'The Exiles Of The New World' Picked Up By Iconic Publishing

Today, I signed a contract with Iconic Publishing that will in theory distribute my book to major retailers, small bookstores, online retailers, schools and libraries in North America, Europe, Australia and the UK. Needless to say, I’m really excited about this.

I know I haven’t talked much about my road to publication, but it’s been a strange one. I finished writing my book about two years ago and after a healthy wave of revisions, I jumped into querying agents. I was lucky enough to gain interest and a verbal commitment of sorts from an agent fairly early on in the process. The agent in question told me they weren’t signing clients at the time because they would be leaving the agency they were at, but would be interested in taking me with them to the new agency.

This relationship would eventually span about fifteen-months. Said agent never moved onto the new agency, never submitted my manuscript to any publishers and really maintained a spotty correspondence at best. The situation turned into a complete quagmire. Every time my emails would go unanswered for a month or two, I would write the agent explaining how I was going to move on and of course, then and only then would I finally receive a response and an assurance that things would turn the corner soon.

Eventually at the fifteen-month mark, I finally broke off this correspondence and ended the relationship. Certainly, some of the blame is placed on me for going along with this for so long without anything in writing or any sort of firm commitment (I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and without better prospects at the time). I could have bowed out at any time, but I stuck it with. And I don’t blame the agent either. They did provide some helpful feedback and in a way washed away any naïve notions I had with the publishing industry. I felt like it was paying my dues in a way.

But I left the situation feeling fairly defeated. I shelved the book and didn’t write or read at all for about three or four months. I knew I would return to writing at some point, but I honestly didn’t think I would ever do anything with this book again.

It wasn’t until I started reading about Kindle success stories like JA Konrath, John Locke and Amanda Hocking, that I thought about trying again. The prospect of putting out the book on a medium growing in popularity with minimum expenses involved was an enticing idea. I wasn’t expecting any sort of success, I just thought it would nice to actually put it out there and maybe get a handful of people to read it. So, I dusted off the manuscript and set about trying to get it on the Kindle along with a print-on-demand paperback run.

But before I did that, I knew that I would have to commission a book cover and pay a number of people to do some last proofing and editing passes. I knew this would require a bit of money, so I decided to put the project up on Kickstarter, a popular fund raising website, to raise the funds.

I really owe Kickstarter a lot. It was on Kickstarter that I managed to raise the funds I needed and at the same time garner interest from publishers who had seen the book on the site (an unexpected side effect of posting the project). Iconic Publishing contacted me very early on during the fund raising process and asked if they could consider the book before I put it out independently. I agreed to let them consider it as long as I could still honor my Kickstarter backers and today, I received an offer and signed a contract with them to publish my book.

It seems very odd to me that it was only when I had given up on traditional publishing and wasn’t seeking it, that it came knocking on my door. I think if anything this demonstrates the changing publishing market and the power of social media sites.

Either way, I’m really excited to work with Iconic Publishing. They’ve been nothing but prompt, open and attentive with me, which is a completely different interaction than what I had previously experienced with people in the publishing industry. I couldn’t be happier with the situation and of course, I cannot thank the people who supported me through this process enough. I hope everyone has a great Holiday weekend.

Would You Stop Writing If You Knew You Would Never Have Anything Published?

In the past I’ve asked people how they define success in their writing careers and there were a lot of differing opinions offered on the subject. Some people attached commercial goals to their definitions, while others were only really interested in gaining readers, regardless of any monetary reward. There is of course no right answer to such a question, but it was great to hear from everyone on the subject.

This line of questioning still has a great level of interest to me. I am again, not looking to poll people in search of a correct answer or some sort of accepted norm, rather I am genuinely interested in hearing what drives people in their writing. So, today’s question posed to you is if you knew that you would never have any of your work published in the future, would you stop writing?

This is a concept explored in Robert J. Sawyer’s book Flashforward (which would go on to become the bad Flashforward TV show on ABC). The setup of Flashforward is basically that when the Large Hadron Collider is turned on, the whole world experiences an event where for two minutes, they blackout and see a glimpse of their future twenty-one years from now. Some people see that they are not with their current wife/husband, some see that they never reached the job that they were chasing and others see nothing at all, which implies that they will not be alive in twenty-one years.

