Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Not so little after all 1st September 2010.

About an hour after I posted my blog entry yesterday, talking about real life since the intrusion of real life had prevented me working and as a result I was a little slow to find a topic, I checked my e-mail inbox and there it was.

Seriously momentous good news – finally after looking at them with envious eyes as we weren’t big enough for them, and then when we did attain that required minimum size and apply, and then wait and wait and wait Content Reserve finally accepted our application as a publisher for them to carry our work.

They are the largest e-book aggregator on the planet – they supply literally hundreds of e-book retail web sites all over the globe. Some of the big names are exclusively theirs (like WHSmith and Waterstones in the UK). This single deal literally means we will now be selling our books in far more e-book stores than previously.

Not only that but they are the leading supplier via their parent company in the provision of e-book lending systems to libraries worldwide. As the e-book revolution sweeps through those hallowed halls, that could be even bigger news.

Although it will take some months before everything is loaded, distributed and sales information and actual revenues start coming back to us (see earlier rants on that subject!) this is a really big step for us – it rounded off August in a huge way.

Not only does it provide potentially a huge revenue stream for us and our authors it also says one other thing about us.

When it comes to the size ladder for publishers – we have climbed another rung – we are no longer among the “smallest of the small” small press publishers.

It’s not exactly industry recognition or anything resembling it – but it is an important step.

As you can tell I’m pumped!

Sorry about that.....

Not Enough Hours 31st August 2010.

Why is it, when real life intrudes, it’s always on the day or days when you have so...... much to do.

I have Augusts’ print book (Errata came back late from the author) and September’s to upload, umpteen book files to the new retailer, and another batch to another retailer. That’s before we start on the admin tasks that are piling up.

The real life intrusion’s I do have to mention – they were two different sides of the coin, one a happy, if a tad embarrassing, the other rather sad. Firstly, my prospective son-in-law asked for my permission to marry my daughter. Not that he needed it from a legal point of view, but it was really nice he thought it important enough to actually ask. Seeing as how my daughter has never been happier I was hardly likely to say no, was I? (Actually I did but laughed and spoiled the joke, couldn’t actually keep my face straight). That was last night, the second event, the sad one, was a funeral I attended this morning – a retired teacher who served at my children’s school for a very long time, all his working career, and he was my daughter’s favourite teacher too.

The contrast between the two events is startling and it has a tendency to throw off my thought patterns as my brain constantly wants to re-evaluate either of the two events. As a result it’s hard to concentrate on the grind of uploading files and descriptions and prices to the retailers.

I doubt there are enough hours in the day to clean up the workload for today – still it beats sitting still twiddling my thumbs...

Monday, 30 August 2010

New systems, new issues 30th August 2010.

I’m afraid I’m on an administration kick today and probably for the next few days.
Sobs quietly into his coffee mug.

Firstly, after protracted conversations with our accountants we’ve been persuaded to start using a particular accounts system.

So I can foresee many hours spent copying information from spreadsheet into system, and downloading it back to cross-check it. What fun!

I'm also now deeply buried in SEO (that's Search Engine Optimisation) for the web site which is proving to be a real snarled up nightmare.

The third admin task is we’ve now hooked up with another retailer. Albeit this one is probably going to be quite small for now, but they’ll grow. I now have ninety-one e-books in four formats to upload to them. Along with cover images, descriptions formatted excerpts, etc. etc. etc. Still at least this one has had the decency to put a lot of thought into their back end system – as well as trying to develop a nice front end for their customers.

Finally I have to sort out another query with one of our existing retailers, who I think are becoming so large they are having trouble keeping up with issues raised with their customer services team. – So that’s another series of e-mails.

Fun times.


Saturday, 28 August 2010

I’m amazed again. 28th August 2008.

I can’t believe it! I know the line is a cliché but just when I thought we’d either won the war or at least gained a respite by people actually starting to follow our submissions guidelines, along comes someone with another way to ignore them.

This author has sent us two stories as two separate submissions. The subject of the e-mail is correct, the name of the attached (correctly formatted) document is correct.

Full stop.

That’s it. The body of the e-mail is blank. Nothing.

Our guidelines read:
“The body of the e-mail should contain all your contact details, pen name (where applicable), a brief bio, the word count of your manuscript and its genre. A short (but not chapter by chapter) synopsis should also be included.”

Now I accept, you could possibly read the synopsis part other than intended, and include the synopsis as either an additional document or as at the start of the main document. Some authors have done this and we’ve accepted them.

One even attached a document entitled “synopsis and author bio” as well as the manuscript itself which we accepted, on the basis we’re prepared to be flexible.

In fact this author, once we’d gone hunting for them, had included a synopsis at the front of each manuscript, and on one of them the contact details were included in the page header of every single page! The problem is – I can’t find any bio anywhere.

I ask you, am I going to be predisposed to accepting this manuscript given the author has decided to be obtuse about following simple guidelines and made me work unnecessarily?

I feel a tightening of the guidelines coming up again!

You have been warned.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Genre Drift 27th August 2010.

When I was younger, I was an avid science fiction reader. I was brought up on the real techie stuff, the nuts and bolts of the spacecraft, and the semi-humanoid physiology of the aliens. The almost believable technological leaps that would give us faster-than-light travel, and intelligent humanoid robots (of both the benign Asimovian Three Laws variety, and the nasty Cylon type) and so on. The story was as much about the technology as it was about the characters.

Being able to “paint” the enemy as some form of arachnid devils or scaly wall eyed monsters with huge teeth and death rays made it quite easy to judge which side we should be on.

The genre has moved on, a huge amount since, Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Galactica notwithstanding. (Note the TV and movie tie ins).

Most current science fiction is much more character based, far less focus on the technology – if it’s there it’s just there – it isn’t the focus of the story any more. It’s about the human interaction with the technology, the way we use it rather than an end to itself.

Think about it, Avatar with humans as the baddies probably wouldn’t have been shot as a film 40 years ago (not that the special effects would have been up to it, and not that it’s that well characterised either).

