The steps to getting published, and avoiding the traps!

I’ve said this before, in fact I’ve said it several times, but apparently it needs repeating because over the past few days I have seen numerous posts on social media from unpublished authors who have been offered “contracts” by “publishers”. Why am I using speech marks? Because you have not been offered a contract by a traditional publisher, you have been offered a service by a vanity press, and yes, there is a HUGE difference.

I’ve been in this industry for a long time now. I’m published both traditionally and self, and the only time I have had to pay for anything to do with getting my book published, is when I did it myself. I work with three traditional publishers: Tirgearr Publishing, Totally Bound Publishing, and Evernight Publishing, and not once have I had to pay for anything other than private marketing, which I have done off my own back.

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So what should you be paying for? Well, when it comes to publishing a book there are several steps that need to be taken before it gets put on a shelf:

Write your story

Now write it again. Honestly, the first draft should never be the one you send out. To anyone! The first draft of a novel is a secret that only you should read. Why? Because it’s likely to be filled with unnecessary paragraphs, chapters and even characters. Read over it, and you will probably stumble into a plot hole along the way. Write your story, leave it for a few days, then read over it and fix everything you can.

Self editing

If you’re experienced in editing, you might find this stage slightly easier than other writers. Don’t rely on spellcheck to pick up on all your mistakes. There are plenty of apps and software out there that can help. Personally, I use Grammarly to go over my work and pick up on typos and misplaced commas. Whatever your process, self editing your work is a skill that develops over time and will improve with practice. You need to be harsh with yourself and try to read your book through different eyes. If you picked this book up and had paid good money for it, does it meet up to your standards as a reader?

Beta reading

Time to get your book out into the world.  A lot of authors rely on their mums or best-friends, which is where they fall. People who know you and love you, and want you to succeed, are going to tell you it’s great. You need to find a beta reader, or four, who has experience reading your genre, and can look it without bias. I highly suggest joining your local creative writers group. Read snippets out and get their advice, or buddy up with another writer and ask them to look over it.

Edit it again

Now it’s back from your beta reader, it’s time to take their notes and re-edit. Did they pick up on grammatical errors? Was there a plot hole you missed? Was there something that jarred with them? Fix it, because if they picked up on it, agents and publishers will too.

How are you publishing it?

Do you want to self-publish or find a traditional publisher? Speaking from experience, both routes are hard work, but self-publishing is definitely harder. If you self-publish, you will need to pay for everything yourself. You will need to be ruthless when it comes to editing and fine-tuning and cover design. You will need to understand the industry, know how to market and promote your book and monitor sales records. But, if you want to be traditionally published, then you will need to grow a thick skin and be prepared for rejection.

For the love of all that is good, do not go down the self-publishing route because you’ve been rejected. If publishers and agents said “no thanks”, it’s because your synopsis didn’t catch their attention or your opening chapters weren’t up to par. People will tell you not to take it personally, but you should. I’m sorry if that seems harsh, but the fact is that your book just might not be good enough and sellable. Of course, it’s possible that it hit the slush pile and you got a form rejection letter, but take another look at it. Can it be improved? Don’t give up, just don’t throw your toys out of the metaphorical pram and decide you know better than people who have been working in this industry for a hell of a lot longer than you.

However, do not fall into the trap of vanity press. If your chosen publisher says they’d love to offer you a contract, and you only have to pay £X, run. Run fast and don’t look back. No good publisher will ever ask you to pay for editing, cover design, or put money towards printing/publishing costs. EVER.

Editing

Yup. Time to edit again. Traditional publishers will assign an editor to you, who you will work with for several weeks until it is polished and scrubbed. If you’re self-publishing you’ll need to find someone to do it for you. DO NOT do it yourself. DO NOT let your best-friend do it (unless they are trained and qualified). Pay for it. Don’t be an idiot and think you can do it without help, because you can’t. I’ve been working as an editor for 11 years. I spent four years doing my degree, on top of several years of training, CPD, and work experience. I still wouldn’t publish a book that hadn’t been edited by someone else, because there will always be something you miss.

