Tag: authors

Track Changes

Should you send your whole manuscript to a prospective editor?

Lisa Poisso is a fiction editor and book writing coach working with independent authors and new authors seeking representation. Lisa helps emerging authors tune their manuscripts to publishing industry standards and craft commercial fiction that resonates with readers. Find her at Lisa Poisso, follow her on Twitter at @LisaPoisso, or like her on Facebook. This guest post originally appeared on Lisa’s site.

You just clicked Save on your manuscript file in preparation for sending it off for a sample edit. The thing is, the prospective editor has asked you to send the entire manuscript. All you need is a tiny sample edit. Why would an editor ask to see your whole manuscript? Could this unknown editor be planning to steal your idea?

Some authors try to circumvent these anxieties by stamping copyright notices all over their manuscripts or demanding NDA clauses and confidentiality agreements for even opening the files. There are plenty of things to stress over in relation to getting your work published, but this isn’t one of them. There’s no need to be hypervigilant. Here’s why this sort of zealousness is unnecessary:

  1. Your creative work is automatically copyrighted the moment you commit it to print. That’s the way the law works. Putting the little © symbol on an unpublished manuscript contributes nothing to the security of your legal rights; it just makes you seem a bit paranoid.
  2. While your particular interpretation and execution of your book is legally yours and yours alone, the idea itself cannot be copyrighted. It’s your interpretation of the idea that’s copyright—and as point #1 notes, you’re already covered.

They’ve seen it all

Padlock_248Publishers and acquiring editors as well as independent content and copy editors see a constant influx of ideas and stories every single day of their working lives. It’s safe to say they’ve probably seen multiples of stories very similar to yours. Reputable professionals have few reasons to steal your work and many reasons to remain honest.

Meanwhile, your reluctance to let others see your work may be sabotaging your own progress. If you refuse to workshop or critique your book in case other authors are tempted to steal your ideas, you’ll be missing out on valuable feedback—and of course the ideas themselves aren’t copyright anyway. If you seem reluctant to allow an agent or acquiring editor to look over your work, with so many other authors clamoring for attention, why wouldn’t they simply toss your manuscript aside and move to the next submission?

I know it can be hard to come to grips with the idea that someone wouldn’t be tempted to steal your work. But editors and other book professionals are just that—professionals. If they wanted to do something illegal with your manuscript, they would risk collapsing their reputations and facing legal consequences. Still worried? Read more about idea theft.

A time for trust

Holding your manuscript too close to the vest will handicap your efforts to hire an editor to edit your book. In order to evaluate what sort of editing your book might need, an editor needs to be able to look for its strengths and weaknesses from beginning to end. What good is seeing that hilarious passage of dialogue between the protagonist and her romantic interest if your editor can’t see that the rest of the book has no narrative spine to speak of? If you’re only willing to part with a thousand treasured words, your editor has no chance to see what kind of attention the rest of your book might need—and you’re left with no sense of how your prospective editor might handle those needs.

When an editor asks you to send your entire manuscript for review, understand that they plan to comb through the entire thing. They’re looking for energetic beginnings and rousing conclusions. They’re searching for energetic middles that don’t collapse in a mushy mess. They’re staking out persistent problems like clunky dialogue, head-hopping that latches onto the accelerating pace toward the climax, and narrative arcs that amble past key turning points with nary a conflict in sight. If you ask an editor to evaluate what sort of work your manuscript needs but prevent them from seeing the full scope of your work, you’re putting both sides at a significant disadvantage.

When your book is ready for editing, it’s time to relinquish your hold on your creative effort and take the first steps toward sending it out into the world. That first step can and most certainly should start with your editor. We’re here to help.

Track Changes

Get ready to get published: Resources for authors

Lisa Poisso is a fiction editor and book writing coach working with independent authors and new authors seeking representation. Lisa helps emerging authors tune their manuscripts to publishing industry standards and craft commercial fiction that resonates with readers. Find her at Lisa Poisso, follow her on Twitter at @LisaPoisso, or like her on Facebook. This guest post originally appeared on Lisa’s site.

Once your book is edited, where can you turn for reliable advice on the next steps in the publishing process? My favorite publishing resources for authors include books and articles on querying agents, submitting to publishers, finding a great cover artist, self-publishing tasks and schedules, marketing and promoting your commercially published or self-published book, and more.

Because this is the list I share with my own editing clients, I’ll update this page regularly as I discover new favorites.

Your first publishing decisions

Queries and submissions


Cover design

Blurbs and retail page copy

Marketing and promotion

social media

Can social media make a difference for your authors?

This is a guest post by Alison Barrow. Alison is Director of Media Relations at Transworld. You can find her on Twitter @alisonbarrow. This blog post first appeared on the Publishing Training Centre Blog.

“Really? 140 characters or links to images or a blog are crucial influencers in promoting and selling books? It’s just a load of old blather isn’t it? Can social media really help publishers?

