Lane Diamond Talks about Editing & Writer Coaching

THIS POST IS FOR WRITERS AND INTERESTED READERS:

I’ve spoken on occasion about how hard it is for me to do my own writing because of all my responsibilities as managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing. Well, that got to me thinking: Exactly how many books have I edited, or co-edited with another, wherein I do the final polishing edit? And wouldn’t it be about time to do a little maintenance to update this information?

Well… here it is. To date I’ve edited 95 books or stories for EP, 83 of which remain active there, and 12 of which have been returned to the authors. Wow. Yeah, that was my reaction when I did the update. And guess what? It explains a lot about my own lack of writing. C’est la vie… and it’s okay.

For the full list, just click over to my Writing Coach page and scroll down.

But really, as I think about it, I can’t possibly view this as a bad thing. Indeed, it’s a fantastic thing for me, and a point of real pride–in no small part because many of these books have gone on to win some very nice awards. I have helped, in my own small way, a number of authors to achieve their dreams (or at least to get started on those dreams), and nothing has been more rewarding for me than that.

And so the first thing I must say to all those authors is this: “Thank you.” Seriously, despite occasional frustrations with scheduling and workload, it has been my privilege and honor to have worked with all of you. I hope you become the superstars you deserve to be in this business. You’re doing great work, and I hope I’ve been able to contribute at least a little to that effort and to your growth as a writer.

I wear two hats in this arena: editor, writing coach. The first is clear enough, as I help authors address structural issues with their work–plot, characterization, setting, etc.–and then I help them not only clean up the prose but to ramp up its power. This is, I think, my greatest strength as an editor. As a writing coach, it’s really quite different, as I take on the role of trainer/educator/mentor. I do all as a writing coach that I do as an editor, but so much more. And make no mistake, this is where I’ve achieved my greatest professional satisfaction.

When I look to authors such as Ruby Standing Deer (I’m sure she won’t mind me singling her out), and I think back to where we started and the journey we’ve taken together, I simply could not be more pleased. Ruby has authored 3 books thus far, all part of the Shining Light Saga, historical fiction pieces focused of the American Indian culture of about 500 years ago: Circles, Spirals, and Stones. The 3 books combined have garnered 187 reviews at Amazon, 130 of which are 5-Star, and another 34 are 4-Star. That’s fantastic! And she has her 4th book coming early in 2016, so as her books continue to perform well and she continues to build her catalog, her future is bright.

And I was there at the beginning. Cool stuff.

Now, I don’t really take on editing jobs anymore outside of Evolved Publishing, because the EP authors keep me quite busy enough, thank you very much. However, I do still take on an occasional client in my capacity as a writing coach. I’m currently working with Melody J. Kaufmann on the beginning of her career as an author of sci-fi and fantasy. Her first book, After the Return, is progressing and getting stronger all the time. What lies ahead for MJ in her future as an author? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful that 5 years from now I’ll be able to look back, as I’ve done with Ruby, and say, “Wow, look at that!”

And who’s next? Hmmm… maybe you?

To be clear, I cannot take on a client right this minute, but if you want to be next up, beginning in September, now would be the time to give me a holler. Just email me at Lane@LaneDiamond.com, and we’ll start the conversation and the plan.

In the meantime, if you really want to know my work, there is no better indication than the books that appear on my Writing Coach page. I hope you’ll read all of them that appeal to your genre preferences. Really… you’re going to love them. Hey, maybe you’ll even take a chance on discovering the wonderful peoples and culture of The Fish People, a fabulous 500-year-old culture lost to time but not forgotten, in Ruby Standing Deer’s Shining Light Saga. Or maybe you want to try Robb Grindstaff’s Hannah’s Voice, or David Litwack’s The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, or Angela Scott’s Desert Rice, all of which I cannot recommend strongly enough! And please enjoy.

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The Devil’s Bane – “Come on, Diamond, get it done already!”

