Friday, December 31, 2010

How Am I Supposed to do THAT?

CAUTION: Before you read this post beware: I am a very peppy person and I like my exclamation points! J
You’ve written your New York Times best seller, you’ve found a publisher, gone through round after round of edits, and think the worst is over………. then you hear the dreaded words “Now you need to market your book” EEWWWW!
Marketing is not as big, bad, and scary as it sounds. In fact, you market something every day – YOURSELF! Marketing is behind a lot of things we do, whether we realize it or not. As a child you do everything in your power to convince your parents as to why you need a new toy. When you are dating you specialize in marketing yourself. You get dressed up in order to market yourself physically, and you filter what you do and say in order to market your personality.  When you enter the job market, you highlight your education and experience in interviews. And when you finally land that job, you are constantly promoting yourself and your company. All of this is marketing.
But I’m an author, how does that apply to me? As an author, one of the best things you can do is something you are already used to doing – Marketing YOURSELF! Open Facebook and Twitter accounts, begin blogging, join writing societies and critique groups. All of those things go a long way to create a name for yourself in this business. This should be fun, and is a great way to meet new friends and create contacts. However, when using social media and any other online application be careful what you post:  Once on the internet, always on the internet.
What about my book? You’ve worked hard, and have gone through many a painful edit in order to get your book published. You now have bragging rights, and in a sense that’s exactly what marketing your book is; and once again it should be fun! Use the various internet outlets and connections you have previously setup and gained to tell the world about your book and why they should read it!
The aforementioned tactics are not by any means the only ways to market yourself or your book, and that’s where I come in. We at Astraea believe in giving our authors the best. And in this case, that means helping our authors to succeed. By taking an active interest, and by working with our authors to create integrative marketing plans, we are doing our best to give you every chance to succeed.
So keep on writing, and when marketing is mentioned remember – don’t FREAK have FUN!
- Alice

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You want me to do what?

Can there be more painful words to an author than when someone says "I like it... but this portion didn't really make sense to me.  I think you need to rework it."  What makes this difficult is when the part which "doesn't make sense" comes right at the beginning of your piece and the "reworking" it means pretty much taking the whole story apart and putting it back together but with the pieces now all rearranged in another fashion which is still pretty and relevant and "makes sense" just not in its original format.  I don't know about you, but I find this daunting sometimes.  In fact, it makes me want to just throw the whole story out and forget about it.  But sometimes, something else happens (and this JUST happened to me).  I put the work aside for a few days, weeks, months and let it sit and gel and stew and whatever else it must do.  Then later (maybe days, weeks, months or even years) I get a sudden inspiration of how to rearrange it to "make sense."
For me, I loved the story I had started.  I loved the characters.  The male lead was fun and I was enjoying his personality.  The female lead... she was strong and not a wuss even though tragedy had followed her around like a lost puppy.  I didn't want to throw them out.  I wanted them to thrive!  I wanted them to have a sunny day after so much rain.  I wanted them to be like Harry Potter... and you know, be the characters who lived!
Now I am currently in the throws of being excited about this piece again.  I can see the possibilities of how to make it work and I am ready to get my fingers going on the keyboard (but I figure I need to get off the pain meds from a recent sinus surgery first).  But still, the ideas are flowing again and I am glad I didn't throw the story away.  I am glad I let it sit, gel and stew.  I appreciate the critiques from my reviewers even though I don't always like to hear them because I know it is only going to make a better story in the long run.
So if you get a response from Stephanie at Astraea saying "This isn't quite what we are looking for but would you be willing to do...."  Don't get down or throw it away!  Take it as an opportunity for sitting, gelling and stewing.  Perhaps you will realize your story is like fine wine, it becomes better with time.
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Your apology is NOT accepted.

Now close your dropped jaw and unruffled your feathers. *grin* This isn't a post meant to rile nerves.  Sorry if anyone is now disappointed.

I always laugh when I receive an email from an author and the first line is - "Please don't hate me, but..."  First, let me clarify, I won't ever hate you for not falling in love at first sight with my work.  Nothing is ever perfect right out door.  In fact, I expect you to help me make it perfect.  After all, whether it be a header or cover art, my work is representing something very important, either you or your story.  Both deserve the very best.

Then comes the next line -  "I'm so sorry, I don't mean to be a pain." Let me promise, you're not being one.  Ever.  Make a list, shoot, make three if I don't get it right the second time!  We'll keep working until you're grinning ear to ear.  After the eightieth time, okay, I might start to get a little testy, but you'll never know it! *wink*

Followed with a closing line of - "You're going to want to kill me now, aren't you?"  Um no, 'murderess' is not on my resume.  I know, how boring, right?!  Sigh… I'm just going to remain plain ol' Elaina, the non-murdering cover artist.  So sorry!  I will not be thinking villainous thoughts because you want changes made.  Don't ever be afraid to tell me what needs to be fixed.  If you're sitting on the other side of the screen, too worried that you'll offend me because you hate the hero I chose, or the color scheme and you decide to settle, well that'll upset me more than you telling me what to change.  You'll go complain to your friends and family and be less than thrilled about what you should be excited about.  Not okay. 

