There. We said it.
We thought it was about time it was said.
You can scroll through the blogs, the forums, the advice columns…but always remember, you’re different than the person posting online. Your creative experience and beyond is your experience alone. Two people will not share the exact process…similarities, sure, but not replicated.
So, take any writing or publishing experience stories as a grain of salt in the big pot of publishing stew!
We know, we know…it’s not our last post of the year, but it’s close to it! We figured it would be good for anyone looking into getting published to get the heads up: the results are in, publishing trends are here.
Before we get started though, we want to direct you to the source in which the general info comes from. Opinions and advice are ours! But check out this blog/publishing service.
Let’s get right into it!
- First and foremost, is the decline in reading going to push writers away from publishing their work?
We vote a big fat NO. Reason being, we see the decline in reading as a way to push writers to treat their work with care (and to get into e-Pubbing, but we’ll discuss in a second.) Getting all the pre-publication shenanigans out of the way is something so many people don’t truly pay attention to – so maybe, it’s time we give our precious work some TLC and hire a few people to take a look at what we’ve got.
- Print books remain #1. What does this mean for you?
While everyone (or maybe it was just me) believes that eBooks are the only way to read now, we come here to confirm: this is not true. Print books remain the champion of reading (even if less people do the act of reading.) Now, before you comment and say, “getting my book printed will cost so much money” or “I can’t seal the deal with PRH or Tor or any of those big publishers!” Don’t forget about print-on-demand: the most efficient way for a self-published author to get their book in physical format! So you can still make your way into the print market without a major publishing deal (sorry, big guys.)
- Audiobooks are still on the rise!
We love audiobooks here at HRM. We talk about them enough to say we’re not surprised they’ll continue to rise come the new year.
- We’ve talked about it once, we’ll talk about it again: hybrid/collaborative publishing is important and will continue to rise in popularity in 2019. Why should it be important to you?
Hybrid publishing and collaborative publishing are important mediums to self-published authors (or writers looking into self-publishing.) We want the quality of a major publisher (you know, the big tough editors and the fantastic printing jobs) but since deals from them are far and few between, we need an alternative. An alternative where we have creative flexibility and control over the work in question. These mediums are just that. They provide the quality care to your work as well as giving you the power over it – with consideration, of course. Major publishing houses ensure a bigger paycheck, but why not get your foot in the door to start?
- Marketing is your best friend.
We talk about marketing a lot on this blog. It’s an important part of being a writer/author who wants exposure. If you’re interested in keeping up with a variety of marketing tactics, just use the search bar for this blog and we guarantee you’ll come across something.
Happy Holidays, everybody!
…okay. This may not be about the film industry, or who we think is going to top the box office charts next, but it is about how your book could be top of the selling charts in one way or another!
Awhile back we wrote a post about the art of creating a book trailer. We’re bringing it up again because IT IS IMPORTANT.
Social media and streaming services have become a big part of our society and our culture. I mean, hi, we’re talking to you through a screen!
If you haven’t already, work on a trailer to boost your exposure on YouTube or Vimeo and repost this video on all social media platforms. Show it to your family/longtime fans, provide a link so those fans can share around their platforms.
It’s all about word-of-mouth…or rather word-of-typing?
A little late to the BookExpo train, but we’re here to update you all on one of the most important parts of our day.
In our opinion, the best panel we attended was the impromptu one. Long story short, the panelists who were supposed to be in attendance and speak got stuck somewhere else and two agents took over halfway through the wait.
One of the most talked about points of the conversation was about metadata. In book publishing, metadata was stressed so much and we’re here to help you understand why.
What is metadata? … I asked myself the same thing. I knew it had something to do with the discovery of online destinations, but I didn’t know the breakdown. Book metadata, specifically, consists of the details that help the exposure of your novel on the internet. But what does it consist of? Let’s talk about that.
Before the publication of your novel, you should consider opening up another document and writing out three basic points:
- Keywords / key phrases
- Book description using keywords
- Author bio, using keywords
Do you see the common trend? I do. Keywords.
Keywords will become your best friend and your book’s best friend. But stay away from the generic words and “less important” ones. Your work could easily get lost or misplaced on the internet. Double check those words on a search engine to see what comes up. If it is similar to your work, then you hit the jackpot.
Your list should be narrowed down to 10 – 20 words. You’ll be able to use this same tactic for the book description and author bio to reach a max audience.
To continue to thrive in the market, revisit this and re-brand yourself every so often. When you do this, you’re re-entering the market to a new wave of potential readers and fans.
About a year ago, we talked about how the online writing community we all know as Wattpad has its pros and cons for the published community. Maybe you want to dive in and work on some short prequels. Or possibly write a quick spin-off for your begging readers. The site has wonderful resources to both expand on your writing abilities and become a platform for you to share the little details about your world to a new generation.
But it doesn’t stop there. Wattpad has had more than one success story.
There are authors who have signed traditional book deals for their works on Wattpad’s shelves. But just this past weekend, Publisher’s Weekly wrote up a great article discussing the most recent optioned pieces. You read that correctly: OPTIONED.
Hollywood has decided that maybe the comic book movies and remakes are not cutting it for the box office. It’s now very possible to be recognized by studios and producers who are trying to find the next big thing! All they have to do is refresh their page and see what everyone is reading!
So upload everything you can onto Wattpad. You’re (hopefully) going to Hollywood, baby!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In 2006, Wattpad was created. With 11 years under the company’s belt, the free platform for writing has accomplished plenty. People behind Wattpad have built ties with major publishing houses (yes, we’re talking Random House, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Sourcebooks). One success story from Wattpad is Anna Todd with her AFTER Series, originally published online. Of course not everyone gets to see the rise to fame like Todd did, but services like Wattpad are making their mark on assisting authors to get noticed.
From 2014 alone, 85% of Wattpad’s traffic and usage came from mobile devices. Each month, there were 35 million unique visitors, including users. OVER 100,000 chapters are uploaded each day and OVER 2 million dedicated writers use the service
If you’re not involved or familiar with the platform, Wattpad provides a few different services. As a member, you have access to “Clubs,” which are groups for members who seek help from one another or feel the need to discuss topics relating to writing. Wattpad is also known for The Wattys- an award system created to reward writers for their stories with members participating in the votes. There are also many writing contests held for writers to challenge their own ability and to earn some credentials to their name. There is a collaborative space for beginners to learn from the stars of Wattpad how to navigate the website and how to create a fanbase. Lastly, Wattpad also hosts a writing exercise for participating writers called #JustWriteIt, a 30-day writing challenge.
As a writer, there are some pros and cons with joining Wattpad so if you’re interested in being published or if you are still deciding if the service is right for you, you will want to consider both sides:
The query letter is usually your first step to seeking a literary agent or publisher. It can be the scariest step you will take because after you hit the ‘send’ button or as soon as you drop the envelope in the mail, you are putting yourself out there for rejection and criticism. But, the query letter doesn’t have to be scary; it doesn’t have to be something that you to lose sleep over. You can’t think of a query letter as your complete life story, but rather a mini billboard sign highlighting what you have to offer. If an agent or publisher isn’t looking for a story like the one you have wrote, then no amount of information is going to convince them take you on as a client or to offer you publishing deal. Query letters should be a short and sweet summary of your manuscript, aim for 300 words or less. Keep in mind that your audience is most like a very busy individual, receiving an influx of other letters from plenty of other decent writers. Stay humble and don’t come off too ambitious. Don’t attach or include a sample of a chapter right away in the first letter; leave a cliffhanger to have the reader of your query letter yearn for more. The more you leave them wanting, the higher chance you have for your work to be reviewed.
There are a few key points to keep in mind when writing your query letter:
- If there is one, add a personal connection with your audience. With a link to the individual, they may be inclined to read your letter with more care than the last one.
