Monday, April 30, 2012

List of publishers seeking submissions

What? We can contact publishers ourselves? Don't we need agents? Well, yes and no. In most cases, getting an agent is the best way to go because you'll have the opportunity to reach more publishers and possibly negotiate better contracts. But it's not the ONLY way to go.

If your book is high quality, but perhaps "risky" because it doesn't have a clear market niche, such as cross-genre works, emerging genres like New Adult, or novellas, a small publisher may be more willing to take the chance on you. Submitting directly to publishers is also good alternative for all writers of genre fiction, especially romance.

This list is far from exhaustive. There are oodles of publishers out there, many of which are open to unagented submissions, and you can find more on or I chose to highlight these for the following reasons:

  • They accept unagented and unsolicited submissions.
  • They accept simultaneous submissions.
  • They accept electronic submissions.
  • They look professional, with attractive, high quality covers (of course this is quite subjective).
  • They are traditional royalty paying publishers (they don't charge fees).
48fourteen - An all digital publisher with a social network component. They are open to pretty much all genres. From their website, "We are looking for fresh ideas, no matter the genre. “Cookie-cutter” type novels are a dime a dozen and not for us."

Belle Books - They have been around since 1999 and publish in e-book and print. They focus on Southern fiction, but are open to a variety of genres set in the South or not. They pay an advance. From the website, "Bell Bridge Books is known for nurturing emerging fiction voices as well as being the "second home” for many established authors, who continue to publish with major publishing conglomerates."

Carina Press - A digital imprint of Harlequin. As you might expect, they do a lot of romance, but they are open to genre novels without romantic elements! They do not accept YA or literary fiction. From their website, "If the book of your heart fits into a niche that has very little shelf space in a traditional bookstore, Carina Press is eager to read and potentially publish your story."

Product DetailsCrescent Moon Press - Check out their gorgeous cover for Breathless. A boutique publisher of digital and print titles. They accept sci-fi and fantasy of all varieties. From their website, "CMP prides itself on quality writing, out of the box story lines, and professionalism."

Curiosity Quills - A "cheerfully coordinated collective of copy-cranking collaborators," who publishes print and digital science fiction, speculative, and paranormal. They are looking for "Thought-provoking, mind-twisting rollercoasters – challenge our mind, turn our world upside down, and make us question."

Entangled Publishing - A digital and print publisher for all types of romance, including other genres with strong romantic elements. From their website, "Entangled Books is an excellent option for outside-of-the-box story concepts, authors who want frequent royalty checks, new authors breaking into the marketplace, or prolific authors looking to leverage existing large platforms"

Etopia Press - A digital and print publisher open to almost everything, from traditional genres to non-traditional and cross-genre. They welcome diversity and LGBT works of all genres. They offer an advance for romance. From their website, "Etopia Press is currently looking for the best, most unique, most well-crafted stories out there — and we know they’re out there."

PictureImmortal Ink Publishing - They will open for submissions in May 2012. A new publisher of print and e-books. They are open to a variety of genres but not interested in, "bibles, elves, dwarves, and purple moons." Check out this blog post for more information on what each editor is looking for. In general they look for, "strong characterization, characters who are unusual, fresh treatment of familiar themes, honesty, and depth."

Inkspell Publishing - A new publisher of digital and print romance (non-erotic), fantasy, and YA. Check out their lovely cover for Want. From the website, "At Inkspell, our mission is to enchant our readers with spellbinding tales of magical worlds and lovers."

Lyrical Press - A digital publisher of all types of romance, including other genres with strong romantic elements. From the website, "Authors can expect a personalized publishing experience from Lyrical Press. We believe no author should be left behind."

Quirk Books - It's all in the name isn't it? If you have something a little different, check out this reputable publisher. They've been around since 2002 and have published big titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Now that's good quirk. From the website, "Here at Quirk, we are always on the lookout for strange and wonderful ideas. Many of our favorite books have come from unsolicited submissions."
Sourcebooks - This big name publisher is open to unagented submissions of romance, children's, and YA. Lovely covers, such as Haunted. From their website, "We are particularly looking for strong writers who are excited about promoting and building their community of readers, and whose books have something fresh to offer the ever-growing Young Adult audience."