Trust me, I’ve read self-published books that have been self-edited, and I can tell within the first chapter. I don’t care if you think you’re good or if you’ve been doing it for years. And I don’t care if I personally know you. If you think you can self-edit and have a well-polished book at the end of it, you’re an idiot, and an arrogant one to boot. Self-editing is why the self-publishing industry has such a terrible reputation, because people write a book, stick it up without a thought, and readers cry into their cornflakes at all the terrible spelling mistakes, excessive use of commas, unnecessary description, repeated phrases, and massive plot holes. Floating body parts, jumping POVs, and simultaneous actions are distracting and proof of bad-writing and a lack of editing. I know, because these are all things my editors pick up on, every single time I write a book, and they are things I’ve come across that have made me send a book back to Amazon and demand a refund.

Cover design

Again, traditional publishers will have this covered. And, again, don’t do it yourself unless you are actually good at it and experienced. If you do, you’ll end up on Tumblr’s list of bad covers. I’ll admit, I did do my own cover for ‘Later‘, but it took me a bloody long time, and I have done work as a cover designer. I’ve been using Photoshop for several years, editing images for my husband’s photography company. I’ve watched hours and hours of YouTube videos and studied books back-to-front. I’m still not 100% happy with it.

And, you have to pay for licenses to use images, fonts, brushes… the list is endless, and expensive. Oh, did you think you could Google an image and use that? Sorry, but no. Copyright laws exist, and using an image because it’s on Google is not good enough. As the wife of a photographer, I can tell you how heartbreaking it is to see an image that has been worked on, and posted on a public forum to show off your skills, to then be used by someone without your permission. Particularly if that person claims it as their own. Taking images you don’t have the right to use will lead to your book being taken down from sales sites, and your backside being sued by the original artist/photographer. There are sites you can use for ‘free for commercial use’ images, such as Pixabay and Pexels, but you still need to be careful and check the licenses.

It’s much easier (although more expensive) to hire a cover designer. They are professional and experienced. If your cover looks like it’s been made by a five-year-old using Paint, it won’t matter how good the story is, it won’t sell.

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Publishing

A traditional publisher will sort all this out, without charging you. Go and sit down and have a cup of tea. If you’re self-publishing, you need to look at your options. KDP is by far the easiest, and if you’re using Kindle Unlimited, you literally upload it to Amazon and boom. Done. Otherwise, upload to Amazon and somewhere like Smashwords, which will then upload it to sites like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc. Self-publishing an eBook is not hard.

Print, is slightly more difficult. Personally, I just use Amazon. You will need to order proofs, which again costs money, to make sure your cover is straight and the words are in order, etc. But there are other options, and it really is best to look around. You’ll need to purchase an ISBN for print books, which is provided for free through Smashwords and Amazon, but many self-published authors prefer to buy their own.

Getting your book actually onto physical shelves is not so easy. In the UK, bookshops rely on Betrams and Gardners. If your book is not listed with them, it’s unlikely to be ordered by bookshops, and will remain online only. You also need to comply with UK law by sending a copy to the Book Depository in Edinburgh. See HERE for more details. This is a legal requirement, and not something you can skip around, if you’re based in the UK. Research your own country for their laws.

You will also need to price your book. Don’t be ridiculous and think your 30k novella is worth £4.99. It’s not. Equally, don’t price your 100k novel at 99p. This devalues all the other titles on the shelf. Price appropriately, and in according to other titles in your genre of similar size.

Marketing & Promo

Even if you’re traditionally published, you will need to pay for some marketing and promotional work. Some authors are able to hire a PA to help with this, but it is possible to do it yourself. Look around for sites like BookBub, eReader News Today, eBook Discovery, and Book Barbarian, who are all good, reputable sites, with guaranteed sales. Fussy Librarian and eBook Soda used to be good, but their reputation has dropped of late, with less sales during promotional periods. Remember you get what you pay for, so if you use free sites, it’s likely that you won’t see anything come back.

You can also use services that do blog tours and review tours. These, again, cost money, but guarantee reviews and a blog spot. It’s unlikely these reviews will be placed on Amazon though, and you do run the risk of being put on an unseen blog.

Marketing and promotional work should be done continuously. It’s not something you can do once and then forget about.

Getting published is hard work, and anyone who tells you it’s easy is either lying or has never been published. Do not fall for the lines of “oh, you can edit it yourself”, or “but all publishers charge”. If you truly want your book to be read and enjoyed by others, work your backside off, and don’t let your baby go until it’s wings are fully developed.

In the Eye of the Wind by Katherine Wyvern – A Guest Blog #evernight

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Hello and thank you for hosting me and my pirate story today! This was such a wonderful book for me to write! It came about by chance when I was drawing an elf, messed up his left eye, and ended up with a one-eyed pirate instead.