The point I’m labouring here, using sci-fi as an example, is that genres don’t stand still, they evolve continuously.

Genres change, they drift, sometimes they split and the separate parts intertwine and reconnect further down the timeline. If you lovingly craft something that fits a genre, as it was 30 years ago, because that’s the best period as far as you were concerned – what do you think most publishers will do with it?

On a slightly parallel note, I read, with sadness, an attack on Stephanie Meyers recently because her vampire based stories don’t correctly portray vampires as they traditionally have been in the past, they lack the menacing depth of the “I vant to drink your bloood” variety. Maybe it’s that intelligentsia thing – that snobbery that pervades parts of the literary world - let’s mock what’s popular for the simple reason it’s popular, and therefore somehow vulgar.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Comparative Profitability 26th August 2010.

That is a pretentious title, two long words. Unfortunately it’s a shorthand version of one of the deep truths behind publishing.

When we contract a manuscript we do so in, to deliberately misquote a phrase “in the sure and certain hope” that it will make a profit. We will cover the costs incurred in editing, formatting, marketing, and uploading a book, as well as producing a cover.

That is actually exactly what it is, a “sure and certain hope” – when we look at a book’s possible market and our ability to market it, we do so hoping that it will make a profit. The same decision is made by every other publisher out there.
The problem is, like every other publisher the world over, we know it is precisely that, a hope, not a guaranteed return. If you want a guaranteed return put your money in the bank and put your feet up. Publishing is a business and like all businesses it involves taking a risk. You take every possible professional step to minimise that risk, but in the end you can only minimise it.

We hope that every book we publish will turn a profit, or at the very least cover its direct costs even if it doesn’t make any more of a contribution that that, although obviously such a contribution would be very welcome from every book – we do have fixed costs to pay out. Not least among them of course, the accountants.

The sad fact is not every book does turn a profit; in fact the majority of books fail to make their break-even sales. Even in the e-book world, some books just don’t seem to hit the market, they sink without a trace. We even have a couple of e-books that haven’t sold a single copy, and one it took a year before it sold its only copy. Thankfully these are very much the minority.

That may be down to price, it might be a bad cover, it might be a bad blurb, it might even be nothing other than the fact that on one web site the first person to rate the book gives it a “poor” rating, or a bad review. There are all sorts of factors, some we, as publishers can address, but some are beyond our control.
For every group of “bombers” though, there is somewhere a “fighter” – a book that outstrips all sales expectations and sells well above its own break-even point, subsidising the others...

So there you have it – the deep dark secret of publishing. We start with hope, then descend through trust into risk and finally from there into subsidy. That’s right, even the biggest publishers in the world operate on one principle of subsidisation, at least.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

That Darwinian Process 25th August 2010.

I thought I’d revisit the Darwinian process of selecting which submissions to contract. My first pass had identified 4 out of the remaining 17 manuscripts as potentially good enough to contract. This list, and accompanying comments were passed to my partner who only agreed with three of them – I said she was tougher than me! LOL. So that was the final result we offered contracts to three pieces. Bearing in mind we’d already discarded something like 6 manuscripts as being totally unsuitable before we started.

Of course several others will be given feedback including the magic words – if you decide to follow these guidelines we will be very happy to take another look should you decide to resubmit. (Although perhaps not in such formal wording.) No promises about acceptance will been made but doubtless it may have been taken that way.

Then it’ll be a crying shame if one of them rewrites their work, resubmits it and unfortunately doesn’t actually get it, so the second refusal will be a very severe disappointment, leaving the feeling they’ve somehow missed the boat. This is, of course, the case. It’s also a time when I think long and hard about not being quite so helpful in the first place.

Nevertheless, it is our policy to try to be helpful when we reject something, not merely to soften the blow, after all every author has a collection of rejections right?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Language 24th August 2010.

Like most people of a certain age, I have a set routine in the morning; mine involves a coffee over the morning paper. Two articles this morning set off a train of thought involving language, and the way a language drifts over time. New words are constantly appearing and old ones are falling into disuse.

Now journalists are always coining news words as a way of “spicing” up their articles and this particular one used two words, one I’d come across in context several times before and one that was deliberate gibberish.

Since the credit crunch it would appear that we Brits (ed: there’s another newish word!) aren’t taking as many fly away holidays as we used to, we’re tending to stay at home for our holidays – hence the genesis of the first of these new words – staycation. Literally a truncation of “stay at home vacation”. It’s not actually a literal truth – people are not staying at home, but they’re not leaving the country. I suspect this one might make it into the dictionary before long – although at the moment Word doesn’t recognise it as a word.

The second one was pure gibberish, a humorous corruption of staycation to cover the fact it has rained a lot over the last week – “splashcation” – for those who had the misfortune to get rained on while on holiday.

The other article, a couple of pages further into the paper bemoaned the way the English language is changing so that people couldn’t read and understand, and yes she used the word, access, Shakespeare anymore.

I just about fell off my chair laughing at this pretentious piece of nonsense. That is, of course, entirely what it is, pretentious twaddle (ed: old word alert!).
Shakespeare didn’t write in mid-twentieth century English after all. I very much doubt you personally know many people who could accurately read Shakespeare as it was originally written, I certainly couldn’t do so, and I don’t think I know more than one person who could. (My cousin is an archivist who specialises in Old English for the Cambridge University.)

Language is a living, breathing entity in its own right. It changes over time, sometimes with extraordinary speed – especially as it tries to keep up with scientific and social change. Let’s face it the last century and the start of this have seen a faster rate of change in both than ever before, and this trend looks likely to continue.

So if you need one of your characters to invent a word to describe something in dialogue, why not? You never know, one day it might appear in the dictionary.

After all someone invented a complete language called Klingon didn’t they?

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Selection Process. 23rd August 2010.

I’ve talked a lot over the last few weeks about the silly submissions and the ridiculous stunts pulled by would be authors when it comes to submissions. I think it’s time to talk about the others – the contenders – the submissions that actually have a chance of making the grade.

