Thursday, March 29, 2007

What to Expect from Publishing Process

As I turned my new book over to Lisa, I've found myself thinking back to my first published book, Pig in a Park, and my first steps into the publishing pond. I published my first novel in 1998 (ouch!) and the learning curve was...interesting. There is a lot of misinformation out there...and a LOT of opinions with very little basis in fact.

I was lucky to stumble onto EPIC and get a lot of help taking my baby steps into this business. Only way to thank them, is to pass on some of what I've learned (hopefully!) eight books later.

So here goes, and I hope it helps. :-)

When submitting to a publishing company:

ALWAYS make sure you know what they publish and that your book will actually fit into their publishing list. My daughter worked for a small press that did new age health books and regularly got novel submissions. You waste your time submitting to the wrong places.

NEVER beg in a query letter. Especially don't beg in capitals. Yeah, my daughter got some of those, too.

ALWAYS be PROFESSIONAL. Keep emotion for your books. When dealing with editors or agents, stay calm, don't be abusive, don't lash out if you don't like what they say and again, don't BEG. Publishing is a pretty small world. Even if you write a great book, if it becomes clear you're going to be difficult to work with, a publisher/editor/agent WILL move on. They don't have the time to deal difficult people. It's not fair that you have to be perfect and they don't, but LIFE'S NOT FAIR.

If you get accepted:

Learn about the process. Education is your friend and your protection. The process and order can vary a bit, but usually your manuscript will go through a first edit. This is the time to make changes. Some publishers will also give you a look post copy edit, but not all.

When you are given galleys, even electronic galleys, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO MAKE SUBSTANTIAL EDITS. Some publishers will charge you for changes at this stage. One of my publishers allowed me to make THREE changes at this stage. If it was their mistake, then they will SOMETIMES make the change. Every change you make at this point takes time and money. Publishers, especially smaller presses don't have a lot of either. For a larger publisher, a galley is made from plates. To change anything requires the plates to be redone.

You WILL be blamed for all mistakes, even those that aren't your fault. Most readers don't understand how little input authors have in the final process. Again, not fair but LIFE'S NOT FAIR.

A lot of what a publisher will...and won' for you is spelled out in your contract. They are a pain to read, but you need to understand them. There are tons of articles on the internet about contracts, that explain the various clauses and how they can impact you as an author. If you're tapped into writers' groups, you'll also hear when new clauses pop up and again, you'll find out how they can impact you.

Because I publish with small presses, I consider my association with them to be a business partnership. Our success is intertwinned. I try not to do anything that will hurt my publisher because that will hurt the partnership. I had one publisher (not mine) tell me, he offered an author a contract and she seemed happy with it. Then he happened onto her blog, where she'd posted all sorts of complaints about the contract. Needless to say, he withdrew his offer to publish. The sad part, he would have been perfectly willing to discuss the contract with her, but she didn't ask.


If you have questions about a contract, the time to ask them is BEFORE you sign. Once you've agreed to the terms, that ship has sailed. Again, this is a surprisingly tight knit community. Word gets around about who is hard to work with and who is not. It's not a blacklist, it's just a small world.

Publishers don't have to DO anything NOT in the contract. When they do more, it's great. It's better not to EXPECT a lot, because that leads to disappointment. It's like any relationship, if you expect something that can't happen, you get disappointed.

Recognize you aren't the only author a publisher is working with.

This doesn't mean you have to lay down and be a carpet to be walked on. I am NOT an advocate of abject fear or taking it on the chin. If a publisher does NOT fulfill their contractual obligations (like paying you), then you have every right to complain and seek redress.

Being angry or complaining about non-contractual perks is a waste of time. AND THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU AGREED TO.

If you have expectations that aren't spelled out in your contract, you should address them BEFORE you sign. You have no right to anything that isn't in writing. Again, that's why it is important for you to understand what the various clauses actually say, not what you think they say.

My last piece of advice and I'll shut up.

BE NICE. Be nice to reviewers, even the ones who slam you. Be nice to your editor/s. Be nice to other writers. Be nice to READERS. YOU are your business's biggest asset. Unless you're a one book wonder, the end game is to brand you, brand your name, as you continue to produce books and to build a reputation for delivering a great story. You can undo that with one rude comment. Trust me, I've seen it on lists.

Okay, I'll shut up now. Hope some of this helps someone!
Perilously yours,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Page 69 Rule?

Has anyone heard of the Page 69 Test? Someone mentioned it on one of my lists, so I went to my published books and checked it out. Hard to say, since I'm the author, but it seems like my books met his criteria. I just don't know how you use something like this in the writing of a book, since you have no control over the final layout of a you can't predict where page 69 will fall in your story.

Anyway, I blogged about it on All The World's a Page, too, because I thought it was interesting. :-)

Also, got interviewed on this blog today: Writer Thoughts.
Perilously yours,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

DVD "The Prestige"

Tom and I rented "The Prestige" last evening. We had heard so many great things about the movie and just never got around to seeing it at the theatre.

