Tuesday, February 25, 2014

4 Romance Publishers Looking for Writers - No Agent Needed

Updated 12/18/22

If you write romance, you don't need an agent to get published. Many romance publishing houses are open to receiving unagented manuscripts, particularly digital imprints. Some of these, like Harlequin, are big names in the publishing industry.

Be sure to click on the guidelines links to read their full requirements. As always, follow all instructions to the letter.

For a full list of publishers accepting unagented manuscripts in all genres see: Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts


Harlequin Submission Guidelines

Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a Toronto-based company that publishes series romance and women's fiction. Owned by the Torstar Corporation, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, the company publishes approximately 120 new titles each month in 29 different languages in 107 international markets on six continents. These books are written by over 1,300 authors worldwide, offering readers a broad range of fiction including romance, psychological thrillers and relationship novels. The company reported sales of 131 million books in 2006—half overseas and 96% outside of Canada.

How to submit:  Harlequin accepts submissions through submittable. (You can open an account for free.) These are the categories that are currently open to unagented submissions along with minimum word counts: Harlequin Dare - 50,000 words, Harlequin Desire - 50,000 words, Harlequin Heartwarming - 70,000 words, Harlequin Historical - approx 75,000 words, Harlequin Intrigue - 55,000 words, Harlequin Medical Romance – approx 50,000 words, Harlequin Presents (M&B Modern) - 50,000 words, Harlequin Romance (M&B Cherish) – 50,000 words, Harlequin Romantic Suspense - 70,000 words, Harlequin Special Edition - 55,000 words, Love Inspired - 55,000 words, Love Inspired Suspense - 55,000 words.

 Click on the link to each category on the Harlequin Submission Guidelines  page for more details. 


Forever Yours 

Submission Guidelines

Forever Yours is a digital-only imprint of Grand Central Publishing, which is part of Hachette Book Group. Forever Yours publishes new works as well as backlist titles from its nine-year-old Forever imprint. The imprint does two to four e-book titles a month

What they are looking for: Forever Yours is currently accepting romance submissions from all subgenres, including but not limited to: contemporary, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, western, historical, inspirational, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, futuristic, urban fantasy, steampunk, time-travel, and erotica. We are not accepting YA, mystery, general fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

How to submit: They are accepting novella length works (8,000-35,000 words), as well as longer works from 35,000-100,000 words. Send the following to this address: ForeverYours@hbgusa.com
  • A query letter introducing yourself, the genre you are writing in, and the word count of your work.
  • A detailed 3-5 page synopsis.
  • Your completed manuscript saved as an RTF file. Forever Yours will only consider manuscripts that are complete at the time of submission.
Read guidelines HERE.

Carina Press

Submission Guidelines

Carina Press is one of Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction single-title imprints, publishing first in digital, with releases in audio and print as well.Though Harlequin is mainly known as a romance publisher, Carina Press publishes a wide range of adult fiction genres and features books from talented authors in all genres, including romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and more.

What they are looking for: [From the website] We are seeking submissions in all subgenres of romance with all levels of sensuality. We welcome everything from the very sweet to the incredibly erotic, featuring couples (or multiples) from all walks of life and sexual orientation, including same-sex romances. Romances should focus on the development of the relationship, as well as external and internal conflict; the heat level should be appropriate to the book and enhance the story, and the primary relationship in the book should offer a happily ever after (HEA) or happily for now (HFN) in an emotionally satisfying manner. Sorry, but one of the couple cannot die or leave the other if it’s to be sold as a romance!

How to submit: Please submit queries for only completed, fully polished manuscripts, unless previously arranged otherwise with an editor. Queries must include the following and will not be reviewed if any piece is missing:
  1. Required: In the submissions form, you will be asked for a brief, introductory query letter listing genre, word count and a short description of the book, as well as any pertinent information about the author, including both legal name and pen name and any writing credits. The query letter is your sales pitch and we use the information included in it.
  1. Required: The full manuscript saved as an RTF or DOC file and attached, with file name TITLE_MANUSCRIPT where you substitute your book’s title in place of TITLE. (example: WarAndPeace_Manuscript)
  1. Required: 2-5 page synopsis of book that details character development, plot, and conflict/story resolution. Attach as an RTF or DOC file with file name TITLE_SYNOPSIS where you substitute your book’s title in place of TITLE. (Example: WarAndPeace_Synopsis)
  1. Please be sure to put the following information on the first page of all files: manuscript name, author pen name/legal name, email address, phone number, genre and word count. If you don’t include your phone number, it makes it impossible for us to make The Call!
  1. Combined size of both attachments must be under 4 MB in size. We’re unable to send files larger than this to our editors due to restrictions in our email system. If your manuscript is over 4 MB, please remove extra images, delete extraneous styles or font use that may increase file size
Please allow 12 weeks for an editorial response to your submission. If a response has not been received after 12 weeks, please follow-up via your submittable account by adding a note to your submission log. Read guidelines HERE.

