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11/26/14 Lies I Told

Lies I Told

 

“What if the worst lies you told were the ones you told yourself?”

ON SALE NOW from HarperTeen

 

“Highly readable, gripping and touching.” – Kirkus (starred review)

“… searingly honest…” – School Library Journal

“… a gripping, edgy thriller…” – Publisher’s Weekly 

“An addictive read.” – Booklist

 

Order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

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06/24/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beach Read Giveaway!

You guys… It’s summer! The kids are out of school, the sun is (mostly) shining, and I can finally turn off that pesky 6:15am alarm. Not only that, but after years of releasing books in the winter, I finally have a perfect beach read with my name on it.

As many of you know, LIES I TOLD is set in the fictional beach town of Playa Hermosa, California. All of Grace’s lies and deceit — not to mention her love affair with Logan Fairchild, the one boy she’s not supposed to love – are set against the backdrop of crashing waves, surfer boys, and sunshine.

To celebrate the intersection of these two awesome events, I’m giving away TEN awesome prize packs.

You heard that right; TEN!

FullSizeRender-26Each prize pack includes a signed hardcover of LIES I TOLD, a tote bag, a mini-notebook for all your secret summer thoughts, a summer-scented hand cream, raspberry lemonade lip balm, nail polish, tropical candy, peacock pocket mirror, and a LIES I TOLD/PROMISES I MADE bookmark.

As always, there are lots of ways to enter. Some of them you can do once a day and get a point for each one. Others (like leaving a review of the book if you’ve already read it) will gain you up to FIVE points all by themselves. I’m keeping this contest short, ending it on Monday July 6th so you’ll still have plenty of time to make use of your goodies.

Contest open to US mailing addresses only. Pattern on tote bag and notebook, and nail polish color, vary.

HAPPY SUMMER, YOU GUYS!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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06/06/15 Book News , Life , Reading , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , , , ,

Newsletter – Incoming!

After much deliberation I have decided to join the ranks of newsletter-bearing authors. One of the hardest things about authoring in the modern age is knowing how much to share, how often to share it, and whether people are REALLY interested in hearing it. Here, I’m my own worst enemy, because my assumption is always that people are busy and overloaded with information, and it takes something pretty special to compel them to read something else on their computer.

Do I have stuff to share that’s something special? I’ll let you decide. But I do have stuff to share — about reading, writing, and life.

And sometimes I even have NEWS.

😉

So after taking an informal Facebook poll and confirming that a good number of my readers would like a semi-personal, once-monthly, quick and easy to read account of what’s going on — with my writing and everything else — I decided to give it a whirl. My plan is to include a couple of real life things (recipes, things I’m loving that month, etc.) with a personal snippet and a book recommendation or writing tip. I’m planning to keep it one page, and only put it out once a month.

But the big thing is that I’m going to make as many announcements as possible to newsletter subscribers first. And that includes my next book announcement.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for the newsletter here in under ten seconds. And if you decide to opt out at any time, all you’ll have to do is hit the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each newsletter.

<3

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06/01/15 Lies I Told , Life , Reading , Writing # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BEA Fun!

BEA Fun!

Whew! I’m back from the city and still recovering from the whirlwind of awesomeness that is BEA. In short; books, bloggers, books, authors, books, editors and publicists, and more fun and excitement than I usually get in a whole year (which, now that I think about it, must change).

I kicked off BEA with the EpicReads Blogger Party. This was most memorable because I FINALLY got to meet my editor, the amazing Jennifer Klonsky. It’s such a special thing to speak to someone on the phone and online and think they’re special, and then to meet them in person and realize you were RIGHT. Not only is Jen an incredibly talented editor, but it’s also so obvious that she cares deeply about her authors and their work that it’s easy to feel like you’re in good hands. I also got to meet my tireless publicist, Stephanie Hoover, who deserves extra credit,because she planned the party at the Bourbon Street Grille. And it was SO FUN. There were balloons and a photo booth and tons of amazing food and swag bags and just general all-around awesomeness. Of course, I didn’t get a photo with anyone, because I’m always too wrapped up in the moment to bother taking pictures, but here’s one of me cheesing in the taxi on the way to the party.

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😉

The next day I arrived at the Javitz Center for my signing and was blown away to find people already in line for me at 9am. This might not seem like a big deal, but almost everyone is out late partying at BEA, so I really appreciate that these awesome folks got up early and made their way to the conference center to stand in my line.  


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I saw so many awesome readers, including Rebecca, a former Borders bookseller that I’ve known since Prophecy came out in 2009.


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I had an overflow line, but the people at BEA were nice enough to move me to another table at the end of my signing time, so I was able to keep going until every last book was gone. I was sad to hear later that I’d missed some of my of my favorite readers. Darn it! But these radiant beauties got my last two books.

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After my signing, we made our way to the HarperCollins booth, where I waited through an entire cycle of books to snap this picture of my cover on the digital screen. Because I am patient like that.

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I met lots of new readers and bloggers, and even got little presents from a few, including this cute little bag of goodies from Swoony Boys Podcast (there was candy, too…. but that’s gone now).

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:)

Then I was able to get a picture of Kenneth and Rebekah, who made me laugh, helped spread the word about my signing, and kept me from going insane or becoming dehydrated from lack of water.

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We spent the rest of the day walking the floor, picking up tons of amazing books, including the much-anticipated City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. I was also able to meet up with dear friends like M.J. Rose, which is always a special treat for a hermit like me.

But of course, I didn’t get a picture!

Later that night I attended the HarperCollins author party. It was basically perfection, and I had a good mix of time spent talking to other people in the industry and time alone, gazing out at the incredible views from Tribeca Rooftop and really appreciating how far I’ve come, and how lucky and grateful I am to still be writing books for a living, and to be living this wonderful, terrifying, exhilarating writing life. I’m glad I had those few moments when I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t need anything MORE. I’m going to try and remember that feeling for all those times when I feel like what I’ve done so far isn’t enough.

Because really, it’s pretty freaking amazing, and whatever else happens in my life, I will always have published these six (soon to be eight) books. I will always have been here. I will always have done this.

Plus, there were mini donuts, warm cookies, and shot glasses of milk.

😉


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After the party I met up with my sidekicks for a proper dinner (there was so much amazing food at the party, but I never eat much at those things because I’m always too busy visiting and taking it all in) in Tribeca. The lighting for pictures was poor, but I actually took one, and let’s be honest, it’s not possible for these two to take a bad picture.

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We left tired but happy. Conferences and workshops are a good reminder of why it’s so important to stay connected to the writing community — and that goes double for people like me. I’m lucky in some ways, because I feel like I can be happy and content in almost any situation. But that can be dangerous, too, because I get stuck in a rut, writing in my isolated barn house, feeling perfectly content until I actually go out and DO SOMETHING. Then I remember that I’m a change junkie, that I LOVE learning and experiencing new things, and I get the itch to do something dramatic.

This trip came at an especially important time. Kenneth and Rebekah just graduated from college and are looking for full time jobs in the city, and Andrew will be going to college in September. Most likely, it will just be Caroline and me in the fall, and she’ll be gone two years later. It was nice to have the reminder that I can still be engaged in grown up life without kids, that I have something to offer and something to gain by being around others. I returned home invigorated about my plans for the next two years (and boy do I have some surprises for you, readers!) and even more determined to begin laying the groundwork for the next phase of my life. I don’t know much about it yet, but I do know it will involve living somewhere else, travel, and lots and lots of writing.

No matter how much fun it is to be out of the routine, it’s always nice to come home. Especially when you’re welcomed by kids who are happy to see you.

And this.

<3

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05/07/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told , Uncategorized # , , , , ,

Winners All Around!

Well, it’s been exactly a month since LIES I TOLD released and I finally get to announce winners in the release day giveaway, plus one lucky Street Team winner. But first, a huge thank you to everyone who helped me spread the word. My street team especially really went to the mat for me, distributing swag all over their hometowns in places where teens were most likely to see it. I have no idea if this kind of guerrilla effort makes a difference in actual sales, but it sure made me feel amazing to have so much support at what can be a stressful (though exciting!) time.

Promises I Made, the final installment in the LIES duology, will be out in November. Then I have a VERY special surprise for my adult readers later in the year, plus a new YA romance out next summer (details soon). So please stay tuned for more bookish awesomeness, and of course, future giveaways. In the meantime, please continue to spread the word about LIES I TOLD to all your friends, and if you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon/B&N/Goodreads. It really does make a difference!

And now for the big moment…

Out of the 83 Street Team participants, the winner was lucky number 22. And that was TINA JOHNSTON! Tina has won a $100 Visa gift card, a complete set of my signed books, and a few other fun things that I’ll throw in as a surprise.

Congratulations, Tina!

We also have three winners in the release day giveaway.

The first prize winner is Layne Alexandria! Layne wins a $250 Visa gift card or gift card to the bookstore of her choice, Victoria’s Secret bath gel and body lotion, tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, and an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD).

Second prize goes to Karrie Millheim, who wins a $100 Visa gift card or gift card to the bookstore of her choice, Victoria’s Secret bath gel and body lotion, tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, and an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD).

And big congrats to our third prize winner, Tracee Baxter. Tracee wins a tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD) PLUS a signed ARC of PROMISES I MADE, sequel to LIES and the final book in Grace Fontaine’s story (out in November of this year).

Congratulations, all! I’ll be sending an email to make sure you know you won, and also to find out if you’d like Visa gift cards or book store gift cards.

Enjoy it all in good health!

<3

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05/01/15 Uncategorized # , , ,

Reader Questions

This post goes straight to CrazyBookFan from Goodreads who asked the following questions during the Young Writers Series;

What is the key to success to become a writer?

All you have to do to be a writer is to write. But if we’re talking about publication, I don’t think there is any one key. First and foremost, you must be the best writer you can be. That means writing with courage, digging deep to get to the heart of things even when it’s scary or it hurts. It means being willing to take constructive criticism in an effort to grow in your command of craft. It means being willing to write and write and write. Because that really is the only way to get better, and while writing an excellent book is no guarantee of publication, it certainly improves your chances.

How do writers publish their books and how does a book become successful?

