Working with the Industry: Editor Interview with Karin Beery

This month’s “Working with the Industry” posts are a real eye opener for me. I just love to learn. And when the lesson has anything to do with improving my writing skills, I’m all ears.

All of us need a helping hand every once in a while. Your critique partners and Beta readers may think your story is the next best thing to hit the market. However, once you expose it to someone who is working in the writing industry it may still need work.

For my editor interview, I asked a few questions of my editor friend Karin Beery. I first met Karin while we commiserated in the same critique group for about a year. She is a champion of helping others achieve a quality product they can be proud to present for publication.

Be teachable. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What is the best advice you can give to an established writer and newbie alike on the writing craft?
Be teachable. Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, things change. Editors should be aware of those changes. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What book have you read that you would have loved to edit, and how would you have changed it to your liking?
I don’t necessarily want to name the book because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but several years ago I read a fantasy book that “everyone” was talking about. It was simultaneously the most interesting and most boring book I’ve ever read! Since then I’ve ready many books with the same three common issues:

  • stereotypical characters
  • spending too much time describing unnecessary details (such as exactly what each character is wearing in every scene) while failing to describe necessary components (like establishing scene setting)
  • not enough conflict.

How does an author know when the time is right to engage an editor before publication?
Ask! Almost every editor I know will provide a free sample edit/review of at least the first few pages. I’ve told several authors that they aren’t ready for editing yet, then offered suggestions for how they can strengthen their writing. If you’re afraid to ask an editor, then find someone in the publishing industry for their honest input (and be ready for honesty!).

What should a writer expect when entering into a contract with an editor?
 Regardless of what kind of an edit a writer needs, there are a few things they should expect from any competent, professional editor:

  • Edits/Comments – if you get a clean manuscript back, that’s not actually a good sign. No one’s perfect (even published books have typos!). If your editor can’t find anything wrong with your story, he/she might not know what to be looking for.
  • Proper Edits/Comments – proofreads are the last step in the editorial process. If your proofread includes rewrites and restructuring, that’s not really a proofread. Make sure you know the difference between the services so you’re getting the right edit.
  • Industry Standards – an editor’s job is to help you clean up your manuscript, not to rewrite it to his/her personal beliefs or preferences.
About Karin Beery

Editor. Teacher. Novelist.

A passionate lover of fiction, Karin doesn’t just write novels, she helps others write their best stories! A certified substantive editor with the Christian Editor Connection, her goal is to help authors to put her out of business by equipping them with the tools they need to become better writers.

Want to know more about Karin?

Connect with her at: KarinBerry.com, FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Working With the Industry: Meet Jr. Agent Hope Bolinger

Hello, friends! In the writing world, it’s good to know about the industry and the people who work there. Today, I interview Hope Bolinger, Jr. Agent at Hartline Literary Agency. You’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say in response to our thought-provoking questions–Jennifer

Writer journaling in a book

Hi, Hope! Please tell our readers, what is an agent’s purpose?

Hope: Essentially, being an agent boils down to two things: coach and cheerleader. We want to steer our clients in the best direction in the publishing industry. We pinpoint snags in contracts and try to help them attain the best deals possible for their books. We also want to be the author’s biggest advocate when approaching publishers. We don’t take on clients unless we love their work because we have to sell it again with equal or more vigor to the industry professionals who can help make their dreams become a reality.

How hard is it to be an agent in today’s publishing industry?

Hope: It’s difficult in the aspect that publishers are inundated with hundreds, thousands of manuscripts. Even as an agent, you have a lot of competition with other agents who are trying to help authors break into the industry. I will say it becomes easier the more you connect with editors at writing conferences and in one-on-one meetings. In the traditional publishing world, especially with the biggest houses, an agent is almost a  necessity.

What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent?

Hope: Great question. I would boil it down to this:

(1) Meet the agent in person if possible. I remember the authors most who pitched to me at writer’s conferences or talked with me after a session. Follow-up emails from conferences are extremely helpful as well.

(2) Make that first page shine. I can usually tell by the first chapter whether or not the client would be a good fit. If the third chapter has good writing, but the first chapter or prologue (please don’t send us your prologues) is an information dump, we’re less inclined to want to take you on.

