Thursday, September 29, 2022

Dear O'Abby: What is hybrid publishing?

 Dear O'Abby,

I've completed a novel I'm pretty happy with.  My readers seem to like it and I feel like it's in a pretty good place to begin the publishing journey.  I've written other books in the past, queried them (unsuccessfully) and even ventured into self-publishing.  

Since I was last considering publication, there seems to be a new thing called "hybrid" publishing around and I'm not entirely sure what this is.  Can you illuminate me? Is this just a new name for vanity publishing? 

Thanks so much!



Dear OldSkool,

Good question!  Hybrid publishing is a relatively recent model which sits somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing.  

Under this model the author will still cover the majority of costs for the publication of the book, much like self-publishing.  The advantages are that a hybrid publisher will have distribution networks a self-published author probably doesn't have and will be able to get the book into bookstores.

The publisher will likely have their own imprints and your book would be published under one of these and receive its ISBN from the publisher.  

To offset the investment you put into the publishing of your book, royalty rates with hybrid publishers tend to be higher than traditional publishing.  But the publisher will still take a cut that would not be taken out if you self-published.

Be aware that even though you may be willing to pay a hybrid publisher, they may not accept your book.  Like all businesses, hybrid publishers need to focus on books that will make money and enhance their reputation, so they are likely to focus their time and energy on authors whose work is likely to sell. 

Just like with small presses, I suggest you do through research before submitting to a hybrid publisher.  If they don't have access to better distribution tools than you would have as a self-published author, there is little point. There may be some editorial work done on your book, but as a self-publisher you probably already have an editor you work with, or could find one whose fees fit your budget.

You also need to consider if you can afford to pay for the print run.  As a hybrid author your books will likely be sent to bookstores on consignment, and if they don't sell, you may be saddled with a print run that costs thousands of dollars that doesn't return much to you.  You may also lose control of some decision making about your book like pricing, where it is sold and even editorial matters.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours.  While it may be exciting to have your book accepted by a publisher and to have your name next to theirs on the cover, you will still be paying to produce the book.  Unless the publisher has a strong track record of success in publishing and distributing its books, the value of giving up a percentage of royalties may be limited.

Hope that helps and good luck with your publishing journey!  

X O'Abby

P.S.  If you do decide to go with a hybrid publisher, perhaps you might like to share the experience with us.  I'm sure you're not the only one curious about this. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Briana Una McGuckin answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight

Operation Awesome Spotlight #13Questions of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6 2022

13 Questions shine Operation Awesome's Spotlight
on this
2022 Debut Author

On Good Authority by Briana Una McGuckin

1- Which perfume oil is your favorite?

This is complicated to answer, because I use perfume oils to evoke different moods or places as I write; they’re all transporting, just to very different places. One of the oils I used specifically while writing On Good Authority is called Unsettling Portraits (sold by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab). It got me right into the headspace of Valentine Hobbs, the lowly footman love interest in my Victorian Gothic. The scent notes are “crackled amber resin, faded turpentine and torn canvas, pulverized frankincense, verdigris, and crushed malachite, lead white sandalwood, smoky umber, and lampblack.” The mix of dark, ritualized, almost supernatural grandeur coupled with these humble, unfussy things (the turpentine and lampblack) really brings home the upstairs-downstairs dichotomy of the story. Here is Valentine, this humble worker who is more noble in his heart than his so-called superiors, stuck in this pretty house all stuffed with ugly secrets.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Modify absolute advice before you take it. Example: it’s not “show, DON’T tell,” it’s “make thoughtful decisions about WHEN to show vs. WHEN to tell, and why.”

3- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

It’s not an emotion, quite, but I hope that this book promotes understanding. I hope that I have drawn a clear line between controlling, abusive behavior and consensual kink, and contributed to clarity between the two things instead of their problematic muddling. I hope that people who come from either community see themselves represented here. I hope that readers who do not exist in these spaces get some insight that maybe they didn’t have before, especially about what brings people to the BDSM community, and how different the catharsis of careful, responsible kink is from the corrosion of cruel abuses of power.