Yesterday was my submission day, and no, I’m not talking about kinky sexual practices, I’m talking about the day when having culled the silly and downright stupid submissions out of the way, and cleared my desk of other issues, I can sit down and go through the contenders list.
Sometimes the list is only 4 or 5 long, sometimes it’s a lot more – yesterday it was 17.

Some were novel length and some were considerably shorter, and one was a very long novel (150,000 plus words which gives us a potential case of indigestion).

Before I go any further, I should add, this only the first real hurdle the contenders have to clear, my business partner will also look at them – a submitted manuscript will only be offered a contract if we both say yes to it. I just happen to be the one who does it first. Usually if I say a very Charles de Gaulle NON then she'll probably not even do more than glance at them. So you can tell I give a graded response, definite no, no, possible if rewritten, probable with changes, maybe, yes and definite yes.

So of the seventeen, three were disposed of quickly – one the file was corrupt and wouldn’t open (I’ve e-mailed for a replacement from the author – I’m not that harsh), and two had already been glanced through and it was simply a confirmation of the earlier thoughts – definite no’s. Another was a religious diatribe wrapped up as a novella which is a big no-no. The next one to hit the skids was a literary work, it might be worthy and extremely well written but its market would be confined to a few of the so called intelligentsia who in any case would turn up their noses at an e-book anyway. It has to be printed on vellum for people like that.

So there’s another rule for you, is it commercial?

The next two (and I’m working up the scale, not the actual reading sequence here) were rejections on plot issues. Okay, you need certain things to happen in a certain way for your final chapter to work. I can understand that, but the framework that allows that needs to have some internal logic that allows “suspension of disbelief”. There are myriad ways of doing this but if you don’t and still plough on, don’t complain when it’s rejected because the editor can see bus sized plot holes in it.

There’s another one for you – does your plot work – does it hold water?

Now we’ve eliminated the pure dross or the unworkable, we’re down to the faintly possible. With many publishers you won’t be able to tell whereabouts in the cull you fell, because all you get back is a rejection slip. We try to be a little nicer than that, and tell you why. The faintly possible are those where there is something inherently right about the manuscript, but one or more things seriously wrong too. This might be, under-characterisation (the story grabs you but the characters don’t, or even written in the wrong point of view or any one of several technical faults in the writing). The book may be too long or even too short. There are potentially a myriad reasons here.

These now fall by the wayside with a recommendation that they go back to the author for a rewrite or correction.

Now we’re getting to the good ones. Some of these get a straight forward yes vote from me; some get a qualified yes vote. Again, these may be the same faults as the previous set, but not as severe. The recommendation here is for an offer to go to the author on the basis; provided you agree to this we would be happy to contract it.

I finished them all off yesterday and sent my recommendations to my business partner. It’s her turn now.

She starts in the opposite direction, starting with the yeses and if she agrees issues a contract offer, if she doesn’t the conversation between us begins – although that is usually only at the top end, the difference between a definite and a qualified yes.

You want to know the score?

I said yes to 4 out of the 17. We’ll see.....

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Take an Oblique Approach 21st August 2010.

Yet again I’ve been amazed by the approach taken by a couple of authors when it comes to submissions. At this rate I could narrow the focus of this blog to just that. Weird, wonderful and downright wacky submissions.

Obviously it can be a difficult call to judge. Every publisher has different submission guidelines and when you’re reformatting your manuscript to meet their finicky little peccadilloes on fonts and spacing for about the fiftieth time it wears. Been both sides of the wire on that one.
Trying to keep you accompanying letter/ e-mail looking fresh and unique is another problem and that’s before I start on about a short and snappy synopsis. This week two people have tried different approaches – both of them in some way unique but doomed.

I’m not going to spend very long talking about the first one – that was possibly just simply a mistake. We were sent an anonymous submission! Oh, sure, there was an e-mail address attached but the front end of the e-m ail address was one of those that simply isn’t a name by any stretch of the imagination – not unless someone’s done the deed poll thing and changed to something very weird. There was no name or bio on the e-mail and none included in the manuscript either. Seeing as how I’m basically a nine guy (ed: yeah right!) I’ve sent a polite e-mail back saying we can’t accept this as a submission without a name, bio and contact details.
Let’s face it where would we send the contract? Who would we address it to? Assuming we wanted to.

The second case is much more interesting.

There was no submission document attached. The e-mail starts off:

I know collecting pink rejection slips is an occupational hazard and for some an engaging hobby but I’m 73 now and I don’t have time any more. I have 40 years of stories to tell and no where near that length of time left to tell them in.......

Instead of submitting his work he’s set up a web site showcasing it (ed: don’t the rest of us use WDC for that?) and could I please go to his web site and browse through his stories to see if there were any I liked.

A smorgasbord approach to submissions. Lay the buffet out, romances to the left, suspense in the middle, paranormal and ghost stories on the far right. Please take a plate and a napkin....

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. (ed: that one wasn’t intended).

I can understand and sympathise with his frustration, been there, got the collection, haven’t we all? Unfortunately he’s missed the point and this approach is doomed to fail, and the reason is a single word. Annotation.

When we are looking at a submission we will usually annotate the manuscript. I’ve never worked with a publisher who didn’t. Sometimes with outstanding generosity, on a rejection we’ll let the author see our notes, although usually not. OMG this is sh*te isn’t a good thing for the author to see after all, although come to think of it....

Being able to bat the manuscript back and forth between a couple of people (or more) each adding their annotations and comments to it, works. If a manuscript is contracted these will often be the kicking off point for the story edits.

So I’m sorry, this guy isn’t going anywhere with us, which might well be a pity, his work might actually be very good. Certainly he’s creative.

Now to craft a polite e-mail response....

Friday, 20 August 2010

Why DO we write? 20th August 2010

I feel inspired today, truly inspired to write about our motivation to write.

Go on, have fun deconstructing that one.