THIS POST IS FOR READERS:

I’ve heard that phrase more than once in recent times: “Come on, Diamond, get it done already!” They’re talking about my second suspense thriller featuring Tony Hooper, and the sequel to Forgive Me, Alex. Often included in that adminition is advice on how I might manage my time such that I’ll actually get it done. They mean well but…. I am at peace.

You see, it’s just not as simple as they think. So when will The Devil’s Bane be completed? Good question. I’ve made a few excuses, and I’ve experienced the crisis of faith that often accompanies a long delay in producing the next book, but the simple truth is that my other duties outweigh my goals as a writer.

I do make a little progress on occasion, but it’s a slow go. As managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, I have more work than I seem able to complete. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the 50+ EP team members waiting on something from me.

However, I don’t want to give the wrong impression: I’m not complaining. Really… I’m not! :)

In fact, I have finally come to peace with the circumstances. I am a publisher first, an editor second, and a writer third. And you know what? That’s okay. It has taken me a while to come to that conclusion, but I’m breathing a little easier now that I have.

And so what about The Devil’s Bane? Fear not, for it will be done. Someday. :) Seriously, though: don’t give up on it, or on me. It’s just going to take a little longer. I’ve really released myself from self-imposed deadlines on this, given the job requirements at EP. It’s quite liberating, but it also leaves a bit of a question mark. So I shall just drop back in from time to time to report on progress.

And for those of you who have been waiting patiently, THANK YOU!

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Get a FREE Audiobook of Suspense Thriller “Forgive Me, Alex”

THIS POST IS FOR READERS (AND LISTENERS):

As you may know, my psychological suspense thriller Forgive Me, Alex is also available as an audiobook. What you may not know is that it’s possible you could get it free at Audible.com as part of a 3-Day Free Trial. Just follow the link below for more information.

Get Forgive Me, Alex FREE as part of Audible 30-day Free Trial

 

Audio_ForgiveMeAlex

This unabridged version, narrated by Kevin Scollin, provides 10 hours and 22 minutes of listening pleasure. Check it out.

In other news, I’ve been woefully neglectful of this blog and website, but some things are happening soon that will, I hope, make it easier for me to post more often. I appreciate your sticking with me.

Regarding the release of The Devil’s Bane, the sequel to Forgive Me, Alex and the second book in the Tony Hooper series, that too is running behind as I struggle to find adequate time to write. My publishing and editorial duties remain significant. Nonetheless, I am starting to creep forward again, and I’m determined that it see the light of day as soon as possible. Please stay tuned.

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End of Summer 2014 – New Visions (IndieGoGo Campaign by Evolved Publishing)

THIS POST IS FOR READERS (AND PERHAPS FOR WRITERS, DEPENDING….):

LINK TO CAMPAIGN: End of Summer 2014 – New Visions

As you probably know, I am the managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, a small press I co-founded with D.T. Conklin. Indeed, you may have seen me lament on these pages that I spend so much time focused on my responsibilities to EP, including having a part in editing 70 (and counting) EP books to date, that I find it almost impossible to focus on my own writing. The clock just seems to run out on me every day.

Well, as much as I may complain about that on occasion, when my mood sours because I’m itching to write and can’t make it happen, the truth is that I love what I do with EP. I’m so proud of what we’ve built there. As of today, we have a team of 29 current authors, with 1 or 2 more likely in the next month or so. Supporting their work we have a team of 11 editors, 8 artists/illustrators, and 6 foreign language translators. We’re also working closely with about 10 different audiobook producers/narrators, and we have a team of fans willing to support us via advance reviews, social media sharing, and of course, snatching up our books just about as fast as we can get them out.

Oh, we do love our most loyal fans at EP, not just for their financial support, but for the constant moral support they provide. They engage with us and have fun with us and… well, they make an often tough business so much more enjoyable for us. We’d be lost without them.

