Archive for July, 2008

Questions I am asked….

July 18, 2008

There now. I’ve posted excerpts from my presentation at the writers’ retreat on Mt. Sequoyah, Fayetteville, AR–per the request of many who were in the class. No, I didn’t post every word. One reason is that the publishing industry is changing rapidly, and a few ideas we discussed only a couple of months ago are already wobbling off exact truth. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Remember the lesson: Research! Research! Research before you choose a method of publishing or a publisher.)

Taking advantage of the research I did for Mt. Sequoyah, I’ll be working with noted author L. C. Hayden at Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave on Halloween weekend to discuss the topic: “To publish, and where to publish–that is the question.” Our panel will cover advantages, disadvantages, and peculiarities of working with large, middle, and small-sized presses; of self-publishing, POD (Print-on-Demand) publishing, vanity press publishing, e-publishing, and more. ( A terrific mid-sized convention in Manhattan, Kansas, (Kansas State University) for all mystery lovers and general writers. JoAnna Carl (Chocoholic Mysteries) is guest of honor.

Now, to those questions:

1. Why do I write? I love working with words. It’s fun to discover which words work better than others for transmitting ideas and emotions. It’s an honor to be able to take a leap of faith into words that communicate ideas worth reading or listening to…to trust that the end result will be worth the hours, weeks, and months of time I invested in choosing them.

2. Why write mysteries? Partly because I enjoy reading mystery novels and have since I opened my first Nancy Drew many years ago. But, I also wanted my central character, Carrie McCrite, to have a worthy adversary, a challenge that would force her to prove her strengths and make her triumphs worth while. Mystery novels are superb for providing strong adversaries and challenges, as well as affording the people who inhabit their pages and the readers who join them there opportunities for growth.

3. What would you like your readers to gain from one of your novels? Hmm, that’s difficult, because we’re all so different. Maybe at least one or two of the following: Entertainment. Cleansing emotion. An adventure enjoyed. Satisfaction. More knowledge about Arkansas, its history, its best places. A sense of well-being, and a feeling that all is, or can be, right with the world. A liking for the characters readers spend several hours with. Maybe even a new and perhaps helpful outlook on some aspect of the reader’s own life and situation. Is that too much to wish for?

Whether it is or not…that’s all for now. What do YOU look for when you read a work of fiction?



Getting published, final segment

July 3, 2008

You will note that the above list of what an author should seek in a publisher excludes pay-up-front Vanity presses and those offering few services.  That’s not to say those publishing venues will never be right for you.  They can be okay, especially if you are a frequent public speaker or teacher and only plan to sell your own books where you speak.  They can also be useful if speed is important.  A multi-published (including in New York) friend of mine wrote the biography of a ninety-three year old woman.  Since traditional publishing can take 24 or months or more after the book is accepted, and she wanted the subject to be able to see the book about her life, she chose PublishAmerica.  She had the completed book in a few weeks.   (The subject died a couple of months after the book came out.)

Where do you get the names of potential publishers for your work?

An excellent source is from published authors in your field.  Talk to them, look at their books, find them on the ‘net.  Are they pleased with their agents or publishers?

Web sites like Predators and Editors.  They have lists of publishers, most of them with good records.  And, of course, WRITER’S MARKET, Publisher’s Weekly,  Bowkers Books in Print.  (The last two you’ll probably have to find in at larger libraries.)

I found the publisher for my non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH:  A LOVE LETTER FROM SPRING HOLLOW, when I read an announcement about them in “The Writer” magazine.  My mystery publisher was written up in a column in the Mystery Writers of America newsletter.  (Though I had a New York agent for a couple of years, she didn’t find either publisher for me.)

Of course these days you can become a publisher yourself, using your computer to produce a complete book or hiring a printer to take care of it for you.  A story I wrote for the Rogers,  Arkansas Public Library was printed very nicely at Office Depot.   (The library was the publisher in this case.)

So, as you can see, getting published isn’t really the problem.  After you’ve created the best work possible, the problem is knowing yourself, your market, your expectations, and finding the list of publishing possibilities that best fit you.   If you have written a good book, and if you stick with it, you will be published.

Author and Literary Agent Terry Burns said this when he spoke at Ozarks Writers League:  “Publishing is not a selection process.   It is a survival process.”

And aren’t we all survivors?


That’s it for now,      Radine