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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.


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 Amelia James Discusses Her Approach to Writing

“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

“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.


Valentina_Haunted_Mansion_300dpi_200x286Amazon US
Apple iTunes-Books
Barnes and Nobleicon
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Weirdville_Doll_Maker_300dpi_200x320Amazon US
Apple iTunes-Books
Barnes and Nobleicon
Amazon CA
Amazon UK

Books to make your Halloween more fun, or perhaps a bit spookier!

Gear up for Halloween with some great reading fun for your kids and for you.

Evolved Publishing offers a number of books that fit in nicely with the spooky-fun holiday, starting with books your kids are sure to have fun with, and ending with books that might you have afraid to turn out the lights late at night.

Tommy_Goes_ToT_300dpi_200x286Tommy Goes Trick-or-Treating by Emlyn Chand (Illustrated by Noelle Giffin)
[Children’s Picture Book for Kids 3-8 Years Old]

Tommy the woodpecker and his friend Michael the raccoon want to join the local children in their Halloween fun. Thanks to Tommy’s knock-knocking beak and Michael’s quick paws, the duo is able to heist many a candy bar from the unsuspecting homeowners and children. But will the mischievous duo learn the true spirit of Halloween?

Available in hardcover, softcover, and as a FREE eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
icon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.

Valentina_Haunted_Mansion_300dpi_200x286Valentina and the Haunted Mansion by Majanka Verstraete (Illustrated by Noelle Giffin)
[Children’s Picture Book for Kids 3-8 Years Old]

A little vampire girl who’s afraid of ghosts, and monsters, and the dark? Oh yeah. Strange things start to happen all around Valentina’s new house: footprints appear in the dust, a disembodied voice sneezes… and just because Valentina is a vampire, doesn’t mean she doesn’t get scared like any other little girl.

Available in hardcover, softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
TLK_TDSF_300dpi_200x300The Three Lost Kids & The Death of the Sugar Fairy by Karpov Kinrade (Kimberly Kinrade)
[Lower Grade Chapter Book for Kids 6-10 Years Old]

The Three Lost Kids are attacked by Sugar Bugs, face their fears in Cavity Cave, and battle giant Gummy Bears, all to save a dying Sugar Fairy who holds the fate of Halloween in her hands. Can the girls learn to work together, each using their strengths to save the day, or will their fighting trap them in Sugar Land forever?

Available in softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
Weirdville_Doll_Maker_300dpi_200x320The Doll Maker by Majanka Verstraete
[Lower Grade Chapter Book for Kids 6-10 Years Old]

Derek’s little sister wants one of those creepy-looking dolls staring at him from the strange new doll shop in town, and what his sister wants, she gets. Just one problem: the doll maker seems linked to a bunch of mysterious disappearances, and the last thing Derek wants is his sister being next on the doll maker’s list.

Available in softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
Well_Suited_Sentry_300dpi_200x300Well-Suited Sentry – A Short Story by Lane Diamond
[Short Story for Readers 16 and Up]

This prison sentry is unlike any other. You don’t want to cross him. Better that you should remain in your cell, follow the rules, and never get on his bad side.

Transgression comes at far too high a price.

Available as a FREE eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
FMA_v3_300_DPI_200x300Forgive Me, Alex by Lane Diamond
[Psychological Suspense Thriller – Mature Audience]

Tony Hooper stands in shadow across the street, one amongst many in the crowd of curiosity-hounds gathered to watch a monster’s release. Seventeen years after Mitchell Norton, the devil, terrorized Algonquin, Illinois on a spree of kidnapping, torture and murder, the authorities release the butcher from psychiatric prison.

The devil walks the world again. What shall Tony do about it? Aye, what indeed.

Available in hardcover, softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
Eulogy_300dpi_200x300Eulogy by D.T. Conklin
[Fantasy – Mature Audience]

‘They’ll stand amongst the corpses of the beloved.’ That’s what he said at the end, though I never considered myself one of the beloved, not at the beginning. I was simply a terrified woman then, but now… now I understand. Maybe I wish I didn’t.

Void take me, this is so demon-damned hard.

In the beginning, he loved me. Irony, it twists and twirls like a lover’s song, but this is hardly a lover’s tale. It’s one of blades and blood. I wish I could’ve seen it sooner, but that would’ve been too easy. I wouldn’t have learned to love him.

Available in softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.
WantedDeadOrUndead_v5_300dpi_200x300Wanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott
[Young Adult – Horror/Western]

When a fiery-headed cowgirl saunters through the saloon doors, wielding shotguns and a know-how for killing the living dead, Trace believes he just may be the luckiest man alive. She not only has the answer for how they can all outlive the plague taking over the wild, wild west, she is the answer.

Available in softcover, and as an eBook at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Nobleicon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony.

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