Posted on Leave a comment

[Perma-free eBook] Esme’s Piano & My Heart Remembers

Fyresyde publishing (1)

Esme’s Piano*

It was supposed to be a simple transfer. Nothing I hadn’t done before. I was a park ranger. Someone who watches as tourists venture through the wilderness and keeps poachers from breaking the law.

Then I met her.

At first, I didn’t know what to think. To others she was a person to avoid. To me, she held a certain appeal.

Then on my first day I heard it – the music of a piano. I had no idea how far it would take me. I definitely didn’t expect it to lead me in the world where light and dark magic battled each other….

 

My Heart Remembers*When theStars Align

I tried to free him from being hunted by the dark Fae. Then I realized…

I couldn’t live life without him.

Time passed and I began searching for him only to learn he had passed away.

My heart ached.

I tried so hard to give him peace. To let him rest in the tomes of time but the longer I waited, the worse the pain became…

 

 

 

 

Download Esme’s Piano on Kobo, Nook, and iTunes

Find it on Goodreads 

* This is a work of flash fiction. It is incredibly short but I wanted to share it anyway so I hope you enjoy it and feel free to leave a review!

Posted on Leave a comment

Are You Tapping Into the True Power of Social Media?

We are familiar with how important social media has become in light of the recent pandemic. With the re-opening of businesses, people are more able to go back to interacting with one another more than they have in the past few months. However, social media is still one of the most widely used way people interact with others on an international level.

It has become critical for businesses to have ways their customers can stay connected with what they plan to offer including sale dates and discount opportunities.

If you need a clearer view into just how powerful social media is, check out this article: 10 Social Media Statistics You Need to Know in 2020 by Oberlo.com.

Now, as brands (including you, authors) and businesses, we realize these facts cannot be ignored. This being the case, so many resort to being overly “salesy,” constantly posting about how their followers “need to buy this” or “need to have that.” It’s really bad when it comes to the writing community.

Hard truth: Nothing sends your followers to hit un-follow faster than “buy my book,” “buy my book,” “buy my book.”

Another hard fact is: rarely does social media result in conversion and that is what you, as a brand, want. Conversion.

The question then becomes, are you utilizing the true power of social media?

Remember 80/20:

People buy from brands they trust and know will guarantee them a good experience and quality product. One power of social media is it allows you to build that trust by utilizing what is known as the 80/20 rule.

So what is it?

Simply put, it says put your ego aside and focus on the people who give their time to look at your content on a regular to semi-regular basis. 80% of you energy needs to GIVE BACK to your readers while 20% can be promotion.

Badredheadmedia has an ingenious book called the 30 Day Book Marketing Challenge. In it, Rachel teaches you how to go about capitalizing on your social media without sounding salesy. We recommend her blog to anyone who is looking to understand the rule of 80/20.

This is what makes blogging such a powerful platform for authors. Evergreen content and what a good colleague and mentor of mine refers to as “digital breadcrumbs” offers more than paying 40$ a year to Twitter accounts who promise to “tweet” your book on a daily basis.

How you might ask?

When people go to Google you and your book, the more you’ve become involved, the more your name will populate! The more you populate the search, the more people are guided to your content and your book.

See how this works? You gave to them, they found you. Tada!

Create Engaging Posts

“Buy my book” posts are rarely engaging.

Instead of murdering a tweet with a life of .02 seconds with “buy my book, buy my book,” use those short seconds to offer an inspiration, ask a question, get engage.

That’s what social media is. It’s not a conversion tool, but a tool to build a network (hence the word “social”). Conversion is low for buying anything on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

FyreSyde Publishing personally experimented with each of these platforms and learned quickly:

We spent more money running ads than actually converting.

Two years have been put into building the functional network we have now and we’re still building it.

The point is: Focus less on selling your beloved book baby and focus on building a network of loyal people who know you. These people often will support you simply because they know you — NOT your book.

Titles come and go but the author remains the same.

Don’t Know What to Post?

We hear this all the time. And truthfully, we still have problems with it too. While we try to blog weekly, sometimes we just aren’t able to and that can be hindering because it breaks our readers’ confidence.

But! This is not the end.

CoSchedule has an amazing resource titled “52 Effective Social Media Post Ideas and Examples to Fill Your Calendar.” Their blog is one we go to often and another resource we recommend if you’re struggling with marketing.

The key here is engagement. Paint yourself as a human being and you will build trust. Build trust and you already have a vast word of mouth resource at your hands.

Use Hashtags Properly

The key to using social media to its full potential is tapping into the power of hashtags.

How we usually do it for Twitter and Facebook is we pick a trending hashtag, one relevant to our audience and a branding hashtag.

For Instagram, we use anywhere from 9 – 15, once again keeping in mind the audience we want to reach.

There are many you can choose from but we will include a few of our favorites here.

