about what others think of you, you are really just worried about what you think of yourself. You do not have to settle for anything. It is a decision you make every day. If you hate your life, then start making changes and better decisions. It does not matter how smart you are, everyone makes mistakes. More often than not, problems are rarely as painful as the manner of fearing them.

The challenge is to go against that need, that yearning of feeling the need to belong. Life is too short. At some point, you are going to have to make a decision. Are you going to let people dictate on how you chose to live? Or have the courage to stand out above the crowd? Let the creative juices flow and express yourself. Lose the fear of being wrong. Once you lose that fear, you can do anything, you'll be free.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

THE BOOK by Jessica Bell

“The book has demons and has to go to the devil.”

Bonnie is determined to bury the book. Penny ensures her young daughter that it’s a token of love
and affection and that one day she will understand. However, Bonnie is convinced it does nothing but inflict pain on the people she loves. She wonders how grownups can be so stupid and not see what she sees. Then again, she know she’s just a child and does not understand most things about life. Grownups “smile when they’re sad and they cry when they’re happy. It’s silly.”

The road to Hell is paved with the best of intentions. A book that was created out of love develops into a representation of agony. Her parents write in it. Bonnie tells you how it interferes with her everyday life.

Jessica Bell has poetically scripted a love story so genuine and so pure, it could only be told in the innocent perspective of a five-year-old girl. She elegantly builds up an anticipating climax so horrific and yet, so authentic, it’ll captivate you. I guarantee after reading THE BOOK, the story will linger in your mind long after you've finished. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Setting Yourself Up for Success

I cannot be the only one that works full time, has a full course load for school, volunteers, has a social life, exercises and reads and writes for pleasure. I know there has to be someone else like me out there. 

I am in a constant state of déjà vu. It is literally every day someone asks me, “How do you do it?” My favorite response is, “I’m not saying I'm Superwoman, I’m stating the fact that Superwoman and I have never been in the same room together.”

The need of time management and self-discipline are key factors of my everyday life. It has taken me years to master these skills. I must admit, I don’t have as much time as I want in certain categories. However, isn't that part of being an adult and doing adult things? The main thing that keeps me going is that I know if I hang in there, the outcome will be my reward.

You have to set goals and decide how to achieve them. Setting short term goals to reach your long term goals is just as essential as the dream itself. Start off small, but aim big!

I have a big planner that has every assignment, appointment, study time, social time, writing, etc. in it. I actually have it scheduled down to the very hour. I live by it. I have to. It is my guideline to get stuff done.

Do I like it? No. In fact, I loathe the stupid thing. It pains me to see how little free time I have and the fact that I have to schedule free time. A lot of days, it just reminds me of an overbearing “to-do list.” I swear it stares back at me and half-tempts me to chuck it out the car window.

In this said planner, I make little stars next to the tasks that need done first and that are the most important. I note the stuff that can wait until the next day. However, don’t procrastinate either. Try to get goals done early if possible.

Coffee. Coffee, coffee and more coffee is a girl’s best friend. In fact, I'm drinking coffee right now as I write this.

Try to have a set place where you get your work done. If you have a study room at home, make sure it’s clean. If the area around you is clean, it leaves your brain clean and ready to work. Make sure you set the mood. If quiet isn’t your forte, play some Pandora in the background.

This also reiterates my #2 point. Set yourself a time frame of working on homework, writing, hobby of choice, exercising etc. and stick to it. At first, give yourself a small time limit to work and if you go over that limit, GREAT! The goal is to set yourself up for success.

You've worked hard and you deserve a reward. When I accomplish something big, my favorite thing to do is to go on a trip. For smaller rewards, I go get my nails done or my hair styled. So get a massage and hang out with some friends! It's important to do this, that way you're feel like you are accomplishing something and not overworking yourself.

Is achieving your goals going to be hard? Hell yeah, it is. I guarantee you it’ll be worth it in the end. If it was easy, everyone one would do it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


As I was reading CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, by Chuck Sambuchino, I was
constantly finding myself pausing in mid-sentence to go update my social media in attempts to expand my platform. Even if it was to just tweak my website ever so slightly or send out a retweet on Twitter, I had to do it right then. Reading this book made me feel like I HAD to make myself look more presentable in the professional world ASAP.

