Tag Archives: Harper-Voyager-open-submissions

Harper Voyager & NaNoWriMo

Dear Diary,

I submitted my novel, Vokhtah, to Harper Voyager last night, and now I can sit and contemplate the enormity of what I have done. Not for too long though, because NaNoWriMo starts on November the 1st [more on that later].

So. In the last few weeks I’ve conquered my fear of failure, received my MS back from my editor, edited said MS, learned how to write a query letter and submitted my very first novel. Not bad at all. On the down side however, my house is a shambles, the weeds are going berserk, I’ve almost run out of clean clothes and our meals have been… basic. Oh, and I’ve neglected my blog quite a bit. 😦 Clearly, I’m going to have to fix at least some of those things. For today though, I’m just going to focus on the simple pleasure of not having a deadline hanging over my head any more.

As part of my winding down strategy I’m going to potter around in the garden, trying not to see the spots where Andy, the adolescent alpaca has dropped bits of poop. His mother has been rather slack in teaching him the finer points of alpaca etiquette. Well-mannered, adult alpacas poop in neat, clearly defined piles. Andy poops as he walks. 😦

I will also spend some time playing with the dog instead of constantly yelling at her to be quiet because I’m working. I may even decide to cook something half-way decent for dinner, but only because I’m sick of pizza and fish and chips. Everything else can wait until tomorrow.

And in a very roundabout way, the word ‘tomorrow’ brings me to that other, rather peculiar word in the title – NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Most of us just call it nano. Nano is a yearly event that begins on the 1st of November and ends on the 30th. What actually happens is that participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It sounds insane but can be incredibly stimulating. And fun. That’s why I’ve decided to participate again this year. I need a bit of fun. My brain feels tired and I just don’t have the mental energy to jump straight into book 2 of the Vokhtan series.

A change is as good as a holiday… right?

Anyway, I’ve signed up for nano so it’s too late to change my mind now. 😀 I have not the faintest, foggiest, vaguest idea what to write, but I’m hoping sheer panic and desperation will kick start my brain on November 1. That strategy worked back in 2004 so I’m hoping it will work again in 2012. If not, I may be writing some very depressed and depressing posts.

If any brave writer out there wants to keep me company during the month of November, the url for nano is here.

And now I really do have to go out into the garden. I have early roses to sniff, tiny figs to encourage and an irate dog to placate.



Momentous days and interesting nights

I am winging it a bit with this post so apologies if it’s a bit disjointed. The big news, for me at least, is that my wonderful editor Laurie Boris has returned my MS and the editing is not going to be as horrific as I thought it would be!

What? You didn’t know I’d sent it off to be edited? Oops, sorry. I try to be open and honest on this blog but I do tend to keep scary things to myself until I can resolve them in some way. And trust me, waiting for the MS to come back has been scary. I was imagining all sorts of horrible things from masses and masses of stupid mistakes to … well, I’m pretty sure every writer out there knows exactly what awful things I was imagining. Anyway, they did not eventuate so now I’m literally chomping at the bit to get stuck into the final edit and polish.

While I’m on the subject of scary things I have to say that the Harper Voyager post was a bit of an exception for me. It was scary alright but it was a kind of scary I just had to write about because I knew I would not be able to resolve it from within the confines of my own head; I was being tugged in too many directions to make sense of the issue. That was why I really needed your perspectives and your affectionate advice to sort the wheat from the chaff. My thanks to all of you by the way for clarifying the question so beautifully. Thanks to your input I can now officially say that  – I will be submitting!

The turning point in the submit/don’t submit debate came when I realised that the only thing I would lose by submitting to Harper Voyager was fear. Fear was at the core of all my vacillating. Fear of being rejected [hah!] Fear of losing my self-confidence [double hah!] and fear of change [because I had devised a plan as an indie and feared to change it in mid-stream].

Now I know I’m not the world’s bravest person but I have always believed that the true measure of courage is not how you feel about something but what you do about it. So what this soul searching all came down to was a very simple question and it had nothing to do with Harper Voyager. I had to ask myself if I had the courage to face this fear. My pride said ‘yes’ and so did my sense of shame; after all what kind of a writer would I be if I could not face down even one, single rejection? So submit I will!

Deciding to submit The Book to Harper Voyager was a big decision to make but having made it I then had to also make some smaller ones to ensure that I could meet the submission deadline. One of those smaller decisions was to not, under any circumstances, play my beloved games during the day. This was important because I knew I had to get back into the professional work ethic I had had while actually writing The Book.

The second of the smaller decisions was actually a little harder to make. At the moment I post three times a week and in-between times I try to catch up with all of you. Until the October 14 deadline comes and goes I’m going to have to reduce my posts to just two a week and I won’t be able to be as sociable as I used to be. 😦 I will keep dropping in and seeing how you are all going but it won’t be as often. Please don’t feel as if I’ve forgotten about you. You are all my friends and I’m not giving any of you up!

Phew! That was hard. Now to the ‘interesting nights’ part of my title. And no, I haven’t found a gorgeous hunk of a man to play with. 😀 My interesting nights revolve around my gaming and the latest game to rise up and bite me is Guild Wars 2. Against my better judgement I went out and bought the game over a week ago and it sat there on my desk, unopened and uninstalled. The idea was that I’d have it there, ready to go as a ‘reward’ for when I felt I’d done my work well…

Yes, that did not go quite to plan, or perhaps the plan was flawed to start with. A couple of days ago I stripped off the plastic wrapper and installed the game. So far I have a love/hate relationship with it but it is addictive – hence the rule about not playing during the day and no more staying up late while I join just one more event. From now on, playing GW2 will be restricted to an hour or so after dinner each night and my precious awake time will be reserved for The Book.

