Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Publishing Pitfalls

Welcome back! I’d like to take some time this week to look at what exactly authors need to do in order to get their manuscript ready for publication—as well as reveal some common mistakes authors make when submitting for the first time. Hopefully you will gain much more insight into what it takes to get your manuscript “clean” and in line with our guidelines.

When you sign on to publish with Xulon Press, you will have the option of choosing to print your book as either a black & white or color book. Once you have made your selection, you must then review the preparation guidelines for submitting your books according to our printer’s recommendation. These guidelines can be viewed on our website at the following locations:

For the sake of ease, I will list here some items of note. Many of these items are common mistakes that we see repeatedly from first-time authors who have never published a book before. Keep in mind that it really pays to have a second pair of eyes on your manuscript just to ensure you haven’t included any of the following:

• Do not include page numbers on your TOC (Table of Contents) or on actual pages. Our typesetters will add these in during formatting.

• Do not add headers or footers to your manuscript. Your book’s title will be placed in the header by our typesetters.

• Do not use the Enter/Return key at the end of each line as you would on a typewriter. This is called a hard return. Let the text automatically flow from one line to the other. Only insert a hard return at the end of each paragraph.

• Do not use the space bar or tab key to align or indent your text (with the exception of poetry). Any indent you want in your text should be done with the margin controller. Use the tab key only to indent the first line of each paragraph.

• Do not manually insert hyphens to indicate where a word should break at the end of lines.

• Do not alter your document’s page setup. We will do this once we are ready to format your book. Please leave the paper size set to “letter” and all margins set to normal.

• Do not insert graphics into your manuscript; these must be submitted separately to your Author Services Representative, and not within the body of the text. This rule does not, however, apply to PDFs.

If you do not feel comfortable submitting your manuscript as-is, or if you are having trouble understanding the guidelines, we offer an approved list of Xulon Press referrals who can proofread and copyedit your manuscript to get it in ship-shape. All of these professionals have experience in the publishing industry and have worked under extreme time constraints, so rest assured that you—and your book—will be in good hands.

Once your book has been copyedited and/or proofread, you are now ready to submit it to your Author Services Representative. Congratulations! From then on, it will be considered “In Production”—and the Xulon “wizards” will begin weaving their magic to turn your hard work into a beautiful end product.

Next week, we will discuss what happens when your book is “In Production,” as well as what you can expect during this process.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Self-Publishing Made Simple

A Breakdown of the Basics

You’ve just put the finishing touches on that old manuscript you’ve been working on for years, and the ink has only just dried. “What now?” That is the question most authors find themselves facing upon completion of their first book. Over the next several weeks, we will be taking a look at all of the steps that are involved in publishing your book with a POD (print-on-demand) self-publisher like Xulon Press.

For many authors, self-publishing is a much more viable alternative to traditional publishing because of the cost and exclusivity of the latter; for a nominal fee, authors can get their name in print and push their book into the hands of the readers who need it most. And for “niche” books that ordinarily receive minimal marketing and distribution—such as family history books, autobiographies, or cookbooks—self-publishing is also a wonderful option.

Once you have written your book, what is the next step? First off, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Writing an entire book is no easy feat, and you are to be commended for your devoted efforts and “stick-to-it-ness.”

Second, you must select a publisher that is most in line with your needs—one that cares about helping you. For instance, when you sign on to publish with Xulon Press, you will speak with one of our Publishing Consultants before completing our Online Book Publishing Agreement. Our Publishing Consultants are there to help you customize a program that will work for you and your book—all depending on your needs. When you fill out this agreement, you are submitting your choice of publishing program as well as your complete payment. Although we do not need your final book manuscript at this time—you have up to a year to complete it—you are welcome to submit it if you are ready.

We offer a tier of programs that fit the budget of almost any author and are negotiable in price.
  • The Basic Program includes book cover design, interior formatting, ISBN number assignment, a listing on Google Book Preview, and more.
  • The Premium Program features all of those things plus distribution through Ingram Book Distributors and Spring Arbor Distributors, Amazon.com marketing, a hefty 100% net royalty rate after print cost and distributor discounts, Books-in-Print listing, and more.
  • The Best-Seller Program features all of these things plus placement in the Xulon Bookstore Catalog, an online bookstore page, and tradeshow placement.
  • Finally, our Elite Program includes everything plus a professionally produced ChristianBooksTV trailer, placement in the Christian Book Browser Catalog, our press release service with newswire blaster, a Christianity.com banner ad, and much more!

No matter what program you select—you are always able to upgrade later or add options!

To view these prices and programs, please click here.

This may seem like a lot of information, so you may want to take a moment (or five!) to digest it before making a decision. Once you are absolutely certain you are signing up for the publishing program that best suits your needs, you will submit your publishing agreement and then be considered a “Pre-Production” author.

In our next article, we will be looking at what exactly authors need to do in order to get their manuscript ready for publication—as well as common mistakes authors make when submitting.

I welcome any questions you may have about the publishing process!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Write a Memoir" Contest: Winning Entry

And the winner is...

Who is my Neighbor?
By Susan

It had been a tough three and a half years. Everyday life takes all day, but I did find time to chat with neighbors and get to know the people. In the round mud-brick home next to ours lived a woman who was part of the clan I had been named into. I knew her sister better, as she was a believer, but this woman had always been friendly to me.

One day, a small, battered hatchback pulled up next door and three men jumped out, one of them carrying a rifle. They stormed into my neighbor’s home, and I started hearing shouting and screaming. My husband had gone with the herd boys to the cattle tank for conversation practice, and there didn't seem to be anyone anywhere. Where was everybody? I ventured over to my neighbor’s door and looked inside. The men were shouting and slapping the lady around, and hitting her with the butt of the rifle, while she tried to protect the baby in her arms. My language skills were still very poor, but I could tell they kept asking her, "Where is he? Where is he?"