The storyline was intriguing, but what I found fascinating is how the screenwriter created a tapestry of past events with the present. The visual wasn't disruptive and that is so hard to do on paper. The characters are interwoven as well to challenge the viewer and my question now is, did anyone see the end coming? I must say I didn't and that includes Michael Caine's part in the finale.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Web Savvy Writer by Patrice Anne Rutledge

I was asked to give my opinion of this book, once I'd had a chance to read it, so here goes.

I think this is a pretty good resource for the writer who wants to learn about web promotion. I've been at this long enough, that a lot of it was pretty basic, BUT, I like the fact that she started simple and free, then showed ways to build on simple to the more complex.

It is easy, readable and also includes suggestions for authors with money, who want to do more.

There probably wasn't anything in there I hadn't heard about, but she did explain how to do things, which shortens the learning curve a LOT.

For the newly published author, just starting to use the internet to promote, its a good road map to follow. For the author who has been around a while...I found it good refresher course.

Perilously yours,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I figured, since I've never shot a gun, and I'm writing mysteries about a private eye that does, I needed to check out doing such. So, this morning my Williamson County Coroners critique group met at a local shooting range.

I took my husbands forty-year-old .22 caliber Baretta. The hardest part of the task was inserting the bullets into the magazine clip, the shooting was easy! Did a number on that target--although I aimed for the heart, a shot to the head counted just as well.

But when my co-writer-friend loaned me his 35 caliber, I hit the center of that bullseye! Guess that means I'm a big-gun shooter. Thing about it is, the bad guy would have to stand still for an awfully long time while I took aim and squeezed that trigger.

Neat adventure, then we topped it off with coffee and doughnuts, just like the cops do.

By the way, the guy at the shooting range did suggest I use fresher bullets than tweny-year-old ones, so I did.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Congratulations Pauline--Eppie Winner!

I just received an e-mail from the EPIC board that the Eppies have been awarded--and our author team member Pauline B Jones won in the category of Mainstream Fiction for her recent novel "Out of Time" (published by Hardshell)--way to go Pauline!
This busy lady is the Vice President of the national EPIC group, and the President of The Final Twist mystery writers here in Houston. She's a previous Eppie finalist, and has won many other awards for her writing.
Lisa and I are excited to be working with Pauline on her next book, coming out soon--"The Key"--stay tuned for updates!


I'd like to thank Linda and Lisa for their acceptance and encouragement. They are two women who have done their homework and are well on their way to success in the publishing industry. I am very excited to be a member of their great team and look forward to sharing excitement and growth in our writing endeavors.

I read with great interest Diana's recent post re literary writing. I never had a professor who went along with this man's viewpoints and, believe me, if you messed with commas, off with your head--not that we don't do that from time to time.

My appreciation also goes to Linda for her artistry in photography. I don't take a good picture, but I'm happy with Linda's creation. We are so fortunate to have two women take us under their wings and lay out the road to success. THANKS, THANKS, AND THANKS.

Betty Gordon

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Linda has done it again! My DVD for DANCE ON HIS GRAVE came this week, along with my fantastic postcards and bookmarks! What that woman can't do -- has not been thought of!

With a team like this, we can't help but be successful!



Sunday, March 4, 2007

Literary vs Genre Fiction

A funny thing happened in the college testing center the other day - an English professor came in and proceeded to discuss his "real" job which is a Literary Editor for one of the MAJOR universities here in Texas. I won't give the professor's name or the institution, but what I do want to write about is the topic of conversation, which turned out to be literary fiction, and how it differs from genre fiction.

Bear in mind that these are his views and nothing I came up with on my own. So, don't blast me later.

For instance this professor said that he considers literary fiction boring as the authors either don't know or don't care about creating a page turning novel. All the elements that genre fiction novelists strive so hard to attain in order to keep reader interest - i.e. plot, structure, action, etc. - the literary author doesn't care a whit about. Literary authors meander on and on and write as the muse dictates.

This literary editor also said that literary authors don't bother too much with proper punctuation, especially commas. Commas are meant to mean "pause" to the reader and therefore the literary author puts commas in at his/her discretion so that the words will "flow" as the author intends. Authors are more concerned with "flowable prose" than with grammar, punctuation, and storytelling skill!!!!

The last thing this professor said that made me gasp was that he never changes nor recommends changes to an author's work. The author is the AUTHOR OF THE WORK and as such, always knows best. LOL Makes me wonder just what this professor does to actually earn his pay as a literary editor??

So, the next time you read literary fiction and you find punctuation errors that make you cringe, remember that unlike genre fiction where, to everyone's chagrin, mistakes accidently slip through - mistakes in literary fiction are intentional!!! They really DID mean to do that!!


Welcome Betty Gordon!

L&L Dreamspell is excited to welcome a new author to our team--Betty Gordon!
Her novel Murder in the Third Person, a mystery, will be available soon. Check back here for updates, or visit our website to sign up for our e-mail update newsletter.
Betty's experiences in law school and as a legal assistant served as inspiration for her writing. She's another Texas member of the L&L Dreamspell team, and we look forward to reading her posts on this blog and on our Google forum!