I'm pleased to welcome author Lisa Borne Graves to the blog today to talk you through her experiences of Twitter pitching contests and what came next!
Check it out!
Lisa Borne Graves is a YA author, English Lecturer, wife, and supermom of one wild child. Originally from the Philadelphia area, she relocated to the Deep South and found her true place of inspiration. Lisa has a voracious appetite for books, British television, and pizza. Her inability to sit still makes her enjoy life to its fullest, and she can be found at the beach, pool, on some crazy adventure, or through the following links:
an overview of my thoughts on pitching contests...
A lot of people in the writing community aren’t exactly fond of the pitching contests, but I found them to be an amazing tool to get published. In fact, I’m not sure I would be published without them.
The story begins with me being pretty new to Twitter. I had an account but hardly used it. I started using it again when I became published via a novella in an anthology. I found the writing community, and then one day I saw there was a pitching contest: #pitch2pub. It was late in the day, but I thought, why not try? I had three query-ready manuscripts (I’m a hoarder), so created pitches and posted two for each novel. You can see more about the experience here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2018/10/tales-in-publishing-pit2pub-path.html
In the end, the company who published my novella, who had rejected manuscript #1, liked a manuscript #2. I queried, submitted the manuscript, then was accepted, and published.
You can imagine when another pitch day came around, #pitmad, I sure as heck entered my two remaining novels. I got two likes, one on each. I decided against one publisher due to bad reviews and low royalties. The other publisher looked great, so I queried, submitted, and was accepted. See this story here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2018/11/tales-in-publishing-pitmad-path.html)
how to follow up when requests happen...
The protocol for pitch days after receiving a like is to research the agent or publisher. A lot of the time people unused to pitch days or wishing to support authors will like their pitches and they won’t be agents or publishers. On these days, never tap the heart; it’s kind to comment and retweet, but don’t like pitches, as you give authors false hope. Also, authors should know vanity publishers are sometimes present and self-publishing services as well. I had a few of those. Genuine publishers will charge you nothing.
After you are confident that they are the real deal, check out their website, track record, the covers of their books, etc. Whatever is important to you, make sure they have it. Personally, I knew the first publisher and I did take a gamble that ended well with a new publisher. It depends on your goals. With my fourteen rough drafts of novels collecting dust (I told you that I’m a hoarder), I just wanted them published professionally with no cost to me and to not completely alter my visions. I got what I wanted.
You follow their submissions policies, so it depends on what they ask for. It usually is a query letter, so have that ready ahead of time. Usually, you’ll address it to the person who liked your pitch and note the hashtag of the pitch party in the letter and/or subject line so they don’t overlook what they know they’re already interested in. If they ask for more initially, give that too. It varies. If they like what they see in the query, they’ll ask for a portion or entire MS. Then you wait (painfully sometimes) and hear a rejection, R&R, or acceptance.
my tips for entering and writing great pitches...
So how did I get responses to all the novels I pitched so far? I looked up what pitches were and found out they were just like elevator pitches. I teach college writing and once was tasked with business writing online courses (not at all my favorite) so knew about marketing writing. I knew I had to apply that thinking to my books. Within an hour, I crafted nine pitches and tweaked them, trimming, trimming, and replacing word choices.
Here are some tips.
Here are my two successful examples with notes:
"What happens if bees go extinct? In the not so distant future, scientifically modified Emlyn and Ace find themselves thrown into the role of saviors on a perilous mission where their tenuous relationship could save or destroy mankind."
BUY THIS NOVEL HERE!
If you’d like more tips on how I crafted this, see here:
Certain key things to look at here. The hook is a question that shows the complication of the novel, as well as an eco-fiction genre since the honey bee is endangered. "Not so distant future" shows the relevance of this issue and hints to a dystopian genre--it's a real-world, pressing concern. "Scientifically modified" points out a sci-fi theme and that the characters are different. The rest of that statement gives the premise: because of who they are they can save the world, but also could mess up and kill us all. It hinges on their "tenuous relationship," which shows us another complication and that the book is a romance novel. So, in total, I was able to get in the two conflicts, two main characters, a little about the world, and most genres and themes.
"The Selection meets Poison Study. Toury arrives in Fyr where magic is power, a prince’s love is deadly, and female autonomy is a dream. Prince Alex realizes Toury can break his curse and save his people, but Earth girls aren’t so easy."
BUY THIS NOVEL HERE!
If you’d like more tips on how I crafted this, see here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2019/07/publishing-tips-return-to-dreaded-pitch.html
This one was a struggle. It is a way more complex book than my first one, meaning the two characters have separate conflicts that come together and they are numerous. I still feel this could've been stronger, but it got the job done. I started with a comparison to other novels. This gives the reader a taste of what to expect and shows you're well read in your genre. I introduce the female protagonist and her complications while also painting a picture of the world. I also insinuated my genres too, through particular word choices: a romance "love" and the fantasy genre "magic." The second sentence shows he is another protagonist, a dual POV novel, with his own problems. My pitch focuses equally on plot and romance because this is a romance driven novel. I never state "teen" or "YA" because in pitch days posts, you must label your category and genre with hashtag abbreviations; this novel had a #YA #F #R tagged onto it. Plus, the comparisons should be of your category/genre and both are edgy romance novels with similar themes to my own.
a few thoughts on how I've found working with small presses so far...
