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COVER REVEAL! Crush On You: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2

Hello Precious Readers!

My incredible publisher, Trifecta Publishing House officially announced via Twitter my absolutely fabulous, spanking new, GORGEOUS COVER for my next book, CRUSH ON YOU: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2 set to release later this year!

The cover artist is the genius and talented Diana Carlile of Designing Diana. I have to tell you, Precious Readers. I was blown away by my first cover. I didn’t think the cover design could get any better. Lo and behold, Diana Carlile’s creativity knows no bounds, and she proved me delightfully wrong again. I would love to know what you think. I love, LOVE, LOVE Crush On You’s cover, and Roxy’s design!

WIthout giving anything away, I’ll let you peruse the cover to guess what Roxy Summers’ next adventure is. I’ll give you a hint, it’ll be a real slice! So, without further adieu, here is the cover for Crush On You: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2! IT’S SO AWESOME!

(Insert favorite fanfare noise here.
Such as from Robin Hood: Men In Tights, or
Monty Python and the Holy Grail fanfare.)

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Traveling the Path to Publication – Also Known as Editing Hell

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Hello Precious Readers!

I know, it’s been months since I’ve contacted you. Thank you for continuing to subscribe, or pop by to read my words, as randomly placed here on WordPress as they are. Your patronage is humbling and makes me feel a little bit better about myself each day. (Ha ha.) And, lucky you, that’s a great thing! Look at the new style! Enjoying the new digs? I am. I thought the previous motif was good, but a little too serious for my style. Style is important, whether formal/traditional, goofy/whimsical, or airy/uplifting. I went with goofy/whimsical with a touch of airy/uplifting. What do you think?

There has been a lot of work occurring behind the scenes. Hopefully my lack of social interaction with you via blog should show how diligently I’ve been working towards my goal of becoming published and succeeding… TWICE! I’ve now crossed the threshold into a new group of people … Authors published multiple times over!

That’s right! Trifecta Publishing House liked my work so much they contracted me for 3 BOOKS TOTAL for the “Roxy Summers Mystery Series.” That means more great books for you! Even better, last week I sent in my manuscript for CRUSH ON YOU, A Roxy Summers Mystery #2!  Yes, it’s a direct sequel, but it’s a standalone book. You do not need to read Book 1: CAPTURE ME to understand Book 2… although it helps a LOT.

If you’re a follower on Facebook and Twitter, you know that there’s a LOT of activity over there! And, why wouldn’t you? Check out Facebook and join my FB group: Katherine Bacher’s Happy Hour. There’s a LOT of funny memes and articles to share.

Life is funny. (Understatement of the year.) Immediately after making my announcement to family and friends that I’d signed my first book contract, I was greeted with a surprising amount of people immediately asking me, “How did you get published? [I, my friend, my sister, my cousin’s brother’s uncle, etc.] has been writing for years, but is constantly getting rejected/doesn’t know where to start!

I want you to know that my path of publication is an uncommon occurrence. I’m not a better writer than you. My story isn’t better than yours. I write in my corner of our bedroom/office, inside of my messy home, while the buzzer alerts me that I need to transfer my freshly washed laundry into the dryer. I’m just a former suburbanite who now lives in a semi-ghetto apartment in the Pacific Northwest who wrote my story, and submitted it to the publisher that I thought would best fit my genre and style of writing.

I’m not going to deny that I think my stories are good. I worked hard on them. I’m proud of them. I literally gave blood, sweat, and tears over my books. I firmly believe in the entertainment value of my stories and and believe they are worthy of sharing with the masses. There is a foundation level of self-confidence (or a friend/family member) required to send in your manuscript for open criticism.

 

Ready To Get Published

That being said, and I don’t know if I’ve written this here before, but I’ve lived by this rule:

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

That’s right… again. I’m throwing the big, angry, bolded, center-justified words at you. I’m going to write it again, in all caps: DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Writing your manuscript is not the only way you will need to prepare. I submitted my book to the right place, at the right time, with the right people, at the right time of the market. My story is one that is still considered a marketable and profitable genre of writing at this moment in time. The market may change. For now, it’s in my favor.

Submitting to the right publisher at the right time with the right genre of work can make or break you.

Submitting your work exactly to the publisher’s formatting requests can make or break you.

Make sure your manuscript is as clean and error-free as possible.

The hard truth is, many publishing companies will not look beyond the first page if their formatting requests have not been met, or the manuscript is riddled with poor grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation.