For more on this topic, please see How Do I Sell My Book. As for success, that is a complicated combination of luck, timing, craft, and exposure/marketing. But again, you can always improve your odds by writing a great book — and then writing another one.

I think I see a theme developing…

<3

 

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04/29/15 Uncategorized # , , ,

Young Writers Series Week Eight; Rowing Your Own Boat (What To Do If the People Around You Don’t Take You Seriously)

I can hardly believe that we’re at the end of our eight week series. So much has happened! Two months ago, Lies I Told was on deck, and we were still battling sub-zero temperatures here in New York. Now Lies I Told is out to glowing reviews and Spring seems to have sprung at last.

And hopefully, you guys have eight more weeks ofinsight into writing and publishing.

😉

Last week we talked about how to juggle your social life, school, and other activities with writing. You can find links to previous weeks in that post.

The subject of this week’s post — Rowing Your Own Boat — could easily be written for writers of any age. That’s because writers of all ages sometimes have trouble getting support from the people closest to them — especially before they’re published. I think it’s because A) it’s such a solitary pursuit (how can they be sure we’re really writing as opposed to, say, painting our toenails? Or writing love letters to Channing Tatum?), and B) it’s has the kind of stars-in-your-eyes connotation of wanting to be a movie star or a ballerina. Is it possible? Yes. But the truth is, most of us won’t be a movie star or a ballerina.

So when we tell people we’re writers or say we’re “working on my next book”, it can seem a little… quaint, especially to those not initiated in the passion-filled, emotionally draining practice of bringing to life a whole new world, complete with people and everything.

If you’re a young person, this is probably exacerbated by the fact that you’re, well… YOUNG. I mean, you probably did want to be a ballerina or a princess or a firefighter or an astronaut not that long ago, right? And none of THOSE things worked out (this isn’t me talking – it’s your naysayer, whomever he or she may be). Why should this be any different?

I have four kids ages 15 to 22. They’ve had lots of interests and passions over the years, and many of them have gone by the wayside. As a parent, it’s sometimes hard to know what’s going to stick, and I’ve had to remind myself more than once that whether it “sticks” or not, it’s still my job to BELIEVE. As a freelance editor, I’ve also been in the position of reading work that runs the gamut from the barely readable to the extremely promising. In all of those cases, it’s been my job to be encouraging of someone’s dream while being tactfully truthful about how much work they may still have to do, even while acknowledging that some of those writers aren’t going to make it.

And I’ve had my share of naysayers, too. When I left my job as a Director of Marketing for a technology consulting firm to move to a tiny, rural town, hoping to find a better, simpler, more fulfilling life, one of my bosses at the time asked, “What will you do?” I said, “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll write a book.” He laughed and said, “About what?” The disbelief was loud and clear in his voice (I should have said, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe about that time I helped grow a company from $200k to $15 million in four years… 😉 ).  For years while I worked to get published after our move, I would sheepishly tell people who asked that I was a writer, and that I was working on my first, second, third, fourth, or fifth book. But before I was published, people’s eyes kind of glazed over with suspicion.”Hmm-mmm, SURE you are,” they seemed to be thinking. My husband (who is my ex-husband now) listened with barely passing interest when I spoke about my work and never read a single thing I wrote, even when I asked if he’d be willing to do so.

But doubters have always made me work harder. My competitive spirit is motivated by people who think I can’t do something, and to tell the truth, my “I’ll show them” mentality was at least partially responsible for my stubborn determination to keep going. At the same time, I understand how demoralizing it can be to row your boat alone, especially when you’re surrounded by people who only feed your self-doubt.

I wish I could give you a magic potion to make them believe, but we can’t make people believe in us or make them approve of how we spend our time or make them excited about our dreams. Basically, we have NO CONTROL over them.

What you DO have control over is YOU. You can choose to let these people slow you down, doubt yourself, even derail your dream completely. Or you can choose to WORK. Because that’s what it’s going to take. And if somewhere along the way you find that it’s not worth it or that you aren’t having fun anymore, by all means feel free to reconsider. I used to belong to an online writer’s group, and one time someone posted the question, “How do I know when it’s time to give up?” In response someone else wrote, “Go ahead and quit – if you can.” That really stuck with me. We’re not ALL meant to be writers, even if we love reading, even if we enjoy writing the occasional story or poem. I couldn’t have quit writing if I tried. It was literally saving my life in the depths of depression, and it was the thing I most enjoyed doing in my “down” time. I figured if I was going to write no matter what, I might as well keep trying to get my work out there. If writing is a compulsion for you, if it’s something you MUST do, if it’s something you would do for free your whole life through because you love it THAT MUCH, then what else are you going to do with your time that is as meaningful? And if it’s a compulsion, if you MUST do it, does it really matter what anyone else thinks?

All of which is not to say that it’s not disappointing when you don’t get support from friends and family. You’re allowed to be disappointed. It’s how you deal with that disappointment that will define you as a writer. Will you give up? Or will you work to be better? Will you keep trying? Will you keep your head down and keep doing what you must?

While I can’t solve this problem for you, I can give you some tips for dealing with it;

1. Write down the reason you love writing and place it somewhere you’ll see it whenever you have doubts. Whether your note to self reads “I write because I must” or “I write to tell the stories in my head” or “I write because I want to see my name on a book store shelf”, your note will likely remind you how SEPARATE your reasons for writing are from the people around you. When you write because you must, does it change anything that your best friend doesn’t believe you can do it (although I’d counter this might not be the best best friend you can find)? When you write because you have to tell the stories in your head, does it matter that your parents think writing won’t lead to a stable career? When you write because you want to see your name on a book store shelf, does it matter that your sister thinks writing is a waste of time? Your note will remind you that it’s not about them anyway.

2. Read as much as you can. Watch movies. Play great video games. Do anything that inspires you with great story.

3. Seek out support where you can find it. There are lots of wonderful online writing groups, and simply connecting with other writers has a way of keeping up your morale and reminding you that you belong to a timeless, far-flung tribe of storytellers. If you’ve found the right group of people, they will lift you up and give you feedback and cheer you on. If they don’t do these things, find another group. And remember not to give out sensitive personal information online.

4. Start a review blog. Reviewing books online is a great way to stay active in the conversation about books, reading, and writing, and it will also connect you to a larger group of people who are interested in the very same things. If you’re following my other advice, you’re reading regularly anyway. The time you spend writing out a quick review for the books you read may be worth the camaraderie you find in the book blog community.

5. Keep your head down and focus on craft. From the cliques that naturally form in any group (online or otherwise) to buzz about current trends in the marketplace, it’s easy to get distracted by internet noise. But just remember; none of this counts as actual writing, and none of it will make you BETTER. And that’s our goal, right? Because that’s the best shot you have at being published. So when you’re tempted to get involved in drama in your writers group or tempted to be downtrodden by someone’s dire predictions about the publishing marketplace or tempted to change what you’re writing to follow an up and coming trend, remember to keep your eye on the ball. Craft is the ball. Focus on getting BETTER, and everything else will follow.

That concludes our eight week Young Writer’s Series. I’ve had so much fun sharing this information with you, and I hope it’s been helpful. I’ll post a list of all eight topics with links so you can go back and read if you’re just joining us.

Writing has been the one constant in my life. It has seen me through depression and divorce and new beginnings and self doubt. Whatever happens in the “real” world, it is a comfort to know there are infinite worlds into which I can escape. When people talk about retirement, I can only blink. Retirement? From WRITING? What else would I do? What else would I WANT to do? No, I’ll be writing until the day I die. If you feel this way too, you’re probably a writer, and that is something you can carry with you wherever you go, whatever the circumstances of your life.

And the best part of all is that your journey is just beginning.

Make the most of it.

<3

 

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04/22/15 Uncategorized

Young Writers Series Week Seven; Keeping the Balls in the Air (How to Juggle School, Social Life, and Writing)

Wow! We’re almost done with the eight week Young Writers series. That went fast! So far we’ve covered everything from how to get your book published to the value added by agents and editors to self-editing. This week we’re going to focus on the big balancing act that is juggling anything creative with so-called real life. Although I don’t really like that concept, because I don’t know about you, but my writing is as much a part of my real life as anything else.

😉

As a teenager or college student, I know your life is jam packed with school, social outings, after-school activities like sports and clubs, homework, and family. Three of my four kids all have a creative passion (writing, fine art, and filmmaking), and I’ve seen how they struggle to find time for their art while also being a young person in today’s constantly connected world. And while I’d like to give you a magic bullet to solve the problem, I’m afraid it’s not that easy.

The first thing I’ll say is that it’s okay to narrow your field of interest a little. In fact, it’s natural. Kids usually have no idea what their passion is, which is one reason many parents sign up their kids for so many things. We want you to try everything! Because how will you know you love soccer or piano or science if you don’t do those things?

But as you get older and start to get a better feel for who you really are, it’s natural to find yourself gravitating toward some activities while also realizing you don’t enjoy others as much as you used to. Kenneth used to be super into sports. He was an amazing baseball and soccer player (I’ve since realized he’s one of those lucky people who is good at everything he tries), and he played for the town, for his school, and sometimes at the club level. Then when he got older, he tried hip-hop and found he really loved it. That led him to music, which led him to guitar, which led him back to piano (he’d tried it when he was a kid and didn’t like it). When he started composing music and felt that he’d found his true love, he quit sports altogether, because he realized he was spending all his time there wishing he was home playing music. That wasn’t his last stop though. He went on to find a passion for writing (there’s a strong writing gene on our family) and has since completed his first book and is currently working on a screenplay. Music has become something he does just for fun.

Some of his friends at the time would say things like, “Why do you quit everything?” It made Kenneth feel a little insecure, because he’d never thought of it that way. But then we talked and I explained that he quit more things than most of his peers because he TRIED more things than most of his peers, and it just isn’t practical to believe you’ll move into adulthood doing a hundred different things at any given time. The reason you try new things is to have the experience and see if you like them. You are under no obligation to continue if you hate it, especially if there’s something about which you’re more passionate.

