Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Calls for Submission #4

Thanks, as ever, to Selene MacLeod who brings us the occasional column Calls for Submission (CfS). You can see all of the CfS columns here. Don't forget you can check out Selene's Facebook groups 

Finally, don't forget to sign up to receive my news and columns by email; make sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Enough of me. You're here for Selene. Enjoy! - Beverly

I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying Women in Horror Month. Be sure to check out some of the great blogs showcasing women's horror writing. 

Because February is a month of blahs punctuated by hearts and chocolate (if you like that sort of thing), and because I've got the attention span of a gnat these days (hello SAD), I'd like to focus on the art of short-short fiction: flash and its various incarnates.

Markets that Accept Flash Fiction: 
Pro Paying Markets Open for Submissions:
Token-Paying and Royalty Markets: 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Self Publishing Comics Panel Report: A Guest Post by Ricky Lima

This past January there was a comics self-publishing event at PAMA (a local art gallery and historical archive). On the panel were Sanya Anwar (Site | Twitter), Ricky Lima (Facebook | Twitter), Jason Loo (Site | Twitter), and David Bishop (Facebook | Twitter).  I was unfortunately unable to make the event, so I asked Ricky to tell me about it in the form of the guest blog post you are about to read. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know if there are similar events in your city you might like to report on. 

Bishop, Loo, Anwar, Lima (L-R)
Photo credit: Stadium Comics

Peel Art Gallery, Museum, and Archive is hosting an exhibit dedicated to graphic story telling. The gallery has an awesome collection of original pages from True Patriot which is a comic anthology focused around Canadian stories and superheroes. To go along with the exhibit PAMA  organized a couple of panels and workshops about the comic industry. I was asked to run a panel on independent comic self publishing. I gathered a jolly crew of fellow self-publishers and we spoke to a crowd intent on independently creating comics. David Bishop, Jason Loo, Sanya Anwar, and I split the panel into four categories: inception, creation, production, and marketing.


In this first segment we discussed how a creator gets their ideas. It was interesting to note that creators can't create in a bubble: everything we talked about was inspired by something else. Sanya's book 1001 is inspired by the old story of Prince Ali Baba, and Jason's webcomic is an expansion on the Star Wars universe. All the panelists made it clear that it is important for a creator to consume everything they possibly can so they can learn as much as possible. As strictly a writer I've always been told that I should be reading 24/7. While I think that is true, I feel that it's a little misguided in that the scope is too narrow. As a creator you should be consuming 24/7. Not just reading, not just looking at art, but consume everything you enjoy, and sometimes things you don't in various. This way you'll be a well-rounded creator with a fresh perspective for any medium.


The next portion focused on techniques people use to get the work done. It all boiled down to, “Just do it!” The panel agreed that creators often get caught up in their own head and don't actually get anything done. World building is great and thinking up every single detail can be beneficial, but there reaches a point where thinking about it simply won't do. David explained to us how he had a very specific time for creating. He wakes up super early before work and makes comics for an hour or two. Everyone's process is different but the most important thing to remember is that if you're not doing it, it's not getting done.


The most technical portion of the panel was when we talked about production. When getting things printed it's very important to understand what technical terms like “bleed” and “CMYK” are before you begin (FYI: Bleed is the area around a page that will be cut off, and CMYK is a method of blending colours. Computer screens use RGB and printers use CMYK, this creates a slight difference in colour from screen to paper). Different printing houses were discussed as well, major recommendations were given to Toronto's Guerrilla Printing and Houston's LithoNinja. Printing comics can get pretty expensive so it's important to find a printer that has prices that fit your budget.


Finally we discussed how to market our books. In comics we're lucky because we have such a great support group of comic conventions that allow us to meet people interested in comics and picking up our books. Cons are the lifeblood of an indie creator and should be used to their full potential. At a con you can create a lifelong fan and repeat customers. From there, thanks in part to social media, you can connect with them and build the relationship. In the comic industry we're also lucky that a sizable portion of our audience are digital natives (i.e. people born during the internet age, so they are completely comfortable with digital reading). The internet is an extremely useful tool in connecting with fans all across the world and should be used effectively and consistently. Personally marketing is my personal favourite part of the comic game because it allows me to meet the people who are reading my book and ask them what they think. I love hearing what people think and seeing how they react to the book and if they have an feedback that's even better. Our book grows through feedback. 

The self publishing panel held at the lovely PAMA building was informative for all. The panelists and myself stayed after for a couple of hours to answer people's questions. I met a ton of cool people in Brampton who are longing to do amazing things. To me that's the most important part of any city: people with ideas. I like to think that the self publishing panel inspired some of those people to go out and get things done. I know seeing people so excited inspired me to continue doing cool things and getting my work done.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winners Announced!

Thanks once again to everyone who entered and who shared and tweeted. Your support is fantastic and I couldn't do this without you. This has also been a great chance to promote my non-publicity campaign services, of which there are many you can see here. Some of my favourites are social media planning and coaching, and copy editing, and even though it's not officially on the list, I enjoy critique as well. It's likely to end up on the list at some point. So please contact me and ask about these other services. I can work with any budget, so don't be shy.

Anyhow! here are the three winners:

Karina Sumner-Smith Site | Twitter
Jessica Meddows Site | Twitter
Teri Kline Twitter (and yes, I know the name on the Twitter account doesn't match this. ;))

I have been in touch with all of them, and it is my hope that I can help them and also have some fun in the process.