The whole event creates this great debate, especially amongst married couples that won’t be together in the future. If they know that they won’t be together down the line, is there any reason to continue the relationship, even if it’s a supremely happy union at the moment? One of the main character’s brother is a struggling writer. He waits tables while he tries to break into the business. His vision of the future informs him that in twenty-one years he will have not reached his goal and will still be waiting tables. Armed with this knowledge, the brother takes his own life in a moment of despair.

Now, I absolutely do not want to explore something as dark or morbid as this scenario, but I think the question in itself is an interesting one. If you knew that you would never have anything published and would experience no real commercial or critical success in your writing career, would you stop writing? And I know this question is about to be answered by a slew of people defiantly responding somewhere along the lines of, “Of course I’d continue! Writing is my passion! Writing is my outlet! Writing is my life!” and this is fine. I would probably respond the same way. Most of us genuinely enjoy writing and need it as an outlet.

So, to preempt this response, I would pose an amended question then and ask, if you knew you would never have anything published, how would it change your writing? And by this I mean would it change how much you write in a given day and what you write about? Would you no longer sit in front of a word processor for seven hours straight banging out the days thousand words, instead maybe favoring carrying around a notebook which you scribble in from time to time? Also, would the subject matter of your writing change? If you knew that you were writing just for yourself and maybe a select number of friends and family, would you trim the fat from the things you wrote about, only confronting subjects you wanted to with no consideration for making it commercial or mainstream?

I know a lot of this is highly subjective and I don’t mean to once again call in to question your motivations for writing, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I also absolutely don’t mean to suggest that your writing should be devalued if it is not published, self-published or doesn’t sell well. Writers should never stop writing, especially if it is truly something they love. Even if it’s the worst prose committed to paper, the most cliched characters ever conceived or the most derivative plot ever crafted, this outlet should never be taken away from a person.

Monday's Writing Links

This week’s links highlight the 2011 Locust Awards (including Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker), author pitfalls such as not having easily accessible contact info on your site and agent advice from Deidre Knight of the Knight Agency.

It’s strange how many author sites I still find that are hard to navigate and nearly impossible to find any contact info for. I know some writers value their anonymity and other writers have the troublesome situation of being Stephen King and don’t want fans emailing them a thousand short stories about killer kitchen appliances. But for those of us who aren’t Stephen King and are seeking interaction, networking and feedback from our social media outlets, one wonders why you would set up a site if there was no established form of communication.

Also, because I can’t compile a set of links without throwing in a seemingly irrelevant one, I included Marc Maron’s podcast that I’ve started listening to where he interviews comedians (Conan O’Brien, Robin Williams, Louis C.K., Patton Oswalt, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler, etc) in his garage, creating some genuine and candid moments.

– Winners: 2011 Locus Awards (sfsignal)

– New Cool Bundle: Write Your Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel (guidetoliteraryagents)

– The Bizarre Musical Instruments Behind Classic Sci-fi Movie Sounds (io9)

– A Pet Peeve About Authors With Hard-To-Find Contact Info (atfmb)

– Harlan Ellison To Be Elected Into Hall Of Fame (cnn)

– Agent Advice From Deidre Knight Of The Knight Agency (guidetoliteraryagents)

– AV Club Reviews The Quantum Thief (avclub)

– Robocalypse May Well Be The Summer’s Best Movie – In Book Form (io9)

– Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast Interviewing Comedians (wtfpod)

First Photo From 'The Hobbit' Set

EW revealed one of the first photos from the set of the Hobbit, depicting English actor Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in Bag End.

Even though it’s very early on in filming, director Peter Jackson is already speaking praises of Freeman:

”He fits the ears, and he’s got some very nice feet,” Jackson says of his Bilbo. ”I think he’s got the biggest hobbit feet we’ve had so far. They’re a little bit hard to walk in, but he’s managed to figure out the perfect hobbit gait.”

Now that we’ve seen visual evidence that this movie is being made, all we have to do is wait. The Hobbit, which will be released as two films, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” will see December 14, 2012 and December 13, 2013 as their respective release dates. That gives you 540 days to perfect those prosthetic hobbit ears you’ve been working on since two Halloweens ago and get that tent out in front of the multiplex before the first one is in theaters. So, maybe wait a couple of months before putting your two weeks notice in at work. There’s still a lot of time before you should enter into a state of geek-induced welfare.