Imagine your day is spent reading. Every minute of every hour of the business day is reading. You are not only expected to read, but to read quickly. You need to get through X amount of manuscripts per week.

Aha! A new manuscript! Yea! Wait… the font is too small for my tired eyes. It’s not double-spaced allowing me open areas to write notes. It didn’t follow the margin requirements, making it difficult to find where I last left off from reading.

This equals to: Manuscript is thrown out.

When a project is so close to home, you won’t catch everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best writer in the world. No matter what you do, there will be typos. I’m formally trained as an editor/journalist, but I won’t catch everything within my own Work In Progress (WIP). There are things in Book 1 I wish I had caught before it went to print, and it went through at least 4 additional editing stages after submission. And I re-wrote it 8 times before submission. Have a trusted close one (friend, family member), who won’t leak your story out to the world beforehand, or if you plan to self-publish, spend the money to hire a professional editor.

Now, let’s say you’ve followed the rules. Your manuscript is shiny and new, and POLISHED! You’ve done your research and you found it. This is the one! This is the publisher I need to be with!

Make sure the publisher is accepting your genre at the time of submission.

The publisher’s website says they are not looking to publish works of your written genre. You think: I’m going to submit my book anyway!

This equals to: Manuscript is thrown out.

This process has been a whirlwind, and I’d like to point out to fellow not-quite-yet-published-authors that the process normally doesn’t happen this way. After several discussions and advice I’ve received over the many, many years (I won’t declare exactly how many years), this piece of knowledge was drilled into my brain:

Be prepared for rejection.

Hundreds and hundreds of letters of rejection.

Then, maybe, you might get a request for the full manuscript…

Followed by another rejection.

Hundreds more of rejection letters, you might get published.

Precious Reader (and fellow writer, storyteller, scribe, etc.), this is not to discourage you. It is to bring you to reality. I have attended several conferences over the years, and received responses from authors who answered the same question I’m now being asked. “How did you get published?”

9/10 traditionally published authors will tell you they were rejected several times over before obtaining their first contract.

I’m not a special case, though my experience was highly abnormal. But, I went back to Rule #1: I did my research.

I will tell you right now, and if you’re a longtime follower of this blog, you know this already, I am not a social person. I don’t enjoy social engagements, I barely tolerate my own friends. They’re amazing, wonderful, talented, skillful, kinder than I’ll ever be, and funny people. I’m unfortunately, not great with social interaction. My self-loathing goes soul deep. That being said, I go out of my way to do the best that I am capable of at making personal connections. Personal relationships are important. Whatever your level of comfort for social interaction, it’s important to have social interaction of some kind in your life.

This includes business connections. I was fortunate enough to attend writer’s conferences and make connections with people. They’re talented writers, authors, editors, publishers, and everything else in between. Conferences are GOLD.

A few years ago, I made a connection with the fabulous Lori Lyn. A woman who rocks a wide-brimmed hat and ultra heels like like they’re water and air, unlike any other woman I’ve ever met. You know, it’s a real shame that hats have gone out of style, excluding the semi-ghetto “trucker hat” phenomenon, which I’ll never understand. I suppose I’m too old. I wish I could wear fabulous hats. Unfortunately, I have a gigantic, Charlie Brown-like, pumpkin head, which makes hats of a suitable size impossible for me. Unless it’s a beanie. But, I digress. She and I met at Emerald City Writer’s Conference in Bellevue, WA, an annual conference that is the biggest romance writer’s conference on the West Coast. We connected, I thought she was hilarious, and she actually got me to speak out loud. She handed me a business card, indicating she was starting up her own publishing company.

I held onto that card like a drowning man to a life vest.

Two years later, I finished what would turn into my first published book, CAPTURE ME. In all of that time, I kept a sharp eye on Trifecta Publishing House, to ensure that my style of writing might find a home with them. They were accepting my genre. They were accepting my style. The stars aligned. It was good planning, writing with the best of my ability, and good execution of the characters and story inside of my head.

There were still typos, but my research, time, and relationship nurturing had paid off. Which is good. Lori not only turned out to be an amazing friend and mentor over the years, but after pitching my idea to her, she was eager to read it.

Even after signing the contract, the confidence within myself was minimal. It took two author events and her telling flat out to my face that I was a good writer, that I actually started to believe it.

Some people have confidence. I have a Type-A, detail-oriented, obsess-over-every-little-thing, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst,” type of attitude. This ended up working in my favor by careful planning, and trying my absolute best.

