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Our Rose & Thorn Journal: Saying Goodbye.

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Hello, gentle readers & contributors:

It is with great regret and sadness that we are “closing down” production of Rose & Thorn Journal after nearly 15 years.

This decision did not come easily, as it is always hard to let go of a long-held “labor of love.”

We truly appreciate our wonderful volunteer staff. (You made each issue shine!) Likewise, the talented contributors of art, prose, and poetry. Your works filled every R&T edition with offerings for readers to enjoy. Thanks also to our supporters, fans, and friends.

Our last issue will be the spring issue in May.
We would love it if you would drop by our R&T Facebook page and leave a note.

Thank you all.

dsc08287Angie Ledbetter & Kat Magendie

What if publishing your book was like accepting and working for any other job?

If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, as a Job, we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then sit by the phone and wait for it to ring, sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job. That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! You put on your work clothes and—

My advance will be six figures—I’m in the money!

You accept the job and they offer you some “upfront” money to come work with them. That upfront money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us, you are a bit more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive small advances on my books and they are manageable enough to pay back quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities.

I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy.

Better check your salary again! Whether big business or small, the money earned has to go many different places. Imagine Bill’s Tools & Supplies. Bill the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money, he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bill with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.

So, your book is published (and I’m talking print here, not e-book). Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalties are anywhere from 6 to 15 percent—the low end for paperback and higher end for hardcover. So, let’s suppose you get 10% royalty on each book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00 (and SELLS for that, not is priced at that; there is a difference. After any discounts are taken, the final price is what your royalties are based on).

Ten percent of $15.00 = $1.50 per book. (If you have an agent, take 15% from that $1.50 and you get less than that).

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it? Imagine working for $1.50 an hour—can you make a living on $1.50 an hour? Not likely. And it’s unlikely you are selling a book an hour every day for 8 hours a day, five days a week, but, even if you sell twice that seven days a week, that’s still not enough to go yacht shopping by any stretch.

(E-books do offer better royalties, simply because there is less overhead.)

Be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one month and not so good another month. You have to factor in expenses, too. Again, dream big, but temper it with the realities of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.

My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, Publishers Weekly, et cetera.

You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked. You’ve gone to meetings. You’ve put out good work. You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by supporters or agents who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he did.

There’s a lot of competition for space out there. And many times, the Big 6 published authors garner the most attention. Next are authors who’ve already had best sellers, or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera. It’s a saturated business. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to get to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely your work is.

My book will be in many bookstores across the land.

Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if you could get even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but, you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more. You are so happy! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. So you make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.

Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but, nowhere near what you thought.

The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.

Sadly but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to get your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget and sentimentality usually goes one way: The author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.

Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Day! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not.

With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.

This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.

How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE get paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?

You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.

 I want this job—do you?

My arrogant naivety had its ass kicked by reality in this publishing/book biz

You who know me, know I try to speak truths and honesty. So, over a few posts here and there I’ll admit a couple things I thought THEN versus NOW. Miss Kathryn ain’t so naïve and certainly isn’t arrogant any longer! And believe me, I’m still learning about this publishing and book business.

Errors Happen, no matter how careful you are.
I’ve done a series of posts on Cleaning Up Our Manuscripts but the truth of the matter is, Stuff Happens. THEN, when I’d read an author’s book and find an error, I’d think, “An error! Couldn’t someone catch that? I mean Reeaaaly.” I lifted my naïve arrogant eyebrow over it. The truth also is that editors at publishing houses are busy. The job isn’t what it used to be, at least I understand it to be this way. Authors need to take more and more responsibility for many things, and sending clean work to the editor/publisher/agent is one of them. I’m proud of how clean my manuscript is by time I send it—and they are happy to get my cleaned manuscript. Still. Stuff Happens.

Before I go on, folks, this absolutely does not excuse sloppy lazy work. I’m talking about the stuff that seems to hide in an author’s manuscript despite hard diligent work.

Author writes the manuscript draft. Then author begins re-writes. That means things most certainly will change and if they don’t, well . . . they probably should, really. During these first few “read throughs” of the manuscript, errors are found, but not only that, scenes/details change, and those scene/detail changes may affect/effect something that happens later on. In subsequent “go throughs” these should be found, one hopes.