We all believe we have our own unique reason for writing, and on one level that’s absolutely correct, but on another, a deeper level we all write for the exact same reason. I am talking about fiction here, not non-fiction - the need for the distinction will become clear.

This particular entry is inspired by the post one of my friends put on her Facebook status, one that was very apt and at the same time funny. Several of our mutual friends commented back, basically agreeing with her and comparing her reason for writing with real life. Although her post was light hearted, it contains a kernel of real hard truth.

So why do we write?

What is the think that links my desire to write alternative military history with her desire to write cracking good romance stories, or another friends equally good fantasy novels or another’s superb historical romances? I have friends that write in virtually all genres, from horror through to the hot stuff.

The answer is simple, in fact so simple you can spell it out in one word.


That’s it – that’s the big secret to what motivates us to write?

Do you see it, or should I spell it out in smaller steps? You know I’m going to anyway – right?

Step 1. Fiction is a major form of escapism – we read a book to escape into another world, it may be another dimension or it may be simply a different part of the same world.

Step 2. If we read fiction in order to escape then surely we are writing it to escape to.

Step 3. The reader is forced, by the confines of the book, to escape into a realm confined and constrained by the words of another.

Step 4. This should by now be obvious. If you, the writer, produce those constraints for others then you are the one in control.

Deep down, one of our underlying motivations as writers is to manufacture our “world” where we are in control of what happens, what is said and how people react.

So there you have it.

Every novelist is at the bottom of it all a control freak.

We are all control freaks. I am a control freak.

You have been warned. LOL

Thursday, 19 August 2010

To show or not to show - 19th August 2010

I thought I’d drop back into writing again today, just for a change. LOL. I’ll pick up where one of the comments pointed me after my blog about the use of dialogue. The pithy subject of Show not Tell.

I am so not, going to try and show you how to show and not tell, rather comment on its vital importance. Go on deconstruct that sentence with a straight face – I dare you. LOL

In fact, I’m not so sure you can really teach someone who doesn’t “get it” that they need to show the reader the story, not tell them it. If you go to a writers group on a regular basis, I can almost guarantee there will be one person there who takes a really good idea and then botches it as a piece of writing by telling the story. At least one. Most will gradually come to the realisation exactly what Show not Tell means, but there’s always the stubborn case who knows better than the rest of the world. “I write the way I want to and you can’t stop me.” “I’m happy with what I do.”

Actually, they are very valid statements and it depends on what you want from your writing. If you want to win competitions or become a published author you MUST NOT take that attitude. If when I read your manuscript I fell you are telling me the story rather than showing it to me – I WILL PUT IT ON THE REJECT PILE – irrespective of the quality of the story itself. So will 99.5% of my peers, however big or small the publisher is.
I said 99.5% rather than 100% because you never know there may be a maverick out there, or even someone totally desperate to fill the remaining slot in their timetable. Personally I wouldn’t want to rely on that kind of chance.

Write what you want, how you want, by all means but don’t expect the publishing world to accept it just because you, a relatively unknown, wrote it, just because your friends and family say it’s good enough to be published. Quite often they are simply being nice to you. Believe me, when you submit a story to a publisher they will not be quite so nice, in fact they most likely won’t be nice at all. The problem for you is, most of them will be so NOT NICE, they won’t even reply or simply say NO with no explanation, and you won’t know why.

Just remember, many publishers are inundated with sub-standard manuscripts, and don’t have the time to be nice and tell you what’s wrong. Some do, but a publisher is in business to make money out of the winners, not spend time on the non-starters.

Show your reader the story, don’t tell them it. Dialogue is still one of the most effective techniques to do this – so get your characters talking.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Scheduling 18th August 2010

Scheduling is one of the big headaches we encounter with some of our authors; some have the patience of a saint, while others....

The production of a book, from contract to release has a natural cycle to follow.

We start off with the cover design. (Now, this part of the process can run concurrently with the next phase, but we always do it first. I personally don’t like to see “Coming Soon” placeholder graphics rather than the finished cover. That’s me, and I won’t add the book to the web site as a Coming Soon title until the cover is finished.)

The next stage is what we call the story edits. With some books, we can usually bypass this or incorporate it into the next set of edits. It depends on the book, the author, the quality of the writing (which had better be pretty good to get contracted in the first place) and the coherence of the plot. We will also look at copyright issues, and if necessary any potential libel pitfalls.
Once this stage has been done by the editor it goes back to the author for the marked corrections/ discussion points to be dealt with.

After this we get onto the main copy edits (confusingly this can be called line edits, as can the next process). Here the main guts of the book are overhauled on a line by line and word for word basis. It’s here we’ll tend to deal with the main faults, incorrect word usage, incorrect capitalisation and above all, mixed tenses and Point of View. I’m quite sure my editors will now jump on my back for the things I missed from that list, but it’s for illustration. This stage of the process can often throw up story edit points too.

Once returned and checked these edits are sent to the author to fix.

The penultimate stage (for an e-book) is the proof editing. Here another editor goes over the response from the previous set of edits and marks further corrections. This may be mistakes introduced by the author in correcting others, or it can be points not raised by the copy or story editors.

Finally, these too go to the author to fix.

Once complete the book can be formatted and released.

If the book is going to print, then there is usually an additional stage called the “Print Errata” where the author is sent the print formatted book and asked to check it thoroughly. Partly this is to pick up formatting points missed by the publisher, but it’s also a chance to pick up typos that have been otherwise missed.

Once processed the print book can be released to the printer and hence to marke
There shouldn’t be any errors by now I hear you say. WRONG with a capital W. I defy you to pick up three mass market paperbacks in a row and not find a single error in any of them. I’d confidently predict at least one glaring mistake in at least two of them, but I digress.

I’m meant to be talking about scheduling not editing and this is where that old favourite chaos theory bites you in the ass. Finite queue theory too, but hey, let’s not get too technical here, - I’m not a geek – well not that much.

The sequence the books will go to the story editor is clear, we’ll do them in the sequence they the contracts were signed.