  • Twitter:
    • #MondayBlogs – Monday only; no self-promo. Great for bloggers to share resources that have helped them.
    • #BookMarketingChat – Wednesdays at 8pm CST. Run by Rachel Thompson, featuring names who know how to market. Great to build engagement and ask questions.
    • #Chance2Connect – 3rd Tuesday every month. Run by author Kim Chance. A wonderful way to meet other authors and build a network.
    • #PitDark – This one is held twice a year and is exclusively for authors in the “darker” genres who are looking for publishers and agents. DO NOT FAVE IF YOU ARE NOT ANY OF THE ABOVE.
    • #PitMad – Similar to #PitDark
    • #TeaserTuesday – A great way to help boost awareness of a new release. We use this to share teaser photos and moodboards for our author’s newest releases.
    • There are daily trending tags you can use as long as it is used properly

  • Instagram
    • #writingcommunity
    • #Smallpress
    • #publishersacceptingsubmissions
    • #bookstagram
    • #bookish
    • #booklover
    • #igreads
    • #goodreads
    • #amreading
    • #romancebooks
    • #paranormalromancebooks
    • And more

  • Facebook: Hashtags for Facebook are similar to the above.

Another helpful resource for finding hashtags:

Blaise Ramsay
Blaise Ramsay

Blaise Ramsay is the founder and owner of FyreSyde Publishing and Greenwood Grove booksellers. She is also the author of the shifter romances Blessing of Luna and Bane of Tenebris which were recently obtained by Black Rose Writing. In 2017, Blaise began her quest in writing and publishing as an indie author, soon realizing it wasn’t enough, opening FyreSyde Publishing to other authors to help them in the publishing process. As a publisher, FyreSyde uses the network its created to help authors in their marketing efforts. It currently has five authors on its docket and seeking gradual growth in order to keep true to its mission statement. In 2020, it looks to expand its catalogue by three titles with four – six forecasted for the year 2021. Out of a need shouted out in the local community, FyreSyde has expanded to its first division, Greenwood Grove Booksellers, an indie bookstore that removes the gatekeepers so authors can find a home for their books on a shelf. Blaise has guest-posted for multiple blogs, appeared on radio shows, and spoken at multiple live events. She is a professional ghost-writer, writing coach and business coach. Aside from writing and publishing, Blaise runs two blogs on Instagram, JazzyGatorGrill and BloodyGoodBookReviews, where she loves to connect with the foodie and bookstagram communities.

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 1: 5 Ways to Break the Writing Rules by @barbaradelinsky

NaNoProMo by BadRedHeadMedia is once again upon us! Every year, we like to share this amazing evergreen content with our readers.

Ever wanted to break the writing rules? Barbara Delinsky offers you a great way to do this in NaNoProMo Day 1: “Ways to Break the Writing Rules.”

Below is an excerpt of what you’ll find when you read this amazing post!

Write about what you know. This has always been Rule #1 in novel writing. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d be rich without having to write in the first place. And following this rule makes sense. Writing about what you know brings authenticity to one’s work. Lord knows, it’s certainly easier to write about what you know than what you don’t.

Barbara Delinsky via BadReadHeadMedia.com/nanopromo

But what if you can’t? What if, like me, you’ve already written about everything you know? Or if what you know is so painful that you can’t bear to write about it? Or if what you know is your family, but its members will never speak to you again if you write about them? Of if you’re just plain bored living in your own skin day after day? What to do then?

Barbara Delinsky via BadRedHeadMedia.com

Find the full post right here!

Find More About Barbara Delinsky at her social media:

Posted on Leave a comment

Don’t Focus the Book: Build A Strong Brand

There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst today’s massive sea of Indie and self-publishing authors. They are more apt to ride the coat tails of a single title or series rather than focusing on building themselves as a brand.

Whether we like it or not, we as authors will most likely not be remembered for a single title. It is imperative we learn this if we wish to be recognized in the industry.

One of the leading gurus I know on this subject is Rachel Thompson. She has some very good points on why authors need to focus on building their brand and not their book titles. I would recommend her blog to anyone struggling to build their platforms.

I’m Not a Brand; I’m An Author

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

And Apple is just an iPhone. Starbucks is just coffee. Pixar is just known for Frozen and Frozen II. Wait, no they aren’t.

How many times have you seen a well-known author walk around calling themselves by the title of their books? Probably never. For example, we don’t walk up to JK Rowling and say, “Oh you’re the author of Harry Potter!” If you meet her (which if you do, please get an autograph for me too!), you probably greet her by Ms. Rowling and have her sign her book. Why? Because she builds her brand, not her books. Going further, did you ever wonder why Ms. Rowling went under the name of Robert Galbraith before her secret was leaked?

It’s because she wanted to see if people were loyal to her as an author rather than being loyal to her only for Harry Potter.

Stephen King doesn’t tweet about his books or identify himself by a single book but rather tweets about what he’s passionate about and brands his name. More on this later.

