Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site packed with tricks and tips for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting!
Kim Tomsic

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing

Statistics indicate 85% of people would like to write a book. A much smaller percent of that sampling actually sit down and invest mental and creative energy in the process. And an even smaller percent actually see their publishing dream come to fruition.

Some people call the publishing executives “The Gatekeepers” and they’re said to run an exclusive club, inviting in only a select few. It’s why Self-Publishing has been around for decades. Self-published authors bypass these “Gatekeepers” and present their work directly to the public.

In the past, self-publishing didn’t garner a large amount of respect, mostly because some quality steps used in big publishing houses were skipped by the solo author. Things like editing, cover art, and layout were too expensive for the independent author of the past. This is no longer the case. Today’s self-published authors are better able to take the time to go through the same processes a traditional publishing house administers because of accessibility to quality and affordable freelance artists and editors .

It takes a team to produce a great book, and self-published authors are on board. It’s why the reputation of the self-published industry has grown to popular status. Today self-publishing is a respected, and it’s sometimes a savvy move for an author, but only if the author puts its business house in order.

In this guest post by Author Katie Salidas, you can learn what you get from a traditional publishing house vs. what you need to set up if you decide to successfully take the self-publishing route. She knows first-hand the in’s and out’s of self-publishing and has sold thousands of self-published books through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bookstores, etc.  If you decide to choose the self-publishing track, please pick up a copy of her book Go Publish Yourself! so you can save yourself a lot of grief, time and money. She’ll teach you mistakes to avoid and steps to take in this simple-to-follow manual. 

 Guest Blog:  Building Your Self-Publishing House vs. Traditional Publishing HouseBy Katie Salidas

Traditional Publishing:  What a Publishing House does for their authors

To understand what a publishing house does for an author, you have to take a look at some members of the publisher’s team. Your manuscript will travel through the hands of each of these players.

Some of THE PLAYERS and some of THEIR JOBs:

Editor-falls in love with your writing and wants to take it to market, but first helps author with plot and character development to make sure you’re presenting your best work.

Managing editor-manages time tables of team members below to get product to market as planned.

Copy editor-checks for grammar, accuracy of your details (dates, descriptions, etc), and brings a set of fresh eyes to the manuscript.

Proof reader-checks for final mistakes.

Designer-oversees artwork, typeface, size, style, page layout, chapter layout and (if qualified) prepares jacket design (if not qualified, oversees an illustrator to do so).

Production Manager-determines which paper to use, printing company, binding, and evaluates cost effectiveness, printing schedule, and deals with printer on any errors.

Distributors- manages how finished books get into the retail market (big box bookstores, ebooks, and independent bookstores) and does periodic quality control checks.

Sales reps-secures sales for books by talking to book buyers, teachers, museum shops, specialty shops, and specialized clubs.

Marketing manager-sends manuscript out to print, radio, TV, industry bloggers and submits book for awards as well as for school visits.

Publicity manager-sets up interviews

And there is an even bigger team (all with staff) not mentioned (i.e. reprint manager, copyright manager, foreign service managers, etc.).

Self-Publishing: What an Indie Author must do for their book
Just like with Traditional Publishing, certain jobs must be done to produce and sell a good book. Though Self-Publishing is often a solo production, there are jobs that can and often should be delegated to others in order to produce a good quality book. Please note that some jobs can be done by the author, but most shouldn't.  


Proof Reader/ Critiquing Partner(s): A person or a group of people who read and offer feedback and editing advice on some or all of an author’s manuscript. This is done by a third party (not the author) before editing.

Line/Copy Editor:  This editor intensively edits for continuity as well as grammar and spelling. You will have to hire a freelance editor to do this job. (It cannot be done by the author.)
Cover Artist: A graphic artist with an eye for the specific needs of book covers. They should be able to match your genre with the art. There are many freelance artists ready and willing to create covers for you; however authors often take a stab at doing it themselves.