A few more to watch...

These publishers are not accepting unsolicited submissions right now, but occasionally have periods when they do.

Angry Robot
Dragon Moon Press
Spencer Hill Press
Strange Chemistry

If you do decide to submit to publishers yourself, I suggest How To Be Your Own Literary Agent, by Richard Curtis. It's a little outdated. Published in 2003, a lot has changed in the publishing world since then. But it has great info about how to submit to a publisher and how to negotiate your own deal.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Publishers Weekly Review for The Charge

Well, my entry for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award didn't make it to the final round. But as a consolation prize, I got an absolutely lovely review from Publishers Weekly. I am wishing I could hire this person as my query writer. Not sure what to do with it if I don't self-publish, but it's nice to have. Maybe I'll try another round of queries with the last line as a quote.

Here it is, Publishers Weekly Review for The Charge:

A solid cast of well-developed characters, including a “super-tall” royal Texan family, stars in this thrill ride of a novel teetering between sci-fi adventure and alternate historical epic. Set in a time after the fall of the evil Texas Empire at the hands of the United States government, average Joe Warren King discovers that his geeky loner little brother has been kidnapped, and his mother inexplicably urges him to flee to Canada. Instead, Warren travels to California, a former Texas Empire territory, where he comically tries his hand at sleuthing to track down his genius brother, Isaac, who seems to have been actively testing their DNA for a mysterious “blue chromosome.” Warren soon learns that the people who abducted his brother are after him too, and it is all tied to the blue chromosome and his sudden realization that his body is giving off a powerful electrical charge that he can’t explain. At a measured pace, the engrossing history of this parallel world is revealed, along with the politics and legends that accompany the now extinct royal Texan Wildes family -- a beautiful, physically homogenous, and abnormally tall clan believed to have preternatural abilities, and perhaps a connection to Warren himself. Easily shifting between characters’ perspectives, and relentless in its action, well-placed humor, and suspense, this manuscript is a delight.

Thank you anonymous Publishers Weekly reviewer for making my week. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eco-friendly tips for writers

To keep the dystopian worlds in our books and not outside our window, we ought to think about our impact on the environment. The good news is that writing is already a fairly earth-friendly pursuit. The days of trash cans full of crumpled up drafts is long gone. We don't have to travel much, and do almost everything electronically. If a writer so chose, they could write, edit, query, and even publish a book without ever using a scrap of paper. So we can feel good about ourselves, but there is still plenty we can do. You may already do a lot of these things, but here are some tips just in case:

1) Arrange your work space near a window so you can use natural light during the day. Bonus points for using open windows or fans to avoid using the air conditioner. Use CFL or LED lights in your office for night time writing, and if possible, use only one well-placed lamp.

2) Shut down your computer at night or when you're done using it for the day.

3) Change your settings so that your computer goes into sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity. On a PC, go to "Control Panel" and "Power Options". Use the "Power Saver" setting.

4) Don't use a screensaver. These are a waste of energy. Modern monitors do not need them.

5) Use a laptop instead of a desktop. In addition to enjoying writing under a tree or at a coffee shop, laptops use less energy.

6) Plug your computer and all it's accessories into a surge protector and put it in the off position when you're not using your computer. Electronic devices use energy even when turned off. Unplug or turn off the surge protector.

7) Recycle and re-use. In the writing world, there is not much you really need to throw away. Recycle electronics, printer cartridges, and of course, paper. Local electronics and office supply stores often have options to recycle electronics and printer cartridges. Give away or sell your books. If they're in bad condition, recycle them.

8) Don't print. Not ever. Okay, maybe you might need to print every once in a blue moon, but there are very few reasons why you need to do this as a writer. Get used to reading and editing work on the screen. Tracking changes and inserting comments are a great way to edit in Word. Remember, if you don't print much, keep your printer off and unplugged.