If that doesn’t prove a point, I don’t know what will.

Titles Come and Go

Yet another reason why an author should avoid promoting a single title: They come and go as do series. I learned this when promoting Blessing of Luna. I focused so much on making banners, bookmarks, cards, social profiles, you name it on a single title. It wound up being a huge waste of time and resources. When FyreSyde — and now with the opening of Greenwood Grove Booksellers — came I had to repurchase everything I spent hundreds to obtain. Truthfully, I should’ve held the release until I had at least two more titles and knew for sure what my business plan was.

Titles come and titles go but you as the author will remain constant in your personality and approachability. Focus on relating to people as your brand name; it is what readers will bond to and potential readers will buy for.

You’re More Than Your Book

An author platform doesn’t only focus on you as an author. Too often “writers” think all we can do is write about writing. This is not the case. For me, I took Rachel’s advice and focused on five keywords I’m passionate about that don’t focus solely on writing. This offers people a bigger picture of me and less of that of a salesman at their door wanting them to buy buy buy.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Look at the themes of your book. What do you find yourself trying to bring attention to? Are you a mental health advocate? Do you have a deep backstory you want to share or are sympathetic to? Are you trying to bring attention to the effects humanity has on nature? Use those passions to bond with each of those niches. These are all potential readers who will attach to you for being a human being.

To make this personal, I’ve decided to share mine: Gardening, Sustainability, Books, True Crime (yes, I like to study serial killers), and Marketing (there are more but these are the main ones). These keywords take up large amounts of my blog posts and social media posts for those who follow and know me.

You’ve heard this a million times: One of the most powerful tools in building an author platform is to have a blog. It builds credibility and leaves valuable “digital bread crumbs” that can lead people back to your book.

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve coached to start a blog, telling them they will find more people are locating them than if they just blabbed on social media about their books.

Tip: Knowing your passion keywords will alleviate the stress of not knowing what to blog about or to post on social media.

Pro — Tip: Avoid Branding Dilution

Photo by Mikael Seegen on Unsplash

In this article, Rachel Thompson (Rachel Thompson) makes a strong argument as to why focusing on promoting a single title is potentially dangerous. New authors become so excited about their book, they create social media profiles based around it. To paraphrase her:

What happens when book two or book three come around? — Rachel Thompson

You might feel like you have to make different profiles for each title or series. To once again draw from Rachel’s article, this is called “brand dilution.” Meaning, readers who found you for book one (or series one) will either have to follow the other profiles or become so flustered they stop reading altogether. I’m no expert but the latter doesn’t seem too great.

Getting stuck managing multiple profiles for the same series can cause horrendous stress and thus “dead” profiles and abandoned accounts.

If you find you are struggling with branding, I highly recommend any of Rachel’s books. They have been lifesavers on many occasions and her poetry is absolutely beautiful.


Posted on Leave a comment

This One Tool Can Make Novel Plotting So Much Easier

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Hello everyone! Long time no see! We deeply regret that!

With Camp NaNo on the horizon, many of us are preparing projects to land a win in a less strenuous child of NaNoWriMo.

Planners everywhere know that planning can either drive you absolutely insane or it can be as easy as your grandma’s homemade pie.

Now, to begin, I want everyone to know, I am by no means, a plotter. Not by any means. If given the chance to Write in the Dark (Dean Wesley Smith term) or plotting, I’d write in the dark every time.

However, sometimes I do have to have some general info before diving off into the wild blue yonder. This being the case, I want to introduce a tool that made this so much easier: Trello.

What Is Trello?

Simply put, Trello is the digital version of writing on index cards. It was founded in 2011 by Fog Creek Software but was later sold to the New York based company, Atlassian in 2017.

It makes working with teams incredibly easy when involving large projects with multiple steps.

How Authors Can Use It:

For an author, it can be used in any number of ways:

  1. Front/ Back Matter Layout
  2. Amazon Keywords
  3. Potential Publishers/Agents
  4. Outlining
  5. Characters
  6. Setting
  7. Scene set up
  8. Blurb creation
  9. Alpha Readers
  10. Query Letter Writing
  11. And much more….

Each “card” and “board” can be moved around according to the needs of the author. Meaning, you don’t have to write tons of scenes and work on the floor of your bedroom (unless that’s your thing). More on this a little later.

It also has a mobile app so you can work on any device! How nifty is that?

For more information, Mackenzie Kinkaid made an amazing resource for authors to see how she uses Trello. You can find it here: Trello for Writers.

A Set-Up Example:

When you first sign up and log into Trello, you’re met with a screen that looks like this:

(c) Blaise Ramsay via Trello.com

This is basically how Blaise uses the program. Each board is used for things like characters (which may or may not include photos), Settings (which isn’t included with this one) and some sort of noting system.

Here, you can see an example of the 3- Act layout, which is actually less of an outline and more of a “beat sheet.” There are still crucial details needing to be filled out. I’ll do a post on this later.

