​GENRE AND AUDIENCE

You wrote your manuscript, now it’s time to figure out how to categorize it. Choose a genre or two, as well as a couple sub-genres. Don’t tag everything! Limit yourself to only two otherwise it will appear you don’t know what type of book you’ve written.

GENRE:

The category or categories in which your book will be labelled; an artistic endeavour with a particular form, content, or technique.

SUB GENRE:

A subcategory within a particular genre. Example: SF/F novel with a romance sub genre.
A list of book GENRES and SUB-GENRES in Fiction and Non-fiction and their acronyms (if applicable):

ACTION AND ADVENTURE

o Main storyline involves an exciting undertaking involving risk and physical danger.

o Also: A/A or ACT., ADV.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

o A written account of a person’s life written by that person; a story a person writes about themselves.

o Also: AUTO

BIOGRAPHY

o A detailed description of someone’s life especially their experiences of life events like education, work, relationships, and death; written by another person.

o Also: BIO

CHILDRENS

o Stories, books, magazines, and poems enjoyed by children.

o Also: JUVENILE LITERATURE

COMMERCIAL FICTION

o Novels that fall into a typical genre; the protagonist does the work to tell the story; it aims to entertain; writing style is clean and pared-down; main character is usually likeable to the reader.

o Also: CF, COMM. FICT.

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

o Stories set in modern times that don’t have elements of fantasy; “contemporary” used to distinguish this type of fiction from realistic fiction with a historical setting; used to show what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes; a look into an everyday experience.

o Also: CONTEMP. FICT., CF (not to be confused with commercial fiction)

DRAMA

o Type of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone which focuses on in-depth development of realistic characters who deal with realistic emotional struggles.

o Also: D or DR

FANTASY

o Uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting; imaginary world with magical creatures; generally, but not restricted to, staying away from science fiction or horror themes; sub genre of speculative fiction.

o Also: F

HORROR

o Intends or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle their readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror; sub genre of speculative fiction; supernatural or non-supernatural; often the central menace can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.

o Also: H

LITERARY FICTION

o Fictional works that hold literary merit; critically acclaimed; serious; complex; multi-layered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas; the reader does the work to find the “story”; writing style takes more risks; aims to reveal the human condition; toys with genre precepts.

o Also: LF

MAGIC REALISM

o An acceptance of magic in the rational world.

o Also: MAGICAL REALISM, MARVELOUS REALISM

MYSTERY

o An investigator or detective (professional or amateur) investigates a crime, often murder; each suspect must have credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime; CRIME FICTION and DETECTIVE FICTION are sub genres.

o Also: M or MYST. 

NARRATIVE

o In fiction: an account of connected events; a story.

o In non-fiction: text that presents a true story written in a style similar to a work of fiction; also known as creative non-fiction.

PARANORMAL

o Revolves around the paranormal and paranormal occurrences.

o Also: P or PARA

ROMANCE

o Mass-market literary genre whose main focus is on relationships and romantic love between two people usually followed with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

o Also: R or ROM. 

SATIRE

o Attempt at humour by ridiculing vices, follies, shortcomings with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society to improve upon it; uses wit to draw attention to particular or wider issues in society.

SCIENCE FICTION

o Speculative fiction dealing with imaginative concepts like futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel universes, and extra-terrestrial life; explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations; sub genre of speculative fiction.

o Also: SF, SCIENCE FICT.

THRILLER or SUSPENSE

o Characterized by the heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, anxiety, surprise, and anticipation it creates in the reader; keep the reader on the “edge of their seat”; uses literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, and cliff hangers a lot; usually villain driven plot which a protagonist must overcome.

o Also: T or TH or THRILL or SUSP. 

UPMARKET FICTION
o Fiction that blends the line between commercial and literary.

o Also: UF

WOMENS FICTION
o Books marketed toward female readers; includes mainstream novels, romantic fiction, “chick lit.”, and other sub genres; commercial fiction about a woman experiencing a life change and personal growth.

o Also: WF, Chick Lit., WOMENS FICT.

  

So you’ve chosen what type of book you’ve written, now it’s time to figure out for whom you’ve written.

Who’s Your Audience?

Children: see definition of CHILDRENS under the genres listed above.

Middle Grade

Novels characterized by the type of conflict encountered by the main character.

Themes range from friendship to school situations to relationships with siblings and peers, characters learn how they fit into their own world.

Readers are beginning to learn who they are and what they think and the novel reflects those emotions and experiences.