Let’s just deal with three books A, B and C which were contracted a day apart:

Book A goes to the story editor, gets done and sent to the author.

Book B then gets done and is sent to its author.

Book C is deemed not to need a story edit.

Book C is obviously available to go to the copy editor first.

Now’s let’s suppose the author of Book B doesn’t have as much to do as the author of Book A and is naturally quicker anyway so Book B comes back well before Book A.

The copy editor is sent Book C and as this is a long one it takes some time.

Book B comes back three weeks before Book A but Book C isn’t finished until a further week later.

Which book should go to the copy editor first?

We take the approach, the oldest book available goes to the next stage, so for us that’s Book A. This is a lose-lose game – you can argue the other way with just as much logic.

So now Book C is with the author, Book A is in copy edit and Book B is cooling its heels.
Book A is finished with the copy editor and goes to the author, Book B goes to the copy editor and then Book C comes back from an author who really doesn’t like half the points the copy editor made and wants an explanation.

Do we insist the copy editor finishes Book B before responding to the Book C author? What would be the decision if in fact it had been Book A?

Hopefully by now you have got the picture and I don’t need to add more steps to this to show you just how incredibly complex it is to keep everything moving. Make that twenty books rather than three, some of them short stories, some of them novellas and some novels, introduce more editors into the mix and perhaps you’ll have some sympathy for the poor person who sorts all this out on a day to day, week by week basis.

All I can say thank heaven it isn’t me.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Perspective - 17th August 2010

I’ve spent the last few weeks alternately ranting and whinging about several topics.

About submissions, and people congenitally incapable of following simple guidelines. About retailers who change formatting requirements, seemingly at a whim. About the way the payments system works in publishing. Even about writers who think simply because Danielle Steele can get away with it, so can they – and those who can’t write dialogue.

In the process I almost insulted one of our authors over self-publishing and upset a couple of others, whilst hopefully entertaining and informing my readers and followers.

However, I’ve received some news that put things into a different perspective. One of our authors has been diagnosed with bowel cancer and is demonstrating two small tumours on his liver. They’ve already started the chemo, and scheduled the radiotherapy, hoping to cure it without surgery. He’s one of life’s all round good guys. I knew him from a writing group, before we became his publisher.

He writes under a pen-name, so I will have to refer to him by that, Jak, rather than his real name, but he knows who I mean.

We can only wish him well, to weather the storm that, all unasked for, is washing over him and his family, and for him to go on and beat the dreaded C.

Go for it fella!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Bounce Effect - 14th August 2010

Ever wondered why prolific authors and authors of series are so much more successful than others? It’s no secret and really very simple. I call it the bounce effect.

We all know the most important sales of a book occur in its first few weeks after publication. Actually, like a lot of things we “know” - that’s not entirely the truth. Those sales occur when a book is released in that particular channel or retailer. So, you get a “hit” of sales when the e-book is released, another “hit” when it is released in paperback, if you use a publisher who produces hardback then you’ll tend to get that “hit” before the paperback one. Similarly if a new retailer comes along (for example Apple iBooks) or your publisher manages to get a distribution agreement with another retailer then they are “new” there and you get another hit.

With the growing and changing market for e-books you will very often get several sales boosts this way. This is part of the bounce effect; you keep getting these little bounces of extra sales. Unfortunately, for many authors these extra bounces are quite small. We had a short story that wasn’t apparently doing particularly well – then we got a late sales report (you’ve heard me rant about that before) from one web retailer and overnight her sales of that particular story quadrupled!

There is another and much bigger bounce effect and another of our authors is literally surfing the crest of a wave because of it. What happens when you release another book by the same author? Very simple, you get increased interest in sales of that author’s other work. We released a new novel by Bridy on 6th August. It’s selling reasonably. Her previous novel is outselling it, and sales are up 50% on the average for June and July for it. Her short stories and novellas (and we carry a lot of those) are also on average up by between 50% and 75%.

So you get a bounce, in this case a big one, in sales of older work when you release a new book by the same author. If the book is part of a series, or a sequel or the third book in a trilogy this effect is often even more marked.

That is the bounce effect.

Think about that WIP you could dust off. That prequel/ sequel/ series development idea you could pick up and bring to fruition.

Our bestselling author virtually never submits a book to us, without outlining how the series or sequel(s) will develop. We have only ever published one short story from her that doesn’t have a natural follow up.

One final, and perhaps even more telling point. Publishers LIKE sequels and series. Often the artwork is easy, the marketing is partially done, and the main characters (not every time) established. By the time book two comes out, book one hopefully has a following.

Okay, I accept it’s harder in some genres than in others.... But is it? Is it really? Even if all else fails, there's always the next generation to repeat(ish) the mistakes of thier elders. LOL

Think about it, start planning your work longer term........

Friday, 13 August 2010

Birthday Time. 13th August 2010

We have a vexing question at the moment – when exactly is the anniversary of when we started. Is it the date we reserved the company name? The date we registered the web address? The date on the company certificate of incorporation? The date we officially started trading? The date we sold our first book? Or somewhere in between.

If it’s the first two then we’ve already missed the company birthday. If it’s the third one we’re still four days away. The date we officially started trading is actually today, and the final one, although a very important company milestone isn’t the day we started. Given we’d shelled out a whole lot of money by that point in terms of start up costs and hosting fees it’s the day we started.

So which date is the company birthday? Which date to we celebrate the fact the company is now one year old?

Given we actually started planning this venture something like eighteen months ago, having talked about it for several months prior to that, I suppose the question is a little moot.
Never mind, the official date may have to wait till the 17th but as far as I’m concerned we’re now one year old. Happy birthday Bluewood!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Dialogue - 12th August 2010

I was right, this blog was definitely getting repetitive and bogged down (or should that be blogged down?) with formatting issues and the relationships with retailers. Time for a change.