Important stuff — like story premise, theme, Synopsis, blurbs, keywords, target word and chapter count, and back matter — are included here.

Then you have characters — including ARC developments — followed closely by settings (which isn’t included here) and whatever “beat sheet” (if any) you use. Notes are in the form of comments below each Act and character.

Other things (not in this case), you might include are potential publishers, agents, Dedication, Acknowledgements, etc in the boards following the beat sheet.

Every novel is different. Depending on the needs of the story, you might switch up my beat sheets. If you’re a panster like we at FyreSyde are, you might not go into too much detail prior to writing.

We hope this helps! Let me know if you use Trello in your upcoming endeavors. We’d love to see what you think in the comments!

Posted on Leave a comment

Why it’s important for writers to have blogs

Blogs are a wonderful way for authors to show credibility. They’re perfect for improving one’s craft and also a great warm-up before harder projects.

An author can use a blog to share exclusive free content like short stories or poems involving their worlds or to show samples.

The author can show a side of themselves (aka another hobby) and reach a whole new niche audience.

Our point? Having a blog can serve many purposes and we believe authors should consider having one.

https://wp.me/p3mGq7-rUM

Posted on Leave a comment

Surviving Camp NaNo Part 1: Camp vs. NaNo

Camp NaNo is around the corner. Though it’s not as strenuous as NaNoWriMo, it can still seem overwhelming to those who are thinking of undertaking the challenge.

In this short series, we hope to debunk some of the confusion revolving around Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo (which takes place in November). We hope to help you stay motivated, whatever your goals are, and to win Camp NaNo during the month of July.

What’s The Difference?

To begin, answering the question “what’s the difference?” can go a long way. The difference between Camp NaNo and regular NaNoWriMo is that Camp NaNo is much more laid back. You can set your own goals based on Word Count, hours, minutes, pages, lines, etc. It does not demand a definite 50K word count to win. You still must accomplish the goal you set for yourself to win but it is your goal.

Camp NaNo can also be used for revision on a project you are already working on.

What Are Cabins?

Cabins are spaces where authors can actively engage, must like online chat rooms. Authors can meet future critique partners and arrange manuscript swaps when they complete their goals.

While NaNoWriMo doesn’t have cabins, it does offer help through forums. However, Camp NaNo’s cabin system can help authors on a more “live” basis for the reasons listed above. Many authors do this in the form of word sprints, write-ins and more during regular NaNo but it can become hard when trying to sprint to meet that winning goal.

There’s No Month Ahead Planning (at least not yet)

Because the goals are primarily set by the author, Camp NaNo doesn’t have a month ahead of time for the authors to prepare their stories (Preptober). Preptober is when authors use the entire month of October to outline, prepare their writing projects and organize a calendar with word count goals.

Don’t Get Us Wrong, Camp NaNo Requires Discipline and CareFul Planning

Just because Camp NaNo isn’t as demanding as NaNo, it doesn’t mean an author shouldn’t devote to starting it and not working towards a finish line. It is laid back but it still requires a level of devotion and discipline.

One must still plan carefully in order to reach the intended goal. Procrastination still can seep in and cause lethargy no matter what an author wants or plans to do.

Next week, we will cover what you can do to help stick to your goals during July’s edition of Camp NaNoWriMo. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Publishing Market is Changing: Are You Ready?

Courtesy of Pixabay

Let’s face it, every market is saturated. Every market requires entrepreneurs to be able to adapt to an ever changing market. Refusal to do so could result in a massive loss of sales.

We will be brutally honest. The market is becoming harder for Indie authors to get a foothold in the publishing industry. Doors once open are now closing due to a lack of care in editing, cookie cutter plots and just downright bad writing. By no means are we saying it’s impossible but you must be willing to accept some hard truths.

In a recent article we came across published by Author Publisher magazine titled The 10 Major Publishing Trends of 2018ten of the major shifts in the publishing market were outlined.

To begin, if you’ve been in the self-publishing or writing industry in general, you have become aware of the recent acquiring of Amazon’s KDP rigorous changes in rules for getting and keeping reviews.

Amazon’s new policies have made it to where if they find one hint a person leaving a review knows you in any way, your review will be deleted.

What does this mean to the market? It means that authors will have to get smart and reach further into methods they may not traditionally have used in order to reach more readers and build a readership.

The truth may be harsh, but here it is.

Authors have to realize that writing with the goal of reaching any sort of publishing deal, must treat their writing as a business. You are a brand if you produce a product. Apple is not only known for its products but also its logo and as a brand trusted by a vast amount of consumers willing to pay hundreds of dollars to make sure they have the newest model.

You may have also noticed, traditional publishers are becoming much more selective to unsolicited manuscripts. They are tightening their reins and requiring authors to reach out to agents in order to pursue contracts with them. Agents are harder to come by (at least those who are accepting queries) and often make authors wait long periods of time before inevitably rejected them.