Now don’t get your parents mad at me! I’m not saying you should go out and quite everything. I’m just saying if you find there are things you’re doing out of habit instead of because you really enjoy them, it might be time to reconsider (and this is good advice for adults too). Think about the energy you’re spending on things that you don’t enjoy very much, and consider how much progress you might make on something you DO enjoy if you took the time and applied it there. This might require a sit down with your parents, but its been my experience that above all else, most parents want their kids to be happy. If you explain your reasons for wanting to cut back on some of your extracurriculars to devote more time to writing (or anything else), I have a feeling they’ll  understand.

But before you go quite everything; consider this; writing time is more than just writing.

It’s true. Let me explain.

For a long time, I logged my writing hours like I would log hours on any job, pushing myself to write 6-8 hours a day. The truth is, I felt (and still feel) incredibly lucky to be writing for a living, and I never wanted to take that for granted. I was always trying to “prove” I deserved it by writing as much as possible. But after awhile, I realized my writing was becoming less inspired, and a big part of the reason was that I was WRITING more at the expense of LIVING more. And living leads to the experiences and inspiration that make for good writing. I realized when I was out and about, seeing movies with my kids or hiking or reading a newspaper article or even driving somewhere, I was processing all of those experiences and stories and sensations, storing them away for later use. Even when I wasn’t aware I was doing it, snippets of those moments would come back to me when I was sitting at the computer – how the sunset swept the sky orange and pink, the way someone tilted their head when they talked, making it seem like they were always a little confused, the weight of the air on a particularly hot and humid day. And I was getting ideas too! From newspaper articles and books and movies and overheard conversations. In fact, if I logged all of THOSE hours, the ones I came to think of as time spent filling the creative well, I was putting in a good six hours a day at minimum, and usually a lot more. Then I might only write for two hours, but it was an inspired two hours.

😉

All of which leads me to advice that is no less true for its ambiguity. The truth is, we all have to find a way to balance the logistics of daily living with our creative drive. It doesn’t get easier as you get older, it just changes. The one thing that has made all the difference for me is to have a schedule.

My schedule has changed over the years. In the early days, I wrote from 9pm to 1am and sometimes later. This is because I had little kids who needed my attention, and it was the only time I was guaranteed time to write. It meant I was exhausted when I woke up at 6am to get the kids to school, but I learned to go back to bed for a couple extra hours of sleep while they were at school, then stay up late writing again (I work better in the afternoons and evenings, which is why I didn’t just write during the day while the kids were in school). When the kids got older, I blocked off 7pm-9pm during the week, because they were usually doing homework and taking showers anyway, and afternoons were spent running from one after school activity to another. Nowadays, I have two writing blocks; 3pm-5pm (my kids can mostly drive themselves around now) and 7pm-9pm. If something comes up during one of these blocks, I know I have at least two hours left to write on any given day. Everyone who knows me knows that this is sacred time. I don’t answer my phone and don’t schedule appointments during those times if I can avoid it. If you have friends who work at a movie theater or a restaurant, odds are they can’t take calls or check their phone while they’re on the clock. Consider your writing time work time and follow the same rules.

But you may not be able to commit to two hours of writing every day. And that’s okay! Let’s look at how long it would take to write a book if you blocked off different amounts of time (assuming about 750 words an hour and a 70,000 word book);

2 hours per week; About 10 months

2 hours per day, twice a week (say Saturday and Sunday); About 5 months

1 hour per day x 5 days a week; 4-5 months

8 hours per week (say four, two-hour blocks); About 3 months

12 hours per week (say, over Summer); About 2 months

Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s not about HOW MUCH TIME you spend writing. It’s about CONSISTENCY. Even if you only write two hours per week, you WILL STILL HAVE A FINISHED BOOK IN TEN MONTHS. That’s about the length of one school year. Alternatively, if you spend your school year focusing on school and school-related activities and only write in the summer, you can have a book done in eight weeks.

Now you might be thinking, “There’s a big difference between eight weeks and ten months!”

There is. About eight months difference. But the end result is the same; you have a finished book. And that’s assuming you’re writing a novel. If you’re working on poetry or short stories instead, you would have A LOT of finished work during that time. And whatever you do, it will result in more finished work than if you do nothing.

Lastly, take advantage of small amounts of time. For years I wouldn’t bother writing unless I had a good hour or two. When I finally started taking every spare 30-minute block I could find, I was shocked by how much more quickly my word count piled up. Using our formula above, a half hour a day five days a week still puts you at under ten months to finish a whole book. Most of us can find a 30-minute block of time each day — even if it’s that half hour after practice or the half hour between getting home from school and eating dinner or the half hour we spend mindlessly reading Buzzfeed articles. And if you need a little help staying focused, I highly recommend a program called Freedom, which allows you to block social media sites and/or your WIFI connection for set periods of time. You’ll get more done in 30 minutes of focused writing time than in an hour of back and forth between your manuscript and Twitter. I use Freedom almost religiously when I’m drafting, and it’s startling how much more focused I feel, even for thirty minutes, when I KNOW I can’t access the internet.

Let’s recap tips for balancing writing and real life!

Be willing to narrow your field of interest to make more time for writing.

Talk to your parents if you feel you’re over scheduled and need more downtime.

Be willing to sacrifice some of your “empty” downtime, like TV, surfing the internet, social networking, etc.

Be honest about your time wasters and use a program like Freedom if necessary to disconnect from the internet.

Make a schedule that will guarantee you a certain amount of writing time each week.

Attach your writing time to activities that rarely change, say, right before or after dinner.

Take advantage of small blocks of time to chip away at your word count or revisions.

Remember that living and thinking and learning and experiencing all count as filling the creative well. When you absolutely can’t write because of your schedule, don’t feel guilty! Enjoy the moment you are in and trust that it’s all contributing to your bank of experiences – which will only make your writing better your whole life through.

I hope this helps!

It’s hard to believe, but next week is our last week on the Young Writers series. We’ll be talking about Rowing Your Own Boat (What To Do If the People Around You Don’t Take You Seriously). Of course, you can always leave questions in the Comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

In the meantime, I hope you’ve all had a chance to pick up LIES I TOLD. I have been totally blown away by the response to this book (see my post about Kirkus’s tweet!), and I’m very excited to share it with you.

<3

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04/20/15 Lies I Told , Life , Writing # , , , , , , , , , ,

Kirkus calls LIES I TOLD a “touching” Thriller!

It’s been such a whirlwind two weeks celebrating the release of LIES I TOLD that I’m just now getting to share this with you guys.

A few months ago I found out Kirkus had given LIES I TOLD a STARRED review. Most of you probably know this is a big deal; Kirkus is notoriously tough on writers, and they have a very, very high bar to star something. I was completely blown away and grateful, because the review really validated all the hard work I’ve done on craft these past couple of years.

Fast forward to release day and THIS pops up in my Twitter feed;

photo-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, you’re reading that right. Kirkus actually tweeted about LIES I TOLD, calling it a “touching” thriller and making it clear that it’s an exception to the rule.

So… yeah. I’m just kind of bragging.

😉

And sharing! And reminding you that LIES I TOLD is out now, and I’d love if you’d give it a shot. And if you already HAVE given it a shot and enjoyed it, I’d love it if you’d post a review on Amazon/B&N/Goodreads, because it really helps bring the book up in the search algorithms.

For those of you who have done all these things and more, I continue to be grateful and overwhelmed by your support. I think I have the best readers in the whole world.

<3

 

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04/15/15 Uncategorized , Young Writers Series # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Young Writers Series Week Six; Agents and Editors (What They Do and Why We Need Them)

Welcome back to the Young Writers series! I seem to be running at least a day late every week, but this week I have a great excuse; LIES I TOLD released last Tuesday!!! I’ve been super busy with interviews and blog tours and promotion. Things are starting to calm down a bit, which is a good thing. I love talking to readers, but my favorite part is still the writing. I’m happy to be back in my office working this week.

Last week on the Young Writers Series we talked about how to sell your book. I took you through the process step by step, from getting an agent to revising to “subbing” to editors. This week we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of agents and editors, namely what they do and why we need them.

Let’s talk about agents first.

If you read last week’s post, How Do I Sell My Book, you know that you really must have an agent if you want to sell to any of the big traditional publishing houses. They just don’t accept unagented manuscripts anymore. And even if your favorite aunt is the CEO at HarperCollins, you’ll STILL want an agent. Here’s why.

There are good agents and there are GREAT agents. A great agent (which I so happen to have, luck me!) will work through edits with you before submission. Not every agent wants to do this, and that’s okay. But very, very few never-before-published authors are going to hit it out of the park on their first try. Even after you’ve edited your book multiple times and hired an outside editor, odds are good that your book will still need some work if you want to put your best foot forward. I saw this firsthand when I tried to sell what was my second finished book. I had a different agent back then, and we did very, very little work on the book before sending it out to editors. Nine months later, it hadn’t sold and I made the decision to find an agent who was more hands-on with editorial feedback. Fast forward to Prophecy of the Sisters and the TEN MONTHS I spent in revisions with my current agent and you get a three-day pre-empt from Little Brown and a deal that was much bigger than anything I had expected. That just wouldn’t have happened if I’d gone out with my first version of the manuscript. It can be maddening to work through revisions on the front end, but it’s almost always worth it.

Once you begin to sub, a great agent will have street cred that will get your manuscript read faster, and they will also be able to negotiate terms that are favorable to you when it comes to royalty rates, bonuses, geographic rights (some books sell World rights, but if you sell World English instead, your agent may be able to sell your book’s subsidiary rights to a foreign market, and that money goes straight to you instead of toward your publisher’s advance). They will have a good handle on the personalities of various editors and what it might be like to work with them, and they will know which publishers are more likely to follow through on marketing promises (something that matters in a big way). They will continue to be a liaison between you and your editor if anything tricky arises, i.e. deadline related issues, marketing problems and questions, payment concerns, etc.

And none of this ends with your agent. Assuming your agent works for an established agency, you will have lots of legal counsel backing you up. In addition, publishers value their relationships with great agencies, and they will work hard to insure that both you AND your agency are happy with the way you’re treated.