4- What is the best part of being an academic librarian?

As an author, it’s having the research superpowers to fall back on when I need to find, for example, a handbook for footmen new to their jobs, so I know what a workday is like for Valentine Hobbs. As a person who loves librarianship for its own sake, the best part is being able to help others satisfy their intellectual curiosity. I love the exploratory work of finding answers, especially for people trying to make sense of the world, or better it somehow.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a romantic setting?

I’ll share two! Would you like it by the fire, perhaps, or with a nice latte and slice of chocolate cake?

Briana Una McGuckin answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions #adult #BDSM Briana Una McGuckin answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions #adult #BDSM

6- How do you support your fellow debut authors and have any of them supported you?

My Pitch Wars class (2020) is still very much in touch, and the debuts among us retweet each others’ book news whenever we can. We touch base with feelings/questions about our publishing journeys in the Discord that a few of our class members very wisely organized. I’m also really interested in holding the door for folks who are still querying or on sub. I try to be available for manuscript reading and feedback as time allows; there are so many people out here writing excellent stories who don’t have representation yet, and it’s HARD shopping your work without a teammate to tell you you’re doing great! I’ll never, ever forget the slog of it, and I want to be a cheerleader whenever I can.

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

I’m @BrianaUna on Twitter. As for shoutouts… Just three? Oof, I have like ten, but I will stay in my genre lane and just do some people scribbling scary stuff at this particular moment.

twitter handles for my shout-outs:
Alex Woodroe: AlexWoodroe
CJ Dotson: cj_dots
Erin E. Adams: IAmEEAdams

Alex Woodroe, whose debut, WHISPERWOOD, comes out in July of next year. Alex is a beautiful soul who deserves all good things from publishing, as well as from the world in general. Also, she’s good at just plain creeping me out, in that folkloric way that feels timeless—true in your bones.

C.J. Dotson wrote THE CUT, which is in the hotel-horror vein of THE SHINING but, instead of alcoholism, it’s tackling how women struggle to emotionally recalibrate after abuse. (CJ’s too humble to comp The Shining; I have no such qualms!). We don’t have enough stories about how hard it is not to fall back into patterns of abuse after managing to escape them, and this one goes there while also sustaining a satisfyingly supernatural evil as well. C.J. deserves representation, like, several yesterdays ago.

Last but not least, Erin E. Adams’s debut, JACKAL, is also out this October and I’m so excited to get my hands on it. I love stories where there’s this sense that the whole town is implicated in whatever evil, unjust stuff is going on, because that’s the truth, and it’s horrifying—that people will turn away from awfulness because it’s too uncomfortable to look. Erin is also a Pitch Wars 2020 alumna, and to know from the inside, about how much work and tenacious hope this takes… It’s rewarding to watch it all pay off.

8- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
Briana Una McGuckin answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions #sketch

I love to draw, but I never give it proper attention; it always comes out when I’m listening to a podcast, or in a workshop—I’ll just doodle people or animals. I tell myself that someday I’ll pursue illustration, to put some oomph behind the natural inclination; it would be wonderful to have the motor skill to depict my characters and scenes… I just don’t really know where to begin! More deliberately, I like to do faux-stained glass work with liquid leading and glass paint. It’s very forgiving of errors, and applying paint to glass is soothing. There’s no resistance; the way is smooth.

9- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Though this book doesn’t deal directly with disability, I have cerebral palsy, so just the fact that I’ve come this far, and get to have a voice in fiction… I mean, I dreamed I would publish novels, but I don’t know if I ever truly believed the world would let me. Always, in the back of my mind, I wondered if people only said I was a good writer because they felt sorry for me, or were humoring me. I thought maybe my parents and my teachers and my friends were relieved that storytelling was something that satisfied me, because I certainly wasn’t about to go play on the soccer team. It’s taken a long time to accept that, no, I do write well, I do have things to say, and—most staggering of all—others are interested in listening to me.