After about the twentieth time of doing this action is when I finally realized what was happening. "Was this Chuck Sambuchino’s secret plan all along? To get me sucked into the digital world instead of concentrating on my writing? I mean, he is the author of HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK after all. He would be capable of accomplishing a mastermind scheme of this magnitude.”

In all seriousness, Sambuchino is an expert on teaching people how to build an audience and helping new writers break out into the publishing world. In this book, he breaks down step by step on what a platform is and why it is very important for a writer to have one in this day and age. Similar to his other published works; he is dedicated to giving more than just his opinion to ensure the best success possible for his readers. Included in the book are many points of views from professionals in the publishing industry and case studies of several individuals that had success with their writer platform.

Before reading this, I must admit that I had considered myself a guru when it came to social media, mainly from growing up in the digital age. However, after reading CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, I discovered that I was dead wrong. Even with everything I knew there was still so much that I didn't know! As a bonus, another thing I loved about this book is that even though the title says “WRITER PLATFORM,” the advice Sambuchino gives can be used in other industries on how to present yourself in a professional manner.

If you're a writer struggling to get your name out there, I highly recommend this book. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Upon going to my first writer’s conference last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and tried profusely to find a guide, any piece of advice, on the internet to help me out. There was nothing and I went into these events blind and stupid.

It took me three tries to get this writer conference stuff down. The first time at the FF&P chapter of the RWA’s conference in New Orleans, I could definitely tell I was a newbie. I walked around all shy, not making any conversation unless someone else initiated it first. To say the least, I did not take advantage of all the opportunities that were available, and highly regretted it afterwards.

The second time, I attended RT Times Convention in Chicago, IL. This convention was at a much higher magnitude than the first one I attended. Though, at this point I felt like I would know what was going on, my mind was still blown away by how much there was to do. I was not as prepared as I thought I was, thus the outcome of me sulking in my room and hiding.

The third one I attended was a writer’s retreat on the Isle of Ithaca, Greece. By far, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I took advantage of every opportunity possible, made great connections and new friends. However, I do not know if that would still be true if I had not done the two trial and error experiences prior to the event.

Here are my words of wisdom to skip the trial and error steps I had to face. These eight key things will work while attending a writer’s conference, convention and/or retreat of any size and magnitude.

Do NOT stay in your room. Let me repeat, do NOT stay in your room except to sleep or shower. In fact, the less you see of your room the better. Most writers are naturally introverts. We want to hide away and write. You need to fight that urge and go mingle. One of the main reasons why you paid so much to attend a conference is to attend the provided workshops and to make connections. Not to do something that you do everyday at home. You are in a place where everyone loves to do things you do. Take advantage and make some friends.

Bring a notebook and pen rather than your laptop. Though we writers have a love affair with our computers, it is a distraction and may lure you to stay in your room. Instead, nip that temptation in the bud, and bring a notebook and pen to take notes of workshops you attend instead. While we’re at it, it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to leave the iPad at home too.

Business cards are nice, but not necessary. If given to agents, they are more than likely to throw the cards away by the time they get home, if not sooner. If they want your work, they will tell you how to contact them. The main reason to have a business card is for peer connections. You never know who you meet at one of these conferences will be a huge connection for you later on. Make sure that you are nice to everyone and give your contact info to help build your platform. In addition, the business cards that you do bring should have a picture of you on it. It’s easier to remember faces than it is names. Use your best judgment on whether or not you want to spend the money to have them made.

Chances are that is you are attending one of these events as a new writer fantasizing of being published. If that’s the case, then you probably have meetings with agents and editors lined up. Make sure that you are dressing the part that you would for any job interview. That is what it is after all. You are interviewing for your dream job. If you go in there in your sweatpants, do not expect them to take you seriously.

