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Advice From A Publisher

September 28, 2020-Today, I’ve taken a page out of my book Advice from a Publisher  (Insider Secrets to Getting Your Work Published) to talk about Synopsis’. This is critical info if you want a shot at being published!

How to write a synopsis: Do you want to know what will make a publisher absolutely lose their mind and throw their laptop onto their front lawn? Read on to find out. No, I don’t mean read on to find out; I mean, when authors say, “Read the book to find out!” Let me explain: The job of a synopsis is to tell the publisher what happens in your book from beginning to end. It’s a snippet of the big picture and gives us the information that we need to know. If you remember from the previous chapter, How to Properly Query, you’ll know that a query letter is a sales pitch. A synopsis is an overview of your book which allows the publisher to identify any major problems with your manuscript, lets us determine if your book is a good fit, and helps us decide if your work is exciting, intriguing, and fresh enough to publish.

Your synopsis must include:

The main character and why we should care about them. What is at stake, and what motivates this character to take action?

The conflict. How does the main character succeed or fail in dealing with the conflict?

Conflict resolution? How is the conflict resolved, and has the character changed or learned anything? THIS IS THE ENDING! DO NOT PUT READ ON TO FIND OUT because your letter will be recycled, and you’ll never hear from us again. Seriously, this drives us crazy.

DO NOT:

Summarize each scene or every chapter. This will take way too long, and you must get your summary across quickly and concisely.

Write this with the tone of a book jacket or back cover. It’s not a marketing piece for readers that builds excitement.

Make your synopsis longer than one page.

Get weighed down with specifics such as supporting character names, detailed settings, and descriptions.

Talk about character back story. We don’t need to know, and frankly, we don’t care. Yes, even for you sci-fi writers, leave it out!

Get wordy. Don’t use eight words when four will do.

For examples of good and lousy synopsis’ check out chapter 7 in my Amazon Number 1 Best Seller book found here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Insider Secret: Write your synopsis in the third person narrative even if your manuscript is told in first person. Write in the present tense and remind the publisher of the category and genre of your work. Reveal EVERYTHING and never use; it was all a dream endings or beginnings.

Best of luck! I can’t wait to read your work.

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Support and Celebrate Living Artists

September 27, 2020- Legendary hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz is on a mission to revolutionize the way artists do business. In this talk, he shares some of the ways he’s helping fellow creatives thrive, including a roving art fair that gives artists 100 percent of their sales, a new commission system for galleries to fund living visual artists and Verzuz, online musical celebrations that bring joy to fans — and sales to musicians. “If we’re not protecting the arts, we’re not protecting our future,” he says. Check out his TedTalk below:

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E-Books (The Future of Publishing?)

September 25, 2020– I attended the London Book Fair in England a few years ago, and I was fortunate enough to participate in many classes to continue my education. One of the subjects that came up was e-books, and how they are changing the face of publishing. Here are four reasons why electronic books are essential to offer your customers if you’re an author, especially a self-published one:

  1. Portability. You’ve just bought a new book series to read while on vacation-did you pack your paperbacks, or did you download the books onto your phone, tablet, e-reader, Kindle, Kobo, or laptop? I’m a fan of paperback books, don’t get me wrong, but when I’m on vacation, I like to lounge by the pool and read. I can’t fit all of the books I can read in a week in my suitcase, so I choose to download them instead.
  2. Sharable. A lot of e-books contain bonus information such as additional chapters or new release teasers via hyperlinks. We add hyperlinks to our e-books because our readers can click on a link and be brought to our website where they can find similar titles they may be interested in. Plus, e-books can be shared with friends.
  3. Highlightable. Non-fiction books especially fall into this category. Most people skim the contents looking for things that are relevant to them, and they can highlight which parts they want to remember or refer back to without ruining or damaging the book like they would have if they had highlighted a paperback.
  4. Environmentally friendly. There is no paper or ink or shipping materials used for e-books, which is an absolute advantage to the environment. There is no waste and nothing to throw away.