Author reads manuscript repeatedly, fiddles, tweaks, and then is ready to send it to the editor at the publishers for them to do their thing. The ms is sent and the Author then waits, sweating, hoping the editor likes the work. What? You ask. Back up, you say. But, don’t they already know what the book is about? Don’t you already have a contract at that point? Well, thing is, they haven’t read the entire manuscript. So, all that work you did could be for naught if the editor thinks it doesn’t work. So far, I’ve been lucky in that respect.
*whew; wiping brow*

So, let’s say the book works. The editor makes his/her marks and/or suggestions/questions and sends those comments back to the Author. The Author begins reading/tweaking again based on those found errors/suggestions/comments—maybe there is a big change in scene(s) or maybe there are only little nitty things. Author may not agree with something and defends it, or Author may agree, or author agrees to give in. While going through the manuscript with the editor notes, Author also feels compelled to make a few more little tweaks. Author sends it back to editor at pub house.

Then comes the galley proof, the “This is it. You best find any lingering errors because all chances are gone after this.”

So Author pants and sweats, and once again, scours the manuscript. Reading it line by line to catch an error that may have sneaked by. Perhaps she has a friend or a spouse read it as well, just in case. What shocks Author is she/he reads the pages after spouse/friend does, and even though they have scoured it, and the editor has scoured it, the Author still finds sneakity sneakers in there! How how how? Author wails. How could there possibly be any errors at all? The work has been read and read and read and read—and by multiple people. Line by line. Carefully. Author really feels exceptionally nervous about this. However, deadline is deadline and fingers are crossed, so are eyes. Exhaustion sets in.

Then comes the Final Galley. Author can look at it quickly but there is no time for a slow line-by-line reading. There is time to make sure everything looks okay at a glance: Margins, headings, paragraphs, etc, and maybe a quick flip through, but that’s it, because to make changes at this point is a pain in the arse for the editor, so you better have found them all before this. And editors have more than one author they are working with so asking for changes at this point is frowned on and big arse acher. Really, by now, it’s a matter of just glancing over it to make sure nothing looks wonky.

The publishing house sends it to print. How the book actually goes to print and comes out a book with a cover and words inside that Author and Readers will hold in their hands is a mystery to this author. Author quivers over the chance of some weird glitch in code that could happen that wasn’t caught in the galley. What if a margin or two is off? What if a page is missing? Or what if when making a hurried change in the galley proof, Author made an error, or changed something that affects/effects something later on, or deleted a word that shouldn’t have been deleted or inserted one that shouldn’t have been, or what if editor fixed something and it was a wrong fix or or or, things went so fast, the deadline rushed up so quickly . . . oh! Dear! But, there’s nothing to be done about it once it goes to print. It will be discovered only upon reading the final published version where some one may point them out with glee or with pity or with “oh dear how embarrassing for this author” or with their own naive arrogance, or et cetera.

Author gets his/her published book and reads it, hoping there are no blaring errors. Hoping she/he and the editor have been very very lucky—because luck has a lot to do with it too, along with hard work and a keen eye.

So you see, my friends, with all the back and forth going on, with the changes and deletions and insertions and thises and thatses that are flying around fast and furious once that manuscript is sent to the editor at the pub house, it really is a miracle if a manuscript goes out without an error. I see this Now. See how much work goes into creating a clean and lovely manuscript, but I also see that no matter how many times I read a “cleaned” version of it, I always found something else that either needed to be changed, or simply could be changed to make it better. The first one scares me much more than the second one.

Knowing what I know NOW versus THEN, I am much more understanding to authors.

Yup, my arrogant naivety had its ass kicked by reality.

What about you? What reality has kicked your ass that you were naive or arrogant about?

image from
image from

With a tweak tweak here, and a oh no! there, here a error, there a typo, everywhere a Eek Eek!

First you write the book. I could say: first you come up with the idea and then think about it, write notes, do an outline, etcetera – but that’s not how I ‘work’ – everyone has their way. So, you write the book. There it sits: your first draft (or shitty rough draft as Anne Lamott writes). Then come re-writes and re-writes and all that jazz. So, all these things happen and by time you have the Completed Manuscript, it’s darn near perfect, right? Well, probably not, but who needs perfection, huh? (I do! I do! Kat says as she jumps up and down raising her hand and wiggling it wildly! teeheehee)

Flash forward to when you have a publisher. So, early on, the publisher sends back their edits/thoughts. Luckily for me, I’d polished the manuscript within an inch of its language so there weren’t a lot of things to haggle over or change or fix, very few (BB has been happy with me *smiling*). After that’s done and everyone agrees to changes/edits, etc, and they’ve been implemented, the manuscript goes to the person who fits it to look like the book will look and this is the galley that is to be proofed: this galley I had was in PDF form. This is what I’ve been up to since I returned home.

