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The New Publishing Paradigm Requires Great Diligence by Writers

Once upon a time, a few select companies had a stranglehold on the publishing business. Not so anymore. In the past few years, in particular, it seems new hybrid and small press publishers are popping up all over the place. We know, because we’re one of those.

One of the things we must do constantly, of course, is keep our finger on the pulse of the industry. What are the new industry expectations? Have new opportunities for distribution and sales come into the fore? What is our competition doing, and is our list of competitors growing?

Naturally, this leads us to examine other publishers out there, not just make sure that we’re in stride with the rest of the industry, but to make sure we’re offering a great alternative to talented authors, editors, artists, and the entire support team.

What have we discovered? Quite simply, authors are presented with a whole new array of options, and that’s a good thing. However, those authors must now wade through the morass, and it’s not always pretty. For example, I recently visited a publisher’s website and was shocked, and more than a little dismayed, by much of what I saw.

First, their website was simply horrendous. No other way to say it. Second, their simple “About” page, which consisted of a single paragraph, was laden with grammar and spelling errors, and poor construction. (Talk about a red flag!) Third, it was extremely difficult to find all their titles. Fourth, I finally figured out (I think) that they have 12 titles, 11 of which are by a single author. I could easily list a fifth, sixth, and seventh, but suffice to say that what I saw was less than inspiring.

It occurred to me that the publishing business is becoming much like the author business, and the editor business, and then the cover artist business, and so on. Hey, it’s the internet age, so just hang up a shingle and claim to be whatever you want… like a publisher. Now, before you say it, I know: we too had to start somewhere. Everyone does.

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But really, dear author, you must exercise more caution and diligence in your search for a publisher than ever before. The gatekeepers (never mind that they were self-anointed) are gone, and the new environment is a free-wheeling, anything goes, often concerning puddle of confusion. Self-publishing is always an option, of course, but if you’re looking for a new publisher, a company that gives you a better chance of actual acceptance and exposure, you can do a few simple things to ensure that you’re making a good choice.

      1. First of all, what kind of public face do they offer? Is their website clean, professional, attractive, functional and informative? Are they engaged on social media? Do their online activities instill in you confidence and excitement?
      2. What sort of catalog have they published? Does it appear to be focused on just one or two authors, or do they truly offer a broad spectrum of authors and products? Everyone has to start somewhere, of course, but if they have reached the point where they have multiple books out over a couple years or more, and they STILL have only one or two or three authors, this should be a red flag – probably just self-publishing by another name, when you get right down to it.
      3. Speaking of their catalog, how strong is it? Do they offer books across multiple genres, or are they a genre-specific publisher? (This may be a plus or a minus, depending on your genre and needs.) How good are those books they’ve published? Do they have professional covers that don’t all look the same? Are the stories (always sample their work before submitting) strong and edited to at least “near” perfection (no such thing as perfect)?
      4. Are they willing to offer referrals from their existing pool of authors? (Take this with a grain of sand, since existing authors may not be willing to say bad things about their publisher, even if warranted. However, if they’re clearly enthusiastic, that will tell you something.) If so, will they let you talk to the author of YOUR choosing, versus someone they hand select?
      5. Do they have a strong team of support for services such as cover art, illustrations, editing, beta reading, translations, and more?
      6. Do they produce and distribute books in multiple formats and across multiple channels?

When co-founder D.T. Conklin and I first started looking into publishers, we found no one that we truly liked, based on what we felt were the new opportunities for authors in this evolving industry. We thus set about, point by point, to lay out what we wanted – as authors – in a publisher. Because we couldn’t find THAT publisher, we formed Evolved Publishing to be THAT publisher.

Are we perfect, providing the absolute best of everything? Nah. Some offerings necessarily require other limits, so some compromise is required, some prioritizing. Are we going to make you, dear author, an overnight success? Probably not. Can we even guarantee that you will be a success? Ever? Nope. No publisher can do that.

However, we think we’ve struck on a pretty good business model, one which gives authors some advantages they won’t get on their own as a self-publisher, and some they won’t even get from the Big 5. Of course, the Big 5 also have some things to offer that we don’t, such as immediate and broad print distribution. That doesn’t mean you’ll sell any books, but it’s there. And of course, getting your foot in the door, and your book to the public, is a daunting process that can take many years.

So every author must weigh the options carefully, perhaps with a good old-fashioned Ben Franklin list – you know, with the positives in one column and the negatives in another? Just be sure to compare apples to apples, and make sure none of those apples are laden with worms.

