Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Release Day! First Scene Preview: 6 Dates to Disaster

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My publisher featured 6 Dates to Disaster today on the Write Integrity Press blog with the first scene for your convenience. I hope you enjoy reading it!

This is the third book of the Bird Face series, and Jennifer is back in Wendy’s life, although not shown in the first scene. The story addresses honesty and how dishonesty can damage a teen’s relationships and future.

Be sure to check out all three of the books so far in the series on my Amazon author page! (The original Bird Face book, which is out-of-print, is still listed there, too. That story became 8 Notes to a Nobody.)

Thank you for reading.

Cynthia

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Cover Reveal! Book three of the Bird Face series

Coordinates well with the previous two, don’t you think? If the image appears pixilated, it also does to me. I’ve requested a higher-resolution image from my publisher. All part of the process of getting a new book ready for publication! The anticipated release date is December 6.

6-dates-to-disaster-fc  10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC tiny  8-notes-to-a-nobody-fc-tiny

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Creating My First Book Trailer

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When it comes to marketing my books, I’m not typically a procrastinator. But until a week ago, I did not have a single book trailer video for any of my three published books (including the one out of print).

I’d written some copy for one.

I’d thought about the tone I wanted.

I’d searched for images.

I’d talked to my husband about producing one together.

I even had a YouTube channel set up and waiting.

But still, no trailer.

What lit a fire under me to move forward was the offer of a fellow author to post our author group’s video trailers on Instagram.

Excited by that prospect, I inquired from other authors which program they used. (Is program the correct word? I’m not sure.) I also researched a bit online.

I soon learned that many used Animoto or Vimeo to produce their own videos. However, my husband and I have Macs, and iMovies was already available to us.

We selected a pre-fab theme from among many free themes with built-in music. We weren’t quite happy with our first try, because not enough time was built in for the text frames unless we used only a handful of words. And the built-in background and text color made it harder to read. My husband could find no way to change the colors.

After I cut back on the text somewhat and my husband figured out how to add a second or so to those frames without the music ending too soon, we were pleased.

Until you produce your own book trailer video, you can’t imagine the planning and coordination it involves. We learned a lot that we’ll apply to our next production–a trailer for book two.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s my trailer for 8 Notes to a Nobody. I hope you enjoy it.

Do you have an experience to share about producing a book trailer ?

 

 

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The Other Good Stuff Inside Your Book—My Fave 5

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

A short discussion in a writers group I belong to prompted me to write this post. The question presented: What should an author say in the Dedication for a book?

First, I’m not sure an author needs to dedicate a book at all. I have a novel near my desk right now that doesn’t include one. But I gave my two cents worth in the discussion as to the individuals an author might mention.

That led me to think about all the other stuff, in addition to the manuscript, that an author writes or provides the publisher before the book is sent to press. Constructing or selecting them takes careful thought and precious time, so why not prepare them in advance?

Dedication:

This is usually short and poignant. I’ve seen a single name as well as one or two sentences, and sometimes they bring me to tears. The dedication mentions someone or something that inspired or supported you, your writing, or this particular book, but not necessarily took an active part in the writing or production. The dedication doesn’t have to mean anything to the reader. It indicates a close personal relationship with the author, and only the dedicatee needs to understand it. Yes, “dedicatee” is a real word.

Acknowledgments:

Now we get to the thanking, sort of like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. The big-name authors tend to keep it down to a single paragraph or page, if they provide one, and it usually appears near the back of the book. Most of the authors I read include one to three pages of acknowledgments, three being rather long. But I actually read them. Mostly to see if any of the individuals mentioned are also  in my acknowledgments. (I belong to a large network of writers that support one another.) Usually the acknowledgments start with thanking a spiritual influence, work through the publishing professionals that made the book possible, then the writing/critique partners, and end with family members or a spouse. Some authors give entire names, others only first names.

Select Quotations:

These sometimes appear right before the body of the work. I haven’t selected or included any in my books so far, but I often enjoy reading them in others. Sometimes authors choose biblical or other spiritual verses, or quotations from favorite authors or other notables. The quotations usually hint at themes or the author’s personal feelings.

