publishing, Stories, Uncategorized

Editors Choosing Stories

Imagine an app that lets you capture the email exchange between editors as they work to make the initial selection of stories for inclusion in an anthology. You would probably see comments like the following.
The comments are real. I didn’t identify the writers or their stories, of course. And the editors themselves, I’ll call Billy, Bob & Joe.

Billy: I find that the first read, leading to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’, is pretty quick – just a matter of deciding if the writing’s ok and the story itself is interesting. After that we could compare lists and consolidate the categories. The main editing is obviously with the ‘maybes’ ones, but how many of those we decide to continue with will depend on how many ‘yeses’ we’ve got and the overall length we’re looking for.
Bob: I’m in. Sounds like fun.
Joe: Excellent! Send me some stories and I’ll get right on it!

Billy: Here they all are then, with names and emails removed. You can look at number #23 if you want, but, having read it, I don’t think it’s good enough to justify being included at over twice the maximum word count, even if we’re flexible.

Joe: My first thought on #23 is, we should only have to put up with writers who break the rules if they’re good writers.

Bob: I often tend to spot potential and think, ‘Ah, that story would be great if such and such…’ But it then depends how ready writers are to accept editorial suggestions.

Bob: Some of my choices are pretty soft. Shorter pieces tended to beneift from their brevity (including most of the poetry). In some cases I liked the quality or originality of the writing but wasn’t sure about the subject matter. A few showed promise but didn’t really have an ending.

Joe: Maybe on #12. I have a hard time judging a 20-page mental monologue. It put me to sleep. But, that’s just me.

Bob: You are right. Taste is subjective but there are objective qualities of good writing. A lot of the stories, even if they are competently wrtitten from a nuts and bolts perspective, are still sadly lacking when it comes to pacing, plot, realistic dialogue, that sort of thing — almost perplexingly so, in some cases.

Bob: As far as #24, I can take it or leave it. It would need a ton of cutting even if we did include it.

Billy: Yes on #14, if trimmed – takes a long time to deal with all the characters for no real gain to the story. Otherwise nice.

Joe: Yes on #47. Good story, well written, even if the hidden weapon seemed to magically appear when needed.

Billy: yes on #22 – dry and mischievous humor, nicely done.

Joe: No on #33. All tell, no show. (It could be brilliant in the end, but, my eyes glazed over before I got there.)

Bob: #48 is an okay idea for a story, but the writing is only meh, and the characters are so dull. They felt like unfinished holoprojections of people. I wish they had been. That would’ve been more interesting than the actual story.

Bob: #27 left me flat from the beginning, and you’re spot on about the ending. It was half a mouthful of nothing.

Joe: Maybe on #18. I like poetry that invokes feelings or images but I find these lines too
obscure to tantalize.

Bob: I wish the author of #38 had flipped the ending in some interesting way. As it is, it’s more like a five minute Hallmark made-for-TV special about how nice guys sometimes win after all. Heartwarming, I suppose, but ho-hum.

Joe: No on #16. Well done, but …thousands of words without dialogue until the last paragraph? My mind glassed over before then.

Billy: A minor flurry of submissions at the end, making a very healthy tally of 56 at the deadline. Now for the hard decisions…

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About Writers, blogging, book promotion, book reviews, book sales, inspiration, publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

It’s a Community

above: Terry Pratchett 1948-2015 By Artist ‘Sandara’

One of the advantages of joining a community of like-minded people on the ‘Net is the likelihood of meeting someone totally unlike yourself. That is always good for a writer. I can’t draw an expressive crooked line. But Sandara can create a whole world in one image. Her visualization of Terry Pratchett shaking Death’s hand is fresh, striking and memorable. Don’t we writers wish all our stories were that good?

Amazing, the talents in the writing community: Publishers, editors & marketing people of course. Cover artists, beta readers, blurb writers, personal assistants and reviewers are some more. I’m sure I’ve left out important categories. No writer has all of the talents needed for a successful book. Hence, the usefulness of belonging to a writing community. Want to know the best print-on-demand service out there right now? Ask.