They noticed me standing in the doorway and one of the men came over and asked, "What are you doing here? Go away. This matter doesn't concern you."

I answered with my limited vocabulary, "This lady is my neighbor and I am concerned about her. What are you doing?"

"This is a police investigation. It is none of your business."

"But she is my neighbor so it is my business.” Was that my voice?

“Are you really policemen? Where I come from, the police don't act like this.” (This was an inaccurate and somewhat ethno-centric comment on my part. In fact they do sometimes act like that if a person is a member of the wrong ethnic group in the wrong part of town.) Disgusted, the man flashed me his credentials and turned back to continue the investigation.

I just stood there, frozen in the doorway. I felt powerless to intervene, knowing it was no use to go inside the house and try to stop them. I stood there watching, wincing, wishing there was something I could do, wishing it would stop. After some time, they brought her out of the house, shoved her into the car and rattled away. I guess they wanted to continue their investigation somewhere else. I tried to memorize the license plate number, but forgot it before I could locate a pencil and paper in the dimly lit room.

Later, I found out that her boyfriend was wanted for the murder of another man in a drunken knife brawl. She returned in a day or two, thanking me profusely for what I had done. I couldn't see that I had done anything. Maybe just being there, being God's eyes and ears, can be an influence sometimes. Even if it doesn't change the evil, it may encourage those to whom the evil is being done. Maybe that’s part of what it means to be a good neighbor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Come Apart Before You Come Apart--Robin Jones Gunn

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.
Get away with me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Matthew 11:28, The Message

Don’t you love that phrase; “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace”?

Now, just how do we do that?

Several years ago I copied in my journal a key phrase that Jesus said in Mark 6:31. Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat when Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” I jotted a note after the verse and asked myself, “What does it look like when a woman takes the time to come apart before her life starts to come apart?”

Here’s the interesting thing about what happens when we stop and rest. We might find ourselves taking extended dives into the deep places of the heart in order to revisit times when we faced an experience we weren’t able to process in the moment. Those memories were purposefully weighted and sunk with the flimsy promise that someday, if we were terribly brave, we might return to the wreckage and see if anything was salvageable.

But you see, when we’re so busy all the time we don’t have to return to the wreckage. We don’t have to do what the verse from last week told us to do – “make a careful exploration” of who we are and the work we’ve been given.

Yet here’s the surprise. When we come apart and fearlessly take those extended dives into the deep places, we find treasure in the wreckage. Not just salvageable bits of brokenness. Treasure.
When we can put our hands on that treasure and give it to the Lord, He fashions it into a gift for us to give to others. I think that is when we begin to learn something about living in the unforced rhythms of grace.

As a writer, my stories will never ring true or touch a heart or change a life unless I am first taking the deep dives. Only then can I unashamedly hold out to readers the treasure that the Lord has refined and reshaped in my own life. He redeemed all of me. I have life experience gold to offer to others. But I will never dig deep enough to find that salvageable treasure that the Lord is so eager to turn into a gift unless I come apart and rest awhile.

So how are you going to come apart and rest awhile this week? As soon as I finish typing this, I have a date with the hammock in our backyard. Tell us your place and way of coming apart with Jesus.

May the words your write be a gift to many.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Created to be a Missionary Woman--Robin Jones Gunn

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Galatians 6:4, The Message

I feel quite honored to be here to talk about writing. And maybe just a little shy.

The truth is, when I was growing up I wanted to be you. I wanted to be a missionary. Our church, Calvary Church of Santa Ana in California, had a strong missionary base and I was certain the best way I could serve the Lord would be as a missionary. I longed to go to the remote corners of this beautiful earth and tell an unreached people group about God’s amazing love.

Alas, I was turned down a number of times from a variety of missionary organizations. When Ross and I got married we were both involved in youth ministry and continued to serve in that much needed ministry for the next 22 years. We loved it and I saw that my missionary woman dreams were being fulfilled as I encouraged all the young people in our youth group to go to the uttermost ends of the earth. Some of them did.

But I’ll tell you when the premise of the above verse started to unfold. The girls in our youth group asked me to write stories for them. And as I wrote, for two years, I would read each feeble chapter attempt to them and they would tell me everything I did wrong and everything that needed to be changed. I wrote and re-wrote and cried a little and re-wrote some more. Over those two years I received ten rejection letters for that first Christy Miller book but I saw how the story was changing the hearts of those girls. I decided that if even if the book was never published, interacting with them on creating the story was worth every long hour of writing and rewriting. Those teenage girls were my unreached people group and I was right where I needed to be, doing exactly what I was created to do. And God blessed the work.

That first book in the Christy Miller series was finally published in 1988 and has not gone out of print. I’ve written over 70 books. Thirty-three of them are about Christy and all her Forever Friends. They have been translated into a number of languages. For the past 20 years I have received letters from young hearts all over the world that tell me they gave their life to Christ while reading one of these books. And every time I read one of those letters I cry because God seems to whisper, “See? I put that desire in your heart for a reason. I created you to be a missionary woman. Just not the sort you imagined you’d be. You stayed home and I accomplished my purpose by sending your stories around the world.”

This is the blessing of getting older, isn’t it? We begin to recognize some of the patterns God has been patiently weaving into the fabric of our lives.

So let’s talk about this verse as it’s paraphrased in Galatians 6. In what ways have you made a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given to do? How have you taken the responsibility to “do the creative best you can with your own life” when it comes to this unmistakable gifting and calling to use your words and write your little heart out?

Do tell all, sweet sisters. I’ll be checking in all week and next and adding comments.


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