Writer Wednesday – Things To Consider Before Submitting Your Manuscript #amwriting #amediting #WedmesdayWisdomForWriters

Hey there writers! Today I’d like to discuss things that you need to have ready when submitting your manuscript, but many writers overlook. It’s easy enough to do, since we typically spend so much time polishing our work to perfection, but every item I’ve listed below is absolutely essential, if not for the initial query then for the final product.

Of note, these guidelines are for fiction projects. Nonfiction book proposals are a whole different blog post!

  1. A tag line, also called a hook or a log line – your book will need something catchy that draws the reader in.
  2. Front cover – while no one’s expecting you to send in cover mock ups–in fact, many publishers actively discourage it–you need to have a clear idea of how you’d like the cover to look. Otherwise, if the publisher asks you for suggestions and you reply that you’re cool with whatever they come up with, you might be stuck with an image that doesn’t properly represent your book.
  3. Back cover – the text on the back cover–usually referred to as the back cover matter or blurb–is your one page opportunity to convince a reader to pick up your book. It needs to be concise, interesting, and leave enough clues that the reader needs to read the book to find out what happens. It’s your first opportunity to make that all-important emotional connection with your reader.

There are many more items we could discuss, but these three items–tag line, front cover and back cover–are the meat of your final product. Now let’s see some of these concepts in action, using one of my books, Heir to the Sun, as an example. Below is the cover, tag line in bold, and the back cover matter:

A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…

b3177-magnetWhen Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.

Caol’nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion.

What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.

Now as to how the awesomeness we see above us came to be, I started with the tag line. I wanted something simmering with tension that would draw the reader in. As for the back cover matter, I wanted to give the reader the barest taste of the plot, and the core issues our heroes are trying to solve. And as for the amazing cover by Veronica Jones, I knew that I wanted an action scene, and I knew which characters I wanted to feature.  I provided Veronica with the character descriptions, and gave her a few scenes to pick from, and voila!

There you have it, the three things I plot out long before my manuscript is complete. What work-ahead items are on your list – marketing, platform building, ordering swag? Tell us in the comments!

Heir to the Sun is currently on sale for 99 cents here: http://amzn.to/2cSkNSx

My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22: http://www.bingcomiccon.org/

StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!

 

 

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Full Pi-Con Schedule, Including A Writing Workshop And A Reading

Hey all! If you’re going to be in the Windsor, CT area from July 31 – August 2, swing by Pi-Con! It’s a great convention that celebrates many forms of geekery, from science to filk to cosplay. Their slogan is “the friendliest little convention in New England”, and they live up to it. Learn more about the awesomeness that is Pi-Con here.

I’ve got my full schedule listed below. Hope to see you there!

FRI 10:40 am Everything But the Writing

Jennifer Allis Provost, Trisha J. Wooldridge
There are lots of great workshops to help your craft, but what about actually selling your writing and making money? Let’s take a look at what else you need to know to be a professionally published author from queries to organizations, contracts and rights* to filing taxes**. * and **–Neither Trish nor Jenn are lawyers or tax advisors; we’re just giving you basic info.

FRI 1:00 pm World Building

Jennifer Bresnick (M), Dee Carter, Jennifer Allis Provost, Kristi Petersen Schoonover
The panelists will explore the many aspects of building believable worlds for your stories and novels. How does the writer do this?

FRI 4:00 pm Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Bianca D’Arc, Gordon Linzner (M), Jennifer Allis Provost
The panelists will look specifically at how to write successful science fiction and fantasy. What traits are specific to this genre? What are the challenges?

SAT 11:00 am The Books You Read Under the Covers

We all have “guilty pleasures”–books that we love and follow and re-read but feel just a little shy about confessing to. Time to ‘fess up! What books feed something in your soul, in defiance of others’ opinions of them? And why do those books just do it for you? (60 mins)
Susan de Guardiola, Lisa Evans (M), Jennifer Allis Provost

SAT 2:00 pm The Inklings

Imagine if your book club included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. That was the Inklings, who met in or near Oxford in England in the 1930s and 1940s. Just how influential were they? And how many of us would visit them if we found a time machine? (60 mins)
Nicholas Checker (M), Heather Dawn, Lisa Evans, Jennifer Allis Provost

SAT 5:00 pm SF/F/H TV of the 90s

As cable came into its own, many shows were developed and broadcast by smaller networks, like the WB, or produced by studios and sold for syndication. The 1990s saw a strong trend toward paranormal shows, with vampires and witches all over the dial. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever Knight, Charmed, a prime-time revival of Dark Shadows, Kindred: the Embraced, Angel, Xena, Hercules, Highlander (both of them), Early Edition, ST: Deep Space Nine, ST: Voyager…let’s share the our thoughts on the best, the worst, and the unfairly unnoticed. (60 mins)
Michael McAfee, Jennifer Pelland (M), Jennifer Allis Provost, Dr. James Prego

SAT 8:00 pm Romance and Specfic–What’s the Overlap?