Boroughs Publishing Group

Submission Guidelines

Boroughs Publishing Group is a digital-only publisher that focuses solely on romance novels, of all genres and lengths.

What they are looking for:
  • Contemporary
  • Erotic Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Multi-cultural
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Suspense/Thrillers
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Young Adult
How to submit: [From the website] Unpublished authors please submit your finished MS only. Published authors may submit first three chapters. Standard word counts are: 30 - 40,000 words for novellas; 70 - 120,000 words for full-length novels. We are accepting short Romance fiction for our Lunchbox Romance line, 6,000 - 12,000 words. Please submit the full MS for Lunchbox Romances.

Please submit a synopsis of your book that summarizes the story, including the ending, that is no more than two pages long. Please title your synopsis e.g., Synopsis for Romance Novel, 85,ooo words.

Your submission must be double spaced, Times New Roman 12 point, with one inch borders, submitted in MS Word with the book title and your name in the header flush right.

Please submit your personal marketing plan. Don’t panic. We’re a full service publishing house. Of course we’re going to market your book. But in this day and age, let’s be realistic. You have to have some savvy about putting yourself and your work out there. Commitment to your work and your writing goals is a good thing.

All submissions are online. Response time: 8 weeks. Read guidelines HERE.

Unpublished authors please submit your finished MS only. Published authors may submit first three chapters. - See more at: http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/submit#sthash.vVfLCz3b.dpuf

  • Contemporary
  • Erotic Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Multi-cultural
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Suspense/Thrillers
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Young Adult
  • - See more at: http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/submit#sthash.vVfLCz3b.dpuf

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Are the Horror Stories About Traditional Publishing True?

    In 2014, Dana Weinberg conducted a survey analysis of author satisfaction. This survey was followed a year later by another one conducted by Jane Friedman.

    These surveys compared how happy authors were with royalties, editorial help, copies sold, and so on across three publishing platforms: traditional, self-published and hybrid (a combination of the two).

    Are the horror stories about traditional publishers true? The conclusion was a resounding "meh." Self-publishing outperformed traditional publishing, but by only a small margin.

    I have a few observations to make about this survey. The first is that people are more reluctant to give negative answers on surveys than positive ones, so every survey is slanted towards positive or neutral responses.

    The second thing is that while authors may be somewhat satisfied with the pedigree offered by a large publisher, the majority of books that are traditionally published don't make back their advances.

    What this means is that publishers don't put a lot of time or energy into promoting books by authors who aren't already celebrities. The reason they don't bother is that they would rather invest their resources in promoting cash cows. With hundreds of authors, and thousands of titles on their lists, this makes sense for large houses.

    The third thing that comes to mind is that some of these horror stories are actually the norm. Authors who are "cursed with ugly covers ... receive very little assistance or support in the way of marketing and promotion, or learned that their publishers had little investment in their careers as writers and/or no interest in their future books" is not an exception - this is standard practice in the publishing world.

    Just to give you some perspective, here are a couple of true horror stories:
    An author signs a contract with a major publisher, only to have is scrapped when the house goes through an organizational shake-up. The author can't find another publisher. (That happened to a friend of mine.)

    An author submits a manuscript, and the editor wants the author to take out any word longer than two syllables, shift the POV, change the title, and delete half the chapters. (That happened to me.) 
    While traditional publishing is not all it's cracked up to be, believing that self-publishing is the road to the Land of Milk and Honey is ingenuous.

    Those who find themselves dissatisfied with traditional publishing and turn to self-publishing have to ask themselves some hard questions. Will I spend several hours a day marketing and promoting my work? Will I research the market to find out how I can reach my audience, or am I assuming that simply "putting it out there" is enough? Do I expect instant fame and fortune?

    No  matter how you publish - whether you take the traditional route, or do it yourself - great expectations must be matched by a great amount of work. There is no substitute.