Author Emlyn Chand Discusses the Importance of Honest Reviews – Good or Bad

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“Why I Sometimes Write Negative Reviews & Why You Should Consider Doing the Same” – A Post by Author Emlyn Chand

Hey, Emlyn here! You know how Lane Diamond is always going on and on about “quality first” here at Evolved Publishing? Well, that mantra doesn’t just reflect our house’s production standards, but it also extends to our marketing practices and, indeed, to all our interactions online.

In fact, you could add to that the phrase “integrity first,” because the two are really connected. Sure, hitting up your fellow authors for reviews may seem like the fastest way to rack ’em up, but is it really worth it?

I mean, reviews should come from readers, because that’s who they’re for! If I plaster a 5-star raving review of Lane’s book, Forgive Me, Alex, all over the interwebz, will that review hold any weight, or will you see right through it as one colleague zealously endorsing another’s book? How would you even know that I read Lane’s book, or that I wrote the review myself? How would you know it wasn’t some quid-pro-quo deal where Lane then goes out and leaves a raving review of Torn Together for me? You wouldn’t know (were it not for EP’s policy), and just like you wouldn’t trust that particular review, you’d probably stop trusting my reviews altogether – because in this instance I wouldn’t be seen as simply a reader, since Lane and I have a professional relationship. Am I right?

Of course, authors are readers too, and many of them have book blogs or online reviewer profiles. Still, many authors seem afraid to leave negative reviews for fear of backlash against their own works, or of offending a friend. But you know what? I think it’s important to leave negative reviews from time to time. Sure, I’m not going to review any of Evolved’s books – positively or otherwise – because that’s against our house policy, but what’s to stop me from writing up my thoughts on my latest book store or Kindle store purchase?

NOTHING! It is my right to share my opinion, and I know there are several to whom my opinion actually means something. I wouldn’t want to let them down.

That’s why I’m coming out in favor of the controversial practice of authors leaving negative book reviews. No, I’m not suggesting you start leaving negative reviews of Evolved Publishing’s books. Frankly, we trust in the quality of EP’s books so much that we encourage all honest, heartfelt reviews. Those are the key words: honest and heartfelt. Thus, I’ve put together my case with what I hope are 6 compelling reasons not to fear the 1- and 2-star ratings (as an author and as a reviewer). Will my post make you want to leave a negative review when warranted? Maybe. I hope so. Because in the end, you have to ask yourself, what’s my opinion really worth?

Check out my full post at the link below, and please join in the conversation by leaving a comment. This is an important topic that readers and authors alike need to discuss!

LINK: Why I Sometimes Write Negative Reviews & Why You Should Consider Doing the Same

Author Amelia James Discusses Her Approach to Writing

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“My Writing Process and Plan – Or How I Manage to Put Trashy Words on a Page” – A Post by Author Amelia James

Plan? I’m the mother of an energetic three-year-old. Any plans I make are subject to her whims. However, my writing process is as constant as the northern star (Shakespeare as quoted by General Chang [Christopher Plummer] in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). And it’s just as random as the previous sentence.

My process starts rather simply. I get bored, my mind wanders, and eventually I stumble onto an idea either for a work in progress or something new. I write it down as soon as possible, before I forget it. I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, but usually I drag out my laptop. If for some reason—the above-mentioned three-year-old is most often the culprit—I can’t write it down, I repeat the ideas in my head until I get them on paper. That’s the constant part.

Then I play my favorite writer’s mind game: What if? That’s probably the best part of the process for me. I write down every possibility I can think of, even the bad ideas because sometimes bad ideas lead to good ones. Enter randomness.

Most of this takes place after I’ve met my characters. Romance is character-driven so until I know who they are and understand their conflicts, I can’t write a story. But sometimes I deal with a particularly stubborn character who won’t tell me what’s bugging him until after I finish his book. (Will!) So many times I’ll start writing before I know exactly where I’m going, though I have a general idea where we’ll end up. Romance has a definite formula: boy meets girl, boy sleeps with girl, BIG misunderstanding, makeup sex, and happily ever after. But the journey is much more important than the destination. I believe in making my characters earn their happy.

The journey, much like my process, has many twists and turns I don’t often see coming. I’ll start writing a scene for which I had a pretty clear plan going in, but then someone says or does something I don’t expect. That’s where the fun begins. I’m probably the most unorganized, haphazard writer you’ll ever meet. When other writers ask me for advice, I send them to someone else. What works for me probably won’t work for them. It doesn’t even work for me half the time. I spend too much time self-editing while I write. When it turns into nitpicking, I know it’s time to stop.

But I can’t stop, so I never re-read one of my books after it’s been published. And I never say never (never stick to it, that is). I have plans for two sequels, which will require thorough re-reading. I’m not looking forward to it. (Why did I use that word?) But I’m excited to be writing these two books. It took a while to get in touch with my characters again, but now that I have, we’re gonna have a trashy good time.

