Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Reading List for 2010

Since I've switched to reading eBooks, I've found myself reading more and faster. I'm rather impressed by the amount of reading I was able to get in this year considering how busy 2010 has been.

I've read 70 books in 2010. Of course, this number doesn't include the full manuscripts I read this year or the books I've forgotten to add to my goodreads.com bookshelves. :D

  1. Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy
  2. An Improper Holiday by K.A. Mitchell
  3. Falling by M.L. Rhodes
  4. Fur and Fang by Sean Michael
  5. Lord of the Shadows (Cirque Du Freak, #11) by Darren Shan
  6. Replacement Guitarist by Lori Toland
  7. Sons of Destiny (The Saga of Darren Shan, #12) by Darren Shan
  8. Joy Ride by J.M. Snyder
  9. Caffeine for a Marine by Kiernan Kelly
  10. Sons of Destiny (Cirque Du Freak, #12) by Darren Shan
  11. Aidan and Ethan (Seeking Redemption, #1) by Cameron Dane
  12. Lift Me Up by Rayne Auster
  13. Saying I Do (Quinn Security, #3) by Cameron Dane
  14. No Fear in Love by Jamie Craig
  15. The One That Got Away - Second Edition by Rhianne Aile
  16. Exploring Limits (Exploring Limits, #1) by Nicki Bennett
  17. Tie Me, Tease Me by Reese Gabriel
  18. And Call Me in the Morning by Willa Okati
  19. Chiaroscuro by Jenna Jones
  20. Something Beautiful by Jenna Jones
  21. Making Waves by Pepper Espinoza
  22. Grey's Awakening (Cabin Fever, #2) by Cameron Dane
  23. Rules of Engagement by L.A. Witt
  24. State of Mind by Libby Drew
  25. Heat (Firefighters, #1) by Tory Temple
  26. Flashover (Firefighters, #2) by Tory Temple
  27. Tinder (Firefighters, #5) by Tory Temple
  28. Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1) by Tere Michaels
  29. Don't Look Back by Josh Lanyon
  30. Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2) by Tere Michaels
  31. Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3) by Tere Michaels
  32. The Hired Man by Jan Irving
  33. Change of Heart by Mary Calmes
  34. The Shunned by Jay Hughes
  35. Oracle by RJ Scott
  36. Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger
  37. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan
  38. The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan
  39. The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
  40. Never Never Land by Treva Harte
  41. One Way Trip by Rebecca Leigh
  42. 911 by Chris Owen
  43. Cry Sanctuary (Red Rock Pass, #1) by Moira Rogers
  44. Outlaw by Rebecca Leigh
  45. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
  46. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher
  47. Eros, Philia, Agape: A Tor.Com Original by Rachel Swirsky
  48. Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #18) by Laurell K. Hamilton
  49. Physical Education by Louisa Bacio
  50. Bullet (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #19) by Laurell K. Hamilton
  51. Beyond Eden by Kele Moon
  52. Resistance by L.M. Turner
  53. Strawberries for Dessert (Coda Books, #4) by Marie Sexton
  54. No Quarter by Christine d'Abo
  55. Beautiful Forever by Diana Copland
  56. Fang Bangers edited by Lori Perkins
  57. Prescription for Passion: Vital Signs (Volume 3) by Jamaica Layne
  58. Sanctuary Lost (Red Rock Pass, #2) by Moira Rogers
  59. Tender is the Knight by Jamaica Layne
  60. Wicked Pleasures Anthology edited by Cecilia Tan
  61. Maverick Men: The True Story Behind the Videos by Cole Maverick
  62. Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1) by Cherie Priest
  63. Sheet Music by Tibby Armstrong
  64. Sanctuary's Price (Red Rock Pass, #3) by Moira Rogers
  65. Sanctuary Unbound (Red Rock Pass, #4) by Moira Rogers
  66. Keeper by Elise Hepner
  67. Allegro Vivace by Cat Grant
  68. Sonata Appassionata by Cat Grant
  69. Miles and the Magic Flute by Heidi Cullinan
  70. Grand Jeté by Diana Copland
So what have you read this year? What do you plan to read next year?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Puerto Rican Christmas

parranda
Christmas Music Traditions


When I think back on my childhood, the memories are coupled with music. In fact, most of the time, I can remember "eras" in my life when a song plays on the radio or someone sends me a song to hear. I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico where music is as much a part of your life as coffee with buttered bread. Music is such an integral part of life on the island that it's odd to drive through any neighborhood and not hear music. Women sing while sweeping the sidewalks. Men whistle and sing as they push their carts to the market. Children sing songs as they play games on the playground. Grandparents sing while rocking on the porch or just pull out their guitars and start playing. Music is part of every festive event and a HUGE part of the Christmas celebration.

In Puerto Rico, the holidays start the day after Accion de Gracias, Thanksgiving Day and end on Dia de Reyes, Three Kings' Day (or Epiphany). We celebrate with food, family and TONS of music. The parties start after work on a Friday (usually after 7 PM) and last through to the next morning (if not the entire weekend). This Christmas traditions known as the Parranda or Asalto is one of my favorites.

Here's a glimpse of the traditional Parranda:
Puerto Ricans are known for their unforgettable "parrandas or trullas navideñas". A parranda is when a small group of friends gathers together to "asaltar" or surprise another friend. It's the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Most parranderos play some sort of instrument, either guitarras, tamboriles, güiro maracas, or palitos. And they all sing. A parranda tends to be more secular than religious however many of the traditional aguinaldos (Puerto Rican Christmas songs) retain the holiday spirit.

parranda The parranderos arrive at the destination and then very quietly gather by the front door. At a signal all start playing their instruments and singing. The parrandas usually begin after 10pm in order to surprise and wake the sleeping friend. The parranderos are invited in and refreshments, music and dance follow. Of course we don't surprise unsuspecting victims. The parranderos are given plenty of "hints" before hand by the homeowner that he is ready to receive a parranda.

The party goes on for an hour or two then everyone, including the owners of the house, leave to parrandear some more. The group grows as they offer their parranda at several houses during that night. At the last house probably around 3 or 4 in the morning the homeowner offers the traditional chicken soup or asopao de pollo. The party is over at dawn. —From ¡Por Fín Llegaron las Navidades! PuertoRico.com Discussion Forum

My children were born and raised in the United States but we still maintain some of the traditions, including the Parranda. Thankfully we live in an area where many Latinos have moved to so it's not uncommon to hear a loud party going on all night at any point during the holidays. What are your Christmas music traditions?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why do I need an ePub agent?

I was talking with my colleague Louise Fury a few nights ago about general work and sundry and when I mentioned the deals I've recently negotiated for my clients she said, "See? This is why people need ePub agents!" Then she asked me to write a quick paragraph on the why of an ePub agent. Doing one better and using it as an excuse for a blog post when I should be sleeping, I decided why not kill two birds with one stone. So here goes:

Not all contracts are the same and all of them are negotiable. How do you know if you've secured all of the rights you're entitled to if you don't know to negotiate for them? Do you even know which rights to request? This is a huge issue with traditional publishers at present as they are all requesting eRights with every contract. If your contract with your digital publisher has those rights tied up for seven years, how will this affect your "print" contract?

Why should I pay someone to do what I can do myself? Love hearing this! I really do because after spending four to six hours every day negotiating contracts, editing manuscripts, drafting pitch letters, going through royalty statements, talking authors down from ledges, brainstorming and career planning with my clients, I think... wouldn't it be easier to just let the author do it all herself so I can get some sleep? Is it worth my time to get a 15% commission? Then I get an email from one of my clients thanking me for helping her find a home for "her baby" or for the $1500 royalty check they've received and I'm suddenly pumped and working hard to help them continue to grow. It's not just about sending your submissions in. I think many people erroneously assume that I send in your work to the same submission queue authors do and have to wait just as long. I've established and cultivated relationships with editors at the various digital presses and by creating these contacts, I have the opportunity to send your manuscript directly to an editor I know is looking for a story just like yours. Does that mean you'll get an acceptance simply because it's coming as an agented submission? No, of course not, but the chances of sitting in a slush pile are greatly reduced.

It's about the BUSINESS of publishing. In her blog post, Rebecca Leigh talks about how she handles the craft of writing and allows me to manage the business of writing. It's a win-win situation for both of us. It's also about having someone in your corner who can traverse the muddy waters of the ever-changing publishing landscape with a clear head and sense of direction. Someone who is vested in your success and therefore will guide you to make educated decisions. But, it's also about having someone who will be a voice for you and your book to the digital publishers who receive thousands of submissions daily. As an ePub agent, I wear an editorial hat, a marketing hat and a publicist hat at various stages of my journey with my clients through the publishing process. Most authors in the digital market will tell you they have to do their own marketing and some will even tell you how much they hate this aspect of their career.