Once your book is sold and settled in its new home, a great agent will guide your career and advise you about long-term strategy. The publishing industry is rapidly changing, and timing plays an important role in how well a book is received. I’ve often had two or more ideas in the queue at a time, and it’s been invaluable for me to pitch them all to my agent and get his feedback on which one has the best chance of selling in the current market.  Great agents also have film and TV connections that can be beneficial to you. In addition to writing books that have sold into traditional publishing, I’ve also written for ABC and have worked-for-hire on books with two other publishers. I’ve collaborated with a well-known adult writer on a YA project, something that was made possible because my agent heard the author was looking for a partner, and I’ve written for an app company. Even if you’re not interested in any of these avenues right now, the publishing process can be fickle and SLOW. You won’t always get paid on time, and sometimes you won’t sell a book, even after you’ve been published. Having an agent with widespread connections can gain you off-the-beaten track opportunities that will help pay your bills during the lean times.

In short, the 15% I pay my agent is MORE THAN WORTH IT. I have never begrudged him a cent, because he works incredibly hard for me. He brings game changing expertise and experience to the table, and I have made back that 15% a hundred time over because of his role in my career.

Once your book is sold, the majority of your communication about the project will be directly with your editor. He or she will send you revisions, introduce you to marketing and publicity at the publishing house, and be your main contact for everything related to the book they’ve acquired.

A great editor is one who both understands your vision for the project (hopefully this is a given if they’ve bought your book) and one who will push you to make it the best it can be within that framework. An editor isn’t going to give you all the answers. They’re going to tell you the problems and trust YOU to come up with the answers. This doesn’t mean you can’t run things by them, but you shouldn’t expect them to tell you how to do your job.

Their job is finding potential problems. Yours is to fix them.

A great editor makes all the difference in the finished product of your book, and a great finished product is the best insurance policy you can get in terms of your long term career. A great editor will bring out your manuscript’s potential by guiding you through more revisions with a flexible hand. This matter because once your book has sold, you can expect at least one more round of fairly significant revisions, and maybe more.

Beyond the actual editing, a great editor is someone who LOVES YOUR WORK. He or she believes in you as a writer and wants to see you succeed. They can be your fiercest advocate at the publishing house, fighting for marketing dollars, turning down covers that are less than stellar, and campaigning to buy more of your work. If they really want to keep working with you, they will often engage in a dialog about what they might like to see from you next, giving you a better chance of selling another book to that publishing house.

So as you can see, agents and editors provide a unique set of skills that will help you with both your writing and your long-term career. In my mind, the value they add isn’t even in question, at least not with traditional publishing.

But it’s a two way street. Here are some things you can do to be a good client (to your agent) and employee (to your editor);

1. Keep your communication concise and professional unless and until you know each other well enough to discuss personal matters.

2. Let feedback on your manuscript settle before responding. It’s easy to sound snippy in an email when you’re feeling defensive about your work. And snippy isn’t professional.

3. Be willing to hear your agent and editor out in matters where you might disagree. Remember that they have their area of expertise, and you have yours.

4. Be on time. Try not to take license with the fact that you’re in a creative field. Few employees can get away with being consistently late and plan to keep their job for any length of time. Treat your professional commitments like the promises they are (barring some kind of catastrophe, which does happen now and again) and you will gain the good will of your agent and editor, as well as a reputation for being easy to work with.

5. Never, ever badmouth your agent or editor. If you’re not happy and a friend asks for feedback, you can be honest privately about your experience, but it’s just not professional to badmouth a colleague in ANY business.

6. Know when it’s time to be a team player. Like all businesses, publishing requires that everyone work together. There will be times that you won’t like how things are going. You may be angry about the amount of marketing given to your book (especially if you were promised more), about your cover design, about the amount of conferences (or lack thereof) in which you’re asked to participate. There’s a time to push back on issues like these and others like them and a time to be a team player. Once your editor makes it clear THIS is your cover, for example, there is often NOTHING you can do to change it. You can ask, but if they say something like, “We feel strongly this is the right cover, so we’re going to go out with it and see how it goes,” that means the decision has been made, and the best thing you can do for your career AND your book is plug that book (and its cover) for all you’re worth, be gracious about it, and hope for the best. Being openly angry won’t help you once the decision is made (or before, for that matter, when a calm discussion is in order).

Join me next week for Keeping the Balls in the Air (How to Juggle School, Social Life, and Writing).

And I hope you’ll all pick up a copy of LIES I TOLD! I’ve spent the last couple of years really focusing on craft, and I’ve gotten so many emails and comments and reviews saying this is my best book yet. I’m excited to share it with you guys!

<3

 

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04/09/15 Funny , Lies I Told , Life # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LIES WE TOLD Video

I’m so excited to share the video Caroline and I put together to celebrate the launch of LIES I TOLD. This isn’t a book trailer. It’s a compilation of lies told by or to real life people, and their explanation of how the lie changed them and how they moved past it. Some of them are funny, some heartfelt, and one is even shocking, but one thing the video illustrates is something Grace Fonataine in LIES I TOLD knows firsthand; Sometimes the worst lies we tell, are the ones we tell ourselves.

And my lie is in here, too. Yikes!

Enjoy! And you’ll get extra entries on the massive $250 gift card giveaway if you share the link.

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04/07/15 Contests & Giveaway , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s LIES I TOLD Release Day!

It’s LIES I TOLD Release Day!

And YOUR chance to win tons of amazing goodies.

😉

This book is so important to me, and while I’m going to do a longer blog post tomorrow about the thematic elements and why I believe Grace is someone everyone can identify with (even if you haven’t been adopted by a “family” of scheming con artists), today I just want to say….

YAY! Yay for me and yay for all of you who have helped and supported me through the years. I’m lucky to feel like I “know” so many of my readers. When I sign into social media, it’s often like entering a giant coffee klatch where everyone is cheering each other on, celebrating the good times and propping each other up during the bad.

Writing has been a lifesaver for me in more ways than one. Aside from being the only source of income for my family (I’m a single mom), it also serves as a distraction from my often persistent inner demons. No matter how depressed or anxious or sad or sacred I get, writing is always there to get me out of my own head. And sometimes, that’s the only cure for what ails me.

Anyway, this is all just to say… thank you. Thank you for buying my books and spreading the word and sharing my posts online and propping me up when the going gets tough. In the coming days, I’ll be posting specific ways you can help this book succeed, this heartfelt book that has FOUR out of FOUR stellar trade reviews, including a star from Kirkus (hint for now; buy it, review it, tell your friends about it).

Now let’s talk swag.

😉

Those of you who have been with me awhile  know that I am (*cough*) kind of famous for giving good swag. And while change is usually a good thing, I kind of want to keep my swag creed, thank you very much.

With that in mind, I’m offering up THREE awesome prizes;

photo-29First Prize; a $250 Visa gift card or gift card to the bookstore of your choice (gift cards are not pictured since I don’t know which one the winner will want), Victoria’s Secret bath gel and body lotion, tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, and an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD).

Second Prize; a $100 Visa gift card or gift card to the bookstore of your choice, Victoria’s Secret bath gel and body lotion, tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, and an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD).

Third Prize; Tropical inspired nail polish and candy, grapefruit lip balm, a bookmark, peacock pocket mirror, an entire library of my signed, currently published books (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, A Temptation of Angels, This Wicked Game, and LIES I TOLD) PLUS a signed ARC of PROMISES I MADE, sequel to LIES and the final book in Grace Fontaine’s story (out in November of this year).

photo-30You can enter in so many ways, all of them centered around helping me spread the word about LIES I TOLD. You can do simple things like share the link to this giveaway or a link to the LIES WE TOLD video. You can change your Twitter picture to the cover or write a lie on a tiny piece of paper and hide it somewhere, then post the picture with the hashtag (see photo of mine), each  for FIVE entries. You can do some of the things once a day for the duration of the giveaway (earning up to 30 entries if you do them every day), and others will earn you as many as FIVE entries in one shot. Basically, you can do as much or as little as you want! You MUST use #LiesITold on all Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr entries for them to count. You also must be following me on those sites if you post there. Contest runs through May 7th at Midnight EST and is open to residents of the US and Canada. The Lies video mentioned as an entry option will be up later today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, you guys! I can’t wait to see all your posts (and keep your eyes out for mine, because I plan to leave some lies around, too…)

<3

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04/06/15 Uncategorized , Writing , Young Writers Series # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Young Writers Series Week Five; How Do I Sell My Book?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the Young Writer’s series. I missed last week completely! I was so slammed with launch stuff for LIES I TOLD (out tomorrow, you guys! Please pick up a copy!), plus a deadline on another book, that I kept meaning to catch up and just never did. So we’ll call this Week Five and get back on track.

:)

Last week we talked about outside advice; how to make it work for you and how to know if you should take it when offered.

This week we’re talking about the nitty-gritty of selling your book. For most writers, publication is the goal through all the late writing nights, crippling self-doubt, and endless revisions that make up the process of writing. If it’s not, that’s totally okay! There is a lot to be said for doing something just for the joy of it.

But if you want to see your book published, this post is for you.

The sales process in publishing is a lot longer and more involved than most people realize. Some of it is dependent on the type of publishing you choose (see Week Two in this series), but for our purposes here, we’re going to focus on selling your book to large traditional publishers like HarperCollins, RandomHouse, Scholastic, Little Brown, , Simon and Schuster, and Penguin.

First of all, you need a finished manuscript. Yes, finished. Unless you’re writing non-fiction or have published books before in your genre, a partial probably isn’t going to cut it. So before you do anything else, finish your book, revise it, give it to a beta reader or editor, and revise it some more. I know it’s tempting to cut corners on the editing side. You finished a whole book! You want to see it on the shelves of a bookstore! But you won’t usually have a chance to resubmit to an agent or editor once they reject a certain project, so you don’t want to go out with less than your best work. Polish it until you literally can’t go any further with it on your own.

Once you have a complete manuscript, you need to look for an agent. Some people don’t think you need an agent, and while there might be room for discussion in some areas, you DEFINITELY need an agent if you plan to sell to traditional publishing. None of the big publishers accept unaccented manuscripts, and neither do most of the small ones. And that’s just for starters. There are TONS of other reasons, which I’ll save for next week’s topic, Agents and Editors (What They Do and Why We Need Them). For now, let’s operate on the assumption that you trust me on this.

