P is for Publishing House

Assuming you are submitting directly to a publishing house without an agent here are some useful guidelines to consider. P

  • If you don’t here back from them, they don’t want it.
  • Just in case though, check the house website, they usually list the time frame you can expect a response and what it means if you don’t hear back, ie they are running behind or it’s a no.
  • Follow the guidelines carefully for the big items like Genre, length, exclusions. But if you need 1 1/4 pages for synopsis and it says one page, go ahead and use the extra 1/4.
  • Do your homework. Publishers are not robotic rejection machines. They are humans and will get offended too.
  • Sending something in for consideration below the minimum word count threshold is a deal breaker, for one editor on the panel.

-Why Editors Pass Panel

O is for OOPS

OAmusing mistakes I heard from the Pros at con….

“After finishing the draft for the second book in the series, the author realized the character flying the plane, had died at the end of the first book.” (Purpose Driven Dialogue Panel)

A first time author was offered a publishing contract with a mid level house. The author took his contract to a lawyer for review. He picked a lawyer who did not work in publishing. The lawyer told him the contract was not good, that the house was trying to rip him off. The author sued the house. The house won because it was a STANDARD contract. So the author was out the opportunity to publish, out the cost of the lawsuit, and the author was blackballed in the publishing world. (Norwescon 2015, but so horrifying it had to be told again.)

N is for (k)nown


When building “the other” in your world you want to push the reader out of their comfort zone but just enough that they can still see where their comfort zone is.

Another way to put that is go right to the edge of unrecognizable and then pull back just a fraction.

Keep in mind our world is pretty bizarre in reality, duck bill platypus anyone? Make sure your “other” is just a varied and weird as what we find here on this Earth.

-A Culture by Any Other Name Panel

M is for Magic


Of course a lot of people in the writing panels wanted to know what the secret was to making it as a writer, to becoming that ten year overnight sensation, and finally we were told.

“The magic bullet is simple, write a lot of books that a lot of people want to read.”

Now then, don’t you feel all better?

Alright then, try this one on for size…

“Attitude not aptitude is the best indicator of future altitude.”

Funny, I thought that’s what the rudder was for….

-Writing is a Long Con Panel

L is for Loss


L“Constants when they come home from war: Loss of Mission, Loss of Purpose, Loss of Camaraderie. “

“The longer you are in the more you see the mission as your self. Doing for others is your purpose. You are with your team on a purpose that means more than any of your own lives. Then you come home and it’s gone.”

“When you come home you start to wrestle with the questions you didn’t have time to think about while deployed.”

“Those who serve give up a large chunk of their civil rights to do so.”

-After the Guns go Silent Panel

K is for Knowledge

I apologize for digressing from my Norwescon info dump but I realized that writers, specifically Hollywood writers, do not possess any knowledge of how things actually work or if they do, they go out of their way to pretend they don’t. Let me paint you a picture.

I was in faKct working on a picture for my hubby’s upcoming birthday while more or less listening to reruns of CSI Miami. Yes, I know. It was not a good show but that’s all the better as it doesn’t distract me from what I’m really doing, painting the picture for my hubby. The basis of the episode is a guy kills his high school school bully because the guy wrapped him up in duct tape and stuck him in a locker. He even goes so far as to show these horrible scars worthy of full thickness burns to explain how much trouble the hospital had getting the tape off.

All I could think was, one good cross dresser could have save your ass. Baby oil my friend. Pour it on and it releases the adhesive. What makes me so sure? Used it. Both the tape (backless, strapless bride’s maid gown) and the baby oil to get it off, which I learned from the fabulously costumed cross dresser in the French Quarter.

Are you really going to tell me no one in that hospital knew that?

Not one writer on that show knew that?

They knew but it was better for the “plot” to play dumb.

Never pretend you don’t know what you do. Let it shine in your writing.

Ok I’ll make a playing dumb exception for imminent peril, but only for that. LOL

J is for Judgement


“Do not judge your worth based on another author’s popularity.”

“The inner voice that says ‘They’ll figure out I am a terrible writer,’ lives in all writers.”

“Write a novel a year for ten years and submit them everywhere; if at the end of ten years you aren’t selling – you might not be good enough.”

I is for Indie Publishing


-Use original I.jpgcover art. Try deviant art to find an artist or piece you like. Be sure to pay them for it, don’t steal(plagiarize). It’s rude and really bad karma.

-Use a professional editor, but have them do a test chapter before you sign on with one.

-Do conventions.

-Establish and maintain your brand.

-Identify your alpha fans and let them help you. Heck, beg them to help you.

-Your next book is your best marketing tool. You cannot over saturate your market.


-Level Up Your Self Publishing Skills Panel

H is for Hook

“Every Hthing should be designed to get the reader to the next step. The first sentence to the first paragraph, the first paragraph to the first page, the first page to the first chapter.”

“The problem with a shock opening is you either need to keep the book at that level the whole time or there will be a down dip. Intrigue is always a better choice than shock. Intrigue about a character or about the plot.”

“The hook has to be integral to the story but not give the story away.”

“Suspense is about what’s coming next, not about what’s going on now.”

“Do not require the reader to have read the story to understand the first line.”

-Catching Readers, Hook, Line, and Sinker Panel

G is for Good Feedback


“Writers will give you writer feedback. How they would have written it. Readers give you reader feedback, how they experienced reading your book.”

“Try to get better writers than you to beta your novel.”

“Careful with how much redrafting you do, you could be washing out the good stuff.”

How much editing to do? One author says “The story stays but the words change as I pump things up.” Another says “90% of my words stay but I am a slow perfectionist writer.”

-The Art of Writing it Again Panel