9) Do a home energy audit. Writers work from home, which is good for the environment because we don't commute. But it also means that we have our heating/cooling/lighting systems on all the time. Go to to complete a do-it-yourself energy audit.

10) Invest in a Kindle or Nook. Listen, I'm not against paper books. I like the way they smell and feel as I flip through the pages. I love walking through real bookstores and looking at the pretty covers on all the real books. I often fantasize about smelling my own published book one day. Okay, now I sound weird. To get back on topic, I still think you should try to limit your use of paper published books, especially if you're a voracious reader. Not only do e-readers save paper, electronic books do not require fossil fuels for delivery to your house or bookstore.

11) Put agents who don't accept email queries at the bottom of your list. I'm not saying you should shun paper-loving agents (we can't really afford to be too picky, right?), but maybe query them last. Trust me, you'll want to anyway. If you're not used to sending things in the mail, it feels like a real pain. "Stamps cost how much??"

If you already do a lot of these things, congratulations! But remember, there is always room to do more. Think about other ways to live green with books like Green Your Home All-in-one For Dummies and
Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet.

Happy Earth Day! 

April 2012 Contests and Critique Opportunities - Part II

Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, I've added some of my favorite earth friendly links: - Simple, easy tips. - Complete your own home energy audit and learn how you can improve. - There is no excuse for ever throwing away a book. Give them away or sell them to a secondhand store. - A list of ways writers can help the environment. I wrote mine first ;)

Favorite Eco-Friendly Books:

Green Your Home All-in-one For Dummies
Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet

Now on to the contests -

Pitch Contest for Query Critique - Submit your 1-2 line pitch for YA, women's fiction, historical or romance by 4/22 (that's today!) to be judged by agent Emmanuelle Morgen. Winners get a query critique from the agent.

An Agent's Inbox Contest - This is one of my favorites! Submit your query and first page on 4/23 at 10am EST. Selections will be posted on Krista's blog for public comments by an agent. Winners can get requests. Various genres for both adult and YA, but this agent prefers realistic work (not sci-fi/ fantasy).

Celebration Critique Giveaway - Comment on the post by 4/25 for a chance to win a full or first 10 page critique from author Amy L. Sonnichsen. No genre restrictions.

Strange Chemistry Open Door -  The YA publisher Strange Chemistry is open to unagented submissions of YA sci-fi and fantasy (all varieties) until 4/30. Submit your synopsis and first 5 chapters, specific instructions listed on link.

The Writer's Voice Blogfest Contest - Based on the reality show The Voice, 4 bloggers will pick teams of writers and help them hone their entries to be judged by agents. You can win partial and full requests. You will post your query and first 250 words on your blog. Two submission windows open on 5/3. Several genres.

Young Writer's Prize - For writers 18-25 only. Submit your first 4000 words and a full synopsis of your novel for readers 9-19 between 4/30 and 5/31. You can win a chance to be published by Hot Key Books.

Crits for Water Auction - Through 6/30, bidding opportunities will be available for critiques from agents and editors. Proceeds benefit clean water.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Matching Game - Finding Good Comps for Your Query

Comps have always driven me bonkers. My novels don't seem to fit in anywhere. Which is good in some ways as agents are always looking for something fresh, but in a lot of ways it sucks. Novels that fit well into a family of "others" are an easy sell because agents know exactly where the market is. The ideal novel (to an agent) would be easily classified as part of an established market while also being different from what's out there.

In my last two projects, I didn't list comps in my query because I simply couldn't think of any. I always fear that the comps I choose will be wrong. They'll be too different from my book and make me look stupid for choosing them. I have also come up with some really weird comps that make no sense like Sookie Stackhouse meets The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'm not sure what I was thinking there. Fortunately that one didn't go out to agents. But as I get ready to query again, I am determined to come up with good comps for my query. I have compiled some tips about how to pick the right comps.

