Interview: Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist


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Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist

“Interview: Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist” by Joan Y. Edwards

Thank you for being a guest on my blog today, Stephanie. Your life, your tips, your book publicist services, and your DIY Book Platform app will inspire authors and help them decide the best way to publicize their books.

You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to be here and to share book publicity ideas with authors.

Let’s begin.

  • Where were you born?

    In Houston, and I have the lungs to prove it. (Houston has the worst air quality in the US.)

  • What qualities of your parents do you admire the most?

    My dad lost his dad when he was three and had to commit his mom to a mental institution when he was 10, so he was effectively an orphan raised by his brothers. He was the only one of five brothers to go to college, which he did on a football scholarship. My mom was a swimmer who went to Olympic trials and missed getting in by one-tenth of a second. Her shoebox full of medals blows my mind. The year I was born, my parents started a business that is still going today–sales, service and rental of industrial equipment.  My people are a little OCD, but we’re driven to achieve. Failure is not an option.

  • If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you head to first?

  Tilt-a-Whirl        

  • Which ride do you avoid at all costs?

Roller coaster or anything that sends my neck into the chiropractor.

  • How did you do in English in high school?

Splendidly, despite being a slow reader.

  • What were three books you loved when you were a child?

The Cat in the Hat, The Velveteen Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland

  • What are three of your favorite books to read today?

Anything by Anne Lamott

  • Where is your favorite place to visit? Why?

Alaska because it’s the way the planet would look without us around to mess it up, although it started melting after my last visit.

  • Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you in your life?

My middle school English teacher whose motto was “Take initiative!” which dovetailed with the entrepreneurial spirit in my household. And my mom’s best friend, who is 96 this year, a naturalized American from Versailles.

  • From my meeting you and seeing you at the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc (OWFI) conference in May, 2016, it seems that you enjoy being with people. You are very friendly and outgoing. This is a great quality. Do you require a lot of alone time? How do you get it when your job as a publicist may require a lot of interacting with others?

On Myers-Briggs I am 50/50 introvert/extrovert, so as much as I put out, I spend putting back in. I am a mole in a hole on my laptop, just like a writer, until I go to a conference.

  • How do you keep yourself physically fit?

These days I walk or go to PT.

  • Do you set dates to meet your goals? Do you celebrate when you reach them?

I set goals every year, either in November or January and then I revisit them in June to see where I am. I usually nail the physical goals (I’m a minor health nut), and have mixed results in the other categories. Celebration for me usually involves a gluten-free menu on a white tablecloth with an adult beverage.

  • Who do you go to when you’re feeling low and about to give up?

I learned a long time ago that my pen and my friends are my family, so I either hit my journal or the phone.

Stephane Barko's logo

  • When did you decide to become a literary publicist? Why?

I began this career in 2006 after an editor noticed me marketing other writers in our writing circle. Before that I marketed semiconductors, so it only took me a short while between careers to figure out that once a marketer, always a marketer. During 2005, I was simply changing products.

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Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist

  • What has been your most exhilarating moment as a publicist?

Presenting in front of my peers in Denver at 2014 Author U Extravaganza. I never worked so hard on slides in my life!

  • What kind of research is necessary to develop a publicity plan for a client?

With ten years of experience, it’s the most fun thing I do, but I’m not going to give that away.

  • What are 3 tips you can give writers/authors?

1. It’s never too early to create your platform. 2. Agents look for craft first, so get it right and get it edited. 3. Know your audience and already have them identified before you query your manuscript.

  • What are three things that an author needs online?

1. Website 2. Blog 3. Social Suite

  • Wow! What a great number of clients you have with big publishers and small publishers and self-published authors! What three qualities helped you be a successful publicist?

To do the work I do, you have to be organized and persistent. I hear “no” as one step closer to the “yes” I’m going for. And you’ve got to be able to ask for what you want. I’m always amazed how long it takes women to articulate what they want. If you can ask for what you want, you’ll find that you get it about 75% of the time. Men just take what they want–they don’t even ask.

  • On February 9, 2016, Brian Jud stated in Inside Publishing Marketing & Publicity that successful book publishers market their books using an assorted mix of promotional media. The four parts to an assorted communication mix are publicity, advertising, sales promotion and personal selling. What are the essential ingredients of a good publicity campaign? Does it include advertising and sales promotion, as well as publicity? Do you do personal selling? Or is that for the author to do?

Some authors are good at hand selling. I promote. I never sell anything. I don’t believe in advertising novels, but I think advertising is okay for some nonfiction. A good PR campaign is specific to the subgenre and the author’s background. I don’t find it to be formulaic.

  • What are three books you would highly recommend to authors to help them learn how to market and sell their books successfully?

You can’t go wrong with John Kremer. If you write YA, I recommend Cynthia Leitich Smith’s website. I think it’s critically important for all authors to understand the impact Google has on us, so anything you can learn about their algorithm changes, about SEO, optimization and integration is important. I watch that more than I watch what Amazon is up to.