Interior Formatter: A person (this can be the author) who can alter the original word document into ebook and print formats for publishing. (e.g. Epub, Mobi, PDF, Print, etc…)

Publicist: A person (always the indie author) who sets up blog tours, interviews, appearances, book signings, radio promotions, etc…

Sales Manager: A person (always the indie author) who arranges for the distribution of their work through various channels like: Createspace, LSI, Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Pubit!, Smashwords, etc…

Being a Self-Published author is not an easy job. As you can see, you are responsible for every aspect of the work that you produce. However, there are some benefits to going it alone. A Self-Published author has 100% control of how their product looks. In Traditional Publishing cover art, interior format, and even editing are not under the author’s control. You could be asked to delete entire chapters if your assigned editor feels they are not good (your proof reader and critiquing group may suggest the same thing with your self-published work) .

But, the biggest benefit to Self-Publishing is the ability to gain a higher royalty. Yes, you do have to foot the cost upfront, but if you are a savvy Self-Publisher, you can find the most cost-effective ways to do things. Once those initial investments are paid, the rest of the money earned is all yours.

Self-Publishers earn as much as 70% of the price of their book on Amazon. That’s significantly more than what a traditionally published author can expect per book. The reason is, less overhead. As you’ll see in the list below, Traditional Publishing employs quite a few people. Those people need to be paid, too.  Self-Publishing cuts out a lot of middle-men. But that also means the author has a bigger job to do.

It can seem overwhelming at first, but Self-Publishing is a viable form of publishing for the highly motivated author!

Katie Salidas is a Las Vegas native. Wife, mother, and independent author, she’s made a career out of producing successful self-published titles.

Go Publish Yourself – Quick and Dirty Tips for Self-Publishing Success
The Immortalis Series
The Consummate Therapy series
Vampire Bites – Erotic vampire anthology
And many more….

Each of her books were created in the DIY (Do It Yourself) style, without the aid of author service companies. Through trial and error she has gained the knowhow to successfully publish print and ebooks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Looking for the Next J.K. Rowling

Photo of Ruta Septys at SCBWI Conference ...now an award winning author!

Looking for the next J.K. Rowling 

On March 2, 2013 three power-house literary agents will team together to help aspiring children's book writers discover how to break into publishing.  Those who register for the event will enjoy a rare opportunity to move beyond the veil of the internet and meet three agents: Sara Megibow from Nelson Literary, Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary, and Terrie Wolfe of AKA Literary.

J.K. Rowling, the popular author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected twelve times before she found her publisher.  Furthermore most publishers won’t even engage with authors without an agent representing them. The Rocky Mountain chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has arranged for the three agents to offer a workshop at the Broomfield Public Library.  

Aspiring Middle Grade and Young Adult writers will learn the in’s and out’s of publishing including how to pitch their project. This is a quick way to move past the slush pile. After learning the art of the pitch, each writer will be afforded the valuable chance to pitch directly to an agent, and then receive immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  Furthermore, the agent panel will read the first page of each participant’s manuscript in a session called “First Pages” and again participants will receive immediate feedback. This is an incredible opportunity to meet
executives in the industry, and it’s a valuable chance to ask questions and learn.
The event takes place on Saturday March 2nd from 9:30am-4:30pm at the Mamie Dowd Eisenhower Public Library located at 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, Colorado. Space is very limited and pre-registration is required (registration deadline is February 25, 2013).  The cost is $79 for SCBWI members and $100 for non-members.

To register please visit http://tinyurl.com/ak8j5b2 or contact the registrar, Carrie Seidel, at whispurr_s@hotmail.com.  To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, please visit www.scbwi.org more on Agent day at http://www.scbwi.org/Resources/Documents/2013%20AGENT%20DAY.pdf

Publishing News in Children's Literature

Publishing News

Alexandra Penefold spent 10 years editing at Simon & Schuster, but she has decided to approach the post-Mayan era on the other side of the contract table. As of 2013, Alexandra joined Upstart Crow Literary, founded by previous Harper Collins editorial director Michael Sterns. She's building her list, focusing on young picture books, funny middle-grade fiction, and edgy young adult novels (no high fantasy).

Visit THE WRITING BARN blog and hear what Alexander had to say about creating characters.  She says we can study classic characters to, "...learn a lot in terms of how to build realistic and compelling characters that leap off the page into the hearts of readers."