I like to think that some of those fans would be at least a bit lost without EP, too. We’ve put out more than just a few quality books, as evidenced by the ever-growing list of awards we’re pulling in, often in competition with dozens or even hundreds of other titles. And our average rating at Amazon, across our entire catalog and many hundreds of ratings, is over 4.5 stars. Pretty good stuff. Our reputation for that kind of quality is growing, including with those loyal fans, who are quick to spread the word in their own circles.

 

That brings us to our IndieGoGo campaign. We talked about it over on the EP website here: Evolved Publishing Opens a Crowdfunding Campaign on IndieGoGo (Working to Build a Stronger Alternative for Indie Authors), so stop by and check it out.

Ultimately, though others are attempting to do what we do, and even tried to copy our model (one website copied our verbiage word-for-word, until I spanked them for it and they pulled it down), we think our standards for excellence separate us from the crowd. Indeed, some of those other houses are publishing works we previously rejected (I’m not throwing stones, just making an important point about EP). Quality is Priority #1–that’s not just our motto, it’s our covenant with our readers and with our team.

The IndieGoGo campaign we’re running is all about being able to continue doing what we do at a pace that readers want, and kicking up the visibility of our work across a broader audience out there. The best way to ensure that EP continues to attract great talent, and that those on board with us continue to create excellent, entertaining books, is to make sure everyone involved is reaching enough of an audience out there to justify keeping on with it.

Competition is fierce in its overall flood of offerings these days, though we think our quality helps us stand above that crowd. Still, too many do not yet know about EP’s extraordinary commitment to quality. We have some absolutely wonderful books that haven’t yet made their mark with readers, which is just a shame. We need to get the word out, and that costs, of course.

If you’d like to help, the perks are a great value. Even if you don’t want a one of the specific perks offered, and just want to support the arts and EPs place in that world, you can contribute as little or as much as you’d like. I’ve posted the link again below. And thank you!

End of Summer 2014 – New Visions

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“Forgive Me, Alex” by Lane Diamond Wins Pinnacle Book Achievement Award

THIS POST IS FOR READERS:

I’m so pleased to announce that my debut psychological thriller, Forgive Me, Alex, has been honored with the following award:

Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Summer 2014 – Best Books in the Category of THRILLER

(Scroll down near the bottom of the page for the THRILLER category.)

It almost seems odd to be getting an award 2-1/2 years after the book launched, but then again nothing in this business happens quickly. Besides, given that it’s been taking me so long to get the sequel out, it’s good for me to keep Forgive Me, Alex out there.

And speaking of The Devil’s Bane, I’m happy to report that I’ve once again carved out some time from my busy Evolved Publishing schedule, and I’m making regular–if slightly slower than I’d like–progress. I see no reason at this point that it won’t be part of EP’s big book launch on March 23, 2015.

Anyway, if you haven’t already picked up a copy of my book, now you have another excuse to jump on the bandwagon. :)

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Or get an autographed print copy directly from me at THIS PAGE.

Tony Hooper stands in shadow across the street, one amongst many in the crowd of curiosity-hounds gathered to watch a monster’s release. Seventeen years after Mitchell Norton, “the devil,” terrorized Algonquin, Illinois on a spree of kidnapping, torture and murder, the authorities release the butcher from psychiatric prison.

Tony longs to charge across the street to destroy Norton—no remorse—as if stepping on a cockroach. Only sheer force of will prevents his doing so.

“The devil” walks the world again. What shall Tony do about it? Aye, what indeed.

After all, this is what Tony does. It’s who he is. “The devil” himself long ago made Tony into this hunter of monsters. What a sweet twist of fate this is, that he may still, finally, administer justice.

Will FBI Special Agent Linda Monroe stop him? She owes him her life, so how can she possibly put an end to his?

Tony Hooper and Mitchell Norton battle for supremacy, with law enforcement always a step away, in this story of justice and vengeance, evil and redemption, fear and courage, love and loss.