The types of books — audio, ebook, paperback, hardback, etc — are becoming more widely distributed in a constantly fast-paced world. A few years ago, one might have been able to produce only ebooks but once again, there’s a shift.

Readers are shifting back to desiring to hold a paperback version of the books in their hands. Book bloggers are no longer accepting “self-published” books.

Paranormal romance (or the romance genre in general) books are a saturated, yet highly demanded genre, but one must see the underlying cry for thrillers, horror and mystery. The market is once again showing a subtle shift. One merely must go to Amazon and search through the best sellers to see what the highest ranking titles are.

Best seller rank on Amazon is no longer entirely dependent on reviews. We have seen many authors who have been able to play the AMS system so well, they break the traditional trends of publishing and are reaching the top seller list with as little as three reviews. For example, Bella Forrest’s A Shade of Vampire 68: A Purge of Nature.

Reviews are a great indicator for customers to understand what they’re buying, by no means am I saying they aren’t important. I’m saying obtaining best-seller’s status is no longer solely dependent on them.

Although these shifts might be terrifying in nature, especially to young authors or authors just now getting feet wet in the industry, it is a necessary part of economics and commerce. Those who fail to shift will be weeded out, thus leaving the market to grow with those who followed the marketing shifts.

However, adapting is a part the economy, the economy is built of those who fail, learn, adapt and start anew.

Posted on Leave a comment

Info-Dumping: How You Can Avoid It

Nothing slows down a story worse than paragraphs of description. It becomes even more problematic when an author chooses to open a novel with too much backstory. This ruins the hook and can often result in the loss of the reader.

Here’s the thing, as authors, we seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking we have to explain every little thing that goes on in our novel. The truth (and the beauty of this) is, we don’t.

Jerry Jenkins, author of the international best-selling Left Behind series, is quoted to say:

“Less detail is often better”

Jerry Jenkins, https://jerryjenkins.com/blog/

This has never been more true in today’s publishing industry.

The fact is, “info-dumping” does not help your story. You don’t have to explain every little thing.

So what is “info-dumping?” Why do authors think they need it? Most importantly, what are some good ways to get rid of it?

Let’s begin.

What is Info-Dumping?

Ellen Brock gives a great description of what an info-dump is:

For those who don’t know what an info dump is, it’s an extended form of telling (rather than showing). An info dump is a big chunk of information that is “dumped” in the reader’s lap all at once. These info dumps are usually done through narration but can be found in dialogue as well.

Ellen Brock, NOVEL BOOT CAMP – LECTURE #3: HOW TO AVOID INFO DUMPING

The fact is, relying on info-dumping is shifting attention from the plot which is the more vital part of the story you’re trying to tell. It slows things down (as previously mentioned) and can often come off as “alright already” moments.

Some of the most common cases of info-dumping can include:

  • Backstory
  • How things work (government, magic, etc)
  • Different creatures or races
  • Landscape or houses (living quarters)
  • How someone looks (really bad in romance)
  • Weather
  • Technology (prevalent in science fiction)
  • And many more…

Why Do Authors Think They Need It?

As previously mentioned, authors think they need to paint the picture for their readers rather than letting the reader do it themselves. The beauty of reading is it allows the reader to develop their own pictures in their mind.

Info-Dumping is “telling” not “showing.” It is always better to do as much showing as possible. Let your reader paint the picture of Mr.Wonderful from your romance novel or the wicked beast in your horror novel.

It keeps them engaged, develop theories and at times, leads them to contact you (the author) to ask questions and spread word of your novels.

Rule of thumb: If you choose to use an info-dump, keep it brief! A few sentences max.

How Can You Avoid or Get Rid of It?

The easiest way to avoid and eliminate info-dumping is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the reader really need to know this? If so, can I split it up via dialogue and narrative?
  • Is it prudent to the story? Meaning does it contribute to the plot? If not, get rid of it.
  • Can I replace the dump with conflict (a scene) capable of delivering the same information? For example, if the dump is backstory, maybe the villain and the hero have history. Can you give a hint of backstory through brief banter?
  • Can the info be delivered in an already existing scene?

Further tips:

  • Do not be afraid of re-writing. Info-dumps are a very common problem in first drafts. Often an author can slip into writing them and not recognize what they’re doing.
  • Scenes can become info-dumps. For example, an office scene where two characters are talking can easily become cumbersome to the reader. Keep it short, keep it brief.
  • Show! Don’t tell as much as possible. Readers like to create an image in their minds.
  • Make it creative!
  • Have beta readers look over your novel prior to send it publishers. Many require manuscripts to at least have two rounds of rough editing. Nothing burdens an editor worse than having to re-write large amounts of info-dumping.

For further reading:

Posted on Leave a comment

Querying: What You Need to Know Right Now

Querying. The word of shaking bones, chattering teeth and chewing on nails as you wait for the agent or publisher to respond. Hours upon hours, days upon days…well, you get the idea.

