Friday, January 11, 2013

Author Chat Friday with Phoenix Johnson

Firstly, I want to apologise for it being a little later than normal. Today ended up a little busier than intended, or expected. But I'm here now, posting up my first Author Chat. 

To lead in to my first chat, I'd love to share some very exciting news: The Wolf in the Neighborhood has a release date! That's right, Tuesday 15th January, it will go live for purchase from Naughty Nights Press (where it's already available for pre-order!), All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo... I'm sure there are a few other places it'll be available from, but right now they're the ones I can remember off the top of my head in this stinking hot weather. Gold Coast summer!

So as part of that excitement, about the release date, not the summer bit, I'd love to discuss the important relationship between author and publisher. Something many people don't think about, either because they aren't one of either, or they are but just don't see it as quite as important. But I can tell you know, neither would be able to succeed without the other. So it's very important that an author and publisher see eye to eye, and are both willing to meet in the middle when there is an issue. If the author has an issue with the contract TALK ABOUT IT to the publisher BEFORE signing. 

(Disclaimer: I might use a fair bit of capitalisation in this post, I'm just trying to really make a point here.)

Once the contract is signed, both author and publisher are bound to THAT EXACT contract. That's it. READ IT. Make sure you know what you're signing before you sign. 

So now we've signed the contract, and maybe time is dragging a little. Keep in mind something before you go off the deep end: publishers look after MULTIPLE authors, editors, artists, and numerous other staff. Things come up (and no, they don't HAVE to tell you unless it directly involves you! Some do, though, out of COURTESY), and so instead of wasting their time with your petty tantrums, let them use that time to sort out the issues! They're humans just like you and me. 

Now you're on to the editing process. They're not there to tell you what a great job you've done in writing the story. Their sole purpose: CLEANING IT UP. Any little error, big error, gaping plothole... any issue that might be in there, it's their job to point it out to you. If you don't like it, well that's pretty much too bad. If it's something, say, like capitalisation of a word that normally isn't, (for example, in certain scenes in my Wolf Smitten series, I capitalise Wolf when referring to Derek's Wolf), then don't get shitty if they request it changed. Just leave a comment stating that it's integral. If it's a legit grammatical error or plothole, or something that is just purely difficult to believe even given whatever strange circumstance your story might be set in, LISTEN TO THEM. They're trying to get YOUR story to the best state it can be so that the readers (who PAY YOU) don't feel that they've wasted their money. They aren't your friend, they are your editor. It is important to have a good working relationship and trust with them, yes, but FIRST AND FOREMOST: they are your EDITOR. LISTEN. 

Cover artist has now done the cover. Maybe it's not quite what you thought it would be. Or maybe there's a small detail not quite right. Again: BEFORE going off the deep end, consider: is it INTEGRAL? Maybe the eye colour is wrong. In which case send a CALM message saying "whoops, Character A's eyes are actually red, not purple. Great job though!" If it's way off, for example wrong city skyline, and maybe some readers wouldn't notice but a lot would, again, send a CALM message pointing it out. If it's not absolutely integral, however (maybe the hero is standing when you wanted him to be sitting? Or he's facing left with hand on hip, but you wanted him facing right with his arms crossed), then just LEAVE IT. THEY know what sells and what doesn't. TRUST them. 

All through the process, make sure you always take a breath and THINK before sending a message. Is it IMPORTANT? Can it wait? And ALWAYS make sure you're calm and respectful. Obviously if they aren't respectful when you genuinely have been, then you might get annoyed. But don't see that as an invitation to be disrespectful back. Maybe it was just a swamped day, and they didn't have time for the usual courtesies. You don't know. Unless there are serious red flags going up, then just bear with it. Publishing companies are looking after numerous other authors, all eagerly waiting to get their book out there. But they can't all go out at once. It just doesn't work like that. 

My main points are to READ the contract, SHOW and EARN respect, BREATHE, THINK and TRUST. Not something that is easy these days, but without any trust, society is just going to go to hell. I trusted, respected and, I believe, have earned respect by breathing and thinking and not being a tantrumy, impatient toddler. And now, I am about to see that all pay off with my debut release next week. I can tell you, it is worth every single second of waiting!

Excerpt of The Wolf in the Neighborhood, RELEASE DAY 15 JANUARY 2013 Pre-order HERE

After a few more moments of sniping from him, Krissy finally convinced Derek that a nap might help him feel better, so she helped him off the couch. He pushed away her efforts to help him to her room, stating, “I sure didn’t need the help last night; I think I can make it today,” with a wink that made her giggle. She was astounded at how well she had taken this new aspect of him in her stride. She guessed it was just the exposure to werewolf novels and movies that had her desensitized.

Once they reached her room, she directed Derek to lie on his stomach so she could try to massage out some of the knots in his shoulders, tense from the double transformation. His breath groaned out of his chest as her hands – delicate yet strong – worked out some of the bigger kinks and she felt the vibrations through his back, making her recall his groans of pleasure from last night when she clawed his back.

She frowned in silent thought, wondering whether that had been man or beast enjoying that bit of pain, before she realized Derek had fallen asleep with one last groaning sigh. Krissy smiled as she watched his face, finally peaceful and frown-free.