Checking Your Book Into the Library

LandscapeOne of my clients suggested a blog post about getting your self-published book onto the shelves of a library.  After a brief flashback to tiny drawers packed with musty index cards and the confusing Dewey Decimal System, I decided to look into it.  There is something magical about libraries for me. Thinking of someone walking out the door of their local library clutching a book with my name on it is pretty exciting.

Outside of being fun idea, it’s a smart move.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 60 percent of American’s have a library card. (I’m not sure of the stats for my non-American friends). Contrary to popular opinion, people still frequent libraries for their book needs.  While there seems to be reduction in people using libraries for reference materials (thanks to the interwebs), many people still turn to those dusty shelves for their fiction needs.

library.jpgI think of libraries as a passive method to generate potential book reviews, as well as readership.  Now that most libraries have transitioned their paper records to digital, a person wouldn’t have to search a genre long to stumble across your book (at least I feel this method is simpler than using a gazillion index cards).  Sure, you won’t be making money for every read, but in my opinion, having people simply read your story is rewarding.

Additionally, depending on your genre, you might even be able to host book readings at the library at little to no cost.  I mention genre because the libraries are going to be more accommodating to certain ones.

library win.jpgThe first place I went to look for information was the ALA. I found a resource called, Marketing to Libraries. This is a long article embedded with a metric clickload of links to check out. They also offer some resources for donating books to needy libraries—what a great way to outsource some of those extra books you aren’t selling!

I was interested to see the criteria for submitting to libraries.  I was also surprised to learn not all libraries are the same.  Much like bookstores, each library’s needs will vary. Some will have more of one genre than another, and thus, only accept certain types.  There are also submission guidelines to consider, and these are not always standard.  The ALA link I offered above spells out some of this information.

Another resource I found comes from The Book Designer website.  If you’ve never cast your peepers on this page, I recommend it.  It’s listed as a Writer’s Digest Top 101 websites for writers.  The specific article I read is called, 9 Steps to Getting Your Self-Published Books into Libraries. It’s written by Amy Collins, and it’s very intuitive.

library poster.JPGAgain, I found many gems of information I was completely clueless about here. I didn’t know many libraries work with specific wholesalers and by getting your book listed by these wholesalers (both digital and physical versions) you can increase the odds of your book being accepted by a library.  This apparently is a way to streamline the process.

I also didn’t know the library would look at multiple reviews to determine whether your book can grace its shelves or not. According to Collins, priority is placed on certain review authorities (I won’t list them because the original link I provided has it all hyperlinked). It might be wise to send your books to some of these reviwers if you plan to approach libraries.

question-markThat’s it for today. This is a brand new concept for me, and one I’m very interested to learn more about.  I wanted to drop a line into the water and fish.  If you’ve had success conspiring with librarians and navigating this topic—please share your story or even whatever links you know of that are useful. I’ll copy your comment straight into this blog post and link people to your page if the information is solid.  Until we cross quills again, keep reading, keep writing, and as always—stay sharp!

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Short Stories: Places to Publish

query letter.jpgI’ve been reading more and more posts about the all-important query letter, fishing for representation from agents, and publishing.  Currently, I’ve drafted a book (Wastelander: The Drake Legacy).  I’m also working on a corresponding novella.  With all this considered, I really don’t have much else in the way of a fiction writing resume.

I wouldn’t go to a job interview without first preparing my resume, so why should I attempt to gain representation from an agent without beefing up a similar writing resume?  Right now my resume would consist of, well, nothing.  I can’t count the single novel and novella because they aren’t published.  They are the unproven products I want to get representation for and publish.

Masterpiece Written - No Agent

When you look at it this way, my resume is pretty weak.  After all, I think it’s fair to assume an agent wants to know if we have a future in writing, or if we are a one-and-done kind of writer.   My assumption is they are looking for repeat work.  I interpret this as, are you readable and prolific enough to make everyone involved money by pumping out work?

 

The problem is that it takes time to draft a book, more to polish it, and potentially longer to start the process of publishing.  If we rely solely on full-blown novels as the basis of our writing portfolios, then we are working on resumes that are years in the making.  In the meantime, we may be writing books very few people will stumble upon (depending on your Jedi marketing mind powers).

Got-an-idea.pngPotential solutions include (1) self-publish first book and novella, (2) write two or three books in the series prior to seeking representation, (3) say, “screw it,” and try to gain representation with current work, (4) roll myself into a ball and cry while rocking, and (5) publish a few short stories to bolster writing resume.

This post focuses on the short story option.  Specifically, finding legitimate publications to publish in.  If successful, the agent would have more than just a single example of what we can do.  Even better, the stories would be published examples by places that presumably value quality within our genres.

