Friday, July 31, 2015

Reviewer Time: Readers and Reviewers

used to be my rating


When I started this reviewer talk I wrote briefly about the relationship between reviewer and author. The trust and what I don't do in reviewing.

There's another relationship that must be recognized - Reviewer to Reader. Those who read reviews and those who read the authors. No, they're not necessarily the same people.

Readers can visit a review site to find new authors or to see what's being said about their faves. It doesn't matter why the readers are there, it matters how you treat and engage with them. If someone wants to argue, what's the point? No matter what you may want to say, an arguer is listening with closed ears.  Your counterpoints - and let's face it this works with every hat I wear - are seen as nothing but defending and being blind to the truth (the arguer's truth that is).

Or, of course, you're saying this, that, and the other thing because you're friends with the author. Sorry, knowing and engaging with someone via social media does not make you friends...no matter what certain vendor-people want to dictate. You're more acquaintances which doesn't mean you can't, don't, or won't develop a friendship. The friendship starts and continues on trusting you. That you will continue to be open and honest about what the author has written.

Look, I'm not about to offer an opinion on friends who review friends. That's an entirely different avenue with complications of its own.

Should readers be made aware if the reviewer and author know each other? I don't have an issue with this relationship. Personally, one review doesn't make or break anything for me. I've tried to let my own readers know if I know the author.

And that's where trust comes in. Authors trusting reviewers and then readers trusting the reviewer. Reviewers trusting both with the knowledge that in the end, a review is just an opinion. Weigh it against all opinions and you'll find a balanced answer (if reviewers have done their job well, which is why reviewing is so nerve-wrecking, but that's for another day)

Keep writing, keep reading!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reader Time: Reader and Author Relationship?

my comfy corner
What's the Reader/Author relationship? Is there something beyond seller and buyer? Isn't it just someone writing a story from their imagination and then a stranger picking it up?

Have I already done this topic? No, don't believe so. I'm talking today more about the actual relationship and not how to develop one. This isn't to say everything I have already spoken on doesn't also apply here, of course it does.

Once you have this delicate relationship - writers remember it's far easier for you to lose readers than to find new authors - there is maintenance and behaviour on the authors' part.

Let me repeat - authors (and I am one) you cannot stop a reader from reading or even reviewing your book. BUT, you can stop them from wanting to. 

Not being able to stop them from reading or reviewing or even talking about you. Talking about their experiences with you, their interactions with you. If you're not careful this can all start the blemishes on you reputation.

Hey, I hear you...how does one voice matter. Really, I need to explain this? In this day and age one voice can reach hundreds or even thousands in a second. Will it be a shine or a blemish on you?

I know - but those who know me will stand by me...even defend me. Sure. And that paints an even different picture...think gang up. 

It's one thing for them to defend and rally against someone for not being all pumped up about your news, for not being completely positive (a tad negative or even just, eh) let alone someone who may be out and out dumping on you. You need to remember your reputation should always start and stop at your actions no matter who's watching or commenting.

Look, there's something we authors have all done - posted pics of our covers for comments or asked for reviews or comments to be left at a vendors. No problem. 

Except...and you knew there was an except coming...then we go all (a) upset cause the reaction wasn't what we wanted, or, (b) downright angry.

Well, it's our own dang fault.

We've asked for something with no idea of what their answer would be. Think lawyers...never ask a question you don't know the answer. And when it comes to readers...every answer is the correct answer whether authors want to hear it or not.

The one thing everyone's got?

An opinion.

And it's your reaction, your behaviour, your lead which will make that opinion count (hopefully in your favour).

Relationship? It's the one we want and it's probably the most one-sided relationship we'll ever work to maintain and grow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Editor Time: Author & Editor: The Working Relationship

keep writing



It's all about the teamwork to bring your manuscript to the shine it deserves. No matter how many people have read it, opinioned it, praised it, or even edited it. Your in-house editor will (should) fight harder, give more, push you, because they are invested in their reputation, the company they work for, and you.

I'm not saying Aunt Millie or Mama-Bernice or Grandpa Jones are fibbing cause you're family. I'm not saying your spouse is smiling and nodding cause they don't want a fight before bed. Yes, the outside editor you paid has their own reputation to keep bright, too.

But the in-house editor is part and parcel of the company as are you. If one fails chances are that failure is going to hit everyone.

For me, an in-house editor, sales mean money which means royalties which means money in my pocket. You don't think we work for free, do you? Our industry of small publishing homes are not financed by any sugar-daddy or mama. If run correctly they came in with a stable start up and a long-range plan. Every one of us looks to add to the wallet - personal and business-wise.

As your editor, I'm linked to your success. I'm not on the prowl to destroy your manuscript. I want it to shine. I want it to soar above every other book and book type out there.

How?

By being pushy. By nick-picking every detail. By remarking on every teeny question that finds its way to my mind...if I see it, reviewers and readers will too. By making you question yourself. I'm not a yes person. I'm not an ego builder. I'm as blunt as you need me to be...and then some.