Good chances are that there will be multiple parties of all kinds: formal, semi-formal, costume, and in my case, an-authentic Greek dance festival. Make sure you look at the schedule provided on the conference’s website and bring an outfit suited for this, even if you think you won’t wear it. It is better that you bring an outfit and decide not to wear it later and not bring one and wishing that you had.

It would be in your best interest to have a copy of the conference’s schedule before you leave. Mark the workshops and speakers you would like to attend and some alternates. If you are attending conventions held by RT, RWA, or something of that magnitude, then there’s a good chance that there will be too many events for you to attend. Narrow down your choices and go from there. Make sure you get an updated schedule when you get there. More than likely it may have changed.

Have your elevator pitch ready. You should be able to hook someone with your book in the time it takes for you to ride an elevator to your floor. No longer than 90 seconds. Make sure you have key points to talk about once you get them hooked. You do not want to go in there with a killer hook and have nothing else to say. That could be as detrimental as not saying anything at all.

If you do not act excited and in love with your book, chances are that the agent or editor you are pitching to, won’t be either. The goal is to get them to fall as much as in love with your storyline as you are. If you are not confident about your work or are unsure of yourself, my best piece advice to you is to “Fake it til you make it!” Fake confidence and excitement and eventually with enough practice, it will come natural.

Chances are that you have paid a lot to attend a writer’s conference in a different state or maybe even country. Make sure you are having fun, relaxing and meeting new people. It is also your vacation, bring a camera and make some memories!

What are your thoughts and ideas? Did I leave anything out? If so, I’d love to hear your opinions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing by Jessica Bell is brilliant. It is a pocket-guide reference for writers that need help with the skill of showing instead of telling in their works.

Personally, I feel as though every aspiring author has been told at one point in time, “To show and not tell.” I know that for me, at first I could not grasp that concept and would become easily frustrated with it. This quick reference guide shows you how to transition a dull paragraph into a colorful one. There are 16 scenes (IE – examples) to show you how to pick key words that are telling. Bell then rewrites the scene to demonstrate ways of showing the scene in a more effective, emotional way. Blank pages are also included for your benefit to jot your ideas down.

Keep in mind, like any writing instructional book, it is not going to work wonders for you unless you practice and write every day. Trial and error is what makes the writer. This book provides guidance for that process.

To purchase SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL on

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2013 Guide to Literary Agents

I have bought several of Chuck Sambuchino’s books in the past. Once again, I am left finding him
immensely helpful and very inspiring. In the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, Sambuchino, has beautifully constructed and organized an anthology of resources that would be valuable to all writers. If you are non-fiction, fiction, published or a non-published writer, I guarantee that this book will have something for you.

Let’s face it. Finishing your work is only half the battle. Reading this guide will put you ahead of the game and give you the tools you will need to be successful. Not only does this guide give a list of credible agents, it also breaks it down, step by step, on how to obtain one. It explains what an agent does, crafting a query, to writing a book proposal and much more. It is a great stepping stone on where to go once you have finished your manuscript.

What I particularly love about the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS is that it gives you the “Do’s and Don’ts” of what a bad query/book proposal is, compared to what a great query/book proposal should look like. Instead of just telling you how to do it, it actually shows you. Sambuchino has collected a number of articles written by people who are the best in the business. Therefore, you are getting more than one person’s opinion. That in itself is a gold mine.

In addition, it has an entire section that lists upcoming conferences. If you are a travel junkie like me, it is a wonderful place to start planning your next vacation. 

Check out Chuck Sambuchino's Amazon page to purchase a copy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My mission statement is as followed:

I drink coffee and make stuff up.

With that said, here is my most recent update:

I attended the Homeric Writer's Retreat and Workshop in Ithaca, Greece.  It was one of the best experiences of my life. My review is up on their website, which you should definitely it check out. It was hosted by the lovely Jessica Bell and the all-star editor from Writer's Digest, Chuck Sambuchino. His critique and edits made the trip itself worth it. I no longer fear self-editing. Hopefully this will become an annual thing.

Not to mention the island was nice too, along with all the amazing people I met as well. :)