So please, let me assure you all again.  I will not hate you, you are never going to be a pain and I will not decide to kill you if you ask me to change anything or even start all over.  Sometime's something is perfect and others it's so far off the mark only starting from scratch can make it right.  And that's acceptable and completely doable.  Just treat me fairly and we'll work together just fine, without all the drama you seem to anticipate. ;-)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Importance of Good Cover Art

When you go check out an e-publisher, what's the first thing you look at?  How many authors they have?  What sort of genre's they're releasing?  What they seem to have the most of and what they could use more of (as in, would they be interested in your book?)?  Their submission guidelines or about the publisher?  No… chances are, like me, like my friends, the first thing you look at is the cover art.  After all, that's what's going to represent your book, should you get that much sought after contract.  If you have a bad cover, your book is suddenly tarnished and you have no desire to show that baby off or market what you worked so hard to achieve.
And that, my writing darlings, is a tragedy.
No one, and I do mean no one, should have to suffer through the tears of bad cover art.  Ever.  This is why I've spent the last two years learning how to design covers.  I've seen too many friends shed tears over bad art.  A friend of mine once had a cover so horribly bad, all you could focus on was the large yellow wooden eyeball staring back at you.  She went home and quickly drew her own cover.  While it wasn't her dream, it was way better than the eyeball…  I can't draw, so if I wanted to make sure that wasn't me, I needed to learn how to manipulate images.  No easy feat, let me tell you, and the hours I've spent learning could have written three books by now.  We won't focus on that though… shhhh…
A good cover will not only bring attention to your book, but will make it memorable.  Everyone will "ooh" and "aah" and you'll smile and feel good, just like you did when you received the news the publisher wanted to contract your baby.  At Astraea, the owners want you to love your cover art, and they've gone to great lengths to make sure you get exactly what you've envisioned for your book.  They want you to be proud and excited.   Because, let's face it, everyone judges a book by its cover, just as everyone judges an e-publisher by their covers.
I'm really excited to have been given this amazing opportunity to work with you, future authors of Astraea, and to work with the wonderful women who are running this company.  They've had offers, and still, they chose me.  I'm going to continue to work hard and strive to be one of the best cover artists out there, providing one of the greatest marketing tools the publisher, and you, the author can have:  A beautiful cover.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bringing Sexy Back... But NOT the way you think!

Already, only a month into our venture, we've caught some flack for offering only "wholesome" reads.  In one blog, it was stated that "wholesome" implies other publishing houses don't offer this.  Actually, no.  I work for five of them, and I know for a fact other epubs publish sweet or wholesome books.  But at Astraea, we'd like to take things back to the way they were, years ago when people read romance for...romance (and any other genre for the actual genre instead of the graphics)!

In a nutshell?  We're bringing sexy a clean way! :o)

Look, I know "sex sells", I'm well aware that our venture won't be raking in huge amounts until we make a name for ourselves, maybe not even then. But I want to be a place people go that they can trust the content and not worry if their teenager is downloading stuff they shouldn't know about until they're adults. And doesn't everyone have to start somewhere?  In the epublishing business, I realized that very few epubs are only on the clean side.  With the take off of dedicated e-readers and the upcoming tech generation, I saw a gap in the market.  Where can clean authors go where they don't compete with erotica? Well, my first instinct is to say the inspirational market.

But what about those who fall somewhere in between?  My two books aren't inspirational, but they're certainly not erotica.  I wouldn't even consider them mainstream, but somewhere in between inspirational and mainstream.  Close door sex but some serious sensuality.  And I'll be honest, what romance book isn't made better when you know your characters want to go at  it...but choose not to because of conflict or personal reasons?  Look at Twilight.  You can't tell me Stephenie Meyer didn't do SOMETHING right.  All the naysayers can hang it up.  If she hadn't done something right, she wouldn't be a rich woman today.  And how refreshing was it to see something so clean make it so big! A hot, loving, caring, PERFECT vampire wanting to wait until marriage? *GASP*  Yet teenagers and even women well into their adulthood can't get enough.

That proves to me that there's a market for it, whether we want to admit it or not. I'm not trying to say that everyone who publishes erotica should repent and close their doors.  I'm saying that there are people who just aren't into that kind of thing.  Some people would like to download a book without worrying if they're getting something they don't want to read.

Then there are those who want the heated stuff.  I'm not sorry to say, you won't find that with us.

