The Feminist Romance

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As an author of romance herself, Alisha Rai spoke in an interview about her experiences incorporating feminism into her writing. In her novels, her lead female is the one in power, such as being a billionaire with a huge company in the palm of her hands. Matter of fact, most of her female leads take on some form of dominant position (and no, I’m not talking about in the bedroom!) where she is “overpowering” her male counterpart. That’s the not the usual trope you see. From reading many of the romance novels on the market today, one would think that  women like to be controlled and compliant. But, authors like Rai are telling us that’s not always the case and why it shouldn’t always be that way.

In a way, romance novels can be feminist works even without Rai’s juicy switch. Romance is a special genre already. But, we can revolutionize the genre even more by adding in more feminist elements to the stories and characters. This is important if we want to keep the genre evolving and relatable. It will also keep the genre ‘special,’ for more than one reason. One writer points out why romance is special, in 7 ways:

  1. Just like Rai’s protagonists, other authors choose to include strong female protagonists.
  2. Romance is a genre filled with female/women’s voices.
  3. Women’s needs are placed first. Inside the bedroom and out.
  4. The genre allows women to explore their fantasies.
  5. Regardless of how she is in real life, a romance novel allows a woman to take control of her sexuality.
  6. Romance allows topics that have been outcast as “taboo” to be explored in depth.
  7. And finally, it is a genre which allows many voices to get their foot in the door.

Seeing women that have it all may be refreshing and encouraging to read, but if none of that appeals to you, there will always be authors writing about the classic romance between two individuals- which we definitely don’t want to lose either.

Hispanic Heritage Month

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From September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month takes over. A general inclusion of staple Hispanic foods, music, and basic history are taught to children and events based on different Hispanic cultures fill up community boards (although pride parades happen throughout the rest of the year). One part of Hispanic Heritage Month we would like to focus on here at HRM are some Latinx writers who have made their mark on the publishing industry.

Thanks to the Library of Congress and the interviews conducted with each author included on this list, we hope you can indulge in the works of these talented individuals not only this month but throughout the entire year:

  • Gina Franco
  • William Archila
  • Juan Felipe Herrera
  • Laurie Ann Guerrero
  • Tim Z. Hernandez
  • Diana Garcia
  • Brenda Cardenas
  • Rigoberto Gonzalez
  • Valerie Martinez
  • Richard Blanco
  • Carmen Gimenez Smith
  • Eduardo C. Corral
  • Fred Arroyo
  • Maria Melendez

The Task of Writing

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Writer’s block is far from fun for any writer. The thought of not being able to achieve a significant chunk of writing in one session after another holds so many creators back from moving forward with their novels. Sometimes writer’s block can be incredibly discouraging, pushing wordsmiths into a hole and often times leading them to give up their work. Most writers don’t actually want to give up their dreams, they just feel like they don’t have any other choice because every story idea they have doesn’t go anywhere. The Write Nook is here to help our readers put their fingers back on the keyboard and to get their ideas rolling again.

The best way to cure writer’s block is simple: keep writing.Famous authors recommend it, so you can do it, too.

To celebrate #WritingWednesday, we wanted to put together some fun writing prompts to kick start your creative brain. Let’s light a match and put it to the dimming flame together!

  • At a wake for a father, the estranged ex-wife slow dances with their son. Why does she dance with him, and what secret does she whisper in his ear as they dance? 
  • Your character goes to a psychic, who sets them up with some creepy foreshadowing.
  • Somebody’s knocking at the door. Somebody’s ringing the bell. Open the door and let them in, whoa…wait, it’s four AM. What’s going on? Who could it be?
  • This whole scene would be more interesting if someone had a hangover. And also, if they couldn’t remember last night.
  • Pirates attack and pillage. This is more fun if the story DOESN’T take place in the sixteenth century.

All of these prompts come from writing generators (and here, or there). These generators can provide some amusement as well as inspiration. The best part is if there is a comment section, writers tend to share what they’ve written. Those can be fun to read and potentially spark some inspiration, as well. Even with a writing generator, one can write a short story to merely exercise the brain-it doesn’t need to be your next masterpiece.

Now go get out of that writing slump and back in action!

Write on!

Judging A Book By Its Cover

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If you are travelling down the self-publishing path, then creating a book cover is going to be another part of your publishing journey. After walking through aisles and aisles of books at the local B&N, I started to notice the similarities amongst some of the genres. There’s a cycle a writer should keep in mind when creating the cover to their book. If you were the book, the process would go a little something like this:

  1. Get noticed by the potential reader browsing all your friends on the bookshelf or Amazon page.
  2. Either you’re picked up or clicked on, because you’re just that interesting.
  3. If you’re exactly what the potential reader wants, they’ll buy you.
  4. Of course, they’ll read you.
  5. After they’re done, they’re going to talk about you to other people. They’ll entice their peers with your inspiring and rich content.
  6. Let this process repeat.

But, how can you get to step one? A good cover takes a couple different factors into account. For a fiction novel, you won’t want to include too much text. The title, author name, and maybe an essential quote from the book or a shortened quote from a reviewer is more than enough to do the trick. When you add too much text, it becomes too much for a the reader to consume or it might reveal too much about your novel. This can cause the reader to quickly put your book back on the shelf or scroll onto the next book. Quick catchphrases or quotes can sometimes be a good subheading – but make sure it doesn’t go much beyond a sentence. If images help your novel pop, make sure the image used is significant to the plot of your novel. It becomes visually appealing when a story about a dog, has a dog on it (or whatever the story may be). When you pick the right image, a reader can get just as much information about your novel from just looking at the cover as they can from reading its summary.

Let’s use Caraval by Stephanie Garber as an example. The cover of Caraval is a happy medium between being too boring and too active. The bright white color font of the title pops out at you, so you are immediately drawn to the title. The lettering intertwines elegantly with the star design without being too intrusive, adding a little extra pizzazz without hindering your ability to read the text easily. The glittery stars within the star design, against the space background, flow together in a simple manner. When creating your cover, you want to reflect the story you’re telling. In Garber’s novel, her main character, Scarlett, must find her sister in five nights while being surrounded by magic and performances (therefore, the star design on the cover mirrors the nighttime or bursts of magic within the novel).

If you are a visual artist, as well as a wordsmith, you might want to take it upon yourself to create your own cover because you know the image you wish to convey to your readers better than anyone else. Or recruit someone you may know or a trusted cover designer to work with you to create the perfect cover that will bring your story to life. Regardless of how your cover is made, you want to be able to appeal to your readers and represent your book in an exceptional way that wouldn’t allow it to be looked over by browsers.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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.

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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.