Friday, August 1, 2014

Greyhaus Will Reopen to LIMITED Submission on Aug.4

Beginning Aug. 4, I will re-open to submissions on a limited basic.The Greyhaus Webpage 

Greyhaus continues to represent only romance and women's fiction. If you are unclear what these genres are, please take the time to review the submission guidelines on my website for more information. SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

At this time, I will only be acquiring titles that would fit with the Harlequin lines. If you are not writing for the category/series lines, please do not submit yet. I will be opening things up to single title authors hopefully in September.

I do encourage you to do your research and make sure you know the genre you want to write for. It is not up to me to figure it out for you.

Please also note that I would want submissions using only the HARLEQUIN form found on the CONTACT page of Greyhaus. This will make your life and my life a lot easier to get these projects through the early stages of the query process. CONTACT US PAGE

I look forward to hearing from all of you authors really wishing to write for Harlequin. Also, if you are currently writing for Harlequin and wish to begin with Agent representation, certainly contact me as well. Just let me know in the Additional Information text box that you are writing for them right now!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Adding Depth To Your Stories

One of the common reasons I have for passing on projects is the lack of depth for both character development. Sure, the author had a great premise to the story and there was a lot of potential in the project, but as I read the actual story, something just wasn't there. For me, I think I can equate it to having a meal that, when you get up from the table, you still feel like you wanted more.

I should say that when we talk about adding depth to a story, we are not talking about adding additional "stuff" to the story. We don't need more plots elements. We don't need more conflicts. We don't need more back story. Adding all of this information really muddles the story and now just gives the reader more words. Again using the image of a meal, this would be similar to just adding more food items to an already bland meal. More is not always better, 

I do think many writers fall short in this area because they are so focused on the plot of the story. They really want to make sure all of the plot pieces are there as well as the world building. While this is certainly an important element of putting together a great story, it isn't everything. If you think of the plot, it is really the bricks in the story. The added depth of the story comes is much like the mortar holding everything together. 

I also think that many writers miss out on the depth simply because, in their head, they already know all of those smaller elements. They know what their characters think like. They know their likes and dislikes. They know how they feel when things happen around them. Because they know this information so well, it is often hard to convey that information to their readers.

To get this added depth, you have start getting into your characters heads. We need to start hearing their reactions and thoughts of things going on around them. We need to get those feelings and emotions to the things people say and do around them. We might also need to know more of why these characters are doing and saying the things in your story. 

Think of it this way. You and your spouse, friend or significant other are having a bit of an argument over something. It really doesn't matter the topic. That person just said something to you or reacted in someway that really pissed you off. Do you respond with a single line? Probably not. You might go on a complete rant screaming and yelling (hopefully not getting violent). If you don't do this verbally and out loud, the odds are that rant is going on in your head. Your brain really goes for it and maybe, depending on the severity of the conversation, it might go on for hours. Now obviously no one around you hears any of this, but if it was your character, your readers need to hear it. Essentially, what we want you to do is turn up the speakers that are connected to your character's brain and let us inside.

The goal of adding depth to the story is to give the reader a three dimensional feel for your character. The dialogue is the outward thoughts, but we need the internal.

As an activity. take a scene you are working on right now. It doesn't matter what type of scene you have. Now read the lines out loud to yourself. As soon as a character says something or does something, I want you to react. How do you feel? What do you really hear from this person? Is this changing your perspective on the world or your idea of this person. 

Once you get that idea out, dive into your story. You don't need to copy verbatim what you just reacted to, but take that same essential idea and play with that in the story. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why The Industry Sticks With Established Authors

Two weekends ago, at the PNWA conference, I heard authors outside in the lobby discussing the state of the business. They were in a heated discussion and really complaining a lot about the current trends in the market. In particular, they were upset at the number of publishers "unwilling to give new authors a chance." They seemed to think it was due to an unwillingness of the publishing industry to try anything new. Now, while there is some truth in that, I think we have to be cautious how far we extend that logic.