😉

The best way to look for an agent is to find out who represents your favorite books and/or subscribe to the Deal Report at Publisher’s Marketplace (it was $20/month when I sold Prophecy. It might be a bit more now). Through the deal report you can search recent deals in your genre to make sure the agent your interested in has a solid track record of selling books like yours. This is important, because anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves an agent. You want someone with a proven track record of selling consistently. Have you ever heard the saying, “A bad agent is worse than no agent?” No? Well, you have now, and it’s true. Hold out for someone great. If you query thirty agents with fantastic track records and none of them feel confident that they can sell your book, it might mean the book isn’t ready or the timing isn’t right. Go to work on another project, even if you choose to query less experienced agents. It will keep you sane and will give you something else to sell in the event your first book doesn’t. Plus, I think you’ll be surprised by how much you’ve learned and grown since your last book.

Before querying you’ll need the following (in addition to your finished manuscript);

1. A query letter – this is a one page letter (you can find examples online) explaining why you’re querying this particular agent (they want to know you’ve done your homework and querying them because you genuinely think they’d be a good fit for the project – not just because you’re querying every agent known to man or woman), a brief paragraph or two about your book, and a closing that provides the word count and an offer to send a partial or full. Most agents will request a partial before they request the full manuscript. This could be a ten page partial or a fifty page partial or anything in between. Sometimes they’ll just request a synopsis, which brings me to my next point. But first, here’s my query letter for Prophecy of the Sisters, aka Indigo Sky, and the book that started it all and got me the agent I still have today;

 

June 20, 2007

AGENT NAME
AGENT ADDRESS
CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE

ATTENTION: AGENT NAME

Dear NAME OF AGENT,

I came across your name while researching potential agents for my YA novel. Your interest in fantasy and work with a paranormal edge makes me believe you might be a good fit for my YA Gothic fantasy, INDIGO SKY

It’s 1890 and sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe is at war with the person she loves most – her twin sister.

Alice and Lia are orphans reeling from the mysterious death of their father in the forbidden chamber known as the Dark Room. Immediately after his death, Lia begins having dreams in which she travels the skies at will while her body lies sleeping. But the dreams are not nearly as strange as the symbol blooming on her wrist – that of a snake entwined circle known as the Jorgumand.

Lia soon discovers that Sonia, a young psychic, bears nearly the same Mark. When Sonia shares with Lia the biblical tale of the Watchers, they begin a quest to solve a series of riddles found in a primordial book called The Book of Chaos. If Lia cannot solve the puzzle before her sister, she will lose more than her sanity, she will lose her very life – and bring about the apocalypse foretold in mythological legend the world over. Her journey takes her to the shadowy Astral Plane, to the nether reaches of the spirit world, and to the face of evil itself.

INDIGO SKY is complete at 78,000 words. I welcome the opportunity to send it at your request.

Warmest regards,

Michelle Zink

EMAIL ADDRESS

CONTACT PHONE NUMBER

 

Simple, right?

2. A synopsis – I advise having that synopsis prepared, a basic one page synopsis that gives a high level explanation of the events in your book, and a four to five page synopsis that is much more detailed. Don’t be coy here. The agent wants to know what’s really going on in the book and more or less how it ends. I’m giving you guys the goods by also including my one-page Synopsis for Prophecy of the Sisters below;

 

Indigo Sky – Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe’s life is in danger from the person she loves most – her twin sister.

It’s 1890 and Lia and Alice Milthorpe are orphaned twins reeling from the mysterious death of their father and working to cheer their crippled younger brother, Henry. After their father’s sparsely attended funeral, they return two days a week to Wycliffe, a private school for wealthy girls, and attempt to settle into some kind of normalcy.

But Lia’s reality begins to unravel with sensory-rich dreams that occur more and more frequently, bringing with them a winged demon that chases her through the velvet sky of her nightmares. The dreams are followed by the discovery of an unusual mark on the inside of her wrist – that of a serpent devouring its own tail. The strange happenings make Lia long to confide in her sister, but Alice becomes more and more withdrawn, and Lia resolves to find the answers on her own.

But it is only when James discovers an ancient tome entitled “Librum Maleficii et Disordinae”, or “The Book of Chaos”, that Lia begins to understand the timeless battle of which she is a part – the battle between the demonic Lost Souls, fallen angels of the biblical Watchers, and those who try to shield the physical world from their reappearance.

The Prophecy outlined in the Book dictates that the battle continues through a long line of sisters. In each generation one sister is the Guardian, and one the Gate. The Guardian is tasked with shielding the physical world from the reappearance of the Souls. The Gate is the pathway back that will begin the Seven Plagues outlined in the biblical Book of Revelations.

Lia becomes certain she is the Guardian and her sister the Gate. When she discovers that a beautiful young psychic and an outcast from Wycliffe both bear the Mark, the three girls set out to unravel the Prophecy’s riddle and discover how they might guard the world from The Gate. The task is great enough – and is made greater still when Lia discovers the truth hidden in the Prophecy’s riddle.

A truth that will call into question everything she believed she knew about her sister – and herself.

And now there is so much more at stake, for if Lia cannot find before her sister the Keys foretold in the Prophecy, she may lose more than her sanity. She may lose her very life – sacrificing the lives of those she loves most in the process.  Her journey takes her to the shadowy Astral Plane of the Otherworlds, to the nether reaches of the Spirit World, and to the face of evil itself.

 

These are the query and synopsis’s that started my career. I hope they help you, young writers!

Now, once you have agent, that agent should take you through some revisions on your book. Even when we think our books are perfect, they’re rarely ready to sell the first time out the gate, even if you’ve revised with an editor or reader. A good agent has their finger on the marketplace and will know how to tweak your manuscript so it’s in the best position to sell. Once you’re through revisions with your agent, the book goes out “on sub” or on submission. This means your agent is sending it to editors he or she knows that are looking for your type of project. This is excruciatingly painful for the author. You’ve finally done it! You’re book is on sub! It could sell any minute!

Except it probably won’t. Most editors will take at least a month to get back to your agent, and some will take longer. You MIGHT get lucky and be in the very tiny percentage of authors whose books sells at auction (more than one house is bidding on the book at a time) or in a pre-empt (one publisher steps up and offers a lot to keep it from going to auction), but most of the time, the process is much slower and less exciting than that.

Work on something else.

Again, it will keep you sane, and it will give you something else to sell if this book doesn’t. Because yes, that’s right; just because you’re on sub doesn’t mean your book will sell. My second book VERY NEARLY sold, but it just didn’t quite make it. While it was on sub, I wrote the book that would become PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS, and the rest is history.

If your agent receives several rejections, he or she may feel it’s time to throw in the towel and start fresh with a new project. This is super devastating, no way around it. Assuming your agent IS a good one (see above), he or she will probably have submitted to somewhere around ten houses, so if someone hasn’t snapped it up by then, the odds are slim that you’re going to get a sell somewhere else, unless you’re willing to go to much smaller presses (which also have much smaller advances and a lot less to offer in terms of marketing – totally okay if you’re okay with it!). This is when it will be handy to have another project waiting in the wings. Most agents will be happy to look at your next project if your first one didn’t sell, assuming you want to stick it out with them. If you don’t, you start the process over with a different agent.

And that’s the process in a nutshell.

That’s quite a nutshell, eh?

😉

Next Week we’ll be back on track with Week Six; Agents and Editors (What They Do and Why We Need Them).

And please remember that LIES I TOLD releases TOMORROW! Ahhhh! It would mean so much to me if you would consider picking up the book and helping me spread the word online. I’m going to put up a giant giveaway tomorrow with tons of awesome stuff (gift cards! a whole signed MZ library! Victoria’s Secret bath products!), so please come back for a visit.

<3

 

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03/27/15 Lies I Told # , , , , , , ,

A FOURTH Glowing Review for LIES I TOLD

You guys… pinch me. I can’t believe this is real. Yesterday I found out LIES I TOLD has garnered another lovely, gushy review from Publisher’s Weekly. Trade reviewers are tough to please, and I think this might be the first time since the Prophecy series that I’ve had across the board awesome reviews for a book.

Here it is;

Seventeen-year-old Grace endured the foster care system for years until a pair of thieves adopted her, employing Grace and her older brother, Parker, for their cons. Ever since, Grace has spent four months in one place, five months in another, changing her name, personality, and friends in service of her parents’ schemes. Now the family has landed in Playa Hermosa, Calif., gearing up for their greatest con yet—snagging $20 million in gold bars, hidden in the house of a local family. Grace’s job is to get close to handsome Logan Fairchild to find out where they keep the gold, and Zink (the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy) builds significant tension as Grace begins to fall for her mark and make real friends, throwing her loyalties and decision-making into flux. It’s a gripping, edgy thriller that’s driven as much by the internal conflicts of its sympathetic heroine as by the threats that the con will come crashing down around Grace and her family. A dramatic 11th-hour twist will leave readers eager for more. Ages 13–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.)

I worked incredibly hard on this book and spent a lot of time fine-tuning my knowledge of craft. I couldn’t be more pleased that it’s is being received so favorably. If you haven’t preordered yet, would you consider doing so? First week sales (all preorders go to first week sales) are so important to a book’s success, and I would really appreciate it! Plus, if you order from Oblong Books and Music by April 1st, I can sign and personalize your copy, and you’ll get a pretty little peacock pocket mirror as well. If you order from Amazon or B&N, the price is significantly cheaper when you preorder, and they don’t actually bill you until the book ships.

Thanks so much for your support!

<3

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03/26/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog Tour Stops for LIES I TOLD

Less than two weeks until the launch of LIES I TOLD, and I have so many fun things planned for you guys! Starting with a blog tour chock full of never-before-released excerpts, interviews with moi (don’t lie – you’ve always wanted to know what kind of milkshake LIES I TOLD is and what my favorite song is right now), tons of random things about me and the book (hint; there is one and only one game that I’m addicted to on my phone… 😉 ), playlists, and almost twenty chances to win a LIES I TOLD prize pack.

