Trump Kickstarter & 5 Tips on Successful Submissions

Whoopee! The Kickstarter Campaign for Trump: Utopia or Dystopia? Anthology is now live! Press release is also live in which we talk to two writers (Chris McGrane & Mathias Jansson) about why they sent in stories.

The Kickstarter is more for PR than anything else. We really, really, really want to find readers for our books and this is one way of finding them as well as pre-selling some copies. Although the submission deadline is June 4, 2017 we have started signing contracts with some writers and doing editing rounds in preparation to deliver Kickstarter goods.

So far we have signed 7 contracts. Our book aims to publish at least 20 pieces. We actually hope to publish closer to 25-30 if we receive more submissions that are too fantastic to resist.

Editing is super subjective and for this anthology I’m working with another editor, so there are two of us. Sometimes our schedules don’t match, but I think we will be ok as we haven’t gotten into any real fights over editing…yet…

I am dreading the task of sending out rejection letters but it will happen eventually. I’ll have to remind people that sometimes it’s really us and not them because another editor might have snapped their story up immediately. This did happen with one story that was sent in and 3 weeks later we were informed that it had been sold. That’s why we are fine with simultaneous submissions, heck, why delay a person a chance to sell to another publisher?

Today I received a really nice email from a writer who was super hyped that their story was chosen. I totally understood how they felt because I have gotten more rejection letters than acceptance ones myself! Out of so many stories, why did we chose their story?

  1. The writing was tight – this person did a lot of editing and they took out a lot of unnecessary words. Grammar, punctuation, spelling was pretty good – not perfect – but editors need something to clean up!
  2. The story had a limited number of characters – there was only one main character in the story and everything was focused on them. When there are too many characters, things get confusing super fast. Also, the writer can’t concentrate on writing a lot about each person and there is shallow character development.
  3. There was a clear arc (beginning, middle, end) – in the beginning the reader didn’t know what was going on, then things got a bit clearer through flashbacks with the main character describing what happened before the ending hit. In some stories too many things are happening, such as too many flashbacks, which makes timing of sequences confusing. Or the ending is too ambiguous and the editor isn’t sure if the story really ended or is missing a page.
  4. Surprise twists are great – in this case, the editor (me) is also a writer, so I can see a lot of plot devices coming. When something happens that surprises me I get really excited.
  5. They built a credible world – the world built had a set of rules which was explained as the story went on and had enough logic that the reader was able to buy in. The main character explained why things were a certain way in the story. Sometimes in other stories there is a librarian or a mentor figure that can do this as well.

One good reference guide is “The Hero’s Journey” which describes how to write a story describing a hero/main character, their adventures and finally the end. The link is to a condensed version, the book is longer than one webpage!

Style guides are also useful if you are writing a story which cites titles or has irregular dialogue, such as the character listening to the radio. The Canadian government has a free style guide and Writer’s Digest also has free resources. The Chicago Manual is one of the gold standards and a great reference.

We just edited a story in which the style/formatting drove us crazy. But we did it because the story was fantastic. Otherwise, we would have said forget it, since it cost us so many hours to clean us! Bottom line, write a great story and the editors can forgive you for everything else!

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter! Trump Anthology update #2

Happy Easter everyone! Someone told me yesterday that they have a full furry costume to pretend to be the Easter bunny for their niece and nephew which is pretty impressive! They said that they scatter eggs in a park and wait for the kids…while feeling creepy…which I found quite amusing.

Since I am getting many questions about the Trump anthology, I will keep posting updates as the project progresses. I expect I’ll be bombarded with more submissions once I launch the Trump Kickstarter late April as a PR exercise to pre-sell books and to raise some funds for the marketing blackhole. I hope to get the world excited about reading this book!

Question 1 – Should I send in both utopia and dystopia story?

Quite frankly we have received a lot of dystopia stories which is why that comment was made in my earlier post about sending in both types of stories. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which type you send in as long as it is good.