Astraea is going back to the basics, where romance (or any other genre!)is real romance (or mystery, get the point) and focuses on the relationships and emotions involved, not Sex Ed 101.  Anything is possible, and it's possible that we might fail.  But we won't go down without a fight!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Do I hear Kool and the Gang playing?

We at Astraea Press are celebrating today!  As of last Friday we are an officiallly licensed LLC, we signed our first author to a book deal and we have the beautiful cover of the book ready for release!  Wanna see it?  Looky here:

Its "Purdy" don't 'cha think?  Hee hee!

Besides all the above excitement, we are also pleased to announce that tomorrow we are having a Pitch Contest!  Yes, December 7th (also known as Pearl Harbor Day, my friend Isaac's birthday, and for our space friends, the last Apollo moon mission launched with Apollo 17 on this date).  (My mind = useless trivia).  But for all your writers out there, send us your pitches and perhaps YOU, yes YOU will be the next writer signed by Astraea Press!

You may be wondering what a pitch contest is all about.  I asked Stephanie for her take on it since it was her fabulous idea and here's what she said:

Take a book you’ve just written...  You want to sell it to someone.  You’ve got two paragraphs to convince them that YOUR BOOK is the book they want and will be a hit.  You have one paragraph to give us your writing credentials, and two paragraphs to pitch your book...Think about the back of a book. The blurb on the back needs to be something that the person who picks it up wants to buy...Same concept with a pitch.  They have to sell us their book.  Make us want to buy it and believe it’s going to be great.

I hope this will whet your appetite to give us some great pitches!  We want our next display of cover art to be yours!

Until then...Happy Writing!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The big launch and the big dream. Yeep. What are we doing here?

If you have just moseyed over to this website for the first time, howdy and thanks for stopping by!

I can honestly tell you when I was back in the third grade and trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, owning an e-publishing company was not at the forefront of my mind.  First of all because there were no e-publishing companies in existence (not that I know of considering Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet) and secondly, all my decisions were based on my struggle of whether I wanted to break up with Brent to "go with" Cade.  I still struggle with where a third grader actually "went" when she was "going with someone" but that's another story.

But back in third grade, I did know one simple fact about myself.  I loved to read.  I would dive into big long chapter books (several of them) in one day and float away on an adventure.  I couldn't wait for reading time when I could get out my latest "Bobbsey Twin" book and read another exciting tale in the lives of Bert and Nan and Flossie and... What was the last kid's name?  Freddie. That's it.  From there I discovered "The Boxcar Children" and then the series about "The Great Brain."  Do you remember those?  If you don't, go to your local library and see if they have them.  They made my childhood come to life!

By the time I was in late middle school and high school, my tastes in reading had changed.  I still read every "Little House" book each summer, but I also began incorporating some classics.  Who knew "Crime and Punishment" could be such a page turner?  Or "1984"?  I credit my father with instilling this great love of books into my life.  He encouraged not only me, but my two older sisters to read with fervor and gusto for in reading you learn so much about the world around you, even if you can't physically travel to every location and era in time.  But through a book I could and as Dr. Seuss tells us "Oh the Places You Go!"

I began creating stories in my mind when I was in high school.  Some of them I would jot down in notebooks for my own personal enlightenment and edification... Not really, but that sounds good doesn't it?  I actually wrote them in notebooks because it made the words more real.  If it was on paper it wasn't a fanciful dream; it was an actual story like you might read in a book!  Once college started, my story writing diminished as my school-paper writing began.  When one had to write at least 2,000 word papers for any class which resembled literature, history or English (thank you Gordon Rule), the thought of writing a word for pleasure was simply exhausting.  My stories in notebooks became a thing of the past.

Fast forward to just a couple of years ago when tragedy struck my family.  My sweet book-loving father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and it became my job to keep family and friends updated on his condition sometimes daily through his battle with the evil disease.  As hard as some of these updates were to write, they stirred a long forgotten desire within me.  I found writing became cathartic for me.  I loved feeling the words flow from my fingers as I typed on the keys of my computer.  Through the encouragement of my family, I finally decided to just do it and I began to type my little heart out.  Seventeen days later, I had written my first novel.  It was a little over 50,000 words and a bit cheesy, but it didn't matter. I had done it.

I say all of this to tell you, we at Astraea Press want to give each of you the opportunity to fulfill a dream, a desire or even just a check in your bucket list.  For those of you who have never written a novel before, just sit at the computer and give it a go.  If you love to read, you can write... probably better than you realize.  And just like the decision Stephanie Taylor and I made to start this e-publishing business, put feet to your dreams (or typing hands as the case may be).  We want to encourage authors who have aspirations to be published to give it a go.  We may not all be the next J.K. Rowling, but who knows... we might?

Happy Writing!
~ Jane