I know many of you joined the email list to enter the contest. I hope you'll stay, but if not, you should be able to unsubscribe easily from the next email you get, or if you're in a hurry contact me and I'll take care of it for you.

Coming tomorrow, a guest post about a local self-publishing in comics panel, and next week it's back to regularly scheduled programming!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Enter Here to Win Free Consulting or Critiques!

Subscribe (and confirm--check that spam email box!) to my email list and you will be entered to win two consulting or editorial hours. You can use the time toward:
  • Help creating your book or comic's marketing plan
  • A complete flash fiction critique and copy edit
  • A full social media consultation and plan
  • A brief critique of a novella or a partial of a novel 
  • Website critique/planning assistance
  • Any other publishing- or marketing-related consultation time
Three winners will be selected at random from mailing list subscribers who have joined and confirmed by clicking the response link (remember it may go to a spam filter) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, February 19th.

Not sure how to join the list? Subscribe right here.

Note that the prize will be delivered no earlier than March 15th, 2014. I will work out final details with the winners, whom I will announce on Thursday, February 20th.

I'll take this opportunity to also remind you that I provide all of the above services at reasonable rates, so if you aren't the winner, contact me and let me know what you need and we'll put together a plan that fits your budget.

Good luck, and spread the word to anyone you think may be interested!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Promise of Better Craft in Self-Publishing (or Slow the Eff Down): Book Marketing without B.S. #10

The other day Chuck Wendig shared a blog post he wrote entitled "Slushy Glut Slog: Why the Self-Publishing Shit Volcano Is a Problem". You should read it, assuming that some "shit" and "fuck" aren't going to be offensive to your delicate sensibilities, and particularly if you're thinking about taking the self-publishing path or starting a small publisher. It's already up to almost 200 comments, including a long one from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. Stick with reading it even though it's long and it may piss you off. It's not an anti-self-pub screed; but, a way toward a solution that elevates independent writers--and to be perfectly blunt--a number of small publishers, too.

Anyway, I won't rehash Chuck. He breaks it down so well that there's no point in my repeating it. Just read.

So... why exactly did you share this as a "Book Marketing without B.S." column?

I am so glad you asked. It's because the flow of the shit volcano reaches my doorstep, too. Now that I accept queries from potential clients, I see work that ranges from amazing to decent to incomprehensible to despair-for-humanity-inducing. The worst ones never reply when I (invariably) suggest obtaining the work of an editor. Well, sometimes they send a nasty reply back, but mostly I take the silence to mean that they stick their fingers in their ears and say "la la la la".

I haven't banned self-published authors (and indeed, some of my fine, fine clients are small publishing house and self-pub), but the vetting process for small publishers and self-publishers takes up valuable time for which I do not get paid. I don't typically have to work this hard at vetting work from medium and large publishers. So in a real and fully tangible way, self-published authors and small publishers (you know the ones I mean: they're made up of one harried person who is putting out too many books per year and thus isn't spending enough valuable time editing) cost me money. Someday I may decide I don't want to pay anymore.

So here is my point that I feel fits nicely with Chuck's blog post:

Slow down

I know you're excited because you think you're done with your book; but you're almost certainly not finished. Walk away for several days or weeks so that you can return to it with fresh eyes. You probably need an editor which you can get for low cost if you can't afford the most experienced people. Or perhaps it is time to look for a really good writers group. Or at the very least cultivate friends who aren't afraid to tell you when something could be improved in your writing. And let's not forget the cover art issue: bad cover art is debilitating. Invest in your cover to the best of your ability.

If you want to put out your best work, you can not be in a hurry to publish. It's about getting it right and putting out a quality product, not about how fast you get your book to market. If you are in a hurry because you're counting on sales of your books for financial support, you are likely making a mistake. Well, unless you're already a known author; but, I imagine if you are that you already know this anyway. If that's not the reason, then why rush this thing? You will, rightly and justifiably, be judged by this product, so make it the best it can be. Slow. The. Eff. Down.

Don't forget that part of the reason more traditional publishing is slow is because the books go through multiple edits and re-writes, and even when all that happens there is often still more that could be done, So why would you think that your first or second draft that no one else has ever looked at was ready? Even a second draft after a few people who just say "it's good!" isn't going to be much help either. Every writer needs an editor--a real editor, not just a yes man--who can help them find structural problems and inconsistencies and typos and strange word choices. You're not any different, which is fine. It means you're in good company.

Even Smashwords' Mr. Coker says in Wendig's comments, "It takes a village to publish great books." So don't do it alone, not because I have sympathy for your overworked plight (nearly all writers are overworked, my special little muffin), but because the best quality books are simply not put together alone. Find your team, the one that works at the level you can afford, however that looks. Be prepared to let things sit for a while. Be prepared to accept constructive criticism and suggestions for edits. Be prepared to re-write.

So make yourself the promise of editing, re-writes, and patience. Make yourself the promise of craft. Even if the way poorly published independent books bring the whole thing down doesn't matter to you (and it really ought to), it should matter to you whether or not you put out the best work that you can. You'll do better in the long run in the most self-interested of ways, and I'd like to think the entire big, messy community will get better, too.

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here, and please send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com. Thank you for your continued support!