Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Passing Of A Good Friend

As many of you are aware, the romance industry lost another great author, Jo Beverley. There are a few out there who really make impacts in the world and she was clearly one of those people. I can honestly say that Jo was always an integral part of my life.

I remember my first conference. We were in Victoria, Canada and it was Jo who invited me over to her table and started chatting first. I remember listening to her chat about romances and plotting using Beanie Babies and as I looked around the room, I saw authors hanging on every word she said.

I later remember her at the Reno, Nevada conference. That year, my wife and I were there with our baby and she was always there to smile and pay attention to our daughter.

She always seemed to have the needs of others in front of her own. She would always be there to assist new authors with a quick question, or a note of encouragement. You would never see her hidden away at a conference, isolating herself. Instead, she was always in the mix.

I remember also an event at one of the first Atlanta conferences. I was standing outside, calling home and checking in with everyone when all of a sudden, someone grabbed my arm, and, in her wonderful accent, dragged me away saying, "Come on Scott! Your're going with me to the Harlequin party!" Of course my wife, who was an avid fan was extremely jealous that not only was I going to infamous Harlequin party, but I was going with her idol.

I think the thing that stands out the most for me about Jo, was that she was real. She didn't walk into a room with an entourage following her. She was one of us. And for new authors out there, it is a friend like that we always need.

I only hope other authors look to Jo as a model of someone they could, and should be more like.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why Should I Buy Your Book?

Publishing is about marketing. It is about making sure that someone wants your book bad enough to invest in it, and, we aren't just talking about editors and agents. This also includes the book readers out there.

I think, however, that far too many authors seem to believe their story will sell itself. I don't know how many times I have received a submission or even a reply after I have passed on a project, when an author says something such as "If you would just read my book, you would love it." Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.

If we want people to "invest" in our book, then we have to do something to draw that person in. The premise of the story needs to be something that stands out. That blurb and that pitch you make needs to be memorable and not sound like everything else out there. You have to give us enough but not too much!

Consider this. When you watch a preview for a movie, what draws you in? There is something in the action, the voice, the scene. The narration might give you a sense of "Wow, this is something that is a must see." But there has to be something there! Would you go to a movie without having any idea what the movie is about? Would you spend that ticket price, buy the popcorn, Whoppers and large coke for an unknown movie? Probably not!

The same is for editors, agents and certainly the book buyers out there.

When I go through Amazon or Barnes and Nobel to find books to add to my "To Read" stack, I pass over anything that I have no idea what it is about. If the description is vague, if the premise is not something to draw me in, I will not buy your book!

And, as an agent, I do the same thing. There are a lot of submissions that I pass on simply because there is nothing to draw me in.

Remember, this is about marketing. It is about convincing someone to invest in you.

Are you doing that?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Check You Facts

We see this a lot of times when it comes to writing. Authors have really worked hard to craft this fantastic story. Everything is in place. The conflict of the story seems dark and sinister, and yet we know the characters will work through it. But... there is a huge hole in the story. One of those key elements in the story just cannot happen. This might be a legal decision, a practical decision, or even one that, in human nature, probably would not happen. These issues, although seemingly small, are enough to really bring a story down.

For an author, these can really be a tough challenge to repair. The whole story might be built on that one pivotal premise, and now you find out it won't work. But here is the situation. You have to fix the problem. Putting something out there that is an impossibility will bring the readers out screaming.

Let's talk about a couple that we see all of the time. I will tell you, many of these happen with the romantic suspense authors:

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: This is a big one. I did check with a couple of professors in criminal justice on this one to verify. Consider we have a criminal investigation and the hero is falling in love with the heroine, who is potentially a suspect, or at least has a family member who is a suspect. Assuming this makes it to court, a defense attorney would be all over this to throw out the case.

HISTORICAL ACCURACY: Make sure the events you are talking about really did happen when you stated. I read a blurb on Facebook a while ago when an author put a major movie actor from the 40's and 50's in Paris during a time when the history books stated he was in the US filming a movie. Again, this might seem like a small point, but it was enough to hurt the author.

TIME and GEOGRAPHY ACCURACY: Make sure the time sequence of your story really matches with the plot. Can those characters really make it from Point A to Point B in that amount of time? Is there a real road that connects those two cities?

I think you can see where this is going to.

I would also add that even though much of this deals with stories in the "real world" the same Fact Checking needs to occur in those Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-Fi stories. If what you are putting in the story is just not possible, you might want to recheck things.

Just something to think about on a Monday.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Celebrations For An Author Are A Must

Here comes the same statement I make so many times here on the blog.

Writing is TOUGH!

It's tough, on those days when the house is dirty, the yard needs mowing, the kids need to be taken somewhere, or you want to sit back and binge watch OUTLANDER, to force your butt into that chair and write the next chapter.

It's tough to get a rejection letter from your dream agent or editor.

It's tough to get a review from clearly some reviewer who doesn't know quality writing (at least that is what you think).

It's tough when you see that last royalty check and sales just weren't there.

Combine in trying to plot, develop great characters and dynamic settings and I am sure most writers really question why they are in this business.


It all seems to change when you have those small successes.

This has been a fantastic couple of days for the Greyhaus authors. We had:

  • A raise on a contract for one author.
  • A 4 star review on a book the author had been worrying over.
  • A request for a full from a contest and an editor we have been "wooing" for sometime (WITH REVISION NOTES)
  • One author received copies of her latest book in the mail (always a fun day)
  • A new 4 book contract for another author
Combine in...
  • The news that one of the authors had a relative who was really sick but there was a VERY positive turn for that relative.
  • Another had a graduation
  • One had her son pass 3 AP tests in a single week
  • One had a son or daughter purchase a new home.
Do you see where this is going? There may be a lot of times (more than we want) when you feel things totally suck in the writing universe. But there will be those small glimmers of hope and happiness that show up along the way! 

So, here is your homework assignment. 

Find that glimmer of good news today!