Saturday, July 20, 2019

Special Submission Opportunities

For those of you not heading to RWA this coming week, Greyhaus will be offering daily special
submissions. Each day, I will focus on one publishing line. You will have the opportunity to submit more than the standard query for this coming week.

Please understand, this is a one time offer. At the end of the week, the standard submission process will be used.

Take the time this weekend to review the guidelines below. The blog post each day will have the specifics you need to include.

Monday - Gradydon House
Tuesday - Harlequin Desire
Wednesday - Harlequin Romance
Thursday - Harlequin Dare

Friday, July 19, 2019

4 Key Strategies For Long Term Success In Publishing

I was discussing this with one of my authors a couple of days ago. Her particular publisher is going through some "growing pains" and of course many of the other writers she works with at the same publisher completely stressing out, getting on social media, creating more of a crisis, and developing conspiracy theories that are near science fiction level. As we talked about this, she noted that some of these writers knew that they would be "next on the chopping block."

But as I talked to my author, I noted that there were essentially 4 things that would keep her safe.
  1. Continue to write amazing books. Look, the reality of the situation is that publishers will not eliminate people who are producing and producing well written books. OK, if the entire company goes bankrupt that is a different story, but when the company is doing fine, those who write well will get to stay. Along the same lines, those who continually write well will get those added perks such as: top billing on duel releases, the better art directors creating your covers, the better placements for books during the year, etc. Always strive to make sure each book you write is the best. I would also add here, meeting those deadlines and not being the person who always has a "reason" for needing more time on a book. Meet deadlines and, if at all possible, get those deadlines in early.
  2. Show growth in your writing and take advice well. Publishers are not looking for someone who just does the same thing over and over again. If you are a "one trick pony" don't expect those perks. Show that with each book, you try something new, you push yourself, you move forward using current trends, and you shift with the market. I always think of those in the music industry: The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Madonna, etc. Think of how long they have lasted? The other element is taking advice. If your editor says to go left and you were certain going right was the better approach, stop and think. Discuss the situation. The editor probably has some data that says her direction is probably right.

  3. Stay out of the politics. This is important. You might think you are "just putting in your two-cents worth" but the reality is, if you are getting involved with these discussions that are toxic, you would be connected with those that are really toxic. I am not saying to disassociate yourself from the rest of the world. You can listen. Just keep your mouth shut. It is also important to remember I am not just talking about social media here either. If you are at a conference, know there are other people in the room. People listen. People remember.
  4. Play nice. This one is pretty simple. If someone gets a contract and you didn't. Compliment them. If someone gets a great review and, even if you hated the book, be nice. Remember the speech from ROADHOUSE by Patrick Swayze? Dalton says, “If somebody gets in your face and calls you a (expletive deleted), I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice." You do the same thing. 
This has nothing to do with sales. This has nothing to do with covers or writing strategies. It is about being professional. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

5 W's and an H: Today we talk about HOW and WHY

I wanted to clump these two together today since both really deal with a writer's understanding of how to write a truly strong novel.

Too often, writers put things into their plots, structure their stories a certain way, or have the characters do certain things without thinking. The end result is a story that is truly weak and elementary in style, voice and craft. For most, these authors are doing these things for several reasons. For some, they just took a workshop or read a book where "the expert" claimed that doing this particular thing would make the story amazing. For others, they made these decisions simply because one of their critique partners or their "beta-reader" told them to do it. For this final group, they did this simply because they saw another author use it and decided to incorporate the idea into their own book.

All of these are valid reasons and all of these COULD work.

The problem is that authors don't know the HOW or WHY of using that approach.

Truly strong authors know how using a technique or an approach would effect a story or how the story is read. It is crucial to understand how that tool works on a small scale within your book, as well as on the larger scale across several chapters.

I always like thinking of this as being similar to cooking. Choosing the right oil  for example when cooking any meal... Canola, Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Butter, or Margarine will all have a different effect. How these oils work in each meal, with each temperature or each appliance will be different. The same goes for writing techniques. Each is used for a unique situation.

Along the same lines, an author needs to know why a technique was used or recommended by another author. In many ways, this is very similar to the HOW. You just read an author using a technique, but you don't know why the author chose that approach. The odds are, they knew why they were using the approach. Maybe it was a random lucky move. For you, however, you have to know why you are taking that approach. What is making you do this. If it is simply because someone else told you, then you are making a mistake.

Writing is about internalizing your craft. It should almost become muscle memory. You do things because it is the right thing and it works in that situation. Remember, every story is unique. Every author is unique and we will each use a different approach.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

5 W's & an H: Today we talk WHEN

We are now on Day 4 and the focus today is about the WHEN part of our novels. In this case, it really is about setting but it is all about marketing as well.

This is one of those issues where authors need to do their research BEFORE even starting that story, and when I say start, I am talking about any research or planning. This is really where so many authors screw up.

The reality is that it doesn't matter about the quality of your writing, if you are writing a story that simply is not going to work in the current market, it is not going to sell. This is not an issue of the publishers having a limited scope of writing, or trying to control things. This is a matter of what the readers are currently interested in.

I remember right after 9/11, there were authors who really wanted to bring up a story that rode on that emotion. The problem is, that while the author might have had a great story, the world was simply not ready to face that emotion at that time.

There is also an issue to plotting. The time of the story really is a backdrop to the entire plot and needs to really be there for a reason, and that reason needs to be significant. Like our discussion of setting yesterday, the time of the story also has to be there for a reason.

I remember one author pitching a story that sounded like it had some potential, but this author set the story in the early 70's. This was a romantic suspense and she wanted to set it in a time where there were no cell phones or the Internet. This was not a great approach because now, she had to not only try to tell the story, she had to add in all of the world building. This was world building that was non-essential to the story.

If you are writing a contemporary story, make it contemporary. You readers will relate to the story better because it is a time they understand and live in. It also makes your life easier when you try to connect the reader to the story.

If you are writing anything historical, ask yourself if this is truly a time period that will work right now. It might not be the time to tell that story. Put it aside for now and focus on something that would sell.

Just something to consider.