    How Common Are Traditional Publishing Horror Stories?—Author Survey Results

    By Dana Beth Weinberg, Digital Book World

    I have heard numerous horror stories on the fiction front from authors who sold their books to publishers only to find they had lost control of content, were cursed with ugly covers that doomed any hope of sales, received very little assistance or support in the way of marketing and promotion, or learned that their publishers had little investment in their careers as writers and/or no interest in their future books. Such horror stories often seem pervasive, and they easily become rallying cries for self-publishing and the greater control it provides authors. Are these tales of dissatisfaction with traditional publishing notable exceptions, or are they the norm?

    The traditional-publishing victims I’ve encountered typically report that they had been thrilled to receive their contracts and had accepted neglect or poor treatment or disadvantageous terms because they felt they had no choice. Indeed, before self-publishing became a viable option, few of them did. Worse, such experiences could harken the death spiral for an author’s career: no investment from the publisher could lead to sluggish sales which in turn could lead to poor chances of selling a subsequent title either to publishers or bookstores. Authors would be forced to abandon series or throw away their brands and try to reinvent themselves.

    Cautionary tales capture our attention, and they tend to get repeated and even embellished. In other posts, I reported survey results showing a preference for traditional publishing among authors. I also found that authors had expectations for several advantages of traditional publishing relative to self-publishing. With so many authors positively disposed toward traditional publishing, perhaps these horror stories are very visible and heartbreaking exceptions, a disappointing conclusion to the struggle to break into the traditionally published ranks.

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Booksellers, Publishers Strip to Protest Banning of Children's Book

    This is downright inspiring!
    A prominent conservative French politician wants to censor the nude picture book, but publishers and booksellers have defended the book by authors Claire Frank and Marc Daniau.

    Booksellers bare all to protest censorship attempt of ‘Everybody Gets Naked’ children’s book

    By Michael Walsh, New York Daily News, Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Book lovers would rather be stripped of their clothes than their right to read freely.

    A group of French booksellers and publishers took off their clothes Wednesday to protest conservative politician Jean-François Copé's call to censor a children's book from 2011 called "Everybody Gets Naked" (Tous à Poil), the Local reported.

    The storybook shows that everyone takes off their clothes sometimes to calm children's fears about their own bodies, according to authors Claire Franek and Marc Daniau.

    They wanted to present real bodies in natural situations "to counter the numerous images of bodies, often undressed, altered by Photoshop or plastic surgery, that are shown in ads or on the covers of magazines," according to Melville House Books.

    Read the rest of this article HERE.

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    When to Stop Sending Queries to Agents

    Updated 12/16/22

    When I first wrote this post in 2014, I had received 140 rejections. I am now up to over 700. I'm going for a record! But I probably won't beat C. S. Lewis, who got 800. (You can read his and other famous authors' rejections here.)

    After you've sent out a few dozen queries to literary agents, and either not received a response from any of them, or gotten polite form rejections designed to soothe your pain while simultaneously increasing it, it's time to either hunker down or make a new plan.

    (Frankly, it's better to get an email that says your work is "unreadable, unmarketable, and unpublishable," than a bland "Your story does not fit into our list, right now." At least you get to work up some righteous indignation.)

    The other day I ran across an article on Writer's Digest by Kristi Belcamino - "Don’t Give Up Until You’ve Queried 80 Agents Or More." The article inspired me to get into my files and look up how many rejections I had received: 140. I clearly have a lot more work to do if I'm going to fulfill my New Year's resolution.

    Kristi has given writers four pointers:
    1. Perseverance. Be stubborn and refuse to ever give up.

    2. Work. Cultivate a constant desire to improve as a writer. This means putting words, lots and lots of words, on paper. This also involves studying the craft of writing and reading as much as you can as often as possible. 
    3. Teflon Mentality. Develop a force field to deflect ego-smashing rejections. It is crucial to have the ability to effectively handle rejection, letting them bounce off you, and not allowing them to stop you from plugging away. (See #2 Work.) 
    4. Patience. Here’s a little secret — the world of publishing runs on a completely alternate universe concept of time. Tired of waiting to hear back from an agent or publisher or editor? Grab a beer and put your feet up.
    If you keep all of the above in mind, and, in Ray Bradbury's words, "Write like hell!" I'm sure you can beat my record. (Although, you may not beat C. S. Lewis'. Click here for his truly astonishing number of rejections.)

    That being said, you should keep in mind that the lines are increasingly becoming blurred between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Because of the dramatic success of Fifty Shades of Grey and Wool, publishers are beginning to accept works that have been previously epublished. Some agents are seeing the writing on the wall as well.