When you get that, that is the time to SCOUR it for tiny missed errors. Now, think about this: you’ve already polished that manuscript, maybe you’ve had a couple of friends who have eagle eyes to scour it, you read it with a fine-toothed eye before it even goes to the publisher/agent/whatever- you think there cannot possibly be errors left: the publishers get it and they find some things — okay, so you go through it another time, fix their found errors and in the process find a few more and you fix those: but, now – well now there just can’t be errors! The book has been scoured clean. Nuh uh, think again….you get the galley and start reading and, well, huhn. So, the copyingediting is done at the publishers, but for me, nothing beats my own eyes – I read the galley and so did Good Man Roger. You would not BELIEVE the little things that hide from you – after all those readings and scourings, there were so many little tiny errors that were missed!

Things like: it’s and its (even when you know the difference, things happen), or your Momma versus your momma, or even a big SNAFU of a date or age of a character!…eeek!….or backwards quotes, or missing dialogue end or beginning quotes, or you find where the character is sitting and then you have her sitting again and you go “HOW HOW DID I MISS THAT? ARGH!!!” It’s scary the things you find. The only way I could read my galley was to read it Word by Word – different from ‘regular reading.’ I found things even Good Man Roger missed, and he has Eagle Eyes.
Yes, the publishers have their own copyediting they do, but, I felt it was my responsibility as the author of Tender Graces to make sure I scoured my own book for errors – it does help I am an editor and used to scouring things for errors…but when it’s your own, you have to see the WORDS not the language and story – does that make sense?
When you make marks on the galley, you don’t send them back to the publisher like you do on the earlier one; instead, you make a list: Page 101, line five from the top, there are two periods at the end of the sentence. Page 205, line seven from the bottom, it’s should be its…. et-cetera! Then when you have the list done, you send it back to the publishers and someone there plugs in the corrections. Then, if I understand right, I get to peep at it one more time, quickly….then it is out of my hands. Error-free, or not error-free. It is Out.Of.My.Hands. *gulp* — and soon into yours.
Yet, despite all this, I know something was probably missed. Or somethings. Or that when it is all set up in the final form and ready to go to printers, something could go awry: a paragraph wonky or whatever. I am going to have to do as you all have said and Let It Go.

Here it is: I have much more understanding and sympathy to authors now; when I now read a novel and find errors, I won’t think: well, what’s going on here? (a caveat to that is sloppy work; I’m not talking about sloppy books – I’m talking about errors that slip through here and there) — because I now see more clearly how easy it is to miss something. How you can go in to fix one thing and it messes up something else – how deadlines and exhaustion and seeing the manuscript so many times and all manner of whatevers happen….
Know this: if Tender Graces has an error (or two or three?) in it, it won’t be because BelleBooks and Kathryn Magendie did not SCOUR it and SCOUR it good. Stuff happens.
One thing I know that is going to drive me crazy, and now I know for the second Virginia Kate book to say something ahead of time: In all my stuff and when I edit, I always ask for the first paragraph of a chapter or new section to be un-indented-flush with the left margin: it’s a pet peeve of mine…oh oh, Oops – I didn’t know to specify this. It’s too late now. It will be indented and it will made me nutty, and it’s such a small thing *LAUGH* There is another small thing, so small I won’t even mention it — just Kat’s Things She is Weird About.
Despite all of this madness — while I was scouring Tender Graces one night, propped up on pillows in bed, just for a change of scenery (and exhaustion), I suddenly grinned – a big fat grin – because it occurred to me just what I was doing at that moment: I was proofing the galley to my Virginia Kate novel. It is happening, I said to myself. I grinned and nestled into the pillow, held my pen, made a mark: there, there, and there….my words, imperfect, but Mine….and soon to be Yours.

Work, work, now get to work, baby…work work, watch me work now…

I have been distracted the last few days, and for a bit longer I’ll be distracted and busy as well. If I suddenly “disappear” just a little bit, there’s good reason for it!

