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Cons of Traditional Publishing

August 16, 2021- As we continue our theme this month of what publishers want, we’re touching on the cons of traditional publishing. Last week we spoke about the pros of traditional publishing, so let’s explore the alternative.

  1. You have no control. The publisher is in total control of your manuscript and your book. They choose the parts they want to cut or extend, hire the cover designer and ensure that the book looks the way it needs to whether you like the cover art or not. Publishers turn the manuscript into something saleable because publishing is a business and your book is a product.
  2. Expectations are high. The industry is changing and has been for a while. Publishers now rely on authors to pull their weight. Not only do they expect authors to engage with their readers at book signings and events, they ask them to be active on social media and have an author platform in place before the book is published.  Authors are also expected to promote their books on various platforms. There are minimum sales targets for reprints, and if the book doesn’t reach that minimum, it will not get another print run.
  3. No guarantees. Authors might not get a reprint of their current book or another publishing deal, even if published in the past. Things change all the time, and new authors and ideas come into play. There are no guarantees in publishing or life.

The point is to treat each book as if it were your first; put the work in, be active in the promotion and sale of your book, and keep writing!

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How Much Say Do I Get?

March 18, 2021– I’d like to take a second to wish my nephew, Denver a very Happy 3rd Birthday today! And I’d like to wish my Dad a very Happy Birthday today as well! Hoping that all of your wishes come true for the both of you. X

We’re continuing to answer your questions during the month of March, so if you’d like to send us yours, please email pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Today’s question is:

Q: “I’m struggling to decide whether to traditionally publish my book, or to self-publish. How much say do I get (traditional publishing) on what my book looks like and other elements of style?”

A: Great question. Traditionally publishing your book means that you sell the rights to the publisher for a royalty rate. In terms of getting an artistic say on the look, formatting, or the overall book in general, the short answer is, you don’t get one. The publisher’s job is to ensure that the book is saleable, that it meets the industry standards, and that it looks the way that it should. It can cost upwards of $8,000.00 to publish a book; that’s a huge risk on an unknown author and I don’t say that to be cheeky.  We take the risk so we are in charge of every element. If you’re a control freak, you should certainly look at self-publishing because you’re the person in the driver’s seat from beginning to end. You’re in charge of every element of your book including the look, layout, style, marketing, and everything in between. What you say, goes. You’re the boss. I will offer a word of caution though, do not go the self-publishing route alone. It’s long and difficult without help. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m saying that you should hire an expert to assist along the way. It will be more cost effective in the long run and you’ll still be able to keep 100% of your royalty. Best of luck on your publishing journey!

If you have a question that you would like answered, send us an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com

 

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Tag (You’re It)

January 21, 2021-As we enter the final week of our Best Seller Bootcamp, here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/  we have a number of things to still cover! As an author with a platform . are you using your social media to connect ideas with readers? Did you know that there is a specific way to do that? With hashtags! Hashtags are still an effective way to get more people to see your posts when using platforms such as Instagram, and using relevant, targeted hashtags is one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences.

Hashtags # work by organizing and categorizing videos and photos. A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 13% more audience engagement than posts without a hashtag. If you add a hashtag to a post on your Instagram account, the post will be visible on the matching hashtag page that acts as a directory of all the photos and videos that were tagged with the same hashtag e.g., #writersofinstagram.  Hashtags are most effectively used on Instagram although we do see them on Facebook sometimes, but not as often because people are less likely to read/care about them. Quick tips:

  1. Use a minimum of 10 hashtags on your post. This will ensure that you cover your bases and include tags that are relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach. Use a mixture of very popular tags and less popular tags to make sure that your post gets traction e.g. #authorsofinstagram (4.7 million posts) and #authorscommunity (156,000 posts). You can use up to 30 hashtags on a regular post and 10 on your Instastory.
  2. Think outside the (hashtag) box. It’s important to use relevant tags, but most people don’t get overly thoughtful when hashtagging. They use the common, most popular tags, but they’re missing out on a potential segment that could see their post by not being creative. Let’s say that you wrote a science fiction novel, some of the less obvious hashtags could include #manvsmachine, #robothero, #riseofthemachines, #machinesvsman, #newrelease, #dystopianuniverse etc.
  3. Hashtag in the comments. Don’t put hashtags directly in your post, put them into the comments section of Instagram and be sure to include your company or book hashtag e.g. #pandamoniumpublishinghouse.