    What this means for you, as a writer who does not want to go fifty shades of gray waiting for an agent to call, is that you can do both. If you've given it all you've got, don't grab a beer - design a cover, and publish.

    Helpful resources:

    Query Shark, a site maintained by agent Janet Reid, has some highly instructive critiques of query letters.

    Writer's Digest lists successful query letters, along with analyses by agents. Read these!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Hugh Howey: Why the Decision to Not Self-Publish is "Fatal"

    Should you self-publish? The answer, according to Hugh Howey, is a resounding YES!! In fact, he says you'd have to be crazy not to.

    In 2014, Howey published an author earnings report that was eye-popping. After crunching the data on 7,000 bestselling e-books on Amazon, he not only discovered that Amazon was doing better than the Big Five, the authors were earning more as well.

    The article below contains information about the financial side of self-publishing (with nice graphs and charts!). But not everyone agrees with the conclusions Howey draws. Digital Book World's survey appears to contradict the claim that self-published authors are earning more than those following the traditional route.

    (Read survey results HERE.)

    You should keep in mind that the data drawn from this sample was for Amazon books only. Amazon is quite successful at marketing its own books, which means ebooks from other publishers will not receive the same amount of publicity. This is also data taken from the authors themselves. Self-reporting is not the best means of collecting data, and neither are data drawn over a short period of time. (For an excellent critique of the Author Earnings Report by Sunita, click HERE.)

    Not much has changed since Howey did his analysis. The genres that dominated Amazon's bestseller lists still do. Amazon ebooks still fare better than traditionally published ebooks. But as far as earnings go, there are huge disparities between the top sellers and everyone else. With the sheer number of self-published books on Amazon, the competition is fierce.

    While it would be wonderful to have a clear-cut answer to the question "Should I self-publish?" it still comes down to weighing pros and cons. If you are impatient and want complete control over your book, then self-publish. If you are willing to wait, and want the pedigree and editorial guidance of a publisher's imprint, take the traditional route. 


    Author Earnings Report

    Written by: Hugh Howey

    It’s no great secret that the world of publishing is changing. What is a secret is how much. Is it changing a lot? Has most of the change already happened? What does the future look like?

    The problem with these questions is that we don’t have the data that might give us reliable answers. Distributors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t share their e-book sales figures. At most, they comment on the extreme outliers, which is about as useful as sharing yesterday’s lottery numbers [link]. A few individual authors have made their sales data public, but not enough to paint an accurate picture. We’re left with a game of connect-the-dots where only the prime numbers are revealed. What data we do have often comes in the form of surveys, many of which rely on extremely limited sampling methodologies and also questionable analyses [link].

    This lack of data has been frustrating. If writing your first novel is the hardest part of becoming an author, figuring out what to do next runs a close second. Manuscripts in hand, some writers today are deciding to forgo six-figure advances in order to self-publish [link]. Are they crazy? Or is signing away lifetime rights to a work in the digital age crazy? It’s hard to know.

    Anecdotal evidence and an ever more open community of self-published authors have caused some to suggest that owning one’s rights is more lucrative in the long run than doing a deal with a major publisher. What used to be an easy decision (please, anyone, take my book!) is now one that keeps many aspiring authors awake at night. As someone who has walked away from incredible offers (after agonizing mightily about doing so), I have longed for greater transparency so that up-and-coming authors can make better-informed decisions. I imagine established writers who are considering their next projects share some of these same concerns.

    Other entertainment industries tout the earnings of their practitioners. Sports stars, musicians, actors—their salaries are often discussed as a matter of course. This is less true for authors, and it creates unrealistic expectations for those who pursue writing as a career. Now with every writer needing to choose between self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers, the decision gets even more difficult. We don’t want to screw up before we even get started.

    When I faced these decisions, I had to rely on my own sales data and nothing more. Luckily, I had charted my daily sales reports as my works marched from outside the top one million right up to #1 on Amazon. Using these snapshots, I could plot the correlation between rankings and sales. It wasn’t long before dozens of self-published authors were sharing their sales rates at various positions along the lists in order to make author earnings more transparent to others. Gradually, it became possible to closely estimate how much an author was earning simply by looking at where their works ranked on public lists.

    This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle. The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data. All of this data is public—it’s online for anyone to see—but until now it’s been extremely difficult to gather, aggregate, and organize. This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7,000 e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon. Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50,000 titles across all genres. You can ask this data some pretty amazing questions, questions I’ve been asking for well over a year [link]. And now we finally have some answers.