I have been afloat on imaginary seas with many favorite authors of mine from Melville, to Conrad, to Patrick O’Brian and Björn Larsson all of my life, so I pounced on the chance of writing a pirate story!

The original idea, as much as I had an idea at all, was to keep it light and fun (and short… most of all short). I wrote a bunch of dialogues very much at random in the first day, all of them full of banter, innuendoes and bratty jokes and I thought that I would keep the story on that note. But I didn’t have a plot, and I still missed one of the main characters, and I had only the vaguest idea of what universe the story could be set in. For a brief while I even considered making it a bit of tongue-in-cheek Tolkien fan fiction. But then the muse spoke, and suggested such a dark twist to the main character, Rikko’, that it became clear that the story needed to grow and to have deeper layers.

And it began to fit very well into the fantasy universe where my older novel Spellbreakers was set, and to connect rather neatly with that story, although it’s not really a sequel to it, and it can be read as a standalone. I hope you find my pirate as irresistible as I did!

Blurb:

Born in the northern wastes of Kaleva in the middle of a devastating war between light and darkness, Rikko’ has found his way south to the warm shores of the Circled Sea, the first elver to ever turn pirate.

Forbidden by the rules of the Andalouan court to pursue such an ungentlemanly career, Gael can only dream of ever becoming a doctor, and his medical studies remain unfinished until his aunt the Queen sends him on a covert mission to the pirate city of Beyas’kahl.

And here, after one night with Rikko’, all his loyalties are put to the test.

Queen Amata has reigned for three decades, and she always used her men cunningly. But even the best player can miscalculate, and her blunder places Gael first in slavery, then in a naval battle, and finally, worst of all, face to face with Rikko’s darkest and deadliest side.

From such darkness, is there any coming back? Is there any hope of love for Gael, or redemption for Rikko’?

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Excerpt:

“Come, Puna, sweetie,” he said, plucking the lemur off Gael’s shoulder with one hand. He placed her on his chest of drawers, on a pile of freshly laundered clothes, her favorite bedding in the world, after himself. She grumbled a little but soon settled down. “And as for you, my boy, you come here to me,” he whispered, drawing Gael to the edge of his bed, where they both tumbled down together, kissing.

Gael was still frantically pecking at him, with those tight-lipped clueless kisses that drove Rikko’ to distraction. He let himself be kissed like that for some minutes—it was so ridiculously lovable.

Ah, it is a pity to teach him anything, he thought. I wish I could keep him like this forever. He knows nothing, except that he has this need…

But you can’t have your cake and eat it, I suppose.

“Wait, sweet, wait,” he whispered finally, and laid Gael on his back, pinning his body down with his folded leg as he lay beside him, and took his cheek in his palm. He put his mouth to Gael’s mouth, and gently, slowly, savoring every minute instant of it, he ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of those tightly closed lips, lightly at first, then harder, until the lips finally parted, like two halves of a plum, and Gael gasped in surprise and then lust. His body arched in desire when Rikko’s tongue met his, and he groaned with hunger, welcoming the new intimacy of that tongue-to-tongue kiss with an adoring fierceness that had Rikko’ near to tears with emotion. He groaned again, hugging Rikko’ closer, sinking his fingers in his hair, touching his face and neck and ears, pursuing his mouth when Rikko’ pulled back to breathe, licking Rikko’s lips.

Rikko’ had never met any grown man (Gael was young, sure, but not a child—Rikko’ despised child lovers, and never, ever went close to the little creatures himself) both so inexperienced, so shy, and yet so wholeheartedly passionate. It was enchanting, and utterly enflaming. He laughed softly and pulled back from the kisses. This was just too much. He could not wait any longer. He needed to touch this boy properly all over; he had to have his cock in his mouth, and maybe, if Gael was so inclined, inside that beautiful, taut little butt.

“Too many clothes,” he said, in Gael’s ear. He kicked off his flip-flops, and realized, with a bit of a shock, that he was still wearing his dagger, stuck in his sash, and his sword belt. He had forgotten all about them. He crossed the room to lay both weapons on his chest of drawers and untied his sash, and felt Gael’s hands on his hips.

“C—can I? Sir? Please?” whispered the boy, and Rikko’ smiled as Gael, with almost religious awe, unwound the length of silk from around his waist and hips and let it fall to the floor around his feet.

