Thursday, September 30, 2010

SUBMISSIONS CALL! YA Mystery Shorts Competition!

Mystery Times Ten

Our Spring/Summer 2011 Young Adult Showcase titled Mystery Times Ten seeks new mystery short stories that are targeted for the YA audience.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Theme: Mystery – Your choice be it murder, cozy, paranormal, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, police procedural, suspense, thriller, or amateur detective.
  • No gratuitous sex or violence. Please remember your audience is 13 and up.
  • The competition is open to all writers in English except current or former employees of Buddhapuss Ink LLC.
  • Submissions will be accepted from October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.
  • No previously published work(s) or simultaneous submissions please.
  • Entries should be between 3000-7000 words in length.
  • Send your submissions via email with the subject line “Submission for MYSTERY TIMES TEN"  from   with your story as an attached file in .doc (Word) format PLEASE INCLUDE in the body of the email:
  1. Your name and contact information
  2. A brief author bio (2-5 sentences)
  3. Entry should be single-spaced in at least a 12 pt. readable font. We suggest Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial.
  4. Send emails to:
Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be considered.
Notifications will be sent to finalists via email in March 2011.
There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. There is no fee to enter.

Winning Selections:

The Ten (10) Winning entries will be published in the Spring 2011 Young Adult Showcase titled Mystery Times Ten to be published by Buddhapuss Ink LLC.

First Place winner will receive a $100 Gift Card Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

Second Place winner will receive a $75 Gift Card, Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

Third Place winner will receive a $50 Gift Card, Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

ALL TEN (10) WINNERS will receive: two (2) copies of the finished book and the opportunity to “fast track” their next Young Adult or Middle Grade manuscript with our Editorial staff. “Fast track” does not mean you will receive a publishing contract, but we will guarantee that your manuscript is given a priority reading and response.

Some winning entries will also be featured on our website, blog, and/or Facebook page.

For more information and to learn about our judges please check out our website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

E-book Sales Jump 150% in July

After increasing by “only” 118% in June, e-book sales jumped 150.2% to $40.8 million at the 14 publishers that report e-book sales in July. Sales for the first seven months of the year were up 191%, to $219.5 million. The $40.8 million in e-book sales generated in July came within $20 million of the July sales generated by the 9 mass market paperback publishers that reported results to the Association of American Publishers. The e-book gains also came in a month where all print trade segments reported a decline in sales.
In the audio market, sales of traditional audiobooks (mostly CDs), fell 35.6%, to $8.7 million in July at the 21 reporting companies, while sales of downloadable audio rose 38.4%, to $6.6 million from the seven companies that reported figures.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Write Characters, Not Mary Sues

Meet Mary Sue.

She’s beautiful, often with hair and eyes of some unusual and striking color; brilliant, often with education and skills far beyond her age; and charismatic to the point where all other characters’ thoughts and actions revolve solely around her. Everyone likes, or at least admires her, even her worst enemies. If she has any flaws at all, they are minor and even endearing.
Oh, and readers hate her guts.
Mary Sue is a term originating in fan fiction, for a phenomenon that has probably existed since a Cro-Magnon teenager scratched a stick figure single-handedly slaying mammoths on a cave wall. Today, Mary Sue and her brothers Marty Stu and Gary Stu have branched out into fields far removed from mammoth-hunting, but they are still vectors of wish-fulfillment for their creators, and annoyances who can ruin a good story for their readers.
So, here’s my advice on how to avoid writing a Mary Sue and being mocked by readers and fellow writers for all time:

Let your protagonist be ugly.

Especially in action stories, your protagonist is likely to get into situations that would make a person dirty, sweaty, smelly, scarred, or otherwise less attractive than usual. This should be reflected in other characters’ reactions to your protagonist. If ey has just crawled through a sewer, ey should be slimy and leaving a trail of stench. Bystanders should be gagging and backing away when ey asks them for help. And the Evil Overlord is definitely not going to demand sex from em, at least not without a shower first. Unless your Evil Overlord is into that sort of thing.
And you know what? Your protagonist doesn’t even have to start out attractive! Readers don’t generally care about characters for their looks; they’ll each have a slightly different idea of what a character looks like no matter how much detail you go into. But if you’re going to spend paragraphs on your protagonist’s appearance, at least give em some flaws. Better yet, don’t waste your time. A quick mention here and there of the character’s more noticeable traits (a big nose, straight white teeth, a beer gut, large feet, those vastly over-used purple eyes) is really enough.

Give other characters their own lives.