What I won't do, have never done, is rewrite your story to my voice and style. Rewrite it to how I would have written it.

I do not hold a gun to my authors' heads or a blade to their throats. The decisions on edits - barring in-house style requirements and out and out mistakes - are the complete and final decisions and choices of the authors.

I don't want to write your story.

You don't want me to write your story.

(Side note...don't ask me how many reviews I've read where it was more on how the reviewer would have written it versus a review of what the author wrote - see future Reviewer Time post)

Yes, we're going to get frustrated. Yes, we're even going to get angry. I won't ever lie to my authors and I expect their complete honesty with me.

Trust in each other is the cornerstone of the editor/author relationship.

Trust me when I'm pushing you. Believe it or not, I do know how far to push and that's as far as I will ever go.

I'm perfect?????

Uhm, do we really even need to answer that.

What happens if we just don't mix? Well, if I'm working on my own out-of-pub-house (I'm not typing out-house) we'll talk and reach some agreement.

If we're working in-house and I'm finding you to be a _________. Most likely you would really have to be a MEGA ________ for me to ever walk away. Or have done something drastic to undermine my trust in you. At that worse case moment, I finish the job with the same dedication and look to the future.

If you're finding me lacking. Tell me. I won't bite. At the base of most problems is a cross-communication. Sometimes all it takes is a reconnecting of what is being misunderstood.

Goes beyond that?

We talk with the publisher, together. We are all part of the bigger picture in a publishing house and as such need to keep the trust to continue to work and support each other and everyone else. Will we pair up again for a future manuscript, maybe, maybe not.

All this is exactly what I expect from MY editor. I won't give anything less to you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Poetry Starts: Stealing Calm - teen years




A stealing calm settles over me
So unexpected is this feeling
I'm caught unaware
I'm thrown off balance
By this unknown sensation
So new is this rebirth of energy
All from watching a wild feather fall
Strange


***

 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic

Monday, July 27, 2015

Roaming Ideas: Overly Done Paragraphs

mine





The sky was breaking into a rainbow of unique colours as the sun broke through the dark purple clouds that had covered the world the night before.  The stars were slowly covered with the pure blue blanket of the waking morn.  The sun began her long daily climb up towards the very top of the world.

As the hours of the day clicked by the sun rose higher and higher.  The brilliance of its warm life giving glow brightened the day for every living creature below.  The hour struck noon and the sun started its lonely climb back down the invisible hill.




***


What are Roaming Ideas?


...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks

...pumps to my creative well

...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind



 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?

...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilities



What are Dear Diary?


...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me


Friday, July 24, 2015

Reviewer Time - Why I sometimes read romance


The lack of romance reviews could have you thinking I don't read romance. I have...do. They're just all listed back on my review website so far.

I'm a blood and guts gal. I'm not a "chick flick," and I know how some hate that phrasing, gal. I get frustrated with the general romance story arc/formula.

However, I don't mind romance as the secondary genre in a story. I'm not totally cold-hearted that I don't ever want to see any emotional attraction between leading characters...all stories need some emotional connection. And I'm certainly not dead when it comes to a solid steam scene.

Honestly, I'm thrilled when a romance story grabs me and I can't stop reading. I've even been surprised at my reactions to a love story. Yes, I've cheered the characters on and have shed a tear or more.

Plus not all romance stories read as romance stories. They're just that...stories. An escape into a made up world visiting non-real people whose lives are just a little more exciting than mine. The best ones make you want them to be real.

I'll gladly state that I believe Romance is the genre of hope. Perhaps even trust. That here in this genre we find a place to trust and hope that all the what ifs will work out. If not happily ever after, at least they way that's best for all.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Reader Time: The how, what, and why of reading time

pull up a chair
Some people escape by working out. Going to movies. Jogging or swimming. Napping. (wait, yeah, napping is good) Listening to music.

I read.

Or I stress over reading because there's so many books to read and no clue where to begin. (that's for another post).

Reading is 100% individual time. Unless you're being read to, of course. However, if I'm being read to that leads to nap time. Hey, stories are soothing to me.

Reading takes me away without the hassle of packing and bringing home laundry loads. I never have to leave my chair - bed or couch. Oh and the bath...where was I?

I love to daydream and books are other people's daydreams shared. Now wait a minute that's a tad scary. Mind you, I would rather visit a pretend killer or monster than a real one. Maybe us writers are really potential serial killers and words hold us in check? There's a story in there...yeah. If ______ ever stops typing or writing _____ is driven to...sorry my imagination started to run away with me, again.

Imagination.

When you were a child didn't you just love running with your imagination? My neighbourhood ran with imaginary killer monster bears. And a shout out to my older cousins for the hand living under my bed.

Blankets on grass became sinking ships surrounded by ant-sharks and monster fish. Nope not the TV kind.

