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Category: The Extra Squeeze

The Extra Squeeze Team's column
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Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think an Author Can Be Published both Traditionally and Indie?

October 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think an Author Can Be Published both Traditionally and Indie?

I’m a traditionally published author and I have several ideas that I would like to publish independently. Will my publisher be upset? Can an author really be published both traditionally and independently?

Can an author really be published both traditionally and independently?
Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Like so many other authors, I walked a fine line for years as I tried to create a viable writing career while not upsetting the publishing apple cart. I knew there were fifty worthy authors out there waiting to take my place on the list if I made waves with my agent or publisher. The majority of writers in the last many years were playing real-life Chutes and Ladders and more than likely we were all going to end up at the bottom of a chute.

 

I made a decision not to continue pursing a traditional career when I submitted a book that I believed would take my work to a new level. It was rejected by any number of publishers. They didn’t want to take a chance, and I couldn’t blame them. If they published a book that was not what my reader’s had come to expect, they might not make back the investment they had made in me. Coming from a business background, I understood that editing, cover design, distribution, sales, and returns could all be translated to a line item on the publisher’s balance sheet.

 

Realizing that distribution channels were tightening up, wanting to explore how far I could take my craft, I published that book on my own. Happily, I found the editors were wrong. Readers bought it, liked it and understood it. I went on to republish and expand a series that the publisher believed had run its course. The first book has had over 4 million downloads, and the series has over seven thousand reviews.

 

Today, the chutes remain the same but there is more than one ladder to climb, and an author’s fate is in her (or his) hands.

 

So here are my answers to your questions, and a little advice. First my answers.

 

Yes, it is possible to publish both traditionally and independently. I’ve met many authors who have had great success as hybrids.

 

Your editor will be upset only if you don’t pursue hybrid publishing in a professional manner. If the editor has turned down your ideas, then you are free to pursue other avenues. If you are contractually bound to first right of refusal with your publisher, then show them your new ideas and make your decision after you hear what the editor has to say.

Traditional or Indie: Advice from @Rebecca_Forster

 

And now for the advice:

Treat both your traditional and independent publishing with the same professionalism. Your readers won’t change; they will still expect good writing, an excellent story, and a well-produced book.

 

When marketing, use your traditional success to bolster your independent publishing, use your independent success to bolster your traditional work. This is a win/win for the hybrid author.

 

So go for it. Execute those ideas that may not be in the mainstream. Be bold; be brave. Publishing is exciting, scary, full of choices and marvelous no matter which road you take.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Not being an expert on the publishing industry I’m certain I don’t have an expert response, but I do know there are a lot of hybrid authors. A quick Google search reveals a ton of articles on the pros and cons of hybrid publishing — mostly pros. Traditionally published writers who go indie, and vice versa, often find having a stake in both worlds to be a lucrative model. If there isn’t an existing contract with a publisher, what’s there to be mad about? Indie is a fabulous opportunity.

 

Editor Jenny Jensen Traditional vs Indie: The Indie option makes the issue of quality even more…

 

What I am certain of is the Indie option makes the issue of quality even more critical than in pre-digital days. All work that leaves your hands, all work with your name on it must be the best it can be. For a traditional publisher you have to offer the best work you possibly can if you want to even be considered for publication. But traditional publishers have the back up of a slew of editors who expect to work with a compelling manuscript to make it the best they feel it can be. Your work simply has to be so good it merits a publisher’s investment. That bar is set pretty high. A good freelance editor will improve your odds of clearing it.

 

An Indie writer has only the back up she invests in her work. If you release a poorly edited book, regardless of how exciting the premise is, or how charming your characters or how riveting your action, you lose readers and the credibility of your name — you lose your opportunity. An Indie author must themself invest all the necessary effort and services offered by a publishing house. The return on that investment is success, creative control and much juicier royalties.

 

I edit each of my clients as if their work were going to the Nobel committee. The goal is to make a perfectly crafted story that can measure up to both a Random House editor and all those discerning readers downloading to their devices. That should be every writer’s goal — traditional or Indie. The services of an editor are a part of achieving that.

We're Taking Questions | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send us your questions! 

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Frankly, who cares if your publisher is upset?

Of course, as a PR professional, I love to make sure there is harmony amongst the people, that protocol is maintained, and that diplomacy is the hallmark of all relationships.

But here is the reality: it is tough being a professional writer. You have a right to make a living as a writer in a world that often does not value your talent appropriately.

@RobinBlakely says: Please think of your writing career as a business.

If your publisher wants to throttle your ability to earn an income, I would be very concerned about working with that publisher. Anytime there is oppression, fear, or a sense that you must go out of your way to manage your publisher’s emotional state, walk away. Being told how and when and what to do—and not do–with your career is suffocating.  You can do better. It is possible to publish traditionally and independently simultaneously and create a promotional strategy that allows both profit streams to flourish.