Also: MG

New Adult

A developing genre with protagonists in the 18-30 age range.

St. Martin’s Press coined the term in 2009.

Fiction similar to Young Adult that is published and marketed for adults; an older YA or ‘new adult’.

Focuses on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

Also: NA

Young Adult

Written, published, or marketed fiction for young adults between 12 and 18.

Problem novels or coming of age novels.

Story lines consistent with those young adults experience at this age such as friendship, love, race, money, divorce, relationships within families.

Also: YA

Adult

Fiction written, published, and marketed for adults aged 18+.

Explicit content and strong language; deal with “adult” and mature experiences like drugs and sex in graphic detail.

Also: A
And if you’re wondering about the length of your novel for each audience, here are a couple photos to give you a rough idea of how long your novel should be.

Need more info on each genre? Follow Book Riot on Facebook and read their post called “Fiction 101” http://bookriot.com/2016/06/21/fiction-genres-101-field-guide-uncertainty/ 

Until next time.

Happy Reading and Writing!

MH

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​You Can Walk the Walk, Now It’s Time to Talk the Talk

The easiest part about being a writer is writing the book (or short story, poem, play, etc.) itself. Now how to get your book “out there” in the real world? Most likely you will submit your manuscript or query letter to a publisher. Well, there are a few key terms, or buzz words, you need to be aware of before you submit your query letter that might help get your book published. 
If you follow a few of these people on social media you will notice they use acronyms or short forms of words. These buzz words are what publishers, editors, and other authors will use to discuss or generate discussion about their books or other books. I’ve included a list of words you might come across as well as the similar words or acronyms other people may use when discussing these terms.

Here are a few you need to know:

BETA READER:

  • A non-professional reader, who is not explicitly a proofreader or editor but can work in that context, who reads a work of fiction before it’s released to the general public with the intent to find and correct grammar and spelling, offer suggestions to improve the overall story, characters, and setting. 
  • Also: BETAS, PRE-READER, CRITIQUER

BLURB:

A brief advertisement…to praise something (like a book) to capture the interest of a potential buyer; a blurb does NOT spill the beans on your ending.

Also: BOOK BLURB, BACK-OF-BOOK BLURB

COMPARISONS:

When writing a query letter, it is good to list at least two comparison books to illustrate where your own book will fit into the publishing market. Example: “It’s DA VINCI CODE meets GONE WITH THE WIND.”

Also: COMPS (short form)

LITERARY AGENT:

Someone who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers, and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiations of the same. They are paid a fixed percentage on foreign and domestic sales they negotiate for their clients.

Also: PUBLISHING AGENT, LIT. AGENT, and similar forms

MANUSCRIPT:

An author’s work, hand-written or typed, that is submitted to a publisher.

Also: MS 

MARKETING:

Promoting your manuscript with various methods, techniques, and ideas. Example: word of mouth recommendation is a marketing technique used to sell books.

QUERY LETTER:

A way to introduce yourself and you work to a literary agent or editor to convince them that your work will interest them and make them money.

Also – QUERY or QUERYING (commonly used), QL (uncommon)

SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE:

When submitting a hard-copy of your manuscript (not an electronic one via email or social media) include one of these to ensure a reply from a literary agent or publisher or you may never hear back from them.

Also: SASE (acronym)

SELF-PUBLISHING:

An author becomes the publisher. They must proofread and provide the funds to design the cover and publish the book. They are solely responsible for marketing, filling orders, and advertising. Originally, the author decided how many books to print, but now the print on demand (POD) technology allows authors to print books when needed.

Also: SELF-PUB.

SYNOPSIS:

Sarah Campbell (author of Paranormal Thriller novel Butterfly Harvest) explains that a synopsis is “a condensed statement giving a general overview of a subject” INCLUDING THE ENDING to your novel, short story, play, etc.

Also: SUMMARY, SYN.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING or PUBLISHER:

The author completes their manuscript, writes a query letter, and submits both documents to a publishing house (or a lit. agent does it for them). An editor reads the MS, considers if it’s a good fit for the publisher, and decides to reject it or to publish it. If accepted, the publisher buys the rights from the writer and pays an advance on future royalties. Publisher will then put up the money to design and package the book, prints copies of the book for sale, markets the book, and distributes the finished book to the public.

Also: TRAD. PUB.
These terms will help get you started. If I’ve missed some key terms or buzz words please feel free to comment below. Us authors need to help each other out!