(3) Build platform before sending your books to us or to a publisher. Especially in nonfiction. It breaks my heart when I have a client with an excellent book, but the publisher turns it down because the author doesn’t have a large enough platform.

What three things can a new author do that will discourage an agent?

Hope: This will be harder to funnel into three main points, but I would say the number one problem I have is an author who comes off as a stalker. As agents, we look for authors who can strike a balance between professional and personal, but the latter half often seeps through more than the former. For instance, we’ve gotten love letters from queries before (even to some of our agents who are married.) 

Second, an author who swings to one of two extremes on platform. We have those who say, “I have no social media whatsoever.” And then we have authors who think they’re hot stuff. Show us all the platform you’ve accumulated, but don’t come off as arrogant or as if agents are doing you a favor. We want this to be a partnership that can last for several years, or even a lifetime.

Third, sending several emails to the agent at once. It’s best to send all the submission materials (Please don’t send all twelve of your books to us at once!) in one email. You can follow-up after 6-8 weeks, or whatever the certain agent has listed on his or her website. But agents receive literally hundreds of emails a day. If twelve of them are from you, they will be less inclined to take you on.

 5. Are you open for submissions? What are you looking for?

Hope: I am personally open for submissions (some of the agents at C.Y.L.E. are closed right now). I do a mix of fiction and nonfiction, but my sweet spots are YA (Young Adult), MG (Middle Grade),  Historical (especially anything ancient), Thriller, and Humor. I’m especially looking to sell in the ABA markets (American Bookseller Association.) Please no memoir (unless you have a significant platform), horror, self-published books, poetry, stage plays, or erotica. If you have a submission you think would be a good fit, send a query to hope@cyleyoung.co

Thanks so much, Hope for all the great advice. And readers, make sure you keep a watch for Hope’s novel, Den, to be released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, June 3, 2019

Check here for details about the progress of her book: http://www.illuminateya.com/books/comingsoon/den/

Click to tweet: What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent? Hartline Literary Agency Jr. Agent, Hope Bolinger, answers this question and many more. #WritersLife #amwriting


Den

Danny was told sophomore year was supposed to be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To add to his sophomore woes, he—and his three best friends—receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the prestigious boarding school. Danny says no. His overbearing mother says yes. So off he goes.

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters horrible hazing initiations, girls who like to pick other people’s scabs, and cafeteria food that could turn the strongest stomachs sour. As he attempts to survive, he will have to face his fears or fall prey to the King’s Academy lions.


ABOUT HOPE BOLINGER

Literary Agent. Published Novelist.

Hope wants to help authors understand the publishing industry.

Since she started writing novels at 16, she’s been trying to crack the tricky code of how to catch an editor’s eye. She’s learned a lot along the way and wants to help authors find an in in this crazy industry.

Hope Bolinger is a professional writing major at Taylor University. She has served in various roles at IlluminateYA Fiction, Hartline Literary Agency, N 2 Publishing, and The Echo. Over 200 of her works (plays, poems, articles) have appeared in various publications. Her most recent success is having her YA novel Den contracted by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, scheduled to release June 3, 2019.

Indie Publishing: Create and Sell Digital Products

By Susan Neal

Do you have a product that’s not long enough to be a book but would still be valuable to a reader? You can easily create a digital product and sell it on your website or through a link in an article. This blog post will provide step-by-step instructions on how to create digital products, so you can start earning money.

To make a digital product, you need to properly format the document. First, develop a front matter page with a disclaimer, copyright, and notice that the buyer may not reprint or give away this product. Construct a table of contents to correspond with the content of your product. Insert a header with page numbers and title of the product and a footer with a copyright symbol “©—all rights reserved” and your website.

Next, build the back matter including an about the author section and a blurb regarding any other books or products you sell. Include your social media links. Finish up with a colorful cover just like an e-book because the cover is the first thing a potential buyer will see. I use Pro_Ebook Covers on Fiverr.com to design my covers for a minimal cost.

After you format your digital product upload it to Gumroad.com. I have used this company to sell my products since 2016. This business’s website is simple and easy to use.

It is free to create an account and make as many digital products as you want. You are not charged until you sell a product. Gumroad’s fee is 8.5% of your selling price + $.30 per sale. To create a product, click “add a product” under the products tab, and follow the instructions to upload your PDF and cover. Add a compelling description of your item and a price.

