How Imprints Differ from the Parent House in Book Publishing

October 26, 2017

With 2018 fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your writing/publishing plans for the new year. Technology has allowed so many changes in the book publishing industry that I thought it might be good to get back to basics.

Parent houses are the large entities that publish books. As many of the large houses gobbled up their competitors over the years, fewer and fewer large publishing houses remained, That meant there were fewer places authors and their agents could approach with book ideas.

A solution came when parent houses divided their various (and often unrelated) editorial segments into imprints. Imprints are part of the parent house, but many imprints have their own editorial staff  (and most likely their own budgets) dedicated to the specific area that imprint publishes.

There are several reasons a parent house will have various imprints, but the most common are to keep the genres/subject areas separate from each other and the ability to focus its appeal toward each different demographic group. In other words, an imprint is much like a trade or brand name. Having different imprints allows the parent house to expand the types of books it offers under its corporate umbrella.

One important thing for you as an author to understand is the parent house will most likely not allow its imprints to compete with one another for buying your work. Why not? It’s not good business to allow two divisions of your company to bid against each other for the same item.

A new year is coming, so start thinking about how you’re going to make it your best year ever as an author/writer. Happy writing!


More Tips To Encourage You to Keep Writing

May 2, 2016

Imagine going to your computer one morning and you can’t do anything but look at the last thing displayed on your screen. You call your computer support and get in the queue. Eventually you learn your hard drive needs replacing (which explains why everything has slowed significantly the three weeks prior).

Then, yippee! He replaces the hard drive and brings it back with all your files. Now all you have to do is reconfigure everything (the software is upgraded to the newest version) to your personal preference.

The previous two paragraphs are just to let you know why I haven’t posted in weeks.

Now I’m functional once again and am thankful to be back. Here are some more tips to encourage you to keep writing.

  • Realize publishing works within a system and you need to work within that system if you want to be published.
  • Attempt to see the publisher’s side of any dispute you may have. That doesn’t mean the publisher is always right, but it does mean you’ll broaden your perspective before making your final decision on the dispute. Publishing is business, not dream fulfillment, which means publishers are concerned with making a profit (even self-publishers have this concern).
  • Understand that persistence is an absolute requirement in getting published. Don’t give up before your opportunity arrives.
  • Appreciate that the publisher’s first focus is the publisher, not the writer, which means you need to make decisions that are best for you and your career and the publisher must do the same for their business interests.
  • Write what you write. Don’t rewrite what someone else has already said. Be original and you’ll become indispensable since only you write what you write.
  • Stay confident in yourself and your writing. If someone reads your writing and suggests a way to improve it, don’t think your writing isn’t worthy. Instead, be glad someone thought enough of it to help you make it even better.
  • Be stubborn. Keep writing. Keep learning. Don’t let strangers (editors) dictate your writing career. If an editor rejects you, try determine why (could be you didn’t follow the genre rules or you didn’t build bridges between chapters or any number of reasons). After trying to see the editor’s view, keep submitting other places. You can’t get published unless publishers know you exist.
  • Encourage yourself. Get up in the morning, greet yourself with a positive greeting such as, “Good morning, good looking.” After your morning ritual (whatever that is), give yourself a pep talk about your writing and what you’re going to do that day to build your writing career.

Pick through the tips above and figure out which ones work for you. Post them by your computer (or wherever you write) if it will help you. The important thing is you keep writing because only you can say what you have to say in your voice. Happy writing!

More Tips to Keep You Writing

January 22, 2016

One of the most important things you should keep in mind is no one else can or will write what you write. The old adage that writers are observers of life underscores that fact. No one else sees the world as you see it because no one else experiences life as you do, thinks about things the way you do, and interprets what they see as you do.

That said, here are some more tips to keep you writing.

  • Write from your heart, in your own style, and make your writing the best you can make it.
  • Understand that everyone who writes isn’t going to get published. Granted, technology offers more publishing options than ever, but you also want to be sure that if you publish (that is, if you make your writing public), your published writing shows you in the best way possible.
  • Equate rejection slips with learning experience. If editors and agents are rejecting you, it could be because they’ve recently published an article on your topic or because they don’t publish or represent the genre you’re querying or any other number of reasons. When you get a rejection, try to figure out why so you can learn from it. Then simply say, “Next,” make any changes you need to, and send to the next name on your list.
  • Remember that publishing is business, not dream fulfillment. Publishers publish books they think readers will buy, so find a need in the reading marketplace and offer to fill that need.
  • Realize that talent doesn’t ensure success. Timing, marketing your book, getting good reviews, etc. are all part of being successful. That’s why some books of lesser quality writing end up as best sellers while other books of stellar quality writing end up in the remainder pile.
  • Know that it’s almost impossible to predict what will sell in the marketplace. Your job as writer is to offer a quality product, then help market it. Readers buy their favorite authors, not their favorite publishers.