First, I took a few days to do some things around the little log house, for I know things are going to get crazy with the book (crazier?). We took the sofa from downstairs (it’s like brand new as it’s rarely used) and put it upstairs and took the one upstairs and put it downstairs – it’s like having a new sofa! (I tell you, hauling a heavy-arse sofa up our stairs was no small feat – *huff puff errghhhhhh*) We bought a new chair made and sold by locals, and will get that today. I bought (ordered) a couple of new pillows and a throw from locals, and am waiting for them to arrive. So, our living room has a new look. Yay!
Then yesterday my friend (an executive chef and photographer) Christy Bishop came up to our place and snapped some “author photos” – she had a hard time getting me to stay still and to “look natural” – I detest photo-taking (as all my friends and family know – there are few pictures of me not making a face, or whatever). She finally told Good Man Roger – “give her some of that wine…” teehee…that helped…teehee. I’ll see those today after she puts them on a disk.

Then! Bellebooks and I are going into the “line editing” phase of Tender Graces, so I will need to get very focused and get that done. My beautiful literary-goddess friend Mary Ann Ledbetter (yes, that name’s familiar isn’t it! She’s Angie Gumbo Writer’s sis in law!) wrote up a really intelligent, fun, beautiful intuitive Reader’s Guide, and I need to look at that to get it to BB (and if you are an author who needs a Reader’s Guide – she is one to think about – I am so pleased with what she did.) I have to write an acknowledgments page (eeeekk!) And, as well, I need to start thinking about the second book – which fortunately is already drafted out and has been sitting in the files just waiting – it tells the continued story of Virginia Kate.

I’m all a-dither and what all what not whatever *laugh*
Get your stories in today for the book give-a-way. You have until 8:00AM tomorrow, Friday, morning and then I will put them all up. Then, you can vote on your favorite from Friday until Monday – and Monday I’ll announce the winner of BRIDA.

Okay – this must be the most boring rambling post in the history of boring rambling posts – I’ll be round to visit you all today and then I’m knuckling down and getting to work!

Oh, PS — I saw this pillow while looking for down-filled pillows online – um…LAUGHING! lawd…I don’t know why it disturbed me -but …hummmm…erk. It just seems … wrong, somehow. There’s a story here – someone tell it — it begs to be told. The person who buys this pillow has a story!

A PEE ESS: I forgot to add: The Rose & Thorn Literary Ezine newsletter will be out in the next few days – I plan to have it ready to go by 2/1. If you haven’t signed up for the R&T Newsletter, you can do so HERE. It’s emailed to you, and we keep our subscriber emails safe!)

(google images from www.superstock.com & supplementalscience.wordpress.com & asia.cnet.com)

Put your left hand in, put your right hand in, put them both right in and type them all about

The next book give-a-way “contest” begins today. I thought I’d try to make it writing-related. If you don’t call yourself a writer, it doesn’t matter – we all have something inside of us that allows beauty to reveal itself in words, or if not beauty then truths, or perceptions, the human condition – et cetera!

From the posted image in the column to the right (and pasted below), write whatever you wish from however the image prompts you to, but keep it to 200 words or fewer. Place your writing in the comments section. Then, we’re going to vote a winner. The book again is: Paul Coelho’s BRIDA – unsigned, but a brand new copy. I’ll keep the image up for two weeks this time, instead of a week, to give y’all time to join in, if you so wish. Just let yourself relax into this. Have fun with it. At the end of the two weeks, I’ll post all the “entries” and will enable a way you all can vote on the one that is your favorite.
I talked about trailers yesterday -Bellebooks made the trailer (it’s at the bottom of this blog, the only place I could fit it without it being too big and in your face) – BB has worked like a house afire for TG and I am humbled and appreciative and quite happy with BB. Last night I lay under my feather comforter, and the winds came roaring over the ridge and through the cove (and a soft snow fell – but this I could not know, because snow doesn’t announce itself like it’s louder sister rain)…and I thought how glad I am I made the decision to go with a small press. “Small” is a funny word – for Bellebooks has heart – big wonderful heart (and am I saying big publishers do not have heart and do not care about their writers? Nope. But…there is a difference all the same, and I like this difference). Here’s the link for the trailer to TG. It’s weird to see interpretations of your words. And, I know when readers read the book, they’ll have their own images and thoughts and interpretations – and that is how it should be!

Okay, here’s the image for the contest. Write in 200 words or fewer your interpretation of the image. Again, relax into it – have fun with it – maybe you will see something right outside the photo, something that didn’t make it into the frame, someone or something that isn’t apparent, someone or something that has nothing to do with this woman, or everything to do with this woman. Or, maybe this woman is the everything.

(google image from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn)

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