Friday, April 29, 2011

Interview of client Raquel Byrnes

Featuring Raquel Byrnes

Interview of Raquel by Anne K Albert at re-posted by permission:

Raquel lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-of-your-seat pace. Her first book of the Shades of Hope Series, PURPLE KNOT, is set to release from White Rose later this year.

Welcome Raquel! I’m so glad you could take time away from your busy life to drop by for a visit. What one or two lines best sums you up as an author?

Raquel - Inspirational romance with an edge-of-your-seat pace.

Anne - What activity consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard?

Raquel - I homeschool my six children which takes up the bulk of my time.

Anne – Tell us about your most recent release.

Raquel – My debut novel, Purple Knot, introduces spunky private detective “Rain” Cruz who joins her ex-fiancĂ© to track down her best friend’s killer.

Anne - Is there a message in Purple Knot you want readers to grasp?

Raquel - I want readers to know that you don’t have to be perfect to be a Christian; that ours is a God of grace and second chances.

Anne - Describe your home office as appears right now. Is this a good or bad thing?!

Raquel - I write in our homeschool room because that is where I spend most of the day. My counter has a half-finished Egyptian sarcophagus, a collage my daughter is working on, and research in various states of completion. Its controlled chaos and I love it.

Anne - Do you belong to any writer’s organizations, critique groups, and/or depend on beta readers?

Raquel - I meet twice a month with a critique group I co-founded called Sunday Morning Romance Writers. I also attend the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild critique group in Temecula.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Raquel - I think Summer Corbeau, Rain’s best friend in Purple Knot, has the most pull on my heart. I’ve had friends in real life that have gone through what she did and all I could do was pray and hope. She rings true to me.

Anne - Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person?

Raquel - More like suspiciously eyeing the glass and wondering if I’ve been poisoned.

Anne – Ah-ha! Not surprising that you write romantic suspense, then! Do you have any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Raquel - Hone your craft. Give yourself time to improve, but keep getting better. The key to publication is a well written story.

Anne - Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud?

Raquel - I’m most proud of my children. They are sweet young people with a heart for the Lord. Nothing can surpass that.

Anne –I’d like to conclude the interview by mentioning you can read more about Raquel on her website or her blog.

Thanks so much for dropping by today, Raquel, and congratulations on the upcoming release of Purple Knot!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guest Post by Kristine Pratt - ebooks in Libraries

Kindle just announced they are making ebooks available through Overdrive in libraries. As for as the impact upon publishers to have library downloads, this has been the subject of intense debate not long ago.

In March of this year, HarperCollins announced that their ebooks had a limited license so that they could be downloaded only 26 times before disappearing. This caused an outcry against HarperCollins that called for a boycott of books by HarperCollins. The libraries were outraged, as, due to budget crunches, they certainly could not afford to re-purchase titles over and over.

There has always been an uneasy feeling between publishers and libraries. Let's face it, an author is hoping to make money by having copies of their book sold. To have people able to check out a single copy numerous times means that those are fewer their way of thinking.

Some publishers specialize in books meant just for libraries, instead looking at it from the point of view that there are thousands of libraries and a copy of a book in every library in the United States is 122,101 books sold.

Keep that number in mind, it's the latest figure.

As a publisher, we considered the library aspect long and hard in how we determined our marketing efforts. Yes we do have books in the library system. And while each of those books counts only as a single sale let's look at the facts.

A book in the library is checked out an average of 54 times before it is retired. This is a print copy, an ebook would be able to go much further than that. But let's just look at the print number right now.

Of those 54 people who checked out that book, you now have created 54 people with an interest in your books.

The average wait for a new title, depending upon popularity of the book can vary from several days to several weeks or even months. How many times have you opted for the bookstore when you've discovered that it's going to be awhile before you can get the book you want to read? I know I have.

Granted there is no wait on an ebook...BUT the people reading that ebook are people who will become potential fans. People who will hunt down your other books, and want to read those too. People who won't chance a new author in the bookstore will always try them at the library.

There are facts and figures to support all that, but suffice it to say, it's been shown that books in library actually stimulate additional sales.

So...profit off of ebooks? I would say it comes from the fan base, it comes from the people who will turn out to see you (keep in mind a good relationship with a library can lead to appearances at the library, and chances to promote your books in that setting).

And let's not forget that great big number.

122,101 libraries in the United States today. Seems to me that if you sold a copy or your book or ebook to even half of those, you'd be doing pretty well.

And besides, 122,101 library books checked out 54 times each means you have 6,598,854 readers.

I don't know about you, but those numbers look pretty good to me.

OK everyone, ready for a little more information?