Gumroad takes care of the financial transaction and deducts their fees from the payment that they receive from the buyer. You are paid on a monthly basis and the money is electronically deposited. It is that simple, and you do not pay anything until you make a sale.

One of my best selling digital products, How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia, contains 24 interventions to prevent these devastating diseases. Every week I receive an email from Gumroad notifying me that another one of my products, like this one, sold.

To add your newly created product to your website Gumroad provides embedded coding for you to install. You copy and paste the code into your site. This company also provides a link for you to use in emails, blogs, and articles, so you can advertise your products.

It is up to you to do the marketing. You can check out four digital products that I sell on my website at http://christianyoga.com/dvd-products. I include links to my digital products in the bio section of my articles and blogs.

Check out my two best selling products on Gumroad:

How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Eat to Live: with a Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Glycemic, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Now you can begin selling your digital products as well. For fiction authors, you could sell character sketches and the backstory for your heroine and hero. What other type of digital product could you create? Please share below.

Writing Prompt: What type of digital product can you create?

Click to tweet: Do you have a product that’s not long enough to be a book but would still be valuable to a reader? You can easily create a digital product and sell it on your website or through a link in an article. This blog post will provide step-by-step instructions on how to create #digital products, so you can start earning money.  #IndieAuthors


7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates (back cover description)

Over half of Americans live with a chronic illness, primarily due to the overconsumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Seven Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates provides a day-by-day plan to wean your body off of these addictive products and regain your health. These changes in your eating habits will start your lifestyle journey to the abundant life Jesus wants you to experience. Not a life filled with disease and poor health.

You will learn:

  • how to eliminate brain fog, cure diseases, and lose weight
  • foods that damage versus foods that are beneficial—the ones God gave us to eat, not the food industry
  • healthy food alternatives and menu planning
  • the science behind food addiction, Candida, and emotional reasons we overeat
  • to identify food triggers and use God’s Word to fight impulsive eating
  • resources—educational videos and books, meal planning, support organizations, recipes

Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (TLB). Are you living life in its fullness? Is your health or weight impeding you from embracing a healthy, bountiful life? Take these simple seven steps and regain the life you were created for. You will love the new you! Link to Susan’s book: Amazon


Susan Neal’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a Certified Christian Health and Wellness Coach with the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Her book 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates won the Selah award. Her most recent publications, Christian Study Guide for 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates and Healthy Living Bullet Journal release in August 2018. Susan blogs and provides healthy menus, recipes, and corresponding grocery lists on HealthyLivingSeriesBlog.com.

Susan lives on five acres and grows her own organic fruits and vegetables. She loves swimming, horseback riding, and gardening.

You can follow Susan on:

her Facebook

Scripture Yoga Facebook

Healthy Living Series Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Pinterest

Instagram

linkedin 

Google plus

Indie Publishing

**Originally posted on July 19th, 2013.

By Hallee Bridgeman

I realize that I am an odd duck in many ways. I am not driven by any kind of bottom line. As an author, I do not want to sell a million books. I want to sell just one book — or better yet, give it away. If the gospel message that I have packaged in those pages brings even one soul to Christ, then I have fulfilled my life’s purpose and that is what motivates me every time I type. It is a struggle, I think, for anyone who takes on the mantle of “Christian artist” to never measure success by the world’s yardstick but rather by the world’s RULER. I struggle with that but so far with God’s help, I have been victorious. So, while it may seem odd, writing and publishing is my vocation, and my mission, and not my secular occupation. For me, it is a calling.

We aren’t too far away from the days when self-publishing, or publishing through small “novelty press” also often referred to in a derogatory way as a “vanity press,” had an incredibly negative stigma in the publishing industry.  Despite the strides made otherwise, it still carries a lot of negative connotations with it, as if this were 1985 and someone self publishing would have to shell out thousands of dollars in order to hold a physical copy of their book in their own hands.

Up until about eighteen months ago, the only self published books I’d ever read were absolutely dreadful. They were poorly edited, poorly formatted, the covers were plain and unattractive, and the stories were badly told.  My thought upon reading them was, “Well, no wonder this person can’t get published.”

