• Mark Meier

When I first published Ebony Sea: Origins (was it five years ago already? YEESH!) I was quite proud of how few errors were in it. Then my grandma found one.

Here’s the story:

I was showing off my proof copy - the only copy I had, and she grabbed it. “Thanks, Mark. I’ll read through it.” I though, "My only copy!" But she's grandma, so I let her have it. A week later I got the book back with a bookmark and note that went something like this: “You have a ‘downing man,’ and I think you mean a ‘drowning man.’” Yep. And that version had already gone to print. It was updated since.

So I was pretty confident that I had a clean book. Until I started reading through it again earlier this month.

I’ve found at least three dropped words, a few more spelling errors, and sloppy writing. I’m going through it again to do some more correcting of those issues. I’m hoping my publisher will allow a new version to be uploaded. There are ISBN issues, and it might not be allowable. We’ll see this weekend.

This effort to go through ES again is to familiarize myself with the characters again. I’ve written a number of stories with those characters that are akin to a TV series. I had “season one” plotted out and was a little more than halfway through when I moved to other projects (like The Brotherhood).

With The Brotherhood on submission I’m free again to work on Ebony Sea: 1, which still amazes me. I think I was a better writer when I was producing those stories. I may be a “cleaner” writer, but the stories back then seem more . . . alive. And they were put out much more quickly - a story (or episode) every month.

Getting back into ES will be a labor of love, but note that it is “labor.” Anyone who tells you writing is easy might be right for THEM, but in general it takes a lot of effort.

Unless you’re the author of Outlander.

I heard she decided to write a book. Wrote it. Had it picked up by the first publisher she approached. That’s very uncommon.

With a five year hiatus in Ebony Sea, it’ll take some fits and starts to get back in. But that’s the plan for now.

Hang on. This could be a bumpy ride.

Are you up for it?



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  • Mark Meier

For those who haven’t seen the posts, I’ve been actively working toward finding a venue for The Brotherhood. I submitted to four or five publishers, which have all let their “respond by” dates expire. “If we don’t get in touch within XX days, assume we’re not interested.”

So on March first I began submitting to agents. Many publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts from authors. An agent is needed. So back in December I identified a dozen or so agents who I thought might be a good fit for The Brotherhood.

I’m submitting to two agents per week, and will until I work through that list. Should take six weeks to query a dozen agents, right?

Wrong.

At least two agencies have closed up. At least one agent I identified is no longer with the agency I’d located. So I’ll be done considerably sooner than six weeks.

Not to worry. I haven’t stopped writing. I haven’t stopped looking for agents and publishers.

Anyone familiar with The Brotherhood will recognize the name Mastema. That Brother is going to be featured in at least two other stories. And the Brother called Pop is already written into another story.

There’s more to come from The Brotherhood. Even if nothing comes from this round of effort, it’ll still be there for future use. Inevitably an editor or agent will ask a potential client, “What else do you have?”

If The Brotherhood isn’t my breakout story, it’ll join Ravid. Perhaps I’ll work on Ebony Sea: 1 again. That was kinda left languishing and unread.

Some of those stories are still available on Kindle, but I think only one story was actually purchased, so if I decide to publish that as a collection it’ll be brand new.

Then there’s Ebony Sea: 2. That was largely plotted out, though not outlined.

There’s so much to write, and so little time.

Then there’s The Archives.

OY!



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  • Mark Meier

A couple of months ago I found a few publishers that would accept submissions without having an agent - those are rare, BTW. Finding a publisher of Thrillers with that limitation even more so. I think there were initially five, but one turned out to be a subsidy publisher. They want money, and they’ll publish the book. I’m not at a point where I’d do that.

Sure, that publisher has a great package. Their reach into social media is massive, they have audiences in the hundreds of thousands (if not millions), and they could have been a great asset. Or would they?

Their client list includes a lot of big name authors. Those books would sell millions of copies based on the author’s name alone. That publisher broadcasts Another Book by Big Author, and a million copies sell in the first month. That’s certainly worth a five thousand dollar investment.

If they broadcast Unknown Title by Author U. Nvr. Heardof, would a $2,000 investment ever pay off? Probably not. Even without doing complex math we can see that. Cover price of $15 might mean a $5 profit margin, so to break even means 400 copies selling.

When was the last time you’ve bought a book written by an author you’ve never heard of before? An author might (MIGHT) do that, but the average reader probably wouldn’t. Maybe one in a half-million might, so if two million people see something about a new book, that would be four copies sold.

Let’s not belabor that point, though. There were four other publishers who received submission packages, and the listed reply times are winding down. I figure if I don’t hear anything by March I’ll assume a “no.” That is, unfortunately, the standard these days. “If you don’t hear from us in X number of weeks (or months), assume we couldn’t care less about your project. In fact, we care so little we can’t even be bothered to send a TBNT (Thanks, But No Thanks) email that would literally take five seconds.”

To be honest, I understand that policy. With pretty much everyone thinking they’re good enough to write a novel, publishers have been buried in submissions. If you get a hundred submissions every day, even one full time employee couldn’t send that many TBNTs in a day. I joke that it takes five seconds, but it might take ten minutes to find the email submission. Then click “reply,” write “TBNT” or paste the standard rejection message, and a hundred replies takes more hours than are in a workday.

Anyway, with the reply time expiring it’s time to hunt for agents. They’ve been getting hammered, too. I may have mentioned I’ve identified twelve agents who might accept a project like The Brotherhood. I’ve decided to submit to a pair of them each week starting on March 1st. That means my last pair of submissions will be on April 5th.

That’s all predicated on not hearing anything back from agents or publishers. If I get a nibble on any of those submissions I’ll send the rest of them out that day or the next. I’ll update the email packages I send out to include information about the possible good news, and inform the agents who already received my submission about the development.

So, a flurry of submissions will be going out soon. I’m confident in the quality of the book produced, though professional editors will no doubt push it to a higher level before the book gets printed.

“But Mark, what happens if nobody picks it up?”

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I have a lot of hope it will get picked up by someone, and probably this year.

But keep this in mind: it usually takes a couple of years for a book to go from “acceptance” to “available for purchase.”

Publishing takes time.



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