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  • How do you recommend writers go about finding a good publicist for their book?

You want one who routinely handles your subgenre, has no law suits against her or black marks on Preditors & Editors, and someone who has the connections you’re wanting to make. The level of vetting I recommend is somewhere between how you would investigate a surgeon vs. a housekeeper—you want to see both skill and integrity.

  • When is the best time to hire a publicist?

4-6 months PRIOR TO release date. Most authors approach me too late.

  • Could you give me a ballpark figure for the cost of having a publicist?

A full campaign runs $5K – $20K, depending on whether there’s media training, social media maintenance, or advertising rates rolled into the contract. Most of my contracts run $5K-$8K for 3-4 months of specific deliverables.

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  • What is DIY Book Platform?

DIY Book Platform is an app I created for authors of genres I don’t take and for authors who can’t afford a publicist. Purchase a 45-day pass to use it. Download it from www.diybookplatform.com.

  • It’s interesting that publicists have different genres they work with, similar to how agents choose different genres to represent. How did you decide that non-fiction adult books was your preference?

I like reality. I read nonfiction. Historical fiction is the other genre I take, and to me, that’s just reality redone as entertainment.

  • Do you do book reviews for nonfiction books?

Sometimes I will rate books on GoodReads that I read in my Austin book group.

  • What qualities does a nonfiction book need for you to consider representing its author as a publicist?

It needs to be well edited, well designed, with a goal of being published in more than one format.

  • How do you plan events for your authors?

I give advice on which events are worth their time.

  • How should authors/publishers contact you to ask if you’d represent them as a publicist?

Via email, stephanie (at) stephaniebarko (dot) com.

  • What is your website? Blog?

stephaniebarko.com, www.stephaniebarko.com/blog, and www.diybookplatform.com,

  • How can others connect with you on social media?

Facebook: Facebook.com/stephaniebarko
Twitter: twitter.com/steffercat
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/stephaniebarko
GooglePlus: google.com/+StephanieBarko
Pinterest: pinterest.com/StephanieBarko
YouTube: youtube.com/c/StephanieBarko

Links for DIY Platform (Stephanie Barko’s App for authors who can’t afford a publicist or who write in the genres she doesn’t serve)
Download DIY Platform app: www.diybookplatform.com
Facebook Page facebook.com/diybookplatform
Twitter: twitter.com/diybookplatform
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/diy-book-platform
GooglePlus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/s/DIY%20Book%20Platform
Pinterest: pinterest.com/StephanieBarko/diy-book-platform
YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UC1Uup1EgXemIeqU3W10rcMQ

Biography
Stephanie Barko’s award-winning clients include traditional publishers and their authors, small presses, and independently published writers. She promotes nonfiction & historical fiction exclusively, including how-to, history, career, business, biography, self-help, and memoir.  Debut authors and spiritual nonfiction are especially welcome.

Ms. Barko was invited into the publishing industry after many years in high tech marketing. She has presented on book marketing & publicity at Historical Novel Society North American Conference, Oklahoma Writers FederationDFW Writers, and Women Writing the West. Her articles and book reviews have been published in Western American LiteratureRoundup MagazineSouthern Writers MagazineSan Francisco Book Review, and the Texas Book Marketing Directory. She has been quoted in Writer’s Digest and was selected to Mentor at 2017 SXSW Interactive.

She was a Finalist in More Magazine’s Reinvention Story Competition, nominated by her peers as Book Publicist of the Year, and voted Preditors & Editors Best Book Promotion Service.  Stephanie has served as a Recommended Associate at Author U, an Industry Expert at Author Learning Center, and an Instructor for the Writers’ League of Texas. This year her agency was voted Best Resource in the Small Business Book Awards.

Development was completed in 2015 on DIY Book Platform, a web-based app that Stephanie conceived to serve authors who could not afford a publicist.

In 2014, Stephanie was profiled by both Environmental Defense Fund and National Audubon Society for her commitment to the earth. Since 2005, she has moderated a nonfiction book group that has hosted such nationally known authors as journaling expert Janet Conner (Writing Down Your Soul), genocide survivor and professional athlete Gilbert Tuhabony(This Voice In My Heart), and Paul Woodruff (Reverence), a TV guest of Bill Moyers.  Stephanie has degrees in Business & Sociology and is based in Austin.

Thank you again for being a guest on my blog today, Stephanie. You are a very talented, helpful, and energetic lady.

Thank you for reading my interview with Stephanie Barko. I hope you’ll leave her a little note. Feel free to ask a question. To comment, click below and scroll down to the very bottom.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright  © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

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Book Signing Barnes & Noble Arboretum, Saturday, February 25, 2017 from 1-4 p.m.


Joan's Elder Care Guide cover by Aidana WillowRaven, 4RV Publishing

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Copyright 2004 Joan Y. Edwards

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Come to see me on Saturday, February 25, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. Book signing Barnes & Noble Arboretum Shopping Center, 3327 Pineville Matthews Rd, Charlotte, NC 28226. Phone 704-341-9365.