Question 2 – Should I use names of staff in the administration?

One does have to be a bit careful when citing names and I hesitate to recommend using their full names out right. Names are difficult to trademark, but if characters are written with same first/last name in bad light, there could be a lawsuit for slandering someone. As we condone extreme violence or sex in stories, the chance of a lawsuit is low; but be aware it is a possibility.

Same thing goes with brand name products. If your story is selected, we may suggest to generalize a brand name or use half of it so the reader can fill in the blanks themselves.

Question 3 – Am I at a disadvantage because I’m a new writer?

Some people send in a list of their credentials which include degrees, diplomas, titles at companies/societies/associations, etc. One person said that they were an astrologer who lived in the woods and another had multiple PhDs in ABC.

I don’t care about your background, at the end of the day if you can tell a good story, you are a good writer!

Question 4 – How can I increase chance of selection?

Stick to the theme – The book’s theme is a world in which Trump exists in the present as a leader or has left a legacy. A lot of people are sending in stories which has nothing to do with Trump but they had written as a side project or for fun.

These  pieces are really good too, but if it has nothing to do with the theme, the editors (there is more than one editor for this book) will debate if it’s worth the time to make extensive comments to the writer about changing certain things here and there to make the story more relevant to the theme. This is pretty much rewriting the story’s narrative and could lead to months of extra work for the editors.

Or they could chose a story that already has the theme in it.

Basic storytelling – The stuff they taught you at school still holds true!

image of plot diagram labled with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution

Source: Mrs. Welty’s Guide to Literary Elements

One of my profs in a writing course I took recommended to always start with action. The character is doing something interesting to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. In the next paragraph, the writer can go into why they are doing it, background, etc. Remember that we are not in your head and you have to explain what you are seeing.

World building – I want to feel like I’m in your story: What are the smells around the character? What do people eat? How do they travel? Are their environments different from ours? Are there drones/robots/aliens in the sky? Are there hierarchies in society? Are the rules different at work?

Writing course – If you haven’t done so already, do take the time to consider a writing course in person if you can afford it. The feedback from classmates are invaluable and the instructor is usually the harshest which makes you learn quickly! A writing group which meets regularly also helps improve your craft.

Free open ware writing courses are available at MIT’s website on creative writing as well. I bought books to start one of the courses and then forgot where I put them. Yes, I need real people to push my butt! If you are the super motivated type, then you may find some value in these online courses.

At the end of the day sometimes it’s me, not you.

We have received over 50 submissions so far. If I read your story and I remember it a few hours later because it made me think of XYZ, it’s a good story. If I forget I had ever read your story, then it’s forgettable and didn’t resonate with me.

Sending rejection letters suck as I always get them myself. Writing is also very subjective. Just because your story didn’t make it into this book, it doesn’t mean that your writing isn’t good, it could just be someone else sent in a similar story and we had to chose one.

Good luck and looking forward to your stories!

 

 

 

 

An Editor’s Notes on Submissions (Trump, Canada Anthologies)

Dark Helix Press has two different anthologies open to submissions at the moment: Trump Utopia or Dystopia? and Futuristic Canada. Deadlines for both are April 31, 2017.

First, thank you to everyone who has submitted their works so far! It’s been a lot of fun reading through the diverse stories with their different voices. Works have been sent in from all over the world – US, Canada, Italy, Sweden…just to name a few places.

Here are a few notes from moi, the editor, on these two anthologies in particular:

-We are looking for more stories for the Canada anthology in general.

-For the Trump anthology – more sci-fi and fantasy. Lots of Trump horror stories were submitted, making it difficult to choose among them.

-For the Trump Anthology if you are sending in work, send in an utopia and dystopia piece. We only have dystopic views at the moment. Utopic stories can be dark too, look at stories such as 28 Days Later (movie), Happiness (movie) or American Dream themed works, where among tragedies there is a glimmer of hope.