Next workshop at the Writing Barn (in Austin, Texas) will feature Sara Zarr, a National Book Award finalist.

Other Publishing News:

At Simon & Schuster Children's, Sylvie Frank has joined Paula Wiseman Books as associate editor. Previously she was an editor at Holiday House.

Egmont UK is adding a nonfiction children's imprint Red Shed, launching in spring 2014. It will be run by Melissa Fairley.

SCBWI Rocky Mountain Division is kicking off its free webinar speaker series with Emma Dryden of Dryden Books.  She will present talk about BEST PRACTICES -- Self, Indie & Traditional Publishing. To participate, join www.scbwi.org

From Writer’s Digest:

Free Contest For Both Young Adult and Sci-Fi Writers!

If you follow my Guide to Literary Agents Blog, you know that a special recurring element is our "Dear Lucky Agent" Contests -- free agent-judged contests that revolve around a specific genre or two. 
For the 13th contest (live now!), we've enlisted literary agent Victoria Marini (Gelfman Schneider Literary) to judge, and we're looking for both young adult manuscripts as well as science fiction books. 

There are many rules, 
and you need to read the complete contest page before entering, but here is the gist: You submit the first 150-200 words of your completed book and Marini picks the top 3 for awesome prizes. Hurry, because the deadline is end of day, January 31! This is shaping up to be our biggest "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest of all time. 

Again, there is a LOT more for you 
to read on the contest page, so don't waste time in checking it out. Good luck!”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preeminent Opportunity for Picture Book Writers and Illustrators

Today I would like to introduce you to Julie Hedlund, owner of the blogsite Julie Hedlund, Author, Freelance Writer . Julie is also the founder of the sensational picture book writing event and community 12x12

If you are an aspiring picture book writer or illustrator, listen up! This event could change your career quicker than a conference! You'll hear how you'll be inspired, motivated, and even discovered (you'll read about the agents involved at the end).
Hi, Julie!

Welcome! And thank you for agreeing to this interview about your 12x12 event. You’ve created an incredible forum and opportunity for picture book people, and I’m excited to share this knowledge and chance with aspiring authors.

Thanks to YOU Kim, for having me. You always give so generously of your time and talent to other writers, so it's an honor to be here.

Let's start with the basics: What the heck is 12x12?

We are a group of  picture book writers who've come together with the goal of writing one picture book draft a month - hence 12 x 12. There are other fringe benefits (see answers to your questions below), but at it's heart, it's all about motivating each other to write more picture books.

I've heard 12x12 participants refer to this as a "community".  What makes it a community?

We're a group of 400+ writers with a passion for picture books. We share resources and opportunities. We cheer for each other when there's good news and support each other when there's bad news. It's a 24x7, 365-day a year writing community that never closes. Have a question? Post it and you'll have 5 answers in an hour. We encourage and nurture each other's creativity.

Why should I participate instead of just getting the BIC (butt in chair) and doing it alone?

Last year, I conducted a survey of 12 x 12 participants. Of those who responded, 90% said they wrote more in 2012 than they would have without the challenge. Those monthly check-ins and the encouragement of fellow participants helps provide the motivation to get it DONE.

But I think participant Tim McCanna summed it up nicely in this video he created for me last fall!
Can illustrators participate, too?

Of course! 12 x 12 has a thriving illustrator community. Some of them have even formed their own illustrator critique groups.

How did 12x12 get started?

It started when, at the end of 2011 and my second year of participating in PiBoIdMo, I realized I'd only written one PB draft over the past year. I knew I needed a much higher output if I was ever going to succeed at this writing thing. So I challenged myself to write 12 in 2012. Then it struck me that I should invite others to join me. I never could have imagined the response I got with more than 400 people signing up! Clearly there was a need for a picture book community and I happened to tap into that need at the right time.

What success was met when you launched 12x12 last year and how has it expanded in 2013?

I keep going back to videos, but I think this one I put together celebrating the 2012 challenge winners shows the success better than anything I could say. Think of all the picture book drafts written in one year and all the writers who now feel confident and proud to call themselves such. That's the greatest reward, for me.