So do you need an agent? I don't know... do you?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel



I know this video has gone viral and you've probably all seen it but I just had to post it for those who perchance have missed it. It's amazing how many people call me (yes, I've had folks call me) and pitch me their novel saying almost everything stated in this video word-for-word.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are you ready for some Potter?


Are you ready for me, Potter?


So freaking excited to see the Premiere tonight with the hubster, kiddos, Kele Moon and hers.

Trying to decide if I want to wear my robes or not.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What do you do all day?

So much going that I've barely had a chance to breathe, add to it a pesky cold threatening to take over the little oxygen I have left and an A/C unit that chooses the few 80-degree days we have left in Orlando to freeze up on me and you've got the makings of a typical "Life in the Day" of this ePub Agent!

What do you do all day?  Working a full-time job as well being a wife and mother usually takes up most of my time. Why would I add more stress and heartache to an already packed daily schedule by doing agent work? Because there's no greater feeling than seeing an acceptance and contract offer in my email for one of my clients or getting a cover mock-up for a manuscript I've spent six months trying to sell... or receiving a royalty statement for a book I fell in love with BEFORE the editor made it even better and seeing how great the sales are for that author. The past two weeks have been full of these experiences. It's been exhausting though and even as I type this very short blog post, I wonder how I'm going to get through the week with the limited sleep I've scheduled. Yes, I've had to schedule my sleep otherwise, I don't get any, shaddup. No rest for the wicked so the rest of the week will be jam-packed full of wonderfulness as I continue to negotiate several contracts, attend the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I midnight premiere, a baby shower in Jacksonville, an anniversary party in Tampa and edit two manuscripts. Guess I should get my butt to bed!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Talking Authors Down

I think many authors find themselves staring at the manuscript they've spent the better part of a year or longer writing, revising, polishing, querying and submitting and find everything wrong they possibly can with it. Not sure why the panic sets in once their baby's out the door and sitting in inboxes all over the world, I mean it's just a bunch of words, right? Ha! If I truly believed that, I wouldn't be in this business.

When authors say they put their heart and soul into their work, they're not kidding. Every word, hyphen, comma and period in the manuscript is a very living piece of that author's soul. They bleed over their words, salivate over every accolade and weep over every rejection as deeply as they do over every major milestone in their lives. It's no wonder, I spend a good portion of my time talking many of my clients down off the proverbial ledge. They're probably reading this right now and wondering if they're the only one I talked down this week. But you know what? I love having those talks with them because these often turn into brainstorming sessions where we talk through the insecurities and get through to the heart of the matter... the fear that readers, editors, publishers, little old ladies in Babushkas planting potatoes in Russia (yes, I watch the Amazing Race) will hate what they're writing or have written and will not buy their book.

My answer? If you've read this blog before, you already know it... keep writing. Don't worry about what the editor wants, what the readers want, what the little old ladies in Russia want and write the story that your characters are begging to tell. Don't pull any punches, pull out all of the stops and leave your heart, soul and psyche open and raw on the page for all to see. Then go stand on the ledge, if you want and call me... I'll have a bottle of wine (or whiskey) ready, my laptop for brainstorming and a box of tissues for us both.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busy October

I'm used to being busy. In fact, when I'm NOT busy, I panic. But this month, it just seems like I'm more busy than usual. I think it's because I'm preparing for a vacation in the middle of the month that just pushes everything around it to double-stack on the fringes of the week. Add to the melee of work, friends with medical procedures, kids with double-homework, school functions and family events I need to either plan or help in the planning and you have a month where you find yourself wishing for a time-turner, a flux capacitor and your handy towel.

So how do you get anything done when you have a month jam-packed with events? How do you find the time to write or read or just wind down?

I have found it absolutely necessary to take 1 or 2 days off each night to spend "decompressing". I dedicate these days to do things with the kids, watch TV, read a book, or veg on the couch with my dog while playing Sims 3. Without these days, I think I would either have a nervous breakdown, a psychotic episode or strange combination of the two.

In a few hours, I'll be sailing away with my family on a Sweet 16 cruise for my daughter. I've been looking forward to this trip for the year we've had it planned and scheduled. But, of course, as the day approached I found myself running around trying to get everything done as if nothing had been planned. For some reason, even while knowing the date was fast approaching, the last-minute details still caught me off-guard. The past few days have been extremely hectic and stressful. It is time for a real vacation where I can rest, relax and completely decompress. Having a week off from all responsibilities is going to be awesome! I'm going to remain unplugged. That's right, no email, Internet access, Facebook or Twitter updates... just me, a cold drink, my iPad and some hot manuscripts to read! Woooo-zaaahhhh!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It gets better video from Dear Author's Dr. Sarah Frantz

I couldn't have said it better myself and yes I squeed when I saw the K.A. Mitchell and Ally Blue books.



Be sure to check out the deals on DearAuthor next October 11th, National Coming Out Day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spirit Day

Originally posted by at Spirit Day
 


It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interviewed by Lazy Day Pub

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of being featured on the blog of new digital publisher, Lazy Day Publishing. Below is a copy of the interview. Be sure to check the initial post for replies to comments left.

We are honored to have Saritza Hernández, ePub Agent with L. Perkins Agency answer some questions for us today!

1. Please tell us a little bit about you.

Well, let’s see, I suppose I should start with the obvious, married with three children bit. Married my junior high school sweetheart at the age of 20 and by 25 had three amazing children who took up a lot of my time. Have worked in the textbook publishing industry for 10 years and in print media prior to that. I’ve always enjoyed the pub industry even with its ups and downs but as the industry changed, I started to look for something more. I decided to go back to school and finish my degree but as many have found, the piece of paper doesn’t always guarantee anything beyond a mountain of student loans.

My passion has always been in representing the interests of the authors whose works I admire, so shortly after finishing my college degree, I started looking for a way to do that. I found the L. Perkins agency and agreed to a mentor-ship where I quickly found myself being the sole ePub agent in the industry.

2. What does an ePub Agent do? How would this benefit an author?

An ePub agent does the same tasks a traditional literary agent performs but with an eye toward the digital era and it’s evolution. In today’s evolving industry, having an advocate who understands both the print and digital sides of the industry and can fight for the author’s rights is crucial.

3. How is an ePub Agent different than a typical Agent?

The differences are subtle. Where my colleagues take out editors to lunch to discuss pitches, I pitch via phone and email. The latter more than the former, to be honest. Everything else is exactly the same. I review contracts, discuss career planning with my clients and most of all, fight for my clients’ to get the best deal for their amazing talent. I also help my clients with their marketing and self-promotion. ePubs generally do not have the huge marketing departments traditional publishers have and much of the promotion for the book falls to the author.

4. What are you looking for in an author?

It’s cliché, I know and authors get tired of hearing about voice but really, that’s the most important thing. You either have the writing ability needed to engage the reader or you don’t. I can help polish a work for submission and often times do when I know the story is salable but I can’t teach you how to write.

I’m also looking for an author who is willing to learn or is already digitally savvy. An author with a web presence, Facebook and Twitter, yes but also a desire and ability to self-promote.

5. Since you are an ePub Agent, will you try to get an author’s book in print?

Absolutely! I always negotiate for print rights in the contract and if these are not available through the epub, I can reach out to my colleagues at the agency to help me place the work with a traditional publisher.

6. What are your feelings on Social Media? Is there one type you prefer over another?

Social Media is an invaluable tool that every author should take advantage of. I don’t prefer any one over the other but I find that Facebook and Twitter open the author to a vast readership. Having a blog is also a crucial marketing tool for any author. These tools allow for your readers to “connect” with you and when the readers feel like they know the author, they buy more of that author’s works.

7. What are your feelings on the future of the ebook vs. book?

I think there really should not be a rivalry but a merging and we are at the cusp of an incredible revolution in the pub industry. While I prefer to buy the epub version of any book, I don’t see how we could be without print as well. To me it’s just another format to provide the reader, hardcover, paperback, audiobook, epub.

8. What do you feel are the genres of today and the genres of the future?

What a great question! Just as the industry is evolving so are the genres. I see more genre straddling in the future than single-genre publishing. Romance and YA are timeless. These genres, I believe will continue to remain strong sellers. Cross-genre fiction, though is what seems to be paving the way in the digital marketplace. Suspense, paranormal erotic romance is one I’d like to see continue to grow.