In my next blog post I will make a list of every GENRE and their acronyms as well as the different types of AUDIENCE to help categorize your book. It’s important to know where your book fits in as well as the audience to whom you will be marketing. The genre and audience you choose will help shape your query letter, book blurb, synopsis, and everything else later on. 

Until next time.

Happy Reading and Writing!

MH

You’re Almost Published…Now it’s Time for the Book Cover!

​Creating a Cover for Your Book


In my last post I talked about how to write a back of book blurb (not a synopsis). In this post I will tackle the subject of how to create, or find, the perfect images for the cover of your book. I found this part a lot easier than the blurb, but I thought other authors might need some advice. There is a certain knack to it.

As the author, you may have some or all of the input on how you want your book to look. If you’re being published traditionally then the publisher might do the cover for you and ask you to choose one you like. If you’re self-publishing then you have to do all the work yourself, but you’re not limited to only a few choices.

I think I’m somewhere in between. My publisher finances the cost of publishing the book, but I have to help market it. They asked me to think of cover ideas and I sent a couple ideas off. I also found a few pictures on Google I thought would capture the attention of a potential buyer as well as portray the tone of my book. Once my publisher has an image ready I will approve, or offer suggestions, on the cover. 

If you’re having trouble finding or thinking of ideas for the cover of your book, here are a few suggestions (this was sent via e-mail from my publisher and I thought it explained everything perfectly so all I’m doing is copying and pasting):

You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover ‐ But it can sell it for you!

“In the days when people would go into their local bookshop and spend a happy hour browsing, the most important part of the book design was the spine. With shelf upon shelf of books from which to choose an eye‐catching spine was vital to encourage the reader to pull your book from the shelf. Unless of course you were fortunate enough to hold a coveted, and usually very costly, position on ‘The Table by the Door’.  

“Once the potential reader has the book in their hands, the cover then comes into play. The purpose of the cover at this point is to hold the reader’s attention and persuade them to thumb through the pages. Good cover design here needed to be fairly detailed to keep the reader interested for those critical first three seconds. The longer the book stayed in their hands the more chance of a sale.

“These days however things have changed. More books are sold online than anywhere else and bookstores are closing at an alarming rate. Those that are surviving are doing so primarily on the backs of big name authors and cookery books. 

“Presenting a book online is entirely different to designing covers and titles for a bookshop browser. As a new author your chances of gaining a place on the shelves of a bookstore are slim, therefore in order to maximise sales in your biggest potential market great care needs to be given to cover design and title choice. 

“Most online bookshops follow a similar pattern. When browsing, one is presented with a page of titles and thumbnail images of covers, once selected the image increases and a couple of paragraphs of text describing the book appear.

Warning!

“New writers often make the fatal mistake of looking to see what the covers and titles of big name authors look like then attempt to mimic those. The problem here is that the reader is not basing their choice on the title or cover but on the name of the author. Stephen King can be as enigmatic as he likes with the cover because it is his name which is going to sell the book not the artwork. Dan Brown could title his next book ‘Zxyssigy’, put a picture of a bumble bee on the cover and it will still sell by the million. 

The Title is the Key

“Usually the first thing to snag an online browser’s attention is the title. A convoluted or meaningless title may appear enigmatic or even literary but if it says nothing about your book it is not going to engage the interest of a potential purchaser. Calling your fantasy novel ‘The Xlandu of The Arkenlords” may sound very grand but tells the reader nothing. They are much more likely click on “Sword of Power” as that gives a clue as to the nature of the book. One of our authors noticed that out of the 42,000 books on Amazon about vampires there was not actually a book simply entitled ‘Vampire’. There is now!  

“Most writers come up with a title fairly early in the creative process but that should be treated purely as a working title and not clung to doggedly once the work is finished.  Once you have completed your novel think again about the title. Does it actually describe or sell the book? If not… change it!”
Let’s Review:

Title is key.

Create an eye-catching spine (if your book is lucky enough to be sold in bookstores).

Cover Details 

o In-store: detailed enough to keep the buyer interested.

o On-line: image is only a thumbnail at first so keep it simple but detailed enough that the buyer will want to click for the larger image and book blurb.

Remember: if you’re not well-known do not copy other writers. Make your own way. 

Keep it simple but interesting. 
A title should capture the tone or key element of a story. People want to understand what a book is about from just glancing at the title and cover. If it’s too complicated the buyer will be unlikely to buy the book to figure out what you meant in the title. 

I’ll give you a bad example (my own mistake):

My book used to be called Sword and Crossbow Trilogy: Decadence – Book One

Now go back and read my book blurb in my previous post. Go on. I’ll wait.