Could I have been rejected? ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY, AND HIGHLY POSSIBLE!

If I hadn’t paid attention to their submission requests, my manuscript, as wonderful and amazing as I thought and hoped it would be, might have ended up in the trash bin. (Either physical or electronic, again, depending on your publisher’s requested formatting requirements for physical or electronic copies of your WIP.)

“It’s not you, it’s me.”
“It’s just plain, ol’ bad timing.”

Perhaps the publisher is looking for your genre of writing. But, they receive such an influx and flooding of submissions, they have to cutoff somewhere. Like applying for college or trade schools. There are only so many manuscripts a publisher can do in a single year.

Maybe your work hits all of the criteria, but it’s too controversial at that point in time. We live in an amazing era and country. Free speech is an incredible freedom to have. That being said, a publisher has to take into account risk. If your work happens to be a controversial topic, or a controversial opinion about the topic, the world may not be ready for you… yet.

Sometimes biding your time and taking a socio-economical temperature check can make a world of difference between publication, and sitting in a corner while holding your manuscript and crying. And I’ve done that. With a book that will never see the light of day.

For those who have struggled, have you considered self-publishing?

One of the biggest changes in publishing history was the invention of self-publishing. A concept that isn’t new (look at Benjamin Franklin), but was never so mainstream as it has been in the last 15 years. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I’d read the work of someone who was “self-published,” and I would’ve responded with, “Huh?” For those who had heard of self-publishing at that time, it came with highly negative connotations.

American publishing used to consist of these big powerhouses all based in the New York, and what they said was the “end all, be all” of publishing. Once stigma of self-publishing wore off, there was a power shift. Now writers/authors, could get their work closer to your hot little hands.

Nowadays, many authors are what we call “hybrids.” They are traditionally published in one genre of writing, and self-published in another genre.

Imagination

Here is the simplified breakdown of my best explanation between the two:

Traditional Publishing

PROS:

Branding. You have a big brand name behind you. You will be branded and marketed across all platforms.

Exposure. With a big brand name comes the exposure of tons of readers to your book and name. Your readers have the confidence knowing the book didn’t “come from nowhere.” Your publisher will have a larger budget, dependent on your book, to market your book across all types of platforms.

Most Likely – Higher Sales. If your publisher is a big name, you will most likely get a lot of sales, quickly, compared to self-publication.

Less Cost. Publishers handle all of the costs of publication, instead of you paying straight out of pocket.

CONS:

Contracts. You need to be savvy, or know someone savvy, in legal-ese. The legal language that can make or break you. Often, traditional publishing contracts will include a “right of first refusal” for any future works you write, whether it is the same genre or different genre. It will depend on your negotiating skills, and how you foresee your own future in writing.

Your characters are no longer your own. Yes, you heard that correctly. Unless you have an incredibly giving publisher, or a crack shot of a lawyer, your characters now belong to the publisher. This includes if you pass away, break your contract, etc., the characters belong to the publisher for as long of a period your book/series is contracted for. This can be a few years, to decades, depending on the language of your contract. (Refer back to “Contracts” above.)

Little to No Control. You have little to no say about what the cover will look like, the font style, font on the front and back covers of your book, if your picture will be on the back, etc. You will have little to no control as to the pricing of your book, and little to no control of when sales occur.

I’ve heard several times over from authors traditionally published, where they’ll notice a book that has been “out there” for say, 3 years, suddenly get a spike in sales. When they ask their publisher about it, the publisher replies something along the lines of, “Oh, for 24-48 hours, your book was $0.99!” To which, the author says, “Well, that’s great, but I wish I’d known about it sooner so I could’ve told family and friends, marketed it on my blog/website/social media.” It ends up being a ‘too bad, so sad’ moment for them that they missed out on advertising their book being on sale to more potential readers.

Self-Publishing

PROS:

Full Control. The world is your oyster, just as your book all yours. From the editing, the formatting, the cover design, how it’s marketed, everything.

CONS:

Full Control. I will warn you, self-publishing is not an easy road. You must be highly business savvy to navigate the winding road of self publishing. You are in charge of all of the design, photos, graphic design skills, finding a book printer, etc. needed to produce your book. This means $$$. Each and every little thing makes me think “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching” out of pocket. For many, this is not as affordable as they once thought.

