Emma Cunningham

Emma Cunningham

Boilerplates

When a publisher makes an offer to buy your book, they send you what they call a boilerplate - a standard contract with their usual terms.Some common things you’ll need to look for are:

- your correct legal name

- your correct pen name, if you’re using one

- correct title and series name

- that you are granting the correct rights (usually publishers ask for an exclusive on everything, but you can sometimes negotiate so that you keep the audio rights or foreign language rights, for example…although unless you’re famous, I’m not sure why you’d do that…)

- if you ARE famous, you may want to avoid granting the publisher any sort of digital rights other than the right to make an ebook. If they do any interactive content, it could interfere with your chances of a film deal. Since a newbie author’s chances of a film deal are pretty close to zilch anyway, I wouldn’t restrict them in any marketing/formatting options they want to leverage.

- how long the publisher retains exclusive rights for. If this is a novel, try to negotiate it so that the rights will revert back to you after the book has been out of print for X number of years. For a novella or short story, the contract will likely already contain information about when you can sell the story elsewhere. Check to see if digital copies count as “in print” and if they do, specify how many copies must be sold in a specific time period before rights revert back to you.

- the contract may tell you what file format you need to deliver the manuscript in. Doc files (not .docx) is usually standard. Many publishers accept .rtf as well. It’s best if you own a licensed copy of an up-to-date version of Microsoft Word as it will make editing easier.

- when you get paid (usually 2-4 times per years, but I can think of at least one publisher who pays monthly)

- whether or not you are required to register your own copyright. This one is important. If someone rips off your book, you stand to earn a heck of a lot more money in court if your copyright is registered, rather than just being able to prove that you wrote it first. Most major publishers will register it on your behalf; many smaller and digital publishers do not. If this is not expressly stated, ask for clarification in the contract.

- how many copies you will receive of your own books, and what you are permitted to do with them (ie, can you run contests, should you be giving these to reviewers or will the publisher send out copies for you, etc)

These are just a few things you can expect to see on a boilerplate. You should be consulting with your agent or with a contract lawyer who is familiar with publishing before signing anything!

Book review: Hidden by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve decided to do a book review every Wednesday. It may be an old book, a galley, or a new book. Whatever I’ve just finished reading at the moment!

I am a dedicated ebook reader, but I can’t resist buying limited edition hardcovers from Subterranean Press, simply because they are beautiful. Of course, I buy the ebook versions too! ;)

Hidden by Kelley Armstrong is no exception, although I have to admit I prefer to more realistic drawings in her other novellas to the cartoon-y style drawn by the exceptionally talented Angilram.

The story is a combination of family drama and scary adventure. Werewolf pack enforcer Clay and alpha-in-training Elena are staying up near Algonquin Park in Ontario with their twin preschoolers, Logan and Kate, when they realize there are werewolves in town and children missing. The clock is ticking down for them to figure out if there’s a connection, and if so, make sure their children aren’t the next to fall prey to a sadistic wolf. At the same time, Elena is struggling with whether or not to tell her children that they come from a family of werewolves.

Like all of Armstrong’s stories, Hidden features vivid characters, a dangerous adventure, and romance. I have to admit I missed the presence of other characters, such as werewolf pack alpha Jeremy who was spending Christmas with his necromancer girlfriend Jaime, but overall the story was wonderful. It tied into Bitten in a way that no other book in the series has so far and connected into semi-loose threads from Frostbitten as well. All-in-all, I highly recommend purchasing this book before they are sold out!

Foursquare and safety

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of anything that require users to “check in” to various locations. Why? Two reasons:

1) It tells people where you’re not - at home. If anyone is looking to rob your house, this would be the time to do it.

2) It tells people where you are - and if anyone is looking to cause problems for you personally, they know how to find you.

However, there are a few times when I think something like Foursquare might be useful. For example, if you’re doing a book signing, you could “check in” and give fans a reminder about when and where the signing is. Or you could check in at a coffee shop nearby after the event, and give loyal fans a chance to come out for a bit more of an intimate meet-the-author event.

You could run a contest at an author event - everyone who checks in to Foursquare at your event can win a signed set of books, or free swag, etc.

You could also use Foursquare if you’re attending conferences, giving readings, or appearing publicly for any reason. If you’re appearing somewhere publicly anyway, people will already be able to find out where you’ll be at that time, and so there’s no additional safety risk. However, you may want to make sure you have a good home alarm and insurance policy in place!

Networking 101

by J.A. Campbell

Word of mouth and personal connections can make a sale for an indy author. Or any author really. I’ve bought books based on blog posts I’ve read, or online connections I’ve made with authors. It does work. It’s not a super fast process, a book here or there is probably what you will sell, but that increases the chance that people will talk about your book. When people talk about it, often others buy it. Many of the authors I’ve discovered have been at the recommendation of others who share reading tastes.