I personally will be anxious to see what, if any, of Guillermo Del Toro’s animatronics from his abandoned Hobbit adaptation will be used in the film. It was said that his half puppet/half CG Smaug was going to be a sight to behold. Be sure to check out the original story at Entertainment Weekly to see two other new set photos.

Help NPR Pick The Greatest Science Fiction Books Of All Time

NPR is asking its readers/listeners to vote on the best science fiction and fantasy books of all time for their new summer poll. Your vote will go toward shaping the top-100 list and it will also give you a chance to peruse other recommendations for your summer SF/F beach/yacht/pool/park bench/planking/treadmill/spelunking (or where ever else you do your summer reading) reading list.

Here are the rules:

1. Limit yourself to five titles per post. Don’t hesitate to nominate a book that someone else has already listed; your entry will count as a vote in favor of that title progressing to the next round.

2. No young-adult or children’s titles, please. We plan to devote a poll to YA next summer. (It’s also no fun if Harry Potter wins every year.)

3. Horror and paranormal romance are also out, which disqualifies most of Stephen King (also a big winner in previous polls), Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer. Once again, we’ll cover horror in a future poll.

4. Feel free to nominate a series — such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or Asimov’s Foundation — as a single, collective work rather than listing individual books.

5. That said, there are series and series: To qualify as a collective work, the books in a series must be written consistently by the same originating author or authors. For example, you can’t nominate the whole Star Wars franchise, though you can nominate individual Star Wars novels.

Vote here.

What Will J.K. Rowling's Big Announcement Be This Week?

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling teased the world with a “big” announcement following the launch of her new website Pottermore last week. The announcement, which will air Thursday (you can follow the live countdown here), is rumored to be about Rowling’s new book, which will more than likely be another entry into the Potter canon. While nothing is for certain, the site name Pottermore, reveals that there is a good chance it will be Potter related.

While everything is pure speculation at this point, none of the Potter insiders are giving anything away. “I know nothing about that whatsoever,” actor Daniel Radcliffe told Hero Complex. “I’m sure that Jo will be writing a lot more in the coming years.”

So, if Harry Potter himself isn’t tipping his hand, all we can do is watch this really cool new Deathly Hallows trailer and use our imagination to fill in the rest of the holes. My guess? A Potter prequel, a Harry Potter/Hunger Games Triwizard Tournament/Hunger Games crossover, a Potter cookbook, the opening of a Hogwarts private school or she’s buying us all two cars each in an effort to one-up Oprah. I look forward to any of these scenarios coming true.

Monday's Writing Links

This week’s writing links highlight a myriad of subjects including Noah Wyle’s foray into Spielberg produced sci-fi television, weighing the financial pros and cons of book appearances, a new $150,000 writers grant from Yale University and unearthing where Gene Hackman has been for the last seven years (apparently writing).

The featured link (more sci-fi than literary, but oh well) highlights TNT’s new series, Falling Skies, a Spielberg produced, Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot) scripted narrative about aliens invading earth, much to the displeasure of former ER cast members. The pilot aired last night and I missed it, but I hope to catch the encore tonight.

– Reviews of TNT’s Falling Skies (sfsignal, hitflix, latimes, sfgate, ign)

– Literary Agents Try New Role as Self-Publishing Consultants (PBS)

– K. Tempest Bradford Profiles The Clarion West Write-A-Thon (sfsignal)

– The Financial Concerns Of Book Tours And Appearances (jakonrath)

– Why Does It Take So Long For Your Book To Be Published? (pimpmynovel)

– A Writer’s Estate to Yield $150,000 Literary Prizes (nytimes)

Parks And Recreation Book On Pawnee Coming In October (latimes)

– Neil Gaiman Talks Dr. Who And The 10th Anniversary Edition of American Gods (neilgaiman)

– Kayleigh Reviews Said 10th Anniversary Book (nylonadmiral)

– Alexis Grant: Why I’m Keeping My Day Job (guidetoliteraryagents)

– Gabriel Reviews The Curious Life Of Human Cadavers (gabrielreads)

Lost’s Evangeline Lilly Join the Cast of The Hobbit (imdb)

– The AV Club Reviews Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well (avclub)

P.S. Did anyone notice that Gene Hackman has been retired from acting since 2004 and has co-written three books in his spare time? I’m picking up Justice For None because I’m undoubtedly interested in seeing his writing style. I expect most of his characters to be stoic personalities that have screaming fits when people disappoint them/try to mutiny a submarine away from them. I must admit, I’ve always been a fan of Gene Hackman. One of the last movies he did is still one of my favorites (wikipedia).