.

.

.

It doesn’t fit right? I know. I’m so ashamed.

Here’s what it’s called now: The World of the Undead: Existence – Book One

A little better right? The new title definitely captures the tone of my novel. The other one sounded too much like a medieval romance. 

I hope this helps you when you pick your title and book covers.

Oh! Before I forget. Here’s the email I received back from my publisher regarding my back of book blurb. Remember how I said it was 272 words and she asked for 200? Here’s the reply:

Until next time: Happy Reading and Writing!

MH

​How to Write a Book Blurb

I just finished signing my contract with my publisher and, just as the ink finished drying, I received my next assignment: to think of a cover for my book and to write the back of book blurb.

In this blog post I will focus on how to write the “dreaded” back of book blurb.

Spoiler Alert! A book blurb is NOT the same as a synopsis. Let me break it down:

Sarah Campbell (author of Paranormal Thriller novel Butterfly Harvest) explains that a synopsis is “a condensed statement giving a general overview of a subject” INCLUDING THE ENDING to your novel, short story, play, etc., and a book blurb is “a brief advertisement…to praise something” to capture the interest of a potential buyer; a blurb does NOT spill the beans on your ending.

(You can read the full blog entry on Sarah’s website here: http://www.sandrarcampbell.com/book-blurb-vs-synopsis-whats-the-difference/ )

Yes, there might be some key elements where the two terms will blur together. For instance, you might write a synopsis in a query letter which sells your book to a potential publisher or literary agent, some of whom might ask for the ending of your novel, short story, or play and some of whom may not. Which is why it’s important that you research before you query.

In short, a synopsis SUMMARIZES and a blurb SELLS. Get the picture?

Well, what do you need to include in a blurb? What key points will sell my book?

Here are some things to consider:

What is/are your favourite book(s)? How did you decide you would buy it/them? Did it/they have a blurb and, if so, what did that blurb include?

Look at books that have sold hundreds of copies. Do they have blurbs? What did they say? What did you or didn’t you like about them?

I would tell you to look at books that have sold millions of copies, but odds are the only blurbs that are on the back of those books are praise from other well-known authors and publishers about that book or other books the author has written (which are good too, but in my opinion they serve to sell the author rather than the book itself).

If you’re still struggling to figure out what to write here are a few tips from Marilynn Byerly (author of Science Fiction Romantic Adventure novel Star-Crossed):

For Science Fiction and Fantasy:

• In sf and fantasy, the setting itself usually needs to be set up even before the main character (first and second paragraphs).

• Simple plot set up, and the main character’s emotional involvement with it. What is the exterior conflict of the novel? (What is the hero fighting against and why?) What must the main character achieve or defeat and what does he have to lose? This can include plot set up, place set up, the important secondary characters, and the villain (third and fourth paragraphs).

Marilynn gives a few more tips for other genres, including Mystery and Suspense, as well as how to shorten your blurb if it is too long. You can read her full article here: http://www.marilynnbyerly.com/blurb.html

The key is to know your audience. To whom are you trying to sell this book? What buzz words will grab their attention? Also make sure your tone is appropriate for the type of book you are trying to sell. A happy tone in a blurb does not necessarily convey the more suspenseful tone in a Thriller novel, for example. This might seem obvious to some writers, but you never know.

Also, a good way to challenge yourself and to keep in blurb writing practice is to see if you can shorten your already trimmed blurb down even more. If it’s 400 words try to cut it down to 300. From 300 to 200. 200 to 150. 150 to less than 100.

For my blurb I was told to write a 200 word back cover blurb for my Horror novel Existence. Using the tips and guidelines from the previous two articles I wrote mine. Here’s what I have so far:

Back of Book Blurb

“Over a hundred years into the future, humanity has reached the point where it would rather eliminate itself into extinction than risk becoming infected by what they think is a virus. Mutated creatures, born from the virus and human blood, roam the Earth in search of food – human food. When it seems all hope of saving the human race is lost, rumours circulate about a New Government who claim to have found a “cure”.

A young woman named Margot, armed with only a samurai sword, enters the woods alone knowing she may never come out again. In a sudden face to face battle with a man she followed in the hopes she could steal his food, Margot realizes she’s too weak to fight back and waits for death.

Three days after her capture, the man offers Margot food and water after forcing her to promise she won’t run or try to kill him. Suspicious of his sudden gesture of kindness, Margot resolves to run at the first opportunity. However, the more time she spends with him the less she wants to run away, regardless of the many secrets he is hiding from her. She begins to trust him, something she’ll have to learn to do all over again after being alone for so long.