Romance is the most consistently successful fiction genre, partly because it’s so broad and includes so many subcategories. “Paranormal romance” and romantic fantasy include many spec-fic elements, and SF romance exists, too. How far does romance overlap with spec-fic, and is there a gray area for books that aren’t quite either, but are a little of both? (60 mins)
D.L. Carter, Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Lisa Evans, Jennifer Allis Provost

SUN 10:00 am What the NA is That?

“New Adult” is the most recent sub-category of fiction. Is it just YA with some sex thrown in, or is it really aimed at a unique audience and their concerns? (60 mins)
Nicholas Checker (M), Vikki Ciaffone, Kate Kaynak, Jennifer Allis Provost

SUN 11:00 am It Drives Me Nuts When Writers Do This!

Killing off characters, using bad language, gratuitous sex and violence, not enough sex and violence, writing in the present tense, getting all meta?what are your literary pet peeves? Come and vent! (60 mins)
Grant Carrington, D.L. Carter, Jennifer Allis Provost, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (M)

SUN 12:00 pm Reading

I’ll be reading my favorite passage from Heir to the Sun.

ProvostHeirToTheSun

A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…

Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

Like it on Facebook here.

Summer Sale!

Hey all!

As most of you are aware, I’m a freelance publicist and editor as well as a writer. Since summer is such a great time to send your work off to be wrangled by someone else (leaving you with time to enjoy the sun), I’m running a sale on my editing rates. Just contact me via this form and mention “summer sale”.

What will these shiny new rates be, you ask? Here are the sales priced critiques rates:

Query letter and first three chapters: $50  $25

Full manuscript critique, 60k – 100k words: $150  $100

Full manuscript critique, more than 100k words: $200  $150

I know, wicked cheap.

In other news, Heir to the Sun is now free for Kindle Unlimited, and Prime members can borrow it for free! What a great way to dive into a new series. Remember, if you read it please leave a review. they’re like crack for writers.

Take care, and enjoy the sun!

ProvostHeirToTheSun

A mad king an escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm...

Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your GoodReads shelf here.

Like it on Facebook here.

 

 
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Enter To Win A Personalized Print Edition of HEIR TO THE SUN!

Hey all!

Both the print and ebook editions of HEIR TO THE SUN are live! But, who wants to pay for books, right? Not me!

Here are a few ways you can win a personalized print edition. The giveaway on Goodreads runs until July 1. If you’re not a fan of Goodreads, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be automatically entered. Or, you can just follow the Rafflecopter link below.

Hey, why not enter all three ways? I won’t tell.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A mad king an escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm...

Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your GoodReads shelf (and enter to win a signed print edition) here.

Like it on Facebook here.

Care And Feeding Of A Writer, Volume One: Recharging The Batteries

 (Author’s note: this is the first in a series of posts on how to combat everyday obstacles and other setbacks to the creative process. If there’s a specific topic you’d like me to discuss, let me know in the comments.)

We’ve all been there, probably more often than we’d like to admit. Whether we attribute it to writer’s block, stress from the day job, or our printer being out of ink, sometimes we just can get the words out of our brains and into our WIP. A closely related condition is when a scene forms perfectly in your head, but when you write it, it comes out something like this:

“She woke up, then went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. A bolt of lightning illuminated the darkened room, revealing the dark smudges beneath her eyes, all that was left of her nightmare.”

Or, if it’s not horribly cliched purple prose, it’s this:

“Hero: Me John. You want date John?”

Yeah. The only thing that crap’s good for is the delete key.

So what’s a writer to do when they want to write, but can’t? In my experience, the best thing to do is recharge your creative batteries.

Many things take a toll on our creativity, whether it’s a day job, financial stress, or just plain being tired. Why, this past winter it was 20 below in my neck of the woods, and let me tell you there is no way I was creating anything except a cozy spot in the blankets. The snow melted eventually, and while sunlight is an excellent way to recharge, there’s one specific type of event I’d like to discuss today: the writer’s conference.

These conferences vary greatly, and so will your experiences. It’s important that you choose conferences that are germane to your subject; for instance, if you write Amish romances you probably don’t want to attend something focusing on splatterpunk. That doesn’t mean you can’t have cross-genre appeal, but be aware of what the conference will be focusing on and who your fellow writers are.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Anthocon in Portsmouth, NH. Check out their website, and their Facebook page. Here’s their mission statement from the website: In its fourth year, AnthoCon is three days of panels, workshops, readings, and demonstrations related to imaginative fiction and art. Let me tell you, it’s a lot more than that.