As we said in a previous article (featured in NaNoProMo) about pitching, the publishing world is an absolute struggle. Agents and publishers are getting over-run with queries from authors wanting to publish their latest literary masterpieces. It is so easy to get lost in the nightmare known as the “slush-pile.”

Recently, FyreSyde had the privilege of opening our doors to the authors looking for a publisher who doesn’t require an agent. We received a total of almost fifteen queries in a short span of time (and that’s just the emailed ones).

Why is this number important? Because, it shows just how busy a publishing company can be and how many queries we receive (in just a month!).

Something we noticed in this submission period is how important it is for authors to be well-aware of what their publisher expects and to follow their rules for querying to avoid automatic rejection. Your publisher (or agent) should never have to instruct you on how to query them.

Let’s begin.

What Is a Query?

Look at a query the same way you look at a job application. You’re selling yourself to your potential employer by telling them a little about you, your work history, achievements, etc. What they don’t want is to be blasted with how much of a god-send you are to their company (more on how this applies to books later).

The query is pretty much the same thing. It includes:

  • If you know the agent or publisher from somewhere (a connection) then tell them. If not, don’t.
  • The title and genre of your book (maybe include the word count as well)
  • A bit about your story (main characters, etc)
  • Who you are as an author
  • Any achievements, experiences, etc that you have gotten

1. Connection to the Agent or Publisher:

What do we mean by connection? Did you meet the agent at a conference? Were they recommended to you? Maybe you heard they liked a certain genre or sub-genre somewhere? Anywhere you might have heard of them, let them know. It creates a rapport and can help with the querying process.

FyreSyde loves to know where people found or heard of us. We often ask to get a feeling about the person and what they’re looking for in a publisher. An agent (or publisher) might want to know the same thing.

2. The Title, Genre and Word-count of Your Book

Yes, we want to know these things. They can often be a good selling point or help us in deciding if we want to pursue a contract.

Almost every publisher includes a list of genres they’re looking for, what they aren’t looking for and what they’re very picky with. Taking the time to learn these things can help you (the querying author) avoid serious heartache. It also gives you an understanding of the current literary market.

FyreSyde also has a word-count limit, as do many others. This helps us not only in printing costs but also to check and see if the book is marketable to our readers. Longer books tend to be cumbersome so we put a limit of 95K on our submissions (look for a later blog post on “over” and “under” writing, coming soon). Being aware of these can help an author do some final revisions before submitting.

Novels: 55,000 up to 95,000 words
Novellas: up to 50,000 words; must have at least 10,000 words

FyreSyde Word-Count specifications, FyreSydePublishing.com/queries

3. About Your Story (avoid giving away the plot)

Of course we want to know about your story. It’s the main reason you’re contacting us after all, yes?

FyreSyde has specific things we look for when it comes to deciding on whether or not we want to ask for a partial manuscript:

What we look for when reading pitches: Strong world development, deep character arcs, flawed characters, showing not telling, well-edited writing, original ideas, and consistent characters. Having these things will be more likely to land our interest as we are avid readers as well.

Found via FyreSydePublishing.com/queries

The same can be said of our fellow publishers. The more unique and strong your story is, the more apt we are to ask for a partial manuscript. If we like it enough, we’ll ask for a full.

A general rule of thumb: This is not the time to tell the publisher or agent (at least not FyreSyde) how badly we need your book. Please don’t do this. FyreSyde automatically rejects queries who say things like this.

You can include your main characters, the trials they face and the conflict we can expect in your story. You don’t have to give away the entire plot. Keep us guessing and wanting more.

4. Who You Are As An Author

Tell us a little about yourself but keep it about writing and publishing. What achievements have you accomplished? Have you attended any writing conferences, hosted any panels or received an award for your story? Now is the time to tell us. Keep it brief.