Please think of your career as a business.  You are the brand.  The publisher is a business partner. If you are kept in the dark or restricted from succeeding, what kind of partnership does that make? Not one that is good enough for you.

H. O. Charles

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


 

If only I were published traditionally, I would have a better answer to this!

I do know of another fantasy author who has done both. He started off as self-published and then signed over some of his books to a big-name house. In that situation, both parties were winners. He gained more publicity, and they knew they were supporting a writer who was already popular (and could therefore make money from him).

 

If it’s the other way around, I’m not so sure. They may be spending ££££ on your PR, so might not appreciate it if (as a ludicrous example) they had built and sold an image of you as a sweet, softy romance author, and then you went and published a treatise on the pros of Nazism. I guess that’s the question to ask: “Will my publishing independently cause a loss on their investment in me?”

H.O. Charles: Will your publishing independently cause a loss on your publishers investment?
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Can the Extra Squeeze Team Explain the Difference Between an Author Webpage and an Author Facebook Page? @A_SliceofOrange

September 30, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Can the Extra Squeeze Team Explain the Difference Between an Author Webpage and an Author Facebook Page?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Some days I long for the old days: books were created with a typewriter, manuscripts were Xeroxed and sent off to agents and editors, fans wrote real letters and books had covers.

Then I shake off the longing and realize this is a brave new world and I am knee deep in the muck of indie publishing. One of the first things I did was secure my domain name in my own name – not the name of a specific book or series. It wasn’t until years after my first indie book was published that I realized that I had scored big without even knowing what game I was playing.

That was how I constructed my first website too – through trial and error. Some thing worked but mostly the whole site turned into a hot mess without focus. The reason was that I didn’t know what the purpose of my website was, nor my Facebook page, nor my Twitter.

My original website had tips for new authors, my books without links, a picture gallery of my travels, even a few recipes. I constructed that site so that people would really, really like me, as Sally Fields once famously said.

But then I met Robin Blakely. She pointed out that the purpose of a website is to introduce people to my books, to sell my books, to assist readers in getting the most out of my books.  A website creates a brand and sells books. Duh! It sounded so simple.

To that end we streamlined by website. Information includes: clear delineation of series, stand alone books, work in progress, sample chapters of each book, and book group guidelines. It also includes a newsletter sign-up with a two-book gift. Of course there is a bio but my personal life is definitely secondary to my work.

Facebook is where I post the fun stuff. What I’m doing on a daily basis. I post updates on the trials and tribulations (always fun, never complaining) of the writer’s life. I love involving my Facebook friends in posts. For instance, I often find the strangest things as I walk in my neighborhood so I post a picture and ask what they see. We all write a little story.

Bottom line, for me the website is my professional introduction to readers and Facebook is a more personal outlet. I love the fact that readers don’t have to wait for a book signing to get to know me. I guess the brave new world of publishing has also given us fantastic new opportunities to connect with readers on all levels.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

As I understand it a published author should have both. A website can have one page or hundreds of pages — a web page is any page you see when you surf the net. A FB page is used to brand, strengthen or update a brand and is usually viewed by followers and fans in their newsfeed.

Every author is a brand and a lot of authors have both. I can see the need. A well thought out FB author page would support an author’s website, and vice versa. Visitors have to go to a specific address to view the published content of a website. When they do, nothing else is competing for attention so if your content is compelling and well designed anyone who was interested enough to go to the site will at least look it over, at best read it and have to buy a book!

If your FB page is readable, interesting, compelling it will drive traffic to your website which, if you’ve hooked ‘em with your brilliance, will result in a sale and a new or returning fan – or drive traffic directly to the online store of their choice. Using FB engages your existing follower base. The whole point is to cultivate a readership, right? A FB page is the perfect place to announce a new release or to intrigue with an update on work in progress, to engage with your readers.

I love author websites; I love to learn about the author, their writing process, the books they read, the research they do, who influenced them and why. I’m fascinated by what may have crossed their path to spark the concept of a plot — anything about their writing life (the antics of the grandchildren or photos of the new patio furniture are, I hope, exclusive to their personal FB page).

Both platforms have been known to draw me in to become a new reader. Both are often the first taste of a writer’s style, their skill with storytelling and so just as with your books, choose your words with care and flair and be sure the content is error free. Both a FB author page and an author web page are reflections of your work. And as always, edit, edit, edit.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

H. O. Charles

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


For me, a Facebook page is all about interaction with your readers. They can ask any question and have it answered publicly, It also serves as a noticeboard for announcements. Oh yeah, and it’s a good popularity measure, based on the number of followers you gain (or not)! A website is much more one-sided – it’s me controlling what information is laid out and how the readers get to interact with it (if at all). Both of types of sites are adverts for my work, but only my Facebook posts can pop up in a reader’s daily feed.