Which Social Media Websites Work Best For Writers?

It’s tough to tell which social media websites are most effective for writers in regards to promotion of their work. Sure, there are tools that allow you to track traffic, feedback and referrals, but that isn’t always telling as to the quality of the people you’re getting. If your site is being visited mostly by Armenian spammers and only a handful of interested writers/readers, it might not be working all that well.

You have to remember, numbers don’t mean everything with promotion on the internet. Maybe it does with advertising, but not promotion. You want to make sure that you are putting more time into keeping up with your community than expanding it. It’s better to have 100 dedicated followers than 1,000 people who could care less what you have to say. And just as a quick note, I’m discounting personal websites/blogs from this feature. Let’s just assume they’re a given.

Facebook: Facebook is a great tool for writers. It has the capability of being the most effective social medium for writers to promote their material and connect with their readers, if not just for the amount of people they will have access to. You can also pay to put up ads for your books, which can also draw attention to your work. But because there is such great possibilities with facebook, it is probably the most dangerous social medium. While you have the possibility of creating an entirely new base of fans, you also run the risk of alienating your fans altogether. The most common way of doing this is turning facebook into a spam feed for your updates. You will quickly run into problems if people perceive your updates as overwhelming or solely focused on self-promotion. This can be a problem in any medium, but especially on facebook.

Facebook is worthwhile, but just be very careful how you handle your online persona. You can just as easily alienate your readers as attract them. Tread lightly.

Twitter: Twitter is facebook for those of short attention spans (which is arguably everyone these days). It is a great way to promote your book and keep people in the loop if you have a dedicated following. Depending on what sort of updates you post, it can also work towards personalizing you a bit more. Twitter is a lot safer than facebook in a way, because it is not really as intrusive. You can rifle off five or six posts in a row and no one will bat an eye/unfollow you. Twitter really caters itself to letting you throw up a glut of content all at once without really annoying those following you.

Twitter is the safest of the social media sites. Give it a shot. Just be careful. Whereas facebook is a known time eater, twitter can be a deceptive time eater. Monitor your time spent on twitter and don’t let it keep you from working on your manuscript.

Linkedin: Linkedin is the most professional of the online portfolios. It is more useful if you are looking to find some freelance work doing copyrighting, ghostwriting, editing or proofing. It may not be the most useful tool for authors to connect to fans, but it can’t hurt to have a profile. Also, it doesn’t require much maintenance/upkeep and it won’t really suck too much time from your day.

Sure, why not? Give it a try. Maybe one of the Jersey Shore cast members will contact you to ghostwrite their autobiography. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.

Book Blogs: There are a lot of abandoned profiles and interaction that borders on spam with book blogs, but at the same time, there are still some very dedicated and helpful communities operating within the site.

I would only tackle this one if you really want to take that extra step in promoting your work/site. It’s not a gold mine of opportunities, but there are always diamond in the rough.

Myspace: Myspace is a graveyard. It’s really only useful if you are a 14-year-old girl or have a My Chemical Romance cover band to promote.

Skip this one.

What about you? Which social media sites do you use and how effective are they? Are there any that I missed with this list? Do you find yourself spending more time promoting your books than actually writing them? If you are a self-published author, do you feel an obligation to spend more time on these sites?

Monday's Writing Links

I know many people are generally turned off by science fiction or genre fiction in general, even though they occasionally encounter, read and love books that fall into both respective categories. There is often a stigma attached to genre fiction that it is inferior literature chock full of cliched characterization, gunfire and explosions. While this may be true in some genre books, it does not represent the entire genre. So, today’s featured link is designed to ease you into genre fiction, specifically science fiction, with kirkus reviews’ guide on how to start reading science fiction.

One of the biggest problems with reading science fiction is that often readers are in denial that they are in fact reading science fiction. People who have eaten up the Hunger Games series will readily admit it’s YA, but might ignore the fantasy and science fiction elements, rather choosing to classify it as a literary YA novel like Lord of the Flies (which it really isn’t). The same goes for books like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is often categorized as a romance novel, even though it’s technically a science fiction romance novel.