This also means that marketing and promotion are completely in your hands. You set the price, you create and launch your own advertising, you monitor your own sales. This means if you are not someone who is highly business savvy, not a self-starter, not motivated to finish projects that you start, this may not be the path for you.

You are your biggest cheerleader. What do I mean? I mean, that you are submitting your book to the masses. I’m paraphrasing, but someone once explained it to me as this: Imagine you are ready to share your book with the world. Now, you are standing on a box with a bullhorn on a street corner, holding your book out in front of the faces of all who pass by. You are asking hard working Americans to part with their hard-earned paycheck, to dedicate 12 hours of their lives to reading your work. So what is your idea, pitch, and hook to get the passers by to part with their cash if they’ve never heard of you? Ask yourself if you’re business savvy enough to convince that person to fork over $12.99 for your book, on your sole word alone, that it’s awesome?

This is not meant to discourage you from self-publishing. It is meant to be an eye opener to how much work you will be doing. Marketing is a 24-hour job. You need confidence, strategy, a keen eye in spotting opportunities, and being a self-starter. Even with my own publisher, I get reminders to participate in contests, offer free books at conferences, Tweet at least twice a day (even though all who follow me on Twitter know that I post far more than twice a day), and to keep my Facebook profile active. Get on Goodreads. And I don’t even have to worry about a majority of the business side of things.

I am not a numbers person. I’m Asian, but I’m not that Asian. Anyone who knows me, understands that math hurts my brain.

Q: Why did you choose Traditional Publishing?

A: Well, I sort of did. I’m with what’s called a “boutique publisher,” yes, Trifecta Publishing House is a boutique publishing house. It’s a print on demand, and a smaller company. Think of it as the “mini me” of the big publishers. So, I am traditionally published, just not at the same scale as Penguin, or Random House, or its other brethren. As Trifecta Publishing House grows, (which it is definitely expanding the number of authors it is accepting at this time), it may change, but as a first-time published author, I’m enjoying being part of our growing family.

In conclusion, the world is an amazing place, and time can shift all things. Opinions and ideas are as fluid and dynamic as the people who shape them. Don’t give up hope. If you believe your work is meant for the masses.

There are many, many other ways to be published. Some use WordPress and keep blogs to post chapter by chapter for free. There are tons of websites that allow you to put your work out there. You don’t need to be published to share your work with the world. Heck, I’ve written this blog for years, long before I dreamed up Roxy Summers.

If you have your WIP and it’s almost ready to go, or you’re finished and looking for your new publishing family, or pioneering out on your own to self publish, don’t give up hope. The gal who wrote P.S. I love you, was 19 years old when she wrote that story. Some people are first-time published at the age of 65 because retirement gave them the freedom to write. I spent 30 years of my life working towards this goal. I’m older than 30, but don’t wish to share the exact number with you. But, I digress again.

For more information about different types of publishing, I recommend this article by The Future of Ink.

Good luck to you, and as always. I am in no way an expert, nor the “end all, be all” final word of how this works. But, writing is a field where your competitor is also your biggest ally. We’re a supportive bunch who love sharing our craft with others and to help stimulate creativity within your own work.

Share your publishing journey!

What were your struggles? Successes?

What’s the toughest hurdle you’ve encountered on the path to publication?

Do you have better advice?

why am I shaking? It’s NaNoWriMo!

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Precious Readers, let me make something perfectly clear. I am not a true participant of November’s #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I have already had a first novel in the works since January. I tip my hat to anyone truly working from start to finish a novel in 30 days. You are truly a stronger (and might actually be) crazier, than I.

 

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to plot, plan and write 50,000 words within 30 days. It is doable. I think if I pushed myself, I might actually get close to competing that goal. But one ting I am certain, I’m not sure if I’d want to.

 

I’m far too detail oriented not to go back and delete things that seem outright wrong on my screen, right in that moment. There are some who use voice controlled programs to audibly write their novels. I personally tried Dragon software. It’s an amazing program and I recommend it, but I’m not sure if it was right for me. You have to verbally say “new paragraph,” “comma,” “delete” along with other voice commands that break my stream of thought of getting my story onto the page. I’m too detail oriented not to watch my words appear on the screen and trust to keep going blindly facing away from the monitor.

 

Some type all 50,000 words in 1 day. I personally don’t see the point as this could cause (possibly irreparable) damage to my tools: my hands, wrists, and fingers.