I’m not saying that I prefer e-books over print books by any means \(nothing beats the textile nature of holding a book in your hands, flipping the pages, and the smell of them). I’m saying that they have their advantages and have a place in publishing. As an author, make sure you’re offering e-books to your readers; it’s essential to give them as many options as possible to enjoy your work. If you search any of our books on Amazon, you’ll find a paperback version and an e-book version; this is just one of the ways we commit to serving you better.

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Wherever You Go (There You Are)

September 24, 2020– Before COVID happened, I popped into an Indigo bookstore in my city. Bookstores are my happy place, and I love to browse the different sections and topics; I always seem to find my way into the children’s area. Often, the store has local author visits where writers can set up a table and sell their books to customers in-store.

I wandered over to the author’s table, and the woman looked up at me as she was sitting there reading a book. I was the first to engage in conversation; I asked her how it was going, and if she had been busy with customers. She told me she hadn’t, and she wasn’t really into the “sales part” of writing and that she preferred to write the books and stay “behind the scenes.”  I asked her what she thought would happen after she published her book, and she said that she hadn’t thought that far ahead. I asked her about her sales goals and if she had a plan for her book going forward. Again, she said she “hadn’t thought that far ahead.” She went on to tell me that she had spent a pile of money self-publishing her book and that now she had a garage full of unsold copies that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with now. She also said that she wished she had more sales and that she wanted to, at minimum, break even.

I see this a lot, and it’s a shame because her book was quite good and the subject matter was interesting. As an author, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. What can you improve?

If we use the woman above as an example to answer these questions, here’s what we come up with:

  1. She is not where she wants to be. What she wants is more sales, she wants to break even, and she wants to get rid of the inventory of books in her garage. She should be specific about her goals.
  2. She is going to book store events, but not much else. She needs to start brainstorming about how she can sell her books—Eg. Online platform, other book stores, schools, festivals and events etc.
  3. There are a lot of things she can improve; the first thing is engaging with customers when she has them in front of her, hand out literature, talk more about her book, get on social media etc.

You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. So are you where you want to be as an author? What goals do you have for your work? How will you get there? What plan of action will you take? How will you improve your current situation? These are important questions that need answers.

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Think, Pair, Share

September 21, 2020-You’re a poet and Daniel Tysdal is about to show it. Daniel will walk you through his writing process to showcase the Power of Poetry to help us remember, grieve and celebrate. Daniel Tysdal has been a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at UTSC since 2009. He is the author of three books of poetry and the poetry textbook, The Writing Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating Poems (Oxford University Press 2014). He is the recipient of multiple awards for his work and his research interests include creative writing and poetry. Check out the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0BUYzMypi8

 

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Are They Aware?

September 18, 2020-What do you see when I say the word McDonald’s? For some people, this word will conjure up the image of burgers, fries, broken ice cream machines and chicken McNuggets, and some will immediately see the infamous golden arches. It doesn’t matter what came to mind first, the food or the logo, because both things achieved the same goal, to make you aware of their brand and what they sell.

Are people aware of what you sell? Do the covers of your books come to mind when they think of you? Do they see your company logo? Do they know what you offer? If not, here are some good ways to make people aware of you, your brand, and your books:

  1. Business cards-Always carry a stack of business cards with you. It should say who you are, what your occupation is, website, email, phone number, and have your logo/slogan on it. Mine is black with a silver P, on the front with my name and owner of Pandamonium Publishing House.
  2. Brochures-These are great tools to hand out to people to explain your business offering, product samples, book excerpts, reviews, and services. Be sure to include your logo, colours, website, email, business name, how to order, and social media information.
  3. Postcards- I use postcards a lot for many different things. I use them to write notes to clients, to include in our subscription book boxes, to say thank you, and for appreciation notes to anyone who orders off our site.
  4. Banners/signage- These are essential for shows and events that you’re attending. Include your logo, brand colours, slogan, and website/email/social media info. Be sure that everything is large enough to read from a distance.
  5. Letterhead- This should include your company name, email address, website, address, and logo as well as company colours, and phone number.
  6. Email signature- Some days, I’ll send up to 50 emails per day, depending on the circumstance. An email signature is a great way to let prospective clients know what you do, who you are, and how to reach you and your social media handles. Also, if you have a writing business, your email signature is a great way to let everyone know what your hours are or when you’re out of the office/away from your desk.
  7. Social media-Amazon author page, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram- You should have all of these things and more. People need to know where to find you, and you need to be consistent with your posts. Use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite to pre-schedule your posts so you’re not tied to your phone when you could be doing something more valuable with your time. Your social media should all be linked to each other and be informative, educational, and entertaining while adhering to your brand message and aesthetic.
  8. Blog-How your blog looks and what it does are synonymous with your brand awareness and what you do/offer. Your books should be for sale online as well as your services, an about section about you and your company, and your logo, colours, and common theme should run throughout. If you’re a romance writer, for example, you could have topics on your blog that include things such as the elements of writing romance, specific genre information, how to write characters etc.
  9. Logo and colours-Our brand colours are black, white, and purple; this follows through to our cards, brochures, postcards, signage, letterhead, and blog. Our logo is a black box with a white letter P in the middle.

