Today’s guest is Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor for Escape Publishing. Kate talks about Escape’s first year, what she’s learned, and how her education can help aspiring authors.
Welcome to RU, Kate!
Writing anniversary blogs for Escape is a bit weird for me, given that I started with Escape six months before we launched (and had to keep my mouth shut for three of those months!), so my one year anniversary has been and gone, and I’m well over the hump towards anniversary number two. But in terms of learning, the one-year mark is right on the money. Setting up a digital imprint would be a steep learning curve for anyone, and those first few months of goal setting and positioning statements and market research were eye-opening. But once we threw open our doors and started actively seeking submissions and then releasing submissions into the world…well, let’s say that’s when it all got real.
The truth of the matter is that the market is saturated. And it is buyer’s choice. There are a lot of writers out there and there are a lot of books. Publishers know it. Marketing departments know it. Readers certainly know it.
I wish I had the answers on how to get readers to buy your books, but here’s a secret: no one really does. If they did, every book would be a best-seller. There are tricks and tips, but from what I can tell it comes down to writing good books and a whole lot of being in the right place at the right time.
All is not lost, however. I can offer up some of the things I’ve learned from 14 months of reading over 500 submissions about how to get your book in front of a publisher – and keep it there.
- Determine the core of your story. What is your story actually about? Breaking that down into one or two sentences will help define and clarify your direction, and focus your writing. It’s also does double time as a great elevator pitch as well.
- Figure out where the core of your story starts. Then begin your narrative there. The number one reason I reject a manuscript is because the narrative begins chapters before the story.
- Keep your story moving forward. So many manuscripts begin their story, and then immediately jump backwards into exposition and back story. Nothing kills momentum faster. Begin your story, and keep moving forward.
- Show, don’t tell. It’s amazing how often this little piece of advice gets trotted out, but it’s equally amazing how often it gets noticed. As an easy first step, remove ‘it felt like’ or ‘it seemed like’ from your vocabulary. Immediately your manuscript is stronger, and you’ve moved from telling to showing.
- Character development is important, but keep your eye on your plot. Pacing gets lost when the plot gets buried.
- Take the risks. Even if they don’t work, your story will still be better for it.
- Write your story. Don’t write a story that someone else could write. Don’t write for a capricious market. Write the story you want to tell. Everything else is a waste of your time.
- The only way to get better at writing is to keep writing.
- To paraphrase the amazing Ms Roberts: The only true way of writing a book is the one that gets it written. Everything else is an opinion.
- Don’t think about publishing while writing. Write.
- Not every manuscript that you write is destined for publication. Sometimes it’s written for the lesson you learned in the writing.
- People in publishing are just as passionate about writing and books and authors as you are, otherwise we wouldn’t give up our nights and weekends and holidays to read. Also, we’d find better paying jobs.
- Publishers are not the enemy, nor are they the gate-keeper to your dreams. They are readers with opinions and hang-ups and likes and dislikes. We know a lot about the market, but we go with our gut. In the end, there is a lot of subjectivity to what gets published.
- Which means if you haven’t found a publisher that is excited about you and your book, then you haven’t found the right publisher.
- And if we had all the answers, we’d all be publishing 50 Shades of Grey. Incidentally, I wouldn’t have picked up 50 Shades of Grey had it come across my desk.
- It’s author’s choice in terms of publishing your manuscript, but don’t discount the support, knowledge, research, experience, and enthusiasm that a good publishing house can provide.
- Finally, writing is a business. The really successful authors treat it as such: Stick to agreements. Meet deadlines. Communicate. Behave responsibly online. Publishers have long memories and great industry contacts. The worst thing you can do for your professional writing career is prove that you can’t be professional.
Escape is open to unsolicited manuscripts, and we publish all areas of romance fiction, from 5000 to 250,000 words. In particular, I’m very interested in:
- romantic suspense, particularly with a military or police focus
- LGBT romance
- Erotic romance with a strong relationship focus
- Science Fiction romance
- serial stories
You can submit to Escape via our website, www.escapepublishing.com.au. We ask for the first three chapters (whole stories are fine for stories under 10 000 words). Initial feedback will be sent within two weeks.
There’s a lot of writing advice out there, and it comes from all quarters. Of the advice you’ve heard, which has been the most useful? And which has been the least? Do you think writers can learn from other writers, or is it something that must be learned individually?
A fresh and exciting debut novel introducing the Chronicles from the Applecross.
Lora Blackgoat, smuggler and mercenary, has been lying low after a job gone bad made her a laughing stock in the industry. When a childhood friend turns to her for help, Lora leaps to restore her reputation and starts hunting a killer who is stalking the gas-lit streets.
She never expects that her path will lead her to the Order of Guides, a sadistic militant religious organisation – or to Roman, a deadly and dangerously attractive half-angel warrior who also hunts the killer.
When Lora discovers that the killer has broken fundamental laws of magic to enter the city, she also uncovers a conspiracy that leads back into her own dark past.
Book 2 in the Chronicles of Applecross – Chaos Bound is out next month
Author’s bio: Rebekah Turner lives in sunny Brisbane with her husband, two kids and a misunderstood Boston Terrier. Working as a graphic designer, she loves writing urban fantasy with lashings of romance, humour and a sprinkling of horror. Her vices include watching trashy 80s action movies and pretending she can cook. To learn more about Rebekah, visit her website or follow her on twitter.
Bio: Kate Cuthbert has written about romance for almost as long as she’s read them. Starting with a Master’s thesis for her MA in Writing, Editing, and Publishing, Kate has written book reviews and romance-focused features for the Brisbane Courier-Mail, All About Romance, Bookseller and Publisher Magazine, the New York Journal of Books, the Australian Romance Reader’s Association, and Booktopia. She is one of Australia’s foremost experts on the romance genre and its place in the publishing world. Kate’s editorial background includes genre fiction, children’s books, mass market publishing, magazine, and corporate and academic publishing.
Want to know more about Escape Publishing? Check out the following links.
Escape Publishing Twitter – https://twitter.com/escapepublisher
Escape Publishing TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/EscapePublishingTV
Escape Publishing Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/escapepublish/
Escape Publishing Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/EscapePublishing
Amy Alessio returns Saturday, November 16th with another Reader Round Up. RU co-founder and author Kelsey Browning joins us on Monday, November 18th.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for June 20-24: Kate Douglas, Lindsay Faber & Theresa Stevens
- Weekly Lecture Schedule – November 11th to November 15th
- Ask An Editor: Understanding Submission Guidelines
- Dorchester Publishing Launches New E-Commerce Web Site
- My Path to Publication; or, How I Hacked and Slashed my way Through the Uncharted Jungle of Novel Publishing