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to hashtags and using them most effectively to promote your work and your posts and to connect with your audience, so check out our Best Seller Bootcamp where we dive deeper into this subject: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/ and more!

 

 

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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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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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Publisher’s Corner…

June 14, 2019– Let’s check out today’s question!

Q: “Lacey, I’m working on a couple of novels at the same time and I’m having a hard time keeping things straight! I’ve mixed up my characters and plots in a couple of points during the story and am driving myself crazy. How do I fix this?” 

A: Well, kudos to you for working on not one, but two novels! That’s very exciting. Yes, it can be difficult when working on multiple projects to keep things in order. I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I’ve edited that have had the wrong name (or the previous name) of the character written down in later chapters. The good news is that it happens to everyone. The other good news is that it’s easy to fix! 

  1. Sticky notes are your friend. Before sitting down to work on either one of your novels take a sticky note and write the main character’s name in BOLD, BLACK, marker. Stick it to the screen of your laptop. This is a visual reminder of what you’re working on and which character/book requires your attention.
  2. One thing per day. Section your week into specific days that you will work on each project. For example, I write Becoming James Cass on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I write I am Jessica Westlake on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It’s much easier to write on certain days rather than to spend the morning of each day working on project one, and the afternoon working on project two. You’ll be less inclined to make a mistake…unless of course you’re like me and you never know what day it is.

Keep the questions coming! I love helping out fellow authors and answering your questions:) X LL B

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Publisher’s Corner…

June 7, 2019– This is an excellent question that a reader asked me over the phone. He had written a book about baseball and had a couple of questions regarding copyright. Let’s check out what he had to say, below:

Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a book about the history of baseball and want to use photographs throughout my book, what do I need to know and is this possible?” 

A: Great question! This whole copyrighting issue can get a bit messy at times, so let me explain how it works when wanting to use images. 

  1. Stock Images: You can use stock images that have no attribution required. There are multiple sites online that have stock images that you can use however you’d like. No attribution required means that you don’t have to give credit to the photographer or the owner of the image.
  2. Public Domain: Did you know that all images published before January 1, 1923, in the United States are now public domain? See if the images you’d like to use are in this category, because you may not need to get permission to use them.
  3. Buy Photos: You can always buy photos from the photographer on sites like istockphoto.com, shutterstock, and fotosearch.
  4. Email: Send an email to the person who holds the copyright of the image and ask their permission to use it. Sometimes there will be a charge and sometimes there won’t it depends on what the owner of the photo decides.
  5. Wikipedia: You can use the images from Wikipedia as long as you cite them.

In all cases, except for the first two on the list, you must give credit to the person who owns the photos. Please remember that copyright is very important and not something to be infringed upon. All artists deserve to be recognized for their work. It’s up to them to say no attribution required, so always check beforehand what the case is. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble this way and be able to give credit where it is due. X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

May 31, 2019– This is an interesting question that I got from a reader during a book signing that I was at with Obsessed with Her. I’ve been asked this on more than one occasion so I thought it might be good to share!

Q: “Lacey, why did you write a prequel to Obsessed with Her? Why not a sequel, and did you have this in mind from the beginning?” 

A: I wrote a prequel to Obsessed with Her because the story wasn’t finished yet. I needed to release the books in this order for the story to make sense and for quite simply the sake of interest in the character and his development. I didn’t want to leave my readers with a ton of backstory to start with so the manuscript demanded to be written and released this way.  

I didn’t write a sequel to Obsessed with Her because the ending is final. There is no chance of a sequel and that’s all I’ll elude to as to not spoil it for those who have not finished or read the book yet. 

Yes, I had this prequel in mind from the beginning, I hadn’t written it yet, but it was always going to happen. Obsessed with Her is unfinished without the prequel and leaves the reader with too many questions. The prequel shows why James Cass behaves the way he does and what type of person he truly is. Obsessed with Her will make perfect sense after the release of, Becoming James Cass (prequel) that is set to hit the shelves this October! 

