Guest post by K. E. Shade, author of Outlaw in Her Bed and Her Beauty Within
Being a writer isn't easy. Glamour is not part of the package either. When I see all the authors who've made careers of what I love to do, I can't help be a little envious. Sure, I've got plenty of publications under my belt but I won't be quitting my day job any time soon. The nature of the business has changed. In my youth, I had at least four bookstores to go to but now? A few small stores and Barnes & Noble. We are moving into an electronic-driven society. Though my mouth drops when I see it, even the preteens are tapping away on computers or smart phones.
So what kind of advice could I offer for something looking to get published? I went old school when I started sending my babies out in the world. I built my resume with short story submissions. A 100k plus novel for a first time author generally isn't going to fly. It's a proverbial needle in the haystack. Short stories are a good way to hone your craft. Make a meaningful plot in under 7,500 words with strong characters and larger projects come much easier.
Where do you go once you've finished your first rough draft? Who is the publisher you've got in your sight?
First, and most important, never pay to get published. Vanity presses are a dime a dozen and they're not looking out for your best interests—at all. So rule number one: you get paid, not the other way around. Even if your royalties are a measly 10%, getting pennies beats paying thousands any day.
Polish that story to a healthy glow. No one, not even famous authors, go without someone looking over their manuscript. If you can't find a local circle of authors to help critique your latest, find an online community. Remember all of these options are quid pro quo. You do for them and they do for you. It's not a one-way street. Anyone who thinks they can go without editing, proofreading, etc is plain crazy. This is especially important if the self-publishing is the goal. Regardless, no publisher is going to take a hot mess under their wing. Just like you want to make money, so do they.
When you pick a publisher read their submission page carefully. Get the formatting, query letter, and where to send the manuscript burned into your brain. One misstep and they will reject it, sometimes without even letting you know. Follow their submission rules. Period. Along those lines, no publisher is obligated to give an in-depth rejection letter. Gird thy loins for a form rejection—lots of them.
If you score a publisher, get the contract with x-ray vision. Don't sign away the rights to the world or characters you've created. I've heard other authors warn of the first rights clause. Most of the contracts I've seen have this little clause. This means should you write about said worlds or characters again, the publisher gets first dibs on it. I don't find this terribly gasp-worthy—unless I have a non-erotic piece and that's all the publisher takes. I'd still give them the chance to say no anyway.
Even with these little tidbits of knowledge, I've had my share of publisher fails. A few went under, another never sends royalties much less statements on how the publication is doing as a whole. On the plus side, I have two great publishers. It's all trial and error. One thing is for sure, submit your work and get going on the next one. The rejection/acceptance phase could take a looong time and, as with the details of how to submit, the publisher should have a wait time on how many weeks/months/millennia it takes to slush through the numerous submissions.
This is just the small layer of the whole wide world of publishing. I haven't even mentioned agents and the like. That's a whole other animal I have no experience in.
So, have you wrote anything and want to see it out there? Are you prepared to understand that getting something in print is infinitely harder than ever because of cost? Ready to fight the slew of pirates offering your labor of love for free?
So what is the most daunting task for you in getting your writing on the track to getting published?
Outlaw in Her Bed Blurb:
When Ella realizes that her mysterious guest, Travis, has a deadly past, she has to come to terms that it may just be the cause of her husband's untimely death.
Ella Gilby lost her husband to the perils of living in the wilderness of the new frontier. When her son finds a wounded man in the barn, she does what any Christian woman would do for a needy soul. She takes him in until he's able to move on, but never expects the attraction to blossom between them.
Her Beauty Within Blurb:
In order for Adele to find her one true mate, she's got to learn to see beyond the veil of vain beauty.
Adele lives a privileged life. High in the great oak that is her kind’s home, the pixie does as she pleases including playing cruel pranks on the wingless sprites who dwell in the tree. When one of the Council of Eight decides Adele needs to be taught a lesson, the pixie is cast down into the world of the sprite. Without the finery that made her one of the privileged of the society, Adele must find the meaning of true beauty and what love entails, or be cast out forever.
Author bio: K. E. Shade is multi-published author Kastil Eavenshade in disguise pandering her romantic shenanigans. When not catering to the whims of three rescued kitties, she's dreaming up her next heart-beating tale. No period in history—past, present, or future—is safe from the clutches of her muse. Her passions beyond writing are drawing, cooking, and watching Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. She credits her parents for her free spirit as they've always supported her in every aspect of her life. Without them, she wouldn't be here.