I called up the head of collection acquisition who happens to be in charge of all book buying for fifteen libraries in this part of Colorado Springs. She happens to do all the buying of fiction and children's books for all of these locations, so she knows her stuff.

The book buying process for a library is fairly straightforward. Now remember this represents how the big libraries to things. I'm sure it's much simpler than this in smaller ones, but let's see what we can do with this information to promote not only our writing, but to place God's word on the shelves and in the hands of people who so sorely need to hear it.

The library budget has not been affected considerably in recent years, something which surprised me, but perhaps that's because they say that library readership is up in the last two years. Speculation to this increase include thoughts that with everyone feeling the financial pinch, the library has become the first place to get a book, over purchasing either online or in bookstores. The percentages certainly show more people checking out books than ever before, which is good news for the library and reason to hold the budget strong.

So what does that mean for us?

The library purchaser looks at three things to determine if a book will be carried by the library or not.

1. She starts her day with reading several journals online. These are:

- Booklist
- Kirkus Review
- Library Journal
- Publishers Weekly
- School Library Journal
- Voice of Youth America

Any books with a good review will be bought immediately. Any book with a moderate review will also likely be purchased. Books that have one good review in one mag and one bad review in another will also be purchased.

Huh. Who knew?

2. The book MUST be carried by Baker & Taylor. She says that with the current time restraints on her job and as much work as she has there is no time to set up accounts with various publishers, even if they offer a better deal on the books. She says "We have more money than time, so it has to be with Baker & Taylor."

3. Amazon rankings help. If your book is NOT reviewed, but has an Amazon ranking of 100,000 or better you'll be purchased. BUT, a book with a ranking up to 500,000 will still be considered.

Now, a few myths to dispel.

- Any literature mailed, flyers, catalogs, or letters about your book will be ignored. They do not have time for them and those kinds of things hit the trash without even being opened.
- A book donated to the library will not wind up in any collection necessarily.
- Approaching them as a local author might hold some weight, but you might wind up in a special collection and not in general circulation


Here is where it counts. A card holder requesting a book will guarantee a sale of that book almost every time. Unless there is something really wildly wrong with it. They say they will even buy a book they don't think is well done, has bad reviews, is something they would never spend the money on if it is requested by a card holder. Why? Because they figure that someone wants to read it.

Hints here:

1. Look at your website first. My library has a form on their webpage that can be used to requesting books.
2. If they don't have someplace online, go in person and ask at the desk.
3. Be sure to be a card holder to give weight to your request. It never takes long to get one and usually all you need is ID to get one.
4. Usually they require the book be in print, be less than 2 years old, and available on Amazon at the very least (if not on Baker & Taylor)

I also want to note something:

My library buyer told me that she gets requests for Christian fiction all the time, but they are seldom reviewed in any of those library journals. She says she wishes that Baker & Taylor had a library journal just for Christian books because she winds up going to the publishers websites for all the big publishers to find out what's new and orders from that. She says it's awkward and time consuming to do that.

Hope this helps!

Kristine Pratt
Written World Communications

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Blog by Normandie Fischer

Normandie Fischer, writer and editor

My favorite comments from the latest contest judges concerned my writing voice -- hugely encouraging. But they got me thinking about voice and how we learn it -- or if we learn it at all. Is the cadence of our writing bred into us like the language of our tongues?

I don't pretend to have an answer to that. I write, I've always written, the way I hear language. Yesterday I spent some hours revisiting an old story with Maryland's Eastern Shore as the backdrop. There I heard a different tone from my Beaufort stories, a different word patterning. The cadence of the South, which permeates conversation and thought as well as observation, fixes itself into the words of the Beaufort folk. Does that mean I as author see things differently when I'm in different places?

I think it does. I think the me who wrote from Mexico had images pressed into my mind that were slower, drier, perhaps friendlier. They held whiffs of deep sea and large expanses of open water and empty land, of mountains plunging toward the sea and whales cavorting off our bow.

The me who writes here in NC feels more confined to place. I'm no longer surrounded by the lilt or clip of foreign tongues or by the lazy days at anchor. Here, the world seems populated with issues that need to be solved, tempers that must be assuaged, emotions that must have reason...if only I could plumb deeply enough to discover them. Here, I'm awash in a world of care, which must translate somehow into the words I use to craft stories. (Or the ones I pluck from the moment to write on this blog.)

What are your thoughts on voice and writing? Do you think you've learned the voice with which you write, or is it merely you as you've always written on paper (or screen)? Please post a comment and let me know.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What should be in a contract?