And best of all is the feedback. Excellent services at reasonable prices receive as much publicity on a writers’ forum as do services that waste your time and money. Think you have a really good idea for marketing your book? Ask and see if anyone has already tried that. Not sure of your book cover? Post it for comments.

Finally, always return favors. While I do owe her one, the real reason I recommend Sandara Tang here is her art. Take a look at some. It will surprise your imagination.

The Art Of Sandara
https://sandara.deviantart.com/ (best Hi-Res images)
https://www.facebook.com/ArtofSandara3/

Who have you worked with that you would recommend to other writers?

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

What Happened

Traditionally, publishers sold books through bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even, sometimes, to organizations wanting a promotional tool. (Wells Fargo, for example, might buy 5,000 books on stage coaches.) Sales representatives, working for publishers and independent sales groups, attended industry sales conferences and made calls on retail buyers.
Authors wrote books and received royalty payments on their book sales.

Amazon changed all that. Today, authors list their book on a website with 11 million other books in the hope that individuals will find and buy it.

We have gone from a powerful industry selling books to a website listing.

That’s what happened.

What can we do about it? Obviously, success requires more than one author selling to one reader at a time because readers only buy one book. We ain’t selling Hershey bars. Our reader won’t come back for a box of the same book.

The idea here is to build a list of businesses and organizations which have the potential to buy, or distribute for sale, many copies of the same book. Yes, we still have bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even organizations wanting a promotional tool. But without a big publisher’s clout, how does any writer market to them?
And, are there other organized groups that we can target to help sell our book?
Any ideas? Perry Palin 🙂 ? Anybody?

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book promotion, Literary Agents, publishing, scams

Your Publisher May Not Be A Publisher

computer-virus-rev-1-300x200 Each and every day brings an exciting pronouncement that so and so has been published. It’s a thrilling announcement, one which envisions a bright future for the impending literary scion, and one that is, so often the percentages died aborning, wrong.  I’m not going to slam self published authors – at least not today – rather I’m going to help clarify some terms. They are important ones to know if you’re serious about your craft. The word “publisher” dates back to the 1500’s. It originally meant “one who announces in public.” which makes complete sense even today. The more modern interpretation,  “one whose business is bringing out for sale books, periodicals, engravings, etc.” dates back to 1740. Whether or not a publishing company pays an advance to a writer they do, or are supposed to, provide certain services for a fee based on sales, or, to be clear, work on commission. No legitimate publisher charges an author up front monies for anything.

Those services, in a nutshell, are promotion of the work, marketing, licensing (when possible), and distribution. Included in that will be the arrangement of some interviews and other forms of personal publicity which are designed to sell the author just as much as the book.

Should sales, or projected sales, warrant it the publisher may suggest the author ascertain the services of an agent. That person will take over the job of selling you and all your intellectual properties to the unsuspecting world all while trying to get you a better publishing deal than that piece of shit you signed (every agent just laughed here, every author just whimpered).

Good news, no reputable agent will charge an author any upfront fees either. Bad news, like unicorns and South American hockey teams, they are difficult to wrangle. If, as noted in the previous paragraph, you find yourself in need of one many publishers will offer suggestions but no more than that. It’s in their best interest for you to succeed, not to interfere  or micromanage your life. They have other shit to do.

Consider all of the above bullet points to refer to when you’re talking to publishers.

Now, which companies aren’t publishers?

Amazon KDP
Book Baby
Create Space
Draft2Digital
Ingram Spark
Liberio (recently out of beta testing)
Lulu
Nook
Smashwords

All of the above use the phrase “publish your book” but use it very carefully. They mean the phrase literally. They are all, with a variety of different options available to writers, print on demand services. They do not vet your writing in any manner, other than for formatting or decency standards (if they have those). If you write a book claiming that Iron Sky, my favorite movie series involving space Nazis, is a documentary, and that numerology proves it, no one stops you. You just hit send and off it goes to the Internet. Where it goes after that depends on how much money you want to spend. None of the companies listed above are going to have a single unpaid intern lift a finger on your behalf. That means all of the tasks I noted above are now yours.