Every time you create content or interact with people, you are representing your brand. Do it well.

Have your coffee the same way that we do!
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Run Your Way to Inspiration

September 10, 2020-As long as it’s not raining, you can usually find me running outside in the early morning in my neighbourhood. I love saying hello to familiar faces and smiling back at the people who give me cheery grins and waves. There are people walking and biking, some are on rollerblades, and most have dogs; it’s usually the same crowd day in and day out with a few exceptions.

I like to make up stories about the people and things that I see while I run; Where are they going after this? What if their dog could talk? Does their dog talk to the other dogs it meets? Where does that staircase lead? What is that skunk doing, and what is he digging for? What if we were all running from Zombies? Would I survive? And the list goes on.

Sometimes the ideas are silly, and sometimes the ideas are stuff that I can work with. The point is that I’m observing the things around me and being inspired by them.

Inspiration comes in all forms; let’s explore:

  1. Setting-Sunsets, trees, trails, staircases, houses, waterfronts are all examples of settings you’ll see on your run that could make it into your story.
  2. Animals-Skunks, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits are all animals that I’ve seen on the running trail that would make great characters for stories!
  3. People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
  4.  Professions-Garbage collectors, construction workers, road pavers, gardeners, roofers, dog walkers, and babysitters are some professions that could start your story off right.

Looking at this list inspires me! How many ideas can you think of using the list of things above? Happy Writing, X LLB

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Raise Your Standards

September 4, 2020– It’s time to raise your standards in all areas of your writing life and business. What have you been putting up with for too long, and why? Standards are the behaviours that you hold yourself to, and as they improve, so do your health, your relationships, your career, and your writing. I think Mandy Hale said it best, “Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”

So, what should your standards include for your writing business? Here are mine:

  1. We refuse to work with people who have a problem for every solution.  I don’t do negativity. Not for one minute. It’s a disease and spreads like an out of control infection that will eventually kill everything in its path. That’s why we work with optimists, glass half full type of people; people who see the best in others and themselves.
  2. We don’t do drama. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we are a team, and there is no competition between authors. Each person is unique, and so is their writing style, so everyone brings their voice to the table. One of my favourite quotes that is hanging in my office is, “If you’re not willing to put your team first, turn around” which was initially posted in a sports team’s dressing room before they went through the doors and down the tunnel. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We’re in this for the long haul.
  3. We work hard. No one works harder than my team. I’m willing to bet my life on it, and every single day, I bet my business on it. If my authors and illustrators aren’t writing/drawing, they’re teaching, if they’re not teaching, they’re speaking, if they’re not speaking, they’re at events, if they’re not at events, they’re learning. They are always striving to do more, to be more, and to create more.
  4. We refuse to give up-Giving up, and quitting isn’t in our vocabulary. I’ve personally had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the side of my house, and so have a lot of my authors. We don’t give up when things get difficult because we remember who is watching. We want to make ourselves and eachother proud.
  5. We meet deadlines or people die. Just kidding, that’s a misquote from the movie  A Few Good Men. But we don’t miss deadlines because that would crush our credibility and lower our standard of business. Our books come out on time or ahead of schedule because time is of the essence, and we hate to keep our readers waiting.
  6. We won’t publish boring books. We have a standard around here, and that is that we don’t do boring. Our name is Pandamonium for a reason-we bring chaos and mayhem and energy and fun in all of our books. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
  7. We continue our education. The authors and illustrators at Pandamonium are some of the most educated people you will ever meet. Teachers, health care professionals, professors, curators, educators, BA’s, Ph.D.’s, MBA’s and more make up our team. But we also have authors/illustrators who have been educated at the school of hard knocks (yours truly included although I do have an education in Marketing/Advertising, Children’s Literature, Publishing, and Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, they’re all just pieces of paper to me) that have life experience that could never be taught in a classroom. I read up to 60 books per year on business, personal development, publishing, and what’s trending in the industry, and my authors and illustrators are voracious readers as well.
  8. We represent ourselves and this company with class and passion. Every author and illustrator in this company represents us well. We are a passionate team that believes in championing Canadian arts, artists, illustrators, authors, and storytellers. We build relationships with other artists and offer our continuing support to individuals and businesses whose values mirror ours.
  9. Our number 1 mission is literacy. First and foremost, we care about literacy. We want kids to read books that are exciting, fun, educational, and unputdownable. We know that literacy matters and that reading/writing/comprehension bridges the gap between poverty and self-reliance, health, financial wellness, and self-esteem.
  10. We write the books we want to read. We care about the books we publish and write things that appeal to us. If we like it and want to read it, chances are our readers will too!