In researching the how and where, I came across a few sources of information I thought might be useful to share.

The List Server.jpg

The first is a website is called, Let’s Write a Short Story.  They wrote an article called, 46 Literary Magazines to Submit To.  This reference article lists outlets to submit to, provides hyperlinks to those websites, and breaks the list down into genre’s.

Another comes from the website, The Write Life.  The article I found most useful was, Where to Submit Short Stories: 25 Magazines and Websites That Want Your Work (that’s a long title).  While this list is a little shorter than the previous one, what I like about it is they provide a snippet about each, potential pay for works submitted, as well as rough estimates for word counts.

The Los Angeles Writers Group offers a more current listing: Nine Places to Submit Your Short Stories Right Now.  This one includes places to post poetry, as well as fiction.  I also like that they provide extra information regarding posting requirements.

According to these websites, there are more than 4000 places to publish short stories.  Happy hunting.  It should be noted this post is reblog.  Since this post was generated, some excellent folks have listed more great resources for you to check out!

reader-contributions

Kernerangelina (Where Dragons Reside) offered the following:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/
http://spawn.org/
http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/
http://www.publishedauthors.org/
http://www.writerspace.com/
http://pred-ed.com/pealc.ht

Philcharlesr (Phil Charles R) provided these gems:

http://www.forgelitmag.com/
http://www.inkshares.com

question mark.pngHave any of you published short stories?  If so, where?  I’d love to hear about it and add to our collective information.  Give this amateur yarn spinner some tips!  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Book Blurbs: A Quick Question

book blurb problems.jpgFor those of you who were worried I was blown away by Hurricane Hermine, I’m still here.  We weren’t forced to evacuate but we sure did get pounded by wind and rain.  There’s a little bit of flooding here and there, but nothing too extreme.  With that being said, I wanted to jump right into today’s post.  It will be a short one (I’m going to drive around the neighborhood and help pick up debris).

What makes a good book blurb?  If you can get someone to pick up your book thanks to the awesome cover art you’ve won a single battle.  The second battle comes when they flip it over and read the back blurb.  I need to train for the back cover battle.

Now that Wastelander has been drafted and I’ve started working on the other facets of the production, I’ve began to research different book blurb styles and techniques.  I thought I would share a few of the more solid sources I’ve located that seem to offer useful information.

Side note:  All of the following places I found seem to be pretty solid sources of information for self-publishing if that is your arena of conflict.  They talk about many of the production (printing, typesetting, cover art, etc.) aspects.

  1. From the BlurbBlog I found, The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Book Blurbs for your Novel
  2. From CreativePen I found, How to Write Back Blurb for Your Book
  3. From WritersHelpingWriters I found, Blurbs that bore, Blurb that Blare

I‘ve also found a couple of book sources to check out.  I’ll be ordering these books here from Amazon and will start burning through them with my typical QE flair (highlighters and pens to desecrate the pages).

  1. The highest rated (and seemingly most legit looking) was Book Descriptions That Sell by Gary Webb
  2. More of an impulse than rating fueled I also purchased How to Blurb: (And how not to), by E.M. Lynley.  The author bio seems very legit, hopefully the content rock too.

There is certainly some repeat information in these offerings and in some of the other sources I found that didn’t make the list.  That’s a good thing.  I think of those massive repeats as high priority items.

book in handThere are some variables though for sure.  I’ve seen book blurbs written as (1) giant quotes from the book, (2) a partial quote and partial blurb, (3) full blurb, (4) no blurb and only “stellar” reviews, (5) first person weirdness, (6) a single line of text, and (7) the list goes on.

My plan is to create three different blurbs, each featuring a different style of delivering the information.  On one of my Wasteland Wednesday’s, I’ll present all three and get some opinions and toss a voting poll into the mix.  That way you can vote on the one that would most likely get you to open the book and give it a try.  It will give you another peak into the book, and provide me some essential post-production feedback.

question mark.pngMy question to all of you is what makes a good blurb in your opinion?  If you can remember a book, and could refer it as a prime example, that would be superbly helpful (I tend to sponge style when I read).  If you just tell me what the title is I can search for the blurb.  This is an area where I am learning as I go!

Well, I’m going to drive around in my truck and clean up branches and toppled trashcans in the neighborhood.  I’m behind on comments from yesterday and will start getting back to folks once I finish saving the world and getting my baby boy through the ol morning routine.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Write to Market: Book, Blurb & Collage

Write to Market, Chris Fox.jpg

Some of my indie friends requested that I start doing more research regarding publishing and marketing books.  To this end, I recently finished reading Write to Market by Chris Fox.  At 100 pages this book now takes the top spot on my, “Shortest Books On Writing,” list (coming to a blog near you).  It edged out The Elements of Style by a whopping five pages!