So, how do we get you into sci-fi and readily admitting that you’re reading such material? Well, kirkus reviews suggests that you start with the award winners of the genre. While this isn’t a bad strategy for conquering science fiction, I would recommend tackling more accessible books in the genre first (some of which are actually award winners themselves). Books like Michael Crichton’s Timeline, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Robert J. Sawyer’s Flashforward are a great place to start. They won’t bombard you with new languages to learn (Crichton can get a little technical sometimes, but it’s not too bad) overtly dense prose or complicated bloodlines or backstories. They are as I said, accessible reads. After these, I feel like you will be able to transition into heavier award winning sci-fi novels like Dan Simmon’s Hyperion, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. It’ll be a cinch. Anyways, Links!

Writing Links:
– How To Start Reading Science Fiction (kirkus review)

– What Makes Good Sci Fi (kirkus review)

– 10 Things You Should Know About Chicago Authors (chicago tribune)

– Writers Conference: Ocean Park Writing Event In Maine (GTLA)

– HBO Greenlights 6 Seasons Of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (io9)

– AV Club Reviews China Miéville’s Embassytown (av club)

– 9 Things I Learned From Other Writers (GTLA)

– The Emptiness Of Literary Fiction And The Stereotyping Of Genre Literature (sf signal)

– Nathan Fillion Reads 3 Chapters For P.J. Haarsma’s The Softwire Audiobook (ign)

– Profile of George Lucas (flickering myth)

Promotional Materials For Authors: Bookmarks

Promotional bookmarks are the equivalent of business cards for writers. Sure, you can still have a business card made from really cool paper stock, but bookmarks are the true mark of a writer, because they’re intended to be put in books and that’s what you do, you write books. But do they really work? And if they do, what sort of information should you put on them? In this day and age, how will readers use your bookmark to mark their page on the Kindle? Can they tape it to the screen?

These are all relevant questions, but not really your concern. What readers do with your bookmark after they get it from you is out of your hands. Sure, you might stumble on a trashcan outside a writers conference brimming with your discarded bookmarks, but don’t be deterred. It’s going to happen. Really, it’s only your job to put great content on your bookmark and get it in the hands of as many people as possible.

But again, what should you put on your promotional bookmark? I included a preview of what my promotional bookmark for The Exiles of the New World (designed by the impossibly talented Lizelle Din) will look like as an example. You definitely want to have something to draw the viewer in, whether it be part of your book cover or some other form of illustration. If you’ve had any positive reviews from notable literary figures/reviewers, you can also include them on the front to assure people that you didn’t print this book off in your garage after watching a spirited marathon of Castle.

I also wouldn’t recommend muddling up either side with a lot of copy. Keep it simple and always make sure your contact info is visible and easy to locate. This may mean trimming down your web address as much as possible and removing /blogspots or /wordpress/kittenlovers for a condensed and accessible address. No one wants to type out a novella length website to get to your book. Make it as easy as possible for them to find your product. Attention spans on the internet or otherwise are fleeting, so don’t chance it.

One of the nice things about bookmarks is their price. They’re relatively cheap to order. So, if your publisher isn’t providing promotional material or you are self publishing, you can get 100 high quality double-sided bookmarks for about $25 at Overnight Prints. There are even cheaper options if you don’t mind low quality printing or single-sided marks.

All in all bookmarks are an affordable alternative for marketing your book that really has no downside to trying it out. It won’t break your entire marketing budget if it doesn’t pan out. It exists as a more reasonable and economical promotional tool than services like AuthorBuzz, which might have you busking in the park for funds.


Bookmark/Promotional Links:

-Do Promotional Bookmarks Work For Authors? (Author Promo)

-12 Things You Can Do With Promotional Bookmarks (Associated Content)

– What Types of Promo Work For E-books? (JA Konrath)

– How To Promote You And Your Book (Guide To Literary Agents)

– 5 Things Authors Should Know About Promotional Items (Stephanie Dray)

Kickstarter Projects That Need Help: The Falcon (children’s book), Dog Whistle (sci-fi film), Atlantis: The New Hope (sci-fi/fantasy book)