-World building is not including one sentence stating who is the leader of a country. To make me believe that the world you created is different, you will need to give me some details. For example, Trump was elected, then X, which led to X and your characters in the novel doing X. What do people eat? Are there new customs? The details are clear in your head, but the readers don’t have access to it!

-Please don’t send in horror pieces with senseless violence and killing. They really bore me. If there is death, why did it happen and how did the other characters react? Example, many Japanese haunting stories have a tragic tale of why the ghosts are haunting people.

These are my two cents for now. Am working on a Kickstarter campaign for the Trump anthology as a marketing strategy to find new readers. Will post more details when ready!

 

 

Call for Submissions: Ricepaper’s Speculative Fiction Issue

My friend Derwin Mak and I will be guest editors for Ricepaper (an Asian Canadian literary magazine) for an upcoming issue on Speculative Fiction.  The issue will focus on  science fiction, fantasy, horror or alternative history.

It’ll be published in December 2014 and we are looking for original content.  Deadline is a bit tight – Aug 15, 2014 – however, it is a paying gig and all submissions will be considered.

Please note there are some restrictions on author origins set by the magazine: We are looking for short stories, non-fiction articles, poems, and manga/comics excerpts byauthors with East Asian or Southeast Asian descent. Eighty (80%) percent of the issue’s content should be authored by Canadians.

More information on submission guidelines can be found here.  Good luck!

http://ricepapermagazine.ca/2014/07/call-for-submissions-ricepapers-speculative-fiction-issue/

 

 

 

 

Hitting No. 1 in Asian Fantasy & Asian Fiction on Amazon Kindle

Today is the first day I’m doing a quick promo to give away a few e-books for free in exchange for reviews. Also, I’m at a Japanese Animation convention, Anime North, doing a few panels on publishing and Asian vampires.

After a long day of chatting with friendly people dressed as Sailormoon, Naruto and other fabulous creatures; I came home to do a quick check to see how the downloads were going. Surprisingly I hit number one in Fiction/Asian American and Fantasy/Asian!

Admittedly these are very niche categories,  but hey, No. 1 is better than No. 100 at the moment! Here’s hoping that I’ll find a great audience who likes to read things from a different perspective!

Meanwhile, greetings from me and a plant lady at Anime North (pic below)!

Kindle May 24 14

 

AN plant lady s

Anime North prep

I am a panel guest at Anime North, so I didn’t expect any big announcements. But wow, there was a big Anime North blast on Twitter and on the website announcing me as a writer guest, so I feel super honoured.

Anime North is Canada’s largest Japanese animation convention and it is a not-for-profit with funds going to Sick Kids Hospital. I’ll be there with my Viking husband on May 24-25, Sat & Sun to do lots of panels on Japan, Asian vampires, writing and publishing. As well, in the dealers room I’ll have a table so I’ll be giving out limited edition art cards and selling my book. I had hoped to have more books finished, but alas, marketing activities has been taking up much of my time.

Here is the announcement pic and the art cards I’ll be giving out. See you soon!

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Cover reveal for The Literary Elephant!

Another book I have on the go is The Literary Elephant: The Beginner’s Guide to Indie Publishing. This book was started way back in November as part of National Novel Writing Month. People have been asking me where to buy this and alas, I have to tell them that it’s not done yet!

theliteraryelephant

This cover was completed by a fabulous graphics company based in Bosnia I found on Fiverr.com. They also helped me with the “How To Make a Munchkin” cover. I have to kick myself in the butt to keep going on finishing the manuscript for both the Munchkin and Elephant book as I have been so distracted by marketing activities for The Undead Sorceress.

However, I’ve learned a lot since launching one book and I predict things will be easier for me to release my other books.

One of my friends said I was getting too ambitious in wanting to release two more books by the end of the year, but what the heck, the manuscripts are 70% complete at this point! As an author, I don’t think you can survive on one book, so I need to keep going! Another thing I’ve been busy with is trying to write short stories as those are easier to sell than novels…yes, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me!

