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Lane Diamond Talks about the Future of Publishing

A frank, no-holds-barred discussion of the publishing business for both writers and readers.

LINKED POST
LaneDiamond102_760xManaging publisher/editor and author Lane Diamond, on his own website yesterday, weighed in on some of the debate raging about the future of the publishing business. Given that so much of his piece relates back to us here at Evolved Publishing, we thought it only appropriate to link it here so you can read it yourself, and perhaps offer your own comments. We know it’s a subject about which many are passionate. Just click the link below.
 
 
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The Future of Publishing – One Man’s Perspective

Author Jessica McHugh Discusses the Making of YA Coming-of-Age Series “Darla Decker Diaries”

This 3-part (for now) series will soon move to Round 2.

GUEST POST
Jessica McHughAuthor Jessica McHugh has dropped by to talk a little bit about her writing of Darla Decker Hates to Wait, the first book in the new young adult coming-of-age series called the Darla Decker Diairies. Early reviews are nothing short of stellar, so if you’ve not yet discovered this edgy new series, with Book 1 out and Book 2 coming soon, now is the perfect time. And now, we’ll let Ms. McHugh tell you how this entertaining series came to be.
 
 
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Breathing Real Life into a Fictional Young Girl

It began on April 12, 1989 with blue markers and heart stickers. Like a lot of girls, I kept a diary while growing up. Seven, actually. I spilled my heart and soul on those pages from the time I was seven years old until sixteen or so—about boys I “loved,” classes I hated, girls who annoyed me, punishments I received, and my great concern over discovering my brothers were (GASP) smoking cigarettes! Despite being afraid my family would sneak a peek at my diary, I was pretty honest with the pages—if you can’t be honest with your diary, who can you be honest with?

As I organized my Writing Hut one day, I stumbled upon those childhood diaries. Browsing through the silly entries and outlandish illustrations, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to base a series of YA books off of these? And to be as honest as these entries?”

Of course, I couldn’t do that. In late 2010, I was already slaving away on revisions for my Tales of Dominhydor series, editing my historical fiction Verses of Villainy, writing my novel PINS, and getting ready to oversee the production of my play Fools Call it Fate. Plus, after Dominhydor, I swore I’d never write a series again.

But once the title Darla Decker Hates to Wait popped into my head, I was doomed—or blessed, depending on the day. I was a huge Ramona Quimby fan when I was younger (I even have a Ramona Quimby diary!), but I wanted to raise the age and the edginess a bit. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t banish the idea to write a Judy Blume-esque series focusing on the frank nitty-gritty of growing up. That meant talking about French kissing, smoking, shoplifting, divorce, death, masturbation, and more, from the time Darla is eleven to when she graduates high school.

I tried to talk myself out of it, but Darla Decker quickly forced her way into my heart. In February 2011, I surrendered, and announced that I would write the series.

I’m afraid I’ll spoil you if I talk about too much, but rest assured, there’s lots of life on the horizon for Darla and her friends. I know basically where this series will go (and end), but if anything, these books have taught me to expect the unexpected. The first instance of that involved creating Darla’s circle of friends. I’d plotted out Darla Decker Hates to Wait to the fifth chapter before I began writing, believing a character named Nate Young would be Darla’s nemesis. Yet as I continued to weave the world of Shiloh Farms and Fairmount Middle School, Darla and Nate convinced me that they were meant to be friends. Best friends, even. That unexpected development led to one of the most enjoyable duos I’ve had the pleasure to write. Since I’m currently editing the third book Darla Decker Shakes the State, and writing the first chapter of the fourth, Darla Decker Plays it Straight, I can assure you that Darla and Nate only get more entertaining as the books go on.

Using my diaries and personal experiences, I’ve created an honest world in which Darla dwells. Not only are her thoughts and fears evident, an entire community functions in the background, from parents and teachers to classmates and neighbors. Writing a series as quickly as I’ve written the Darla Decker Diaries allowed me to immerse myself in this universe, in the hearts and minds of every character, no matter how small. I’ve felt their joys and sorrows, and honestly, it makes me wish I’d paid more attention to those background folks when I was Darla’s age. It’s a little painful, actually, because I have to be her age again as I write these books, and she doesn’t notice them any more than I did.

Ignorance is bliss—until it isn’t, and Darla will have her rude awakening, like most of us do as we grow up. Still, as protective as I am of my little Darla-ing, I must admit I’m also excited to run her through the pubescent wringer.

