Editing Tips for Writers

Let’s take a look at this quote… 

First, find what it means to you and then carry on with the rest of this post.

There are a million ways to dissect this quote and analyze how others perceive it. However, there is one thing that is fundamentally true any way you look at it. Editing is a very important step of the writing process. There is no way around it. Without proper editing even a ‘good’ book can appear bad. Now, if you are someone who wishes to improve their editing techniques here are a few places to start!

Less is more!

Filler words are never a good idea. Find what you are trying to say and use the least amount of words to properly get your point across. For example: There are many people who write — Many people write.

Avoid weak verbs.

Use visceral verbs or verbs that express action over weak verbs. For example:

Find out — Discover

He went to Italy — He traveled to Italy

Avoid weak adjectives.

Be mindful when using words like ‘really’ and ‘very’. There are always better alternatives. For example:

Really good – Great

Very big – Huge

Don’t introduce unnecessary words.

Why use a weak word when a stronger verb or adjective is available? 

Give your post a proofread — Proofread your post (verb form)

He shows signs of carelessness — He is careless (adjective form)

You can find a lot of programs to help you edit as well, but that is a whole other post! Never be afraid to continue to educate yourself on your writing. There are so many outlets looking to  help you. Including us!

So follow us along your literary journey and we will learn together!

Happy Editing!

Nothing to Writing; Something to Editing

Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway said: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Letting words flow onto the page/computer screen or even agonizing over the endless possibilities, “bleeding” is necessary when it comes to writing. Needless to say, writing your article, essay, or novel will always seem like it’s the end of your world. Take whatever you want from this quote, but I’m here to tell you: there may be nothing to writing but there is something to editing. You may quote me.

Since taking a dive into the rabbit hole of writing tools, I’ve come across plenty of helpful apps and websites that assist in writing itself. Getting you out of the writing rut and into the swing of things. But I’ve now found an application like no other: Hemingway App (or Editor.) It’s entirely free! Yes, free!

Hemingway App is a smart tool that calculates your flow of writing. Do you think your sentence is passive? Are you jumping around too much in your paragraph? Has your entire chapter bombed? Copy and paste the text you want Hemingway to look into and it’ll get right to work. It will highlight the bits (in an array of colors.) The colors will signify what you’ll need to specifically look at. A sidebar is on the site to serve as an overview of the colors and what to do when you revisit.

You’re also free to write in the box. Just slide the bar over from ‘Edit’ to ‘Write’ and let your creativity flow.

*Keep in mind: you don’t want to use this for your entire written work. People are great editors too.

For more information about Hershman Rights Management visit our website!


World Book Day, April 23rd

Reading is one of the most important life skills that one will ever learn. Reading creates all sorts of positive changes- from reducing stress, to creating a better sense of self and independence, to empowering our brains to keep growing. We should be encouraging those around us to read each and every day (especially our children), even if it’s just for five minutes, but there is no better day to preach the wonders of reading than this Sunday, April 23rd because it is World Book Day!

worldbookday

As a literary agent, it’s no surprise that this day means a whole lot to me. But, this day goes way beyond my career, it strikes a very personal cord with me. My friends at Amazon are encouraging people to share why they read so well, here it is.

There are so many different reasons why I read, but I think what really hits it home for me is that reading is the easiest and least expensive vacation you will ever get. I don’t think I have ever come out of a reading session more stressed or frustrated than when I started. In fact, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t noticeably more relaxed after reading just a few chapters of whatever book has my attention at the moment. A book is the one tool that is available to us on a daily basis that allows us to transport ourselves somewhere else. While reading we can visit any place in the world, be whoever we want to be, and experience new adventures. I don’t know of a better “break” from the chaos and natural stresses of our every day lives than that. Reading allows us to totally disconnect and recharge. Reading creates a safe environment where we can just be with ourselves (and the characters of course), which is becoming harder and harder to find in a social media driven world. Reading is the best therapy we can give ourselves.

Why do you read? #LovetoRead

Write on.

Top Publishers of 2016

A few weeks ago, Publisher’s Weekly came out with a ranking of America’s top 20 publishing houses for 2016. It’s no surprise who the top 5 were, but what’s really important is what came after.