I hope these tips help keep you writing because your readers are waiting. Happy writing!

Submission Rejected? Tips for Moving on.

November 14, 2014

One thing freelance writers learn early in their careers is rejection is commonplace. When I taught my “Writing for Fun and Profit” series, I reminded students it was their submissions, not them, being rejected.

So what is rejection anyway? It’s simply a decision to not purchase or publish a submission. The decision could be based on business such as the periodical just published a similar article, or it could be based on emotion such as the decision-maker simply didn’t like the title.

If you’ve done your homework before submitting, your acceptance rate should improve. I know because I sold the first thing I submitted to Victoria magazine, to Woman’s World Weekly magazine, and to Mpls/St.Paul magazine. I also sold the first weekly newspaper column I submitted to newspapers in Oklahoma (when I lived there) and in Minnesota. The key to my acceptance rate was I did my homework and studied what each publisher published, wrote in the style of the publication, and was professional in my submission.

Yet, I’ve had my share of rejection as well and coping with rejection is what this post is about. Here are some tips to help you.

  • Understand that rejection isn’t personal–it’s just part of the writing business. Placing your submission on the editorial calendar, not your writing, is what’s being rejected.
  • Move on. I told my students to create a list of publishers/publications for each manuscript. If a rejection notice came in, cross the name of that publisher off, and submit to the next one on the list.
  • Keep writing. The writing world is full of stories about how many times well-known authors were rejected before finally being published. Look for these stories if it will encourage you to keep writing.
  • Learn from your writing. Sometimes a manuscript isn’t ready to be published, but every time you write, you have the opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Realize editors make mistakes. Editors are people. They don’t have crystal balls to show them what will or won’t succeed in the marketplace. They want the writers they work with to be successful.
  • Think about something worse than rejection that could happen to you. Doing that will help you regain your perspective and see the rejection for what it is–part of being a writer.
  • Remember that you can’t be published if you don’t write–and submit!

Hope these tips help you the next time your submission is rejected. Keep these tips handy and when a rejection comes in, simply say, “Next!” and submit to the next name on your list. Happy writing!

Ten Commandments for Getting Published

August 27, 2014

Authors enjoy more publishing options today than ever. Still, the thinking that being royalty published is the ultimate goal remains for many authors. It is with that in mind that I write this post.

I. Thou Shalt Write. It’s amazing how many authors dream of being published but don’t find time to write. Begin with a writing goal in mind (could be time, pages, character sketches, or whatever), then commit to working on reaching the goal.

II. Thou Shalt Write Well. Like it or not, the English language has standards. Learn them, then apply them to your writing.

III. Thou Shalt Revise. Most things created by humans are not perfect. So it goes with writing. Revision means taking a critical look at the writing flow, the consistency of detail, the word choice, etc., and doing it sentence by sentence.

IV. Thou Shalt Understand the Publishing Business. Publishing is business, not dream fulfillment. As in any business venture, the axiom that one must spend money to make money holds. You may have to invest in yourself as a business by attending workshops, researching, etc. If you expect publishers to invest in your writing, why wouldn’t you do the same?

V. Thou Shalt Understand Submission Rules. If the agent or publisher’s submission guidelines say to submit only query letters, do not send sample chapters. If they say to also submit sample chapters, do not submit only a single-page query letter.

VI. Thou Shalt Take Rejection in Stride. One of my writing professors in college told me that rejections mean one thing–I’m working. How right she was. She taught me to create a list of possible markets, then send off my query to the first one on the list. If my offer (NOTE: I said offer, not me personally) was rejected, check off that name, say, “Next,” then send to the next name on the list. Repeat as necessary.

VII. Thou Shalt Learn Patience. Publishing can be a slow process. If you’ve submitted your offer, instead of waiting by the mailbox every day, get busy. I hope you get busy writing, but get busy doing something.

VIII. Thou Shalt Work Positively with Editors. Join a writers group if you want feedback while writing. Then, after you’ve finished your article or book, find an editor. Editors are there to help you improve your writing, so strive to work positively with that person. Granted, not all editors are good fits for all writers, but when you find one you can work with, you’ve struck writing gold.

IX. Thou Shalt Not Frustrate Publishers. When you’re selling something to someone, that person becomes your customer. Irritating customers is not good business. If your primary contact at your publisher is your editor, that person becomes your customer.

X. Thou Shalt Manage Expectations. Few things in life go exactly as expected. So it is with publishing. Learn to manage your expectations and reduce your frustrations.

Above all, remember that you cannot be published if you don’t write. Happy writing!

Organize and Track Your Submissions

July 16, 2014

Writers are creative people. Creative people often live in chaos because they’re so busy creating they don’t have time to organize.

If you’re writing for publication, however, you’re in business and need to stay on top of your submissions. You can create a form in your word processing program, use a table format you like, or create a spreadsheet. The important thing is you find what works for you so you keep it updated.

Once you’ve determined which tool you’ll use (form, table, spreadsheet), you need headers. Here are some for your consideration.

  • Title or subject. Use the title of your piece if you have one, otherwise enter the subject you’re writing about. Avoid abbreviations because you’ll tend to ignore or forget what they stand for after some time has gone by.
  • Type of writing. This is a reminder to you regarding whether you’re sending a query letter, an article, a short story, or a novel.
  • Status. A quick glance will show you what you’ve submitted (submitted), what you’ve completed (final), what’s at the editor (editing), what’s being rewritten (revising), what’s in research (researching), and what hasn’t quite made it to the writing stage yet (idea).
  • Where submitted. This is the place to track where you’ve sent your work. NOTE: If you’re keeping track on the computer, you can insert another line to list a second place for submission without repeating the title, etc. so you know how many places you submitted your query or article or fiction.
  • Date. This is the date you submitted your work, not each date you make a change to your tracking document.
  • Deadline. This is the date your writing is due after it’s been accepted.
  • Future submissions. You may want to create a list of other places to submit your query or article in case your first choice doesn’t accept your submission. Having a list of additional places to send to will keep your pieces going out because you won’t have to think about where else to send them.

You can’t be published if you don’t send your stuff out. Better to track your submissions so you don’t send the same thing to the same market/person a second time. Figure out what system you will work with (not start, then stop) and use the headers I’ve provided. Happy writing!

Make Better Decisions

June 19, 2014

Writers constantly make decisions as they write. They decide what to include, when they’ve done enough research, who their characters are, what their characters do and when, etc. Perhaps the hardest decision is deciding when an article, story, or novel is finished.

When the writing is done, writers make decisions about whether to self-publish, royalty publish, or subsidy publish. If they decide to self-publish, they also decide what type of book to publish–hard cover, soft cover, audio, e-book. Then there are decisions about editing, cover design, interior layout, pricing, etc.

Once published (and it doesn’t matter whether an author is royalty published or published some other way), marketing the book is totally up to the author. That means more decisions about publicity, book signings, publish parties, media coverage, web presence, etc.

Here are some questions to help you make better decisions.

  • Is this something you want, or is it something you need? Life is full of wants, but you’re better off to take care of deciding the things you need first. It might help you distinguish between wants and needs if you try to imagine life a year from now and the impact your decision will have on your writing, publishing, marketing, budget, income, etc. in a year.
  • Have you investigated all your options? It’s easy to justify a bad decision with “I had no choice.” As a friend told me at lunch this week, “You always have a choice, but every choice has a consequence. You have to decide if you can live with the consequence.” For example, if you decide to pay to publish, there are consequences involving budget and  decisions on editing and design, etc. But if you decide to find a royalty publisher, there are consequences involving ownership of your intellectual property (you no longer own it) and basic decisions about your book.
  • Are you being honest with yourself? If you’re telling yourself what you want to hear, you may not be completely honest with you. I’ve often told the story about a member of a writing group my husband and I belonged to. It was hard to follow this writer’s writing because it was disjointed, angry, and venting. Finally, after this writer was done with a reading and the room was silent because it was hard to comment on what we had just heard, my husband  asked the writer, “What are you trying to say?” As if really thinking before answering, the writer looked at my husband and said, “Good question.” The writer never came back, but he and I happened upon each other during a business call a few years later. Since we were on the phone, I didn’t recognize his voice, but when he heard my name, he introduced himself and told me to thank my husband for asking the question years earlier. It made him really think about his writing, and he was happier because he moved on to other things in his life.
  • How “right” does your decision feel? It’s hard to define what feels right, but you know it when you feel it. If you’re struggling with a decision, tune into your body. Does the option you’re considering make you feel energized or drained? The answer is a good beginning for determining how right a decision feels.
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you’re afraid of something, that fear will hold you back whether it’s a realistic fear or not. Just because an option instills fear into you doesn’t mean it’s a wrong option. Do your best to avoid letting fear make your decisions.

Consider the idea that most decisions can be changed with another decision. If you’re a writer, you’ve got lots of decisions to make. Today’s as good a day as any to start making them. Happy writing!