Please join me in showing some love to the blogs hosting LIES I TOLD;

 

March 22nd   ReadingTeen   http://www.readingteen.net/

March 23rd   Reading Lark   http://readinglark.blogspot.com/

March 28th   MundieMoms   http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/

March 29th   FictionFare   http://fictionfare.blogspot.com/

March 30th   Stories and Sweeties   http://www.storiesandsweeties.com/

April 1st   The Irish Banana   http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com

April 2nd   Dark Faerie Tales   http://darkfaerietales.com/

April 4th   Page Turners   http://www.pageturnersblog.com/

April 7th   Step Into Fiction   http://www.stepintofiction.com/

April 8th   Chapter by Chapter   http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/

April 11th   Fictitious Delicious   http://www.fictitiousdelicious.com/

April 13th Neverending Stores Book Blog   http://www.neverendingstoriesbookblog.com/

April 15th   Curling Up with a Good Book   http://curling-up-with-a-good-book.blogspot.com/

April 22nd   Once Upon a Twilight   http://www.onceuponatwilight.com/

April 24th   Such a Novel Idea   http://suchanovelidea.com/

April 27th   NovelNovice   http://novelnovice.com/

April 30th   Me, My Shelf, and I   http://www.memyshelfandi.com

 

All of these bloggers put so much time and effort into hosting me, and I can’t thank them enough for all their support. But I CAN encourage you to pop in and visit them, and to read the LIES I TOLD tour stops along the way.

Nice people, awesome book talk, and secret info. What’s not to like? And who knows? Maybe you’ll win!

😉

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03/25/15 Uncategorized , Writing , Young Writers Series # , , , , , , , ,

Online Young Writers Series Week Four; A Word About Outside Advice

Whew! It’s been kind of crazy around here the last few days, which is why I’m late getting up this week’s installment in the Young Writers series.

Last week we talked about the different kinds of publishing, and the pros and cons of getting your book to readers via traditional publishing, boutique publishing, and self-publishing. You can reference that post here. And feel free to go back and look at the prior week’s entries as well.

This week we’re going to talk about outside advice, because frankly, it’s kind of a mine field.

If you read my post about self-editing you know that I’m a big believer in having an outside editor. Self-editing is meant to be a preliminary step on your way to the having someone else read and critique your work, not the end of the revision process.

But hiring an editor (or asking a friend, if you must go that route), can be tricky. For both of you.

Many times we ask someone to read our work, not with the desire to truly get better, but with the desire for an ego stroke, for someone to tell us our work is awesome except for that typo on page 23. We SAY we want outside criticism, but do we mean it? It’s a question each writer has to ask and answer themselves. And the truth is, if you don’t mean it, you really have no business asking someone else for feedback. It takes A LOT of time and effort to read for someone, and even more time and effort to give constructive feedback. If you’re looking for an ego stroke, you’re wasting everyone’s time (and your money, if you’re paying someone to edit for you). Your reader/editor will spend hours reading and compiling notes to help you make the book better, and you will spend days or weeks or months waiting for said notes. If you ignore everything they say anyway, what’s the point?

You might as well just ask your mom to read for you (providing she’s not a mom like me, who will tell you if it needs a lot of work, whether you like it or not).

Something I hear fairly often from people who hire me to edit for them is, “I like the book fine the way it is. Just give me feedback on the little stuff. I don’t want to change anything big.”

Here’s me when people say that; ………….

Don’t you truly want your book to be the best it can be? If so, you have to be willing to look at the whole picture, because as an experience for the reader, a book is the sum of it’s parts. True story. Do you think the reader is more concerned with a typo than with pacing so slow they can’t finish the book? Or with cliched character development? Or plot holes so big you can drive a semi through them?

I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, those are the things that make or break it. They are the things that make a reader think, “This is so boring” or “Oh, my god… I can’t finish this,” even if they don’t know why.

If you love your book the way it is and aren’t willing to consider feedback about the big and small issues, my advice is to skip the time and money of hiring an editor (and save said editor a lot of frustration) and just run with the book as is.

But I don’t advise it.

On the other side is your editor/reader/friend. I love editor/reader/friends. I’ve been fortunate to have some truly gifted ones, and it’s not an overstatement to say that they have shaped and improved my writing in HUGE ways, and often very, very quickly. In my opinion, nothing makes you better like a tough-love editor who really knows what they’re doing.

And therein lies the rub.

Not everyone who will read for you knows what they’re doing. Some will be willing to read because you’re a friend or relative. Some are readers themselves. But none of those things necessarily qualify someone to shape your project.

It is very, very important that you hire someone (or ask someone) to read/edit for you who has a solid knowledge of craft.

Let me just take a moment to let that sink in.

………….

Ready? Now listen, I understand that not everyone can hire an editor, especially if you’re in high school or college and money is tight, you may HAVE to rely on a friend or peer. But choose your readers carefully anyway. Make sure the friends or peers you ask to read for you have discerning taste in literature, or at the very least, have YOUR taste in literature. If you’ve written a book you would compare to Twilight, don’t ask your best friend to read for you when her favorite book is The Sun Also Rises. And if you’ve written another The Sun Also Rises, you probably shouldn’t ask the friend whose all-time favorite book is Twilight.

Once you’ve chosen someone to read for you, be honest about the type of feedback you’re willing to consider. Honestly, I don’t like editing for writers who aren’t interested in ALL feedback, because my mind automatically processes all the things that need work, and it’s almost impossible to turn parts of that off while leaving other parts on. This is why I prefer working on developmental edits to copyedits — people who hire me for copyedits sometimes get more than they bargained for.

😉

But if you genuinely DON’T WANT developmental feedback, be honest about that up front so your reader doesn’t spend a lot of time putting together notes that you intend to discard anyway.

After your reader is finished and gives you his/her notes, take some time to process everything before you start defending your work. This will be harder than you imagine it to be. Your instinct will likely be to explain all the reasons you did what you did, even though it didn’t work for the reader/editor, or to go into long-winded descriptions of what you were trying to do.

Operative word here? Trying.

If your reader/editor says it doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t work for them, and it may very well not work for others. If you want to have a discussion about what you were trying to do in the context of how you missed the mark and what you can do to ACTUALLY make your point, that’s okay. Sometimes it’s very helpful to brainstorm possible fixes with someone who has read your work.

But here is where you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself; Do you REALLY want to have the discussion to come up with ways to fix the problem? Or is that just a way to justify a discussion in which you defend the work as it is?

It’s an important distinction.

I’ve sold ten book and six novellas now, and I STILL have to fight a knee-jerk reaction against editorial notes. I read through my Ed Letter and think, “That’s not true. I say X right here” and “It’s OBVIOUS she’s scared because of X reason.” It’s a perfectly natural reaction to criticism against something to which you’ve given your heart and soul.

But I’ve learned to let the feedback simmer for a bit. There have been very, very few times in the span of my professional writing career when I’ve started out thinking the editor was wrong and still believed they were wrong three days later. Usually the cycle post-editorial letter goes like this;

Annoyance > Disbelief > Anger > Reflection > Inspiration

I start out annoyed that my editor thinks my project has big problems, move onto denial that they are right, slide into anger that they would dare think all this stuff is wrong, ease into reflection about the truth of their feedback, and then become inspired as ideas begin coming to make the book better.

I’ve learned to save a detailed response to editorial notes for after I’ve hit the Reflection phase. Instead, my initial email response is something like; Thanks so much for your feedback! I’ll give all this some thought and get back to you with any questions.

😉

And the truth is, edits are still terrifying after all these years. I liken it to pulling apart a giant puzzle and hoping you can make all the pieces fit back together again in a way that makes sense. There’s always a little part of me that wonders if I can really do it. But being scared isn’t a valid reason for NOT doing something that will make your book — and your writing — better. In fact (life lesson alert!), I’d say that’s true of everything in life.

What if you’re not sure about the suggested changes? What if they just don’t FEEL right in your writerly bones?

Well, ultimately the decision to change something or not to change it lies with you. Just make sure your desire to leave things as they are is TRULY rooted in the belief that the story is best served that way rather than ego or unwillingness to do the work. Questioning your editor’s credentials now is a little too convenient. You hired them/asked them to read for you because you thought they were the best person for the job (and if you didn’t, you SHOULD, see notes above). What has changed? Are they not the best person for the job because they had criticism for your work?

Hire the best person for the job, then really listen to what they have to say. That’s kind of the point, right? Because you want to be BETTER. In fact you want to get better with every book. I’m still learning, and it’s my favorite part of the process. You don’t WANT to be writing the same kind of book ten years from now that you’re writing now. You want them to get better and better and better.

Right?

The only way to make that happen is to read and write, listen and learn, and most of all, be willing to set your ego aside.

A quick checklist about the editing process;

 

1. Self-edit as much as possible before handing your project to someone else.

2. Choose someone who is somehow qualified to give you the best possible advice, then commit to listening to said advice.

3. Be clear about what you’re hoping to accomplish with your revision.

4. Take some time to process your editor/reader’s notes with an open mind before jumping to defend the way you’ve already done things.

5. Enter with an open mind into any project discussion with your editor/reader.

6. Be willing to do the hard work to make your book the best it can be.

 

Next week we’ll be covering How Do I Sell My Book? (A Step-by-Step Walk Through the Process). Hope to “see” you there!

<3

 

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03/23/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , ,

Promises I Made Advance Copy Winner

Woo-hoo! We finally have a winner in the PROMISES I MADE Cover Reveal giveaway!

And the winner is…

*drum roll*

Stacee!

I’ve already sent you an email, Stacee, and I’m so excited for you to read PROMISES I MADE. Thanks to everyone who entered and helped me spread the word. I’ll be giving more of these away after the LIES I TOLD launch in TWO MORE WEEKS, so stay tuned.

<3

 

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03/20/15 Life , Uncategorized # , , , , , , ,

Andrew Zink is My Son

Andrew_WhiteHouseAnd today, I couldn’t be more proud.