Joint bookfair between Barnes and Noble and Charlotte Writers Club. Other authors will be there. Their names are below with the times they will do a reading!

If you can’t come in person, you can order online use Bookfair voucher ID 12077293: http://www.bn.com/bookfairs from 2/25/2017 to 3/2/2017 and include the Bookfair voucher ID 12077293 on the payment page during checkout.

At 3:30 p.m. I’ll be reading from one of my books – 15 minutes. I’m the last author to read! It’s an honor to be there.

Here’s the list of authors and the time they’ll read:

1:15 Ione O’Hara
1:30 M. Logan Ham
1:45 Linda Bost
2:00 Nancy LiPetri
2:15 Norma Dougherty
2:30 Ben Sharpton
2:45 Liz Gilmore Williams
3:00 Nancy Stancill
3:15  James Boatner
3:30 Joan Edwards


I know you’ll be with me in spirit, if you can’t be there in person! Thanks for caring about me!Flip Flap Floodle and I can’t wait to see you! 

 

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COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

***************************************************

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 385 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

 

 

 

 

Why Not? Day 10 Submit Your Manuscript. Go Ahead.


“Why Not? Day 10 Submit Your Manuscript. Go Ahead” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written sentences.

    why-not-copyright-joan-y-edwards-2017

    Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

  2. You’ve written paragraphs.
  3. You’ve written an article, poem, short story, manuscript, screenplay.
  4. You’ve written a title.
  5. You’ve written a pitch.
  6. You’ve revised your writing at least three times.
  7. You’ve had your work critiqued by a critique group, a writing partner, and/or a professional editor. You’ve decided which suggestions you’ll honor and revised your manuscript again. You’ve proofread it and had others to proofread it, too.
  8. You’ve picked out one publisher or agent.
  9. You’ve written your query/cover letter.

 

Reread the guidelines of the publisher, agent, or contest you’ve chosen. Make sure you are following them.
Proofread your manuscript.
Proofread your query/cover letter.
If appropriate, proofread your proposal or story summary.

If you have decided that this is as good as you can possibly get it with the information you have, the talents you have, and the understanding that you have, go for it. Submit your manuscript! Say a prayer. Go ahead. Do it. Submit your manuscript.

I call this Pub Subbing. Here are the links to the three weeks before you submit during the third week. Of course, you can speed up this process or slow it down to suit your situation.

Pub Subbers
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 10 blog posts to help you get from story idea to submission. You can also use these ideas to help you get your illustrations ready to submit, too. You can put illustrations on a post card with your contact information and send it to a long list of publishers and agents. Please share them with your Facebook friends or with your Twitter accounts. 

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0/
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf
  4. “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG
  5. “Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xh
  6. “Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Writing. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xl
  7. “Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xj
  8. “Why Not? Day 8 Make a List of Good Publishers. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xp
  9. “Why Not? Day 9 Write a Query Letter or Cover Letter. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xm
  10. “Why Not? Day 10 Submit Your Manuscript. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xw

Thank you for reading my blog. I believe there may be a problem with the emails. I don’t believe many of you have been receiving emails when new blog posts are published. Please leave a comment and let me know whether or not you’re receiving emails. 

COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

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Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 385 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

Two choices:

  1. Log out of your WordPress account and sign up with an email that’s not on your WordPress account 
  2. Log into your WordPress account and sign up with the email that you used for it. 

 

Why Not? Day 9 Write a Query Letter or Cover Letter. Go Ahead.


Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

“Why Not? Day 9 Write a Query Letter or Cover Letter. Go Ahead” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written sentences.
  2. You’ve written paragraphs.
  3. You’ve written an article, poem, short story, manuscript, screenplay.
  4. You’ve written a title.
  5. You’ve written a pitch.
  6. You’ve revised your writing at least three times.
  7. You’ve had your work critiqued by a critique group, a writing partner, and/or a professional editor. You’ve decided which suggestions you’ll honor and revised your manuscript again. You’ve proofread it and had others to proofread it, too.
  8. You’ve picked out one publisher or agent

What is the difference between a query letter and a cover letter? A cover letter goes along with a copy of a manuscript or a proposal. In the days before emails, these letters would cover the main manuscript or other enclosures. Thus, the name cover letter. With a query, it doesn’t go on top of something. It doesn’t have attachments. It’s all alone. A query letter’s purpose is to ask if someone would like to see a manuscript. It’s asking a question. If there’s nothing attached or enclosed, it’s a query letter.

A cover letter means you have permission to send part of a manuscript. If it’s a non-fiction manuscript book, the guidelines might say to send a proposal with the first three chapters. If a publisher or agent’s guidelines specify that you send ten pages or a whole picture book manuscript, then you’re writing a cover letter to go with it.

Both a query letter and a cover letter follow the same format – one page, single spaced, one-inch margins. Your address, phone number, email address, and date on the right side at the top. The name and address of the editor or agent on the left side.