Here’s a rule of thumb. No character should ever swoon over your protagonist without a damned good reason. Glittering purple eyes are not a good reason. Better yet, no character’s every thought should revolve around your protagonist. Some will like em, some will hate em, and, here’s a revolutionary idea: some will be completely indifferent to em.
Your secondary characters should be worrying about their own lives, not your protagonist’s. If they’re very close to the protagonist, of course they can think about em, worry about em, be annoyed by em. That’s fine. But innocent bystanders? Could probably not care less. And even those characters who have reason to care about your protagonist probably shouldn’t obsess over em.
And. Just because a secondary character dislikes your protagonist, that does not make em Evil. Remember those kids’ mystery series in which, if a character was a jerk in the beginning, you could bet on that character turning out to be an evildoer in the end? Yeah. Grownup fiction doesn’t work like that. Characters can have all kinds of reasons to dislike your protagonist. Maybe that rude storekeeper was having a bad day. Maybe the classroom bully doesn’t want your protagonist’s super-powered competition.These are neutral characters, but good guys can be jerks to your protagonist1, too. It’s true, they really can. Especially if you follow my next bit of advice.

Let your protagonist fuck up.

And I mean really fuck up. Your character should be able to make honest mistakes, have accidents, and even (gasp) do selfish, stupid, or mean things in pursuit of eir goals. And these things should have consequences for the protagonist, for other characters, and for eir goals. Let your protagonist lose eir best friend by doing something stupid and thoughtless. Let em be too arrogant to listen to a smarter character’s advice and run into trouble. Within what’s reasonable for that character, of course. A shy, meek character probably won’t pick a fight and get eir ass kicked. But if you can’t think of any way your protagonist could fuck up that wouldn’t be completely out of character, you might have an irredeemable Mary Sue on your hands . . .

*excerpt from a brilliant post by Bethany Harvey,  a writer, artist, and editor living in Gainesville, Florida. We strongly urge you to visit her blog CLICK HERE to read the rest! Thanks Bethany!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What a real publisher brings to the table . . .

The piece below is part of a discussion on LinkedIn that was started by the author Douglas Keeney. Although the book in question is non-fiction (hence the intense legal session) the same things hold true for works of fiction. These are all things that would cost a great deal for a self-published author to provide for themselves. Just some food for thought in the ongoing debate over the pros/cons of self-publishing:"I'm impressed with my publisher. Here are some of the things they did for my manuscript.

My new book is due out in Feb from St. Martin's. I am so impressed with their attention to the manuscript.

1. The editor gave me comments during the early rewrites. It was like going to graduate school and the topic is you, and how to make you a better writer.
2. Three months later, I go in to the mandatory legal review. This involved three two-hour sessions page-by-page thru my manuscript with their outside law firm. Intense. Not a lot of casual conversation. The focus of their questions are-- is that person dead or alive? What is the soruce of their quote? If I interviewed the person, did I have a permission?
3. Next came the line edit. FedEx delivers to me a copy of the 536 page manuscript marked up by the line editor. With teeny marks made in red pencil, I count roughly 5.000 typos, grammatical and punctuation mistakes corrected by my line editor. At least 500 queries are written in the margin for the au -- for me, the author -- to answer."

*excerpt from a discussion on LinkedIn 

Monday, September 6, 2010


Random Acts of Publicity 2011

Are you like me? I always promise myself that today I’ll write a review of my friends’ books and actually post them on Amazon or Library Thing or GoodReads or somewhere. But do I? No. That’s about to change!
I know how wonderful it is to see new reviews on Amazon of one of my books. I know that it’s better to give than to receive. During the Random Acts of Publicity Week, I vow to put these two things together and give friends some support for their books.
So, I’m declaring next week, September 7-10, 2011, as the RANDOM ACTS OF PUBLICITY WEEK, a week when you do something to promote a friend’s book, or to promote a recent book you’ve read. Four days of promoting others’ books should be great fun.
Why this week? We all know that the holiday shopping season is when people buy things, including books! We want our Amazon pages and other publicity in place before that season starts. So, September is a great month to help others by reviewing their books and doing other Random Acts of Publicity.
Look for more in the next few weeks. For now:
Spread the word. Let others know about the Random Acts of Publicity Week. (Copy the banner if you want and post it on your site.)
Read or re-read books. Plan the books you want to promote. Have you been waiting for a good time to read your friend’s book? This is that good time. Check it out; buy it; read it before September 7.
*excerpt by Dorothy Pattison on Fiction Notes  Join in on the fun - spread the word - read those books and POST those reviews!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