    When Amazon reports that self-published books make up 25% of the top 100 list, the reaction from many is that these are merely the outliers. We hear that authors stand no chance if they self-publish and that most won’t sell more than a dozen copies in their lifetime if they do. (The same people rarely point out that all bestsellers are outliers and that the vast majority of those who go the traditional route are never published at all.) Well, now we have a large enough sample of data to help glimpse the truth. What emerges is, to my knowledge, the clearest public picture to date of what’s happening in this publishing revolution. It’s a lot to absorb, but I believe there’s much here to learn.

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest - Now Open!

    This contest is now closed! If you missed it this year, you can always enter next year!

    Today, Amazon is opening its doors to novelists with its annual Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. For those unfamiliar with this contest, it offers a great deal - better than most big publishing houses - for those who win. Best of all, it's free! So, if you have a novel gathering cyber dust on your computer, why not take a chance?

    From Publisher's Weekly

    On February 16, Amazon Publishing will begin accepting submissions for its seventh annual Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, open to unpublished and self-published English-language novels. Authors can submit their general fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult novels. The grand prize winner will receive an Amazon Publishing contract, with a $50,000 advance.

    The 2014 ABNA contest is open to unpublished and self-published English-language novels submitted through March 2, or until 10,000 eligible entries are received, whichever is earlier. After two rounds of judging, Publishers Weekly reviewers will select the top five semi-finalists in each category. Amazon Publishing editors will lead a panel who will choose a finalist in each of the five categories, with Amazon customers selecting the grand prize winner. The four remaining finalists will receive an Amazon Publishing contract and a $15,000 advance.

    From the Amazon Website

    The Seventh Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest is right around the corner. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to win a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing.

    One Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners will each receive a publishing contract with an advance of $15,000. Visit the Prizes page for the full list of prizes and details.

    The categories include five popular genres: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult Fiction. For complete eligibility details, view the Official Contest Rules, or read details on how to enter. Visit CreateSpace to learn more.

    Preparing Your Entry

    1) Prepare a strong Pitch. More than a summary, your Pitch should highlight your concept, protagonist, setting, and writing style—all the elements that make your story unique. View sample Pitches from past entrants.

    2) Select the genre that best fits your book: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, or Young Adult.

    3) Stay within the word count limits—Pitch, up to 300 words; Excerpt, 3,000 to 5,000 words; Manuscript, 50,000 to 125,000 words.

    4) Remove all identifying information from your Pitch, Excerpt, and Manuscript, including: your name and/or pen name, author bio/resume, and any awards received for your book.

    5) Submit all materials in English.

    6) For complete entry requirements, view the Official Contest Rules.

    7) Create an account with CreateSpace (if you haven’t already).

    Read more HERE.

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    3 Literary Agents Looking for All Fiction Genres, Nonfiction

    Updated 12/16/22

    These three literary agents have opened their doors to new clients. Allison Devereux represents books across all genres. Allison Hunter is actively acquiring literary and commercial fiction (including romance), memoir, narrative nonfiction, cultural studies, pop culture and prescriptive titles, including cookbooks. Laura Zats wants YA (all genres); Science fiction/fantasy, including horror with speculative elements; Romance (contemporary, historical, paranormal, and LGBTQ+); Literary fiction with speculative elements.

    As always, visit the agency website, check their list of clients and the publishers they work with, and read all submission requirements carefully before contacting. Submission requirements change and agents may switch agencies.

    If none of these agents suit your needs, you can find a list of over 100 agents actively seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients.


    About Laura: For a decade, Laura has worked with books in every way from book selling, to editing and ghostwriting, to helping authors self-publish. A literary agent for over six years, she finds the most joy in working closely with authors to build their long-term careers in ways that contribute positively to their financial and mental health, as well as the greater community. Since 2016, Laura has hosted Print Run, a weekly publishing podcast, with Erik Hane. Passionate about teaching, mentorship, and the role books play in the fight for social justice, she regularly participates in the Manuscript Academy, attends conferences, and is currently serving her third term on the board of the Minnesota Book Publishers’ Roundtable, a non-profit that provides ongoing education for new and established publishing professionals.

    What she is seeking: YA (all genres); Science fiction/fantasy, including horror with speculative elements; Romance (contemporary, historical, paranormal, and LGBTQ+); Literary fiction with speculative elements.