Many of you have probably heard of the uproar in our town. It’s been covered by NBC News, the Washington Post, and the LA Times, among others. You can look it up online (or on my Facebook feed) if you want to see the news stories, watch the interviews, or listen to Andrew on the radio. Frankly I’m too tired too post links. But the short version of the story is this;

As part of National Foreign Language Week, Pine Bush High School decided they would enlist bi-lingual students to recite the pledge – a different language for every day of the week. This activity was approved by administration. Monday and Tuesday were supposed to be Spanish and Japanese, but the kids who volunteered for those recitations got nervous and decided not to take their turn. On the third day, a very brave young woman named Dana and a teacher met my son, Andrew Zink, in the office as he was preparing to do morning announcements. Andrew is Student Senate President and Senior Class President, and daily announcements are one of his responsibilities. The teacher and student asked Andrew if they could recite the pledge in Arabic instead of English for that day as part of Foreign Language Week. Andrew agreed without hesitation. Dana began reciting the pledge, and immediately students in class began booing and catcalling. At first, Andrew didn’t think it was a huge deal. He assumed some people would be angry – he knows the dynamic of our small rural town – but he didn’t think the backlash would be so great.

Following the Pledge, Dana was harassed at school, called a terrorist and told to “go back to the Middle East.” Andrew wasn’t vilified until he contacted a newspaper. This was seen as traitorous by many in the district, set in a town with deeply racist roots (it’s changing, but not quickly enough) and a history of silence about those issues (in 2012, the NY Times published an article describing systematic abuse of Jewish students and the administrator’s lack of action when confronted with that abuse, a situation that led to a lawsuit against the district and a subsequent public uproar). The anger immediately turned to Andrew for “creating an issue by telling the media” and “talking to the media to get attention.”

I guess if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, it really DOESN’T make a sound. That was sarcasm.

Now to understand Andrew’s motives, you have to understand Andrew. This is a kid with a deep, deep passion for politics and for his country. He knows more about political history and modern politics than 99% of American adults. He has volunteered on local political campaigns and used to ask me to take him to the town’s Democratic Party (a very small minority, I might add) meetings before he could even drive. He wants to change the country, change the world. The highlight of turning eighteen for him – he could FINALLY vote. And he can’t WAIT. He has plans for a political website geared toward educating young people and making politics understandable and accessible to them. He CARES.

Because of the history in our town, and specifically the town’s tendency to shield problems from attention so that everything looks pretty from the outside, Andrew truly believed that this issue would not prompt change unless a spotlight was shone on it. Even at eighteen, he understood that to be overcome, ignorance and prejudice must first be brought into the light, and he knew from the Jewish discrimination suit that the tendency would be for everyone to pretend it hadn’t happened, to avoid talking about it and just move on.

To some degree, I understand this tendency. Unfortunately, the goals of the school district and people like Andrew, like US, are in some ways opposed. The district not only wants to keep things calm, they NEED to. Jobs depend on it, insurance depends on it. And that’s just for starters. But for students like Andrew, the goal isn’t calm. The goal is growth.

This is a complicated issue.

I don’t want to vilify the district here. I think they are in a very tough position, and I do believe the principal at Pine Bush High School cares, and that he wants to see this growth in the town. . He was damned if he did (“Why did you let a student read the Pledge in Arabic?!”) and damned if he didn’t (“Why WOUDLN’T you let a student read the Pledge in Arabic? What about diversity?!”). I understand why the principal apologized immediately following the Pledge, but I wish he hadn’t. In my view, when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you choose to be damned on the side of right. You COMMIT and let the chips fall where they may. My grandmother would have said, “Make yourself happy. At least then you know one person is.” I will translate that here into, “Do what’s right. Whatever happens, at least you know you did what’s right.” This is how I’ve taught my children. When you’re in doubt, distill everything to one question if at all possible; What is RIGHT?

Then you do THAT. Because it’s right.

In a district that has severe prejudice (and not just against Jewish people or Muslims, but against African Americans and other ethnicities as well), the right thing here is to say, “Look, we know this is going to painful for some of you, but we’re going to support diversity in every way we can. You may not like some of it, but it’s the way it has to be for our district to move into the 21st century, and for our students to be prepared for the global society they will be entering.”

And then you stick with it.

I understand how difficult this is, especially when so much of this deeply rooted prejudice comes from parents who themselves haven’t moved into the 21st century. It’s been interesting to read the tweets coming from former Pine Bush students in support of Andrew. Most of these kids have gone onto college and now have a broader view of the world. I’m not sure some of them would have stood up for Andrew in this situation back when they lived here. But the real world isn’t like this, and they know that now. We do our kids a disservice to let them think that it is.

The saddest part to me has been the hatred and vitriol directed at Andrew and at our family, many of it from adults across the country. Things like this;

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And this;

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That is difficult to see, and difficult for Andrew to see, but whatever he may say when he’s trying to act like it’s no big deal, the hardest part for him has been going to school and seeing former friends turn their backs on him. And while many of his peers support him, others have bombarded him with tweets like these that are well into cyber-bullying territory even after he tweeted that night, “To everyone who disagrees with my decisions, I respect your right to do so and hope we can have a productive conversation. Goodnight PB.”

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Although, for a little levity, I did appreciate this;

 

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Andrew is President of Debate Club. It’s not a bad strategy.

😉

Andrew’s younger sister has not been immune and has been subjected to shouts of, “Fuck Andrew Zink!” when she walks by people in the hall (sorry for the language, it’s ugly, but so is this). I guess it’s okay to shout things like that – as long as we don’t do it in Arabic.

Is this what we do? Turn our backs on people who have a different viewpoint than us? Turn our backs on people who bring light to a situation that needs to be addressed? Is this what we teach our children? I know they’re kids, but many of them are kids we’ve nurtured since childhood, kids who have been welcomed into our home and family. I’m not going to lie; it’s really, really hard to see them publicly bash Andrew for doing what he thought was RIGHT. Because while Andrew has been the subject of these vicious attacks, many of them from ADULTS from all over the country, he has not once attacked someone personally. Instead, he’s made a point of saying that he respects everyone’s opinions and hopes a productive dialog can be had on the issue.

I can only hope the parents in our community use this as a means to discuss the merit of respectful disagreement as opposed to personal, hate-filled rhetoric. Can we keep talking about this? Can we talk to our kids reasonably, without coloring their minds with our own opinions, about why they feel the way they do? About whether those feelings are a result of reason or emotion? About what to with the negative feelings when they have them?

I hope so. I KNOW there are others here who feel the way we do, but I have to admit it sometimes feels like we’re rowing the boat alone.

On the other side, many, many people have been lovely and supportive.

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How did this happen? The truth is, I think Andrew and this issue have become a symbol for a deep-seated prejudice in our country. It’s hit a nerve, and when you hit a nerve, it hurts for a reason.

Many who have questioned Andrew’s motives in going to the media have asked why he did it. The answer, straight from his mouth, is simple; “I’m really just hoping to start a discussion about what being an American is, and what defines being an American.”

That discussion is being had now. I’m receiving emails and tweets from people who are discussing this issue at work and at home, from teachers talking about it in class. This is how change happens, not by hiding the truth in the shadows, but by shining a spotlight on it. That isn’t always comfortable to people (it has not been comfortable for us), but only then can we begin to affect change.

In the end, I can only find comfort in the words of my amazing son.

“It’s not our language that makes us American, it’s our beliefs.”

Amen, son. Amen.

<3

 

 

 

 

0 likes 86 responses
03/16/15 Uncategorized , Writing , Young Writers Series # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Online Young Writer’s Series Week Three; Publishing Options

Last week in the Young Writers series we talked about self-editing. Namely, what you should really be looking for when revising your work before passing it on to someone else. I got quite a few messages about the post and am glad it was helpful to so many of you.

This week we’re talking about the different kinds of publishing. Or SOME of them anyway. It used to be that you sent your book to an agent or editor at a traditional publishing house and left it in the hands of universe. There were big publishing houses and small publishing houses, but they all pretty much did the same thing. The big houses just had more money and more clout.

All that has changed over the last decade or so. With the advent of self-publishing, it’s become easier than ever to to see your words in print. But it’s also become more confusing than ever, because now you have OPTIONS, and all of those options come with inherent pros and cons. It can be tough to know what to do and how best to get your work to readers.

And I hate to say it, but there’s no easy answer. Plus, I’m not big on giving people answers. I like to give information instead. Then YOU can come up with your own answers.

😉

Let’s start with TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING. For the sake of this discussion, we’re going to call traditional publishers those that typically pay decent advances and have similar processes when it comes to acquiring new work, marketing, etc. We’re also going to stick with the bigger companies that have been around a while in this category, not because smaller houses don’t add value to the process, but because I’m giving them their own section in Boutique Publishing (below).

When you think of traditional publishers, you probably think of companies like HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Little Brown, and Penguin. But the are lots of companies that would be categorized as part of Trad Pub, and many of the smaller ones are divisions of the bigger ones (called IMPRINTS).

Traditional Publishing is the toughest way to get your work to the general population. This is because to many, it’s still the gold standard in publishing, and there are many layers to the process of being signed with them.

First of all, barring some personal connection to an editor, you MUST have an agent. Editors at traditional publishing houses stopped accepting unaccented manuscripts a long time ago. There are just too many of them, and an agent is one way editors can narrow their focus to work that has, on some level at least, already been vetted by a professional. Once an editor reads your book and likes it, they typically have to take it to Acquisitions, and that means getting a whole bunch more people on board with your book (more on that process in Week Five: How Do I Sell My Book?). By the time your book is actually bought by the publisher, LOTS of people have agreed that it’s a viable book, which means one that will make everyone money. And while it’s sometimes tempting to dismiss this part of the equation, remember that advances to authors cost money. Paying editors and marketing people and cover designers and accountants and legal people cost money. Having offices to do all of this stuff costs money. Marketing books costs money.

So… yeah. I have thoughts on the Trad Pub model of deciding where this money goes (because I don’t always agree), but I’ll save that for another time. For now, let’s just accept that big business costs big money to run, so they’re not going to buy books  they don’t think they can sell.

One note of clarification; just because THEY don’t think they can sell it doesn’t mean it WON’T sell. Keep reading.

😉

So it’s hard to break into Trad Pub, but the silver lining is that there is a certain amount of quality control involved with books that are traditionally published. At the very least, they’ve been edited and deemed good enough to buy by lots of people on the publishing team. That PROBABLY means the book doesn’t suck, and that is worth something to readers, most of whom view books that are trad pubbed as safer bets than books that are, say, self-pubbed (I’m not saying this is always true, just that this is a typical school of thought… keep reading!). Some of that street cred is passed onto you when you publish traditionally. Whatever happens to your book in terms of sales, you’ve SOLD BOOKS to big publishing houses, and that isn’t very easy to do.