If you’re not setting standards and sticking to them, you’re letting yourself down.

 

 

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Prepared or Not Prepared (that is the question)

September 2,2020-I was at the nail salon the other day getting my manicurist, Brian, to work his magic on my tattered, overused nails. Thanks to my profession, it’s hard to keep my fingernails long and beautiful, thank you keyboard, but I do what I can to make them look nice yet functional.

So, I’m sitting there and Brian and I are chatting when I overhear a conversation at the table next to me; two women strike up a conversation and the one asks the other for a business card. The woman rummages through her purse and comes up empty-no business card to give to a prospective client, how terrible and what a wasted opportunity. She turns back to the woman and says with a flush of embarrassment, “Sorry, I don’t have any with me.”

Don’t let this happen to you! Be prepared to do business!

Here’s what’s in my bag/truck that I never leave the house without and you shouldn’t either as a writer!

1) Business Cards-This is the easiest way to make an impression and the simplest thing to hand out. Invest in a high quality business card made of premium material. There’s no quicker way to squash a potential deal than to have a crappy business card. The worst offenders are the print at home kind because they never look professional. Be sure to include your name, phone number, website and email on your card as well as your company name.

2) Brochures-These are great when you want to show off your available services or product collection. Get a high quality brochure made from a professional printer and stick with a glossy finish for maximum punch. You can showcase your book titles beautifully with this approach.

3) Product Samples-I keep a few books in the truck at all times so that I’m always ready should they opportunity present itself for me to give one away or sell one. Your products are your most effective form of communication! Do not leave the house without your books.

Don’t miss any opportunity to talk about your books or your business! Be prepared because you never know what can happen.

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Query Me This

August 10, 2020-Do you know what a query letter is and what purpose it serves for a publisher? If not, you’re missing some important information! Publishers expect several things when an author submits their manuscript for consideration, and one of those items is a query letter.

By definition, a query letter is what introduces you and your work to a publisher. Its primary purpose is to get the publisher interested in your book so that they want to read more! Well written query letters whet the publisher’s appetite and pique our interest, poorly written ones make us recycle your query and move on to the next one.

There are four essential parts to a query letter:

1) Title, word count, genre, and category-Including a working title is fine as well as where you would place your book in the market. The rest is self-explanatory for this first step.
2) Brief description of your story and the HOOK-The hook is what gets us hooked on your story! What does your character want? What will they do to get it? And who is preventing them from getting it? Remember to include the ending of your book. We don’t like to be kept guessing.
3) A bit about yourself-Credentials, awards, classes, continuing education etc. And why you wrote the book that you’re sending to us and any other relevant information.
4) Thank you and a closing line-Thanks for reading my manuscript. I hope to hear from you soon. Nice and clean and simple.

For more information on how to properly query, check out my book, Advice from a Publisher (Insider tips for getting your work published) here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Query letters are essential! Don’t let this one page be the thing that stands between you and a publishing deal. X LLB

book cover publisher