You have to be careful not to over do the online networking though. You do still need to actually write. I’ve narrowed my networking down to Facebook, Twitter and my two blogs. Every now and again I do other things, but those are my main sources. I just don’t have time for anything else. I maintain a presence on Jacketflap, for YA books, and Goodreads, but I am not very active there except to update my reading list on Goodreads.

Twitter is great because, especially if people retweet, you have a chance of reaching a larger and possibly random audience. However, you never know where your tweet will end up, so chose your words with care.

Facebook/Google + are both great for similar reasons to Twitter. Good networking and good ways to make connections with people.

Blogs are an excellent way to share your thoughts and writing. If you write interesting blogs, there’s a fair chance people will want to read your stories too. They will feel a connection with you when you respond to their comments (and trust me, if you don’t respond, they won’t keep reading unless you’re super interesting and already famous).

I think the biggest key to social networking success is to interact with people, not just try and sell your stories. Sell yourself instead. Show yourself to be an interesting person, and likely that will carry over to your books. If people think you have a connection with them, they are more likely to want to support you and your writing. Have quick conversations on Twitter, respond to Facebook posts, wish people a happy birthday on FB. Those are all great ways to get attention without saying OMG buy my book! All the time. Then every once in a while throw out a reminder that you are an author, and you might have an interesting story to tell.

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of a great musician, and a friend. RIP, Dave. You’ll be missed.
earache:

Saddened to hear the  tragic news that David Gold, frontman of WOODS OF YPRES passed away last night aged 31. Car accident. RIP David Gold, you will be missed.

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of a great musician, and a friend. RIP, Dave. You’ll be missed.

earache:

Saddened to hear the  tragic news that David Gold, frontman of WOODS OF YPRES passed away last night aged 31. Car accident. RIP David Gold, you will be missed.

Blog strategy

If you just decide what to write on your blog spur-of-the-moment, you could benefit from a strategy. Things to think about include:

- What is your blog’s subject?
- How often will you update? (min 1x a week) KEEP IT REGULAR!
- What can you offer fans? New readers?
- How will you promote your blog?
- How much time can you spend reading/commenting on other blogs?
- What is your balance between promotion and other content?
- How will you integrate with your other social media?

If you need help planning your strategy, your best option is to hire a consultant for a one-time consultation. If you need training, of course, you’ll need to hire them for a bit longer.

Some great consultants include Marian Schembari, Alexis Grant, and me. ;)

Making it “Real”?

by Kelley Armstrong

So you’ve just completed your NaNoWriMo novel and you think it’s ready to go out to publishers? Not so fast. I’ve done NaNo  every year since 2005, and what I produce in that month is nowhere near ready to show to my editors. It’s only the first step in many. Here’s a crash course in getting that NaNo work up to snuff…

Finish it. Unless you’re writing category romance or middle-grade, 50,000 words is not a novel. Find out what’s standard for your genre and keep going. Done? Good. Now put it away for a few months. Get some distance. Then take it out. Read once as a reader, not an editor. Don’t line-edit. Just make notes on the big problems. Can’t find any? They’re there—look harder. Fix those. Then do your first line edit. If you’re an experienced writer (i.e. you’ve written at least 2 novels already), then skip to the next step. Otherwise, put it away for two months and repeat the editing process. Next, get feedback. Family and friends are fine. Fellow writers are better. Get their feedback. Fix the major criticisms. Do another line edit. Then find a second wave of “test subjects.” Repeat. Now, finally, you’re ready to send it out…and to begin the next novel, so those rejections won’t sting quite so much.

Does it sound like a lot of work? It is, but it’s good practice for being a professional novelist, where you’ll do a similar amount of editing on every book, getting it in the best shape possible for your editors…and hopefully an audience!

NaNoWriMo - Keep your eye on the finish line

With so few days left to write, this is crunch time. This is not time for a spa day with your mom or any other distractions. Write write write!

Of course, you may be one of those non-procrastinators who’s ahead of the game and already won! In which case, tell the world, but don’t brag tooooo much - everyone else is still stressed out trying to finish!

NaNoWriMo - Outlining

Today, you’re going to split your mind into two tasks.

1) Continue work on your word count.

2) Think of what you’re going to do in December.

If you’ve planned a full story in 50k words, keep in mind that this will be published as a novella, not a novel, unless you’re writing category romance. If you want to publish this as a novel, you’ll need to spend December fleshing out your story. If that’s the case, give yourself permission to include the outline of a new subplot in your word count for today. You don’t have to start weaving it in until December, but if you’re stuck, then why not up your word count even further by going back to earlier points in the book to begin weaving in the new plot?

If you plan to abandon the book after November because it was just an exercise, or because you plan to edit and (hopefully) publish your NaNo as a short story or novella, then you don’t need to worry about December, because December will be for editing, and you’re not allowed to think about that yet.