So, why do publishers stick with the established authors? Let's take a look at a few ideas that we are seeing currently in the market:

  • Sales are down (or at least not increasing) in pretty much every genre and every format.
  • The market in all genres is really saturated right now with the number of authors launching their own books through self-publishing.
  • Because of that saturation, finding authors is really difficult.
Because publishing is a business and the goal is to make money for everyone (publisher through the writer) the approach publishers need to take is one that will attempt to make that money. (Yes, I know I am making a lot of obvious statements but stick with me). Although publishers are all looking for new ways to reinvigorate the business with different marketing trends, voices, publishing packages and so forth, they still have to be able to put out products. This is where the established authors come into play.

We have to remember that established authors do have a proven track record. They have sales as well as a backlist that demonstrates they can produce. Along the same line, because the market is so saturated right now, name recognition is key to making those sales. We know that readers will often return to their "favorite" authors when getting their latest book. In other words, these established authors already have a platform to sell their books. They are pretty much a "sure thing".

When it comes to new authors, although they may have fantastic stories and great concepts. Heck, the writing may be through the roof, there are no promises. This market is really strange right now. I spoke to a couple of editors at the RWA conference and they all said the same thing. Projects that should have sold well struggled. Authors that should have worked struggled. And yet a lot of other projects succeeded. The strange part was there was really no pattern to the project. The only thing they saw as a trend was the author's name recognition. In simple terms, new authors are not coming in with sales numbers and a following.

Yes, I know this is the reason why so many authors are tying the self-publishing approach.  There is the thought that if they can build up a reader base and build up their sales, they would be in the same place as the established authors. The problem though, is one simple two letter word I used - IF. As we said, this is a business where there are not promises.

I think we forget a couple of things when it comes to this business. Building an author takes time. This is not an overnight business. The work you commit to a new author to train them and to get them ready to produce is an investment in the future. Publishers will not see that profit until several books down the line. And, like anything in business, time is money. When we sign a new author, or give those coveted slots to the established authors, we are doing so because the "odds" of success are better than putting that new author out there without a name.

So what does this mean for new authors? It means it takes a stronger project to market. It takes having a strong sense of the industry and really knowing what it takes to succeed. In the past, we used to be able to take those mediocre projects and build them into something great. Now, we have to take projects that really demonstrate something right out of the gate. For new authors, this is going to take time.

I am in no way saying that new authors should just give up. As I have said over and over again, this industry takes time. Publishing takes time. So give it that time. Be persistent. Don't be impatient (as the editor panel noted at the PNWA conference about the current population of writers out there). Learn to write the great story. Learn the business.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Ultimate Way To Market Your Book!

We all know that in today's market, getting that book out there to your readers, or really finding a way to impress the editors and agents is the key. We see writers scrambling to find the best method to do this. They take workshops and they read books. They are determined to find that single best way of marketing their books. Well, look no further.

No, I am not selling you Dr. Smith's Magic Elixir. I honestly have the best method of marketing that book!


No seriously. Write the book!

One of the things I saw a lot of these last two weeks were the number of authors taking every workshop they could get their hands on dealing with social media, marketing techniques, approaches to formatting books, how to create digital copies... you get the idea. What was interesting, however, is that many of these writers still had not finished writing their books. Sure, some were editing or in the "final phase of revisions" (don't ask me how many times I heard people use that line), but far too many were still writing.

I am asked frequently on the importance of "building your platform" and the need to have that in place when submitting to an editor or an agent. Now I will say, if you are writing non-fiction, you should be thinking about that since there is a pretty good chance you are submitting on proposal, but for fiction, it is simply not necessary. We want to know that you are thinking about it, but having it in place is not where you need to be spending your time. You need to be writing.

Think of it this way. You are marketing a product that hasn't been created. When we market a product, we have to think of all the great things the product has that your buyer would be interested in. You cannot sell something that doesn't exist.

In simple terms, there are so many of you that have all of these great marketing schemes, but you never really took the time to think about the product. Look, don't get me wrong! Your marketing schemes are great, but the product  you are marketing needs a lot more work. Take the time to do so.

When I sign new authors, I am always asked if they should start building those websites and creating a platform. I tell them all the same thing. Don't worry about it yet. Sure, it is OK to make some lists, but let's focus first on selling that book and getting that process going first. We want that good project and then we will think about the best method of marketing it!