In 2013, the challenge has expanded significantly. One of the features participants liked best last year was the Facebook group. It was a place to commune, share resources, and chit chat at all hours of the day/night. But not everyone is on Facebook. So I created a Membership Forum this year that allows everyone to partake of the great community. The Forum also includes areas where members can post their queries, pitches and excerpts of their own manuscripts for direct feedback. So it's also become a virtual critique group.

For Little GOLDen Book members, there is also the option to submit to one agent or editor per month outside of the slush pile.

Who are the agents whom you will feature in this year’s 12x12 promotion, and what can you tell me about the depth of their involvement? 

I'll reveal a few of the agents, since I don't want to spoil all the surprises. :-) Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is this month's agent. Tricia Lawrence of EMLA is up for March and Susan Hawk of the Jenny Bent Agency is on deck for April. 

The agents are accepting submissions from 12 x 12 members through a special email address so they rise above the regular submissions/slush pile. Although the participating agents are not required to respond to each and every submission, they did commit to reading each one. Stephen Fraser has been very responsive so far, and several members have already received requests to send more!

What do past/current participants have to say about their experience?

I've been lucky in that past participants have been so effusive in their praise for 12 x 12 that I have a whole page of testimonials! Some of this year's members also helped me to create - you guessed it - a promotional video urging others to join.

How do I register?

Right here! http://www.juliehedlund.com/registration-for-2013

Deadline??? When does registration closed?

February 28th. After that, you'll have to wait until next year!

Thank so much for hosting me, Kim! I very much appreciate you helping to spread the word about 12 x 12 and all that you do for us kidlit folk. 

Awwww, shucks (insert photo of me blushing) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dr. Phil Teaches Writers How to Craft the Perfect "Liar"

The Dr. Phil Show recently aired an episode called The Truth about Liars. It served the listening audience with life skills on how to spot a liar.  You can read about skills like this and other tools in Dr. Phil’s newest book, LIFE CODE

But why should writers and illustrators care about this show(other than gaining a bonus life skill)? 

Because Dr. Phil provides NEW WAYS TO SHOW, NOT TELL:  The take-away bonus from the production is to use these “liars tells” as ways to show your character.  Let your sneaky, scoundrel, crooked characters come to life.

Only 7% of what people say is part of the communication process.  What they do screams what they’re thinking. The mind can think and the mouth can say, but it’s what the body does that tells the truth.  The body language of your character can reveal so much, whether you’re writing first person or third person.

The Why Factor:
An important part in plot and character is to understand a character’s motivation.
Dr. Phil says people lie because they want:
1.       To bridge gap between a person’s boring life and their fantasy life;
2.       To get what they want;
3.      To escape consequences.
Here are the top tips from Dr. Phil on HOW TO SPOT A LIAR.  Weave them into your character’s actions and you’ll add texture and depth to your writing and illustrating process.

Use these Liar's Actions to Reveal Characters in your Novels :
·       Liars answer questions not asked
·       They get formal with language and stop using contractions
·       They give too many unasked for details
·       They FRAME the truth (i.e. They start sentence with, “Okay, to be completely honest…”)
·       They say yes, but shake their head no, or they say no but shake head yes. (Why? Because they’re central nervous system takes over)
·       They have facial tics, for example, they touch their nose or face a lot. They especially put a hand over mouth as a subconscious way to cover the lie
·       They exhibit shallow breathing
·       They purse their lips
·       Blink rate increases
·       Personal space is important to a liar (like they’ll put a piece of furniture between them, or they’ll use a purse or an object to have a barrier between them and the one asking the questions)
·       A liar has a “busy” attitude; can’t find the time to help or answer questions
·       A liar can’t give a recommendation of accountability (i.e. if they stole something and you say to them, "What do you think we should do to the person who stole this?" A liar can't come up with an idea; Typically a liar can’t bring themselves to make a recommendation on the consequence

Dr. Phil says there's a great book by Pamela Meyer called Lie Spotting if you want to find more ideas.

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