Paperback of The Undead Sorceress Released!

The paperback version of The Undead Sorceress was just released yesterday on April 24, 2014 ahead of the May 8 schedule. I don’t think this will ever happen again! I am maximizing the number 4 it seems with an April 24, 2014 release date. The number 4 sounds the same as “death” in the Chinese language and is typically avoided. Well, this book is about vampires who are undead so perhaps they are a lucky bunch and having so many 4s around this book is ok!

Retail list price is $15.99 USD and it is available on Amazon for now. In the near future it will be uploaded to other distributors to make it available at Barnes & Noble, etc.

Meanwhile, I’ve been prepping for book launches and Anime North, so I’ve ordered a stack of 300 books to carry with me everywhere. The book is damn heavy at 500 pages! The matte cover is beautiful though and the colors translate well from digital to print. And I’m a picky person when it comes to books! After going through 12 proofs, I’m finally happy, so I hope you will like how the book turned out too!

IMG_20140415_193512[1]

The Undead Sorceress is available on Amazon Kindle!

Finally, one book is available online after lots of difficulties with IRS forms, last minute formatting changes/deletions and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Amazon to approve of it for sale. Yes, there is a process in which Amazon looks at your book to make sure it’s not offensive stuff you are putting onto their site.

Although I’ve learned to read legal documents for work, reading IRS forms and documents are totally different. I am convinced they are written by aliens to destroy our little minds as they are so difficult to comprehend.

Things turned out ok in the end, but there was lots of sweating and panicking. Uploading onto Amazon was a breeze though, but what took me so long was that I would “test” the book on different kindle programs and find glitches in the file. So I went back and forth with my very patient Australian formatter to perfect the book. Then I set up an Amazon Author page, changed the book status on Goodreads, updated all websites, then announced its availability via Facebook and Twitter as well. Is giving birth easier? Not sure…

The print book manuscript takes a bit longer to format and after that’s done, I can finish the spine/back for the print cover. I have been going to bookstores in my spare time and studying other people’s books to see what they put on their books. Perhaps I am vain, but I like well designed books and I hope to make a good looking book as well. For a panel on self-publishing on the weekend, I’ll try to remember to make this point: once the writing is over, you have to shut off your writing brain. The book becomes a product next and it has to be able to compete with other books. This means that the inside must be polished with professional editing and the outside has to be well designed. Book covers do matter and sometimes people will pick up your book because the cover is pretty if nothing else.

Due to my enrolment in Amazon’s KDP Select, I had to take down my preview of the book as it is available on Amazon now. KDP Select puts the book into a Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, so people enrolled in the library can read the book for free. Amazon does compensate the author regardless and it’s a new business model for people to subscribe to Amazon’s library service.

Click the cover below to visit The Undead Sorceress’ Kindle book page. Happy reading!

kindle cover jpeg

 

Promoting Your Free Book

Recently, a question came up on the Goodreads forum about why people hired on Fiverr usually do promos for free books?

I speculated that a lot of them will only promote “FREE” books because there are lots of lists available online that this Fiverr person can fill in forms for free promotion on your behalf.

If the book isn’t free, it is much more difficult for them to do promotions. They would actually need to take more time to contact people and convince them to do book promos.

Generally, promoting a free book by filling in forms only takes a few minutes and they don’t have to negotiate.

If you are running a promotion for your book and giving it away for free for a few days or forever, you can post the links online to various sites yourself to spread the word. Or you can hire someone to do it for $5 as well.

Here is a list of 72 sites for promoting free ebooks to get you started along with Facebook, Twitter advice::

http://www.sarkemedia.com/free-kindle…

Another one at Indies Limited:

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/book-p…

If you google “list kindle free promotion” you will find several more sites. Of course, some of the sites listed may be the same over and over again.

Good luck on your freebie campaign!