Darla Decker Hates to Wait by Jessica McHugh

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3D-DarlaDeckerHatesToWaitPatience is not Darla Decker’s strong suit. Surviving sixth grade is tough enough with an annoying older brother, a best friend acting distant, and schoolwork. After adding instructive kissing games and the torturous wait for a real date with her biggest crush, Darla is perpetually torn between behaving like an adult and throwing temper tantrums.

Games of flashlight tag, and the crazy cat lady roaming Shiloh Farms in a “demon bus,” serve as distractions during her parents’ quarrels and her anxiety about show choir auditions. Yet the more Darla waits for her adulthood to begin, the more she learns that summoning patience won’t be the hardest part of being eleven.

A frank and funny look at the path to adulthood, Darla Decker Hates to Wait begins a journey of love, loss, and the nitty-gritty of growing up through Darla Decker’s eyes.
 
 
 

Darla Decker Takes the Cake by Jessica McHugh

3D-DarlaDeckerTakesTheCakeComing December 1, 2014.

A week at Camp Wakonda is exactly what Darla Decker needs. Having said goodbye to sixth grade and her best childhood friend, she’s ready to create new memories and meet new people. Unfortunately, entering summer camp on a whopper of a lie and a fight with a fellow camper isn’t the best way to begin.

Aided by her schoolmate Nate, Darla navigates the twists and turns of life at summer camp while pretending to be Wakonda’s only “undercover counselor.” Despite the lies, older guys, bullies, and breakdowns, Darla discovers the truth about friendship through the mayhem and magic of camp.

A frank and funny look at the path to adulthood, “Darla Decker Takes the Cake” continues the journey of love, loss, and the nitty-gritty of growing up through Darla Decker’s eyes.

Author D. Robert Pease Discusses the Making of Epic Fantasy “Shadow Swarm”

This new epic fantasy is off to a great start!


 
GUEST POST
Bio_Pic-DRobertPease_v2_300dpi_760x790Author D. Robert Pease has dropped by to talk a little bit about his writing of Shadow Swarm, the new epic fantasy that is off to a roaring start. Early readers are loving it and spreading the word, and we wanted to do the same. As part of this, D. Robert Pease is hosting a raffle on Facebook (linked below), so be sure to check that out. And now, we’ll let Mr. Pease tell you how this entertaining book came to be.
 
 
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Bringing an Epic Fantasy to Life

Of the four(ish) books I’ve written, Shadow Swarm took the most effort, by far. I have a blog post dated June 3, 2007, and in that post I state that I had been writing what was then called Crimson Swarm about two or three years. I had actually written the post just after I finished the first draft. So, here we are in July of 2014, meaning I worked on it (off and on) for approximately ten years. That’s a long time to spend in one imaginary world.

I wrote the first drafts for all my other books during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and then edited for about a year afterwards. I’m not exactly sure what this comparison means, but I poured much of my heart and soul into this book, to be sure. I wrote a total of about thirty blog posts during the editing and rewriting phases of Shadow Swarm. It’s a fun exercise for me to look back and see my process along the way.

I posted little sketches, and detailed drawings of various locations and scenes (click the images to enlarge).
 
SS_Addlemort SS_ChambersOfWaiting SS_Voormarg SS_WarCouncil
 
 
 
SS_MapOf course there was a map, and I talked about creating a calendar to keep track of the days. There’s a post about languages I created for the book. High Aerodore is more of a code where I switched out letters for other letters, and changed the orders of words to make something that sounded pretty cool. I actually created this back in high school, so I guess you could say I worked on this book for almost thirty years.

Through the editing and rewriting phase I was a member of an online critique group called The Silver Griffin. This group of writers was invaluable in really helping me hammer out the story and prose. We were all at various stages of completion and experience but I’m convinced the story wouldn’t be near what it is now without their help. I highly recommend this approach, especially on your first book or two.

Several friends read through early drafts (and ripped into it good at times). I even shopped it around to a few agents, getting great feedback from one of my dream-agents, Kristin Nelson. Then the world of publishing changed with the self-publishing revolution, and I decided to go a new route. Eventually I did end up with Evolved Publishing, more of a hybrid small press than the traditional publishing company of the past. Much of what I do now, in terms of control over my career, is very similar to self-publishing, but I have great editors (Marissa van Uden and Lane Diamond) and a publisher behind me ready to lend support and ideas when the need arises.

I hope if epic fantasy is at all your thing, that you’ll give Shadow Swarm a try. To help push you over the hill of indecision, I’ve set up a raffle with a giveaway for a free signed hardcover version (U.S. only please) and a $50 Amazon gift card. Click the link below, and while you’re at it, I hope you’ll pick up an eBook version to read while you wait to see if you won the hardcover (and doing so will give you 10 more chances to win.)