9. What advice do you have for an author looking for representation?

Write the best book you can, then have it edited by someone not related or a friend. Study the industry by reading Writer’s Market, Publisher’s Weekly and Galleycat. Follow agents and editors on Twitter and read (& follow) their submission guidelines. Then send your baby in and don’t be discouraged by rejection. What one agent/editor is looking for may be (and usually is) vastly different from what another is looking for.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Keep reading and keep writing! If you wake up in the morning with your characters screaming for their story to be told, write it! Don’t focus on what’s selling or not selling in today’s market. If your story is good, there is a publisher out there just dying to publish it!

I’m sure I’ve talked your ear off and you may be cross-eyed by the time you get through this interview but I want to thank Lazy Day Publishing for this opportunity.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rejection and Fearlessness

When I was little, I think my parents assumed I would one day be on stage and screen. I started singing lessons when I was 4, was reading and performing poetry and plays in church and school at age 5 and led the children's choir and youth groups at an early age. I was never afraid of stepping onto the stage and cracking a joke, singing a song or performing in a play. I have always loved the limelight and rarely suffered from stage fright.

As I got older, the fearlessness continued. I would always throw myself into whatever I did with reckless abandon and found it pretty easy to adapt to new environments. When I was 15, I decided that I needed a job. My parents both worked and while we were never without food or clothing, I wanted to earn a paycheck. I heard that the local Winn Dixie hired 15-year-olds as bag girls and bag boys so I went and applied (this has since changed and I swear it wasn't because of me). When the manager came out to talk to me he gave me the once-over took my application in his hands and sighing said, "I'm sorry kid. But you have to be 15 to work here."

"I AM 15," I told him quickly moving to stand between him and the door to his office. Pulling my ID out of back pocket, I handed it to him and pointed at my date of birth. He looked me up and down again and asked me how much I could lift. I can't even remember what I told him but I know it was not a number. It was likely something along the lines of "what do you need me to lift?"

He kept trying to find something to reject my application and finally I just looked at him and said what I say in my head every time I go for a job, "You need me. I know you need me and you know you need me but for some reason you don't think I can do the job. Give me a chance and I'll prove to you I can do this job better than anyone!" Did I mention I've always been a good salesperson? Like Tommy Boy and his father before him, I can sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves.

At some point, that 15-year-old fearless kid who came home with more tips than anyone and who's held down a job since she was 15, started to fade in a barrage of rejections I didn't quite always understand. As child, I was never rejected. I wasn't doted upon, don't get me wrong. There were plenty of people in my life (especially in the church but that's another story for another day) to tell me no but very few people rejected me outright. Believe it or not, it wasn't until I started applying for colleges with my average SAT and less than stellar ACT scores that I started to feel the true sting of rejection. When I hit the job market again in the early 90s, I found more rejection. Some harsher than others and suddenly the stage was enormous, the crowd seemed mocking and the world too vast to traverse.

Eventually, I remembered that 15-year-old girl who would take the proverbial bull by the horns and make it behave. It wasn't about what others thought of me, or what they thought they knew about me, it's always been about what I allow others to see.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Call for Submissions: GIRLS WHO BITE! - Cleis Press

Girls Who Bite

Editor: Delilah Devlin

Publisher: Cleis Press in Fall 2011

Deadline: November 1, 2010 (earlier submissions preferred)

Girls Who Bite is open to all authors.

Editor Delilah Devlin is looking for lesbian vampire stories for a romantic erotica anthology entitled Girls Who Bite.

“Dark hungers, shocking thirsts… For blood, for connection… A sharing of nourishment and comfort… Infliction and acceptance of pain…”

A vampire is the ultimate bad girl. The word invokes images of dark, shadowy liaisons, forbidden desires, and sensual blood lust. Whether the story depicts a traditional blood-drinker seducing a meal, a psychic vampire stealing life-force from an unknowing host, or a real-life sanguinarian seeking a partner to share a ritual bloodletting to cement a bond, the stories should be varied and unexpected. Writers are encouraged to investigate vampire myths from around the world, looking for something fresh to add to the pantheon. Published authors with an established vampire world may use that setting for their original short story.

The stories may be as kinky or vanilla as the writer wants—but a deep sensuality should linger in every word. Exotic locations and scenarios are welcome. Keep in mind there must be a romantic element with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending. Strong plots, engaging characters and unique twists are the ultimate goal. Please no reprints. We are seeking original stories.

How to submit: Prepare your 2,000 to 4,500 words story in a double-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 point, black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, NOT.docx) OR rich text format. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to girlswhobite@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. Delilah will respond to you in November 2010. The publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

Payment will be $50.00 USD and two copies of the published book upon publication.

About the editor: Ms. Devlin has published over sixty erotic stories in multiple genres and lengths. Her published print titles include Into the Darkness, Seduced by Darkness, Darkness Captured, Down in Texas and Texas Men. Her short stories are features in Zane’s Purple Panties, and Cleis Press’s Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, and will be featured in Carnal Machines and Passion. She is published by Avon, Kensington, Atria/Strebor, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, and in 2011, Berkley.

Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to Delilah at girlswhobite@gmail.com.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I was recently interviewed

I really enjoy being interviewed. It makes it easier to talk about myself without feeling like a prat for running my mouth off about what I do. So when Ravenous Romance author, Ryan Field asked me if he could interview me for his blog, I jumped at the chance.

Here's a copy of the interview and link to his very informative blog. Ryan will be guest-blogging here soon.


These days I've been posting a lot about the differences between self-publishing and e-publishing, so I decided to contact Saritza Hernández, an ePub Agent with the Lori Perkins Agency in New York. I was curious about what an epub agent does, and she was gracious enough to answer few questions. And I can't thank her enough. I've learned a lot just from reading through the answers.



Could you explain to people who don't know what an e-pub agent does what your job entails?


Sure! My job is not any different from the other Literary Agents out there, to be honest. Most of the time I'm reviewing query letters, reviewing contracts, preparing pitches, creating submission lists for my clients and networking with editors. I suppose what is most different is the communication medium. While NY agents are talking with editors on the phone and face to face, most of my contact with editors and publishers is done via email. We meet in person at conferences and do spend some time on the phone together going over discussions better suited for the phone than novel-length emails but a good portion of my communication is via e-mail. My Blackberry is my constant companion. I'm also the marketing department, editor, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on (or punch) for my clients. I spend as much time some nights working on ways to improve a book's exposure as I do "talking down" an author whose works are out to submission and begins the self-doubt train of thought.

How does an e-pub agent differ from traditional agent, or is there any difference at all?

The job, I believe is really the same. But having an agent familiar with electronic rights and one passionate about the evolution of publishing in the digital marketplace is crucial to the success of those authors who venture into this new frontier. We (traditional agents and epub agents) both work for the author and serve to obtain the best possible contract for the author. One aspect of my job that I've found to be most important (and perhaps a little different from traditional agents) is the need to be the liaison between the author and the publisher in all aspects including marketing, publicity and editing. Because self-pub'd and e-pub'd authors have to do most, if not all, of their own marketing and publicity, having someone who can help guide that path is crucial to the author's success.

Do authors query you with traditional query letters, or do you go after them when you see something you like?

A little of both, actually. Most of my clients came to me through traditional query letters but a few of my clients are authors whose works I've followed for a while and who, quite honestly, I've fangirled for some time. We joke about not being sure which one of us squeed more when the offer of representation was accepted, them or me. I've even had authors approach me after receiving their first offer for publication from an ePublisher and upon reading the contract realizing they have no idea what to do. Yes, having an offer of publication from a publisher will get my attention quickly. That and the promise of strong cuban coffee being delivered daily by hot cabana boys, but I digress.

How did you become an e-pub agent?

Funny you should ask that. I blame my family and friends for anything I do that pushes my boundaries beyond what I think is possible. One of my friends, Kele Moon, writes amazing stories. I've known her for several years and every story she would send me would make me wish it were a book I could buy or send to a huge publisher that would one day make her famous. Well, I opened my big mouth and told her that one day to which she quickly countered with "You should totally be my agent!" I had no idea how to be an agent. I knew what they did. Have known that side of the publishing business in periphery after working in the production side of publishing for nearly a decade but actually sitting down and taking on clients and helping them with their submissions! I thought she was crazy! Well, others started saying the same thing to me and after helping several of them put together their submission packets and get their work out to publishers, I realized I really love this side of the business! Shortly after helping a few friends get contracts from ePubs, I approached Lori Perkins. After reading her blog "Agent in the Middle" and following her tweet feed, I sent her a private message asking for guidance or an opportunity for mentorship in how to become an agent. She called me that day and asked me if I wanted to join her agency as their sole ePub Agent. She took me under her wing and has been helping me traverse through the waters with far greater ease than I could have, had I been alone. Having her as a mentor means my clients also have the backing of the L. Perkins Agency for any project that could fit the scope of the NY pubs that the other agents in the office represent. Together, we can help our clients secure both print and digital rights at the onset of the contract negotiations and thereby increase the potential revenue stream for everyone involved.