I’m going back to the submissions arena again, but this time on a completely different tack. Instead of looking at the shortfalls of certain submissions and trying to use those to generalise and educate from a specific example – let’s look at the things your manuscript has to do in order to get the all important approval of the first person who’s desktop it crosses. This is either the submissions editor or someone (“a reader”) who works for him/her.

Obviously, as per the previous entries here the first hurdle is to send the submission in the format and manner specified or requested. Do what it says on the submissions page is a reoccurring mantra but not the focus here today.

Assuming you have demonstrated the necessary intelligence to cross that hurdle – the next one is the key elements of your book. Does it have a story? A coherent plot? Is it written in the correct manner for its genre? (This is one I’ll return to in a later post) Are the characters interesting? Is it balanced? (Again a return point) and is there enough dialogue?

Often wonder, why in so many classic books, the moodiest, darkest character seems to talk to themselves a lot? The mad scientist who’s plotting to take over the world, mumbling as he works, or talking to his pet cat as he strokes it.

There’s a reason – the author needed some dialogue in order the make the scene work. Okay, it’s a classic device and not used so much these days, which is probably a good thing, but it was invented and used for a very good reason.

A story without dialogue is usually very boring. Think about it, how many novels have you read where there isn’t a single piece of dialogue in the entire book? I can’t think of any - and I read voraciously if somewhat eclectically. How many short stories? Not many I bet.

For many writers starting out, not all by any stretch of the imagination, but many, writing dialogue is a black art, one they fear they will never master – so in order not to expose their weakness they leave it out. I’ve lost count of the times in writing groups, I’ve sat there and heard the comment (let alone made it myself) “this piece really needs dialogue to work”. For the novice writer, dialogue can seem torture.

Then, when they think they’ve got it – the same writing group comes back with “it doesn’t sound natural – your heroine wouldn’t say that!” or the even more damning one “a twenty year old doesn’t talk like that today, maybe when you were twenty ....” That last one cuts deep, it hurts.

That’s the point you see, a commissioning editor, submissions editor, call them what you will, expects to see natural dialogue expressing interaction between the characters. So, how do you write natural sounding dialogue?

Ooohhh . . . That’s the rub.

It’s not easy, but then the author’s craft is not easy, not easy at all.

Here’s one very worthwhile exercise. Think of a story idea, and then tell the ENTIRE story in dialogue. Every bit, in dialogue. No stage directions, no descriptive narrative, not even a single “he said” or “she said”. Don’t try and cheat by wrapping the narrative up as a speech by one of the characters, that defeats the objective and is cause for a fail. Not worried about length, or writing to a target word count. Just write the story as a dialogue. The WHOLE story, a beginning, a middle and an end. Don’t have everyone calling each other by name in order to explain who is talking; you don’t do that in conversation after all.

Keeping the dialogue natural, resisting the temptation to lecture or speechify is a very difficult high wire act.

Trust me – it’ll be worth it.

For those of you who can already write bright, natural dialogue – sorry, I’ll get back to moaning about formatting and retailers tomorrow.... LOL.... or not....

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Another retailer makes me scream! 11th August 2010.

This blog is starting to sound somewhat repetitious. I can’t help it – the sequence of events over the last 24 hours with another of our retailers has almost reduced me to screams of frustration.

Firstly, they insist on the book blurb has to be restricted to less than 400 characters to fit on their database. Now, no other retailer we deal with has this kind of draconian limit, the next shortest I’ve encountered is something like 500 words!

As a result we asked all our authors to check their books on this particular web site and make sure they were happy with the contracted version of the original blurb we were using. Several said fine, but one lady, correctly asked for a change and submitted a revised blurb which as 398 characters long (I checked!). Guess what – the web site insisted it was still 5 characters too long so a quick flurry of transatlantic e-mails produced a version the web site accepted.

Now this web site uses two levels of distribution – the highest or premium distribution requires the book is checked before being included. This book was accepted in March, so you, like me, would have expected this to be a foregone conclusion – after all, the book hasn’t been changed at all – only the blurb that goes on the web site.

Imagine my surprise when they decided to reject it for premium distribution because of a formatting fault (which had been accepted once) and the lack of a table of contents. The reason for the latter is this site operates as a distributor and they are currently sorting out issues to make their book stock acceptable to this particular large retailer. So, until I insert a table of contents this book might get delisted at the most publicised web site for e-books due to the requirements of a different web site. Now I have to go ahead and do so. The big problem is, like most of our authors this lady has followed the modern trend and doesn’t put in chapter headers – chapter breaks yes but no headers. How silly does a table of contents look with no actual headings showing? What possible use does it have? After all every e-book reader piece of kit or software for the PC I’ve ever come across automatically returns to the last page read when you reopen the book (except for Adobe reader of course).You wonder why I want to scream?

Wait.... There’s more.

A few weeks ago I had a problem with one of our series which they de-listed because it was a serial and they don’t carry serials. I exchanged e-mails with the boss there, who by the way is a nice guy, and easy to work with (suck up... suck up in case he read’s this LOL), and he agreed it was a series not a serial and removed the block. I also, during the e-mail told him about one of my series which I would be uploading soon, which had no less than 32 discrete episodes spanning an entire historical epoch. Not only did he say this one wouldn’t get red-flagged he expressed interest in seeing it. I got the upload results back this morning – you guessed it. “Please un-publish this – we don’t carry serials”.

On top of that they reported three formatting errors – which I immediate corrected as well as firing off e-mails about the above. The format check simply reported two of the formatting errors again, I checked and re-uploaded and they were reported again ... and then again. Another e-mail winged its way over the Atlantic. And yes, I've checked the file I was editing and the file I was uploading are one and the same. I checked, twice.

I’m sure there are frustrations on their side but at the moment mine make me want to SCREAM.......

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

ISBN and Anniversary Heaven - 10th August 2010

It felt almost like Christmas today, but not quite – there was only one present. There might be a few more in three days’ time. Let me explain.

There are three milestones (or is that millstones) in the measurement of success of a new publishing venture. Firstly will it survive the first year? Secondly, will it survive the second year? Finally, thirdly, will it survive long enough to get past its first allocation of 100 ISBN numbers?