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Publisher’s Corner…(I answer your most burning questions)

April 26, 2019– Do you guys think that we should have a weekly blog post titled Publisher’s Corner (inspired by Coach’s Corner with the ever fabulous Don Cherry)where I answer your most urgent questions about publishing/writing? I do and last time I checked, I own the place so I can do whatever I want. Every Friday from here on out, we’ll do it! Sound good? Let’s get started.

I received an email last week that asked, “When should I send my novel to a publisher for consideration?”

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind for submitting your work to a publisher.

  1. AFTER your manuscript is completed.
  2. AFTER you do your research (see who is accepting manuscripts and if that publisher is accepting your genre)
  3. AFTER you query the publisher and they REQUEST your manuscript. Your query better be good by the way.

“But Lacey, why wouldn’t I query first to see if they’re even interested? Then if they are, I’ll finish my book.

Think of it this way, you send us a killer query letter, we love it, and want to see the manuscript, imagine our disdain if your manuscript is unfinished. You’ve completely wasted your time and ours. This is comparable to a real estate agent saying to you, “I’ve found your dream home! It’s got everything you want, a pool, a big backyard, and three car garage!” You’re excited, right? Then she says, “But it’s not for sale.”  That’s how publishers feel when you tell us the manuscript is incomplete. Don’t ever do this, make sure your work is finished before ever considering querying us.

“But Lacey, can’t I just send my book out to a bunch of publishers to better my chances?” 

No. Next question. Just kidding; all kidding aside though, you need to research the publisher that is the best fit for your work. Let’s say that you wrote a middle-grade adventure novel and you sent your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes romantic fiction for adults…again, you’ve wasted your time and ours. Do your research, know who you are submitting to, and know what they publish. If you submit something to us that is totally out of our scope, we realize that not only did you NOT do your research but maybe you don’t care enough about a book deal to do your homework. It also makes us leery of working with you because you’ve shown us that you can’t follow instructions.

“But Lacey, can’t I include my manuscript with the query? It will be more efficient and I won’t have to wait as long for a response.”

Do NOT send your manuscript with the query. If we want it, we’ll ask for it. You also need to be aware of the guidelines. A lot of the time publishers request the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the BODY of the email. We don’t open attachments so if you’ve ignored the guidelines and sent us your query and manuscript together…you may as well consider it trashed because we won’t open it.

I know that a lot of this advice seems a bit harsh, but this is the reality of publishing. I want you to have your best shot at success. X LLB

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You are NOT Shakespeare…(Poetry is a hard sell)

January 16, 2019Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.  

Sigh. Talk poetry to me. Another sigh, as I cup my chin in my hands and gaze adoringly into your eyes. Ok, we aren’t Shakespeare, far from it, I’m speaking for myself anyway even though I would beg for a fraction of the talent that he had. What’s the deal with poetry in the marketplace? Why is so hard to sell? Why doesn’t it get published as often as other genres? These are just a few of the questions that I get pretty regularly. Here’s are some answers:

  1. Poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing, there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established, well-known poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. I know what you’re going to say…”But, what about The Sun and Her Flowers or Milk and Honey?” Yes, those books did sell thousands, but they are the exception to the rule.
  2. Poetry doesn’t sell. Let me rephrase that, poetry doesn’t sell as well as mainstream fiction does. I believe that the world needs poetry and poets, but I also believe that I don’t want to take an enormous financial risk in publishing an unknown poet’s poems. The cold, hard truth about traditional publishing is that publishers want to make a profit. This is our business and our livelihood. The cost of publishing a book is in the thousands, to begin with, and as publishers, we want to make damn sure that at the very least, we get our investment back. Publishing poetry is one gamble that I’m not willing to bet on. We are in this business to make money just like anyone who is in any business is.
  3. Poetry is subjective. You may hate Shakespeare (perish the thought, he is an absolute genius and I am a huge fan of his work) but there are those in the world that would fight you to the death defending his sonnets. You may love Robert Frost (again, what’s not to love?), but others may find his poetry dry and outdated. Poetry is art and art is subjective. Yes, writing is art, but mainstream writing is less subjective. You can say, “I love thrillers!” and cover an entire genre, whereas, with poetry, it’s much more specific.

The point is, if you love to write poetry, keep writing! Write for yourself and your friends and family. There are a few publications that are still accepting poetry submissions and a quick Google search will let you know where to send your work if you’re so inclined. Here’s to your success! X LLB