The Publishing Journey: The Slush

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Oh yes, we are briefly discussing the writer’s worst nightmare: the slush pile. If you’re new to the writing world and haven’t heard about the slush pile, it’s essentially the place where unsolicited query letters/manuscripts go to be read by assistants-to-the-editor.

Many will say a writer doesn’t want to end up in the slush pile, and there’s more truth to that than fiction. Once in that pile, one will never actually know if their manuscript ever made it onto the editor’s desk. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a world out there where the slush pile could potentially become a good thing. For example, an open slush pile.

The idea of an open slush pile may scare some, but if used correctly it can begin your journey as the writer-turned-published-author. The traditional slush pile is private to the publisher or agent the manuscript has ended up with, but the open slush pile exposes work everywhere. The downfall is, the work won’t be private anymore; anyone can access it, read it, and comment on it. If this is not the road you, as the writer, want to travel down, here are a few ideas to entice people, editors, and agents to read your writing and make use of the open slush pile:

  1. Short stories.
    Posting short stories on open slush pile websites can expose your audience to your writing style: how you execute the plot, how you build characters in a short span of writing, etc.
  2. Excerpts from your main manuscript.
    Just like if you were reading an excerpt at the end of a book for the sequel or to another book the author is working on, use your favorite or strongest excerpt from your manuscript to see if it peaks an audience’s interest. If it’s in high demand, then maybe you’ll end up getting picked up by an agent rather than you searching for one.
  3. Spin-off stories of your mysterious manuscript.
    Does your main character in your novel have another quick little tale they want to share? Get your audience excited by reading a prequel story of your main squeeze. It might make the character the more lovable one.

So maybe sitting in the slush pile in the editor’s storage unit (come on, we know there’s a lot and you need a place to put them) isn’t the ideal place to be, but there are other ways to use the wonderful resource of the internet and to make the best of being in the slush pile.

Coming To A Bookshelf Near You!

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Let’s talk about movie trailers. They are utilized to get viewers to come and see a movie which has yet to be released. There is usually a tease of action or a jump scare here or there, a little bit of the plot is explained, and sometimes the main character(s) is introduced. It makes people want to watch the movie and anticipate its release.

That same idea can be put towards book trailers.

If you’re a self-published author, you should consider making your way into book trailers for anticipated books in your series, or maybe a new series for your readers. Just like the movies, book trailers entice potential readers to go out and buy your book. The art of creating a book trailer is a newer platform to use to market your book and there are many reasons you might want to consider giving it a try.

First, we are in a time where visuals have become much more appealing to people and video has a strong influence too. 92.6% reported that visuals are the most influential factor in their decision-making. If the trailer does its job, the viewer is more likely to buy your book.

Another great part about creating a book trailer for your novel is how shareable it becomes. This makes mass exposure more feasible. Even better: it’s easy to share on multiple platforms, so if you’re not tech-saavy – you only have to press a single button and write a quick blurb to share with hundreds of people.

Just like those 92.6% of people had reported earlier, the decision to buy the book or not is made in a matter of seconds if the trailer is captivating enough. A good trailer does the decision-making for you.

Here are some key ingredients to keep in mind when creating your book trailers:

  • Keep it short and sweet (60-75 seconds).
  • “Professional” quality is better than low quality.
  • Include the information about release and where to buy.
  • You don’t have to break the bank.

Go ahead now, be the next Stephen Spielberg of book trailers and get on it!

Enjoy this audiobook trailer from Audible UK for the thriller of the year: SILENT CHILD by Sarah A. Denzil!



 

Judging A Book By Its Cover

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If you are travelling down the self-publishing path, then creating a book cover is going to be another part of your publishing journey. After walking through aisles and aisles of books at the local B&N, I started to notice the similarities amongst some of the genres. There’s a cycle a writer should keep in mind when creating the cover to their book. If you were the book, the process would go a little something like this:

  1. Get noticed by the potential reader browsing all your friends on the bookshelf or Amazon page.
  2. Either you’re picked up or clicked on, because you’re just that interesting.
  3. If you’re exactly what the potential reader wants, they’ll buy you.
  4. Of course, they’ll read you.
  5. After they’re done, they’re going to talk about you to other people. They’ll entice their peers with your inspiring and rich content.
  6. Let this process repeat.