Clearly, the first two can only be reached and passed as time goes on. You can expect a bumper post in three days time – when we pass that first milestone – the company was actually registered on 13th August last year so that is our official first birthday. At that point one down, well actually two down – today we received our second allocation of ISBN numbers and we’ve needed them for a while.

So in part it’s a euphoric feeling – so many new ventures fail within the first year, especially in the current world-wide economic climate – and we’re still here, despite the dire predictions of so many know-it-all experts. To be fair, they mainly said two years, and of course we haven’t got there yet, I don’t own a time machine. Expect a fairly over the top celebratory blast in just over a year’s time.

The big thing is the ISBN allocation – I can now bring our ISBN numbering up to date, retrofitting the numbers to the remainder of our shorts and getting them registered, at the same time regenerating every format and uploading all of these to each and every retail site. All in order to satisfy Apple and Sony’s need for all stories they list to have an ISBN number on them – which has not historically been the case for short story e-books with most retailers.

I’m celebrating this? That’s a shed load of work so I might be fairly quiet here for a couple of days, while I get cracking and get on top of it.

A publisher’s work is never done......

Monday, 9 August 2010

The money cycle - 9trh August 2010

It’s interesting the effect this kind of a blog has on people who are; not exactly close, but closer than most.

One of my authors asked me for clarification of something over the weekend, and started off by asking me not to regard it as a silly question and put it on here! It wasn’t a silly question and was probably something that should have been explained to her before. Still it gives me the chance to explain the, for want of a better term, “money cycle” that dominates the publishing industry. After all if you write to get published – then aside from the ego trip that “I’m a published author” brings - you actually want to get paid for your hard work.

The “money cycle”, is based on quarterly accounting. Quarter 1 runs from January to March, Quarter 2 from April to June, 3 from July to September and of course 4 from October through December. If you are selling academic books (to students and or colleges and schools) then Quarter 3 is usually your peak. If you are selling general books and fiction then Quarters 1 and 4 are almost always bigger than 2 and 3 unless of course you have a bestseller on your hands.

The retailers report sales to the wholesalers/distributors/aggregators on a quarterly basis, in arrears, and if you’ve been reading this blog you a while now, you will know exactly how far in arrears some can be. At some point, anything up to 45-60 days after reporting these sales these intermediaries are paid. At some point after that they then pay the publisher. Once all the monies have been collected in the publisher pays out royalties on those sales to the individual authors.

Some retailers deal directly with the publishers and this cuts out the middle step, some, and here the advent of the internet is a big step forward, actually report the sales as they happen, but not all do so, and the bigger they are the less likely this is.

Publishers tend to be committed to reporting all sales (reported to them by this time) to their authors during the month after the quarter ends. We use a 14-21 day cut-off, others vary from this. Any sales for the quarter received after this cut-off point are perforce included in the following quarter. If you think about it, there isn’t any other way of doing it – the quarter has to be closed before payments can be made.

At some point from 30 to 45 (and occasionally 60) days after the quarter end the actual payments start to come in and eventually at the end of this cycle, usually in the 45-60 day period the royalty payments will be made.

I hope this provides a detailed answer to some of the questions about the process and that all important “money cycle”.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Short and Sweet - 7th August 2010.

Sorry, not going to be on long today.

Too busy reformatting excerpts as per the blog from a couple of days ago and working with a couple of authors to produce the smaller version of the their blurbs one particular website insists on.

As a result won’t be really producing a blog today.

Have a fun weekend and I’ll catch you Monday.

Friday, 6 August 2010

I Give Up - 6th August 2010

Honestly I really feel like it sometime. Prospective authors, indeed even a published author, just will not read the submissions instructions. This must be the fourth or even fifth post about this subject and it’s still happening.

We changed our instructions a couple of days ago to ask non-fiction authors to send a query first and fiction authors to send the full manuscript.

In the last twenty-four hours, I’ve had three queries in. Two from fiction writers, who are going to get a very simple response – send the s**ding manuscript and we’ll happily consider it.
One of them sent a detailed chapter by chapter synopsis of her book as an attachment. The b***dy thing was 15,500 words long! What do the submission instructions say – “A short (but not chapter by chapter) synopsis should also be included.” Am I going to read a detailed chapter by chapter synopsis when I’ve specifically said I don’t want one, and when I’m going to have to read the whole manuscript if she sends it? What do you think?

The second one sent us a query looking for a literary agent. Not a good start, but I did respond by pointing out we were a publisher and needed the whole manuscript according to our guidelines. He responded to this e-mail by sending a Microsoft Works file. Despite having been referred back to the submissions guidelines that state “Format your COMPLETE manuscript as a Microsoft Word document (version 2003 or lower), or as an RTF file.” I ask you, what is the point? As far as I’m aware, and I could actually be wrong, Works does not support Track Changes, which is the most important tool we use within the word processor when editing. So his WPS file is useless to us. I suppose I could spend time looking for a file converter or uploading a trial version of Works and reading it that way. To what effect? We actually can’t be sure he could process his edits should we actually accept his novel(s).

There is one similarity between these two people. They are both entitled to use the word “Doctor” in front of their names. Personally I always thought to earn that you needed an education.

The third query, was correct as far as queries go, it was for a non-fiction piece. So far so good. I read the letter, which was actually very well written and specific to us rather than a blanket one with a growing sense of frustration. Again the submission guidelines state “We do NOT publish self-help, social or political commentary, nor diet books.” Guess what – this was a social/political commentary on the state of “our country today.” Hmmm . . . Now like most nationalities, Americans can be nation centric in their world view, not a problem, it’s a tendency we all have, but this was a letter personally crafted for us and the web site home page clearly states we come from New Zealand and England. Last time I looked we haven’t yet become the 53rd, 54th and 55th states of the US. (New Zealand would qualify as two states, North and South Island – and I know there’s not 52 currently – is there?).