However, times are rapidly changing.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (22 Feb 1788 – 21 Sep 1860)

I’ve heard the publishing industry described as “the Wild West” right now, and no one really knows what the full outcome is going to end up being. So many media outlets claim that the publishing industry is “in turmoil” and they point to hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores across North America closing their doors and mergers of hundreds of traditional publishing houses transforming into a few large multinational corporations.

It really isn’t in turmoil or vanishing. Rather the publishing industry is presently in the throes of revolution. Recently, we have witnessed the availability of internet news outlets with RSS feeds and E-mail revolutionize the large scale consumption of daily printed newspapers. We have witnessed MP3 players revolutionize the music industry in recent years making terms like “broken record” as anachronistic as “ticker tape parade.” It is not a new phenomenon. Recall that the printing press itself once revolutionized the way all modern human beings transcribe and consume information.

In just the last four years, there has been a massive shift in the way book buying and selling works.  Last year, for the first time in human history, the world’s largest bookseller (Amazon) sold more eBooks than traditionally printed paper books — and by a very wide margin.

Traditional publishers and professional organizations — and this includes mainstream Christian publishers and Christian artist and author professional organizations — have by and large been very reluctant to even recognize the emerging paradigm, much less embrace it. Sadly, many have ridiculed or violently opposed it instead. Historically, this has never proven fruitful for the cause of the gospel message. I refer to the ridicule and violent opposition Martin Luther endured in his mission to bring the Bible itself to the public in a language the public could actually consume.

In this emerging paradigm, in the midst of this revolution, I was led to independent (or “Indie”) publishing. I found it a perfect match for my writing career for a number of reasons:

(1) Mainstream Christian publishers, for the most part, tend to want “safe” stories, and their readers tend to want “safe” reads.  Fair enough.  Some standards among a very large Christian romance publisher are:  stories may not include alcohol consumption, card playing, gambling or games of chance (including raffles), explicit scatological terms, Halloween celebrations or magic. Lying is also problematic, physical interactions (i.e., kissing, hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality, avoid any mention of nudity, etc.

(2) I write Christian romances and Christian suspense.  However, unlike much of the mainstream Christian Fiction, I write realistic characters (all of them, not just a select few characters), with flaws, with sins in their past, with a sinful nature of tempted flesh in their daily walk, and with a desperate need for grace and redemption in their present. The settings are contemporary. The struggles they face and the problems they encounter are big and serious, hardly ever “safe.” I prayerfully strive to use scripture and prayer appropriately.

NOTE: One major Christian publisher wrote me and told me that she personally LOVED my book, Sapphire Ice, but she couldn’t publish it because her customers would find it too risqué for their tastes because of one scene.  My research indicated that would almost certainly be the case with any Christian publisher.

(3) I am a prolific writer.  Between March 2012 and June 2013, I released five complete novels, two different box sets, an anthology, and a cookbook.  I would have no patience for a publisher and the time it takes to follow the road of traditional publication.  I would lose patience with waiting months and months between releases.

(4) I get to make all the decisions about titles (ugh, my last title took me MONTHS of candidates before the final decision), cover art, branding, marketing, and deadlines.  I don’t need to have any of these things approved or revised or dictated by any third party individuals or committees. In the end, the decision and the responsibility is mine.

(5) I realize that, just as missionaries and evangelists throughout history have done, I operate under a stigma in this field.  So many reviews I get, from readers and NOT professionals within the industry, praise the editing and formatting of my books.  That tells me that the vast majority of ebooks, whether independently published, small press, or large press, are simply not well formatted, and I know many indie published books aren’t well edited.

hlcs.org

I have the benefit of a husband who supports my writing in every single facet of it.  He founded Olivia Kimbrell Press and I know that the mission of that press will grow to include more voices who share my writing mission. My husband and I are one. We pray together before embarking on any project. He edits my work, and is as skilled as any professional editor.  He formats my work and has learned everything he can about formatting eBooks AND print books.  The end result is a book that is published and distributed by an indie press of such high professional quality that it meets or exceeds the caliber

of anything a traditional publisher can produce.

Indie publishing completely suited me.

But, I had a massive mountain to climb with it, too.  I had to learn the publishing industry.  I had to discover what publications to read, how to glean information from them, and what to take away from them.  It wasn’t easy because it was all brand new to me.