Which means, and you need to understand this, you are the publisher. It is now on you, and nobody else, to present your work to the wider world.

Now, for some help. since the majority of writers reading this blog are involved in sci-fi or fantasy, I’m going to share a list of scams sited on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website.

As you cringe through the many instances of fraud, all of which have been adjudicated, you’ll note some common themes.

  1. Film deals were based on getting talent signed first, all you need to do is provide a little “seed money.” Just FYI, there is no such animal in the film industry. It’s financing first and then that money attracts names. If an actor or actress likes the author they may “attach” their name to the presentation, but they are under no obligation go appear, support, or otherwise do a damn thing. At least not until they have a contract and money. Not “or” but “and.” That’s important to remember.
  2. Authors were charged fees for services unrelated to, in wildly in excess of, what they needed. Yes, editors charge fees. But agents and publishers are not editors. At least not exclusively. When you’re ready for editing hire someone who does that, and only that, and you’ll save yourself agita and money.
  3. Celebrity endorsements. Be extremely wary of these. The number of faux agents I’ve seen touting them is amazing and, always, a lie. Just last week I reached out to someone I know to ask if she was really “cheering on an amazing author.” Her response, edited for profanity, was “no.” Unless you have evidence, photographic is best, you could end up getting a wonderfully threatening “cease and desist” letter from a lawyer who makes in an hour what you earn in a year. That said, they do happen. I have gotten them from Rosario Dawson and John Fuglesang, for example, but even then I’ve been careful not to use them in advertising or any other commercial venue. You can post them on social media, as I have, but anything else requires a contract. Simply put, “don’t worry about it, they’re friends” is bullshit.
  4. Reading, evaluation, and/or marketing fees. These are where your money goes to die. The SWFA has a litany of reasons why you should run screaming from the room if they’re mentioned. Simply put, they are designed for people to make money no matter what happens to you. And, far more often than not, nothing happens that benefits you in any way.

As a point of reference, all of these publishers have been deemed scams.

  • American Book Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Archebooks Publishing (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Helm Publishing (Rockford, IL)
  • Hilliard and Harris (Boonsboro, MD)
  • Oak Tree Press (Taylorville, IL)
  • Park East Press (Dallas TX) (formerly Durban House, formerly Oakley Press)
  • PublishAmerica (Frederick, MD)
  • Royal Fireworks Press/Silk Label Books (Unionville, NY)
  • SterlingHouse Publisher (Pittsburgh, PA–imprints include, among others, Pemberton Mysteries, 8th Crow Books, Cambrian House Books, Blue Imp Books, Caroline House Books, Dove House Books, and PAJA Books)
  • SBPRA/Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books (Boca Raton, FL–formerly known as The Literary Agency Group and AEG Publishing Group)
  • Tate Publishing (Mustang, OK)
  • Whitmore Publishing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)

The list of disreputable agents is too long to recreate here, so click on the list to see if the person who claims you’re the next J. K. Rowling is there.

So what to do? This part is absurdly easy.

  1. Ask for, a minimum of five, references with direct contact information. Make sure you can reach every single one.
  2. If a celebrity is attached contact their management. All that info is listed on any authorized web site.
  3. Use this new fangled Google thing to search for whoever has made you this amazing offer, you need to act on now – NOW! DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!, and add the word “scam” after their name. You’ll be amazed how much time and money that little trick will save you.

Just like having a blind date at an S&M bar, caution is your friend. Be careful out there.

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book promotion, Flash Fiction, humor, inspiration, Magic and Science, publishing, Satire, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Anthology Submissions

submissionsSubmissions are invited for a short story anthology to be published by the Writers’ Co-op. No theme is set but stories should broadly fit into the genre ‘weird’ – to be interpreted as you wish.