And a book in which the main character has cerebral palsy IS coming from me, mark my words. It’s just going to be a bit. It’s a story I’ve been working out in my head since I was about fifteen, and I’ve not been skilled enough yet to tell it right. Every year I return to it, and every year I feel that I’m closer. We’ll get there. I just want to make sure I do it exactly right, for the child-Briana who dreamed it up, wanting desperately to be understood. I want to give her that, and anyone else who needs it.

10- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime? #WriteGoal #BucketList #WriterBucketList

This question made me well up, because until recently publishing a novel was that biggest writing goal. Now I need a new dream, and what a thought that is. I’m lucky to have that “problem.” I’d be the most fortunate person alive to get no further than this. I’m so grateful. If I wish anything more, it’s that I keep going, and with my whole heart—not too intimidated or self-conscious to continue writing, and not waylaid from telling my truth by worries about what others might think. I want to do this, just this, again and again for as long as I can.

11- What was the query process like for you?

It was discouraging, which I think it is for many people. You’re just throwing queries and pages into the void, hoping that the materials went through, wondering when to follow up, if ever… And the fortune-telling you try to do, interpreting the meaning of what little data you have: your place in the submission queue, whether a partial or full was requested, what this or that agent’s tweet means for their interest level in what you’ve written… It’s exhausting, and it’s lonely. I had been querying six months when I got into Pitch Wars. I’d sent out about 100 queries and gotten one partial request, which had been rejected. My Pitch Wars mentor, Elizabeth Little, said that—based on the manuscript—she was shocked I hadn’t had more interest. But, over the course of Pitch Wars, she taught me something really important about the whole process: rejection doesn’t mean the work is bad; it means that one person didn’t want to take it on, for one of who knows how many reasons, which have more to do with their interests, their vision, their goals, and their expertise than with you or your work. “They just didn’t like it,” she said. Not in a damning way—just simply. That was so freeing to hear. There was nothing I had to do, right now, to fix the work after a string of rejections (provided the work was polished to be what I meant it to be, which it was), because the work wasn’t bad. Was it less than ready for publication? Probably! But that’s why it’s not published yet, and the agent/editor who sees what you are doing will be willing to work on refining the manuscript with you. I just needed to find the right person, who was looking for the thing I made. And I did, in my agent Chris Bucci, who found ON GOOD AUTHORITY in the Pitch Wars Showcase and reached out to me for the full draft.

12- Would you please ask our audience an intriguing question to answer in the comments?

I am always interested in what people’s strong reactions to smells are, because I do use a lot of scent description in stories to place the reader bodily in a moment. My comfort smells are anything to do with campfires, but I also like grass smells. Tell me the smells that mean something positive to you!

13- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

Book blurb:

At play, at risk, and in the dark in Victorian England.

When lady’s maid Marian Osley and footman Valentine Hobbs assume their positions at the cliff-top estate of Valor Rise, they already share a history. Raised together as paupers in a London workhouse, they escaped through games of imaginary crimes and sublime punishment. Now they’ve been unexpectedly reunited—in subservience to the brooding Wythe Bornholdt and his frail wife, Diana. A master and mistress with their own dark secrets.

In private, Marian and Valentine return to their playful and addictive games—now tinged with BDSM. But when lecherous Wythe sees something he desires in Marian, he turns the pair’s diversions violently against them.

The line between servitude and bondage is drawn, and the dynamics of dominance and submission will shift in this sensually charged novel of Gothic suspense.

Briana Una McGuckin answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions #adult #BDSM

Briana Una McGuckin lives in a charmingly strange old house in Connecticut. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University and an MLS from Long Island University. Among other places, her work appears in the Bram Stoker Award–nominated horror anthology Not All Monsters, the modern Gothic horror anthology In Somnio, and The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology. Briana has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, a perhaps concerningly large collection of perfume oils, and a fascination with all things Victorian. 
Twitter: @BrianaUna

On Good Authority by Briana Una McGuckin

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

October 2022 Pass Or Pages Agent Panel Reveal!