5. Tips from a Publisher

  1. Read the querying page in its entirety. By no means should the publisher or agent have to instruct you on how to query. FyreSyde experienced this many times during our first submission window. We will no longer be looking at queries that don’t follow our submission terms. It got ridiculous. So, please, read the submissions page. They are there for a reason.
  2. Keep it short. Don’t send two or three pages to the publisher or agent. One page is the comfortable maximum. Remember, we see many (and we mean many) queries we have to answer. This can be a source of auto-rejection for some agents and publishers.
  3. Make it exciting. An article via Nybookeditors.com that we found helpful when formulating a query letter had a great idea: Query in the tone of your book. It can be an amazing way to get us interested in what to expect.
  4. Build a rapport. Don’t just come to us and demand to query with us. Most of us have social media and like to engage as normal human beings (but a bit more professional). Getting to know us, following our social media and interating with our content can help when it comes to the querying phase. We might just help because we want to.
  5. Be Unique. Here at FyreSyde we treasure uniqueness in stories and in authors. We don’t like to see plots we’ve seen a million times. Be willing to be bold and show us who you are as a writer, not what the market expects you to be.
  6. Hire an editor (or have someone look over your letter). Many publishing houses require at least a rough round of editing and revision before even looking at a manuscript. The same can be said for a query letter. There is nothing more damaging than a query letter with missing words, bad spelling, incorrect grammar and poor wording. You’ve heard you never get a chance at a first impression?
  7. Be aware of submission windows. FyreSyde doesn’t even look at letters sent outside of these windows. They’re deleted immediately.
  8. Don’t be scared of us. Yes, FyreSyde may reject manuscripts and query letters but that doesn’t mean we’re something to be afraid of. We’re human beings just like you and often know what it feels like to be where you are. FyreSyde goes as far as to help critique query letters prior to submission.
  9. You are going to be rejected. Rejections happen all the time for a variety of reasons. Just because we reject one query, it doesn’t mean we’re going to automatically reject the next. If we have time, FyreSyde tries to say why we’ve rejected to help the author understand.
  10. Follow the template. Nybookeditors.com has a beautiful breakdown of how to format a query letter. It’s exactly what FyreSyde wants to see in the letters we receive.

If you liked this post, here are a couple of others that might help:

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 31: Here Is the Secret to Being a Successful Writer by @BadRedHeadMedia

Rachel Thompson from BadRedHeadMedia ends NaNoProMo (also created by Rachel) with a bang in her article on how to be a successful writer.

It has been an amazing month of incredibly helpful tips. If you haven’t already, be sure to go back through this library of evergreen content guaranteed to help in any stage of your writing.

Excerpt:

Regardless of how you publish your books, articles, or blog posts, the secret to being a successful writer is not anything pie in the sky or full of inspirational goo-gah. (Besides, I’m not the kind of person to spray glittery sunshine up your you know what, so here’s the real deal.)

Here’s the big secret. Ready? Grab your pens.
Don’t Be Lazy.
That’s it. Let me deconstruct this a bit. Pull up a chair.

Make It Happen


You. Yes, you. Stop looking around.
I’ve worked with writers in all kinds of ways since hmmm, gosh, 2009-ish. Ten years of observing that unique species of human we refer to as, writer. I’m a writer myself (six books released so far , been in a few anthologies, two new books on deck for this year), so I fully comprehend the challenges of balancing writing, marketing, the day job, real life, chronic pain, mental health, and single parenting.
Completely and totally get it.
There isn’t room in any of those roles to be lazy if we’re being #TruthBomb honest here. Yet, in my ten years of working directly with writers, I can count on one hand the writers who are get-out-of-my-way go-getters.
Not the kind who will eat you for lunch with some fava beans and a nice chianti. I mean those who actively set aside time for writing AND marketing AND promoting strategically — not creepy, spammy, ‘must take a shower after seeing this’ ways. Nope, I mean those who treat their publishing career as a business, not a hobby where they lollygag around on social media arguing politics or talking about writing their book, then hope and pray someone eventually buys it.

Rachel Thompson, author of the 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge

Find more about Rachel at any of the links below:

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 29: Why Good Editing Is Good Marketing by @Alexandria_SZ

Day 29 of NaNoProMo is all about editing and how important it is in marketing your book by Dr. Alexandria Szeman.

Editors are there to make your writing look cleaner and more professional The hard truth is, unless you are willing to do some of your own, it can be hard to market your book.

This has become such a problem, especially with indie and self-published authors. So often, we see manuscripts that have not been looked at by a beta reader or read by another to spot preliminary problems. It can and most likely will result in an automatic rejection.

We require our authors to have their manuscripts read at least twice before they even submit to us.

Editors can be expensive, we know this, however, there are other ways to have editing done or get your manuscript cleaned up. Beta readers, critique partners and friends who have some editing experience can also help.

The point is, there is indeed, no excuse for good editing.

Excerpt:

Why IS Good Editing Good Marketing?


You’ve probably heard at least one fellow writer claim that s/he doesn’t have to worry about spelling or grammar or even plot-holes because, once the book is accepted by a publisher, the editor will fix any errors. Maybe that was true before typewriters were invented, but it wasn’t true when my agent was sending my first novel out to publishers 27 years ago.
The hard truth is that, unless you’re already a bestseller or a major celebrity with an established audience, no agent or editor will even look at your book unless it’s already well written and well-edited.
In traditional publishing, agents and editors are marketers: agents “sell” manuscripts to editors, who “sell” the books to the rest of the editorial staff before making the author an offer to publish. (Once the book is published, the bookstores, not the publishers, are the ones that literally sell the books to readers.) Agents and editors simply don’t have time to edit a book, especially not for unproven authors. And if you self-publish, your readers will expect your work to have the same quality editing that traditionally published books have.
That means whether you’re looking for agent representation, submitting directly to publishers, or planning to self-publish, anyone who reads your book has to be completely engaged by your story, has to like your writing, and should never notice that there’s anything that needs to be changed, i.e., edited. Good editing is essential for all books, but there are lots of different kinds of editing, only some of which is done by traditional publishers.