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What Does It Take to Make a Living as an Author?

THIS POST IS FOR WRITERS:

I must admit that reading articles by authors who say something along the lines of, “With 18 books now out and available, I hope to one day make enough money as an author to quit the day job.”

Uh… what?

I just read an article where an author says something like that, and I can’t help but think that the individual in question is doing something wrong. Are the books poorly written? (I don’t know.) Is the author writing in some obscure genre? (No.) Does the author have a simply awful deal with the publisher? (I don’t know, but only half the author’s catalog is with a publisher, and the rest are self-published.) Does the author spend absolutely zero time and money marketing the books he/she has worked so hard to produce? (I don’t know.)

Something just isn’t right here. It could be any number or combination of factors holding this author back, but a little self-analysis is really called for.

To be honest, I could never get to 18 books if my first 17 weren’t selling and making me at least a modest living. What’s my magic number before I would think about hanging it up? That’s a hard one, because the marketplace is a different animal than it was 20 years ago.

Once upon a time, everyone expected authors to hit their sales stride by the time their third book released, or perhaps their fourth. Few authors received a deal for their fifth book if their first four weren’t making money. (Hell, sometimes they wouldn’t get a deal for their second book if their first one wasn’t at least a modest hit.) Now, it’s one thing for a traditional publisher to make money, and another thing altogether for the author to be making a living off the same books, given how crappy some of those traditional publishing contracts are for authors. Still, the third or fourth book seemed an appropriate time to tell the boss, “I quit!”

Nowadays, with the eBook and self-publishing revolutions, in which me, you, your neighbor, your neighbor’s uncle, and your neighbor’s uncle’s dog are all publishing books, the equation seems to have changed for most. It’s much harder to get noticed in the first place, and to go through that brand-building process, now that we’re all competing with 93,274,561 other authors (rounded off to keep it simple).

At Evolved Publishing, for example, we now have authors with four to five books out who are still looking to get over that hump. I believe they’re close, and certainly the genres they write in play a big role, but it looks as if they’ll need those sixth and seventh books to make that leap. In most cases, I believe six books might be the target number, but all six must be in the same genre, and therefore appealing to the same audience. In other words, if you’re writing in multiple genres, you need six books in each of them. Also, it helps if it’s a genre that sells well. If you’re writing literary fiction, as an example, you’ll have a tough row to hoe. Or if you’re writing children’s picture books, the magic number might well be ten to twelve just to get your catalog rolling, as parents tend to gravitate to authors who have a large catalog to offer.

Of course, that’s just an estimate based on empirical evidence I’ve seen and heard in all the discussions out there, and based on actual numbers I have for some twenty-five authors. Every individual experience is different. Some get lucky and hit it big with book number three or four; others are still struggling at six or seven. And when it finally happens for an author, the whole of their catalog will take off all at once–like zero to sixty in a split second… after revving the engine for years.

Additionally, you must build your brand as an author, and that means spending time developing your following–social media, website, advertising, special promotions, perhaps even a free eBook to get folks: A) knowing who you even are, and; B) excited about your work.

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The point I want to make is three-fold:

If you only have one or two or three books out, and they’re not selling, it may just be an indication that you haven’t yet hit that magic number where readers sit up and take notice. Keep going, and keep being careful to produce good work.

If you have eighteen books out and they’re still not earning a living for you, something is amiss. Frankly, your work may not be good. Sorry to say it, but there you have it. A lot of folks are publishing garbage these days, but they can fool readers for only so long. The consumer always catches up in the end.

Writing is the most important thing you do. Keep building that catalog, as it’s essential to your eventual success. However, you can’t ignore completely the marketing of your books and your brand. It’s a long slow grind, building your brand; you must start early and keep at it throughout your career. You needn’t spend hours a day at it, but at least a few hours a week is a good idea.