The sixth and seventh publisher were both that of children’s books- Scholastic and Disney came in right under the ‘Big Five.’ It’s quite a refreshing thing to see. Children’s literature has always been a tough genre to crack because the audience is smaller, the interests change rapidly, and the surge of technology has threatened to turn some children away from reading and the love of books. Nevertheless, books sales for 2016 has proved that there is still so much to love about children’s publishing. For Disney, Star Wars and Rick Riordan books led the way.

tops publishers

Houghton and Workman come in next, showing us that non-fiction titles still have a big impact on our consumption market as well. For Workman, Atlas Obscura and What to Expect When You’re Expecting were their bestsellers. But for most publishers, their fiction titles landed them on this list. For Sourcebooks, The Cellar by Natasha Preston sold the most units.

Some other cool trends to see were that a few religious publishers made the cut, John Wiley’s business books proved fruitful once again, and adult coloring books are still in high demand from publishers like Dover and Sterling.

Here is the complete list:

  1. Penguin Random House
  2. HarperCollins
  3. Simon & Schuster
  4. Hachette
  5. Macmillan
  6. Scholastic
  7. Disney
  8. Houghton
  9. Workman
  10. Sourcebooks
  11. Sterling
  12. John Wiley
  13. Abrams
  14. Dover
  15. Candlewick
  16. W.W. Norton
  17. Kensington
  18. Chronicle
  19. B&H Publishing
  20. Tyndale

Write on.

 

 

The Audies, 2017 Edition

I’m a little late to the game, but the finalists for the Audie Awards were announced recently. If you don’t already know, the Audies are like t he Oscars for audiobooks. They have been awarded annually by The Audio Publisher’s Association since 1996. There are a bunch of categories in which authors and narrators are applauded and honored for their outstanding work. The actual award ceremony is always held during Book Expo of America in May, which this year is in NYC.

audie

You can see all their categories and their finalists here, but I have highlighted a few of my favorite categories below:

Fantasy

The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey

The Hike by Drew Hagary

League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

Mystery

Crimson Shore by Preston & Child

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens

IQ by Joe Ide

Romance

Dirty  by Kylie Scott

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Glitterland by Alexis Hall

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Sci-Fi

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuval

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

Write on, listen on!

 

Audiobooks Making International Waves

Audiobooks are a great source of extra income for many authors, an extra revenue stream that otherwise wouldn’t be there. The audiobook market within the United States is a booming industry, increasing each and every year. Putting their success here in America aside, the possibilities for the future of audiobooks is still endless. According to an article in The Japan Times, audiobooks in the U.S. account for 10% of book sales- amounting to a $160 billion industry. But, this isn’t the case internationally. For example, in Japan the audiobook industry caps off at $5 billion. On the international scene, audiobooks have so much left to do and leave so much to be excited for in the future.

Audio publishers, like Audible, are just beginning to figure out how to be successful overseas. Recently, Audible launched an international initiative in countries just like Japan. In these countries they offer unlimited audiobooks for a monthly fee. The pay per book model that we have in the United States and the United Kingdom just doesn’t work in most other countries. There just isn’t enough awareness or accessibility to audiobooks that are needed for such a model. So, publishers are starting to get creative.

world

The use of smartphones and their apps are greatly changing the audiobook landscape in countries like Japan. These apps offer easy access to audiobooks that once wasn’t there. In Japan, many people use public transportation and are looking for things to entertain them on their long commutes that don’t pack a lot of weight- downloadable audiobooks are the perfect answer. Febe, a downloading site, was launched in 2007. The site offers over 19,000 books on a variety of topics and genres. Since it’s launch, the number of users has increased from 2,000 to about 180,000- proving that if the content is there and accessible, people will use it.

There is still a long way to go with cultivating a real audiobook culture overseas, but the future is very promising. Audio publishers have found that the key to stimulating interest in audiobooks abroad is to use famous people, poets, or authors as readers. Since it’s a relatively new market, there needs to be something that pulls the listener in to giving the whole audio thing a try. This poses a slight problem because production costs of making an audiobook are already pretty high, let alone needing to commission a celebrity to do the reading. High costs along with low recognition of audiobooks are audio publishers two biggest obstacles when thinking of expanding abroad. But if the audio trend does catch on, the risk will be well worth the reward.

The Instant Approval Process

It’s been about six months since we launched our new ‘Submission Page’ and it’s about time we talk more about this revolutionary process.