List of Resources:

If a novel for middle grades or young adults addresses issues like mine do, such as coping with Alzheimer’s or adjusting to a blended family in 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, the author or publisher may wish to include a list of resources in the back of the book. I appreciate such lists when I read fiction, as young readers, parents, and educators probably do.

Discussion Questions:

Discussion questions come in handy for book clubs, librarians, parents, and educators. I include these. When writing them, I find myself digging deeper into the themes of my stories, and that benefits me when I speak about them.

There are additional pages that an author or publisher may include in novels or anthologies, fiction or nonfiction, prose or poetry.

The five I’ve mentioned are the ones I encounter most often and enjoy.

What is the most memorable dedication, acknowledgment, or quotation you’ve seen in a book—or perhaps written? How do you feel about resource lists and discussion questions?

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Behind the Scenes—12 tasks for book authors before the release

Before I was published in early 2014, I wished someone had told me all the little things that a book author must do between the time the manuscript undergoes editing and the finished book is released to the public.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FRONT COVER

Right now I have two books of my series about to release at once, and I’m acquainted with what to expect in the final weeks beforehand. But in the middle of it all, I thought—duh!—new authors out there might want to know, too.

Not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine, and I’m not taking into consideration either self-publishing or publishing by a big house, but here’s what I’ve learned the average author contracted by a small to mid-sized publisher should do.

  1. Approximately six weeks or more before release: Make a list of trusted individuals who might read your book in advance and give an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, and possibly elsewhere. Contact them as soon as possible and let them know when you expect an ARC (advanced reader/review copy) to be available in e-book or print, as the case may be. Then if they agree to read and review, don’t forget to send the book! (Your publisher may arrange advanced reading and reviews for your book, and you can scratch this one off your list.)
  2. Approximately five weeks or more before release: Plan a launch party—actual, virtual, or both—and solicit help from family or friends to be with you for the duration of the party. Who do you wish to invite as guests? (Not every one of your 500 Facebook friends, because that doesn’t work.) Will you give away door prizes at an actual party and equally desirable and interesting giveaways at your virtual Facebook party? Start some lists of guests and giveaways for both types of parties. If you can schedule your Facebook party for the day of release, great. An actual party can come later.
  3. Approximately four-and-a-half weeks before release: Purchase, gather, ask for donations of giveaways and/or door prizes for your parties. As much as possible, choose items related to your book or story. If you write YA, ask friends who are authors of YA if they’d like to donate their books to be part of your celebration.
  4. Approximately four weeks before release: Give your final approval to the cover. I’m skipping the part beforehand when you and the publisher or designer discuss options back and forth for the design.
  5. Approximately three-and-a-half weeks before release: Update your website, blog, Facebook author page, Twitter profile, LindedIn profile–and any other sites you use to promote yourself–with your final book cover image and a blurb about the book. This is when you might do a cover “reveal” on your personal Facebook page and Pinterest, too. Where applicable, include a link to your publisher’s site.
  6. Approximately three weeks before release: Proof the galleys and make notes on a document in the manner requested by your editor or publisher, citing the number assigned to each line of the galleys that requires a correction or other change. The galleys were e-mailed to me, and that’s how my publisher asked me to handle corrections. (With my first publisher, there were no galleys. I proofed a print-on-demand paper copy that was shipped to me. )
  7. Approximately two-and-a-half weeks before release: Proof the e-book, looking for formatting issues and any errors you missed in the galleys. My publisher preferred I make notes of changes on a Word document, citing the chapter and paragraph to direct her to the error.
  8. Approximately two weeks before release: Start creating Tweets if you haven’t already, because you don’t want to rush to do that when near the finish line. Chances are you won’t write those sparkly Tweets when you’re under pressure. You can add the purchase links when they become available.
  9. Approximately one-and-a-half weeks before release: Prepare text that you can copy and paste onto your Facebook event/party page as needed to remind guests and post information about giveaways. Remind assistants who will help you monitor the party, take notes, and keep lively comments going. You will need moral support during the Facebook event—and bathroom breaks.
  10. Approximately one week or more before release: Announce your Facebook party wherever you choose. Send Facebook invitations. Tweet and blog about your upcoming release! Ask friends to re-post and retweet your information.
  11. Approximately three or four days before release: Update or create your Amazon and Goodreads author pages for your new book. (You can create the Goodreads author page earlier than this, once you have an ISBN number for any of your books, but your publisher needs to list your book with Amazon before you update there (or create the author page if this is your first book).
  12. Approximately one day before release: Set up purchase links on your website or blog so buyers can find where to buy your book online. Mention other places that readers might find or ask for your book. On your Facebook author page, use the Call-to-action button to direct visitors to where they can buy or learn more about your book. If you will be selling directly from your site, I assume you set that up months in advance but can activate it now.