Rikko’ stepped out of the puddled folds and murmured, “You too.”

He finished undressing in a few seconds. He never wore a lot. It just got in the way.

Gael took off his clothes, and Rikko’ watched him from the bed, waiting. Under those strangely unattractive breeches and shirt, he was every bit as delicious as Rikko’ had always known he would be, not particularly muscular, but sleek and quick, and just a little awkward, like a young animal, full-grown but still uncertain of his body.

Rikko’ pulled him close, pressing that lithe soft form against his own, and their cocks met halfway, both hard and quite ready, so that they had to be pulled up against their bellies for them to embrace. Rikko’ smiled and palmed Gael’s butt, and kissed him, deep and long, and then put a hand between them and took the boy’s member in his fingers just for a bit of a feel, a bit of foreplay.

He tugged at the lovely taut cock once.

Gael gave a sort of astonished yelp, tensed all over, and then moaned wildly against Rikko’s shoulder, oh, oh, ooh, and suddenly Rikko’ found himself awash in hot, splashing, dripping jets of sperm, all down his belly, lap, and leg, a veritable, goddamn, bleeding flood of it.

He let go, dumbfounded, and then burst into laughter.

“Wh—well, I’ll be … what the…” he began, but, really, he could only laugh. I just barely touched him!

“Damn it, doctor, our ship sprung a leak,” he said finally, still laughing. “I’m drowned!”

“Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods,” said Gael, absolutely frantic, “oh gods, sir, I am so sorry!” He jumped out of bed, fumbling around. “I’ll find my handkerchief, sir, I’ll mop it up this minute…”

Rikko’ laughed even harder and stretched out to pull him back in bed.

“Stop that. Leave it. Leave it, damn it! It’s all right. I’m joking. It’s all right! It’s all good! Stuff’s good for the skin, it is known. Leave it.” He couldn’t stop laughing.

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Visit In the Eye of the Wind’s web page with maps and an exclusive excerpt: HERE

Amazon (free sample): HERE

Evernight (sexy ecerpt): HERE

BIO:

I have entered that age when looking at beautiful male models in their prime makes me a cougar, ahem.

Almost all my heroines are short: that’s because I look at the world from hobbit level. Being so small I am three times more concentrated (read: obsessive) than anybody I know. I am exhaustingly creative in writing, arts, crafts… Sometimes my brain gets friction burns from hurtling at such speed from one universe to the next.

I love animals, plants, and occasionally even people.

Like the Highlander I come from a lot of different places. I was born in Italy but lived here and there and consider myself simply and deeply European. I love Europe passionately, its antiquity, its diversity, its quirkiness. All my books are set in Europe, or alternate versions of it.

I have been writing since I can remember.

LINKS:

Katherine’s Blog: https://katherinewyvern.blogspot.fr/

Katherine’s Website: http://meetingivory.wixsite.com/katherinewyvern

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinewyvern

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatherineWyvern

Or follow her on Instagram @katherinewyvern

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The Hidden Legacy by Christine Rees #evernight #YA #evernightteen

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Blurb:
The curse of premonition follows Faye Lithyer, forcing her to witness death—over and over again.

When Faye moves in with her grandmother in Astoria, Oregon, her visions grow stronger. Faye watches a new friend fall victim to a murder in the not-so-distant future and becomes obsessed with preventing it from happening. However, Faye’s insecurity has her undecided whether she should tell her friend about their impending death or hunt down the murderer before it’s too late.

Faye will be faced with an epic choice that threatens to expose her abilities. Will she choose to save her friend from a monster or risk becoming one herself?

 
Publishing Details:
Book Title: The Hidden Legacy
Author: Christine Rees
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Release Date: December 15, 2016
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Canadian teen fiction author Christine Rees is a Western University graduate, Sheridan alumni, and lover of all literature. Christine spends most of her time traveling, writing books, and helping others pursue their passion. She is also an admitted TV junkie, content creator for the Student Life Network, blogger, and animal enthusiast.

Christine’s debut paranormal, suspense novel, THE HIDDEN LEGACY, is a #1 Amazon Best Seller in Canada and won the 2017 Raven Award for Favorite New and Young Adult. The sequel is currently in-works. 

Christine’s first YA contemporary romance, JUST LIKE THE MOVIES, is the lead story in Evernight Teen’s KISSED anthology, which released on July 20, 2018. Visit www.christinerees.com to learn more.