My friend, agent Les Stobbe did a great job of boiling down into simple terms what should be included in a book contract. Let me share it with you:

1. A Grant of Rights (explanation of who holds which rights)
2. A Delivery Date (when the author must deliver the manuscript)
3. Acceptance and Publication Schedules (a time frame for when the book will be published)
4. Warranties and Indemnities (that protect the editors from being sued)
5. Proofs the author will see
6. A Copyright Notice (that should be in the author‘s name)
7. Advance Information
8. Royalty Rates (these depend highly on the author‘s platform and the publisher)
9. Subsidiary Rights Percentages
10. Accounting and Payments (information on when the author gets paid)
11. Number of Author Copies (these copies should be for promotional purposes)
12. Reversion of Rights and Process (what happens if the book goes out of print?)
13. Bankruptcy Clause (what happens if the publisher goes bankrupt?)
14. Option Clause (this means that the publisher gets first right of refusal for the next book)
15. Agent Information, if applicable

Very Succinct, Les.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Agent Negotiates Civil War Truce!

A beautiful sunrise is reflecting off the Platt River which runs below the lodge here at the Nebraska Writer’s Guild conference at Mahoney State Park. It is early Sunday morning and I sit here on the balcony, Starbucks in hand reflecting on the conference wrapping up this morning with a special session of displays and resources for particularly resource writers.

I celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in this peaceful setting by finally negotiating a truce between Union and Confederate forces. Not necessarily an end to the war, but at least a truce. Not the usual negotiations that a literary agent is involved in.

President Sally Walker and her terrific team have orchestrated a great conference. A modest size and located in a writer-friendly retreat setting just outside of Omaha for travel convenience it opened on Friday night with a reading session giving Guild members the chance to do readings on their works in progress.

Saturday featured a balanced series of programs and workshops with something for everybody plus time for those who wished to pitch their fare to agents and editors (one of each). The food in the lodge was nothing short of excellent.


 One of the attendees, Monty McCord is shown here trying to get an agent the easy way – with a gun and handcuffs.

A very economical conference, those in convenient distance in particular would do well to add it to your conference schedule for next year. More information may be found at and I’m sure in a few months information for next years conference will go up there. I want to thank Sally and all of the NWG people for hosting Saundra and I so well, and for putting on an excellent conference.

PS. It is a real convenience traveling with a wife that is studying photography. Thanks to Saundra for these great pictures.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What? Terry is shy?

Yes, I’m shy.

Lots of people find that hard to believe but it’s true. When I was in high school my wife had to invite ME out. I don’t order pizza, don’t take things back to the store and in a restaurant if they serve me a bad meal I won’t complain, I just won’t go back.

Then in college I had a speech teacher take me in hand and help me develop a public persona, and in that mode THAT GUY could do the things I couldn’t do. Johnny Carson was the same way, terribly shy off camera, when he puffed out his chest and got into character he was the ultimate entertainer.

I discovered that it is very common among writers as they tend to be people who are more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than verbally. Then I discovered that outgoing people often needed to develop such a persona as well, not because they were shy, but in order to understand how they needed to present themselves as professional writers. We all play different roles in our lives depending on where we are and what we are doing. It just makes sense that we would give thought to how we would present ourselves in a professional writing situation.

I’ve been leading a course on this for a lot of years now and people who have gone through it tell me it really helped them. I know it helped me. Some people actually change and become more outgoing, but my nature is still shy, it is just easier after all of these years to slip into my professional persona. If I’m not in it I am more likely to be sitting quietly on the sidelines, just watching what is going on. I just finished leading the course at a conference and at present am doing it as a month long online course for the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Sometimes it is useful to actually dress different to make the switch easier. One woman told me she bought a set of black, sexy underwear that she only wore when she was in writer mode to help her made the switch. I told her that was too much information but I hoped she was letting her husband in on it.

As for me I like to dress western, but I dress a little more so when I am in character. George Bush sent me some sort of stimulus check and I used it to buy a Gold Edition Stetson. I only wear it for special occasions or when I am being the writer or agent. How could a guy not be confident under a hat like that? People have gotten to the point where they ask me where the hat is if they come into a meeting and I don’t have it on.

I was talking to a group of my clients online, however, and they pointed out that I did the hat, belt buckle, boots and a nice western jacket as my ‘brand’ but then I carried a normal briefcase. “It doesn’t work,” they said, “you need to throw saddlebags over your shoulder, not carry a briefcase.” At one conference I attended a guy that was there to do a Will Rogers impersonation carried saddlebags over his shoulder, maybe they have something there. I ordered a pair and we’ll see how that goes.

I’m on a mission to help all fellow shy writers learn to step beyond their limitations.