I read publishing blogs all the time and I rarely ever see e-publishers mentioned, which makes me wonder if all authors are getting the information they should be getting on traditional publishing blogs. Do you find there are still authors who don't know about e-publishing?

It baffles me how little about ePublishing anyone knows. It's a poor sentence, I know but it really is astounding. I get emails every day from authors who ask me what ePublishing is and "why would anyone need an agent when self-publishing" as if the two were one and the same. They are not. Even among my colleagues in the publishing industry, very little is known about this new frontier and, of course, where there is little information, panic and chaos reign. I hear more negativity out of the print publishers than I do the digital ones and I think a lot of it is due to fear of the unknown.

Though it's difficult to portend anything these days in publishing, where do you see e-publishers, in a general sense, ten years from now?

The future of publishing does not yet exist and I think we're in a great renaissance where the best ideas are being formulated and the needs of the new generation are being assessed and used as inspiration for innovation. I've heard everything from "print is dying" to "publishing is the new music record label" and while I can't foretell what the next decade will bring for publishing, I'm extremely excited about seeing its transformation. I truly believe that ePublishers and traditional publishers will not exist one day. It will just be publishing where you will be able to carry your library in your pocket just as easily as you'll be able to fill your bookshelves but I do see the great opportunity for ePublishers to pave the way toward that future.

I've posted my thoughts in this blog about the differences between e-publishers and self-publishers often, from my own experiences. In your own words, could you explain the differences?

I think the biggest misconception today is the belief that self-publishing and ePublishing are the same. They are as different as traditional publishing and self-publishing are. Self-published works are those the author takes the time and cost to publish on their own and for some, this venue has been a very profitable one. They cut out the publisher's fees, the warehouse fees, the bookshop fees, the agent fees right out of the picture and deal directly with the manufacturer. These brave people take upon themselves the roles and responsibilities of the business of writing and still manage to crank out some pretty amazing reads.

ePublishers, like the traditional publishers, produce the book the author has written and incur the costs associated with its production. These costs are usually less than those of the traditional publishers but they are not any less important or "short-cut" in any way. Manuscripts go through rounds of editing proof, galleys are created, cover art is requested, designed and paid for, digital converters (the equivalent of the press run) are hired and third-party affiliates (the equivalent of the bookstores) are contracted to maximize exposure. The ePublisher does this while the author continues working on their next book. Is one any better than the other? It completely depends on the author and their business-savvy. Some authors don't want to deal with the book production. They just want to write. Others want to be involved in every aspect of the business and can likely recite contract lingo better than the most well-versed literary attorney.

What is the most common question people ask you?

Do you ever sleep? To which I usually answer, who needs sleep when there are so many great books to sell and read? I'll catch up on all my sleeping when I'm dead.


Thanks Ryan for the opportunity. You can read more about Ryan and his published works on his blog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Never too old to fall in love again

My parents, who have been divorced for several years, remarried on Sunday in a small ceremony and party with a few friends and family in attendance. It was such a beautiful day and they looked so cute that all of us could barely contain our tears of joy and smiles through the whole event.




I think hubby said it best on his Facebook status message this weekend when he said "Today I learned that you're never too old to fall in love again." I'm so happy for my parents! They look so happy!

Remember to hug your loved ones hard and never be afraid to fall in love all over again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Being a Fangirl and an Agent

On Being a Fangirl

I have been very fortunate to be able to represent authors whose works I love and whose careers I want to see grow. Being a fangirl of many of my authors' works prior to representing them, I think, has given me the advantage in knowing their voice well and being able to translate that to my pitch is seamless. While I love to read queries and find great stories with strong voices there too, I have to admit having an author whose works you've loved for a while contact you and ask you to be their agent is mind-blowing! Recently, I added Sean Kennedy, Alex Beecroft, M. Jules Aedin and Heidi Cullinan to my list of clients and their works have been stories that when I first read them I was in awe and quickly ran to tell my friends of the new books they needed to buy.

On Being an Agent

Turning that relationship from fangirl extraordinaire to agent representing the author's best interest has been pretty easy for me. If I love the story, I can sell it. If I love the author, I will fight to the death for their success. I want their books sold, not JUST because I make money for my efforts but because I'm a fangirl, first and foremost, and can't bear the thought of not having their works out there for me to buy. I suppose being selfish in this business is a good thing.

So, am I still reading queries?

Oh hell yes, I am! I've received some rather interesting ones and am looking forward to diving back into my query pile later this week. I've got queries dating back to May 1st and am slowly going through them. I answer every query so if it takes me a while to get back to you, please forgive me but know you will get a response from me one way or another. If you have submitted a query prior to May 1 and have not heard from me, nudge me. It's very likely that your query ended up in my spam folder and I didn't see it. I don't want to miss an opportunity to become your fangirl too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Caress

Every time I see this meme, I do it. I just love it that much! Ha!

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPod, etc. on shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds.

How do you feel today? Los Tenis (The Sneakers)

If someone says “you’re hot”, you say? Send Me an Angel

How would you describe your life? Spanish Doll

What is your life long goal? Boom Boom Pow

What do your friends think of you? Wolf_Howl (sound effects)

What do your parents think of you? Chiquitita

What do you often think about? Bella Luna

What do you think of the person who likes you? Hammering in my Head

What does your best friend always say to you? Circle of Life

What do you want to be when you grow up? See Saw

What is your favourite saying? Womenizer

What will you dance to at your wedding? No One

What will be played at your funeral? La Gota Fria (The Cold Drop)

What is your biggest fear? La Llamada (The Call)

What do you think of your house? Everything Counts

What do you wish you were doing now? Take a Bow

What was the last thing you said? Hey, Soul Sister [had to stop here and listen to the song all the way through and sing along. Love Train!

What are you thinking about? Moonlight Serenade

What are you wishing for? Fred's Dead

Describe your looks? He's a Pirate

Describe your personality? Goodbye Girl

Describe yourself as the whole package? It's in the Rain

If someone compliments you, you say? Prodigal

What do you think of this quiz? We Miss Quidditch

Your child’s birth song? Nothing's Impossible

Your marriage song? Dear Mr. President

Your breakdown song? Circus

Your death song? American Boy

Your funeral song? Rain

Your happy song? I'm the Only One

Your sad song? Push It to the Limit

Your suicide song? Sugar Pie Honey Bunch

Your divorce song? The Best Thing

Your graduation song? Sunshine Girl

Your sex song? I'll Stand By You

What will you post this as? One Caress

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking for a great cover artist?

I love Graphic Designers! They make the beautiful covers, banners and marketing pieces that makes us want to buy the books we love and drool over the lovely images they portray! ;)

Just wanted to share the amazing talents of Tuesday Dube who created an amazing banner for Kele Moon's upcoming Ellora's Cave release Beyond Eden.

From Blogger Pictures


She's pretty amazing, huh?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lessons In the Attic with a Borzoi

My parents are remarrying at the end of the month after being divorced for many years. In the process of recombining their households (Dad's moving back into the house) they have started clearing out closets, old trunks and the long-lost boxes in the attic.

Among the dust and debris are memories my sisters and I stored away in cardboard boxes eaten up by mold, mothballs & the occasional rodent no one dares admit to existing in my mother's pristine home. Today, I returned to look through dust-ridden boxes for memories from my youth. Among them were my marching band hat (the marching Grenadiers) along with my officer tassels and spats. Buried under TONS of dust-covered notebooks were some of the reference books I completely forgotten about. Among them my World Book Encyclopedia (c) 1986 and The Borzoi Handbook for Writers, (c) 1985.

The Borzoi is more than a dog Do any of you remember this book? It was a required textbook for my Freshman Comp class in 1991and I can't even remember how much I paid for it at the time. But like my World Book Encyclopedia, also dust-ridden sitting beside my old college textbooks, these reference books are ones I treasure above everything else. (Yes, even among my hideous marching band hat; the black Q-tip!) These books were my best friends when my mother would ground me for reading inappropriate material at a young age. (Damn you Dean Koontz and Patricia Cornwell!) My mother dictated what could be read and not read under her roof and she had no problem with my immersing myself in a reference tome. These reference books were my key to a brand new world... or worlds of my own making. With these reference books, I learned to write.