Dr. Alexandria Szeman, Why Good Editing Is Good Marketing

Where to find Dr. Alexandria Szeman:

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 28: 5 Reasons Authors Should Market Themselves With Email by Conor Kelly

Day 28 of NaNoProMo (founded by Rachel Thompson) is all about emails and why authors should be willing to market themselves via email.

Email lists are used widely here at FyreSyde. We use them for our street teams, our blogger list and of course our newsletter. Having email lists can be crucial if social media should suddenly become useless. Where would you find those readers or get in touch with them?

Excerpt:

Email. We love it, we hate it.  We like to complain we get too much of it, but we’re also addicted to our inboxes.  If you’re an author who’d like to build a following, sell more books, and be seen as the go-to person in your industry, then this article will show you how – by using simple emails.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why every author should market themselves using email:

Conor Kelly, Reasons Authors Should Market Themselves with Email

Find more about Conor Kelly:

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 27: How to Pick a Bestselling Title by @BarbaraDelinsky

Day 27 of NaNoProMo (founded by Rachel Thompson) is all about titles and why they make such an impact on book sales, courtesy of Barbara Delinsky.

Excerpt:

Your novel is done and you’re ready to start hyping characters and plot on social media, which is the current marketing tool of choice, right?
Only in part. Social media is important. Same with building hype with blog endorsements. Before you get to those, though, you need a good title. Studies suggest that the average reader makes a book-buying decision in less than three minutes based largely title and cover. Okay, the recommendation of a friend (or Reese Witherspoon) helps, or, if you’ve published before and have a devoted following, they may snap up your book on the weight of your name alone. A gripping plot description on the book jacket helps, but only if the shopper actually opts to read this summary.
How to make that happen?  How to get the reader to actually pick up your book and take a closer look?

Barbara Delinsky, How to Pick a Bestselling Title

Where to find Barbara Delinsky

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo Day 26: 3 Reasons Authors Need a Content Strategy Now by @AbbieMood

FyreSyde has a saying: “Authors don’t always have to be authors.”

Why we say this has everything to do with one little word: content. Often, authors think they have to talk about nothing but writing and focus only on their books. This is not the case.

NaNoProMo Day 26 (founded by Rachel Thompson) offers three reasons why authors should focus on developing a content strategy courtesy of Abbie Mood.

Excerpt:

Why Is Content Marketing Important for Writers?


Over the past few years, content marketing has gained popularity as a marketing strategy. And rightfully so—businesses all over the world are successfully using blog posts and social media to gain customers, clients, and brand fans. In fact, content marketing converts people to paying customers at a rate SIX TIMES higher than other/traditional methods. While it’s becoming a no-brainer for businesses, content marketing and having a content strategy is just as important for solopreneurs, writers, and authors.
You might not realize it yet, but if you’re writing full-time or trying to become a published author, you’re running a business and it will greatly benefit you to think of it from that perspective. And that’s why a content strategy is integral to your success as a writer.

Abbie Mood, 3 Reasons Authors Need a Content Strategy Now

Where to find Abbie Mood:

Posted on Leave a comment

NaNoProMo day 25: How to Work With Book Bloggers (By a Book Blogger) by @Girl_Who_Reads

Book bloggers are crucial to the writing community. They offer their reviews free of charge (in most cases) and are willing to often take more than they can handle.

However, there is a right and a wrong way to work with book bloggers. Unfortunately many receive backlash for their honest reviews.

Thankfully, NaNoProMo day 25 (founded by Rachel Thompson) brings a book blogger to the table. In her article, Donna Huber offers details how to communicate properly with book bloggers.

Excerpt:

Make Friends With Book Bloggers
One of the top questions I hear from authors when discussing book discoverability and marketing is “What can I do that doesn’t cost a lot of money?”


My Response Is Always: Make Friends With Bloggers


Unfortunately, I see way too many authors only using bloggers as review generators and failing to make any kind of personal connection with them beyond the review pitch. Bloggers are an awesome resource to have in your toolbox, but one too many authors do not properly know how to incorporate this tactic into their marketing plans.
As more and more bloggers close to review requests, it is important for authors to find new ways to leverage the impact a blogger can have on a book’s success.
I have a number of publishers and publicists that contact me about traditionally published books. I can almost always tell when an email is from the traditional side of publishing from the first few lines. It is subtle, but it sets them apart from the indie and self-published pitches. Pitches from traditional publishing rarely begin with a request for review. Bloggers are pretty smart and already know that if an author/publisher/publicist is contacting them, they are hoping for a review.

Donna Huber, How to Work With Book Bloggers (By a Book Blogger)

More about Donna Huber: