Fabulous First Lines Competition

fabulous first lines competition badge

graphic from: http://goo.gl/zNixI4

Announcing EMSA Publishing’s very first ever Fabulous First Lines Competition!

The first line of a novel is incredibly important in that it sets the tone of a novel, establishes point of view, and hooks the reader. Here’s your chance to see how your novel’s first line stacks up.

The Rules:

  • The Fabulous First Lines Competition will be open to thirty (30) self-published and indie-published authors.
  • The competition will run throughout the month of August 2015 as follows:
    • August 2 – 8 => voting will take place for the first group of 10 authors
    • August 9 – 15 => voting will take place for the second group of 10 authors
    • August 16 – 22 => voting will take place for the third group of 10 authors
    • August 21 – 29 => voting will take place for the top three winners from each week, with a winner being declared on 30 August 2015
  • The prizes:
    • bragging rights
    • a badge you can proudly display on your website
    • your book featured on EMSA Publishing’s homepage slider for the month of September 2015
    • posts to social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Storify) directing readers to a blog post featuring your novel’s cover, book blurb, and author bio
  • EMSA Publishing’s Fabulous First Lines Competition is $3.00 USD payable via PayPal to fabfirstline@emsapublishing.com. Please include a note listing your name, book title and email address with your payment. When your payment notification is received, I will send a confirmation email requesting your book cover, first line, buy links and synopsis along with an invoice.
  • With your entry in the Fabulous First Lines Competition you get:
    • your book featured on EMSA Publishing’s homepage slider for one day of your voting week
    • your book added to EMSA Publishing’s bookstore for the month of competition
    • posts to social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Storify) throughout your voting week
    • a banner to add to your homepage to direct voters to the competition voting page
  • Entries for August’s Fabulous First Lines Competition will close at midnight on 30 July 2015 (or when thirty entries have been confirmed). If you miss the first competition don’t worry, as the next one is just around the corner!

2 Reasons Why Self-Editing is Hard and 5 Ways You Can Make it Easier

editing

Graphic from: http://schools.nashua.edu/middle/lime/SiteCollectionImages/editing.gif

Having an edited, ready-for-publication manuscript is paramount when searching for a publisher or an agent. Some vanity publishers—like EMSA Publishing—will provide editing in exchange for a percentage of the royalties. Others will provide you with a list of approved editors and ask you to pay from your own pocket for their services. Similarly, when self-publishing, the onus is on you to self-edit and/or hire an editor to get your manuscript up to standards.

In today’s economy, hiring an editor isn’t financially feasible for most of us. Authors are forced to become jacks-of-all-trades as a result, writing, publishing, advertising and editing on their own. Out of that array, editing is perhaps the most difficult to master, especially when it’s on your own manuscript.

Two reasons why self-editing is hard

Reason One – lack of education

Whether your highest level of education is a high school diploma or graduate degree, chances are you were never formally taught grammar in school. This is especially true if only a decade or so has passed since your graduation. I remember, in middle school,  having to parse sentences to pick out the subject, object, predicate, etc. I was never very good at it because I was never formally taught any of the rules. My knowledge of grammar is more intuitive than practical—if it sounds good, it’s probably grammatically correct. When in doubt, I can always look it up online, a luxury I didn’t have in middle school.

Reason Two – it’s not how our brains work

As a writer, you’re too close to your work. Nick Stockton’s article, What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos, says writing is a critical thinking task. When you challenge you brain with higher-level thinking, it tends to generalize. You remember where you wanted to take the story and  your brain fills in the blanks, glossing over the errors. It’s hard to edit your own work, not because you can’t or don’t know how to fix the issues, but rather, because you know what should be on the page so well that your brain doesn’t realize it’s not there.

Even with the cards seemingly stacked against you, there are still techniques you can use to help with this aspect of the publication process.

Five Ways You Can Make Self-Editing Easier

  1. Give yourself some wait time.

Put your work away for a day, a week, or a month. If you give your brain time to forget what you’ve written and come at it with fresh eyes, it might help to find issues you missed before.

  1. Read your work aloud.

Sometimes hearing your work will help you to find grammatical problems. When you read, don’t just vocalize your words. Read slowly and really try to listen to what you are saying.

  1. Pay attention to spell- and grammar-check, but be skeptical.

Sometimes, spell- and grammar-check marks correctly spelled words and stylistic sentences as incorrect. While that doesn’t mean it is an actual error, it is worth checking it out. Check online against the rules when in doubt.

  1. Use online applications to help with the process.

Websites like PaperRater that have built-in grammar and style checks can be useful, but take all suggestions with a grain of salt. I particularly like the HemingwayApp site which marks difficult words and sentences, and highlights phrases in passive voice. HemingwayApp will also categorize your reading level for difficulty, which can be helpful to for authors writing for children and teens.

  1. Read your work from the bottom up.

Fool your brain by reading your work backwards, sentence by sentence. This can help you find sentences that don’t make sense, or those with errors in grammar, even though it’s a really awkward way to review your work.

Do you have any other suggestions or sites that will help with the editing process? If so, please share them in the comments below.

Beginner’s Guide to Building an Online Platform

Image from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsesadl/files/2014/01/social-media-cube670x335.jpg

Image from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsesadl/files/2014/01/social-media-cube670x335.jpg

Most of my experience in the world of publishing has been helping friends and colleagues to get their work published, so I never had the need to create a social media presence for what I do. But when I decided to go pro, I realized that my business was going nowhere without an online platform.

Starting an online platform from scratch is a lot of work with little return, at least in the beginning. Nevertheless, in today’s digital market, it’s exactly what I had to do. It’s also exactly what many first time authors need to do, and so I thought I’d share the process with you.

Without further ado, here is my beginner’s guide to building an online platform:

Claim your domain name.

A domain name is how potential fans will find you on the web. You can choose from virtually any name or phrase, so long as it hasn’t already been registered. Many authors choose their book title as a domain name, but I suggest using the name under which you publish. That way you can create a separate page for each book and keep site maintenance to a minimum.

Build a web page.

Take a breath…this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. There are quite a few really good point and click interfaces out there. I like WordPress, but you can also use Wix or Weebly and forward your domain name to your site. Pages you might want to include on your site include synopses of your books including buy links, and a brief biography which lists ways to contact you. While a blog is not mandatory, it’s a good way to pique reader interest, particularly if you blog about writing and the writing process, and/or the subject and genre in which you write.

Claim your social media accounts.

Create a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Pinterest, Storify, and GooglePlus account in your name. If your name is taken, try adding the word “author” or “books” to it. Social media is a great way to publicize your work and draw reader attention.

Link your social media for cross-posts.

You can join your social media accounts to post to each other, which is a huge time-saver. By cross-posting, your blog can post to select social media for you, Twitter can post to Facebook and vice-versa. Same with GoodReads. Some websites (like WordPress) will even let you create a widget that shows your last few Twitter and Facebook posts on your website. GoodReads has code that will display your To Be Read list, or the title of the book you are currently reading in a sidebar, all of which can help make connections between you and your readers. Use a scheduling site like HootSuite to enable you to post during peak hours, if you can’t physically post at those times yourself.

Create social media buzz.

Post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest regularly. I usually make an advertising post about once a week. The rest of the time I’m reposting materials about publishing and writing that I find on the web and that my followers might find interesting. I also post a notification to social media any time I add something to my blog or earn accolades on the web for my work. I reserve sites like Storify, GooglePlus and LinkedIn exclusively to promote posts about my own work.

Follow and friend like-minded people.

Search up hashtags for your genre and content on Twitter and follow a few of the people that post them. Join Facebook groups for writers and lovers of similar genres and content. Interact regularly by liking, sharing, and retweeting. Engage and interact with your followers and friends and they’ll follow suit. Before you know it you’ll be networking like a pro, selling books with little effort, which, after all, is the primary reason you embarked on the journey to create an author platform in the first place.

Do you have any other ideas for beginning writers wanting to set up an online presence? If so, share your tips in the comments below.

7 Places (and 1 bonus idea) where you can list your books for free

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Image from https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7107/7002322316_d854c64d14_b.jpg

As authors, our goal is to get read, which means getting the word out there. If you’re like most of us, you spend your time dreaming of the day you can shed the shackles of your day job in favour of making a living at writing full time. The old adage, “you have to spend money to make money,” just doesn’t work for us, because we don’t have a lot of money to spend on things like advertising campaigns which may or may not prove successful.

So what do you do while you’re waiting for your book to make it to the best sellers’ list? You seek out free publicity. And who doesn’t love a bit of free publicity?

Here are eleven places (and one idea) where you can list your books online, totally free!

Happy posting!

BookBzz

Bookbzz is an online social sharing site where people can talk about and review books. While they have other paid features, you can list your book for free and participate in the social sharing (or not), if you desire.

BookGoodies

Click on the “Authors Start Here” button on the menu at the top of the page for a list of free services. While there are a lot more features you can use if your book is free or under a dollar, it doesn’t have to be.

HumanMade

HumanMade is a place for people to promote their talents. If carrying a story from start to end isn’t a talent, I don’t know what is.

BiblioScribe

This site offers a lot of opportunities for free PR including a free press release, article submission, and the ability to create a web page to promote your book for free.

iAuthor

iAuthor will attempt to link your book to readers interested in your genre and content. The site allows you to create a page for as many books as you’d like.

AuthorMarketingClub

Though the Author Marketing Club has a lot of paid services for authors, you can still post your book for free on their site at no charge.

AwesomeGang

Fill out the form with your book title, description and cover image and the site will create an awesome page featuring your book at no charge.

And the bonus idea?

Check out your post-secondary institution’s homepage. Mine keeps a list of books published by its alumni. I am able to post all of my books there, including cover images, totally free!

Do you have any other suggestions to add to the list? If so, please post them in the comments below.

Call For Submissions

your-book-here_fun-36EMSA Publishing is an independent online publisher who knows there is more to selling books than simply uploading them to a web site. Compelling stories, attractive covers and effective editing is a start, but that’s not how books are sold. Building an author platform is key, especially for new authors. EMSA Publishing offers book editing, cover art, eBook and print book formatting and distribution in popular online bookstores with competitive royalty payments. Web page set up and blog tour planning is also available in order to help new authors establish a foothold in the continually evolving world of ePublishing.

EMSA Publishing is currently seeking publication-ready, novel-length, fiction manuscripts for publication by new and established authors. Submissions should be polished, in excess of 35,000 words, and never before published or self-published. All genres are welcome with the exception of erotica or stories with graphically violent or abusive content.

We do not charge reading fees. A professional cover, editing, author page, inclusion in our online bookstore, and marketing assistance is included as a part of your contract. Note that while we are available to mentor authors with the marketing process, we expect authors to take on the bulk of book marketing by making themselves available and remaining active on social media. Authors are expected to be participate in the editing process as well.

Interested authors may email a query letter (no more than 1 page) with a brief synopsis (no more than 2 pages) and the first 20 pages of the manuscript in the body of an email (no attachments, please), to query @ emsapublishing.com. Please include the novel title and your name in the subject line.

At EMSA Publishing, our goal is to help you, the writer, become an author.