It’s not until they come across an abandoned house surrounded by huge a metal wall does Margot start to suspect she’s put her trust in the wrong person. A scientists journal is found and the horrible truth behind the virus is revealed. Margot has to figure out exactly who her mysterious companion really is before it’s too late.”

Just sent this off to my publisher (she asked for 200 words and I gave her 272. Oops!) and when I get her feedback I will post her suggestions and comments in my next blog post.

Until then, Happy Reading and Writing!

MH

My Writing Progress

Like it says in the “About the Author” section, I have been writing since high school; going on fourteen, maybe fifteen years now. This writing journey includes creating many short stories, some poetry, a couple one or two lined philosophical thoughts, but never a full length novel. I’ve had many ideas for novels, which now reside in a folder or on my tablet, but for whatever reason never followed through with any of them.

Until now.

On Saturday, January 2, 2016, my brother, husband, and I went to see a psychic. During my session, this psychic told me what I already knew: you were born to write. It might seem kind of silly that my first published book only happened because a psychic told me to do it, but I think of it more as a firm kick to my lazy ass to get doing something I already knew I could do.

So I did it.

I followed a few authors on Twitter and I tweeted them asking them if they could give me any tips on how to get published. I only got on reply out of the three I asked. From her tip I was stumbled upon a different part of Twitter altogether and that’s where everything fell into place.

I already had the beginning of my novel written down in one of my many notebooks, so I took it and ran with it, writing in every spare moment I wasn’t busy with my “Mom/Wife/Tutor duties”, not stopping until just over a month later on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. I have a photo on my phone of the day I finished my novel. I wrote the entire thing in a MS Word document and at that time it had been only 143 pages and 52, 429 words. When I sent the novel to my publisher it was completed at 262 pages and 71, 439 words.

From February 17 to March 17 I edited like crazy. I didn’t have a plan for editing and I strongly suggest that, if you’re a writer, you have one. I edited for everything all at once: grammar, spelling, tone, plot consistency, plot holes, and so on.

At the same time, I thought of what to call my book. I wrote down a lot of possible titles, only settling on one until well after I had finished the novel itself.

I made pages upon pages of corrections I needed to make, especially familiarizing myself with the “SHOW DON’T TELL” concept (which I still struggle with and so do many authors).

On Twitter I followed as many authors, known and unknown, literary agents, editors, and publishers as I could. I came across a query writing contest called #P2P16 where I submitted a rushed and poorly edited query letter. I knew I wouldn’t win, but the feedback I received helped me to keep going ahead with my novel.


I wrote my novel in a linear fashion, from rough beginning to troubling end. Some authors write out their scenes and then organize them, but my OCD said no.

From my experience with #P2P16, I developed an understanding of what an author has to do, the steps they have to take, before they even get published. Some people self-publish, but I did it the old-fashioned way and submitted my query, or manuscript if they asked for it, to publishers and literary agents, hoping that someone would say “Hey I like your book, let’s publish it.”
(I will post separate blogs on query letters, literary agents, editing tips, writing lingo, etc. later on, so hang in there!)

I made a list of words I used too often and went through my manuscript trying to eliminate as many as possible.

I made a list of key points (plot ideas) to keep in mind as I wrote.

I posted the first two chapters of my novel on Scriggler.com. But ended up changing parts of them anyways.

When I thought I was finished my novel the first time (March 17, 2016), I sent it to family and friends to read through and edit. While I waited for their reply I queried. I made a list of everyone I sent my book to and when I found my current publisher I had been rejected 7 times and accepted once. Hey, it only takes one!


When I got feedback from family and friends I took a break from my book and I did some reading, querying, and relaxing. Writing is hard work!

On March 22 I sent a query letter to Glastonbury Publishing (all the way in the UK) and a month later, on April 27, I received an email back saying that they were interested in my novel (called Decadence at the time) and wanted my full manuscript to look at while I created a marketing plan on the ways I would market my book to the public.


I did what the publisher asked and through her I found my publisher!

All in all, my writing journey started on Jan 2 and ended on May 26, a total of 146 days or 4 months and 25 days. Wow.

Right now I am waiting on the publisher to get back to me as we still have to go over type-setting, the book cover, and other details before I, or anybody else, can purchase my book.

Until then please enjoy my Blog. If there’s anything you would like to see posted let me know and I will try to accommodate.

Happy #Reading and #Writing!