As manager of Hershman Rights Management (HRM), a literary agency founded in July 2015, I am always looking for ways to better serve my authors and future authors. HRM represents about 100 authors and has successfully sold hundreds of their titles to audio publishers such as Audible, Tantor Media/Recorded Books, Brillance, ListenUp, and MMB Media to name a few. We have also assisted our authors in expanding their works internationally with our most popular translations being into Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Turkish, and French.

iaop

As a literary agency, we constantly receive submissions and queries from authors for unpublished works through our ‘Contact Page.’ We love hearing from new talent and cherish the opportunity to be one of the first eyes to peruse the fruits of their labor. But, we also love working with our many self-published authors and have started an Instant Approval Offer Process (IAOP) to make their submission process easier and more accessible. If you are a published author (either self-published or traditionally published) and are looking for ways to expand your reach via audiobooks, foreign translations, etc. then our instant approval process is just what you have been looking for. IAOP allows published authors to enter in some simple information about their work based on criteria that we know publishers are looking for. If your information matches the criteria, you will instantly be given an opportunity to be represented by HRM.

The IAOP is helpful because authors no longer need to wait extended amounts of time to hear back from a literary agent or publishing company they might attempt to query themselves. Representation by HRM allows authors to invest more of their time in writing more books rather than trying to figure out the audiobook process or international publishing process themselves, which often times becomes much more complicated and confusing than the author initially imagined.

The goal of the IAOP is to allow authors who like the freedom of being self-published, but still want to explore other avenues in which they can profit off their work, to get a hassle and worry free offer from a literary agency designed to cater to their specific needs.

See below for a brief FAQ about our IAOP:

-How long does it take to hear directly from HRM after I am approved for representation?

If after filling out the form you receive an approval for representation by HRM, you will hear from us within 48 hours with some information about our agency and a draft contract for you to look over.

-What happens if my information doesn’t match the criteria you are looking for?

The simple answer, nothing. If you don’t get approved for representation, you are more than welcome to keep trying once you have garnered more sales, reviews, or social media followings for your work. If only some of your information matched our criteria you might get a message saying that we need to further review your submission information before we can make a decision about whether or not we think representation by HRM would be a good fit for you. Fingers and toes crossed!

-Are there any obligations when filling out the IAOP?

Nope, there are no obligations on either party when filling out the IAOP. If you get approved for representation and after talking more with HRM you decide you aren’t interested, that’s perfectly fine. You are under absolutely no obligation to sign on for representation with HRM just because you did the IAOP. We also aren’t obligated to extend representation to you if we don’t think we would be able to help you in any way. The last thing we want to do is spread false hope.

To learn more about HRM, click here.

To use the IAOP, click here.

Write on.

 

10 Publishing Trends for 2017

Another year is upon us. We all have a new “to-do” list, a new set of goals, and new adventures awaiting our arrival. Thanks to our friends at Written Word Media, they are making this year a little bit easier on us already. They have compiled a Top 10 publishing trend list for 2017 and I have to say, they are spot on. Take a look at the list below for things you should be looking out for to make this year your most successful yet.

2017

  1. Fiction sales are driven by e-books. The large majority of adult book sales are digital, especially for fiction. So, if that’s the genre you write in you will want to focus most of your marketing power there.
  2. Indie authors and small presses will keep growing. It’s no secret that the “Big 5″‘s market share continues to drop year after year. But, it’s encouraging to know that over 50% of the market share is made up of small presses, indie authors, and Amazon imprints. The good news is that you can drive your own success this year. The bad news is that simply pricing your e-books low won’t alone garner yourself a readership. With all indie authors and small presses pricing their books low nowadays, marketing and visibility is really going to be key this year.
  3. Amazon imprints are dominating. I am getting more and more requests from my authors to submit their work to Amazon imprints. In fact, for many of them it’s the only publisher they would be willing to sign with and I don’t necessarily blame them. In 2016, 7 out of the 10 Kindle bestsellers were from Amazon imprints. If you can’t actually be published by them, Written Word makes a good suggestion- market your books with theirs since they give their own books preferential marketing spots.
  4. Kindle Unlimited will keep expanding. More and more readers are seeing the benefit of the Kindle Unlimited program and Amazon markets the program tirelessly. This will likely affect single unit e-book sales and force more authors to become a part of the program.
  5. Crowding is changing the game. One of the benefits of digital publishing and digital bookstores is that there is endless bookshelf space. Your book can sit up on that “shelf” as long as you want it to. Now, new books not only need to compete with other new books, but with older ones as well. If you have successful backlist books, don’t neglect them- redesign the covers, write new summaries/blurbs, get new reviews, and focus some new marketing dollars/strategies on them too. The more books you have available and easily accessible, the most chances you have at succeeding in a vast e-book world.
  6. Audiobooks will only get more popular. If I haven’t told you this enough already, I will say it again- the audiobook market is continually growing every year. You should always try to make your books available in as many formats as possible.
  7. Marketing will determine success. If you don’t market, then you can’t expect to succeed. The digital age is making it easier than ever for the average person to effectively market their own books. E-mail marketing has always been a popular and effective marketing tool. Also, websites such as BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy are excellent tools as well.
  8. Facebook ads will decline. Facebook ads have become extremely popular in 2016. Their popularity and higher demand has led to higher costs for these ads, which in turn hurts your return on investment. Don’t be afraid to try other advertisement tools this year as well, like Amazon ads.
  9. International audiences are a great place to focus for growth. A great way to expand your audience this year is to reach out to international markets as we are seeing an increased involvement in their readers year after year. International rights can be scary waters to navigate, but the potential is well worth it. There are so many readers outside the US and UK, it would be a shame to not tap into those resources.
  10. Authors will continue to help each other. There is very little in life that can done alone. We are seeing more and more authors banding together and that won’t slow down in 2017. Many authors are starting to co-write books or create box sets together. It also warms my heart to see an author blasting their own social media sites for another author friend. Work on expanding and creating an author support system for yourself this year. After all, we are all in this together.