Small presses are for me at this point in my career and for my genres. If you’re an author who likes to have some control, a collaborative process, but do not have the money or support to self-publish at a professional level, I suggest them. And when I mean professional level, I’m talking top-notch; I’m an English Lecturer, but would never assume I could edit my own novel even though I teach grammar and writing. It’s impossible to catch all of one’s mistakes or to be unbiased.
I love working with them, and I’ve dealt with two. I get input and have a say. Decisions are made together, and I do not spend money. I do share royalties, but they are higher than what you’d get with traditional; however, know that budgets for marketing and gaining reviews are lower than traditional, but all authors no matter how they are published are expected to market and garner reviews themselves too.
The best thing about small presses, if you get in with a really good one, are they are like friends, family. You feel that they care because their stakes in your novel are just as high as yours. You have to work together to sell books, and so they care more.
I'm thrilled to welcome the very lovely Deidre J Owen, Co-Founder and Designer at Mannison Press, LLC, to the blog today, as this wonderful small publishing company celebrates the release of their very first anthology!
Tell me about Mannison Press - How did it begin?
Back in June of 2018, my Twitter pal Ron Linson reached out with a children’s book idea sparked by some random Twitter shenanigans. He knew I’d previously written and published several children’s book and proposed a collaboration. While that was in the early stages of development, we also began working as critique partners and started swapping short stories. We even collaborated on a humorous short story that later became our very first publication as business partners.
One day in January of this year, he was reading a ghost story of mine and realized it shared an underlying theme with a story of his own, and he suggested the idea for a themed anthology. Now, publishing our own stuff was one thing, but bringing in a bunch of outside authors was something completely different. It was complicated.
We decided that if we were going to do this, then we needed to do it right and form an LLC…and I had a name for us right away. So, you know how writers often have a little writing companion? It’s typically a cat, though sometimes a dog or other beloved pet. Well, I didn’t have a pet. I had a plant. This sweet peace lily (which I miraculously haven’t killed yet) had been a housewarming gift in 2017. It was in our new house that my adventures in writing and publishing truly began, and the lily sat quietly beside my desk watching me work and evolve. When I decided he was my “writing plant” I had my daughter help me name him.
She called him Mannison.
What do you publish?
Prior to Mannison Press, I was publishing children’s books (picture books and small chapter books). However, while our origins may have risen from this, Mannison Press has begun in a different place. We’ve begun with speculative fiction, due entirely to the two short stories that birthed our indie press. Right now, we have two main areas of focus: short stories and anthologies. (Well, since an anthology is just a collection of short stories, I guess that means we’re all about short stories right now, haha.)
Our first anthology is multi-genre, including horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and crime drama. We expect something similar to come from the future companion volume. If you’d like to hear a great conversation about anthologies, I recently interviewed with Writers’ Row on YouTube: https://youtu.be/rKckeagW4yQ
Then we have our Mannison Minibooks. These are fun! We’ve taken the short story to a neat new level by publishing them as pocket-size books. They are easily portable (and if I may say, adorable) single-sitting reads. But don’t let their diminutive size fool you…some of these stories pack a punch. Current genres include horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and humor.
Mannison Press also offers editing services. Can you tell me about that?
I had my partner, Ron, field the next two questions!
Our co-founder and resident editor, Morgan Schafer (who writes as Ronald Linson) is offering his skills and talent to provide a number of editing services from beta reading critiques to developmental editing. He says he strives hard to preserve the author's voice and intent, which is not always easy. To that end, he makes sure to keep in touch with clients during the editing process.
So what kinds and lengths of writing will he edit? Length is no object; Morgan will work on anything from flash fiction to a novel series. As far as what kinds of writing he will edit, he says he is most experienced in genre fiction, such as sci-fi/fantasy and horror, but he is open to working on projects of virtually any type…except poetry. "I'm simply not a poetry guy," he says, laughing.
Tell me about some of your publications?
Right now, we have several short story and novelette sized books available, which we call Mannison Minibooks. They're in both e-book and print editions, the latter being in a 4" x 7" format. Basically, they're pocket-sized and great to read in a single sitting. We will be releasing more titles in the Mannison Minibooks line over the coming months (see #6). We should also mention we have a full short story collection by K. C. Shaw in production, which is likely to be published early 2020.
And your latest release?
Releasing October 15th is our first anthology called Little Girl Lost: Thirteen Tales of Youth Disrupted. This has been in the works since early this year, with submissions dating back to April, so we’re very excited to see this finally come to fruition.