10 Mistakes Authors Make that Can Cost them a Fortune (and how to avoid them)

When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And while I can’t address each of these in minutia, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a books success (or lack thereof). Here are ten for you to consider:
1)     Not understanding the importance of a book cover
I always find it interesting that an author will sometimes spend years writing their book and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn’t a designer, doesn’t have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or, worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research. Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend on average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75% of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores. And finally please don’t attempt do design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair this is never a good idea.
2)     Trusting someone who has limited or no track record
When you hire a team, make sure you ask the service provider for their track record. Often I see an author who successfully marketed their single title now feel they have all the marketing knowledge they need to help you market yours. Unless you are in similar markets I would avoid this at all costs. You want people who have worked in the industry and know the needs of the market beyond just one title. You also want someone who has some history. Ask for referrals, and success stories. I give references all the time to potential new clients but when I am the one interviewing a new service provider I will ask for them but never call them. I mean who’s going to give you a bad referral? I want to see that they have some names they can give me then I’ll go online and Google them to gain some insight into their history and online reputation.
3)     Listening to people who aren’t experts
When you ask someone’s opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t give it to your co-workers to read and get feedback (yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal but this is different). If you’ve written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. Same is true for self-help, diet, romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader, in the end that’s all that matters.
4)     Trusting Oprah to solve all your problems
Getting on Oprah is an article in and of itself but let me say this: the quickest way to turn off a publicist is to use the “O” word. Why? Because anyone worth their salt knows how tough a road the Oprah pitch can be. Not just that, but sometimes authors will become so myopic and obsessed about this show that they lose sight of other, maybe better opportunities. And trust me on another point: someone (friend, co-worker, family, spouse), somewhere will tell you “You should go on Oprah” and while you might be 100% perfect Oprah material, the only people who can determine if you should be on her show are her producers. Shoot for the stars, dream big, but keep a realism about your campaign otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time and a lot of money chasing a potentially elusive target.
5)     Planning for the short term only:
There’s a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it’s this: “instant bestseller.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as “instant” and certainly the words “overnight success” are generally not reserved for books. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. Meaning that you should plan for the long term. Don’t spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign. We find this especially true for self-published titles that need a little more TLC than their traditionally published counterparts. We offer campaigns that last 90-days but that’s not because we think 90 days is all it will take to make your book a success, it’s because we find it’s a reasonable time to get started, get a foot hold and start your progress down the runway of success.
6)     Not understanding timing
Timing is a funny issue. First, there’s the timing that books follow to get reviewed, so lead times as it were. Then there’s production timing, and if you’re lucky enough to get a distributor there’s the time it will take for a distributor to get your book into the proper channels. A book launch should be planned carefully and then leave wiggle room for slipped dates and late deliveries (which will happen). I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.
7)     Hiring people who aren’t in the book industry
Let’s face it, even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn’t always make sense. So hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn’t just a mistake, but it could be a costly one. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can’t, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, you’ve likely spent years putting together this project, make sure you make choices based on what’s right and not what’s cheapest. If you shop right you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget. There’s an old saying that goes: You can find a good lawyer and you can find a cheap lawyer but it’s hard or near impossible to find a good, cheap lawyer. The same applies in the book world.
8)     Designing your own website
You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. But ok, let me elaborate. Let’s say you designed your own site which saved you a few thousand dollars paying a web designer. Now you’re off promoting your book and suddenly you’re getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into a sale. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn’t it?
9)     Becoming a media diva
Let’s face it you need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it’s the unfortunate truth. So here’s the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow up thank you note after the interview. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your book and don’t get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally correct them in such a way that they don’t look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be done over. Most media people don’t have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy and he decided he didn’t like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M’s, don’t even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.
10) Hiring the best and then not trusting their advice.
So, here’s the thing that’s always confused me. You hire me then don’t listen to my advice. And it’s not just me, I hear this all the time from other industry professionals. Look, it’s not an ego thing, it really isn’t. It’s just this: if you’re paying good money to your vendors, asking them for advice and then not taking it you might have a disconnect. Perhaps a breakdown in communication, maybe you don’t trust the person you hired. If you don’t trust them then you should part ways and find someone you have some chemistry with. Otherwise what’s the point? Build your team with people you enjoy working with and respect. Then when they try and guide you or save you some money, take the time to listen.
 Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the "road map to publishing success." AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, Twitter, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book's topic, positioning the author in his or her market. In the past 15 months their creative marketing strategies have helped land 10 books on the New York Times Bestseller list. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at   Copyright  2009 Penny C. Sansevieri