    How to submit: Use the agency's query manager HERE.

    Allison Devereux of Trellis Literary Management

    About Allison: Allison Devereux joined Trellis Literary Management in 2023 and is focused on expanding the agency’s nonfiction program. Before Trellis, she was an agent at The Cheney Agency. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and has previously worked at the Harry Ransom Center and Macmillan.

    What she is seeking: Allison’s interests in nonfiction are wide ranging, but she is particularly interested in cultural and social history, popular science, philosophy, deeply reported narrative, outward-facing memoir, investigative journalism, “big idea” books, essays and criticism, and select illustrated projects

    How to submit: Use her query manager HERE.


    Allison Hunter of Trellis Literary

    About Allison: Allison began her publishing career in 2005 working for the Los Angeles-based literary publicity firm Kim-from-L.A, and was an agent at InkWell Management and the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency before joining Janklow & Nesbit. She has a B.A. in American Studies and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

    What she is looking for: Allison is actively acquiring literary and commercial adult fiction, especially focusing on upmarket book club and women’s fiction, rom coms, thrillers and domestic suspense. She loves great storytelling and unforgettable characters, and is always looking for female friendship stories, campus novels, great love stories, family epics, and books about class and cultural identity. She would especially love to find a smart beach read by an author underrepresented in that category.

    In the non-fiction space, Allison is acquiring select memoir, narrative nonfiction, and the occasional prescriptive project. She loves working with journalists and with experts in their field, and is always looking for pop culture, women’s issues and for books that speak to the current cultural climate.

    How to submit: Use their form HERE.

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    Most Authors Still Prefer Traditional Book Deal

    I've been keeping tabs on the most recent Digital Book World/Writer's Digest survey, not just because I want to know what other writers are up to, but because I want the reassurance that we are all up to the same thing.

    There is safety in numbers.

    DBW 2014: Survey Finds Most Authors Want to Earn More
    Publishers Weekly, Jan 15, 2014

    The Digital Book World/Writer's Digest 2014 survey, discussed at the organization's New York event this week, found that, in spite of the growing popularity of self-publishing, many authors would, given the chance, still opt for a traditional book deal.

    Just over 9,200 authors responded to the survey, and they fall into four categories: aspiring (not yet published in any manner); self-published (have never worked with a traditional publisher); traditionally published (have only been published by a traditional house); and hybrid (have had experience self-publishing and have also been published by a traditional house). The survey, which is available for purchase at the DBW store, focuses on commercial fiction writers who are not treating their writing as a full-time job, and would like to be making more money from their writing.

    Among some of the big picture takeaways from the survey are that, despite some negative impressions of traditional publishing, it remains the route many authors would like to pursue.

    Although the sampled authors felt traditional publishing offers less creative freedom, what it provides in other areas--namely marketing, distribution and editorial support--is a positive that outweighs the negative.

    DBW found that the traditionally-published authors surveyed felt traditional publishing offered "lackluster" experience relative to what they hoped for, and expected.

    Among hybrid authors surveyed, DBW said they were showing a "pattern of movement" from traditional houses to self-publishing. The DBW survey highlighted a familiar tale of the traditionally-published author who, unhappy with his or her treatment/sales/revenue, opts for self-publishing, which offers a much higher royalty rate. Among these hybrid authors, there was more satisfaction with self-publishing, and only 16.1% of this group, DBW found, said they intended to go back to traditional publishing.

    Most of the authors in the DBW sample who had been traditionally published did not receive an advance, and almost all of the authors interviewed identified advances as a benefit of traditional publishing. Also, interestingly, DBW found that there was not a significant discrepancy in sales among authors in the survey who self-published and those who were traditionally published.

    Overall, DBW found, these authors were not happy with their sales period. As the survey notes: "Neither mode of publishing, it seems, provided authors with what they hoped in terms of sales, earnings, distribution, or marketing."

    Read the full article HERE.

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    University of Central Lancashire launches world's first degree in self-publishing

    This announcement raised my eyebrows. A master's degree in self-publishing? I can see a course, perhaps two, but not a degree. This is what they offer:

    "This course will equip you with all of the necessary skills you will need to be a self-published author including how to edit your book, how to lay it out, how to monitor sales, how to manage yourself and your finances, marketing yourself and your book and how to create an eBook. The final part of the course will give you the opportunity to complete a finished copy of your book."

    I'd be willing to bet money that online universities, and community colleges, will be offering courses soon - though perhaps not postgraduate degrees.