1) READ - This hopefully goes without saying. But the best way to find novels like yours is to read as much as possible, especially books that you think might be similar to yours. If you're very genre-loyal, this is easy. You probably read and write the same kind of books. If you have eclectic tastes like me, you might have to make a point to focus on similar books while you're working on your project to get some ideas for good comps.

2) Be creative - If your project doesn't have too many clones out there, you might have better luck with a "this meets that" comparison. My favorite example of this may be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. A comp so creative that it is actually the premise of the book. Matching a classic comedy of manners with bloody zombie mayhem was a fresh concept that could only be described my comparing two completely different genres. Be careful with this though. Using two comps from different genres (like I did in my Sookie & The Road example) is usually a bad idea because the agent doesn't know which of the two markets it lies in. Only do this if there is no better way to describe it and it's clear what you mean.

3) Think about your readers - This approach has worked the best for me. If you twist yourself into knots trying to find a novel that matches yours, think simpler. One of the purposes of a comp is demonstrating you understand the market for your book. So simply ask yourself, what other books would your readers read? Are they more commercial or more literary minded? Serious or lighthearted? Realistic or fantastical? My current novel is an upmarket contemporary fantasy. So, instead of trying to find something exactly like it, I'm using other examples realistic fantasy with a literary bent, assuming that the same readers will be drawn to mine even if the plots are quite different.

4) Show off your knowledge - From agent Suzie Townsend, "Comparable titles also tell me how well-read the writer is when it comes to their own genre. I can't tell you how important I think this is." Good comps are an opportunity to show off your literary savvy. Honestly, this is one of the areas I'm always most nervous about. I read a lot, but I also know writers who read A LOT, and agents can often read hundreds of books a year. But just do your research and focus on reading books that might make for good comps and you can demonstrate that you know what you're talking about. You want to find comps that are both popular (as in have a strong market) but not blockbuster types like Twilight and Harry Potter. The latter are overused and can make you sound boastful, even if it's true. (In fact, using Twilight as a comp is an insta-no for a lot of agents. Vickie Motter says this here.) In my personal opinion it's good to show that you read the books in your genre that are acclaimed/popular, but read more than just the bestsellers that everyone and their cat reads.

Some great links:

Query Workshop: Comparative Titles on Operation Awesome
The Art of Pitching by Suzie Townsend
Researching Comp Books by Jill Corcoran
Query comps, or "Mommy, who do I look like?"
Right now I'm thinking about using A Discovery of Witches and The Magicians as comps for my upmarket contemporary fantasy about wizards. I am also tossing around using American Gods too, even though it's not about wizards. Thoughts on this?

What about you? Ever picked any weird comps? Any tips that have worked for you?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 2012 Contests and Critique Opportunities - Part I

It's time for some more contests! This Easter, hop on over to these blogs for some great opportunities (yeah, that's right, I said hop).

Agent-Judged Contests

Miss Snark's April Secret Agent Contest - Submissions this month will be chosen by a lottery. Submit the first 250 words of your MS between 9am and 5pm EST on 4/9. Just YA and MG this time around. As always, you can win a request.

Agent-Judged Contest from Ruth Lauren Steven - You can win a partial read and feedback from agents Julia Churchill of Greenhouse and Gemma Cooper of The Bright Literary Agency. Submit your query and first five pages during the submission window of 9am-5pm EST on 4/18. YA or MG only.

Critique Opportunities

April 1st 5 Pages Workshop - The first 5 entries will be entered into the Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing Monthly free workshop for the first 5 pages of your YA or MG manuscript. Opened 4/7 at noon.

Agent Query Critique Giveaway from Krista Van Dolzer - Congratulations Krista! She just signed with Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary! To celebrate, she's giving away a query critique from her new agent and 2 query and 1st ten page critiques from herself. To enter, you must spread the word about her contest and then comment. All genres. Due 4/9.

Let me know if I left anything out! For all of you doing the A-Z Challenge, keep up the awesome work! I am inspired. Happy Easter!