With gems like: Do Not Overuse the Verb to Be, Convey Action through a Verb, Not a Noun and Avoid an Unnecessary That or What Clause I learned how to communicate in prose. The Borzoi book in particular has advice I have used and shared with my clients and friends when helping to edit their works.

From Do Not Overuse the Verb to Be:
"Correct" But Actionless
It was clear that the soprano was no longer in control of the high notes that had been a source of worry to her for years.

Stronger:
Clearly, the soprano had lost control of the high notes that had been worrying her for years.

From Avoid an Unnecessary That or What Clause:

Don't:
At the present time, the realities of nuclear terror are such that countries that possess equal power find, when they oppose each other, that the weapons that carry the most force are precisely the weapons that they cannot use.

Do:
In this age of nuclear terror, equal adversaries are equally powerless to use their strongest weapons.

Here thirty-nine words have been compressed into sixteen, and a slack, cud-chewing sentence has become tight and balanced.


Thank you traveling World Book salesman My encyclopedia taught me about the world beyond the Bible (I was born and raised in the Baptist church). Every night, I would read about the nations whose religions and cultures appeared foreign when spoken of from the pulpit with pity or disdain. When my mother would throw away my Dean Koontz books or make me throw away my romance books, she would give me two options for reading material: the Bible or the Encyclopedia. I'm not a preacher or a priest, though I'm a huge fan of their wardrobe, so I'm sure you can guess which good books I chose to read. The wealth of information contained in these tomes, coupled with my very active imagination, helped shape stories of tribal princesses captured by tyrannical Spaniards, priest-turned-vampire searching for his soulmate for centuries through Eastern Europe and Latina teenager coping with a friend's cystic fibrosis diagnosis.

Now, if I could only find the actual manuscripts to those stories... perhaps in another box!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The future is closer than we thought

I've been saying this for several years so really, it should come as no surprise when I use the cliche: The future is now and it's digital.

Why is this such a shock? Those of us in the digital marketplace can tell you, we've seen and lived in this new "scary venture" for years now and while the road's been bumpy, the journey has been completely worthwhile. Digital publishing is no longer the wave of the future. It's the new face of publishing.

When Dorchester, one of the oldest publishers of mass market trade paperback, announced today their decision to move to a digital sales model, leaving behind the mass market sales model and choosing a POD (print-on-demand) option, the outcry and shock hit the waves almost as fast as the announcement of a beloved artist's demise. Why the long face? Dorchester has simply taken a step toward improving their bottom line and in the process of doing so, will be able to provide authors with an opportunity to cut out the middle man.

No More Middle Man. What does this mean for authors? Higher royalties, less worry about returns and higher sales. How is this a bad thing? It's not the death of print. If I hear this cliché one more time, I think I'll scream. We're at a turning point in the publishing industry, a digital renaissance as-it-were and as it has been with every revolution, this digital one has opened new venues and opportunities for everyone. Yes, what iTunes has done for the music industry, the ePubs are doing for publishing.

There is a reason bookstores like Barnes & Noble put themselves up for sale. When sales via eReaders outnumber the physical sales at the brick-and-mortar stores, bookstores and publishers take notice. When the music industry changed, artists found themselves with the opportunity to make more money without having to loan out money to the record label for their talent. When books are not sold at the bookstores these return to the publishers who then charge the author a reserve against those returns. In digital, there are no real returns. Every digital download requested is what is supplied.

While the print world has looked for ways to change, digital publishers jumped into the fray with their eyes on the future and their heart in their hands. The leap has paid off handsomely. Today, Dorchester took that leap.

So to the naysayers and panic-stricken people who today were shocked by their announcement, I say, "Welcome to the Digital pool! The cabana boys are ready and the water's great! Take the leap!"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Effective Writing and Blogging for Authors

Moo cards for blogging workshopImage by Mexicanwave via Flickr

The incomparable Sacha Illivych is guest-blogging today on the importance of effective writing and blogging for authors.

The big trend lately is effective blogging and that’s a topic many authors who write romances are unable to grasp.  We tend to deal in hard fiction, as it were and thus we tend to spout off on whatever random topic seems to come to mind without throwing a care to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or the mechanics of Google ranking.  Worse yet, we tend to talk about things that don’t really matter as they don’t forward our career.

The problem with this is that it may show us having versatile interests; it doesn’t always draw attention to our platforms.  When we speak of author platforms, we’re really trying to show how diverse our writing abilities are in a manner that does one of a few things.  Either our blogs need to reflect our writing style as an extension of our brand, or they need to show more depth of who we are as authors.

So many blogs I’ve seen do little to help the author. Yes, in some instances we’re trying to strike controversy but does that help us?  Take it from the KING of bad publicity (gay fish, anyone?) when I blog about my favorite oral fetishes on some romance blog, even if my language is appropriate for that blog, all I’m really doing is capitalizing on the short lived success of controversy.  When I discuss cross dressing on my own blog though, there is more relevance there due to my varied writing in erotic romance. 

Be clear about our content.  Ask yourself about the voice of the blog you’re writing for.  Is it fun?  It is quirky?  Is it serious?  Does it require a modicum of professionalism?  Tailor your voice to suit that of the blog.  On the Midnight Seductions Authors blogs for example, I tend to write about the process of writing from the standpoint of an established author.  I have been writing longer than any other author in our blog aside from some of our guests.  I have a lot of sage advice to offer.

Examine what topics you’re blogging on and why.  When I put out a post on cross dressing, my point at the time was to use SEO tactics in hopes of capturing some traffic for affiliate marketing.  I targeted that post to the few blogs I appear on where it’s appropriate. 

Spend some actual time learning the delicate yet simple art of SEO.  In this case I’m going to suggest you target your blogs to sites with a ton of traffic as I’ve learned from Student4Ever and a few others that back links from sites with a lot of traffic give Google the impression that you’re an expert.  Learn proper link placement.  It doesn’t make sense to use my name as a keyword.  Nobody’s going to search for Sascha Illyvich the author, my analytical tools prove this.  Sure I get hits based on that but it’s usually when I’ve said something of value. 
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Call for Submissions - Ravenous Romance

Call for Lesbian BDSM Anthology Submissions

Sugar and Spice

Editor: Mira Paul

Publisher: Ravenous Romance

Deadline: September 1, 2010

Payment: Short story advance of $10, a copy of the anthology, plus a pro rata share of any revenue/subsidiary rights.

Story Length: 2500 - 5000

I'm looking for lesbian kinky erotic romance submissions for a new Ravenous Romance anthology. Give me Mistresses, Daddies, subs, slaves, girls and bois. I'm particularly interested in stories illustrating loving Dominant and submissive relationships and/or butch/femme couples but am open to any SM-themed stories centered around established and committed relationships. All the stories must have believable, fleshed-out characters, some plot and steaming sex.

Submission Guidelines: Email submissions to mirapaul.editor at gmail dot com as a double-spaced Word or RTF attachment with Sugar and Spice Submission in the subject line. Please include your name (and pseudonym if applicable), bio, mailing address, email, title of the piece and word count as part of your document. The footer of each page should include your name and page number.

Compensation: Ravenous Romance short story advance of $10, a copy of the anthology, plus a pro rata share of any revenue/subsidiary rights.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Social Media Marketing for Authors: Part 2


(My user pic at Twitter)


Twitter


Alrightyyyyy! Now that the branding issue is outta the way, let’s talk about Twitter.

Twitter ROCKS for reaching your market and selling books. Yes, it does! My ex-agent is the one who convinced me to sign up for Twitter. But it took me a while to get the hang of it. That’s because everyone kept telling me I needed to post links in every tweet. And that’s it.

Yeesh! What a snooze.

So I did what I always do when I approach a new social media site. Research. Turns out there were only four articles on the web about how to sell more books with Twitter. Not much help. Most of what they said would work for a business, but not for an erotica novelist. So I tested my own ideas and came up with a system for working Twitter that’s not only major fun, but also sells lots of books and expands my readership every day. What more could a slutty novelist want, right?

First if all, be very clear about what you’re doing at Twitter. I’m at Twitter to network with my fans and sell books. That means I don’t let just anyone follow me there. I started working Twitter the end of January. At this moment (the second week of July) I have 431 followers. Why don’t I have several thousand followers? Because I block 90% of the people who follow me. Why? Because I’m at Twitter to network with my fans and sell books. Duh. Therefore I only allow people to follow me who are readers of romance and erotica. The exception would be a handful of personal friends. And authors.

