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Shadow in the Sea

Readers will return to Windwaithe Island once again. When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade's quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals' dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood's ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn't fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It Starts . . .

I heard from my editor who said she plans to have my editoral letter to me soon. I'm nervous and excited at the same time. Revisions are an unavoidable part of getting published but it's nerve racking wondering what will get to stay and what will have to be changed. Either way, I know it will be a better book in the end. She asked if I would be willing to change the title, which is fine by me. I've never been much for thinking up good titles. I always refered to my story as "The Mermaid Book". Not exactly attention grabbing. I suggested a few titles and she liked one of them but said it was too long. (If you can think of any one or two word titles that are exciting and imply that a mermaid is involved in the plot, send them to me right away.) I'll let you all know when a final title has been selected. My editor also asked me what I'd like to see on the cover. I gave her some enthusiastic suggestions (including a particular artist's name) so we'll see what comes of it. No details on a release date yet. I'm sure it will all depend on when they can get the cover art completed. I'll keep you posted as things progress.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Getting a Book Published

People often ask me for advice about getting a book they've written published. So I thought I would write down some of the things I wish I'd known from the start.

1) Getting published is 90% not giving up, no matter what - If the mere thought of rejection letters is enough to make you feel like giving up on your writing dream than I would suggest you pick a different career right now. Write because you love it, not because you want to get published. Do stories come unbidden to your mind at any time of the day? Do they come to you in your sleep? Do you write because you can't help yourself? Then you are a true writer, my friend. If you keep writing and sending out those manuscripts eventually you WILL get published. It may take years, but in the mean time, your skills will grow and your love of the art will show in your writing. By the way, It's all right to fail. Expect it in fact. They say you have to get at least a hundred rejections before you get that first acceptance. Just keep all those rejection slips so that someday when you are famous you can rub all their noses in your success.

2) There are no shortcuts to getting published - I use to think that if I could just find a published author willing to edit my manuscript and let me use their name in submitting it to their publisher, I'd get published in no time at all. The truth is, editors hate when people use another author's name in their cover letter. They are not interested in what this other author thinks about your book. They want to make up their own mind about your writing. There may be some people out there who get published because they know the right people, but odds are good that it will not be you and me. would you really want to get published that way, anyway? If you do the work and write the best book ever no one will care if J. K. Rowling is your best friend or not. I use to look at some of the worst books out there and wonder why they would publish such trash but not my manuscript. In time I realized a better attitude was thinking I could write a better book--and then do it! Be proud of your work and let it speak for itself.

3) SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - This group is invaluable to authors. They provide their members with updated lists of publishers addresses, which editors work where, what kind of manuscripts they are currently wanting, addresses of agents and how to contact them, basically everything you need to know if you want to get published. You do have to pay an annual fee to join but it is well worth it. I've talked to editors who said they tend to be more interested in SCBWI member's manuscripts because it shows that person must be serious about their writing.

4) Do the work! - One word. Research. When writing a book research everything. Even if your book is set in a fantasy world it must have some basis in fact or people will think it is just plain silly. Even if your pirate ships float in the sky instead of on the sea, you still need to know which is the port side and which one the starboard. Do not assume that people reading your story won't notice mistakes either. I remember reading a story about some kids who get a pet parrot. As a parrot owner myself, I could see right away the author knew nothing about how these animals behaved. It ruined the story for me. It will also ruin your chances of getting published.

You will also need to do a lot of research in trying to find out which publishers to send your manuscript out to. Nothing looks more unprofessional than for someone to send their picture book manuscript to a publisher that only does juvenile non-fiction. The easiest way to find a good fit for your manuscript is to find books similar to your own that have been published in the last couple years and find out which publishing house they were published by. (This information can be found in the first couple pages of the book.) Just a warning. Most publishing imprints are actually part of a larger publishing house. (For example: Orchard Books is an imprint of Scholastic Publishing) You do not want to send your manuscript to two different imprints who belong to the same house. Trust me, they will notice. You will want to find out weather the publishing houses you have chosen accept simultaneus sumbmissions (a manuscript that is sent out to more than one house at once). Some have no problem with it, others will never work with you again if you do. Make sure you know which is which and always let them know in your cover letter that you are doing it.

5) The R word. REVISIONS - It's enough to make any author want to run for the hills. The truth is, there is nothing more important than revisions. I revised my book so many times I've lost count. I must have rewritten the prologue alone at least a dozen times. Don't give into the temptation to just call it good enough because you are tired of that one problem chapter. If you are sick of it, give it some time and come back to it fresh another day. A word to the wise, once a book is accepted for publication, that's when the real revisions begin. Publishing houses ALWAYS ask you to make changes. Some of them quite big. There is no escaping it. Telling a publisher it is your story and you have no intention of changing anything is the quickest way to insure you never get published. Resign yourself to the inevitable and become the best reviser ever!

6) Writer's Groups - These are groups of authors who meet together weekly or monthly and critique each other's work. There are usually four to six members in a group. The authors in a group usually write the same kind of books. (Children's Books, Adult Books, Non-fiction Books, etc.) Anyone can start a writer's group, they just need to find others who are interested in attending. Usually people who live within driving distance. Writer's groups are invaluable to someone trying to revise a manuscript. My books always seem perfect to me because I wrote them. But when someone else reads my story, they don't always see things the way I do. If my writer's group sees problems in my plot, it's a sure bet a publisher will too. When I first started to attend a writer's group my hands shook as I read my work aloud. I don't even think about it now.

7) Unless you are a professional, do not illustrate your own book - Don't ask your cousin Fred to do it for you either, even if he is the most fantastic artist in the world. Big time publishers like to pick the artist for themselves. Usually someone they are comfortable with and have used many time before. Even if your book is the best children's story in the world they might decided to pass on it, if they think they have to have Fred do the illustrating when his style isn't the look they want right now. If you are a professional illustrator, that is a different story. But make sure you know the proper way to submit an illustrated manuscript. Some publishing houses have a different department for submitting artwork then just plain manuscripts. Make sure you know what it is ahead of time.

8) Query letters and cover letters - Many of the bigger publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts (they have to ask to see it). So how do you get a editor to ask to see your manuscript? A query letter. A query letter is a one page long letter that includes a discription of your story's plot and your qualifications as a writer. (Your degree in college. Other writings you've have published in the past. Anything that makes you sound like you know your stuff.) If the editor likes the sound of your story they will ask to see the rest. When sending in a requested manuscript, you will want to include a cover letter with a lot of the same information in it as the query letter. Make sure your contact information is on both your query letter and your cover letter so they will know who to contact if they decide they like your work.

9) Writer's Conferences - These fantasic conferences are held regularly all over the nation. There are always editors, authors, illustrators and agents invited to speak. This is where you can make your connections and get your manuscripts solicited. If you want to know if there is a conference near you, do a Google search by typing in the name of your state and "writers conference" and see what comes up. If you have a manuscript ready to go, it is worth any amount of money to attend one of these invaluable conferences.

Good luck all you authors at heart. I know you can do it!

(c) 2010 Sheila A. Nielson

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The ideas and views expressed in this blog reflect only those of Sheila A. Nielson and no other persons, companies, or business entities.