Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

What’s better than one blog giving away a book? Two blogs giving away books! I’ve partnered up with friend and very funny fellow writer Stacey Graham (from Betwixt & Between) to review the latest must-have writing tool from Workman Publishing and help a couple of folks receive their very own free copy. Giveaway details are listed just after the review.

If someone had handed me a copy of THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry when I was sixteen, my professional writing career would be very different—and better—today. (For one thing, I would have known about the Internet and E-books back in the 1980s, ka-ching!)

I have been a writer for most of my life so far, and I’ve read a LOT of books on the subject. Usually, at some point during the book, I’ll find a passage or idea and call bullcrap on it. That didn’t happen with this book. Eckstut and Sterry covered every base I could think of, and added a few I didn’t know about.

Building platforms, getting an agent, working with editors, understanding contracts, untangling the web of ebooks, tackling marketing and publicity: it’s all here in clear, honest and often funny language. As a humor writer, it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud, and this book did it several times. The authors hooked me with an up-to-date social media section, including an interview with noted author and Master Tweeter Neil Gaiman conducted over Twitter.

As a multiple-year NaNoWriMo winner, I also loved seeing Chris Baty’s proposal for his book, NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! The book even wraps up with the very proposal Eckstut and Sterry used, so you have two winning examples to use as blueprints.

The self-publishing section is comprehensive; the subject has its share of champions and foes in the publishing world, and I find my own opinion changing depending on the time of day. They explain the different types of self-pubbing, what to avoid, and how to sell successfully.I think one of the most important sections is the explanation between vanity presses and legitimate self-pubbing; if you don't know the difference, you must read it.

No matter what type of book you want to write and see published, this guide will help you through the process better than any combination of Scotch and prescription drugs.

And now for the best part! Winning your very own copy of THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED! There are several ways to enter:

  1. Follow me @plaidearthworm and Stacey (@staceyigraham) on Twitter and mention the giveaway with a link back to our blogs, using the hashtag #GTBPgiveaway
  2. Give both sites a "thumbs up" using StumbleUpon
  3. Tell us on both blogs why you need this book in our comments section. Be sure to tell us if you are following us on Twitter - please leave your @ID and your email address so we are able to contact you if you win!
  4. The winners will be chosen on November 2, 2010, by and announced on both sites.

Good luck to all of you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review: How to Survive A Garden Gnome Attack

Chuck Sambuchino invites you to a garden party....of Death!

His first humor release, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK from Ten Speed Press, is a twisted, fun read aimed at protecting your ass from those so-called innocent statues lurking on your lawn. Sambuchino creates an intricate little world of danger hidden in everyday life, a world so detailed that I wonder if he has some hidden Dungeon Master experience in his past.

The 106 pages are broken down into sections: Assess, Protect, Defend and Apply. Thwarting the tiny demons involves a multitude of actions, from using commercial fertilizer on your lawn to keep it green and make gnomes crazy to removing all sharp implements from your kitchen, especially “those small pointy little corncob holders.”

Baseball bats, flamethrowers, chemical warfare, moats and even a big @#$% dog come into play as weapons against gnomes, along with advice from gnome defense experts. Find a tiny crop circle in your garden? That means a gnome home invasion could happen at any time.

In this secret, evil gnome-ridden world, paranoia becomes your protector and friend: did you really leave the wheelbarrow out of the garage? Why is the dog acting weird? Advice on keeping a logbook of suspicious activity also adds a nice Cold War-style touch of fear. HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK is a sharp parody of today’s polarized “killers and bedbugs behind every corner” culture. It’s also a slight tweak on modern in-your-face horror literature of zombies and other creepy things that go bump in the night.

Now we just have to figure out how to kill a vampire with a tiny corn cob holder.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Love Rejections

(Above: my favorite clip ever on making the most from rejection.)

Yes, I love rejections. Think I’m being sarcastic? Not at all. While we all want to see that magical ‘Yes,’ rejections are an essential part of writing. I’ve received many rejections in my career as a freelance writer. I’ll be honest: the first few I cried over, the next fifty or so required margaritas and chocolate. After that, I learned to study rejections and even take away some encouragement, especially with personal rejections including a quick note from the editors. Did the editor have a specific idea or suggestions in mind? Ask me to submit again? Receiving something besides a form rejection became a chance to improve my work.

When I began my adventure into the world of book publishing this year, I discovered rejections are almost considered door prizes. Querying an agent has become ridiculously easy thanks to e-mail, and most agents take e-queries. Some only take e-queries. But the huge amount of queries stuffing inboxes (I imagine the inboxes swelling, cartoon-style, until you hear a ‘Pop!’ and words explode out of the computer like confetti) means that many agents will only contact you if they’re interested in your project. I completely understand why this is done, but for the hopeful writer, it can suck. A polite ‘No thanks’ can give a writer some closure and let you move on.

This is why I love rejections even more these days. It’s a notch in the belt, a bit of experience earned. Form rejections are fine; personal rejections with comments or suggestions are wonderful. Some agents are so good at form rejections, you’ll think it’s a personal note written just for you. To learn the difference, I highly recommend signing up with, where other seekers often leave examples of form rejections in the comments section so you can compare notes.

As for me, the search continues, but these days my lip doesn’t even quiver when a rejection shows up in my inbox. I know someone took the time to reply to my query, and I’m one more step closer to that ‘Yes.’