Now before I talk about this book I want to say two things:

  1. This book is not about marketing a preexisting book.  It is about gauging the market and writing a book to meet market demand.
  2. This concept is probably going to make some of you want to raise a ruckus and talk about how this method of writing is an author selling his/her soul for a buck (or multiple bucks).

When I started reading this book my feet were planted firmly in the second category.  I read the first ten percent of this book (ten pages) and was less than impressed.  Mostly because I thought this was a book on marketing a preexisting book, and also because I felt like writing a book for someone other than myself was akin to punching kittens.

Ethos, pathos, logos

As I continued to read I felt myself being persuaded.  Fox was offering a sound argument packed with ethos, pathos, and logos.  Here are a few points to help you gauge if this book is for you or not.  I’m not going to share too much content because this book is so short.

  • This book is current.  It offers advice that can be applied now.  This makes it a strong reference text.
  • This book is written by a successful indie author specifically for other indie authors.
  • This book is short.  It isn’t packed with exposition.  It is packed with useful tools to leverage online sources and listing tools to examine the writing market.
  • Fox shows you how to use Amazon and other online tools to examine your genre for trends.
  • Fox explains how tracking trends in your genre and writing a book that fits popular demand isn’t really selling out.
  • Fox explains if you want to write and make money, write books people want to read.
  • If you don’t care about making money, write purely for yourself.

Those last two bullets probably have some of you getting ready to beat on your keyboards.  I’ve thought about it over the last few days and this is what I have come up with.  If I would apply this books principles this would be my basic process (there’s more to it in the book).

  1. I outline my book premise.  Then stop.
  2. Use tools provided in book to research genre.
  3. Find the top 20-100 books of my genre.
  4. Read reviews and examine story elements.
  5. Find what unites these books in popularity.
  6. Take the story I was already going to write, and apply some of those elements.
  7. I have written to market.

lookingExample:  I write post-apocalyptic fiction.  So I research the market and see what is popular.  Not just now, but over the last few months.  I look at those books and find what the repeat elements are.  Standard zombies are out, mutant zombies are in.  City scenes are out, fantasy lands are in.

I look at the failed books.  Again, what are the repeat elements?  A group of survivors led by a male protagonist is a story line that is getting old.  They are also getting tired of the whole, “Ushering the mad scientist to the lab of glory to save the world story line.” Okay cool.

I take the story I was already going to write and tweak it in just a few areas to fit market demand and write it.  That’s really it.  Is writing the story you wanted to write, but adding an element readers want to read make you a sell out?  That’s for you to decide.

[Begin Rant Here]

Fisticuffs.jpgHere’s my opinion.  I want to tell my story and I want people to read it.  I also would like to make money.  Because money is good (i.e. pays bills, feeds my family, legitimizes the time spent slaving away).

If I’m cracking some beers open with my cop or military buddies, our stories often turn toward past exploits.  If I would tell my parents those same stories, I would likely tell them in a slightly different way (less vulgarity, drunkenness, and belly laughter).  I want to share those stories, but I also want to be mindful of the listener.  To do this I place a filter on the story.  It’s the same story, but with slight modifications.

I think if we are honest, we all do this to some extent.  At least in the context of how we conduct ourselves with different people.  As long as we aren’t sociopaths about it, it’s normal.  We do this in our daily life, but for some reason we are compelled to take an ethical stand on the stories that could put bread on the table.  If the story is designed to be read by others, shouldn’t we ensure we know what others want to read?

I understand that I’m a noob writer.  I’m not going to sway the market with my stories.  Maybe when one of us is a multi-platinum New York Times best-seller of destiny we will be able to push readers one way or the other.  So for now, I’m not going to try to change the flow of a river.  I’m going to test the waters (market) and float explosives (books) down it to blow the dam to smithereens (readers minds).  At least that’s my plan…

[End Rant]

write to marketAt 100 pages this book is thought provoking.  Your alternative to gauge market trends is Writer’s Market 2016, which is a soul crushing 868 pages.  It can also heat your home the following year because it will be outdated.

If you are curious about market trends, marketing a future book, or just want to be more educated in regards to authors who write to match market trends, I would encourage you to pick this book up.  What are your thoughts?  Do you feel matching a book’s content to meet market trends is bad mojo?  I’ve shared my thoughts, I’d be curious to know yours.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Quest for the Holy Sale: Finding Agents

holy grail.jpgBased on the stories passed down to me, it would appear finding an agent is much like being one of Arthur’s knights and embarking on a quest for the Holy Grail.  While the call of Arthur’s war horn hasn’t reached my ears just yet, (there’s still plenty of time for this squire) I have already started strengthening my sword arm.  So today I will share the tools and resources I have been using to prepare for battle.