Were you looking for an organized, step by step romance writing instruction manual? Sorry to disappoint you. This is all personality. (Yay! I have one.) If I have a point to make it’s this: write what you love and do what works for you. Be true to your characters and listen to them. That’s how my writing process begins and ends.

If you stuck with me through this rambling, jumbled process, I’d like to say thanks to you and all my readers. But I’m more than words. To show my gratitude, I’m offering a few of my titles at special prices this month (details below). Thank you again and enjoy!

Amelia James’ Books:

Tell_Me_You_Want_Me_300dpi_200x300Tell Me You Want Me
Regular Price $4.99
Sales Price at Amazon & Barnes and Nobleicon $2.99 (through Dec. 8)
 
 
Secret_Storm_300dpi_200x300Secret Storm
Regular Price $4.99
Sales Price at Amazon & Barnes and Nobleicon $0.99 (through Dec. 8)
 
 
Her_Twisted_Pleasures_v2_300dpi_200x300Her Twisted Pleasures (The Twisted Mosaic #1)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
Their_Twisted_Love_v2_300dpi_200x300Their Twisted Love (The Twisted Mosaic #2)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
His_Twisted_Choice_300dpi_200x300His Twisted Choice (The Twisted Mosaic #3)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
The_Twisted_Mosaic_Omnibus_300dpi_200x300The Twisted Mosaic – Special Omnibus Edition
Regular Price $8.99
Sales Price Everywhere $6.99 (through Dec. 31) (Click on cover or title for Retail Purchase Links)

Author Majanka Verstraete Discusses Why She Writes Kids’ Books

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“Why I Write Kids’ Books” – A Post by Author Majanka Verstraete

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions, by my friends and family, even by complete strangers, why I write kids’ books. People seem to think it’s an easy question for me to answer, but it isn’t.

I started out writing young adult novels. When I started writing these novels, I’d barely grown out of the young adult stage of life myself, so it was easy to relate to the characters and to describe their day-to-day world. But the more I wrote in this particular genre, the more I wanted to expand my horizons.

The day I came up with the story for Valentina and the Haunted Mansion was a dreary, rainy afternoon. I should’ve been studying for an important test for university, but instead I thought about this book. The idea was simple: a vampire girl moves into a mansion and finds a ghost, aimed at kids—the picture book I would’ve died to read back when I was a kid.

I hesitated though, because it had been years since I’d even touched a picture book. But I figured, since picture books are short, why not give it a shot. A few revision rounds later, I submitted the manuscript, and here we are.

After finding a home for Valentina and the Haunted Mansion with Evolved Publishing, I was inspired to keep writing for kids. I came up with the idea for the Weirdville lower grade chapter book series, starting with The Doll Maker, not long after signing the contract for the Valentina series.

In the Valentina series, it’s all about how even monsters can be scared of other monsters. It’s about showing kids that they shouldn’t be afraid of imaginary monsters.

I wanted to bring some of that magic to an older audience in the Weirdville series. The books’ protagonists are all kids, and they’re struggling with something dark and evil. Through their courage, intelligence and determination, they fight this evil—and they may or may not win.

When I was a kid, I loved scary books—the scarier, the better. There aren’t enough scary books out there for kids—preferably the kind that gives them a slight scare, but doesn’t keep them up all night—and the books that are there, like the Goosebumps series and Christopher Pike’s series of kids’ books, all date back from the 1990s. Kids want something new, something fresh, with protagonists who have cell phones and know how to use the internet. I wanted to fill that gap with the Weirdville series.

Like I said, it’s not an easy question to answer. On the one hand, I feel like there aren’t enough kids’ books out there in the genre I want to cover—speculative fiction, horror in particular—and on the other hand, I want to show kids that you’re never too young to overcome your fears, and to fight evil, in any shape or form.

One thing is for sure, though: I love writing kids’ books. It allows me to use my creativity in a way I never thought possible. For young adults, you have to explain stuff, like why there would be a monster under the bed. Kids don’t need explaining—they already know the monster is there, they just have to figure out if they’ll be afraid of it, or if they’ll befriend it.

~~~~~

Majanka Verstraete’s series are expanding in December, with the addition of Valentina and the Whackaddole Witch, House of Horrors, and Fright Train, all releasing on December 9th.

FIND MAJANKA’S BOOKS HERE:

Valentina_Haunted_Mansion_300dpi_200x286Amazon US
Apple iTunes-Books
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BookieJar
Diesel
Kobo
Smashwords
Sony
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
 
 
 
Weirdville_Doll_Maker_300dpi_200x320Amazon US
Apple iTunes-Books
Barnes and Nobleicon
BookieJar
Diesel
Kobo
Smashwords
Sony
Amazon CA
Amazon UK

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