“So, first up, this is a short blog. I’m speaking solely on the account of a publisher. I’ve been given about 400 words to sum up why social media is important – more than 140 characters, but still, not much – so here’s some key pointers and examples of how vital it is…

“Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads and Instagram are essential for Communicators. Readers speak with authors, who connect with bookshops and bloggers, and a whole conversation ensues. It’s a feat of choreography to avoid repetition and remain interesting and relevant, but by snapshotting these images and posts publishers capture that previously elusive word-of-mouth and demonstrate to a wide online audience enthusiasm and positive reaction to upcoming books. This creates interest and demand.

“PRs and marketeers are Sharers – when the supportive chat online about a title and author builds, this is communicated to sales teams who pass on to the booksellers. A huge number of successful publications over the last five years have seen their campaigns play out to great effect over social channels – think The Snow Child; The Miniaturist, The Lemon Grove, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Girl on the Train, The Widow. The author doesn’t need to be in that space – campaigns for Maggie O’Farrell and for Kate Atkinson are propelled by publisher in tandem with book trade, bloggers, fans and media.

“Social media posts can be like pinboards – Collators of print coverage, an event in a local bookshop, a soundbite from an author, an image of a location which inspired a book, collecting offline nuggets and creating a display of praise and popularity. Reviews in papers and magazines, articles written by authors can be showcased to a targeted audience.

“Last week, a BBC radio producer emailed to say that the presenter had been reading the lively Twitter exchanges about a novel, and wanted to book the author on a show. Many are watching, not overtly participating – which is also why it can be tricky to chart a journey to a book sale.

“It’s an Educator – with one or two clicks publishers can check on what their peers are doing. We have learned so much from other authors’ book tours, rooftop book events, partnerships with influential bloggers and media. We watch how others secure word of mouth and connect readers with writers, and we learn, and fashion elements for ourselves.

“It’s a great big Thank You card too – writers and publishers send appreciation back to those who have joined in the cheerleading… and the whole positive reaction is captured and continues…”

writing app

Startup snapshot: Write Track

Write TrackChris Smith is co-founder of Write Track with Bec Evans. He also runs a communications, content and digital marketing agency called Swarm and blogs about creative productivity for the Next Web and Huffington Post. Here we interviewed Chris on Write Track and what’s next in the pipeline.

1) What exactly is Write Track?

Write Track is a creative activity tracker for anyone who aspires to write. People have said we’re a little like ‘Fitbit for writers’ because we take the same kind of goal-setting and tracking tech found in fitness trackers – and apply them to creative practice.

Our ambition is to help anyone who wants to write improve their creative output and achieve their writing dreams.

2) What problem does it solve?

Writers – like many creatives – are rarely stumped for ideas. They struggle to find the time, they suffer from self-doubt, they procrastinate and get stuck in a negative spiral. They find it hard to find a writing practice that’s right for them – that’s where technology can help.

Write Track uses behaviour change theory and the science of habits to kick-start people’s writing practice and help them continue. In time, our system will provide writers with data about their creative practice and in so doing, give them the motivation to continue, grow – and improve.

3) Who is your target market?

Writers are our target market but not of any specific type or genre.

We hope that Write Track will be of value to any writer – aspiring or established – who needs or wants to write regularly and often – but struggles to find the time or keep to a writing schedule.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

People are using Write Track to start and finish their writing projects and to submit (and win) prizes at competitions. We’ve had one user clinch a publishing deal for a novel using our system to track his writing progress.

Our long-term vision is that technology can help anyone to write and become a better, more productive writer. In time we want to create our own niche with the publishing and creative writing sectors.

5) What will be next for Write Track?

We know our system works – but we also know we need to make it better. At the moment we’re using all the user feedback and data from the closed beta to develop our product pipeline. Currently we’re deep in the development and testing of a new writing challenge product that we hope to have publically available in the summer.

What are Words Worth? Falling author earnings and what we can do

Studies across the world have shown that authors’ earnings are falling fast. Authors remain the only essential part of the creation of a book and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure they can make a living. For that reason, the Society of Authors in the UK has banded with sister organisations worldwide to call on publishers to make contract terms more equitable and give authors a fairer share.

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Authors marketing

Authors marketing themselves online: the components of a strategy

Mike Shatzkin has been in publishing since 1962. Since 1979, Mike has been an independent consultant (The Idea Logical Company) with clients that have included most major publishers in the US and UK, retailers including Barnes & Noble and Borders, wholesalers including Ingram, and a host of tech startups. He has partnerships with Michael Cader in a conference business (Publishers Launch Conferences) and with Peter McCarthy in a digital marketing business (Logical Marketing Agency). You can follow him on Twitter @MikeShatzkin.

A range of useful options is available to any author as they consider their online presences. All can be useful to any author but their own website is an essential component of that. It’s an anchor and it is the only web presence the author knows s/he will always control.

An author’s objectives for a website should be to:

  • Make it crystal clear to search engines who the author is and for what they are an authority.
  • Give the author a platform that can be used for many things: blogging, posting parts of books or works-in-progress, and gathering email addresses.
  • Give fans of the author a sensible place to link to an author’s content and biography that is not called Amazon.com.
  • Collect data that is independent of any specific book’s sales that can help an author know how s/he is doing in the digital world.