Greeting: Dear Mr. or Ms. and the last name. When I’m not sure whether it’s Miss or Mrs. I usually use their first name. Please make it more personal than Dear Submission Editor or Dear Agent. But if that’s the best option possible, go with it. A publisher may tell you to send your query to the submission editor with no name mentioned. Other publishers have an online form to submit your information. If so, you can copy and paste elements in the right places. Usually, literary agencies like for you to study their agents and choose the one who works with your genre. They want you to select one and only one agent.

RE: Put Submission or Query or Fall Conference 2016: Check the guidelines for subject notes

First paragraph: Tell where you met them or why you chose them (conference, website, blog, another writer).

Explain that you love the humor, information, mystery, or another quality of a book that they published or represented as an agent. Tell how your book is similar to this book. Tell your PITCH (2 sentences).

Second paragraph: Tell MORE ABOUT YOUR STORY (125 word selling summary).

Tell why you believe this company or agent would be a good match for this manuscript. If the guidelines mention certain interests of publisher or agent, mention it, if it relates to your book.

Third paragraph: SHORT BIO.

Tell 3 biographical sentences about you and your writing/illustrating. Mention your membership in writer or illustrator professional groups, such as Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.

Closing paragraph: THANKS AND ASK THE QUESTION.

Thanks for considering my work. If it’s a COVER LETTER, tell what you’ve enclosed or attached. May I send you the complete manuscript of BOOK TITLE? I look forward to hearing from you, but I understand that if I don’t hear from you in _______ months, you are not interested.

If the guidelines accept only email submissions, use email. Make sure your own email address has your name in it, not flowerful@gmail.com or thegreatest@yahoo.com.

If the guidelines ask for snail mail, use your postal service. If they ask for SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope), be sure and enclose one.

Thank you for subscribing. Question for you, subscribers: Are you getting the updates for new posts for my blog by email like you signed up for? Please answer my poll.  

Good luck with writing your query or cover letter. Please let me know if my ideas or resources help you. There are more resources for you below. To comment, click below and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

***************************************************

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 384 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

Earlier blog posts in the Why Not? series:

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead:”
    http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf
  4. “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG
  5. “Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead:”
    http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xh
  6. “Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Story. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xl
  7. “Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xj
  8. “Why Not? Day 8 Make a List of Good Publishers. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xp

Resources

  1. Agent Query.com. “How to Write a Query Letter” http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx
  2. Allena Tapia. About.com. “A Sample Query:”
    http://freelancewrite.about.com/od/getpublished/a/samplequery.htm/
  3. Charlotte Dillon. “Query:” http://www.charlottedillon.com/query.html
  4. Cynthea Liu. “Anatomy of a Query Letter:” http://www.writingforchildrenandteens.com/submissions/anatomy-of-a-query-letter/
  5. Jacqueline K. Ogburn. “Rites of Submission:” http://www.underdown.org/covlettr.htm/
  6. Joan Y. Edwards. “Components of a Good Query Letter:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/components-of-a-good-query-letter/
  7. Joan Y. Edwards. “Will Your Query Letter Sell Your Manuscript?” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/will-your-query-letter-sell-your-manuscript/
  8. Nathan Bransford. “How to Format a Query Letter:” http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/03/how-to-format-query-letter.html/
  9. Nathan Bransford. “Anatomy of a Good Query Letter:” http://blog.nathanbransford.com/search/label/Anatomy%20of%20a%20Good%20Query%20Letter/
  10. New York Book Editors. “How to Write a Darn Good Query Letter:” http://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/
    Preditors and Editors: Sample Query http://pred-ed.com/pubquery.htm
  11. Query Shark http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ 

 

Why Not? Day 8 Make a List of Good Publishers. Go Ahead.


Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

This is the 8th post in the Why Not Series.

“Why Not? Day 8 Write a List of Good Publishers. Go Ahead” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written sentences.
  2. You’ve written paragraphs.
  3. You’ve written an article, poem, short story, manuscript, screenplay.
  4. You’ve written a title.
  5. You’ve written a pitch.
  6. You’ve revised your writing at least three times.
  7. You’ve had your work critiqued by a critique group, a writing partner, and/or a professional editor. You’ve decided which suggestions you’ll honor and revised your manuscript again. You’ve proofread it and had others to proofread it, too.

Now you’re ready to decide where to send your manuscript…a publisher, agent, or contest? A TOUGH decision. If you’ve decided to self-publish your book, make a list of publishers who specialize in helping people self-publish and their fees. This post is not about self-publishing.

Do your homework. Investigate the publisher, agent, or contest. What are their best sellers? Do they publish your genre? What will be your royalty? Are there any required fees?  Do they accept returns? This is a necessity for your book to be accepted widely in book stores. Otherwise, you’ll have to approach bookstores yourself and see if they will sell your books on consignment. If there are fees, they are not traditional publishers. Stay away from them. Go to others.

Decide your criteria. What do you expect from a publisher? For most of The Big Momma Publishers, you must have an agent. If that’s your wish, obtain an agent.