But, how can you get to step one? A good cover takes a couple different factors into account. For a fiction novel, you won’t want to include too much text. The title, author name, and maybe an essential quote from the book or a shortened quote from a reviewer is more than enough to do the trick. When you add too much text, it becomes too much for a the reader to consume or it might reveal too much about your novel. This can cause the reader to quickly put your book back on the shelf or scroll onto the next book. Quick catchphrases or quotes can sometimes be a good subheading – but make sure it doesn’t go much beyond a sentence. If images help your novel pop, make sure the image used is significant to the plot of your novel. It becomes visually appealing when a story about a dog, has a dog on it (or whatever the story may be). When you pick the right image, a reader can get just as much information about your novel from just looking at the cover as they can from reading its summary.

Let’s use Caraval by Stephanie Garber as an example. The cover of Caraval is a happy medium between being too boring and too active. The bright white color font of the title pops out at you, so you are immediately drawn to the title. The lettering intertwines elegantly with the star design without being too intrusive, adding a little extra pizzazz without hindering your ability to read the text easily. The glittery stars within the star design, against the space background, flow together in a simple manner. When creating your cover, you want to reflect the story you’re telling. In Garber’s novel, her main character, Scarlett, must find her sister in five nights while being surrounded by magic and performances (therefore, the star design on the cover mirrors the nighttime or bursts of magic within the novel).

If you are a visual artist, as well as a wordsmith, you might want to take it upon yourself to create your own cover because you know the image you wish to convey to your readers better than anyone else. Or recruit someone you may know or a trusted cover designer to work with you to create the perfect cover that will bring your story to life. Regardless of how your cover is made, you want to be able to appeal to your readers and represent your book in an exceptional way that wouldn’t allow it to be looked over by browsers.

The Path to Children’s Publishing

Children and Young Adult literature is one of the toughest genres to write, and most importantly, succeed in. The interests quickly change, the audience is smaller and more direct, and the ideas/concepts addressed really need to be engaging (I’m talking out-of-the-box extraordinary here) for it to catch the eye of a young reader. With the technology available to children today, a book really needs to scream “PICK ME UP!” for children to put all other things aside and choose to read on their own free time.

Children publishers certainly know this too. Selling a manuscript to them is only welcomed with more challenges these days. Editors aren’t looking for ‘good’ content anymore, they are looking for the next ‘big thing’and won’t settle for anything less.

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Scholastic is the King of children’s publishing. Every children/young adult author dreams of seeing their name listed on their website. That’s why I was pretty thrilled to see an article this morning about their predictions for 2017:

Hot titles will focus on kindness. It seems like everywhere we turn in 2016 the media is filled with bad news- stories of bullying, hatred, and lack of acceptance. Scholastic editors hope that through literature, maybe we can show our youth that the world isn’t really all bad and that just maybe literature can be that one thing that bring us all together under one common roof.

-The year of big book anniversaries. 2017 will host a handful of really exciting book anniversaries that will bring these modern classic to the forefront once again- good content never gets old. These anniversaries to watch out for are the 30th anniversary of The Magic School Bus, the 25th anniversary of Goosebumps, the 20th anniversary of Captain Underpants, and the 10th anniversary of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. 

-Children still want to laugh. Children seek out literature to laugh and escape reality for a bit, one of the may lessons us adults can learn from our children.

-Research is more important than ever. With more and more ludicrous information becoming available on the internet, editors are interested in teaching children to discern fact from fiction. Non-fiction titles will have a crucial role in this in 2017.

-Classics will be reimagined. Old tales will be retold in ways we have never seen them before. Keeping up with children’s imaginations is easier said than done.

Keep on writing, so our children can keep on reading.