LINK: RAFFLE ON FACEBOOK

Shadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease

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3D-ShadowSwarmAberthol Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that had raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that could not be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, or that his mother died while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano.

Aberthol doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet, ravaged by a war of the gods, and began anew.

All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin deep within a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.

The Pursuit of Quality and the Value of Book Reviews

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Managing Publisher/Editor Lane Diamond Discusses Evolved Publishing’s Commitment to Quality

A recent minor ruckus online has inspired me to talk about matters of quality and customer service as they relate to the book publishing marketplace. This ruckus came about because a book reviewer—an author and editor in her own right—posted a review in which she pointed out the many grammatical errors and poor writing/construction that appeared in a large swath of the book.

Now, this reviewer still rated the piece at 4 stars (pretty darned good), because she enjoyed the underlying story and characters. However, she struggled with the poor writing in many spots, and felt it important to point that out, along with the specific issues at hand, in her review.

The result? The author responded negatively, asking the review to be taken down. The author claimed that the reason for all the mistakes was that her book was published by a traditional publisher, which hired their own editor, and the author “didn’t have control over the boo-boos.” Well, first of all, writing them in the first place is the ultimate control, but never mind that. This really raised my hackles, and led me to want to discuss two separate issues.

ISSUE #1: Reviews are for readers, not authors!

In this new indie environment, there’s much to admire about how authors are taking control of their careers. However, we run into a few problems in this environment, too, not the least of which is the sense of entitlement a fair number of indie authors seem to express. Now, let me be clear about this: many indie authors are fantastic, doing it the right way, and I’m not trying to lump ALL indie authors together. However, this movement has spurred some new problems.

The author in question seems to think that reviews of her book are all about HER—helping her to market and sell her book. Wrong! Book reviews may indeed accomplish that, but their first purpose is to provide valuable information to consumers so that THEY may make informed decisions about which books to buy, and conversely, which ones to avoid. Reviews are for readers!

Really, it’s hard enough for readers to navigate the morass out there, and to find excellent, entertaining books—those raindrops in the vast ocean—without authors colluding/cheating/manipulating the system. And yes, an author contacting a reviewer, asking her to take down a review because “the mistakes weren’t her fault” is the worst kind of manipulation. It should never happen.

ISSUE #2: Traditional publishers do not guarantee quality, any more than small publishers automatically indicate poor quality.

This one truly gets under my skin at times, for obvious reasons. After all, I run a small publisher. And you know what? When we say “Quality is Priority #1,” we’re not just tossing around platitudes. We agonize over every piece we publish. At least one of our editors, and often two of them, pore over every single paragraph of a piece—every sentence, every word, every little punctuation mark—before we call it publishable.

Why do we do this? (It’s a ton of work.) Well, that’s easy to answer: we’ve always believed, since Day 1, that EP would distinguish itself from the new maddening crowd—the wild, wild, wild, wild west that is self-publishing—by providing the highest quality books possible. Indeed, we believed that we would only succeed in the end if we established a strong reputation for doing precisely that—and the brand recognition that would ultimately foster.

Are all of our pieces perfect? Of course not; no such thing as perfection exists, especially in the subjective arts. However, we get as close to “perfectly clean and professional” as we can. In fact, we quite often put up revisions to address the 3 or 4 or 12 errors that managed to sneak through the initial process, so that we eventually (might take 2 or 3 versions) have a mistake-free product out there. That too is a lot of work, but we do it because we’re committed to giving readers the best possible book.

The sad truth about traditional publishing is that, in response to the hard economic times they fell on starting in 2008, they laid off a bunch of editors. In some cases, they cut over half their editorial staff. And guess what? Quality has often suffered as a result. Go figure.

As in any business, customer service comes first.

Publishing is no different than any other business that provides a product. We must give you a quality product at a fair price to ensure a happy and positive customer experience. If you take the whole of our catalog, across all genres and styles, you would find we maintain an average of roughly 4.5 stars per review. This has been the case from our first book, and has continued right through to this point where we’re approaching 100 books. Each new book merely solidifies that grade, our reputation, and your reading experience.

Additionally, we continue to rack up awards (see our Awards Won page) and to build our base of reliable repeat customers. We’ve heard from many readers that they’ve enjoyed 3, 4, 6, even 12 or more of our books—across multiple authors and genres.

All of these things tell us what we need to know about how we’re running our business. And they tell you, dear reader, what you need to know, when you’re deciding on that next book to read, about what you can expect from our books.

As always, thank you for your support, and please feel free to engage with us at Facebook and Twitter, and to subscribe to this blog. You’ll find the necessary links at the bottom right corner of this page. You can also subscribe to our newsletter.

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