Check the publishers or agents of three of your favorite books in your genre. Read their submission guidelines. Do they accept unsolicited manuscripts?

Study and find more editors, agents, or contests that are good matches for your manuscript. 

After collecting your information, choose three of the most promising ones for submission. Re-read the submission guidelines for each one. Write three reasons why each publisher or agent on your list would be a great choice. Save this information for your query or cover letter. It will come in handy.

If you’re reading information from a guidebook or an online source, DOUBLE-CHECK the latest submission guidelines on the website of the publisher, agent, or contest. Save yourself heartache. Check them again right before you submit your manuscript.

The next in this blog series will be about writing your query or cover letter to go with your manuscript.

 

Resources:

 

  1. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2017: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over! by Jeff Herman: https://www.amazon.com/Hermans-Publishers-Editors-Literary-Agents-ebook/dp/B01LA268C0/
  2. Joan Y. Edwards. “22 Literary Agents Who Are Looking for You:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/22-literary-agents-who-are-looking-for-you/
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “40 Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/40-publishers-who-accept-unsolicited-manuscripts/
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “Questions to Ask Before You Sign with a Publisher:”
    https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/questions-to-ask-before-you-sign-a-contract-with-a-publisher/
  5. Joan Y. Edwards. “Take These Steps Before You Sign with an Agent:”
    https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/take-these-steps-before-you-sign-with-an-agent/
  6. Poets & Writers-Creative Writing Contests & Competitions http://www.pw.org/content/writing_contests_0?cmnt_all=1
  7. Sally Stuart. Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide http://stuartmarket.blogspot.com/
  8. Writer’s Digest Books. Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2017, Writer’s Digest Bookshttps://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Writers-Illustrators-Market-2017/dp/1440347778/
  9. Writer’s Digest Books. Writer’s Market by Writer’s Digest Books 2017
    https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Market-2017-Trusted-Published/dp/1440347735/
  10. Writing Contests: http://writersviews.com/writing-contests.php

 

Earlier blog posts in the Why Not? series:

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead:”
    http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf
  4. “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG
  5. “Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead:”
    http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xh
  6. “Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Story. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xl
  7. “Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3xj

Thanks for reading my blog. I’d love to hear from you. To comment, click below and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

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Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued.


 

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

This is the 7th post in the Why Not Series.

“Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued. Go Ahead.” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written sentences.
  2. You’ve written paragraphs.
  3. You’ve written an article, poem, short story, manuscript, screenplay.
  4. You’ve written a title.
  5. You’ve written a pitch.
  6. You’ve revised your writing at least three times.

Now you are ready to get someone else to read your work. Now you’re ready for a critique.

Things to remember about a critique.

  1. One person’s opinion doesn’t mean it is the truth. It does not mean what they say is a fact. It is not their opinion about you personally. It is about your writing. Keep the two things separate in your mind.
  2. Don’t change anything you don’t agree with 100 per cent. Remember it’s your story. You are the author.
  3. Let your manuscript and the critique rest in a drawer for at least a week maybe more before you do anything with it. Give time for the ideas to take root in your brain and jog around in your imagination.

Find Compatible Critique Partners or Critique Groups

Writing organizations in your town or state may have critique groups for you to join. I know the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators helps members find critique groups. Join a Facebook group or Yahoo group for writers. Ask in your church, school, or workplace. Look for writers who write in the same genre as you. It’s easier to focus on getting and giving the best advice and feedback when all members in a critique group write in the same genre. I have been in critique groups where members were happy and talented and did multiple genres well.

Hire a professional editor

Choose someone who has critiqued successful books in your genre.

Ask for references, so you can interview the authors who used this particular editor.

Ask for titles of books he edited.

Ask about his fees and what each fee covers.

Ask the authors of your favorite books in your genre who they used to edit their books. Sometimes it is listed inside the book.

In The Editor’s Eye Stacy Ennis suggests using the list from the  Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).

 

How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group

It’s great to have a critique group, either in person or on-line. Here are ways to benefit the most from your critique group:

Be thankful for ways a critique group can help you

  1. Another person can spot those spelling, punctuation, or grammar that you’ve read over 10 times and didn’t notice.
  2. If you want to know if a particular scene in your book is working, the members in your critique group can give you their opinions. They can offer choices for solutions to problems you noticed yourself.
  3. The people in a critique group can teach you, inspire you, encourage you, and tell you the best written passages (Blue Ribbon parts) of your manuscript, query letter, cover letter, proposal, synopsis, summary.

Before you hand your manuscript and pitch to someone for critique: Remember these things

  1. Give others the right to like or dislike your work. Accept that it’s okay if they don’t like it and okay if they do like it. Ask for suggestions they believe would make it better. That doesn’t mean you have to use it. It may lead you to an idea you like.
  2. Be open to change. Change creates a path to a stronger and better manuscript. Decide which parts of your manuscript are non-negotiable and which parts are negotiable.
  3. Share only your best writing. Check your spelling and grammar with your writing software or other sources before you get your work critiqued by others.

Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique

How can you give a good manuscript critique? When you critique a manuscript, you want to do a good job. You want the writer to understand clearly what you think. You want to give them both ways to correct and ways to enhance the manuscript. You want to show the author where the writing is great as well as where it needs improvement.

When you critique a manuscript, make your notes stand out. Be creative. 

  • Highlight in blue or put in blue text at least three of the best written passages – Blue Ribbon passages. In this particular manuscript, these parts win First Prize – the Blue Ribbon like they used to give at the County Fairs.
  • Highlight in yellow or put in red text, and/or cross out words you believe should be deleted like this.
  • Use a different color font for your remarks from the one the writer used.
  • Use all caps for your input. WHAT A STRONG BEGINNING!
  • Devise your own clever way to note your feedback on the manuscript.

Ideas for a Good Critique

When you ask another person to critique your work, you can highlight questions for special emphasis.
If you’re the author, ask yourself the questions below about one of your own manuscripts.

When critiquing an author’s work, keep the following suggestions in mind as you read it.  It will help you focus on the story’s strengths, as well as give the author ideas for enrichment. Feel free to add ideas of your own.

25 Suggestions for a Helpful Critique

  1. Write in your questions as you read the manuscript.
  2. Write in your ideas you’d like for the author to consider.
  3. Does the title catch your interest?
  4. Does the pitch (logline, selling summary, blurb) give the essence of the story?
  5. Which parts, if any, confused you?
  6. Note punctuation and grammar errors.
  7. What are the three main errors in punctuation and grammar for the author to correct?
  8. Point out pet words that the author uses over and over? A thesaurus might have other words to use in place of them.
  9. Point out where the writer needs to show, not tell. 
  10. What do you want to know that the writer doesn’t tell you in the story?
  11. Does the story make sense? If not, note in the manuscript which parts that don’t make sense.
  12. Do you know what the protagonist wants? What is he willing to do to get it? What keeps him from getting what he wants? 
  13. What mistakes does the protagonist make?
  14. What are the protagonist’s flaws? (He’s got to have flaws.)
  15. What is the lowest point in the story? The part where it looks like there is absolutely no way the protagonist is going to get what he wants.
  16. Does the protagonist change? How? It makes the story work when the main character has to change to get what he wants.
  17. Does the protagonist face his conflict or run away?
  18. Does the protagonist save himself by human means or is he saved by unbelievable circumstances that seems like magic? The main character seems more human when he saves himself.
  19. What does the main character learn about life from his experiences in this story? (Theme)
  20. Do you know what each character wants?
  21. Does each character have a distinct voice of his own?
  22. Is the dialogue believable? Is it tagged appropriately?
  23. Can you tell when a different character is talking?
  24. What are three of the best written (Blue Ribbon) passages?
  25. Retell my story in three sentences: beginning, middle, and end. (James N. Frey’s suggestion from How to Write a Damn Good Novel.) Through listening you’ll discover the strong parts and weak parts. If you have trouble, tell the author which parts aren’t clear.

 

*****For a fun read and a chance to win a free Giveaway, see my “Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/interview-with-becoming-heros-author-jen-finelli/

Resources

Brian Klems. Writers Digest. “Ten Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You But Should:” http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/10-things-your-freelance-editor-might-not-tell-you-but-should

Ellen Dodson. “Guide for Critique Groups & Individual Critiques:” http://www.scbwior.com/links/CritGroup.html

Jennifer Evans. “Guidelines for Group Critiques of Fiction:”
http://www.slugtribe.org/etiquette.html

Joanna Penn. “How to Find the Right Editor:” http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/07/14/how-to-find-the-right-editor/

Joan Y. Edwards. “James N. Frey Books to Improve Your Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/james-n-frey-books-to-improve-your-writing/

Joan Y. Edwards. “Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique:”
https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/guide-for-a-good-manuscript-critique/

Joan Y. Edwards. “A Critique Is a Gift – It Contains Choices and Possibilities:”
https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/a-critique-is-a-gift-it-contains-choices-and-possibilities/

Marg Gilks. “Fundamentals of Fiction, Part III: Critique Groups and Writers’ Groups:”
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/fiction03.shtml

Stacy Ennis. “Five Ways to Find the Right Freelance Book Editor:” https://janefriedman.com/find-freelance-book-editor/

Suzanne. Zanzjan.net. “How to Give a Critique (Beginners):”http://www.zanzjan.net/writing/give-critique.html

Suzanne. Zanzjan.net. “How to Take a Critique (Beginners):” http://www.zanzjan.net/writing/take-critique.html

I wish you great success in your writing career. Thanks for reading this blog post. You honor me with your presence. Please leave a comment, resource, or question. I’d love to hear from you.

COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

***************************************************

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 383 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

 

 

Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli


Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

“Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli” (Giveaway details below)

Today, I am delighted to interview Jen Finelli, author of soon to be released Becoming Hero

Hi, Jen. So good to have you as our honored guest today. I know our readers are going to enjoy learning about you. You are clever and fun. I’ve rolled out the red carpet for you.