Meet the agents who will critique your Adult Fantasy entries!

Michelle Hauck

Storm Literary Agency

Michelle Hauck lives in northern Indiana with her hubby and dogs. She was a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow and a six time Pitchwars adult mentor.

She is an associate literary agent for Storm Literary Agency. Michelle is currently accepting all genres of young adult and middle grade, and some select adult genres. In adult, she has a particular love of science fiction and fantasy as well as cozy mystery, and does not accept adult romance, though she does love a romance sub-plot. Please check out her full wishlist and submission directions at Storm Literary Agency.

She likes positive, upbeat characters, quirky humor (or really any humor) and is always excited to see stories with diverse underrepresented voices (including and not limited to LGBTQA+, neurodiversity, BIPOC, Latinx, Indigenous People, and disability). Also she likes: Characters with lots of backstory that is revealed slowly, villains with complex motivations and layers, and stories set on secondary worlds or settings that are other than American or European.

Ernie Chiara

Fuse Literary Agency

Ernie loves nothing more than being able to work with his amazing clients on the books of their dreams. Having first joined Fuse Literary as a writer and client himself, he knows what it's like to be in the query trenches, and his goal is to be the type of agent every writer hopes to find.

Prior to becoming an agent, Ernie was an Assistant to Fuse Senior Agent Tricia Skinner, was a mentor and Communications Director for the Pitch Wars writer mentorship program, was a copywriter for a Fortune 500 client, and is the founder of TBRstack, a platform for authors and publishing professionals to share lists of their favorite books.

Outspoken about the issues of equality, both in society as a whole and as they relate to the publishing industry, Ernie values accuracy in representation and the raising of marginalized voices. He strives to be a fierce advocate for his clients and their interests, and is passionate about bringing their stories to a broader audience.

With over twenty years' experience in business management and graphic design, things like time management, critical thinking, and organization were ingrained in him early on and have carried over into how he approaches agenting, as well as having an eye for all things creative and visual.

In his free time, Ernie enjoys sketching and painting, wailing away on his drum kit, binge-watching the latest fantasy series, and playing with his three amazing kids.

Details for October 2022 Pass or Pages: 

Entry starts: Monday, October 3 at 6 a.m. Eastern

Entry ends: Friday, October 7 at 6 p.m. Eastern
Category/Genre: Adult Fantasy
How To Enter: Fill out the entry form on the contest post when it goes live on October 3.
What Is Required: Your query (NO BIO or personalization for agents), your first 250 words, a complete and polished MS

You can also read more about the rules 

The winning entries with agent commentary will be posted on Operation Awesome the week of October 24th, one entry each day. If you aren't comfortable with having your entry (which will be anonymous) shared on the blog, please don't enter Pass or Pages!

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments or tweet 
@OpAwesome6. Also, feel free to chat about the contest with fellow participants with the hashtag #PassOrPages.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Banned Books Week

My information shows that September 25 through October 1 is Banned Books Week, but several websites state Banned Books Week was last week.

Whichever week it is, let’s talk about banned books!

Top 10 challenged books by year

I read these lists all the way back to 2015 and noticed I’ve read at least 10 banned books.  What about you?  Have you read any banned books lately?  Tell us which ones in the comments!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Query Friday: Query Tools- Amazon




Okay, so it's possible that I am a little too reliant on Amazon for my daily needs. I shop there. I watch TV there. I often buy my books there, paper, kindle, and audio. And if I'm really bored, I read hilarious reviews about products.


However, if I'm writing I try to avoid Amazon at all costs... until now. When writing the DREADED synopsis or an outline (if you are a pantser), Amazon can be a great place to find a template which you can use after you write your opening blurb. Don't believe me? Just pick a genre.

Let's try paranormal, or should I say Supernatural.