Monday, June 23, 2014

Patience, Grasshopper

Patience, Grasshopper, by Ally Robertson

I know, I know, publishing a book is exciting stuff. Especially your first book. Although, as an author myself, I understand that the excitement never goes away with future books, and you're hyper anxious to get your baby out into the world. And, with each step, you want to rush, rush, rush, from edits to cover art to an approved galley. But, what we authors must understand is, in order to put the best product we can out there, we need to take our time and make sure we give it plenty of sunshine and love so it can grow into a healthy, beautiful rose. (I'm not, by any means, a gardening kind of person, but that metaphor works, right?)

Edits: Your editor has many other projects going at one time; you are not the only rose in his or her garden. So, please be patient as you wait for that first round of edits. Then, once you receive it, PLEASE do not rush through the changes and send the MS back the next day. If you don't keep your edits at least a week, and preferably two weeks, not only are you returning them earlier than your editor is planning to schedule the next round, but your editor will think you didn't take the time to really work on your story, the time required to make it shine. And, failing to do so will only result in MORE rounds of edits, therefore slowing down the very process you're trying to rush.

Cover Art: Our artists are fabulous, and they are very, very busy. Seeing a cover for the first time is probably the most exciting part of the process, other than actual release, but if you want the best cover an artist can provide, please be patient. Also, please understand that emailing your editor about the cover does no good at all. We receive the email with the preliminary cover art at the same time you do. So, we don't know a thing before that point. Filling our inbox with questions will only slow down the parts of the process we DO have control over.

Copy Edits: This is a final read to catch minor errors that you and your editor missed. The MS should be almost perfect before it gets to this step. It's very important to take your time and correct as many errors as possible before your story reaches copy edits, if you want this step to go quickly and smoothly.

Galleys: Yes, I understand, you're sick of reading your story. We're sick of reading it, too, but we want it as error-free as possible before we send it in for release. So, in order to prevent having to read it over and over, make sure that you are extremely thorough in your review. One tip I give to my authors is to read it backward—last page to first—as this will help you catch things you normally wouldn't catch, because you will be seeing the actual words that are there, rather than being caught up in the story. The better job you do of finding errors, the fewer number of times you'll have to read your galley. The ultimate responsibility of providing an error-free manuscript lies with the author. We need your stamp of approval before we can move to the final phase. But, we need to make sure you are approving a near perfect version of your MS.

And, finally, release dates. We stare at our computer, day after day, waiting until we see that email come up announcing our release date (another step your editor knows nothing about ahead of time. You receive the email at the same time he or she does). It's a very exciting process, but even when you find out your release date, there is a wait until the day actually arrives. You know how to fill that time? Work on the next book. There's no better way to get your focus off of the waiting than to become involved in a new story. And, the more you write, the better chance you have of going through this wonderful, grueling, exciting, nail-biting process all over again.

I'm speaking to myself as much as I am to any of you. Because, whether it's from an editor's standpoint or as an author, I'm also very anxious to complete each project. But I have to remind myself, Rome wasn't built in a day, haste makes waste, and patience is a virtue. (Note to self, review manuscript for clich├ęs before sending back to editor)

Ally Robertson
Editor - Crimson Line

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Fill Out a Cover Art Spec Sheet

The Wild Rose Press is one of a rare few who request input from the author regarding the cover of their book.  That said, however, although we strive to meet and exceed your expectations, without good information from you, the author, it’s a mighty difficult task.  So here are some things to consider when filling out your cover art specification sheet.

But first and most importantly on the cover art specification sheet as well as the manuscript information sheet, SAVE IT AS DRAFT while working on it.  If you lose your internet connection for even a second, you’re going to lose all the information you have put in before you submit it.

No on to the cover sheet:
  1. Be clear on the hero and heroine’s description if you want to have them on the cover.  Finding models that meet your descriptions is very difficult, but with some tweaking we are able to generally hit the mark.  But please be specific in hair color, style and length, ethnicity, and body size.
  2. Give us links to other books, not necessarily Wild Rose Press books, that have the style you want.  Dark vs light, dreamy vs stark contrasts, painted vs photographs.
  3. Mention elements that are pertinent to the story.  But don’t expect all elements to be used.  For instance, an emerald necklace is a major point in the suspense story you’ve written.   That would be an element that would work well on the cover.  But the heroine’s choice of shoes, while mentioned a time or two in order to give more insight to the reader into her personal style, is not a true element in the story, so it wouldn’t be a good candidate for the cover.
  4. When describing what you envision, be very clear, but also be aware that your ‘fabulous concept’ may not be appropriate to the market, or simply not doable.  We have many authors give very specific ideas on the layout of a cover down to the minute detail of the scene.  These types of super detailed covers are usually composites of images, and may not look quite as you had excepted.  So understand that your concept may not happen or may be altered to fit the market or reasonability in design time and availability of images.
  5. Location is extremely important if you wish for a specific scene on your cover.  New York City skyline certainly doesn’t resemble London.  So be sure to give us good information on where the story takes place if it is to be a part of the cover.
  6. Timeframe of the story is also extremely important if your story isn’t a contemporary.  Medieval is vastly different from Regency, as were the roaring 20’s to the 1940’s.  So be certain you tell us when the story takes place so contemporary imagery doesn’t appear on a non-contemporary book.
  7. Be clear in things you absolutely do not want on the cover, if you have any.  Some authors hate people on the cover.  Others hate people with their heads cutoff, and some don’t care for certain colors.  Tell us what you don’t like if you feel strongly about it.  This is usually something we can avoid with good links to the kinds of covers you like.
  8. Do NOT send us a drawn up version of your idea.  We cannot accept mockup covers since we don’t know where they originated.  We don’t want to steal another designer’s idea.  While looking at existing covers at Amazon and in our own store may seem like we’re doing just that, we do not attempt to recreate the cover examples given.  We only use them for tone and general guidance on what you like.

