Lourdes Venard, author of Publishing for Beginners and her husband David Venard, who contributed a chapter to the book on the business side of being an author, shared their experiences, tools, tips, and resources with the participants at the March 18 meeting of Sisters in Crime (NYC Chapter) .
The evening began with Lourdes Venard sharing how a depressingly, minuscule number of query letters sent to agents result in representation—discouraging for us striving, unpublished authors. That was the bad news; the good news—we live in the age of e-publishing where authors are no longer limited to the traditional publishing path.
Lourdes is the founder of Comma Sense Editing and a newspaper editor with 30 years of experience writing and editing at major newspapers, including The Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Newsday. Her freelance editing includes crime fiction, science fiction, YA, memoirs, general fiction, and nonfiction; several of the books she has edited have been picked up by notable small presses or published by an Amazon imprint. She is a member of Sisters in Crime. She edits First Draft, a newsletter for over 600 members of the Sisters in Crime Guppies online chapter.
David Venard is an enrolled agent, a tax professional for many years, a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Lourdes’s husband. He has contributed a chapter in the book on the business side of being a writer.
Lourdes detailed three potential paths for getting your novel published: Traditional; Indie (self-publishing); and Hybrid. She discussed the pros and cons of each method and provided a handout to the participants with more information. She said that today authors move between delivery methods and shouldn’t assume they are locked into one path.
Lourdes also encouraged the authors to research and consider the over 120 small publishers. Many of these publishers consider author submitted manuscripts without an agent in the middle. The downside is that these publishers rarely have the resources for a marketing campaign. So authors must market and “sell” their own books.
For the self-publishing (Indie) route, Lourdes discussed the many platforms available for epublishing. Social media has provided opportunities for authors and readers to connect in many new ways. Publishers, like Amazon (Kindle Scout), are facilitating authors getting feedback on everything from content to book cover design. This is also a way to get recognized by more traditional publishers including Amazon publishing.
Lourdes stressed the importance of authors creating “buzz” for their books before they are published through social media, building an online presence, writing articles or shorter pieces, etc. She also pointed out that it often takes the publishing of a few books to build your audience.
No matter what vehicle you chose for publishing, Lourdes urged authors to be sure to have the books well edited before submitting for publication. The self-publishing boon has resulted in a great deal of poorly written, unedited content. Authors need to invest the time and the money required for professional editing. She outlined the different levels of editing: developmental (content) editing that includes addressing the plot flow, the pacing, character development; copy editing which covers grammar, spelling, punctuation, style issues; and proofreading, which polishes the work by catching any copy editing misses. (There will always be misses!) In her book, Lourdes provides greater detail and resources for finding an editor.
Dave Venard then addressed issues related to authors establishing themselves as a business (even though the business may not be profitable!). His objective was to make the business side of the creative venture as “painless” as possible. He presented the pros and cons of the different tax filing alternatives for writers; setting up habits and systems to collect and manage receipts; and assuring that your work is backed up digitally.
For those who attended the session, Lourdes and David, generously provided free e-copies of their book: Publishing for Beginners. In addition to the tips and resources they discussed, Lourdes and David have loaded the book with indispensable case examples, tools, and links to resources for those charting the rocky path to publishing.