Anthocon is a wonderfully diverse and inclusive event, and they welcome all writers of speculative fiction. There is a large concentration of horror writers, but paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and even middle grade fantasy is well represented. The attendees run the gamut from multi-published, award-winning authors to those just starting out. It’s three days of talking, and commiserating, and just being with other writers. Remember the bee girl?

At Anthocon, I feel like the bee girl 🙂

I brought my laptop with me, but I was so busy having fun I didn’t write a single word. Since I came back home, I’ve written over ten thousand. The moral of the story is that nothing gets the creative juices flowing like being around creativity. 

I leave you with the one picture I took during Anthocon, the Bloody Mary I had on Sunday morning. Boy, did I need it!

Doesn’t this look tasty?

How do you recharge your creative batteries? Tell us in the comments!

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Heir to the Sun – available wherever books are sold. Add it to your GoodReads shelf here.

Like it on Facebook here.

HEIR TO THE SUN – Live Today!

It’s here! It’s finally here! The ebook re-release of HEIR TO THE SUN is today! It’s available wherever ebooks are sold, from Amazon to iTunes to your local library; assuming, of course, your library has ebooks. If you’re a die-hard print lover fear not, for the print edition will release June 15.

Back cover blurb:

A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…

When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.

Caol’nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion.

What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.

~~~

Within the next few weeks look for teasers from the second Chronicle of Parthalan, THE VIRGIN QUEEN.

Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your GoodReads shelf (and enter to win a signed print edition) here.

Like it on Facebook here.

Marketing: The Good, the Bad, The Swag

As some of you may know, in addition to writing I offer freelance marketing and editing services. (Want to check out my rates? Look here.) Today, let’s talk about one of the most common marketing questions I get: what kind of swag should I order?

For those new to the publicity-sphere, swag is a catchall phrase for promo material intended to increase your brand awareness, such as bookmarks bearing an author’s latest release, t-shirts with logos emblazoned across them, even those tire pressure gauges from your auto insurance company. You know, the fun little doodads given away at trade shows and conferences. Admit it, you know you love ’em.

Since most of my client’s are writers, I usually deal with book related swag: bookmarks, postcards, posters, etc. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with offering any of these, bear in mind that EVERY OTHER AUTHOR has bookmarks, postcards, etc. If you want your swag, and therefore your book, to stand out, you need to get a bit creative.

True story: I once came home from a large science fiction/fantasy conference with an entire tote bag of bookmarks… and they all ended up in the trash. Really, after the tenth bookmark they all look alike. With a little imagination, it’s not so hard (or expensive) to stand out from the crowd.

There are a few rules to swag: it must make you think of the brand/item it’s promoting (easy enough by adding a logo or website info); it must somehow relate to your brand/item (re: don’t order custom ice cube trays for a YA romance…unless it features Ice People or takes place in Antarctica); and it needs to cheap enough that you can give it away with abandon.

Too much criteria? Trust me, it’s not, and to prove it let’s have a look at what arrived in my mailbox a few days ago.

Why yes, it’s a tiny bottle of olive oil. Isn’t it cute?

I am in no way affiliated with Goya, but c’mon, this little guy is adorable!

And, it came with a recipe book (in case I didn’t know what to do with olive oil)! And a coupon!

In addition to the recipes (and sweet $1.50 coupon!) it advertised the other olive oils offered by Goya. That’s called conversion marketing, peeps.

So, does this mean you should purchase teensy tiny bottles of olive oil with your logo emblazoned across the label? Not necessarily. But what Goya did with this presentation was something MEMORABLE. You want people to hang on to your swag, and remember your name. And, you know, buy your product. If the swag leads them to other products you have for sale, all the better.

I bet you’re wondering if I put my money where my mouth is with swag for my upcoming release, Heir to the Sun. Worry not, I sure did. In addition to the standard bookmarks and postcards, I got magnets (everyone needs to decorate their fridge), mini books, and little spell bottles (which I ordered waaay before I got the Goya bottle. Really.). I’d like to do more swag, and I’m pricing out lip balm and travel sunscreens on key chains as we speak. I know, you’re stoked.

Moral of the story: get something durable, something people will use for a few weeks or even months, long enough for them to remember your product. Don’t forget to slap on a website or QR code, so they can buy that product. Other than that, let your imagination be your guide.

Have you ever ordered unique swag? Let me know in the comments below.

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Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your GoodReads shelf here.

Like it on Facebook here.