And most importantly remember that the artist does not read your book.  They only take the information you give them in our Wild Rose Press Cover Art Specification Sheet.  So give them as much information as possible so that they may create the best cover for your book.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Moment of Silence...

I have some sad, sad news to share with you.  There has been a death.  And I think this death will greatly affect you and your writing.  You  wonder, "Who died???"  Well fellow authors and editors, Asked is now dead.  He died from exhaustion and overuse.  We have been using poor asked far too often in our writing, and he just couldn't go on any longer.  What words can we now use in our writing since asked is dead?"


Well, in some instances, we don’t have to replace asked with anything.  Writing the question with no tags at all works well if the characters can easily be identified.  Or some authors may use an action tag.


For example, a sentence like this “So are you accepting my challenge?” A smile tugged at his lips reads much better—to me—than “So are you accepting my challenge?” he asked, as a smile tugged at this lips.


We are all creative and can come up with alternatives to the word asked.


By the way, I’ve heard reports that nice, went, that, and just aren’t doing too well, either.  They may be the next ones we have to put to rest.


Are they any words you find that you use too much and could be eliminated?



Monday, June 2, 2014

Theme By Megan Kerans

Originally published on the Wild Rose Press Greenhouse

Writing Mechanics: Theme By Megan Kerans

Theme when used to its full advantage can be a powerful ally for writers and their stories, especially in a genre that has to fight for respect. As romance writers we often take a lot of grief and endure our work being called "silly, frivolous, and at worst meaningless." But, we aren't the only ones to endure these obstacles, just ask Walt Disney.

When Walt began on his first full-length, feature animation film, Snow White, in the late 1930's, the public viewed cartoons with the same descriptors I used above. As we all know, Walt changed people's opinions. One of the biggest keys to his success was incorporating strong themes into his stories.

What does Theme do?

Theme gives you three key elements

1. A base
2. Emotion for the characters & readers
3. Enriches the whole

A base
Many times plot is described as the frame or skeleton of story on top of which you add characters, goals, setting, and all the other necessary elements. If that's true, then theme is the DNA running through the bones and wood.

Whatever your theme, that universal truth comes out in your narrative. That belief shapes how you tell your story and what receives emphasis. Take Disney's Beauty and The Beast and its theme, "don't judge a book by its cover". The animators used multiple scenes to show The Beast as kind and generous, such as him feeding small birds and giving his library to Belle. And on the opposite side, we see the handsome villain Gaston being a jerk and plotting to have Belle's father committed as insane. If the story's theme had been about a young girl's search for adventure or a better life, those scenes wouldn't belong in the final film.

The same way theme guides what scenes go in a story, it also guides what roles characters play. Still looking at Beauty and the Beast and "don't judge a book by its cover", theme guides and shows the differences in your characters. The Beast is ugly on the outside, but a good person on the inside. Gaston is handsome outside, but an ugly person inside. Imagine trying to tell the same story with a cover model-looking hero?

Emotion for the characters & readers

Walt Disney said, "If I can't find a theme, I can't make a film anyone else will feel." He was right. That universal truth creates an emotional connection with your reader, the same way your characters do.
This is where the "universal" part of theme comes in. When readers can relate, they dip into and attach their own emotions. Emotion creates an attachment to not only the idea, but the characters. When the Beast is shunned for his appearance, the viewers feel his pain. They connect to him as well as the idea of not judging by looks alone.

Likewise, how a character feels about the theme, which relates to their goal, taps into their emotions and influences their actions.

Enriches the whole

Walt Disney had another belief. "Theme is a key creation of stories that endure forever, and characters that take up permanent residence in lives of filmgoers around the world." Considering fifty years or have passed since the original creation of many of Walt's fairytales and they are still as beloved today as then, he was on to something.

While characters have an external goal-to get the gold, a new job, or save the Earth-it's the lesson they learn that makes a story richer. We remember the lesson because it drew our caring. Suddenly, the tale goes from "silly" such as finding gold to something much more important.

The lack of this enrichment or important lesson by the character is most often times the reason sequels don't do well or work. The story is too focused on the external.

Imagine Beauty and The Beast if at the end of the story the only change was that the Beast became human?

What kinds of Theme are there?
 Ambition   Jealousy   Beauty   Loneliness   Betrayal   Love   Courage   Loyalty   Duty (filial piety)   Perseverance   Forgiveness   Fear   Prejudice   Freedom (Aladdin)   Suffering   Happiness   Truth   Redemption   Acceptance   True love conquers all (Sleeping Beauty)   Let your conscience be your guide (Pinocchio)   Don't judge a book by its cover (Beauty & The Beast)  

These are just a few possible themes. There are many more.
Reprinted with permission from