 
Social Media Links:
Twitter – @christineeerees
Instagram – @christineeerees

Undercover in an English Country estate – confronted by her first love, and her first deception – Shadows of Our Past @TanyaJRussell, @evernightpub #RomanticSuspense #Romance

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Blurb

Jackson Halland has spent ten years running from a mistake that cost him everything, including Amory Parker, the woman he loved. With his gut wrenching response to her reappearance, he realises that if she will forgive him, then maybe, just maybe, he can forgive himself.

After ten years of working undercover Amory agrees to one final mission. Vowing to get justice for the woman she promised, and failed, to protect, nothing will stand in her way, not the prolific criminal she’s determined to bring down and certainly not coming face to face with the man she fell in love with on her very first undercover assignment, even if he has no idea who she really is, or the part she played in his past.

Buy Links

Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2oWRUuo

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2FywJt8

Evernight Publishing http://www.evernightpublishing.com/shadows-of-our-past-by-tanya-jean-russell/

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Excerpt

Amory was so engrossed in her thoughts she didn’t hear the approaching sound of bare feet, padding on the smooth wooden floor, until a deep groan broke through them and she looked up to see Jackson. His mussed, dark blond hair was shot through with strands of gold in the overhead lighting.

The man was incredibly made. His arms stretching up and behind his head caused the bottom of his t-shirt to lift a few teasing inches, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of a tanned, rock-hard stomach. They weren’t the sculpted lines that came from the gym, but powerful, solid muscles. A fine trail of hair led the way to the top of his loose navy shorts. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, her gaze was transfixed.

His legs were long and thick, every muscle rippling as he moved down the stairs into the hallway. A rush of heat shot through her body, setting every nerve alight. Her stomach rolled as she absorbed the sight while a little lower everything tightened and tingled. She’d hoped that her memory had been flawed, tinted by the rose-colored lenses of what she had long since accepted was her first love. That clearly wasn’t the case. Rather than letting himself go he had become more impressive. The slenderness of youth had filled out, living up to the promise of overwhelming masculinity.

His lean muscles had broadened, and whilst the softness of youth had faded from his features, it had left a strong profile in its wake. Jackson had grown up all man. She gulped, heat flooding her.

The good feeling from her run was replaced by a more base desire to touch every inch of his perfect body. To pull it hard against her own and feel those muscular planes mold against her. She unconsciously licked her lips as she watched him.

As she met his eyes, the feeling of heat evaporated, replaced by a harsh chill of dread that sank through to her toes. His emotions were playing across his face and it was clear that, despite her DCI’s reassurances, Jackson had joined the dots and figured out who she was. The recognition clearly shocked him as his whole body jolted abruptly to a stop.

Unable to move, she stared helplessly as he began to walk toward her, his face a mix of unreadable emotions. As he reached out, her body began to respond to the heat that rolled off of him. The scent of his skin washed over her, but she moved back defensively. It was a tactical mistake, giving away that she knew who he was, that she had known all along.

“Amory?” he whispered, hope shining oddly through that one word.

Almost imperceptibly shaking her head, all her professionalism flew out the window, and with her heart sinking she managed a stuttered whisper, “N-n-no… No, you’re wrong. I’m Olivia.”

No amount of training was going to get her through this. Despite her only half-admitted hope that he’d see who she really was, Amory knew too much was at stake for this to happen, but it had. Now she had to endure the awful consequences of him recognizing her, the hatred that would follow this moment.

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Author Bio

Tanya Jean Russell writes romantics suspense and lives in England. She is married to an amazing Elvis & Neil Diamond Tribute artist, thanks to whom she has a house full of jumpsuits & trophies. Something which is, of course, a source of much embarrassment to her two teenage children.

She is a little obsessive about books and has an embarrassingly huge (and ever growing) pile of things that she just ‘has’ to read next to her bed. Something that isn’t helped by being a part of the Romantic Novelist Association, or by being published by the amazing Evernight Publishing. With both organisations filled with talented writers, she keeps adding to her pile!

​Tanya Jean squeezes her daydreaming … ahem … ‘writing’ around her family and her day job in HR, and is convinced that chocolate & diet coke should be considered a well-balanced diet.

Author links

https://www.tanyajeanrussell.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TanyaJeanRussellAuthor/

https://twitter.com/TanyaJRussell

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 Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.