Thank you, Joan for having me here. Let’s get going.

  1. Where were you born?
    Washington, DC!
  1. Where was your favorite place to live as a child? Why?
    Germany was wonderful, but my heart’s in Paraguay. You know how some folks have that Grandma’s house out in the country or something they went to over the summer? My “summer” place was Paraguay…the verdant home to thousands of undiscovered bird species, the largest waterfall in the world, and people who will offer you tea and next thing you know is that you’re part of their family. That’s where I’m going to live when I grow up: I’m spending the next ten years saving up money to build a clinic in the jungle there.
  1. Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child? Where and why?
    What’s comfier than a bed, am I right?
  1. Where is your favorite place to read now? Why?
    Ha, I don’t grow up. That’s why on Twitter they call me Petr3Pan! I’m still in the same place.
  1. How do you keep yourself physically fit?
    I cry a lot, and that doesn’t seem to be working. It’s great, I stay the same size all the time! I’m big enough for my husband to write words on and hide them in the folds. In all seriousness, there are some awesome apps people should check out if they want to get fit. I’m trying to do this 100 push-ups app, and learn Bellydancing. Zombies Run looks awesome. I used to be a black belt who ran three miles every morning, taught martial arts classes, AND swam competitively, so I do like exercise. It just doesn’t like me.
  1. If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you go to first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs?
    Not a huge fan of spinning things. Love the Apollo’s Chariot at Bush Gardens, Williamsburg, Va. I want to fly, so anything that makes me feel like I’m flying is a go.
  2. What is your favorite genre? Why?
    Sci-Fi! Because it’s the best one! You can say anything about the future, the past, the now, and you can explore the edges of human innovation and maybe even influence some real scientists. Nothing’s better than that!
  1. What’s your favorite book that you’ve ever read? Why?
    Either Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie or The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. The Space Trilogy is a great example of anthropological philosophy, and he spends a lot of time thinking about what cultures might be like on other planets in a very mystical, beautiful way. Much more lit than his Narnia trilogy.
  1. Where is your favorite place to visit? Why?
    Wherever my husband is.
  1. When did you decide to become a writer?
    Six year old me: grubby, shower-less little kid who exclusively spoke in words she’d read in the dictionary. Hated writing, but I wrote an essay about a salmon that included the sentence “she swam far far far far far far far far far far far far” and it won an award, so my fate was sealed. I might still hate writing, who knows.

But the fact is I’m good at written storytelling, and as my writing career began to build (despite my attempts to do other things like medicine) I realized I was born for this. I quit a pharmacy tech position and began writing full-time. I—no joke—heard God telling me it’s my calling to write.

*Ding ding ding crazy!* I know you’re all thinking it, so it’s okay, I’ll go ahead and say it. But you know, I’m a multiple published Codex member now with over a hundred pieces over my belt, so I don’t think I’m one of these people who says God told them to write and then sends you the scary manifesto they wrote in blood on toilet paper.

I’m more like one of those people who says God told them to write and sends you a frikkin’ awesome zombie story in a popular anthology. (I’m saving my bloody toilet paper manifesto for when Vermin Supreme becomes president = P)

  1. Who or what has inspired you the most to write?
    I have no idea! When I was nine I loved something by Lynne Reid Banks so much I decided to write my own magical world about an Easter Egg. I always wanted to be the next C.S. Lewis. If I can learn to be the best me, that would be a good start.
  1. What has been the most exhilarating moment as a writer?
    When I stopped thinking I knew how to write, and started taking advice. That’s when my career took off. I threw away a 500,000 word novel, people.
  1. What are your top ten tips for writers to help them in writing a best seller?
  • Don’t be lazy.
  • Be patient.
  • Realize your work isn’t perfect, that’s not a personal flaw, and you can take steps to get better. You don’t have to kill all your Darlings, but you do have to kill your ego.

These three things will help you deal with rejection and improve your writing more than anything else will. You also need to avoid the use of “was,” use strong words instead of adverbs, stop being pretentious and writerly (stop saying utilize instead of use), and read both Grammar Girl and Strunk and White. (I need to do those things, too) Ten tips is more than I’m qualified to give in one post, but I do have a place on my site where I drop writing tips I’ve learned from others. I believe you’ll think it’s worth checking out.

  1. How did you find the illustrator for your comic book?
    That’s a bit of a secret, since we have a big reveal coming up, but suffice it to say: online! People who are looking for artists should follow them on Twitter, go to ComicCons, hang out on DeviantArt, and generally try to think like artists.

Paying money helps, which is why I ran this awesome campaign to pay my artist AND give my fans cool inexpensive pre-orders! At the $1 level peeps get a $17 audiobook!

  1. What are three things that you do to entice readers to read to the very last page of your book?
    Pray. Eat. Love. Or something like that. No, for real! Prayer helps get my mind focused, I need to eat or I can’t write, and if you don’t love your readers they can feel it. That’s something Dale Carnegie said once.