The list of outside contributors includes authors from all United States and Canada, both new and seasoned. One name in particular stands out, though: Piers Anthony. Yes, THEE Piers Anthony, renowned science fiction and fantasy author. Early in the planning stages, Ron extended a cordial invitation to him to participate in the project…and not only did he accept, he also penned an original story for it. (We have to admit, we were a bit star-struck by his involvement.)
We’ve also taken the anthology one step further. Not only will the book come in the standard print and e-book formats, but we decided to offer a special print edition as well: illustrated. Falling back on the graphic design skills I honed while illustrating my own children’s books, I created colorful illustrations for each of the thirteen stories in the anthology.
Both print volumes will be available on Amazon, and the e-book will be available on Amazon and Smashwords.
Contributing authors: Piers Anthony, Roxanne Dent, Ashleigh Hatter, Nicola Kapron, Ronald Linson, Rhiannon Lotze, Caitlin Marceau, Bradley R. Mitzelfelt, Rachel Nussbaum, Deidre J Owen, Hailey Piper, Drew Piston, and J. B. Rockwell.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/qxRgYMaa9tM
What's coming soon?
Next up, is more Mannison Minibooks! The first five we published were all our own stories (Deidre J Owen and Ron Linson), but the next six will all be from outside authors. These include K. B. Bailey (horror), Matthew Brady (horror), Craig Crawford (dark fantasy), Eric Lewis (dark fantasy), Chris Doerner (dark fantasy), and Cecily Winter (literary/YA). E-books are on both Amazon and Smashwords for just $0.99, and the (much cooler!) print edition are through Amazon for only $4.99.
We are also well into the planning stages for a second anthology, the companion volume to Little Girl Lost called Little Boy Lost: More Tales of Youth Disrupted. Submissions will be open Dec 1 through Feb 29 (closing at midnight).
And finally, what does the future hold for Mannison Press?
Eventually, we’d like to come back around to what began this whole crazy journey: a new children’s series. The timeline on this remains open, but we do have plans to expand with a new imprint tentatively named Mannison Kids. We’ll take on all my previous children’s publications and then explore the original idea that brought us together in the first place.
Wow! So much good luck to you Deidre, and Ron!
If you would like to find out more about Mannison Press, purchase copies of their titles, or get involved in their upcoming projects, these links should help!
MANY CONGRATUALTIONS to James L. Weaver today on the release of the FOURTH book his awesome, gripping, and gritty JAKE CALDWELL crime thriller series.
Such a fantastic book!
Check it out...
A vengeful drug lord. A vicious biker gang. A beautiful victim of a trafficking ring.
Nearly two years ago, former mafia leg-breaker Jake Caldwell had ruthless drug king Shane Langston staring down the wrong end of a pistol. Instead of pulling the trigger, Jake let the law handle it. Now Langston’s escaped from prison and is hell bent on killing the men who put him there—including their families.
As the body count rises, Jake and his best friend Sheriff “Bear” Parley follow the bloody clues and realize it’s not just Shane they need to stop. Jake will do whatever he can to protect the people he loves.
The fourth instalment of the award-winning Jake Caldwell series will have you biting your nails and praying you never have to make the trip to Asylum Road.
Bear slowed past Boone Branch Creek, and a gravel drive split from the asphalt marked with a stenciled sign announcing Asylum Road. The drive dipped low into a bowl terminating at the bar. A hand-painted sign—white letters on a black board—hung over the front door. The painted letters reading The Asylum trailed down the board, like blood dripping from a wall. Were the dripping letters purposeful or the work of a sloppy painter? Either way, the ominous sign screamed “Go Away.” The stone buildings matched the sign with spaced red bulbs throwing an eerie light across its face. A faint glow emanated from dirt-caked windows as the sun dipped below the tree line and bloodied the sky.
“Jesus.” Jake leaned forward in his seat and studied the building as Bear rolled down the drive. “People go in there on purpose? I’ll give the owner credit for the name.”
Two scruffy bikers clad in Blood Devil vests over plaid flannel shirts smoked outside the front entrance, eyeballing Jake and Bear with hardened eyes. One flicked his cigarette toward Bear’s truck and disappeared inside.
Bear grabbed his cell phone. “So much for the element of surprise. I’d better call in and let Klages know where we are.”
Bear pulled up his favorites on his phone and punched Klages’s name. “Nah. We’ll probably be okay.”
“It’s better than maybe.”
James L Weaver is the Kansas City author of the Jake Caldwell series, featuring:
· Poor Boy Road (Jake Caldwell Book #1) – IAN Thriller of the Year finalist,
· Ares Road (Jake Caldwell Book #2) – New Apple Official Selection for Thrillers and IAN Thriller of the Year finalist
· Blackbird Road (Jake Caldwell Book #3) – Solo Medalist Winner for the New Apple Book Awards Suspense/Thriller category.
James makes his home in Olathe, Kansas with his wife and two children. His previous publishing credits include a six-part story called “The Nuts” and his 5-star rated debut novel Jack & Diane, which is available on Amazon.com and has been optioned for film.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!