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Evolving Publishing Ecosystem

Some tips and tricks from the BlogHer ’10 session with Kamy Wicoff,; Florinda Pendley Vasquez,; Penny Sansevieri, and Carleen Brice,

Publishing is continually evolving, and the biggest change in the past 3-5 years has been the explosion in publishing methods, including self publishing. The stigma is largely gone as some self published books – such as Legally Blonde, The Lace Reader and The Shack – have become mainstream successes. Agents will pick up a self-published book that is selling, but self-published authors need to know their audience and sell to them. It is also important for self-published books to look professional – as good as any traditionally published book – so don’t skimp on editing or the book cover design.
In addition, there has been a huge growth online of book bloggers, who have become like a giant online book club. Many of its members have formed relationships with each other as well as the big New York publishers, Florinda said. This has all happened as the number of review pages in traditional outlets such as newspapers and magazines has dwindled, with book bloggers picking up some of the slack. Given the strong online presence of book bloggers online, it’s now easier than ever for authors and publishers to connect with potential reviewers.

Even with the advantages of having a traditional publisher, one reality of today’s publishing environment is the fact that authors really need to do a lot of their own promotion. Carleen noted that author Rebecca Skloot starting making connections she could use for her book tour long before her book was published. For her tour, she visited more than 70 cities, speaking at universities and other venues where her travel expenses were covered, and once she was set to visit a specific city, she would contact local bookstores to let them know she’d be in town and tried to arrange a signing.
The Importance of Marketing Plans
Each new book is like launching a new business, and authors need a marketing plan. Kamy’s site SheWrites is meant to be a resource to help authors understand these aspects of writing, publishing and marketing. A good resource is How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larson.
Authors need to network, build connections and have as much as they can in place before the book comes out. Blog five to six days a week, get on Twitter, support other writers so they can support you in turn – Tweet about each other’s books, do blog tours with each other. Think about everything you would do if you had a traditional book contract – get to know book bloggers in your area (before your book is out) and get to know other writers in your area, too.
Pay attention to who is listening to what you say; publishers need to know there’s an audience before they take on a book, said Carleen. If you are self-publishing, you need to know going in that there are buyers for your book.
Penny said authors need to do their research – know your competition, the landscape for your book. Publishing is a business, you would never open a store without doing research first and the same applies to publishing. The promotion for your book should start two years out; marketing guru Seth Godin made this point on Penny’s Publishing Insiders podcast recently. Bestselling author Marci Shimoff, featured in The Secret, still worked like crazy when her own book, Happy for No Reason came out. Newsletters, Twitter and Facebook are good tools to use to build your platform.

One way authors can keep marketing themselves while in between books is to post short stories and excerpts to sell on or their websites so readers can get a taste of their writing. A great resource for digital book publishing issues is J.A. Konrath. His blog is titled A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, Konrath sells some of his books exclusively as e-books and is making good money. Some of the books had been traditionally published but didn’t sell well in that format. Once e-books became available Konrath began to experiment with his books, discovering that $2.99 and under was a great price point for his books – and yet enough for him to make money.

An online presence is really critical for authors. Kamy recalled a publisher who received a manuscript, Googled the author’s name for more information and found nothing, so she passed on the book. In addition, reviewers like to include a link to the author’s blog, said Florinda.

Creative Publicity Ideas

Hold events in non-bookstore venues; pet stores, gyms, spas, coffee shops, flea markets … more books are sold at those venues than in book stores. Either order them yourself or seek a partnership with a local bookstore to bring them so that you can get the best royalty rate; without the bookstore, publishers consider such events specialty sales and they sell the books very cheaply. Take video of the event and share it on YouTube.
What’s the Cost?
How can authors afford the time, hours and cost of promotion? In reality, if they want someone to read their books they have to put in the time and money. Authors have to invest in their success. Carleen said if your book is traditionally published it’s difficult to get your next book published if the first fails.
Measuring Success

Book sales are not an indicator of success, said Penny, referring to her piece on Huffington Post, Why Some Authors Fail, For a traditionally published author, “success” depends on the advance, and the amount of the advance signals the publisher’s expectations for the book. Publishers don’t wait long for a return on investment; after six weeks they’re on to the next thing.
Publishing is moving into niche markets now, and that’s how audiences and readers will find each other – by becoming part of that niche where they share interests. All the tools are there, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of them.

*excerpt from an article on Author Marketing Expert. To read more click here.