Maximum word count is 5000 (we’re not strict on that). No minimum word count. Deadline: 31st March.

Entries to be sent to curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com with the subject heading ‘weird story submission’. All entries will be acknowledged and decision of acceptance or not will be notified as soon as possible after the deadline.

More details at:
https://writercoop.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/call-for-submissions/

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publishing, Stories, Writers Co-op

Call for Submissions

The Writers’ Co-op invites submissions of short stories (and poems) for an anthology to be released later this year. No theme is set, but stories should broadly fall into the category of ‘weird’ (see below).

There is a maximum word count of 5000. But this is more a guideline than a strict limit – quality is the main criterion, not length. So a great story will be accepted, whether it’s 6000 words or 200 (flash fiction is welcome). But we’re looking for short stories, not novellas or extracts from novels – the story should be complete in itself. Though the anthology will be comprised mostly of stories, there will also be room for some poems or pieces of an experimental nature.

The deadline is 31st March 2018. Submissions should be sent in an attached file to curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com with the subject ‘Co-op submission’. They may have been previously published on personal websites (or elsewhere) but authors must have full rights to them when submitting. Authors will retain said rights after the story or poem is published in the Writers’ Co-op anthology.

All proceeds will go to the Against Malaria Foundation. Why? Because the (hopefully not meagre but probably far from spectacular) royalties can make a big difference: $3 buys a long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito net which protects two people for up to three years.

That’s for the practicalities (if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact page). But what is meant by ‘weird’?

The question is addressed in the previous post, but since I’m here I get the chance to add my two cents’ worth (or grain of salt as they say in French). Like many categories, it’s fuzzy, because it stands in distinction to ‘normal’, and there’s no common acceptance of what is normal. Not all writers will approach it the same way, and so much the better – we hope for plenty of variety. At the core of weirdness, though, is the upsetting of expectations: normality, in the sense of what we’re accustomed to, doesn’t follow the course that led to us form those expectations. Where it goes – somewhere disturbing or hilarious – is entirely the writer’s choice. Or why not hilariously disturbing? Indeed, one advantage of ‘weird’ is that it allows for humour as much as for horror, so go for it!

How weird does it have to be? Anything from full on, over-the-top freaky to subtly odd and unsettling. So no worries if weird isn’t your usual style – a few deft touches can suffice. Those little moments of strangeness that don’t fit into what we know of the world or the people around us, those hints of a deeper mystery that defies explanation. Give us writing that shifts our perceptions, leads us to experience, bubbling up through the regularity and routine, the fundamental weirdness of life. To quote the Count of Lautréamont, author of the Chant de Maldoror, if your piece is ‘beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella,’ there’s every chance that we’ll love it.

We look forward to reading you.

Agne-s-Varda-beau-comme-la-rencontre-fortuite-1

Agnès Varda: La rencontre fortuite
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blogging, book promotion, Flash Fiction, publishing, Stories, Uncategorized, Welcome, Writers Co-op

Weirdness

weirdOur first anthology will be stories deemed by the writer as weird. What is weird? You have your own ideas and, please, share some in the comments.

The dictionary says that weird means beyond what is normal or natural. In Western Mythology, weird was related to the three Fates. The very word itself comes from the Indo-European root, wert, “to turn.” From it, we get modern words like divert, subvert, universe and version. We also get verse and prose. Yes, writing and weird are related.

My favorite weirdness is when the universe hiccups. You know, you’re busy doing something and suddenly you can’t find an item that you just used? You look in all the obvious places. But you have to keep looking until the universe hiccups again. And then there it is! You know what I mean. It’s weird.

Now that you’re thinking weird thoughts, share some in the comments and get ready for Curtis Bausse’s Monday post. That will be your invitation to submit your own weird story for the Writers Co-op 2018 Anthology.

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