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August, 2012

Connections in Your Novel

by Bruce L. Cook

Not long ago writers were taught to include hints in a story that would point the reader to the conclusion. In my case, I was to include “bears in the woods” so my reader would be comfortable with the conclusion, whatever it was. (Continued below...)


Why Is a Subsidy Publisher Right for You?

by Vivienne Diane Neal



You have just registered your unpublished manuscript to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. In the meantime, you are contemplating which traditional, royalty-paying publisher is more likely to read your work. You are hoping that a major publisher will find it worthy to publish. If this happens, you are probably on your way to receiving a nice advance for your novel. Soon, your book is being edited, proofread, designed, printed, marketed, promoted and distributed to a targeted audience and slowly but surely, you are on your way to becoming a writer who gets royalties for every book sold.

However, what happens if you receive a letter from a subsidy publishing company saying, “One of our researchers has discovered your manuscript registration with The Library of Congress and has forwarded your name to our company as a possible candidate for publication. If you are an author, you probably have experienced roadblocks when trying to get your work read and published by a traditional publisher. Having your manuscript read by major publishers can be difficult and usually involves long delays. If you wish to see your work in print, there is the subsidy publisher.”

Now, you are excited, because someone has taken the time to contact you rather than you contacting hundreds of publishers. You are probably thinking, “Gee, my work must be good. Who would actually sift through thousands of manuscripts submitted to The Library of Congress and pick out my work?” Yet, you will have to read between the lines, because there is more to this letter than meets the eye.

A subsidy or vanity press is nothing more than a print on demand publisher who will review your work to decide whether it meets their requirements for publication. Most likely, your work will pass with flying colors. The subsidy publisher might then explain their various plans on how they can proofread, edit, design, produce, market, and promote your book, and at the same time offer you quality bookstore traditional printing and/or an on-line electronic system.

The next step is to send them your manuscript by e-mail, fax or snail mail. You will receive confirmation that your manuscript has arrived; someone will read your work and get back to you. You are now anxious, because that big break is about to come, but as you will see, there is always a catch!

Once the subsidy has received and read your manuscript, here is the where the sales pitch begins. As far as giving you a constructive critique on your writing, it may never happen. The subsidy publisher will send you a summary of your story along with their packet, which will explain in detail all the services they will provide, namely editing, proofreading, cover design, printing, and putting together a marketing, advertising and promotional campaign for your book. They will also handle all orders, processing and mailings. Of course, traditional, royalty-paying publishers will provide the same service. The only difference is that the subsidy publisher will charge you a fee, which can be exorbitant if you are on a limited budget. In some cases, the price can start at five figures.

Because many writers believe that traditional publishers are more likely to choose manuscripts from established authors or famous people, first time authors may be tempted to go with a subsidy or vanity press. However, most experts will tell you that money should only pass from the publisher to the author and not the other way around.

If you do decide to use a subsidy or vanity press, make certain you read the fine print before signing any publishing agreement. If something is not clear, ask questions or have a lawyer look over the contract. Even though you may sign a document, if you decide to make changes to your finished book, the cost may be more than what you contracted originally.

Better yet, try self-publishing your work. The following services Lulu.com, Createspace.com and Smashwords.com will provide you with the tools to publish your book. It may be time consuming but it will not cost you an arm and both legs.

About the Writer:

Vivienne Diane Neal is the author of Making Dollar$ And Cent$ Out Of Online Dating, Shades of Deception, Malicious Acts and Wicked Intent. Her fourth book, Retribution Unleashed will go to press in the winter of 2012.



Connections ... (continued)

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Since that time I have seen arguments that such writing would be following an old-fashioned formula. Surely, according to these critics,  a strong ending would require no help.

For me, the idea stayed strong. The only problem, now that I’ve been using it, is that the terminology is out of date, if not parts of the idea.

Let’s assume that our tearful, uplifting conclusion involves a fierce warrior wearing blue jeans. He draws an ankle knife from its sheath, rushes ahead in his Nike Air Max shoes and slams the unwitting enemy into a radiator at the back of the room, saying gently, “Sam, I want to introduce you to this radiator.”

OK, it is hoaky. But do you see my point? At some point in the story, better early than late, the reader should have been made familiar with the hero’s blue jeans, ankle knife, sheath, and expensive shoes. Further, the reader should already know that this particular room contains a heavy radiator.

So, when you prepare to write your conclusion, check back to be sure you have made these connections. Or, egad, may I be so forward to use techie language? These elements of the conclusion need links.

Now, back to the original instruction. Do these links qualify as bears in the woods? No, not at all. They are incidentals, like props in a stage play, albeit contrived. To qualify as a “bear” there must be a warning early on in the story. Perhaps a comment by the protagonist’s lady friend, who could say, “Chuck, I don’t really care what you do about Sam. Just be sure I never have to speak to him again.”

Perhaps these ideas seem arbitrary, especially in an age we consider so elite, but please remember that effective story-telling didn’t start with the Internet, and tightly wrapped preparation for the conclusion means everything for the novel’s success.

Bruce L. Cook

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Publishing New Writers,

August, 2012 (no. 1308)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
7337 Grandview Ct.
Carpentersvville, IL  60110

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