Okay, let me stop right here and mention a major mistake many authors make at social media sites. I don’t know what it is about authors, but they do this thing where they friend every freakin’ author they can find at a social media site. Huh? What kind of sense does this make? Yeah, we all have a few author buds. But if you’re at Twitter to network with your fans and sell books, why are you spending all your time chatting with other authors? I hear authors complain constantly that they don’t sell books at Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter. Duh. Look at who you’re following, dude!

Because of this insanity, authors follow me all the time at Twitter. I may be a kinky slut, but I’m a nice one, which means I’d feel bad if I blocked all of them. So I allow those authors to follow me who write romance or erotica or something close to it. Then I block the rest.

After reading this you may be wondering what’s so important about your followers at Twitter? Everything. The way to reach the people who read the kind of novels you write is to follow them. That means when they get a notification that you’re following them, they’re gonna check you out. And one of the things they do is look at the people who follow you. If they see a bunch of porn bots, marketers, and authors who write everything under the sun, they won’t follow you, and they might even block you. Horrors! NOT what you want. So make sure the people you follow and those who follow you read the kind of books you write. It’s all image, and you wanna project the right one. And the right image is the one that leads to more sales of your books.

On your profile page you’re given the opportunity to write a very short description of yourself. This is a selling tool as powerful as any signature line (sig) you might use at a forum. It should include your name, your subgenre, and a few sentences telling your market exactly what they wanna hear about your books.

As for tweeting, don’t pay attention to all those biz experts who say you shouldn’t tweet more then 16 times every day. *rolls my eyes* If you’re engaged in a bunch of conversations with your fans, trust me, you’re gonna tweet a LOT. It’s a good thing for novelists. Not a bad thing, so don’t sweat it.

To expand your readership look no further than the people tweeting with the people you follow. You don’t need to do complicated keyword searches. You don’t need to use fancy apps. Although I highly recommend HootSuite for shortening links (http://www.hootsuite.com/). Your potential readership is right there. If you’ve been careful to follow only those people who read the kinds of books you write and read then your market is chatting in your Twitter stream all day long. Cool, huh?

One last thing about Twitter. You already know you don’t wanna be one of those authors with 10,000 followers and you have no idea who these people are. But you also don’t wanna do what some authors on Twitter do. They spend all their time chatting with their author buds and ignore tweets from their fans. Some authors only answer one tweet from a fan. But most say they don’t have the time to chat. However you can see on their profile page they ARE chatting with their author buds. I know some of these authors. I was DMing with one the other day, and I mentioned how much I love Twitter. She responded by calling Twitter a time-suck. *shakes my head*

Wanna piss your fans off really fast? Ignore their tweets. Or say you respond to every tweet from them, but you don’t. Then tweet with your author buds every day for the entire Twitter world to see. I hear complaints about this from readers all the time. They say, “Hey, we spend our money on their books, yet they don’t have time to talk with us, but they do have the time to talk with their author buds for hours????!!!!” Yeah, it pisses them off big-time, and many have told me they stopped buying an author’s books because of it. Don’t make this mistake.

Believe me, I know we don’t have enough time in the day to do all of the marketing and writing we need to do. But our readers are fab people. They’re the ones we write for and the ones who pay our bills. I LOVE these people!!! And if you treat them well, social media will be as profitable for you as it is for me. No doubt about it.

At any rate, I guess you know what I’ve been doing while writing this series of blog posts. That’s right. I’ve been tweeting with my fans, growing my readership, and watching my eBooks sell in the Kindle Store all day long. Gotta love Twitter, ya know?


Laura Stamps is an award-winning, paranormal erotica novelist, whose daily blog is wickedly naughty. Her work has been published in over a thousand magazines, literary journals, and anthologies worldwide. The recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and seven Pushcart Award nominations, she is the author of more than forty-five books. A Wiccan Faery Witch, Empath, and Psychic, Laura enjoys writing novels about lusty Pagans living in the Deep South. Here’s how you can find her on the web:

Email: laurastamps@mindspring.com
For info about her novel series:
http://www.avampskiss.blogspot.com/
Her verrrrry naughty blog:
http://www.laurastamps.com/
Her “Laura Stamps” Fan Page at Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/sexwitch
To follow her on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/sexwitch


Thanks Laura for guest blogging this week. I’m off to check on my Twitter “Followers” list and heed your advice!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Social Media Marketing for Authors: Part 1


My Buzz Box & Branding



I’ve asked my new-found Twitter and Facebook friend, Laura Stamps to guest blog about the importance of Social Media Marketing for authors and talk a little about her success in this media.

Welcome Laura Stamps!

If you’re an author, social media is a primary tool for expanding your market. Why? Because this is where your readers hang out every day. And your readers are the ones who buy your books. How do I know social media marketing works? Because I’ve been a full-time author for 23 years, and like most authors 100% of the marketing of my books falls on my shoulders.

Need more proof? Several of my books went into the Kindle Store the middle of May. Less than two months later I’ve sold 619 Kindle books using social media marketing. Three of them even hit the Top 100 Bestsellers List in Erotica two weeks in a row out of the 15,138 erotica novels in the Kindle Store.

True. You’ve gotta write good books to be able to do this. But as we all know, good books don’t sell themselves. A good marketing plan does. And 100% of my marketing is social media.

In the days before the web you could sell books through direct mail to your in-house list and with magazine ads and rented lists. None of that works today. People buy books because their friends at social media sites recommend them. Period. When I realized this in 2006, I tested every social media site I could find. Eventually, I narrowed the selection down to the five or six that produced the most sales of my paranormal erotica novels. That list changes from year to year as I test new social media sites. But I still work no more than five or six every day.

To keep my marketing organized and consistent, I created what I call my “Buzz Box.” Don’t laugh. Actually, what you’re doing at these sites is creating a marketing “buzz” for your books. Thus, the name. Clever, huh? *lol*


My Buzz Box


My Buzz Box is a 3x5 index card box (bright pink, of course) that sits next to my computer. I work out of it all day long. There are several sections in it, and dividers separate each one. The first section is for my Ebook Marketing Plan. In this section I keep a separate index card for Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and several romance forums and Yahoo groups. On each card I list the site link, my password, username, etc.

The second section is for the Passwords I use most often (my ISP, all my email addys, Wordpress & Blogger for my blogs, the company I pay to manage my mailing list, etc.).

The third is for my Interview Schedule. As you can imagine my marketing creates lots of buzz for my novels. That means I’m usually booked up every month with interviews, giveaways, and guest blog posts. There’s no way I can keep all this stuff in my head, so there’s a card for each month of the year in this section where I list deadlines for interviews, guest blog posts, etc.

There are several other sections in my Buzz Box, including one for Yahoo Groups PROMO. I belong to quite a few romance and erotica groups at Yahoo. Each one allows authors to promote their books on a certain day of the week. I give each group its own index card and make a note of its promo day. Then I list which book or series I have promoted and the date. That way I won’t promote the same book or series two weeks in a row in the same group (a definite no-no). Making a section for it in my Buzz Box prevents that from happening.


Branding


Okay, before you can create a social media plan to market your books you’ll need to brand yourself as an author. Trust me. Your marketing won’t be worth a damn without the proper “branding.” So what does branding mean? To brand yourself you need to be able to define yourself and your books in one sentence or one very short paragraph. In other words, what is the image you wish to project to your readers so they’ll know EXACTLY what you write and who you are? Keep it simple. Straightforward. To the point. Unless you can do that there’s no way you can communicate this to a prospective reader.

For example, my branding is who I am in real life. I’m a slutty, kinky, Pagan erotica novelist who writes romantic, sexy novels. Yup, that’s me. Now you know why my Twitter name is SexWitch (http://twitter.com/sexwitch).

The important thing about branding is that it needs to be a role you can live with. Again, take me for an example. Not everyone can handle my branding. I’m known across the web for being the living version of the typical walking-hormone-heroine in an erotica novel. Oh, and I’ve got a trashy mouth, too. And I write about my sex life on my naughty blog every week. Unusual, I know, but this works for me because I’m also an exhibitionist, which just reinforces my kinky branding. Yeah, my readers love that about me. Additionally, my branding qualifies prospective readers. If they don’t like me, chances are they aren’t gonna like my novels. If they do like me, they’re gonna love my smokin’ hot books. No doubt about it.

Once you’ve branded yourself, everything you say, every post, every word you type at a social media site should support and strengthen your brand. Now you can see why I said your brand had better be something you can live with. For many authors their branding is not who they are in real life. It’s a role they play, depending upon what they write. But whatever it is, it had better be a persona you can fall into easily, enjoy, and project consistently day after day online.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about Twitter and how crucial it is for book sales. Stay tuned…


Laura Stamps is an award-winning, paranormal erotica novelist, whose daily blog is wickedly naughty. Her work has been published in over a thousand magazines, literary journals, and anthologies worldwide. The recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and seven Pushcart Award nominations, she is the author of more than forty-five books. A Wiccan Faery Witch, Empath, and Psychic, Laura enjoys writing novels about lusty Pagans living in the Deep South. Here’s how you can find her on the web:

Email: laurastamps@mindspring.com
For info about her novel series:
http://www.avampskiss.blogspot.com/
Her verrrrry naughty blog:
http://www.laurastamps.com/
Her “Laura Stamps” Fan Page at Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/sexwitch
To follow her on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/sexwitch

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Call for Reviewers: Apex Reviews

Love to read great books? Love to share your reviews with the world? Check out Apex Reviews!

Due to the overwhelming support that we continue to receive from authors & publishers worldwide, we are seeking to expand our team of reviewers. Doing so will allow us to continue to provide the quality service you have come to expect from Apex Reviews, fostering our continued development and allowing us to add to our array of promotional services.

By joining our reviewer family, you will have the opportunity to read quality books by authors from all walks of life. Though the reviewer position is an unpaid one, your reviews will receive widespread exposure by being distributed throughout our growing network of print, online, and other media outlets.

If you are interested in joining the Apex Reviews family, please contact us at info@apexreviews.net for more info. To learn more about all that we do to help promote authors & publishers worldwide, please visit our website at www.apexreviews.net. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Call for Submissions: Eternal Press Holiday Submissions

Publisher: Eternal Press
Editor: Candace Clayton
Payment: 40% royalties
Deadline: August 31st, 2010

The Holidays are just around the corner! We are currently seeking submissions that pertain to the holidays. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Samhain, New Year's, Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day any holiday at all! This call for submissions will be open until the end of August so don't delay, send in your sub now!

Submission details at
www.eternalpress.biz/announcements.php

Friday, June 25, 2010

Is Success in the Eye of the Beholder?

I've had several people ask (and a client gently nudge) me about successful query letters and/or submissions that led to successful sales so... here it is and I remind you, careful what you ask for! ;)

It starts with the query letter. I can't emphasize this enough. Your query letter needs to give me an idea of what it is you're trying to sell me. You're selling me on your idea and you're selling me on your talent. Know your audience. Do your homework.

Rebecca Leigh's query for her steampunk novella, OUTLAW was one of the best query letters I've received.

Dear Ms. Hernandez

I read on Lori Perkin’s blog that you have joined her agency and are representing exclusively ebooks. In your introduction, you indicated a preference for (among others) steampunk and male/male erotic romance. I am seeking representation for a story that has both. The Outlaw, set in the wild west where steam is still the primary power source, is a M/M complete at 11,200 words. The Outlaw would be suitable for epublishers that are willing to publish “longer” short stories.

Damian Junter is a Bringer, an employee of the eastern aristocracy who doles out justice against those that break the law. Kell Laughlin, an outlander, is the leader of the western resistance whose stronghold is Terra Noir in Death Valley, California. Damian travels to Terra Noir to kill Kell, but instead encounters a man who sparks a deep sexual desire in him. After learning of Kell’s innocence to the crime for which he is charged, Damian works with Kell to spark a revolution against the east. He also gives in to his desires and has hot, steamy sex with Kell. In the end, the two ride off together into the badlands of the west to evade capture, intent not only on surviving but continuing to sate their sexual needs.

My M/M short story Tight End was recently published by Ravenous Romance. My first full length novel will soon be published by Noble Romance. During the day, I am an appellate attorney and I have been published in several legal trade journals.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your consideration.

She made sure to cover all of the bases: She not only addressed me by name, she made sure to let me know that she'd read about what I was "shopping for" and included it in her first paragraph! Beautiful!

She details her story succinctly and, while one can argue whether she should have capitalized the words East and West as Microsoft Word would suggest, this did not detract from the information presented. Had she misspelled sex or not caught a typo, it would have made me a little leery about continuing to read but I wanted to know more about her and her writing credits. She did not disappoint. In her next paragraph, she details her writing history relevant to the novella she's querying. She makes it look effortless, doesn't she?

However, it's not just about the query letter. I've read some fantastic query letters that had me excited about reading the manuscript and then felt completely let down when receiving a partial that's clearly not edited. How does this happen? Simple, the author took a little more time perfecting the query letter than they did in ensuring the manuscript was ready for submission. I can't sell a query letter. If your manuscript is going to require heavy edits, your fantastic query letter does nothing for either of us.

Sometimes, the manuscript sucks me in! So much so that I don't want to read anything else. I want to devour it and even as I'm reading, I'm thinking of particular editors I can't wait to pitch it to.

What does it look like, you ask?

From Prologue of Beyond Eden by Kele Moon sold to Ellora's Cave, pub date to be announced

"I'll write you every day."

"Good," Paul sighed, running his lips over the smooth, flat plane of his girlfriend's stomach as desire and heartache collided inside him. "I'll miss you so much."

His voice caught and he squeezed his eyes shut, willing away the tears that were threatening. He was the son of a Military Colonel who never tolerated signs of weakness. The ability to cry had been forced out of him at a very young age, but this was more than fists could destroy.

He lifted his eyes, staring at the girl who held his heart in her hands. He had loved Eve Everton for as long as he could remember, even when she was nothing but a runt of a girl with long, skinny legs, tangled red hair and bright green eyes that seemed too big for her face. The two of them had grown up together, had run barefoot through the marshes of Tampa side by side as they fished and played tag together through the whole of their childhood.

She wasn't a little girl anymore. She was eighteen, an adult who was ready to spread her wings and leave for New York, taking his heart and soul with her. He stared at her face hungrily, studying the freckles standing out on her nose that was peeling from too much Florida sun. Her red hair was braided into pigtails, making her appear both cute and incredibly sexy at the same time. Her green eyes were vibrant in the near darkness of her room, lit up only with the moonlight filtering in past the open window.

He cupped one of her bare breasts that were surprising full when she was still long legged and slim. He leaned down, sucking one sweet, pink nipple into his mouth. A shiver of pleasure rolled down his spine when Eve gasped and arched into him, her fingers tangling in his hair.

"Come with me to New York," she pleaded in a soft, husky voice as she tugged at his hair. "Please."

He sighed and crawled over her until his face was hovering above hers. "I can't," he choked, feeling the sting of tears once more. "My father--"

"Fuck your father," Eve said passionately, her green eyes flashing in fury. "He's an asshole and you're eighteen. You can do whatever you want now."

He winced, not knowing how to explain the conditioning of his childhood to her, one that brainwashed him into complete obedience of his father. "I got a football scholarship to USF. You don't want me to give that up, do you?"

"You're brilliant," she said with an adoring smile, making deep dimples appear in her cheeks. "You could get a scholarship anywhere. Play football in New York."

"Does the Academy of Art have a football program?"

"Well, no," she said, lowering her eyes, her full eyelashes falling like half moons over her cheeks. "But you're smart. You could probably get a scholarship without football."

"We've had this discussion a million times. Let's just enjoy each other tonight," he said softly as he brushed a few stray wisps of red hair off her forehead that had escaped her braids. Her forehead was also peeling; Paul smiled and tapped at her nose. "Sunscreen is your friend, freckles."

"Shut up," she gasped, covering her nose with her hands. "I know I'm hideous."

"You're beautiful," he said, laughing when Eve tried to roll away from him.

"No, look away, look away." Eve managed to turn over on her stomach beneath him. She kicked her feet, trying to squirm out from under him, but his heavy, muscular body made it impossible. "I'm a terrible beast."

"No, you're not," he sighed, leaning down to run his lips over her bare shoulder. "You're perfect."

Sometimes, it's not just about the first few pages. It's about the overall story. When I'm done reading it, am I excited about selling it? CAN I sell it?

From The Outlaw by Rebecca Leigh sold to Dreamspinner Press, pub date to be announced.

Damian strode confidently to the front door. Before he could knock, two men covered in steel suits grabbed him and hauled him inside.

"What's going on?" He yelled.

"No one enters the palace without Mr. Kell's invitation. Who the hell are you?" The guard pushed him face first against the wall.

"Name's Damian. I'm acquainted with Mr. Kell. I'm sure he won't mind that I've come." Images of the sexual frenzy at the arena flashed through Damian's head. The guard pressed his face harder but Damian didn't fight the additional abuse. The pain helped calm the erotic images.

The guard answered him by shoving his arm between Damian's legs. Damian went down on the ground with a grunt, holding his balls. The two guards laughed.

At the same time Damian recovered enough to pull himself up onto one knee, a door across the large foyer opened. Kell strode toward the three men with a smile.