I’m sure to have forgotten something, but please forgive any omission. If you wonder how I recalled what I did remember and when it happened—some of which I’m doing now or will do in the next couple of weeks—I keep a calendar. I recommend you do too, if only to look back and see all that you’ve accomplished!

What details would you like to know about anything I’ve mentioned? How about what I may have forgotten?

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Bird Face Series Book One Cover Design

 A while back, I mentioned acquiring a new publisher that offered me a contract for the first three books of the Bird Face series. This is the cover for Bird Face Book One, coming September 2015! What do you think?

The publisher and I wanted a cheerful look that incorporated a bit of the turquoise color used in the original edition’s cover. Each book of the Bird Face series will have a turquoise strip across the front that tells the name of the series and the book’s number. The font chosen for the cover’s text will also be repeated in subsequent covers.

The titles of the first three books are 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, and 6 Dates to Disaster, the third one being a working title at this point. Each story is told from Wendy’s point-of-view, with characters from preceding stories either gaining prominence or receding temporarily into the background until the next story.

Although a few details in the text have changed, book one’s story has not. So if you’ve read the original Bird Face, you’re all set to read book two, which will release shortly after book one. I’ve written book two so that you don’t necessarily need to read them in order. But I believe the reader’s understanding of Wendy’s state of mind the summer after eighth grade in book one will make book two, when she’s in her first semester of high school, all the more enjoyable.

If you’re an educator or member of a book club, a free updated Book Club or Teacher’s Guide PDF for book one will appear on my website very soon at http://www.cynthiattoney.com. The website must undergo some changes by the time the new books are published, so please bear with a temporary mix of old and new information over the next few weeks. If you previously downloaded and printed the original version of the Guide, it’s still viable for use with either edition of book one.

Thanks for following. I look forward to hearing from you–concerning the covers or stories, the Guide, or questions about writing YA novels and getting them published.

Cynthia T. Toney

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A Fork, a Turn, and aTermination

When I began this blog, I committed to sharing with you my experiences and thoughts about my novel Bird Face and “its journey to publication.”

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Recently that publication journey reached an unexpected fork in the road.

When my publisher made the decision to change direction away from novels for young people–and then later away from books altogether–and to publish literary magazines with a focus on poetry and nonfiction after 2016, I had to ask myself some hard questions.

Should Bird Face remain with this publisher for as long as possible and continue to earn royalties but receive no promotion? There was no chance of the sequel I’d written for Bird Face or a recently completed YA historical, The Other Side of Freedom, to be published there. Would I hurt my publication chances for those new books by staying put?

Should I begin to query other publishers for a new home for the original Bird Face as well as its sequel while still under contract with my original publisher? Should I query for the sequel only?

Should I provide an interested new publisher a concrete termination date for my current contract so that I can prove my intent?

I wasn’t able to find any information online either about my particular situation or about books in a series with two different publishers. A couple of friends in the writing and publishing world urged me to self-publish the Bird Face series, but I believed another publisher was out there somewhere that might be interested.

So I decided to discuss contract termination with my current publisher and to settle on a date we could agree upon.

Although other authors might not take the same course of action, I think I made the right choice. The decision would’ve been made for me in a year anyway. And now I am free to search for a new home for my books while retaining the right to self-publish any of them.

I don’t view this as a 180, or even a 90-degree turn as the image above implies, but rather a 45-degree turn. And one I hope to look back on a year from now as having been the best path to take.

Has your publishing journey taken an unexpected turn? How did it work out for you?

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