Slay the Hydra.  Yes, to lure an agent onto the battleground one must have a book.  Even better, more than one.   Working on multiple books is akin to battling a hydra.  You cut off one head, and another one sprouts up to spit in your face.

hydra.jpgIt has taken many moons (and many broken quills) to get to where I am. Another full moon and Wastelander will be finished.  Once it’s done, I already have the novella, The Wastelander Survival Guide, outlined and ready to write.  I will pen the novella while Wastelander sits and regenerates.  When the novella is finished (another head lopped off) I know Wastelander will be ready to bite again.  When it does, I will have to embark on a editing campaign.  It will be bloody.

shine your armor.jpgShine your bloody armor!  If you wan’t to incite fear in the agents heart, you show up on the battlefield looking like the hand of God placed you before him/her.  For the purposes of agent slaying, this armor is my query letter.   When they read it, I need them to suffer from the kind of blindness you experience when glancing at an angel.

The local lore master offered me a scroll that spoke of a Writer’s Digest article.  I bartered my last jug of ale to get a mystic to add a glyph here.   This portal, if you choose to enter, lists a number of dusty, leather bound tomes focusing on crafting a query letter.  I have a stack of these tomes being delivered by the strongest steed in the land (I couldn’t afford the shipping costs of a griffin – maybe after I get the Grail).

I also met a warrioress in a cow pasture outside of the village (I got lost coming back from the tavern).  Her armor was brilliant and gleaming and she cleaved a tree in two with her bare hands.  I have since began spying on her – hiding in the tall grass to watch her train.  Judging by the quality of her armor, she is obviously skilled.

divining rod.jpgCompass?  Nay – use thine divining rod.  You can’t smite an agent with your query letter if you can’t find one.  After speaking to the wart-covered hag who lives in the Midnight Marsh, and going on a couple errands to collect bizarre herbs, she gave me a magical stick and said it was an Agent Divining Rod.  I jumped with joy.  When I came home and explained what it was to Heather (wife/shield maiden) she clobbered me and threw it into the hearth fire.  So I have decided to look at the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents and Writer’s Market 2016 tomes for insight.  At least the house will stay warm.

To know thy enemy, one must study the lore.  The texts mentioned above are a start.  They contain enough pages to heat my hovel for many days.  I must spend more time going through them and recording potential targets.

The other night, while running important work related errands (if Heather asks), I met a bard at the Round Table Roadhouse who whispered of two locations of hidden lore.  The bard claimed agents could be found via scrying portals!  It took me three crystal ingots and one quart of mother’s milk (again, no need to mention this to Heather) to get a mage to inscribe those locations within the magical plane here and here.

knigt with villagers.jpg

Gather an angry mob of villagers!  Why do battle alone?  Get the villagers riled up and they will rally to you in droves.  The agent may think twice before questioning your honor when you have a mob of torch wielding village-folk at your back.

I‘ve been working on this.  I traded four cattle, two chickens, my lucky horseshoe, and a strand of baby Thor’s hair to Merlin’s apprentice (who was drunk at the time).  In return, she provided me some sort of magical mirror into the world (I believe it’s powered by a lightning elemental).  With this tool of mechromancy,  I work daily to gather a global mob to join me in battle.  It also allows me to view humorous videos of cats.  I have used this magic to hone my wit.

old warrior.jpgScrew Arthur, get the Grail on your own.  I met a warrior bard once who wore no banner.  His face was covered in scars, but there was a strange twinkle in his eyes.  I traded him two loaves of bread, a vial of djinn tears, and three of Thor’s dirty diapers (I didn’t ask why) for a leather bound chronicle of his journeys.

I told him of my desire to join Arthur, battle an agent, gain the Grail, and earn glory.  He just laughed and told me to not waste my time.  To my surprise, he claimed to have carved his own path to glory.  Judging by the scars, I believed him.  I will have to research this path more.  Perhaps I could convince my friend M.L.S. Weech, who is also a warrior bard, to share a tale of his journeys?

Do you hear that?  It’s not Arthur’s war horn, it’s something far more terrible – the growing cries of baby Thor (his anger can shake the foundations of our humble abode).  Come to think of it, I also need to explain to Heather why so many things are missing from the house…I will have to end this entry here.

Have your duties led you to hidden lore?  I would like to know!  Until the sun rises again, keep studying the lore, keep inscribing your tales, and as always – keep your quill sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

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