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If you lack patience, perseverance, and a thick skin, embrace your day job with a new gusto and stop torturing yourself over being an author. If you possess those qualities, however, and you’re producing good, professional-grade work, then just keep on keepin’ on. Your day is coming.

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The Future of Publishing – One Man’s Perspective

THIS POST IS FOR READERS and WRITERS:

The discussion of the publishing industry and its place in the future continues to rage on the interwebs. The Amazon/Hachette debate has really fired it up a notch, and folks are screaming from both sides of the debate.

The latest piece to get me going was Why We Need Independent Bookstores More Than Ever on the Publishing Perspectives website. I felt the need to weigh in on the conversation, and did so as follows:

~~Hi, I’m a buggy maker. You know, as in horse and buggy? I believe we must stop immediately this move toward automobiles. Oh sure, Ford claims they’re doing it just to help people move about from Point A to Point B more quickly, and to provide convenience and productivity to their lives, but I know the real reason: they’re trying to put me out of business and become a monopoly! Please help! We must stop Henry Ford before he takes over the world! We buggy makers must stick together to beat back this demon.

~~I’m truly fascinated that publishers are choosing to fight technological advances, rather than adapt to them to make their businesses safe and profitable well into the future. It’s so damned shortsighted. Their stubbornness will be their undoing, in the end. Only those willing to adjust in a way that’s fair to both authors and readers will survive.

~~Barnes and Noble is dead. They may still be kicking, but that’s just residual nerves and muscle twitches. The mega bookstore, know also as bookstaurus megalasaur, is extinct. And independents? They’re most likely going to survive as Joe’s Garage, Coffee Shop & Bookstore, or something like that. Stores dedicated solely to the sales of books are on the way out, lest they be high-end collectors’ shops.

~~So time for the publishers to wake up and smell Joe’s coffee. Stop kicking and screaming and clawing at the big bad Amazon, and offer consumers a fair alternative. Compete. Or die.

Anyone who thinks print books will remain the dominant format for readers for more than a few years down the road, should immediately visit their neurologist for an MRI… or their psychiatrist. The Star Trek-ification of America (and soon the world) is well under way. Kindergarteners are now getting tablets to read on in some districts, and today’s youth are accustomed to doing virtually everything online; reading eBooks will be second nature to them.

The traditional publishing model is simply no longer viable, but I suppose it’s no mystery that they are unwilling to go gently into that good night. The sad part is that they needn’t die; they need only evolve to accommodate the new market paradigm. I say this as someone who co-founded and now runs a hybrid small press publisher, Evolved Publishing.

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When we first formed EP, we did so with a couple of driving forces in mind: 1) Where is this market going in the next 10-15 years? 2) What sort of publisher would we want to affiliate with as authors?

The first question was critical for obvious reasons. We naturally wanted to form a business model that would make sense given the new market paradigm; we didn’t want to be obsolete in 5 years. The second question was critical because we viewed our primary competition not as traditional publishers–whom we fully expected, quite frankly, to self-destruct at some point–but rather the burgeoning self-publishing option.

And so we moved forward with a few key points in mind:

  • eBooks are the future of reading.
  • As happened in the music industry, everything would move to the internet.
  • Consumers would find new, cheap options, meaning pricing pressures would be a big part of our business.
  • Content would be king, meaning we had to attract quality independent authors who produce quality books.

First Bullet Point Above: Yes, we offer print books, but not via traditional typesetting. Rather, we offer high quality POD (Print-on-Demand) books to keep our overhead costs to a minimum, and to thereby offer both authors and readers the best possible deal.

Second Bullet Point Above: In addition to eBooks and POD paper books, we also offer audiobooks and foreign translations where it makes sense, and again, we keep overhead to an absolute minimum. Furthermore, we all work from home offices – no buildings, no high overhead related to those costs. We live in an electronic world – the internet age. The office building is simply not needed.