That’s the plan and I intend to stick to this one so… wish me luck!



Harper Voyager Open Submissions – pros and cons

Harper Voyager is the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of Harper Collins. They are calling for submissions from all authors between October 1, 2012 and October 14, 2012. The successful authors will have their books edited, published as an ebook and marketed online by Harper Voyager, apparently one a month for the forseeable future. Harper Voyager are also hinting that some books may also be published in print. Authors who are not contacted within 3 months of submission will have to consider themselves unsuccessful.

Those are the facts I gleaned from the Harper Voyager submission guidelines.

The one thing that is missing from the guidelines is any mention  of contracts, payments or royalties so until stated otherwise we have to assume that standard publishing industry contracts will apply. That was easy to write but the truth is I have no idea what standard publishing industry contracts actually are or what an author gets out of them. So I did what any netizen would do and asked Google.

My search brought up http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/harlequin-fail-part-2.html .

This is J.A. Konrath’s blog and in this article he talks about a lawsuit being brought against Harlequin. I don’t want to digress into a general discussion about the business practices of another publisher so if you are interested you can find more information at : http://www.harlequinlawsuit.com/

The reason I’m bringing up the Konrath article is because at one point he is explaining about how authors are paid and uses the following example which may apply to all publishing contracts.  “Harlequin has an ebook it lists for $3.99. It sells that to Amazon at a wholesale price of $2.00. The author should make $1.00 for each $3.99 ebook that Amazon sells”. This implies that contracted authors make 50% of the wholesale price of their ebooks.

If the publisher keeps the other 50% then, as there are no printing or distribution costs involved in ebooks, we would have to assume that some of that money is for overheads such as editing and marketing. Now I know that editors have to be paid, along with cover designers etc but I’m a little baffled by just exactly what kind of marketing any publisher can do for ebooks. For print books there are reviews, interviews, book signings etc but online marketing is not the same beast.

When was the last time you came across professional advertising for an ebook? I’m no expert but what little I know about marketing suggests that authors have to do their own. Now I suppose Harper Voyager probably does have a Twitter account, maybe a Facebook presence as well but… honestly? I’ve never looked them up in an effort to find a great new ebook. I have been on the TOR site but I haven’t looked for their recommendations either. So I would really like to know just exactly what kind of online marketing Harper Voyager is capable of performing. Will they be spamming Twitter? Or is there some other avenue I know nothing about?

The reason I am making such a big deal about the marketing aspect of online publishing is that I suspect Harper Voyager will be getting the lion’s share of the benefits.

Author benefits

1. Professional editing

2. Professional cover design

3. Status of being traditionally published, sort of.

4. Possible increase in visibility and author recognition amongst readers.

Author disadvantages

1. A huge drop in the financial rewards accruing from their ebooks.

If these authors become successful then the benefits will far outweigh the one, obvious disadvantage. However the cynic in me says that out of all these authors only a very few are likely to hit the sweet spot with readers and so only a very few will actually become successful. But what of all the others? The ones who don’t become successful? The ones who end up selling about the same number of books as they would have done if they’d self-published? Clearly the loss of sales income will hurt.

Publisher benefits

1. A huge pool of new material to pick and choose from.

2. Minimal overheads

3. The possibility that a few of their chosen authors will become successful at which point those successful authors will graduate into print which will be highly  profitable for the publisher.

4. A way to make the ebook revolution work for them instead of against them.

Publisher disadvantages

1. The headache of reading through a huge slushpile of books that don’t ‘make the grade’, however they define that benchmark.

From a publishing point of view I see this move by Harper Voyager as being very clever indeed. For very little effort they will be able to cherry pick the most profitable new work out there as well as gaining a reputation as being a forward thinking company. If everything works according to plan they will be able to transition into the growing ebook market ahead of the other traditional publishers and that will increase their market share. All at very little cost.

There is however a third group who need to be mentioned here – the unsuccessful authors whose work is rejected by Harper Voyager without even a pink slip. What of them? Will they really be the ones who didn’t make the grade or will at least some of them simply be those who are considered too different, too ‘hard to sell’, even in ebook form?

Part of me sees this Harper Voyager open submission as an opportunity. Another part of me sees it as a trap.

Some months ago I finally stopped sitting on the fence and decided that I wanted to be a self-published indie author. Everything I had learned about traditional publishers was a negative and I was angry at the bean-counter, chase-the-unholy-dollar-at-all-costs mentality of the Big Six publishers. I saw being an indie as a sort of badge of courage. Hell, I saw it as me, striking a teeny, weeny blow against all corporate evil. It was a good feeling. Now I’m conflicted.

If I stick to my guns and follow the plan [hah] to become self-published then am I doing so because it’s the smart thing to do or am I just being a coward and shying away from [likely] rejection? On the other hand if I don’t take the gamble and submit then will I be ignoring a once in a lifetime opportunity?

My gut tells me to stick to my guns but it’s also telling me that I’m a wimp who’s too scared to try and fail. I’d really appreciate your take on this whole thing.

Not so cheerful,




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