"Damian? What a wonderful surprise!" Kell offered Damian his hand. Damian accepted and Kell helped him to his feet. "I see my guards have taken good care of you."

"Something like that," Damian pushed Kell's hand away and rubbed his cock.

"Don't mind my boys. They're just a little nervous. You know, with a Bringer in town and all." He winked at Damian. "Come, join me in my study. I believe we have some matters to discuss."

"Yeah," Damian followed.

I actually had several publishers in mind when I first read The Outlaw but in her original submission, Rebecca stated the manuscript was less than 15,000 words. In order to increase her chances for publication, she needed to bring the word count up. She returned to the manuscript and as she added words, she edited her manuscript as well. I can't stress the importance of editing. To me, it's the deciding factor on whether your manuscript will see the light of day or not.

It's important to remember that the publishing industry is subjective. What one publisher does not like, another may be salivating over. What may not fit within the niche of one publisher, could fit perfectly elsewhere. I will let you know if your manuscript is ready for submission and if I take the time to edit it, it's because I believe it has potential to sell. Several of my clients are currently editing their manuscripts, tightening their stories, improving plot and characterization and/or improving sentence structure to make the words "pop" for the reader. Each and every one of them has a manuscript I'm very excited about selling. Can't wait to share those successes with you very soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Breaking News: Outreach Initiative

I don't want it to appear like I'm favoring Silver Publishing with back-to-back posts talking about how awesome they are, but I just received this bulletin and it HAS to be shared right away!



In an effort to support the gay community, Silver Publishing will be working in conjunction with one of our distribution partners, Rainbow eBooks, to support various GLBT Outreach Programs on a monthly basis beginning on August 1.


Silver Publishing will donate 5% of SP royalties to a different program each month based on our portion of royalties, without affecting those distributed to our authors. We encourage GLBT authors to submit their manuscripts with us to be part of this Outreach Initiative. Authors, be part of this change. Let’s do this together!


During the month of August, Silver Publishing will be supporting PFLAG!
Come visit us as http://www.silverpublishing.info and help SP support the gay community while you also enjoy our list of growing releases.

Thank you for your support!
The Silver Publishing Team


I told you they were awesome!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Call for Submissions - Silver Publishing

I love working with Silver Publishing! They're a growing ePublisher and have a fantastic staff! The fact that they pay 60% royalties on all of their works is not a bad thing either! ;)

Check out their upcoming Special Submissions:

HALLOWEEN THEMED SUBMISSIONS

sexy racecar driver Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, pagan rituals, things that go bump in the night.

Halloween is coming. How do you celebrate? A forbidden tryst with a blood sucking vampire? A virgin sacrifice? A longing for a love that died? Submit your story for consideration.

Call for Submissions: June 18, 2010

Submission Deadline: September 30, 2010

Publication Date: October 30, 2010

Halloween Guidelines:

  1. The story must be set around a Halloween theme.
  2. Various heat levels - from steamy to erotic.
  3. All sub-genres and genre mixes.
  4. Story lengths – 15,000 to 25,000 words ONLY.
  5. Must follow regular submission guidelines.
  6. Must have HEA
  7. When submitting, clearly state HALLOWEEN SUBMISSION in the description.

Please submit entire manuscript at time of submission. Please submit your manuscript via the link at the bottom of the Submission Guidelines page.



25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SUBMISSIONS

sexy christmas santa

To be included in this submission, please email submissions@silverpublishing.info to place your name on the calendar.

Falling snow, Christmas carols, mistletoe…

Christmas is coming. How do you celebrate? A special gift for a loved one? Getting snowed in with a hot sexy guy/girl? A Christmas miracle? A new story to be released every day for the 25 Days of Christmas… Submit your story for consideration.

Call for Submissions: June 19, 2010

Submission Deadline: November 1, 2010

Publication Date: A new story to be released every day for the 25 Days of Christmas starting December 1, 2010

Christmas Guidelines:

  1. The story must be set around a Christmas Holiday theme.
  2. Various heat levels — from steamy to erotic.
  3. All sub-genres and genre mixes.
  4. Story lengths – 15,000 to 25,000 words ONLY.
  5. Must follow regular submission guidelines.
  6. Must have HEA
  7. When submitting, clearly state 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SUBMISSION in the subject heading.

Please submit entire manuscript at time of submission. Please submit your manuscript via the link at the bottom of the Submission Guidelines page.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Call for Submissions - Loose Id

The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #2) New Call for Submissions: Loose Id is hosting the BATTLE OF THE SEXES!

Is it a court fight? Trying to win a coveted academic scholarship or job? A strip poker match? Something a little more down and dirty?

We're looking for super hot stories that have a Battle of The Sexes involved (novella -- 20K --and up with a submission date of November 15.)

May the best gender win!

Well, since it's a romance...let both genders win.

E-mail me if you'd like more information: sh@lperkinsagency.com

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just a few tips if I may be so bold

Sifting through the query piles I come across all kinds of fodder for blog entries that I keep telling myself I'm going to write and then find little to no time to do so. Today, I've put aside a few things and dedicated some time to actually update my blog.

In talking with a few of my clients, friends and family about what I do and the projects that have come across my inbox, I've realized that much of what I do is so multi-faceted and completely away from the limelight that it is easily overlooked. The worse part of it is when I overlook it myself because of everything I have going on! Here's where you, potential and/or existing client, can help (in a very Jerry Maquire way of helping me help you)!

  1. Read, Review, Revise - But don't stop at the first revision. No. Find an editor who's not afraid to "tell you how it is" and LISTEN to this person (or group of people). Friends and family are great for our self-esteem and ego but they are not going to tell you that your story sucks. They don't want to hurt your feelings. A real editor is going to read your manuscript and point out the POV changes, the subject-verb disagreements and the times they were completely lost in your story and had to put it down because they couldn't keep reading it. As harsh as their criticism can sound, these are the people whose advice you should be seeking. Their input is what will improve your story and make you a better writer. Your bruised ego will be the last thing you think of when you see your published book. It's like labor, every pregnant woman will tell you we all remember labor... but the memory of the pain diminishes the minute we see our child in our arms.
  2. Don't Stop Writing - The minute your manuscript is in the submission phase with your agent, pick up your next project. Some authors start writing their next book the minute they finish their first book but I think they're more the anomaly than the norm! Yes, it's important to take a break from writing from time to time to recharge the batteries, get the muse going and give your carpal tunnel a break but if you're going to make this a profession then make sure it's a break, a holiday, a vacation... not a sabbatical.
  3. Network - Take some time to get your name known in the social networking sites. Your name, after all, is the most important thing to your growing business. Readers become fans and fans like to "know" their star. You may not like to spend time on Facebook or Twitter but that's where the readers are. Prime your readers for your next projects and when your books publish, you'll have instant sales!
  4. Submissions Take Time - Some submissions can be out to publishers for MONTHS. Why? Some publishers don't accept multiple submissions. If I send your manuscript to one of these publishers and they're backlogged at the time, it can take them several weeks to get to the manuscripts. After they read them, they may want to send the manuscript to another editor (or executive editor) for a second opinion. This could take another few weeks for a response. If they want the manuscript and send a contract it's still not a done deal. Contract negotiations can take a few days (to a few weeks). If it's NOT accepted, submitting to another publisher means starting the clock all over again. So what should you be doing during this wait period? Yep, see #2 above!
  5. Touch Base with Me - If you're my client and have not heard from me in a while, don't hesitate to "poke" me via e-mail, through a DM on Twitter, a text message to my cell phone, a ping on Yahoo Instant Messenger... I think I'm even available via smoke signal. I've heard it said that the agent/author relationship can sometimes feel like a marriage. In some instances, it's more like a parent/child one. Those of us with children understand the demands each child puts on our time and how important it is to spend one-on-one time with our children... how quickly we come to realize that it's just a pipe dream! Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day and inevitably I will miss out on catching up with one of my children and they feel neglected and hurt because of it. Unfortunately, it's not any different with my clients. Yes, your project is important to me. No, it's not the only one I'm devoted to at the moment. Yes, I plan to get back to you on it as soon as I can. No, it's likely not going to be anytime in the next week or two. No, that does not mean I hated it; just means I ran out of hours in the day. Yes, please keep writing.
  6. Know the Industry - There are so many great blogs and articles available that will help you stay "in the know" about the changes in the industry. I sometimes learn more from these articles and blog entries than I do from one-on-one time with others in the industry. One of my favorites is BookEnds. If you're not following this blog, be sure to start now. Great information and always chock full of wise advice that I need to remember to take more often. ;)

Don't let anything stand in the way of your success!