For a long time, I didn’t have a webpage – only a Facebook page. The website just wasn’t necessary. Even now, my website doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic. It’s just there to uphold my professional image (!) and stand as an information resource for those who don’t want to use social media.

Do you have a question for the Extra Squeeze Team?

Contact us.

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Is the F-word a bomb?

August 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze, Writing tagged as , , , , ,
Is the F-Word a bomb? | The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

What does the Extra Squeeze Team think about the F-word?

Is the F word a bomb?

We’ve read books with it all over the place and yet notice that readers object to it.

Does anyone really like using it?

Would another word do?

When was it necessary?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Is the F word a bomb?

What kind of fucking question is that?


What kind of friggin’ question is that?


What kind of question is that?

Actually, this is a great question and one I am happy to weigh in on because the use of the F-word had an impact it had on my career.

I began my career as a romance writer (I was fired from this gig because I kept killing characters before they fell in love. My editor suggested a genre change.) I never used the F-word when I wrote romance. When I moved to contemporary women’s fiction I used it sparingly in these longer, more intricately plotted books (the word was only uttered by bad guys).

 

When I upped the ante and moved into a male dominated genre – legal thrillers – everything changed. Writing became tighter, characters multi-faceted, plots ‘torn from the headlines’ were much grittier. In my writing the F-bomb was spoken by hard charging attorneys and socially marginalized criminals alike to underscore their tenacity for fighting for justice in the former instance or illustrate disdain for the system in the latter.

 

Hostile Witness* was the first book where I really let loose. Lots of male thriller writers used the word, why not me? My editor at Penguin/Putnam had no problem with it and approved the book. When the Hostile Witness was traditionally published, I received no letters of complaint.

 

Then came the Internet. I republished the first three books of the Witness Series* and readers started posting reviews as easily as they clicked their Kindle. I remember the first bad review I received because of my use of the F word. It said, “The language in this book is vile. I will never read this author again.”

 

That stopped me cold, so I went back to the files and searched how many times I had used the F-word. I was shocked and embarrassed by what I found. In my quest to establish myself as a hard-edged thriller writer, I had gone overboard. Using profanity to the degree I had took the reader out of the story at best and offended them at worst. I asked myself, was there a better way to write a scene? A better way to inform a character? Had I been a lazy author and fallen back on a word rather than my skill to get a point across?

 

The answer to all these questions was yes. Now I use the word friggin’ or cut the word off at Fu­ — and let the reader’s mind fill in the blank. Bottom line, I took the review to heart, objectively looked at my work and made an informed decision before I re-edited the book. Did I lose anything by banning the F-word?

(F-word deleted) no.

 

*Hostile Witness is Free to readers.

**Sign up for my mailing list and get Hostile Witness and the Spotlight Novella, Hannah’s Diary, Free.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

The Urban Dictionary defines ‘F-bomb’ as “the strongest weapon in one’s verbal arsenal” (a bit extreme, but it makes the point). Is it necessary to use in fiction? No, not necessary, but sometimes appropriate. The plot, the scene, the character, the action, the tone can all come together to make the F-word the only adjective or expletive that works. In that case, it should be a shocker – a strong, realistic part of the narrative rhythm. The word should be chosen with consideration and, by all the writing gods, don’t overuse it. Repetition strips the word of any value; it just becomes distasteful, silly and embarrassingly adolescent.

It wasn’t long ago a writer would never consider using the word, nor would a publisher let them, although the F word was understood to have the strength of a bomb.

from The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett, 1930)

The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second ”you”.

“People lose teeth talking like that.” Spade’s voice was still amiable though his face had become wooden.

Great, right!? There are so many options for word smithing around the F-word but that requires thought and skill. Too many authors take the easy way out and use it as verb, adjective and noun. That’s just lazy or the mark of a poor writer.

I recently ran across this Amazon review:

I gave it 5 stars, because the writing, the sense of humor the detective has, and the story! All great! In fact, you are such a good writer, you don’t need to use the “F” word as much as you do! Your characters are great without it!

Such a good writer…you don’t need to use… the reviewer said. That’s exactly what I mean.

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Well, a bomb is something designed to explode on impact, so I guess if you want to f-bomb effectively, it needs to be unexpected! In that case, it’ll only detonate properly in the most delicate, sweetest and appeasing of godly novels! But, of course, readers don’t always like to be shocked so hard that they fall off their chairs, and using language that is not in-keeping with the story will only make it jar, in my opinion. As writers, we aim to torture and make our readers emotional from time to time, but there’s intent and then there’s intent.