    First self-publishing MA offers DIY education

    Alison Flood, theguardian.com, Wednesday 5 February 2014
    The University of Central Lancashire has announced the launch of what it describes as the world's first degree in self-publishing.

    The MA will begin in September, and course leader Debbie Williams believes it will help "legitimise" self-publishing. "Things have definitely changed. In the last two years, self-publishing has stopped being a dirty word, and is a legitimate option for authors," she said. "Even the biggest authors are looking at it now."

    Despite the negative light in which self-publishing is viewed by some – Jeffrey Archer recently said "it doesn't work, don't do it. The only person who reads it is the person who gets it published", while Sue Grafton has characterised DIY-ers as "too lazy to do the hard work" – the university pointed to research from the books data company Bowker, which found that around 390,000 titles were self-published in the US in 2012, up 59% on 2011 and a massive 422% on 2007. Digital self-publishing also continues to boom, accounting for 40% of self-published titles in the US in 2012, up from just 11% in 2007, according to Bowker.

    Read the rest of this article HERE.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Some Eye-Opening US Writing and Publishing Stats

    Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics." (Although it is attributed to Disraeli, I have to say  the phrase smacks heavily of Mark Twain.)

    Statistics can indeed be made to lie (it was one of the first things I learned in my stats class), but nevertheless, as a people, Americans love numbers.

    Here are some numbers that may help shed some light on the business of publishing in the U.S.

    • 2012 fiction books published with an ISBN: adult fiction 67,254; YA and juvenile fiction 20,339
    • 2012 Net book sales: $27.1 billion
    • 2011 books published: traditionally published 347,178; self-published 235,000
    • 76 percent of all books released in 2008 were self-published
    • Roughly 50 percent of all fiction published (traditional or self-published) is a romance, mystery, sci-fi, or fantasy story
    • 1900 independent bookstore locations in 2012
    • 1 percent chance across all genres of a published book being stocked in a brick-and-mortar store
    • 20 percent of all books sold in 2012 were e-books
    • Approximately 185 U.S. institutions granting MFAs in fiction
    • Best markets for fiction sales: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C.
    • 600-700 books received weekly by LA Times for review consideration
    • 197,768 self-reporting writers in 2009
    • 39 percent increase between 1990 and 2005 in the number of writers and authors
    Sources: Publishers Weekly, “Artists and Arts Workers in the United States Findings from the American Community Survey” (2005-2009) and the “Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages” (2010), American Booksellers Association, Bowker Books in Print, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Huffington Post, LA Times, The New York Times.

    From:  How Many Novelists are at Work in America? By Dominic Smith

    What do these numbers tell us? 

    The first number that should jump out at you is 1. One percent of all books sold in the US are stocked in an actual bookstore. But far more than 1 percent of writers in the US publish hard copy, either through publishers, or on their own dime.

    Yet (here comes the second important number) 347, 148 books (more than half) were published by traditional publishers. What this means is that your chances of seeing your book on a bookstore shelf are slim, even if you get published by one of the big houses.

    More than anything else, these numbers reveal the true reason writers are turning to self-publishing (76% in 2008), and epublishing. Authors want their books to be read. And if there is next to no chance of getting exposure, even with a publisher to back you, you are going to jump ship and self publish.

    Despite the promises of traditional publishers - distribution being high on the list - these numbers don't lie.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    What Not to Do When Contacting an Agent

    Chuck Sambuchino is one of the editors of Writer's Digest, an incredibly useful resource book for writers. (If you don't have the cash to buy one, most libraries have a well-thumbed copy.)

    Chuck also writes a blog, the Guide to Literary Agents, in which he spells out exactly what agents are looking for.

    This is one of those posts that every aspiring writer should read before contacting an agent.

    Some of these "pet peeves" will make you laugh, others will make you cringe. (Hopefully, none will have appeared in your queries.)

    Before querying an agent, I recommend you look at successful queries. Even if your query is well written, it always helps to see what agents have said about queries they liked. You can find a list of successful queries, along with agents' analyses, on Writer's Digest. Another excellent resource is Query Shark, a site run by agent Janet Reid. Janet does a great job of critiquing queries. I guarantee you will be enlightened.


    Query Letter Pet Peeves – Agents Speak

    By Chuck Sambuchino

    Ready to send your book out and contact agents? The last thing you want to do is to rush that submission out the door and hurt your book’s chances.