On a more practical note, keep secrets (but don’t lie to your readers, they hate that)—every character should have one secret trait you never tell your readers, and one secret that affects the book in some way. Cock Chekhov’s gun: let readers see the rifle lying in the room before it becomes important. Just kind of mention it, and then later when it’s important they’re like OH SNAP I REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A GUN IN THE ROOM!

And finally, have an outline that flows.

  1. As I understand it, when you were writing a cartoon, you had one of your characters rebel against the situations you put him in? How do you feel about this?
    Well it’s not actually me that Skye’s shooting—he’s inside a comic book INSIDE the novel, so his author lives in the novel, and I’m his author’s author. Like his grand-author. Thankfully, he doesn’t know I exist.

In all seriousness, writing something this meta can mess with your head a little bit. I’m writing about tropes I think comic authors should stop using, and about how ridiculous it gets when major franchises get dragged on and on and on…and I’m employing the same tropes I’m talking about because otherwise it’s tell not show. So like…if Skye were real somewhere…am I a huge jerk, or am I doing this because I’m trying to make a hero out of him? Would he hate me, or thank me for bringing him to become the person he’s meant to be?

I try to write all my characters, even the bad guys, as if I love them very much. I want to see them shine, so each one needs to have his moment, and each one needs a deep reason for why he does what he does. But who knows…Skye might still find me worthy of a bullet in the brain.

  1. This question is for Skye, the main character in your new book, Becoming Hero.
    Hello, Skye from Becoming Hero. Why are you so upset?
Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

Becoming Hero by Jen Finelli

Skye speaking:

“To quote Batman: how many girlfriends died in your hands?

You know what’s really sad about it? They’re fading in my head, ’til they’re almost not people anymore—just plot points, meant to drive me on, and I can feel that drive, that spiked wheel turning in my rib cage and churning all the meat in there like a blender, I feel how it’s supposed to warp me and turn me in to a dark and cool mysterious brooding guy with a past, and I don’t want it, I don’t, that’s not who I am.

Before you know it, well, here I am. Dark and brooding guy with a past. I even use guns now. I’ve got nothing but Natasha’s name on my lips and her ring around my neck, because her personality, her well-rounded human self disappeared every time she stepped into a panel and became “the girlfriend.” Because I’m the main character, everyone exists around me. Which means everyone around me has to suffer, but I can never, never die.

This is what the SAT calls egomania. This is what the author in the comic is doing to me.

You know it’s the worst thing ever when you know what’s happening to you, and you can’t stop it?

If there were one person in your life who was responsible for all the suffering of everyone you loved—your parents, your best friend, that special person who makes you blush like a dummy—would you take it lying down?

Or would you take them out?”

For more information about me, Skye from Jen Finelli’s new book, Becoming Hero, check out the website: http://becominghero.ninja

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, Skye.

GIVEAWAY

 

Jen Fenelli, Author of Becoming Hero

Jen Fenelli, Author of Becoming Hero

Jen Finelli’s Short Bio

If you’re looking for sentient cockroaches, angry superheroes, zombies or fairies, offensive gods, and anything else just plain different, Jen Finelli probably writes what you want. She’s a world-traveling sci-fi writer with a knack for making people feel things. (Rage, mostly, but that’s a feeling, right?) So far she’s gotten locked in a German nunnery, fired by a secret news organization, lost in an underground tunnel network, and wind-whipped in a tropical monsoon while riding a motorcycle, so she thinks she’s doing something right. Her comic book character wants to kill his author in Becoming Hero, coming in 2017.

Jen invites you to go here to get a $17 audiobook for $1, watch a silly movie (cool video with Jen telling about her book), and get an early Valentine’s Day gift for you loved one!

Jen’s websites:

byjenfinelli.com (I live here)

petrepan.blogspot.com (Free nightmares and ponies here)

http://becominghero.ninja (I make comics here)

mysweetaffair.com (I wrote a movie!)

Connect with Jen Finelli on Social Media: 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/becomingherocomic
Twitter: twitter.com/petr3pan
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118054993565539554359
Pinterest: pinterest.com/petr3pan
Instagram: instagram.com/becominghero
Stumbleupon: stumbleupon.com/petrepan (please like/stumble my things!)

Thank you, Jen for a fun interview. I wish you the best of luck with your launch of Becoming Hero.

Pre-order now!

Thank you for reading my blog. I am very blessed to see you here.

Winner of the Giveaway Contest. I appreciate the three people who were kind enough to leave a comment on this blog post between January 19th and midnight, January 28, 2017.

  1. Linda Andersen
  2. Kathleen Burkinshaw
  3. Cat Michaels

I had random.org choose the winner. The lucky winner of Jen Finelli’s short story, Minnie: The Curse of Sentience is Linda Andersen. Congratulations, Linda. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll send it to you by email.

To leave a comment please click below and scroll down to the bottom:

COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

***************************************************

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 373 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

 

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