Here’s to another crazy, but successful, year. Write on!

The Success of Content

The more content there is out in the world and the more accessible it becomes, the more people will read or listen to that content. This is true with the audiobook industry. In a January 10th article, Marketwired published some interesting results about library trends for 2016. When I worked directly in the audio publishing world, I constantly saw the rise and power of the library. As more audiobooks were becoming available to them and the more they made those audiobooks accessible to their patrons via electronic borrowing  sites, the more sales increased weekly, monthly, and yearly. Now, as a literary agent I continue to see the rise of these sales within libraries and their borrowing sites and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop any time soon.

audio

In 2016, there was a huge increase in borrowed audiobooks thanks to digital sites like Overdrive. There was a 34% increase in audiobooks borrowed from local and school libraries’ digital catalogs compared to 2015. The growth is attributed to many things- an increase in digital bookclubs hosted by librares, more people listening to audiobooks (which jumped 67% on Overdrive), more young adult readers using library services, and an increased participation from international and multi-language readers.

The most popular library borrowed audiobooks for 2016 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Keep writing, because people are reading. Keep creating audiobooks, because people are listening.

Write on.

The Path to Children’s Publishing

Children and Young Adult literature is one of the toughest genres to write, and most importantly, succeed in. The interests quickly change, the audience is smaller and more direct, and the ideas/concepts addressed really need to be engaging (I’m talking out-of-the-box extraordinary here) for it to catch the eye of a young reader. With the technology available to children today, a book really needs to scream “PICK ME UP!” for children to put all other things aside and choose to read on their own free time.

Children publishers certainly know this too. Selling a manuscript to them is only welcomed with more challenges these days. Editors aren’t looking for ‘good’ content anymore, they are looking for the next ‘big thing’and won’t settle for anything less.

childrens-publishing

Scholastic is the King of children’s publishing. Every children/young adult author dreams of seeing their name listed on their website. That’s why I was pretty thrilled to see an article this morning about their predictions for 2017:

Hot titles will focus on kindness. It seems like everywhere we turn in 2016 the media is filled with bad news- stories of bullying, hatred, and lack of acceptance. Scholastic editors hope that through literature, maybe we can show our youth that the world isn’t really all bad and that just maybe literature can be that one thing that bring us all together under one common roof.

-The year of big book anniversaries. 2017 will host a handful of really exciting book anniversaries that will bring these modern classic to the forefront once again- good content never gets old. These anniversaries to watch out for are the 30th anniversary of The Magic School Bus, the 25th anniversary of Goosebumps, the 20th anniversary of Captain Underpants, and the 10th anniversary of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. 

-Children still want to laugh. Children seek out literature to laugh and escape reality for a bit, one of the may lessons us adults can learn from our children.

-Research is more important than ever. With more and more ludicrous information becoming available on the internet, editors are interested in teaching children to discern fact from fiction. Non-fiction titles will have a crucial role in this in 2017.

-Classics will be reimagined. Old tales will be retold in ways we have never seen them before. Keeping up with children’s imaginations is easier said than done.

Keep on writing, so our children can keep on reading.