 

I don’t mind using swear words – their offensiveness changes over time, and the F-bomb (being polite for you all here), is hardly the most offensive word or phrase out there at the moment. In some novels it’s absolutely appropriate to include swearing, and the target readership will reflect that. I do think over-reliance on a single swear word is a negative thing though. There are so many varied ways of swearing, and it’s up to the author to come up with setting- or character-appropriate vocabulary. In my fantasy novels, I frequently use ‘follocks!‘ (an obvious portmanteau of f**k and boll**ks), because it conveys the emotion I want, but also carries humour and sets the imaginary world apart from this one.

What do you think of using the F-word in fiction?

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Do you have a question for The Extra Squeeze? Contact us here.

We're Taking Questions | A Slice of Orange
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What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

July 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze, Writing tagged as , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

What is the publisher/agent attitude towards including a prologue in a romance novel? In ALL my writing classes, workshops, etc (other than romance), the prologue is hated and absolutely discouraged, yet it seems routine with romance.  So . . .

What Does the Extra Squeeze Team Think About Prologues?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I started my career I wrote in a genre I had never read, pitched with a partial and made simultaneous submissions to multiple editors and agents.  In other words, I broke every ‘rule’ in the book so I might not be the best one to ask about the prologue rule. That being said, I’m happy to give an opinion – of which I have many if you ask anyone who knows me.

I believe that ‘they’ are not as good a judge of your work as ‘you’. I believe that if there were hard and fast rules about what editors like we wouldn’t have books like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or genres like chic lit. I believe that if a prologue turned off editors/readers the following books would never have been published or become profitable.

  1. “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan
  2. “The Piano Tuner” by Daniel Mason
  3. “Montana 1948” by Larry Watson
  4. “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco
  5. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
  6. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  7. “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham
  8. “Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane
  9. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
  10. “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber

Yes, prologues are often skipped but if an author wishes to write one then it is the author’s job to make it a compelling piece of the whole. The question is not just is it necessary, but is it critical?

P.S. I have used prologues in three out of my 30+ books. All were published with the prologue intact.

P.S.S. Harry Potter also has a prologue.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 

From a publicity point of view, I care an inordinate amount about the cover of your book and the description of your book; less about whether or not you have a prologue. The only reason the prologue matters to me is if it helps sell the story.

That may sound shallow and even annoying to the craftsman who created the work, but it shouldn’t offend you. The most important part of the PR job depends on the cover and the description…if the first few pages can’t make that cover and description come to life, get rid of it. The first few pages need to pull readers in and keep them engaged in the book. As a creator, if the devise you choose to do that monumental task is a prologue, I support your choice. Just make sure it works and it’s as finely crafted as you can make it. I suspect that somewhere along the way the prologue got a bad name for itself because of shoddy work by writers who didn’t know how to use the device.

If you want to use a prologue, study finely crafted prologues. I want yours to dovetail with your story and with your cover and your book description. It’s all about craftsmanship. In that way, books are like furniture…I only want drawers in furniture if the drawers are constructed properly with joints that dovetail, instead of joints that are cheaply glued or tacked together and fall apart. Books or desks with drawers, If they are made well and work, they do exactly what I need for them to do.

 

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Prolog: Greek -before, Logos – word

Prologs are out of vogue. Maybe that’s because we want to jump right into a story, not mess about with seemingly extraneous details. More likely it’s because
Prologs have been abused. So often they’re just an info dump – more of a distraction than a component necessary to enjoying the story. I suspect that’s why publishers and editors dislike and discourage Prologs.

Contemporary Romances are stories in the here and now. That’s an aspect of the genre I really love. I want to walk right in and meet the players and watch the love story as it plays out. There really isn’t any need for a set up, a prolog, an information dump. I want to be living the story as it unfolds for the protagonists and the details should be woven into dialog and narrative and keep the story in the active present.

If you must include a prolog first ask yourself:
•Can the reader understand and enjoy the story without this info
•Is it compelling
•Can the info included in the Prolog be conveyed throughout the story in dialog or narrative
•And the question I think is most important for a Prolog: is the information contained so important that the reader must keep that in mind as the narrative unfolds if we are to understand the story. That’s the only reason I can see for a prolog.

But you are the author and this is your story. If a prolog will strengthen the work, then by all means include one. The creative process should not be subject to the whims of fashion. Just be absolutely certain that prolog is necessary.

Let us know what you think about prologues. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you read them?

This month’s extra squeeze topic was suggested by APRYL MOHAJERRAHBARI. Thank you Apryl, we hope we answered your question. 

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle, please use this contact form.

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