Posts Tagged With: Future House Publishing

A Purple Shirt got me my First Publishing Deal

Anyone who has been around me at author events (conferences, symposiums, signings, book tours, etc) knows I am always wearing a purple shirt.  The exact shade of purple varies but, without fail, I am always in purple when I’m at writing events.  Only a few people, however, know why.  I think it’s time I told the story.

Shannen Crane Camp - Brains anyone?

FanX16 – Shannen Crane Camp – Brains anyone?

It began in February 2015 at the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium.  I had hit the point in the convention where my brain was on overload and simply could take another panel’s worth of amazing guests talking about anything.  They could have been telling everyone where to to find a pot of leprechaun gold and actually meant it – it didn’t matter.  My brain was done. So I decided to take a break, clear my head, and work a little on the book I was writing at the time.  I found nice comfortable chair, plugged in my laptop, and forgot about the world around me.

Now, I’m an introvert at heart and I was enjoying my time alone with my work after the press of bodies and social interaction the convention had brought.   So when someone sat down next to me and cleared their throat, I was a little frustrated and still felt a little – for lack of a better term – “headachey.”  I heard a feminine voice ask me what I was doing.

Naturally, I responded with something like “I’m just checking on stuff.”  I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like that.

Mass Author Signing with Josi Russell

LTUE 16 – Mass Author Signing with Josi Russell

“Are you working on a book?”  Why was she still talking to me?  Had I not given her a good enough answer before?

I responded with “No” and thought the conversation was finished.

“Oh, that’s too bad, I’m Helena Steinacker.  I’m the Acquisitions Editor at Future House Publishing.”

I immediately regretted my earlier frustrated answers and tried to figure out how to recover from something like that.  Thankfully, Helena had a great sense of humor and irony and we had a great conversation there while both of us were sluffing classes.  She gave me her card after I told her about the books I was working on and asked me to send her one of my manuscripts.  I nodded, not knowing what else to do, and Helena got up to go to her next class.  As she was leaving she turned and said something that’s stuck with me ever since.

Signing Event

King’s English Signing Event – 2015

“By the way, the only reason I stopped was to tell you that I liked your purple shirt.”  And then she left.  A few months later, I had a publishing deal with Future House Publishing based, in large part, on that conversation.

At the time, it was pure happenstance that I was wearing purple.  Now, I do it to remind myself of how it all started and that no matter how tired I may be, “frustrated answers” only work once.  Plus, being “the guy in the purple shirt” has grown on me and makes it easy for people to find me.  So, if I’m ever out your way, just look for the guy in the purple shirt.  I promise I’ll be more eloquent with you than I was with Helena.

Remember to sign up for the Readers’ Club below for email alerts when new books come out.  Book 3 in the Sharani Series (Sands & Storms) will be out later this summer and those in the Readers’ Club will have first dibs at free Advanced Reader copies.  If you haven’t signed up yet, do so now and secure your copy .

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Categories: LTUE Convention, Musings, Sharani Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Wish I’d Known – Part 3

The Editing/Revising Process

Shannon Hale has said that writing is like throwing a bunch of sand into a sandbox.  Editing and revising are like building castles out of that sand.  I like the metaphor.  It is nice and pretty.

But sometimes the process of editing and revising simply isn’t pretty.  It can be, but sometimes it isn’t.  Sometimes it is more like getting buried by ten tons of the sand and then being told to dig yourself out.  Especially the first time.  There’s a lot of talk about killing off book babies, murdering characters, and cutting things.  It sounds violent because, in all reality, sometimes it is.  Sometimes it is brutal.  It feels that way at least.

But it is ALWAYS worth it.

For me, there are 3 types of editing I go through as part of my publisher’s editing and revision process.  These are not cannon or industry standard, but it will give you an idea.  They are developmental, substantive, and copy editing.  Each one comes with its own positives and negatives and I will address each one in turn.

Developmental Edits/Revisions – these deal with plot, story structure, and characters.  These create the largest revisions to the manuscript as you, as the author, work on the areas the editors have pointed out.  While I was working on these revisions for  my first novel, Sands, this was the part where some of my personal favorite characters got the ax, a few chapters were condensed into a single scene, and I most felt like tearing my hair out.  Why was it hard?  Because I’d grown attached to characters and things within my novel and having someone tell me that those sections and/or people simply weren’t important enough to the actual story was a hard pill to swallow.  It is every time an editor suggests something be removed/changed/tweaked/condensed.

But let me make something clear.  They may be right.  In fact, they’re probably right.  They have a vested interest in making sure your novel flows well, works well as a story, and is the best it can be.  They’re not being vindictive or mean.  In fact, your developmental editor is on your side.  They’re trying to help you.  The two I’ve worked with have made my novels 100 times better than I could have done without them.

After your plot works well and the holes are patched, shored up, and streamlined, the manuscript makes it over to the substantive editors.  Again, these are relative to my experience with the process at Future House Publishing and are not necessarily industry standard, though most of the same concepts apply.

Substantive Edits/Revisions – these deal less with what you say as opposed to how you say it.  Are you using passive voice instead of active?  Is your sentence so convoluted no one will ever understand it?  Do you show AND tell and then repeat yourself again?  Do you say someone has black hair in one scene then give them red hair in a different scene without giving a reason for the change?  Your substantive editor will find all these places and help you fix them.

The substantive editor I’ve worked with is the most detailed person I’ve ever met.  She is meticulous, organized, and finds inconsistencies in my manuscript that I don’t even realize are there.  Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye on exactly how to change them, but we always figure something out that works well for the both of us and – even more importantly – for the story itself.  That being said if your developmental editor is your friend, your substantive editor is probably your best friend.  They keep you from being stupid.  Mine in particular has taught me more about writing mechanics than a lifetime of English classes (sorry Gilbert Public School English teachers).

Finally, it moves from there to the Copy Editor(s)

Copy Edits – these deal with grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  They’re pretty straightforward.  They can make or break your manuscript.

In the end, what I want to say about the editing/revision process is that although it is sometimes hard and painful, sometimes mildly depressing, in the end, it makes your manuscript better.  In the end, it is worth it.  In the end, you come out stronger than you were before.  Your editors (and beta readers/writing group/critique partners) are on your side.

When doing repairs, you frequently have to tear something apart in order to fix it and put it back together again.  Sometimes you have to pull it apart several times before it works when you put it back together again.  Sometimes it doesn’t look the same as it did before.  Sometimes you have to knock down that sand castle and start over.  But – in the end – it works.  And that’s the goal. In the end, all of it helps you have a real book.  Your book.


Don’t forget to stop by Amazon to get my newest book, Resurgent Shadows, Book 1 of the Successive Harmony Series.  Also, Sands is only $0.99 for the next few days.  If you don’t already have an electronic copy, you should go get one while it’s on sale.

Categories: What I Wish I'd Known | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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