Upsides to Trad Pub include more money to spend on advances and marketing. Not that this money will go to you – advances and marketing treatments vary wildly in publishing. But at least you know they HAVE it. It’s also easier to get placement for your book in bookstores, which have limited shelf space and are very picky about what they put on display. Lastly, you have access to a lot of expertise in all facets of publishing, so at the very least, it’s a tremendous learning experience, both on the editorial side (working with a great editor will make you a better writer like nothing else) and with regards to cover design, marketing, etc.

But I’m not going to lie; there are downsides. Remember all that money I told you about? Money for advances and marketing? Well, it’s far from even distribution. One book might get a $5,000 advance and another might get $500,000. One book might get a teeny-tiny marketing budget while another gets a massive campaign. And let me stop you before you say you don’t care about marketing.

You do. You SO do.

That’s because once you publish a book, those numbers follow you to the next book. And the next. If your book doesn’t sell well (which it’s much less inclined to do without significant marketing – there are just SO MANY BOOKS in the world now), your next contract, if you can get one, will likely be much less lucrative, setting you up for an endless cycle of low advance/low marketing that almost assures your authorial demise in Trad Pub. Publishers want to protect their investment, so they spend most of their marketing dollars on books that garner big advances. And those are a tiny minority of books that are bought by them, which means it’s tough for all the other books in the line up to get the kind of attention that makes Trad Pub an advantage over other methods of publishing.

Timing is also a factor with Trad Pub. Because they’re so big and have so many books, your book likely won’t be published until at least a year-and-a-half after the publishing house acquires it (I waited more than two full years for Prophecy of the Sisters).

Lastly, the amount of input you have in a traditional publishing house will likely be small. This is true when it comes to everything – marketing, cover design, even the title of your book. I’ve been lucky with LIES I TOLD, because HarperTeen has been very inclusive about title and design, but that hasn’t always been the case. And the bottom line is this; when you sell your book and accept an advance, you are no longer its sole proprietor.

In a perfect scenario, one where you get a good advance and a great marketing plan and have lots of talented people rooting for you at the publishing house, Trad Pub can be awesome. But that endorsement comes with the caveat that I’ve sold books to four major publishing houses now, and my experiences have been mixed.

Let’s move on!

I’m going to refer to BOUTIQUE PUBLISHING here as companies that are small and/or up and coming. Just a few years ago, these publishers were divided into camps; traditional boutique publishers (small companies who published print books) and digital boutique publishers (those starting to publish books on digital platforms for ereaders). Back then, many traditional boutique publishers didn’t really have a handle on the rise of digital publishing, and digital publishers didn’t have a mechanism for getting printed books into bookstores.

All of that has changed. Most small traditional publishers have become savvy about digital publishing and how to use it to their advantage, and new distributors have stepped up to provide brick-and-mortar placement for boutique houses that once specialized in ebooks. This is all awesome news for writers, so let’s start with the upsides!

Working with a boutique publisher can mean more hands-on input about cover, title, and marketing. This isn’t always the case, but most of the time you have fewer cooks in the kitchen with a small house, and that means you have direct access to the people collaborating on these decisions. Timing can also be accelerated with a small publisher (although not always), meaning your book may make it in front of readers much faster than it would with traditional publishing.

Small publishers tend to cater to niche markets. That means if you write romance or sci-fi or erotica, or any “genre” novel, you won’t be competing against all of those books PLUS books in every other category for a spot. And once the book is published, that publisher may have a loyal following of readers in that genre who trust them to publish the books they like. Translation; sometimes it’s an easier way in.

Most importantly, small publishers can be more accessible to writers both before and after publication. You don’t always need an agent to get your manuscript in front of an editor, and after your book is acquired, you’ll likely have direct access to many of the people on your team.

As with anything, there can be downsides. Easier access and acquisition isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes (not all the time!) a book isn’t picked up by Trad Pub because, well, it’s just not good enough. It could be that it needs more editing or it’s in a waning genre or any number of other things, but sometimes having your book rejected by Trad Pub is a blessing in disguise.

When I first got an agent, we tried to sell my second book. I loved that book. I thought it was absolutely perfect. But it didn’t sell, and while I was super disappointed, I’d spent the months it was on submission working on a Gothic fantasy called Indigo Sky. That book became Prophecy of the Sisters. The failure of my second book to sell prompted me to seek out a new agent, and I ended up with Steven Malk and Writer’s House, who have been amazing to me and amazing for my career. Prophecy sold for a much larger advance than that second book ever would have, insuring me more marketing and a better start in the business. I believe I would have been published either way (I wrote five books in two-and-a-half years – I was DETERMINED), but I think it would have been a rougher start with that second book, and there’s no telling where I’d be now.

The thing is, those editors knew my second book wasn’t ready, even if I didn’t. If I were trying to sell it now, maybe I’d sell it to a smaller publisher or self-pub it. But that wouldn’t magically render it ready. It wouldn’t magically render it GOOD. And do I want a book with my name on it floating around out there if it’s not, at the very least, GOOD?

No.

Small publishers also have less money to spend on marketing, although this is only an issue if we’re talking about the BIG money spent in traditional publishing compared to the small money spent in boutique publishing. If your book falls into the latter category, there might not be much of a difference between small money in Trad Pub and average money in Boutique Pub. Also, your advance with a small publisher will likely be small or even non-existent. Maybe you’ll make it up in royalties, maybe not.

Let’s move on to our last category; SELF-PUBLISHING.

Self-Publishing used to be a four-letter-word in publishing. It was only done (supposedly) by hacks; people who weren’t good enough to sell their books to a “real” publisher. And to be fair, this criticism wasn’t always unfounded. There are downsides to making it easy for anyone and everyone to upload their writing and call it a book. Because let’s face it; writing is harder than it looks, and just because you love to read and own a computer, well, that doesn’t mean you’re a great writer.

Which is not to say you shouldn’t write! I say if something brings you joy, do it! But as a reader, let’s be honest; it sucks to take a chance on a book, pay for it with your hard earned money, and then have it be downright bad.

Luckily, self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once did, and there are endless resources available to make sure your work is as professional as possible before you show it to the world. You can hire editors and cover designers and even PR people to help you get the word out. And if you’re on a budget, there are countless resources online that will give you information about how to do these things yourself. You can collaborate with other self-published others on Twitter and Facebook, cross-promoting and learning the ropes from each other.

You also have complete control. Over your title, your cover, your release date. Everything. If your cover doesn’t play well with readers, you can change it and have the new one up in twenty-four hours. If you need to make edits after it’s been published, you can do that, too. Your book can be released within days, and your paychecks (if your book sells) will start arriving within a couple of months.

All of that control comes with a price, though, and it’s called RESPONSIBILITY. Your cover will only be as good as the cover designer you hire or the cover you design yourself. Do you have the expertise to do it? Does your cover designer REALLY know what makes for a cover that sells books? Your book will only be as good as  the editor you hire and the revisions you make. Nothing can destroy a book’s potential like a bad editor — or an author unwilling to make the changes necessary for the book to shine. Are you willing to do that? Do you have access to an editor that REALLY knows what he/she is doing? Marketing is a HUGE part of self-publishing. There is no publisher to send press releases or get your book up on Goodreads or give out advance copies to librarians and teachers at conferences. Do you have the time and knowledge to make all that happen?

If so, self-publishing may be for you, and many authors have made a name for themselves (and a good living) doing it.

Bottom line; there are more options than ever for writers. By taking a hard look at your work, your goals, and your resources, you can decide which route is best for you. The good news is, if it doesn’t work out, those other options are still out there, and there’s nothing saying you can’t switch gears later on. Many traditionally published authors are now “hybrid authors”, which means they traditionally publish some of the their work and use other methods as well.

I hope this helps! Please feel free to leave questions in the Comments section. And check back next Monday for Week Four; A Word About Outside Advice.

Because not all advice is good advice.

😉

Also, we’re doing an awesome video project for the LIES I TOLD launch and would love for you to participate! All you have to do is send a video via Skype to LIESITOLD detailing a lie you’ve told yourself or one someone else has told you, how that lie has impacted you or your self-esteem, and how you go about moving on from the lie. The first five people to submit videos win a personal Skype video from me plus a signed hardcover of LIES I TOLD. And I’m participating, too. Yikes!

Check out the details an my video message about the project here.

 

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03/11/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Send Us Your Lie!

I have a surprise for you guys! I made you a video message.

:)

As part of the LIES I TOLD launch, we’ll be putting together a video compilation about lies and we want YOU to participate. All you have to do is send a short video message to the Skype address LIESITOLD. Your message should explain a lie someone has told you or one you’ve told yourself, how that lie has impacted you, and how you go about forgiving or moving on from the lie. Once all the messages are received, we’ll put them together with some music and it will be really awesome. Plus, I’ll send personal video messages and a signed hardcover of LIES I TOLD to the first five people to send in their messages.

Oh, and one more thing. I’ll be participating, too, so you’ll get to here a lie of mine as well.

It’s only fair!

Deadline for entries is Tuesday March 24, Midnight EST.

Can’t wait to see your videos!

Also, my shadow and I need a haircut. It’s been a long winter.

😉

 

 

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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Acclaim

"This arresting story takes readers to other planes of existence…"
- Booklist (starred review)


“An intense and captivating story…”
- VOYA (starred review)


“A fresh and engaging cast of characters, a page-turning plot and lyrical prose add up to an accomplished feat of storytelling…”
- The Guardian


“A captivating tragedy…"
- Publishers Weekly


“Zink’s methodical unfolding of events will draw readers in…”
- Kirkus


“Tingly suspense is craftily managed…”
- The Bulletin

Awards
 

 



@MichelleZink
More denial. RT @EasleyH845: Steve Israel: Lawsuit doesn’t reflect diversity of Pine Bush area http://t.co/t7TI3A1GIO via @recordonline
@PeachStarlet Hope you enjoy Prophecy of the Sisters! ❤️
Agreed. RT @PennyLaneBlog: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. 10/10. Subtle, beautiful, and so very significant. Thank you, @_Jesse_Andrews_.
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