- Going off the previous point, even without the personal connection, DO NOT copy and paste 80 of the same letters to different agents or publishers. It makes the letter incredibly impersonal, seemingly desperate for a form of recognition. Think about that particular agent or publisher and why you would be a good fit for them based on their current client and book list. Do you compliment their current author and books well or do you fill in a missing gap they might not have?
- When a cliffhanger is added to the quick summary of your story, you shouldn’t give away the entire plot.
- The biography in your letter should include (if possible) your own credibility in writing.
- Keep the tone consistent in your letter. A good letter will keep consistent language; if it’s a lighthearted story, keep a gentle tone – if it’s a comedy novel, include some humor.
- A common mistake is assuming the guidelines to agents, editors, and/or publishers are all the same. Read the guidelines with care…since they do determine your fate with possible representation or a possible book deal!
A query letter is vital to your publishing journey, so take your time to write it. Don’t forget to reread copies of your letters before you send them to your prospective representatives checking for grammar errors, misspellings, and to make sure you are getting the message you want across to the reader. This careful attention could change your fate.
If you’re new to the publishing world, it’s alright to feel completely overwhelmed and lost at times. The publishing world can often feel like a foreign country to beginners or sometimes even its own planet. All the greatest writers had to start somewhere before they became a published author, and trust me they all felt the exact same way you are. At least now we have Google to guide us, right?
The business of publishing is quite interesting from the outside looking in, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to publish your first novel, you may be a little weary of what to do and where to go. The intimidation (and/or high level of anxiety) of sending your manuscript to a literary agency or one of the big five publishers should not discourage you. It’s an exciting time to finally be able to bring your hard work to life. At HRM, we develop submission plans for our authors that would best showcase their work while making sure we target the best potential editors for a successful deal. We have constructed a list of things that we keep in mind when searching for publishers for our authors. Perhaps this will make the submission process tad bit less scary: Who’s going to be YOUR target? Before you even start the submission process, you need to reflect on the manuscript you’ve produced. You probably thought about it before writing it, but if you haven’t, ask yourself: who would I want to read my masterpiece? What genre can I market this book as? These few questions can help narrow down the search in publishing options.
- Be aware of your online presence! In this technology-based era, publishing has turned towards audio, e-books, and other new forms of reading options. As for authors, becoming more active online can help you grow a fanbase much better than word-of-mouth (although that definitely still happens too). This helps publishers see how popular you are amongst peers/fans. If you already have a built in fan base, that’s a huge plus for publishers.
- Know how publishing houses work… Each house is different. Sometimes they market to a certain age group or focus on publishing a particular genre. Search the publishing house website for their company goal; therefore you can compare your own goals as a writer to those of the house.
- Check the performance of the house… Once you’ve narrowed down a list of publishers you envision yourself publishing with, research some previously published books by these particular publishers and how well they sold. See if they marketed the book correctly online as well as how they presented the book to the public.
- If you need help with PR, check out the houses PR department. If online presence has been a struggle for you, a publisher’s PR department is going to be important to you. When you’re checking the performance of the house on their social media accounts, check what they post about, how people react to it, and if it is done effectively. If nothing else, it can assist in your own social media brand and following.
- Don’t feel discouraged from rejection! If there is one thing you should expect in any industry, it is rejection. Accepting your defeat doesn’t mean you’ve given up…it just means you’re onto the next, and hopefully better, one!
- Last, but not least…HAVE OTHER PUBLISHING OPTIONS!!!!! Sending your manuscript to ONE publisher makes landing a publishing deal impossible. Send your manuscript to ten, maybe even twenty possible publishers, and see what kind of reaction you get from there. If you don’t receive any bites, do a second or even third round of submissions. Finding the right editor for your work is a formula that could take months or years to figure out. Be prepared to explore other options, even if it’s a completely different route than you had originally planned. Stepping stones will always assist in you getting to your end goal, even if it takes a few extra steps along the way.