Third Bullet Point Above: Whoever it was in traditional publishing (and yes, they all colluded) that thought it was fair to consumers to price eBooks, for which the production costs are so low, higher than paperbacks, for which the production costs are so high, simply missed the boat. This is grossly unfair to consumers, and the backlash was inevitable. Now, there’s something to be said for the value of “content”–the author’s hard-fought battle to create the book, and all their blood, sweat, tears, and talent–and pricing an ebook with fair author consideration in mind. Still, the actual “production” costs are limited, and so the ultimate price should be almost entirely about content. At EP, almost all of our eBooks are priced at $3.99–only a few exceptions, and most of those are special omnibus editions. You’ll never see an eBook from EP priced at $12.99 or $14.99. Ridiculous!

Fourth Bullet Point Above: We must have great content to offer readers. That means that our guiding philosophy at EP is absolutely critical: Quality is Priority #1! Every book must be written well, edited well, and presented (formatted) well. Period. Especially in the new wild wild wild wild wild wild west known as self-publishing, quality matters. The gatekeepers can still serve a valuable function for consumers, and we at Evolved Publishing seek to provide readers this simple assurance: if you purchase one of our books, you’ll get a professional product.

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Make no mistake about it, folks, traditional publishers set up their business model with only one thing in mind: themselves. Unless you end up being one of their mega-superstars, you can expect as an author to be treated with a certain amount of contempt and unfair financial consideration. Don’t get me wrong; as a business owner I understand the value of profit! We can’t stay in business without it. But fair is fair, and traditional publishers have abused most authors for far too long. Well, now that the market has evolved and authors have new options, and consumers have new options, traditional publishers are going to pay a dear price.

At Evolved Publishing, we recognized first and foremost that the authors are the stars of the show, not us. Without the extraordinary authors we’ve attracted to EP (too many to name here without leaving someone out), we would not be what we are. How do we attract them? For one, we pay them a fair, even attractive royalty rate. After all, they don’t have to publish with us; they can publish themselves. Second, we provide them with first-rate editing, excellent cover art & illustrations, and professional formatting. Third, we work to coordinate group marketing activities that are more about sweat and muscle than they are money invested. Finally, we give them an enjoyable team environment where we all interact and work with one another in a respectful and mutually beneficial way.

Why don’t traditional publishers do this? What is stopping them? Seriously, I’m not trying to give away any secrets here; I believe we have a lot to offer authors and I’m willing to stand by our reputation in the face of new competition. I just don’t get why traditional publishers still fail to understand what is required to treat their authors–ALL of their authors–well.

Look, it’s a tough marketplace out there; we can all be honest about that. For every writer that makes a living as an author, a thousand more must toil away at their day jobs while they pursue that dream. It’s tough! As a result, treating authors well, affording them the respect, dignity, and financial consideration they deserve, is more important than ever. Furthermore, giving them a place where they can inspire one another, cry on each other’s shoulders, commiserate and celebrate and motivate, is especially important. The days of leaving authors to drift alone in the wilderness is behind us, as publishers, because there’s now a name for that: self-publishing. Want to be relevant as a publisher? Here’s a crazy idea: service your clients!

Geez, I’m so sick and tired of the establishment clinging to their spoils as if they were the Gods of publishing, and the rest of us mere mortals created to do their bidding. But you know what? I’m also just about over it. Seriously, they don’t matter anymore. A new day has dawned.

If you’re an author looking for a home where you’ll be treated fairly, even if you’ve previously self-published to less than satisfying results, you should give Evolved Publishing a look. Just go to the website and surf around, and discover for yourself what we’re all about. Of course, you’ll eventually need to go to the Submissions Page.

If you’re a reader looking for quality books at a fair price, you need to stop by our Book Shop, because we have some seriously excellent books from some seriously talented authors. As an avid reader, you do yourself a disservice by not checking out some of the amazing works we have available.

I shall now step down from my soapbox. :)

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