Books had me and my friends turning innocent adults into mysterious smugglers and murderers.

Hmm, seeing a pattern here with murder, maybe...yeah, no that's too silly.

What's that phrasing about growing up and putting childish things away? Could it be that books - reading and writing them - are how adults feed their still living childhood imagination. Look at the craze over adult colouring books (yes, I have two).

Hmm..that reminds me...yeah, sorry, it's time to pla....uhm, yeah... Ahh, forget it, I'm going to dive into a book and play.

See ya.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Editor Time: The Competition

live people on other side of screen
As you know by now, I'm a reviewer and as such have my favourite authors. People who I would love to work with but who are with other publishers. Of course, I think my publishing house is the best and I make no attempt to hide who I am with, who I work beside.

I respect and like the other publishing houses. If not for them I would only have the authors the big publishers deem worthy. Those small publishing houses have paved the way for every house that has opened after them...as we strengthen the very same road for those who follow us. We learn from each other by working with the competition, watching, and reading them. 

You do know why every sale looks alike? Why there are so many common themes - genres, mixed-genres, even cover styles. A strong marketer watches and tweaks to their company and audience. Before you think it's stealing an other's ideas, think about your grocery stores. Think of certain stores starting with W, T or K. Look at the major bookstores.

It's a natural part of doing business.

Imitation has been called a form of flattery. You want success? Follow someone successful then make it your own.

Whoa, no way does this mean I would go to my fave authors, another publishing house's authors, and try and steal them away. Heck no! I may have my wish list but my and my publisher's integrity is beyond reproach and it's staying that way.

In this business all you have is your name, your ethics, and it may be old but your word is your bond...should be your bond.

Does this mean perfection, as in nothing is ever goofed up or mistakes never happen. Oh double heck no. There isn't a person or business alive that doesn't make goofs or mistakes. It's on how you handle yourself during these moments that matter. (small side note - in our industry where you can either work with a pub-house or go it alone, there are differences in how other companies deal with you. Each have pros and cons...pub-house, self...doors are closed and open to each)

Are you asking then how come you see authors in multiple pub-houses or moving houses? That's an easy answer. Each pub-house has it's strengths and operating styles. Each has an audience that may play or seem to play to certain genres. It's all in the author's perception. And in an industry like ours sometimes having your eggs spread out in different baskets may be your best option. And, yes, sometimes as in all aspects of life, the other side may seem greener. That's where working in partnership with your publisher...and editor...comes in hand, a necessary hand.

Not only have you taken a risk with us, but we've taken a risk with you. Which is why contracts are vital - and knowing that the books/manuscripts we are interested in are free and clear of any legal ties to any other pub-houses.

Our reputation with authors and readers is important. Our reputation with all other pub-houses is the backbone on which we stand. Our industry needs us to work and support each other. Any hint of bad-mouthing, less than above-board dealings, pinching authors from each other, well that's hitting below the belt and not a company I want to deal with.

My advice for anyone researching a future publishing home:

1...read their guidelines
2...is it possible to see a copy of their basic contract
3...dig around their website
4...dig around their authors' websites
5...follow them on social media...how do they interact
6...contact their current authors for feedback
7...interview the publisher, those who work behind the scenes...anyone who works behind the scenes, and yes their editors
8...read their books...read their books in your genre. Go for preview reads or even yes, buy a book. Oh I can see the shocked looks. Hey, this is your business we're talking about. Isn't it in your best interest to invest in where you plan to call home? Your choice in book means the publisher can't pick and choose. 

You'll notice the one thing I haven't included...researching sites that list reviews on publishers. Why? Am I afraid of what's written there?

Ahhh, oh heck triple no. I've been a part of our online industry, in varying positions and degrees, for twenty years now and frankly, I don't trust a place that isn't open to a legitimate exchange of facts and voices. I've witnessed too many pub-houses and the people within ripped apart without any opportunity to offer their input. To counter opposing viewpoints, to explain how a situation was rectified.

The truth is this...there's one side, the other side's, and in the middle is the truth. 

A strong publisher will be forthright in all dealings with you..at all times during your association whether or not you sign with them or not. 

It is these pub-houses and their people I'm proud to stand side-by-side and say...we are your publishing homes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Poetry Starts: The Hawk









THE HAWK



With no noise she kills her prey

There is no trace of the killing

Where once stood a little mouse



She leaves for her nest

Where little ones await a meal

A mouse dinner is their meal

What a horrid end for this mouse

To end up in some hawk's stomach



Here comes trouble another hawk

Yet this is a male

A threat to her young

She spreads her powerful wings

Next you see her in the air

Fighting for the lives of her young

Not caring for her own



The battle ends and she has won

Once more she has risked  her life

For the young hawks



Bang!

What was that?

Only the shot of a gun

And down falls the mother hawk

What away to end

On some hunter's mantel

Stuffed with cloth!



***

 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic