Category Archives: Publishing Process

Book Signing: Tips I Learned

Hey Dark Dreamers,

Recently I had my first book signing for my debut new adult dark urban fantasy, OF SCIONS AND MEN. It’s a huge milestone in any writer’s lifetime, but it also came with its own set of nerves, concerns and worries. I did some research, talked to fellow authors and prepared. This helped make my special day the success and fun event it was. So here are the top twelve tips I learned on how to have a successful book signing.

  1. A scratch pad is your friend. I can’t express this strongly enough. Riley, Rily, Reily, Reilly, Ryli. Susie, Susi, Suzy, Suzi. Yep, people are pretty particular about their names. Who can blame them? Especially when you are putting this permanently on an object they have paid for and you want them to treasure. Nothing will make your reader squint and frown at your book faster than seeing their name misspelled every time they open it. When I signed, I had paper beside me and no matter who it was, how common their name was or whether I knew them or not, I would write their name first on the scratch paper and okay it. Even if I knew them, I would recheck because your nerves will create mistakes as fast as anything else. Bastardizing an old adage, check twice, sign once.
  2. pen-1215436_1920Your new best friend
  3. Writing tools to last a lifetime. Choosing what to write with is important. These wonderful patrons have come to see you, bought your manifesto, and care enough to want your chicken scratch signature on it, so time to make sure your pen choice doesn’t mess everything up. I ended up choosing a fine tipped Sharpie as others told me ball point pens tend to fade with time and no one wants that. Whatever you decide, make sure it will last the test of time and will not bleed through.
  4. pens-520013_1920And back ups upon back ups
  5. Colorize your theme. This is such a little thing that got so much attention and made the night feel well thought out. I picked a colored theme for the evening based on your material if you can. For me it was red. It holds a special meaning in my book and series, so I put little touches everywhere. It was in my outfit, my pen (red fine tipped Sharpie), my swag, the flyers and marketing materials, the food for the evening (Strawberries and grapes), etc. It doesn’t take much effort, but it does require some forethought. People commented on it repeatedly and enjoyed it.
  6. tomatoes-1220774_1920Which tomato goes with post-apocalypse?
  7. Pick your message and be consistent. I decided what I was going to use as my standard message beforehand, and that let me start off with confidence from the very first one. I chose to use “For” instead of “To” as it felt less like a Christmas gift to me that way and more personal, but you need to fit your style. This is especially important if there are two or more friends or family members who are getting books signed together. You can personalize for the individual, but make that personalization very different from your standard message, which should be decided on before the event, so you can write quickly. But you don’t want two friends looking at your John Hancock and wondering, “Well, why does she get, ‘Very best wishes’, and I only got, ‘Best Wishes’? We don’t need any golden apples thrown into the middle of your signing.
  8. robot-707219_1280Cause that worked out for everyone.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Yep, even for this pinnacle moment, you need to do prep and practice. Make sure your signature and messages are legible. On top of that, make sure you know where in your book you want to sign and that it will all fit there.
  10. writing-1055085_1920Well, no one can read that one.
  11. Swag extras. We all love handing out our personalized swag, but keep some paper swag around for extras. Not everyone may buy your book immediately, but still want to be a part of the fun. I signed bookmarks and posters for students who weren’t getting the book, and they were so excited. Also, it means they keep your info for potential later sales.
  12. Proof2My actual pens/badges- people loved them
  13. A day that will live in infamy. Okay, I’m going to be honest. I had every intention of doing this one, but failed utterly in the moment, but it is still a good idea. Somewhere around your signature put the date. Having multiple signings, people can get a real kick from this one. Next time I will remember as people asked about it later. Not a requirement, but a good thought.
  14. calendar-159098_1280A time to remember…next time
  15. Get into the trenches of marketing. You want your event to be a success, so stay active and make it so. Work with your publisher to release a press kit or create one on your own, especially for self-pub authors. Work with the signing location to work with their marketing. Don’t skimp on flyers or pictures for these kits and make sure you have both hard and electronic formats to use all available resources. Go out and press the flesh of people around the area to hang up and get the word out personally. Use social media event pages and stay active on them. Also remember most of these marketing teams are very busy, you may need to take the reins a bit to make sure everything is set and done. I had many meetings with coordinators and marketers to make this event the success it was. If you sit back and just hope they will come, they probably won’t.
  16. PosterWho could pass that up?
  17. Introductions and conclusions. Figure out and discuss with the people involved how the event is going to kick off. Is someone going to make an announcement? Is someone going to introduce you? Are you doing a reading to gather people and interest? Will you be answering questions? Who’s going to tell people how to buy the book in the space and where to line up? Don’t stumbled into the start of your event, kick it off and people will get more excited and want to be a part of it.
  18. trumpeters-921709_1280My announcers…next time
  19. Smile! Make sure you have a way for this day to be recorded. Sometimes the event or marketing will send someone to take pictures and record. If not, get someone to do it for you. You will want to remember this and it is great to show people afterward to make them want to be a part of the fun next time.
  20. 20160222_184757If you look closely, you can see a photographer has caught the videographer in the wild.
  21. Remember those who helped make this event a reality! All this work and prep is worth it. But when it’s done, be sure to send thank you notes to everyone who helped make it so.
  22. banner-1186625_1920So many people to thank…the music is definitely going to play me off.
  23. Have fun! Relax and enjoy all it has to offer. You’ve earned it.
20160222_210353

And if you’re like me, this will include margaritas.

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One Week To Go

Alert, alert, Dark Dreamers!

We are one week from OF SCIONS AND MEN releasing to the world. This new adult’s world of vampires, shifters, mediums and of course, scions, is ready for their close up. So much is still going on. The exciting thing is the book launch event is really shaping up nicely. It is being hosting by Frederick Community College in their brand new Learning Commons Space from 6-8pm. They are catering it and doing all the heavy lifting to make this event a success. If you are close to the Frederick Area, I would really appreciate you dropping by during that time. Come enjoy some food and drink and free stuff!

Also please let me know if you would be willing to be a part of my release day blitz for OF SCIONS AND MEN. If you sign up, I will provide everything you need. Press kit, potential blog post, potential twitter posts, images, etc. Thank you! Here’s a link to sign up:

Click to Join the Fun

Here are the posters for the event. If you have a moment, please spread them around.

Poster

Scions_and_Men_Book_Launch_Poster_02112016_PROOF

So excited!


Here’s Today’s Daily Double

CR Banner

Celebration time, Dark Dreamers,

Today’s the day for a dual cover reveal: OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan and GYRE by Jessica Gunn! Both books are in the new adult category and published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Here’s a bit about each book:

OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan (February 22nd, 2016)

Dark Urban Fantasy

Geopolitical babysitting while arresting preternatural killers, it’s just the daily grind for Scion Rowan Brady. Brash and sarcastic, Rowan has sold her life, her career and her very blood to the controlling paranormal ruling class of America, all to make sure her kid brother can eat. Now she uses her powers as a scion to kick the ass of any preternatural creature idiotic enough to break the rules and prey upon humanity without a license. All it costs her is her freedom and a pint or two per week to her new Master.

But juggling her job and duties becomes even tougher when she is tasked with keeping a contingency of diplomats from Canada from getting gnawed on. However, negotiations for an International Blood Exchange are interrupted when bodies start showing up.

Now Rowan must rely on her talent and wit to defend the society she despises to save the lives she’s sworn to protect. But as she stumbles into the truth, she chances becoming a target of not only these killers, but of her own government. With shifters, ghosts, vampires and psychics all watching her, can she stop the killings before she is silenced?

ADD OF SCIONS AND MEN TO GOODREADS HERE

You can pre-order either book:

Gyre : https://curiosityquills.com/kindle/gyre/

Of Scions and Men: https://curiosityquills.com/kindle/scions/

***

GYRE by Jessica Gunn (February 1st, 2016)

Trevor couldn’t believe his eyes when Chelsea teleported onto SeaSatellite5. The miracle is Trevor’s absolute worst nightmare. Chelsea is Atlantean, which would be fine if Trevor’s family weren’t Lemurian—enemies of Atlantis.

Then SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and stumbles into the crosshairs of an ancient war. The Lemurians want the artifacts inside the ruins, and Trevor’s the only one onboard who recognizes the relics for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by ancient civilizations to wage their time-travel war.

Chelsea and Trevor must brave the gyre of lies surrounding them. If they can’t, Atlantis will be destroyed forever.

ADD GYRE TO GOODREADS HERE

***

Are you ready to see the covers?

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Here we go!

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GYRE & OSAM

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ABOUT COURTNEY SLOAN

Courtney SloanA New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor.

She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade.

Author Links: Twitter | Website

ABOUT JESSICA GUNN

1951de5Jessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science-fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Website

Here they are, one more time

Gyre & OSAM CR


Teased Twice

Hey there, Dark Dreamers,

There is so much happening, I can hardly keep up. We are less than three months away from OF SCIONS AND MEN being unleashed upon the world. With this unleashing comes an amazing cover. The wondrously creative minds over at Curiosity Quills worked hard until they created a cover that not only reflected the distopian grittiness of the book, but also the magical urban fantasy time. Also, Rowan is kicking major butt on it. BUT, I can’t show you all that today. Soon. December 7 will be the huge dual blast reveal.

Until then you can add both Gyre and Of Scions and Men to Goodreads using these links:

But this is Cyber Monday, so you deserve a two-for-one special for your internet money. So today I will tease not only OF SCIONS AND MEN’s cover but also the exciting Atlantean YA novel GYRE by the talented Jessica Gunn.

Before covers get uncovered next week, we have some teasers we’d like to share with you. So, here they are!

Gyre:

2015-10-06 16.46.18-1

Of Scions and Men:

Preview

 

If you’d like to help with this cover reveal by spreading the word through a HTML-ready post, or via Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, please fill out this form below! We are SO excited to share our covers with you!

Sign up to be part of the fun

OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Geopolitical babysitting while arresting preternatural killers, it’s just the daily grind for Scion Rowan Brady. Brash and sarcastic, Rowan has sold her life, her career and her very blood to the controlling paranormal ruling class of America, all to make sure her kid brother can eat. Now she uses her powers as a scion to kick the ass of any preternatural creature idiotic enough to break the rules and prey upon humanity without a license. All it costs her is her freedom and a pint or two per week to her new Master.

But juggling her job and duties becomes even tougher when she is tasked with keeping a contingency of diplomats from Canada from getting gnawed on. However, negotiations for an International Blood Exchange are interrupted when bodies start showing up.
Now Rowan must rely on her talent and wit to defend the society she despises to save the lives she’s sworn to protect. But as she stumbles into the truth, she chances becoming a target of not only these killers, but of her own government. With shifters, ghosts, vampires and psychics all watching her, can she stop the killings before she is silenced?

***

GYRE by Jessica Gunn

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Website

Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record.

While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not.

Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war.

With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.


Crafting a Lightning Rod: The Truth of Queries & Synopses

Many successful authors explain getting published similarly. They say to get published you must 1) write a stellar novel, 2) get lucky, 3) have lightning strike. With the hundreds of thousands of potentials out there, all hoping for the same bolt of lightning to strike them, it’s nerve wrecking. How can I change my charge from those around me to attract that electricity to my camp?

Big money, No Whammys. Hit me!

Taking this metaphor another level, apocryphally Ben Franklin gave the answer. A key of metal to act as a lightning rod will channel that power directly where we want it. So, we strap ourselves to a homemade lightning rod and brace for the blast that we hope will blow our socks off and change us forever.

But what is this homemade rod to glory? Our rusty metal key is the well-crafted query and synopsis. Those are the small articles we count on to change our overall charge from those around us and bring heaven to earth. Yet every other nut is out during the rainstorm crafting their own homemade rod.

And yes, I’m in the rainstorm too. For the last week I’ve spent time crafting my query until I have ten drafts that I’m reasonably happy with, even if I will never be fully done with it. Working on this, I have researched and studied what the success stories with their blasts have explained about their queries. Also, I’ve studied the weather itself and what agents have said and joked about what makes a query stand out and what makes it a dud. So, for the moment, the head of my key is completed.

Now the tail of the key cries for the same time and talent. Thus for the last few days, I have turned my attention to a synopsis. Why is summarizing 400 pages in 1-2 so difficult? The story is completed. It is all there. No more surprises to discover. So, why does this seem like a tougher task than writing the novel in the first place?

Going back over what I’ve written already, I have one thought on this. It is because I’m being asked to take all the edge and excitement that I’ve spent years crafting into the story out completely leaving only its bleached carcass to finish my lightning rod with. I’m not a science wiz, but I don’t think bone is a very good conductor.

Doing the same research I did for my query, I’ve come across an interesting phenomenon. Almost every agent and editor I’ve seen who’ve blogged or answered questions about synopses nearly unanimously say they hate reading a synopsis. They are boring and tough to get through. Authors who were successful in writing them almost all say they hate writing them because they are boring and tough to get through. So, why do we do this? If everyone hates them, how on earth do they attract any electricity for us?

Finally, doing research, I got a decent answer. They are only to prove the author knows how to craft a story and character development. That’s what is being looked for in a synopsis. That’s why they are important. I was wrong. It isn’t the bare bones we are getting them down to; it is the strong structural design. And that structure had better be strong straight steel. Now that’s a good lightning rod.

So, today and tomorrow I am redoing my synopsis with this new image in mind. I’m looking forward and am incredibly nervous about casting out my homemade lightning rod and standing out in the storm. Here’s a toast in hope of getting the blast of my life.

Picture by: Suvro Datta


Antidote for the Soul is going to be PUBLISHED!

My title says it all.

I had this wonderful, thought provoking, craft educational post all thought out and outlined for today, but nope, that will wait for another day.

Last night at 9:05pm I received an email from BurialDay Books:

“Dear Courtney,

Thank you for sending us “Antidote for the soul.”

We love your story and would like to publish it in the Gothic Blue Book!

We will be in touch shortly with a more formal letter and details.

Regards,”

Time for a few fireworks in the world.

I am an author (soon to be officially published in both ebook and traditional print) and teach others how to write, yet I can find no words to describe how I felt at that moment. Excited, too pale and blah. Elated, nope, not enough hop to it. Ecstatic, not enough zing. Euphoric, getting closer, but still not enough to describe that one moment in time.

Everything just froze. I read it and re-read it. I then got up, did my happy puppy dance all over the room as I called all those who had helped me on my journey. It was a moment I hope to relive in the future, but no matter what, I will always remember and work back towards that feeling.

It’s true. As of the end of next month, my words will be in ebook and traditional print format. People will be able to go out and buy them, take them home, read them, judge them, enjoy them. I have street cred.

Exciting and humbling all in the same breath. So, next rounds on me, folk. Let’s celebrate!

Image by: xedos4

 


Edjumacation in Our Craft

Last year I took an outstanding course taught by Merry Bondon revising, editing, and critiquing (I got to name the class too: “Zen and the Art of Manuscript Maintenance). The first two classes were full of wonderful tidbits on how to take your drafts from Zero to Hero. From that, I got scene and character worksheets, editing and garbage words lists, story structure and world building layouts. It was outstanding and made the process of revising the rest of my manuscript that much easier. That part of the class was well worth the money spent on it.

And looky, she's got a book all about the craft of writing

BUT that wasn’t the best part of the class. For the remaining four weeks of class we became a dedicated critique group of the first twenty to twenty-five pages of our manuscripts. This part of the class was PRICELESS!

I cannot express how grateful I was for this active feedback from real live readers. Having others not in my head look at my story let me see what I needed to change and what I needed to keep. Also they saw things I hadn’t even realized I’d put in. It was interesting to hear them actively describe the sexual tension I built so well between two characters, when I hadn’t realized there was any sexual tension there at all. My husband is doing this class also with Merry Bond this semester for his work. If you can take a class like this, or find a critique group, DO IT. Your work will be so much better for it.

This semester I am doing another class with Merry. I am taking her class on publishing. As she is a successfully published author, I want to know the tricks and trades of the industry. She is exceptional as a teacher in this as she spends her off time updating on the ever changing world of publishing. In fact, last week she came in with reports of changes that had happened just that week.

This has been greatly eye opening. The world of publishing is changing so rapidly that it’s making authors’ agents’  and even the publishers’ heads spin. Without a class like this, I don’t think I could understand everything nor keep up.

Taking these classes is making me a better author, just as writing classes can make me a better writer. So, thank you, Merry Bond, for your work in creating these different classes, as well as your writing classes. The local writing community appreciates your time and effort. If you are out there, go out and take these type classes. They are worth your time!

P.S. Check out her books as well. You can find them on her site. Click click!


Short Story, Big Package

As many of you wonderful followers know, for the last week I’ve been tirelessly working on my short story “Antidote for the Soul” for Burial Day’s Gothic Blue Book submission. I came up with the idea over a dinner and had an outline within an hour. I could see the big scenes, feel for the characters. I executed more research than I’d done for my last paper and educated myself to match style and substance. It was fully planned out and ready to write.

And write it I did. But every work has its complications and so did this one. The issue for this piece was the requirements. To give you some background, “Gothic Blue Books were abridgements of full-length Gothic novels. The subjects of the books fell into one of two categories; the first being set in a monastery or convent and the second being set in a castle.” For the publisher, the whole short story had to be 3,500 words. My students looked at that and went, “How can you write that much?” I looked at it and said, “How can I tell this entire tale in 3500 words?”

It’s been a task, but fun in its way. We get used to writing styles: novels, novellas, long format fiction, papers. When asked to step into new shoes, we have to start all over again. This piece came out to be a full piece short story, now it was time to abridge. So came out the red pen and scenes and characters got cut. It was like surgery. Merry Bond gave me great advice last week, “you really shouldn’t put in hardly any details, you just want the story, the gruesome, frightening, creepy, wonderful story with just merest touch of ambiance.” Thank you, Merry!

Let's see what the publisher thinks of our little convent.

Now reading the finished product, I like it. The story and most of the mood is still there, even if it was planned to be four times this length.

Beyond it being done, it’s off to the publisher. It’s in their hands now in more ways than one. It would be an honor to be included in their work. Just have to wait and let them read and decide.

Now time to leave planet again and deal with my vampires and werewolves in the deep of space, but I enjoyed my venture Earth side in the darkness of our horrific past.

Image by: Salvatore Vuono


Christmas Morning in August

I have it back! My full master copy has gone through its first Beta Reader. He went through the four hundred pages in a matter of days and only had thirty-eight comments. A good sign if I ever saw one. Thank you, J.P.! Check out his work, projects and updates at his site Fistful of Fiction.

Today I am going through those comments and the small list I’ve made myself. Mine is easier. Things like changing chapter breaks to end those enormously long chapters and making sure our anti-hero’s new rank stays consistent the entire way through. All in all, it should be completed today and tomorrow, to be sent out to the group of Beta Readers for Friday!

My favorite package has arrived

These changes are exciting. The first time I get to see how other eyes read and feel about the full work: invaluable and humbling. Opening this file feels like Christmas morning and getting that big test grade all wrapped up into one.

Now to work!


Beta, Beta, bo Beta

The first of my Beta Readers has Black Sun. He is also double checking my continuity and copy editing. I am excited to have someone else’s eyes reading my work in full. A giant step forward. Every step is making this more real, and I can’t describe how that makes me feel deep down. Dreams are enticing and amorphous ghosts that chase us through life. It’s fun to do the chasing for once, and to feel that I am almost a hand’s reach away.

Problems in the food chain affect everyone

On other fronts, I did a lot of work today on “Waiting for Tomorrow”. This is set between Black Moon (Book 2) and Black Planet (Book 3). A glimpse into the future the characters will have to deal with. It’s nice to be writing from another perspective and on planet again, even if the ending is not quite “and they all lived happily ever after”.