In addition to a web site, which is real estate an author totally controls and is the most important tool in an author’s kit to get new followers through search, an author can do him or herself some good by going where fans could be.

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ALCS report finds massive disparity in authors’ earnings

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society has published the results of its report into the money made by professional authors, and none of it will likely come as a surprise to the vast majority of writers forced to subsidise their work through a variety of endurable-to-menial day jobs. Based on research carried out by Queen Mary University of London, The Business of Being an Author: A Survey of Authors’ Earnings and Contracts finds that 58% of all the money earned by professional authors is earned by the top 10% of those authors, resulting in a massive inequality of wealth between that 10% and the remaining 90%.

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Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking Tips for Authors: Interview with Nancy Buffington

This is a guest post from Stacy Ennis. Stacy is a book and magazine editor, writer, book coach, and speaker, as well as the author of The Editor’s Eye: A Practical Guide to Transforming Your Book from Good to Great. She works with a wide range of clients, from celebrities and corporate clients to independent authors and small book presses and also ghostwrites magazine articles, web content, and books, often reaching national and international audiences.

Public speaking and writing seem opposite of one another, yet both are necessary to become a successful author. Nancy Buffington is a public speaking coach who helps authors improve their presence in front of audiences. Here is an interview with Nancy.

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Digital Marketing insights

Digital Marketing insights from Katie Sadler [HARPER COLLINS]

This is a guest interview with Katie Sadler. Katie is Senior Marketing Manager at Harper Collins and focuses on HarperVoyager (science fiction and fantasy) and HarperImpulse (romance) lists. Follow @katiemorwenna for more.

1. You have been at Harper Collins for over 3 years now. What’s been the biggest development you’ve seen in how you run digital marketing campaigns during that time?

I think when I started, there was a sense of “if you build it, they will come” – a lot of micro sites and games and videos. People were spending their budget creating incredible content, but there wasn’t any cohesive strategy of how to actually get people interacting with it, and converting people to buy the book. Today there is still amazing content being produced to support a book launch, but I think we try much harder to make sure that it isn’t just released into a vacuum.

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Editorial Assistant

On Reading for an Agency

Norah Myers is known on BookMachine for her blog posts about being an Editorial Assistant. This week she is back with some advice on Reading for an Agency.

Norah studied publishing in London at City University and worked for Picador and Bloomsbury before returning to Canada. She worked for a boutique literary agency before moving to an independent publisher of fiction and nonfiction. She loves yoga, books, and endless cups of tea. @bookish_norah

Before I began my editorial job, I read manuscripts for a literary agency. I read literary fiction, historical fiction, memoir, women’s fiction, psychological thriller, young adult, and work that defied classification. I found it tremendously helpful in the work I do now as an editorial assistant (and a freelance editor). These are the top 5 things I learned when working for an agent:

1. Agents are editors, too

Agents work tirelessly with their authors to develop draft after draft of their manuscripts to make them the most polished they can be before they create book proposals and send them to publishers.

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Mills and Boon

Romancing the Reader – Relationship advice from the Mills & Boon archive

This is a guest post from Judith Watts. Judith lectures on the Publishing Masters at Kingston University where she is Co-Director of Kingston University Press. She is researching for her PhD [The Limits of Desire: the Mills & Boon Romance Market] in The Archive of British Publishing and Printing at the University of Reading. She has worked in the industry for many years and has recently started two new reading, writing and publishing  businesses. She took a publishing career break to do an MFA in Creative Writing and is a published poet and author of Hodder’s Teach Yourself Erotic Fiction. 

At a recent Galley Club talk I confessed my passion for publishing archives. The past has much to teach us about relationship management. The thousands of intimate letters between publishers, authors and readers are a tale of the ultimate ménage à trois. While a partnership of two can be tricky enough the publisher can always tie the contractual knot with the author. But how can readers be wooed and kept close?

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The End of the Indie Gold Rush?

This is a guest post from Ricardo Fayet. Ricardo is an avid reader and startup enthusiast who has been studying the publishing industry with interest for several years. He co-founded Reedsy, to help authors collaborate with publishing professionals.

An  ALCS survey in the UK last summer crystalised industry concerns about whether career authorship is a viable profession these days. The report painted a somewhat grim picture for professional and part-time authors alike–regardless of whether those authors publish traditionally or independently. (For a crash-course on the industry landscape, I recommend Kristine Kathryn Rush’s exhaustive report on “things indies learned in 2014”.)

The question now is, has the inde “Gold Rush” passed? Is success finite, and has it been mined to depletion?

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5 Questions for Miral Sattar from Bibliocrunch [INTERVIEW]

Host of November’s BookMachine NYC, Bree Weber, talks to speaker on the night Miral Sattar, founder of BiblioCrunch.

Grab your tickets for BookMachine NYC here.

1. What’s your background and how did you get involved in the publishing industry?
I’m an engineer by background, love to write and publish, and also love help other people publish. So, obviously, a natural fit for me would be to combine all three into my own company.

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