 

Instead, my plan to participate in NaNoWriMo is this: Since I already had most of a first draft done, I wanted to finish the next stages of writing a novel by the end of November. This includes the following:

 

Step 1: Finish Draft 1

As of Nov. 1 I was 4 scenes away from finishing Draft 1. I needed to buckle down and get those scenes out of me. I didn’t write for the month of October, as Pilot and I were facing some financial decisions, working on melding Lou The Chihuahua into our family, keeping Nimitz from killing Lil’ Lou, and hosting Halloween party with my friend, Caring.

 

Step 1 Progress Report: As of 1:28 AM on 11/3/2015, I typed the words, “The End” on my first draft. Yea me!

 

Step 2: Finish Draft 2

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Draft 1 focused on getting my story out. Getting my Protag’s experiences and growth out onto the screen. You should know that I am highly proficient in MS Office programs. This includes MS Word. When I came to an area where I needed to describe details about an object, or didn’t want to spend time describing an environment in detail, I left a “gray field” to come back to. I wanted to focus more on my character’s thoughts, conversations, and get the plot onto the page. Things like describing the scent inside of a vehicle, or the noises of a restaurant, I left for when I had time to think about those things. Being more detail-oriented, I have had to train myself to “keep writing” and not get caught up in those details. Believe me, I can nickel and dime the structure of a story and get caught up in a huge time suck before I get back to why my character is doing something. Working on Draft 2 allows me to go back and fill those non-plot specific areas and beef up details.

 

Step 2 Progress Report: Will begin tomorrow.

 

Step 3: Find Critique Partners

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This one is tricky. I’ve been fortunate to meet face-to-face several authors whose writing I admire, characters I love, and advice I clutch to my chest. (Sorry, I hate the word “bosom.” It just sounds odd.) However, being that they’re working on their stories, published several times over, and I’m barely-patiently waiting for their next works to come out, it means that they’re busy. I don’t want to be that overbearing, conceited fan asking them to take away from their writing schedules to read my (extremely) rough draft.

 

I also don’t want to entrust my equivalent to a BABY (other than my dogs) to a complete stranger, unless they come highly recommended from said admired authors. I have some friends and family who have offered to read my stuff. The problem is, I’m not sure if they understand what they’re asking. A second (or even third) draft is still considered extremely rough and I’m looking for people who will focus on the story, not the technical/formatting edits at this time. I need not only critical readers, but people who are able to verbalize their thoughts to me in a constructive way to make my story stronger.

 

Step 3 Status Report: Sort of started. Working on it.

 

I’ve begun seeking advice from The Wise Ones (authors I admire) about how they found their critique partners. Many of these same authors have had the same critique partners for over twenty years. This is not just a friendship, it’s a trustworthy teammate offering to do a JOB for you and provide expert advice to make my story appealing to the masses. It’s not just being someone who likes to read, it’s a real time-consuming and effort-filled job.

 

Some family members are/were teachers, so I do have that going for me. However, there is also a timing issue. I’m not going to just hand off my manuscript to someone who can’t respond to me within the scheduled time period. I want to get going on my next story and don’t want to lose momentum. I have work that I want to polish and get ready to submit to literary agents. I quit my job to pursue this life, and every day that I’m not writing or working towards getting my completed written work published is money out of my pocket.

 

Don’t get confused. I don’t do this for the money. I do this because I have a lot of stories and characters in my brain, asking me to share my work with the world. Even if it doesn’t reach anyone, I can’t stop their voices calling out how they want to break out of my mind and jump onto the page. Even if I become homeless, I will want to keep writing. Other than my family, it’s what I love, it’s what I wake up for, it’s what makes life exciting for me. However, I do want to share my writing with the world and I am committed to making my LOVE into my job. I’ve had countless jobs that weren’t in fields that I cared about. They were important fields, and I’m proud to have been part of the team that worked in those fields, but it’s not what I care about.

 

I want to make what I care about my daily work. A long time ago, when I started this blog, there was a major crevasse between my Daily Life and my Real Life. Well, I have had almost a year to make my Daily Life the product of my Real Life. Pilot allowed me to cut off the ties holding me back from crossing the bridge over that crevasse and live on the side where Daily Life = Real Life. However, this also means, I need to keep my butt in gear and focus on getting my story published.

 

What advice would you give (100%) newbie writers who know nothing about the business side?

How did you gain your Critique Partners?

Did Critique Partners start out as strangers or people you know?

How much time do you give someone to read your manuscript?

What instructions do you give your Critique Partners to guide them in the feedback you’re expecting?