I had to develop a fan base — and that took almost a full year.  I published my first book in March 2012, and February 2013 all (at the time) four of my books made it into Amazon’s Top 100 for Christian Romances for the first time.  That took a tremendous amount of social media and networking work on my behalf, because I didn’t publish through a publisher who already had a large customer base.

Along the way I had to actually battle just to gain acceptance and credibility in my chosen mission field.  Until just a few weeks ago, even the American Christian Fiction Writers considered self publishing a short-cut to “actual” publishing.  They have (wonderfully so) recently changed that wording on their website.

The writing and publishing were the easy part.  Suddenly, my life was consumed with marketing and networking, and my writing time was slashed in half.  That is simply the life of an indie published author.  But today, now that I have a good base built, I am able to pull back from it slightly and focus on writing again, letting the writing time outweigh the marketing time.

It has been a tremendous path, and one that I would gladly take again.  And, honestly, after delving deeply into the publishing world, reading all that I can about publishing news and industry information, I would not choose to publish traditionally, especially now that I have a choice.

Click to tweet: Indie publishing completely suited me.  But, I had a massive mountain to climb with it, too.  I had to learn the #publishing industry…what publications to read, how to glean information from them…what to take away from them. #IndieAuthor 


You can learn more about Hallee and her books at  http://www.halleebridgeman.com/ 

Find Hallee’s books:
AmazonAppleBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKoboLulu
Find Hallee online:
Her Blog — Facebook — Twitter — Google+ — Goodreads — Manic Readers

What’s the Best Way for an Indie Author to Promote Their Book?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Maybe we should start with why authors want to sell their books.

Don’t give me that blank stare. I know it seems like a given but many writers go to all the trouble to put a book together then only do a little marketing. Either they are fearful of what people will think or they lack the skills to market, or maybe they wonder if they even should laud the praises of their own work.

Authors should not skimp on marketing.

If a person goes to the trouble of completing a book and then publishing it, whether traditional or Indie, it seems they should get it in front of readers. And at least that gives people a chance to decide whether they want to read it or not.  

Now that the why is settled, let’s look at what ways are best. Here are some positive steps to take in the promotion of your work:

  • Start by building a blog or website or having one built for you. You need a landing page for your readers to find you. Yes, it’s good to create an author page on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and other places but make sure if a reader Googles your name, they can find you.
  • Email list. You need to have an email list of your readers and potential readers so you can reach them with news. Not spam them with constant bombardment. My favorite way to accomplish this is with my email newsletter. And people love presents so be sure to include a gift for the sign-up: a recipe, chapter of a book, short story, etc.  (You can subscribe to mine here for an example plus get a gift of ten of my favorite recipes. 😊Just look for the pop-up.)
  • Social media. There are all kinds of social media you can market your book through. I’d pick two or three and build a presence. Remember to build relationships with people and your books will sell. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as my main three. Experiement and find what works for you.
  • Speaking/book signings. You’ll want to have a few events to allow the people in your area or areas you’re visiting to meet with the author. You can arrange to speak at a church, social club, library, or school. Make sure to set up a book table and sign books. Also have something set up to show people how to order the e-book if they’d rather read on the Kindle or Nook. Book stores are great places to have a book signing since your potential readers are already there.

Here’s our own Betty Thomason Owens at a book signing.

I also have four tips to speed up marketing:

    1. Be reliable and ready. Set up a pattern in the beginning and keep your name out there. You want people to know that you’re serious.
    2. Book links. Make sure you have book links on your blog/website, all social media, your signature in emails, and any guest posting you may do. If someone is curious, you want them to have a link to click on.
    3. Everyone loves a sale. I once bought a mystery e-book for 99 cents and liked it so much that I paid regular price for the next five just to see what happened. It really works.
    4. And finally, the most important tip of all: The Golden Rule. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NLT) Be good to people. Sow seeds of kindness and I believe at some point you will reap a return. Build a network with other authors and promote them the way you would like to be promoted. It will bring a positive investment before it’s all over and you’re sure to make some lifelong friends.

Start today to put some of these principles in practice. Find what works best for you, then be consistent. The readers are out there and waiting for the next author to follow.

Show them where you are.


Writing Prompt: Jillian reached into the mail box and snatched the book-shaped package, clutching it tightly as she ran toward the house. She’d finally get to see…

Click to tweet: What’s the best way for an Indie author to promote their book? You might be surprised. #marketing #IndieAuthors