Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Seven Things to Do While Waiting for your Book to Release

And the winner of Deb Raney's newest release, Home at Last, is ... Tonya Robinette. Congrats,Tonya! Please e-mail your address to andreamerrell7 @ gmail (dot) com, and we will get your book in the mail. Thanks for participating in our giveaway.

 By Andrea Merrell

In my last post, we talked about many of the reasons it takes so long (usually a year) from contract to publication for your book.

Now that you understand the steps that go into getting your book ready to launch, let’s look at seven things you can do in the meantime.

While you’re waiting:

1. Work on your platform
Make sure you have a viable presence on social media, and do some networking.

2. Work on your blog/website
Make sure your blog/website is up to date and others can easily contact you. Include all links to your social media.

3. Create a marketing plan
This can be as simple or elaborate as you can afford. You can do it on your own or hire someone to help.

4. Create social media posts
Compose Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs you can use to promote your book. And don't forget Pinterest.

5. Create a tribe
Choose your team/influencers and plan your launch party.

6. Plan a blog tour 
Ask other writers if you can be a guest blogger on their site.

7. Pray 
Give your project to God and ask Him to guide you in your next steps. Pull together a team of people who will pray for you and for your book.

The bottom line is this: 
Don't wait. Start now. If you wait until your book is out, you're way behind schedule.

What have you encountered
while waiting for your book
to release. We would love to
hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


Monday, February 13, 2017

Pros, Cons, and Tips for Writing a Novel Series

Today’s guest is award-winning author Deb Raney. We will be giving away a free copy of her newest release, Home At Last, so be sure to leave a comment for her below. The winner will be announced the week of February 27th, so check back to see if that’s you. J

By Deb Raney

I recently finished writing the fifth and final book in the Chicory Inn Novels series, and am now working on the first book in a new series. Having written mostly stand-alone novels for most of my writing career, this has been an interesting experience and one I’ve learned so much from. First let’s look at the pros and cons of series books.

• Once you’ve created your setting and any recurring characters, half your work for subsequent books in the series is done! 
• If you’re an author who grows very attached to your characters and has a hard time saying “goodbye,” a series lets you stick around a while.
• Series let you develop characters more deeply and over a longer period of time than the average stand-alone.
• Readers love series (although be aware that some readers wait until an entire series is out before they start reading—or buying—the books).

• If you grow bored working with the same setting or characters, you might feel stuck long before your contract is fulfilled.
• If the first book of a series bombs, it can create a dilemma about how to proceed.
• With shrinking space on the bookshelf, bookstores often carry only an author’s newest book. This can make it difficult for customers to find an entire series at once. (Of course, they can always order online.)
• Committing to a series is committing to one publisher for a long period of time. You risk cancellation if an imprint closes, or a publishing house dissolves.
• If you write contemporary, it can be difficult to keep up with technology. The iPad your character used in Book One might be obsolete by the time you get to Book Five.

Here are some things I’ve learned through the writing of two two-book series, two three-book series, and my most recent five-book series that I’d like to pass along to anyone who might be considering proposing or writing a series.


• Be sure you have enough material for the number of books you’ve planned. It’s not unusual to have a grand, high-concept idea for Book One that fizzles out long before you reach Book Five.
• Consider making each book of the series a stand-alone that concludes sufficiently so that readers won’t be disappointed if they read Book Three first, or if they don’t like the series well enough to continue after a book or two. Readers are sometimes disgruntled if they invest time in Book One and then find they must read future books to discover the main characters’ happy ending.
• The books of a series might tie together in theme (weddings, royal families, stories of hope, etc.) and setting (each book is about a different character in the same small town, etc.) rather than being a continuation of the stories of one or two characters. (But realize that such a loose tie negates some of the pros mentioned above.)
• Create a “bible” with all the details of your characters, setting, and storylines. You might think you’ll remember, but trust me, you won’t.
• Keep an updated, ongoing timeline for each book and for the entire series. Readers have sharp eyes when it comes to inconsistencies.
• Before you start, research what series are already being published, and work hard to make your series unique.
• Most publishers will want you to have an official series name that will likely appear on the book covers. Often this series title will hint at the setting or the theme of the series. It’s also helpful if individual titles in the series fit together well. (Think of Karen Kingsbury’s series where all the titles begin with the same letter of the alphabet. In my Chicory Inn series, each of the five titles has the word HOME in it, which also echoes a main theme of each book.)
• I’ve found it very helpful to have photo reference for the setting, each character, the homes where many scenes take place, etc. I use Pinterest and Scrivener to make “idea boards” with all those images. I also set my desktop with those inspiration photos so that I’m constantly, visually seeing my characters and setting.
• Consider creating a music soundtrack for your series. Music can be a powerful, positive trigger for getting you in the zone for writing about a specific setting or set of characters. I’ve done the same thing with scented candles, snacks, and even flowers, etc., surrounding myself with things that call to mind my story and help me go deep into my story world.
• Enjoy the privilege of living with beloved characters for longer than the time it takes to write just one book. It’s a pleasure to write “the end” knowing it’s really only the beginning of a new book with the same wonderful setting and/or cast of characters. (But prepare for the final goodbyes to be even more difficult than usual after you’ve lived with your characters for so long.)

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles and Deb Raney.)


DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years and more than thirty books later, she's still writing. She and her husband traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deb’s novels—for life in the city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and seven grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at www.deborahraney.com.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Published?

By Andrea Merrell

You’ve finally made. You went to writers’ conferences, practiced, pitched, and submitted. You put in the work, and it paid off—you have a contract on your book.

Congratulations. Now you can sit back, put your feet up, and relax.

Not a chance.

Yes, you’ve worked hard getting your manuscript ready for publication, but your journey is just beginning.

I’ve been asked numerous times why it takes so long for a book to be published after a contract is signed. It’s possible for a book to be ready to launch within six to eight months, but most books take at least a year. Sounds like a long time, but there’s a lot involved in the process. 

The details will differ from one publishing house to another, but this will give you a general idea what happens once you sign a contract:

  • Your manuscript is added to the publisher’s master schedule and assigned to an editor.
  • Your editor will go through your manuscript and make corrections using comments and track changes.
  • Once your editor finishes, the manuscript comes back to you to accept or reject changes, as well any required rewriting.
  • The manuscript goes back to the editor for a second round of edits.
  • Once the author and editor sign off on the edits, the manuscript goes to a proofreader, then back to the editor. The initial editing process (including notes for the author,  e-mails, and phone calls) can take up to three months, sometimes longer.
  • The manuscript is now sent to design where your Word doc is converted to a PDF. At this point, everything needs to be included (endorsements, dedication, acknowledgements, endnotes, etc.).
  • The PDF is sent to the author and editor for proofing (typos, formatting, paragraphs run together, etc.). It is also sent to a set of beta readers.
  • The PDF is now ready to be converted to a Mobi file (for Kindle books and e-readers) and a print copy.
  • The print copy is assigned to another proofreader, and the corrections come back to the original editor.
  • The book cover is created, along with the author’s photo, bio, and back cover blurb. This also has to be proofed and edited.
  • The first marketing stages begin.

Factor in delays in any of these steps (which happen on a regular basis), and you can see why you have to wait patiently for your release date.

But there’s so much for you to do in the meantime. In my next post (February 27), we’ll talk about all the important steps you need to take while waiting.

What has your experience been with the publishing process? If you have tips to share, we’d love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Master Isolated Images and Stuart Miles.)