Tips for First-time Authors

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How to I start?

Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted.  Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature.  Do your homework.  Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.

Do I send everything?

Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters  It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.

What about a contract?

Never work without a contract.  Contracts vary from company to company.  Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses.  Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable.  Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.

How long before I publish my book?

Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true.  You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process.  And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors.  (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)

You want the best for your “baby.”  There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.

 

Are Your Dreams of Being Hemingway Dissolving? Don’t Despair!

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You might start out with a plan, but after you write a while, your writing can take on a life of its own and lead you down another path.  Don’t despair. “[T]hat’s the great thing about fiction. We use it for entertainment, and we also use it to explain and understand our lives. We only make sense of what has happened to us when we can tell it as a story. I’ve used my fiction to deal with 9/11, the War on Terror, aging, death, wealth, poverty and a host of other issues. I just happened to include the undead and werewolves and spies while I did it.

Five books in, this is the one lesson I can say I’ve learned, the one thing I can tell any aspiring writer: Write what you want. Even if it includes lizard people or Atlantis. If people don’t like what you like, write it again, and make it better until they do. But never be ashamed of your enthusiasms.”

Read more of “I dreamed of being Hemingway and ended up a pulp fiction writer” at http://nypost.com/2016/08/14/i-dreamed-of-being-hemingway%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b-but-ended-up-a-pulp-fiction-writer/

Does Your Book Follow the “Code”?

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Jodie Archer had always been puzzled by the success of The Da Vinci Code. She’d worked for Penguin UK in the mid-2000s, when Dan Brown’s thriller had become a massive hit, and knew there was no way marketing alone would have led to 80 million copies sold. So what was it, then? Something magical about the words that Brown had strung together? Dumb luck? The questions stuck with her even after she left Penguin in 2007 to get a PhD in English at Stanford. There she met Matthew L. Jockers, a cofounder of the Stanford Literary Lab, whose work in text analysis had convinced him that computers could peer into books in a way that people never could.

Soon the two of them went to work on the “bestseller” problem: How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers.

The result of their work—detailed in The Bestseller Code, out this month—is an algorithm built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just “human closeness.” Frequent use of the verb “need.” Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh. In all, the “bestseller-ometer” has identified 2,799 features strongly associated with bestsellers.

If you’d like to read more, this article is available at https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/

Copyright: What Do You Own?

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If you have written a manuscript wherein you created original characters, plot development, and theme, that manuscript belongs to you and should be cited in a book by the copyright symbol.  Should you require more protection, you can register that copyright.

However, in most circles, copyright is respected.  Even an editor cannot significantly change the nature of your manuscript without written permission.  An editor DOESN’T rewrite material.  If you are thinking of turning your first draft into a publishing company, let me stop you in your tracks.  You should turn in your BEST draft, knowing that there is still work to be done.

Poetry gets very tricky.  Every word, every punctuation mark is crucial and fragile.  To present anything but your best is to turn it over to a subjective microscope whereby your true meaning may or may not be expressed. If you are writing poetry without knowledge of rhyme or rhythm, Dr. Seuss is a great way to get started. Poetry for children should follow the rules; adults can function with more abstract language.

An editor should honor your style and try to maintain your syntax, but sometimes there are alternative ways to accomplish the same goal.  Keep your eyes wide open.

Call for 2018 Publications

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Yes, that says 2018, and the list keeps growing.  We welcome all ideas and manuscripts.  Unfortunately, we cannot publish them all at once, but we do think ahead for the next year. #crystalpubs2014

Currently, we are looking for children’s books that explore and celebrate diversity; YA books on current topics; adult fiction and non-fiction.  Children’s historical non-fiction is gaining popularity, so if you have an idea, pitch it to us.

If you are thinking of writing a novel or have one underway, please check our style guide posted on our website crystalpublishingllc.com.  The cleaner the original copy the faster we can process and publish.  Our style guide is supplemented by the OCC Style Guide which more closely represents what we are looking for in the editing process.

 

 

Can You Really Predict Sales?

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Algorithms Could Save Book Publishing—But Ruin Novels

Jodie Archer had always been puzzled by the success of The Da Vinci Code. She’d worked for Penguin UK in the mid-2000s, when Dan Brown’s thriller had become a massive hit, and knew there was no way marketing alone would have led to 80 million copies sold. So what was it, then? Something magical about the words that Brown had strung together? Dumb luck? The questions stuck with her even after she left Penguin in 2007 to get a PhD in English at Stanford. There she met Matthew L. Jockers, a cofounder of the Stanford Literary Lab, whose work in text analysis had convinced him that computers could peer into books in a way that people never could.

Soon the two of them went to work on the “bestseller” problem: How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers.

To read more go to https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/

Congratulations on Publication

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First of all, thank you all for the tremendous number of excellent quality manuscripts we have received.  Because we are a small publishing company, we try to pick our projects carefully.

We are happy to announce the 2017 selections have been made.  Our goals for the 2017 publishing round are to continue with the series, to add new genres and authors, to promote writing, and to offer readers alternatives.

Please continue to visit our website crystalpublishingllc.com to keep up with the latest publications and news from Crystal Publishing.  We look forward to hearing from you.