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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.

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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:

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NaNoProMo Day 10: This Is How to Sell Your Book in 20 Seconds by Sharon Goldinger

Readers, we know we are behind but fear not, we will be bringing you the amazing information from NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) up until the very last day.

How would it feel if you could sell your book in 20 seconds? Does that sense of elation make your spine tingle? Well, look no further than this article by Sharon Goldinger. She offers some amazing ways both fiction and non-fiction authors can pitch their book in very little time.

Excerpt: (of course)

Picture this: You’re in an elevator, your book cupped in your hand, the title clearly visible to the other person in the elevator. While riding from floor 1 to floor 19, she asks, “What is From Fat to Fit about?
You respond: “You’ll be inspired by the amazing Community Meltdown, which motivated 1,000 people to have fun while losing 8,000 pounds in 8 weeks, and my personal story as I went from fat to fit and lost 62 pounds.”
When the elevator lands at her stop, she says, “Sounds great. I’ve got to get a copy.”

Sharon Goldinger, owner of PeopleSpeak

Find more about Sharon and PeopleSpeak!

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NaNoProMo Day 8: How to Make Time for Book Promotion by Pauline Wiles

Daily life can get busy. With kids, work, writing, houses to clean, bills to pay, spouses, friends, the list can go on, it can get hard to make time for things like book promotion.

A large part of our day here at FyreSyde is seeking out new ways to help promote our authors. We understand how it can get strenuous.

NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson of BadRedHeadMedia) day 8 offers a post by Pauline Wiles who offers some insight as to how you can make time to promote your book.

As always, here is a sample of what you can expect:

Making Time For Book Promotion


As authors today, we’re compelled to juggle more tasks and responsibilities than ever before. Given the colossal effort you’ve invested in writing and publishing your book, you know you’d be crazy not to dedicate some energy to promoting it. But with all that’s going on in your life, how do you make the time for this?
Here are four different approaches to carving out some precious minutes or hours for boosting your book. Experiment with these, and you’ll find they’re a big help in making sure you undertake regular promotional activities, without becoming completely overwhelmed by all you have to do.

Pauline Wiles, author of Indie With Ease

Find out more about Pauline Wiles:

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NaNoProMo Day 5: 20 Quick Book Marketing Ideas You Can Do Now! by MixtusMedia

Marketing can be as intimidating as public speaking. However, the hard truth is, even if you choose to go the traditional publishing route, you are still your best marketing tool. While some publishers will do their best to make sure you and your book get adequate coverage, we can’t do it all.

FyreSyde strives to treat its authors like family. We will market you and your book long after you’ve published. In the end, you, the author will need to do your part.

This is where Day 5 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson of BadRedHeadMedia) comes in. Jean dePaula of MixtusMedia offers 20 quick ideas you can use in your book marketing right now.

Here is what you can expect in this amazing article:

If there is one common thread that runs through every author it’s this: we don’t have enough time! For writing, for book marketing, for any of it (whatever it is).
Sometimes when we see a huge task ahead of us, like book marketing, we tend to focus on it as a whole. And that can be overwhelming – which can make many of us put it off for another day, or just give up on it altogether.
But when we break it down a bit, there is actually a lot we can get done in just a few minutes a day.
So I thought I would share some tasks that take 10 minutes or less that will vastly improve your book marketing.
These are tasks that can be done quickly during your lunch break, while you’re waiting in line to pick up your kids from school, or even during commercials breaks while watching your favorite show. It helps you get things done – and each task usually takes less time than you thought.

Jean dePaula, owner of MixtusMedia

For more information, please check out these links:

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NaNoProMo Day 3: Pitching: What You Need to Know Now by Blaise Ramsay

Day 3 of NaNoProMo is all about pitching, written by our own Blaise Ramsay. Pitching can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure what constitutes as a strong pitch. Maybe you’re not sure what an elevator pitch is or how a pitch is different from a query letter.

Check out the full article. Pitching: What You Need to Know Now by Blaise Ramsay

Here is an excerpt of what you can expect:

Let’s talk about your pitch today.
The publishing world is a struggle. With agents receiving multiple submissions from multiple authors, it is easy for your manuscript to get lost in the author’s proverbial nightmare: the “slush pile.”
As a publishing company and as professional book reviewers who request a pitch, often times we see the author sending us things like reviews or rewards the author’s book has received. This is not what an agent, publisher or book reviewer wants or needs immediately when asking for a pitch.


Recently, FyreSyde Publishing has been working to open up submissions to help authors looking for representation. Though we do not require agents (yet), we do expect an elevator pitch prior to receiving a query letter.
For #NaNoProMo 2019, we are delighted to bring authors a better understanding of what a pitch is, how you can properly write an elevator pitch and provide some steps on how you can write an award-winning pitch that can land you an agent.

Blaise Ramsay, author of the paranormal romance Blessing of Luna