Amazing Women And Their Amazing Books

Amazing Women and their Amazing Books

Congratulations to our YA! 2015 winners. What an honor to get to know these terrific women. Their stories are such perfect examples of how everyday people manage to create great stories in the middle of real life.

Jessica Kelley – 1st Place – The Mercy Killers
Jessica Kelley, lives in Virginia. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know her a bit. She’s a tax accountant, mother to two boys, and a military wife. Any one of these jobs are enough, but she managed to carve out some time during the last year and a half to complete her first novel, The Mercy Killers. For six months of that time, she actually put the book on pause while her husband was home to focus on family. She spent that time exploring hobbies, such as shooting her crossbow and learning about throwing knives, which is reflected in her characters.

In what was very poignant to me, AUTHORS.me was lucky enough to receive her submission just before the New Year’s Eve deadline. Her husband was deployed, so she found herself at home missing him, but making the best of the New Year by submitting her work to our contest. “If I hadn’t been alone that night, I wouldn’t have entered.”

When I asked what she does to get in the right frame of mind to write, she replied, “If I get stuck, I turn on music, clean the house, daydream a bit and then get back to work.” The easiest part of writing for her was letting the characters come alive individually. The hardest part? I’m sure most of us can relate to her biggest challenge: cutting and editing!

I can’t wait to hear what happens next for Jessica and her first novel. I predict great things.

Lara Dunning – 2nd Place – Aleutian Pearl
I was amazed to learn that Lara wrote Aleutian Pearl twice—once from the perspective of another character, then rewriting it to this current version. I was super-impressed and thought about how our best stuff usually comes in the rewrites. This led me onto a million other questions about how she created this book. Similar to Jessica, Lara spent about a year and a half crafting her book. She spent a good three months just envisioning, outlining, and following the Hero’s Journey as a method. She wrote for another six to nine months then spent the rest of the time working on structure.

Her family has roots in Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia and she spent six months backpacking through the land of the leprechauns. She also lived in Alaska for 10 years, three of which were on a very remote Aleutian Island. These experiences combined to connect her with the landscape and selkie mythology, leading her to create her wonderful book.

One of the judges was so impressed with the vivid action and terrific storytelling in Aleutian Pearl, that they envisioned this as a surefire movie success!

Catherine Hogarth – 3rd Place – Dora Finching
Our third winner is a bit of a mystery. She appears to have used Catherine Hogarth as her pen name, which coincidentally is the name of Charles Dickens’ wife. (this explains the Catherine Hogarth picture we used to represent her) Her novel, Dora Finching, is set in 19th century London and has a cameo appearance by Dickens himself. Catherine has no photo and hasn’t responded to our emails. Could it be that JK Rowling has done it again?! Could it be that Jessica or Lara wrote two books?? Is she off hiding with Waldo or Carmen Sandiego? I think this one might belong in our next contest, Operation: Thriller. Give us a call Catherine; inquiring minds want to know. We’ll update when she does!

Improved Communication Between Writer, Agent, And Publisher

Improved Communication Between Writer, Agent, and Publisher

When I was a boy I had two pen pals. One in Australia and one in New Zealand. We communicated by airmail with little self-contained envelopes/letters. Obviously, this was before the Internet and email. Nothing thrilled me more than when an airmail letter came to my house. Even though weeks or months had passed between sending and receiving, the thrill of getting that red, white and blue envelope was immeasurable.

Later in life I began submitting query letters to agents and publishers via snail mail, and similarly, the wait for a response was months at a time. Yet the thrill of receiving that response was equal in measure to my pen pals’ letters – even though I was getting rejection letters. Completing the cycle was important to me.

It’s a different world today. Everything is instant. I text with my two daughters overseas in a blink of an eye. I deliver mail with mind-numbing speed. So I asked myself, could there be better communication between writer, agent and publisher? Can the communication be moved closer to today’s real-time expectations?

Yes. It is how we built AUTHORS.me to be.

AUTHORS uses an activity notification system that lets the writer know what is happening to their query as it happens. Was my profile or project viewed? Did the agent see my manuscript? No more waiting by the mailbox. Even though querying an agent can be a lengthy process, the transfer of information no longer has to be that way.

An agent or publisher will want to know instantly if a writer updated their manuscript or information. Is there a new writer out there that matches my needs? What is the rest of my team of acquisitions editors doing? All these communiqués are real-time now.

Agents and publishers require a good bit of time to review and analyze what submissions will work for them. No one is trying to rush this part, nor is any application going to change the timing. Agents and publishers still follow their own rhythm. Some review incoming submissions and take a look at Discovery twice a week. Others save them up and review them all once a month. What AUTHORS does do is keep an open line between the two parties. The platform lets each other know when something is happening while still maintaining the professional separation agents and publishers require.

I realize the anticipation of an airmail letter is lost on people today. We think and communicate differently now. As a writer, I want to know how my baby is doing. AUTHORS is working to make this a modern-day experience with all the advantages technology gives us. Even if it means the rejection letter comes faster, that’s okay.

The Right Team. The Right Time.

The Right Team. The Right Time.

Sometimes all it takes to calm your fears are a few words.

I couldn’t have done this without you,” someone says.

“This is a dream come true!”

I never even imagined something this good.”

These are just some of the messages we’ve received from writers and publishers since we introduced AUTHORS.me in a limited roll out a few months ago. When I spent sleepless nights worrying, “Are they really going to like this?” These phone calls and emails have sustained me through the months of building that can so often feel like an echo chamber of ideas.

We saw two sides of the book industry treating each other like adversaries and wanted to change that. We believe the solution is one which helps everyone. That seems almost too obvious, but up until now, it just hasn’t happened. Ultimately, there are not two opposite sides — writer versus agent–or–writer versus publisher–though it sometimes feels that way. Any solution that truly helps both sides is good for everyone, and that’s our goal for AUTHORS.

It takes all sorts of skills to create, launch, and run a successful company. Beyond skills and experience, there’s another crucial ingredient- and it’s this ingredient that ultimately makes or breaks a business. And that’s passion.

The passion that we have at AUTHORS.me is two-fold: a love of technology, and a love of stories. Tying this all together is a strong desire to help the people that create amazing books that we all enjoy.

When we first thought about this idea, we looked through the landscape of companies and support for writers, agents, and publishers. There is a lot of help available! Writers need that help, because finding an agent or publisher is a hurdle so high that few writers actually clear it.

But this helpful landscape is so often one-sided. We saw frameworks and training for writers and form-builders for agents and publishers. We found hundreds of blogs giving great advice and plenty of self-help books. But we wanted to approach this differently, and develop a panacea for the whole process, not just create another Advil or Band-Aid for one small part of it.

We believe in our company. With a team built of knowledgeable programmers, writers, publishers, marketers and more, we’re uniquely positioned to deliver on this promise. Together, we have a thorough knowledge of complex technology and matching algorithms, as well as a business sense of what writers, agents, and publishers need to take a manuscript to production.

Most of all, we have you, our users, who have been our biggest inspiration and encouragement.

And here we are—ready to step out into the world. So with excitement and a little trepidation, we launch our new site and welcome our first agent and publisher relationships.

Keep the emails and conversation going!

How Long Will It Take To Get Published?

How Long Will It Take to Get Published?

How long does it usually take to get published by a traditional publisher? The answer is two years – on average. Let me qualify that. This is not two years from when you begin your book. This is two years from when you have secured an agent and publisher. In the age of instant coffee and Instagram, one might ask, “Why does it take so long?”

Well, when you add up the time it takes to negotiate a deal, edit the book, work with the author, prepare a marketing plan, schedule promotions, place the book into production, and deliver it to distribution, your congressman is running for re-election; your eighth grader is now in high school; the summer Olympics have turned to winter; your car has had eight oil changes; and you are two years older still waiting to see your book in print. It’s just the reality of book publishing.

This may be the biggest reason why so many writers choose to self-publish. It was the reason I chose to do so. Self-publishing my book took one day to format (my manuscript) and just minutes to put it up on Amazon KDP. One day. Hmmmm, two years or one day? Hold on. Is the time to put a book into print a fair comparison for choosing a type of publishing?

Before we answer that, let’s compare the quick version of getting self-published and the two-year process of traditional publishing with other equally challenging endeavors.

Run a marathon.

I can run a marathon today if I wanted; after all, my daughter runs marathons throughout Europe. I happen to live in the country, fourteen miles from the nearest town. I’ll just lace up the sneaks and jog there and back. Maybe pick up some groceries along the way. Right? Wrong. Without the proper training – a process that normally takes two arduous years – I would die.

Be a Nurse.

My neighbor had his tractor hit a ditch and roll over top of him. Ouch. I could have attended to his injuries and recommended proper medical treatments, maybe even tried to reset his dislocated ankle and shoulder. Easy, right? Wrong. Without an associate’s degree in nursing and lots of training, another two-year venture, my would-be patient might have died. Okay, my patient would have died.

Play the piano with two hands.

I can sit at the piano and bang on the keys in an attempt to play Clare de Lune, but unless I train for around two years, the resulting sounds would, well, you get the picture. I would probably die with your hands around my throat.

A lot of dying going on in these examples, but I think you get my point.

When you consider what a self-publishing writer looking for a shortcut to publishing has to do after they put their book up on Amazon KDP to create sales, it is a scary, frustrating, sleepless-nights and lonely days, super expensive ordeal. The faint of heart need not apply. At least self-publishing won’t kill you. Will it?

In terms of generating income, the same outcome happens to nearly ever book that is self-published. They die on the vine because most writers, myself included, do not have the expertise, the clout, the network of connections, and the machine to have their book succeed in the marketplace. Quick fact: There are over 250,000 titles published by traditional publishers each year and 750,000 titles self-published. When the dollars are counted, 98% of the revenues generated go to the traditionally published titles. In other words, not much money in the DIY, quick, self-publishing route.

This is not said in order to dissuade someone from self-publishing. On the contrary, I champion their cause. But since 76% of writers polled would prefer to publish traditionally, I think the reality of the process needs to be understood from the onset.

Publishing a book to be profitable is a long shot at best. This is why publishers take their time preparing the book and the author. They may publish 100 titles a year with less than ten of them selling more than 30,000 copies. Publishers have to get it right to stay in business.

So when you do find an agent and publisher to move forward with your manuscript, be patient. Follow the expert’s lead. Do the work they ask. You may be able to trim a month or two off, but in reality, expect it to take the whole two years. During that time you may want to read all of Shakespeare’s works; get a pilot’s license; build your own house; or walk across America and back. Or better yet, write a couple more books. They each may take two years of your time just like getting published.