    When submitting your all-important query to agents or editors, it’s not just a question of what to write in the letter—it’s also a question of what not to write.

    I asked 11 literary agents about their personal query letter pet peeves and compiled them below. Check out the list to learn all about what details to avoid in a query that could sink your submission—such as vague wording, too much personal information, grammatical mistakes, and much more.


    “I think the biggest querying no-no I’ve ever seen was when an author tracked down some sensitive personal information and included it in their cover letter. Eeep! As agents we absolutely love when authors do their research and get to know our interests, but you want to always make sure what you include in your query letter is professional and that you don’t slip too far into the realm of the personal.

    The biggest no-no I’ve seen recently probably would be authors whose query letters focus too much on their author bios and don’t tell me what their book is about! Make sure you put those essential story details up front.”

    ~ Shira Hoffman of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
    For more advice from Shira, click the link above.


    “I’ve received queries for ‘Dear Editor,’ ‘Dear Agent,’ ‘Dear Publisher,’ as well as e-mail queries that are addressed to 10 different agents together.”

    ~ Jacquie Flynn of Joelle Delbourgo Associates


    “Spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. They just make me want to stop reading.”

    ~ Lisa Leshne of LJK Literary Management
    For more advice from Lisa, click the link above.


    “Unfocused queries and the term ‘fiction novel.’ ”

    ~ Melissa Flashman of Trident Media Group, LLC
    For more advice from Melissa, click the link above.


    “I’m sick of vagueness. I get so many queries every day that don’t tell me enough about the novel. If there’s no reason for me to say yes, then it’s going to be no.”

    ~ Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary, Inc.
    For more advice from Bridget, click the link above.


    “[Just recently], somebody queried me with a YA fantasy—and in the place where they should have put their professional bio or a few sentences about themselves, they had taken on the persona of their main character and said something about the character instead … Queries are business letters. Agenting is a business. Publishing is a business. I try to be nice and friendly and funny and all, but the bottom line is that I expect those with whom I work to be professional and take what they’re doing seriously.”

    ~ Linda Epstein of Jennifer De Chiara Literary
    For more advice from Linda, click the link above.

    Click HERE to read the rest of this article.

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    Detroit is for ... Writers

    All this could be yours, someday...
    Organization Wants to Lure Writers to Detroit

    Publishers Weekly,  Dec 19, 2013

    By Claire Kirch

    Write-A-House, a Detroit-based literary organization founded in 2012 by novelist Toby Barlow, hopes to energize the literary community in the Motor City by giving writers not just a room of their own, but an entire home. WAH launched an Indiegogo campaign on Tuesday to raise funds to begin renovating the first of the three homes already purchased by WAH that will be deeded to emerging writers after they have lived in them for two years. “It’s like a writer’s-in-residence program, but the writers get to keep the homes, forever,” states the Indiegogo page titled “Write A House: Renovation of the Peach House.” Members of Young Detroit Builders, an organization that trains young people how to rehabilitate and renovate houses, will do the actual work on the houses alongside a licensed contractor. The three houses that have been purchased to date are all within walking distance of one another in what WAH describes as neighborhoods that are “a rich quilt of culture and change.” WAH bought the three houses for a total of $2,000. Renovations to each is estimated to cost $50,000-$60,000.

    WAH's housing program is open to writers anywhere in the world who are willing to relocate to Detroit. “Detroit visual arts & Detroit musical arts have gotten a ton of attention over the years, but we believe this is a city that could really use some more writers,” WAH’s Indiegogo page states, “Any and all writers who are looking for a new home and new inspiration are encouraged to apply.” WAH will begin accepting applications in spring 2014.

    WAH hopes to raise $25,000 through Indiegogo in the next 60 days, which will cover approximately 50% of the cost of renovating the first house. The organization hopes to raise the rest of the funds needed through grants by local and national arts foundations. WAH intends to buy more existing housing stock in the city as needed to renovate and then award them to eligible writers. The median sales price for houses in the city itself in the fourth quarter is $41,000.

    "Detroit has no shortage of affordable housing stock," Barlow noted, "Writers can take advantage of all the great stories and possibilities this city has to offer, and the affordable lifestyle. Living in these abandoned cities is one of the greatest opportunities. And with the Internet, you can stay in touch with what's going on in New York and LA, and not have to pay those astronomical prices for housing. It's tough being a writer right now." Barlow, who lived in Brooklyn for nine years and in San Francisco for another nine years, has lived in downtown Detroit for seven years.

    The application form is HERE.
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