Small wonder, I sometimes feel like giving up. Oh, for the simple life of an author once more...

Jeez now I’m getting nostalgic.....

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Retailers and Formatting - 5th August 2010

I’ve definitely reaching a limit with some retailers.

We sent out our newsletter to our authors, asking them to check on their own books on each of the sites (we were good, gave them a list and told them how the books got there) and two of our authors have responded inside 24hours. That’s great but where are the rest of you? LOL – Don’t’ mean it – I’ll give you another 24hours at least!

A couple of the retailers introduced tagword/keyword searches since we loaded our earlier books with them , while another one has changed their category structure. One of them doesn’t allow a blurb of more than 400 characters and I wasn’t certain I was compressing all existing blurbs to fit on this site. Rather than just simply checking ourselves, we decided to involve the authors as well – after all they know their books better than anyone.

All relatively simple issues to resolve and indeed we’ve already turned up a couple of books that need some minor adjustments.

What has got my back up a little (and NOT with the author who spotted it) is would appear one of the sites has changed how it formats the excerpts for a book – not the blurb – the excerpts. This is usually done on a copy and paste basis from the finished manuscript. When you do this it looks perfectly fine in the maintenance form on their site, albeit in Courier font. Now when you transfer it to the live system it loses the entire paragraph formatting and runs everything together. It looks horrible!

I don’t know if I missed this point when we first uploaded to them (everything gets checked out very carefully on the first book loaded) – I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the case a year ago, so I can only guess they changed their handler on the web site. Not making excuses, even if they changed it since it’s still my bad.

The worst of it is, it would be this particular site. There are two issues. Firstly, for their own reasons, and unlike everyone else the excerpt is attached to a format of a book, not the overall book. So, as we have each book on there in four formats – I have to redo the excerpt four times! Thank god for cut and paste. Secondly, you change things on their “maintenance” system and it isn’t uploaded to the “live” system until about 2am Eastern Standard Time.

So I’ve had to make the change 4 times, and I now have to wait for 24 hours to check if its right, if it isn’t then a wrong version will be visible to the world for 24hours and I can’t do anything about it. If its right, and I sincerely hope it is, then I’ve got to update 57 other books, each of them 4 times.

Oh what fun.........?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Art of Story Structure - 4th August 2010

A submission decision this morning (that’s evening for my business partner on the other side of the world) brought back to mind an experience last year. For a while I taught a creative writing class for a local historical project, but the course folded for lack of numbers.

One of the topics I chose for discussion was story construction, and how things have changed over the years. I read out the opening two paragraphs of To Kill a Mocking Bird and pointed out this material went on, with little change, and no action for several pages. I will very quickly add, this book is one of my all time favourites, and justly deserves its place in the pantheon of seminal twentieth century American literature, and I reread it every two or three years and still get a great deal of pleasure from it, finding new or forgotten details.

The question was – would this book still get published today if presented with this self same structure unchanged? Remember, this was from an untried author. The answer to that question is probably not. These days, the long leisurely scene setting introduction for a book is only going to work for established authors, those whose print runs can run into millions.

It never ceases to amaze me that would be authors respond to criticism of their opening sequences by saying things like “James Patterson gets away with so I can too” or “that’s how Catherine Cookson does it” or the even stranger one “I wrote it like Charlotte Bronte did in Jane Eyre”.

The simple fact is, the world of professional publishing is a nightmare for a new author. You have to get someone to read your book. When they’re very busy, it’ll get thrown on the slush pile and maybe picked up again at some point in the future. If you’re lucky someone might read the first couple of pages and make a decision. A FINAL DECISION based on the first two pages. So which way do you think the decision will go if you haven’t engaged the reader’s attention in those first two pages? In fact, in some of the bigger houses, they may only read the first two paragraphs.
If all you’ve done is describe your lead character, or the picturesque country house, or ranch, or spend those two pages over a lovingly crafted piece that sets the historical period – what are your chances?

Slim to none spring to mind.

Once you are well enough established to be a Patterson or a Cookson then you can do it. If you want to write like a Bronte for an exercise, or a discussion piece or for a group or magazine competition then fine. That’s perfectly acceptable, and often a worthwhile exercise in its own right.

If you want if professionally published – now that’s a different story.

I’m afraid you have to follow the rules and introduce some action into the story very quickly. By action, I don’t mean the bang of a gun or the shriek of a victim, the crash of a car or the boom of an explosion, or even the bodice ripping. Action is simply something happening, or more accurately, something interesting happening.

Howe hard can that be? ... LOL

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Submission No No - 3rd August 2010

I think I’ll return to the submissions topic today after an event yesterday which is worth adding to your “things not to do list”.

We received a submission through from the Far East. I’m not going to comment on the quality of the language used, I have nothing but admiration for people who are prepared to write in a second language. My problem with it was the way it was submitted.

Firstly it was sent as an RTF file rather than a DOC. Now, this isn’t a problem usually, but an RTF file us larger than a DOC file especially if it contains images (it’s a technical thing to do with the way images compress apparently). In this instance the author had included an image of their embroidered cover for their book. Not only had they included it, but they’d included it three times.

As a result the e-mail was over 11Mb in size which can be a problem for some e-mail systems which do not allow attachments that large.

Still haven’t got to the meat of the problem. This author was clearly anxious to ensure their e-mail was seen and read by the right person or people, so they harvested every e-mail off the web site and sent it to every single one. So I ended up with five copies of the manuscript! The author even sent it to the feedback e-mail address!

Now, if a publisher has a submissions address on their web site, and asks you to send submissions to it, then it is clearly going to go to the right person (or people). If you send it in this brute force method, what will you actually achieve – other than to potentially p**s off the staff at the publishers. If you’ve p**ssed them off – what chance has your manuscript got? A better one or a worse one?

You do the math. . .

Simple isn’t it – do what it says on the submissions page. Nothing more and nothing less.
The manuscript was rejected, and we’ve changed our submissions page instructions. What was the reason given? We don’t publish self-help books. True, but it was only one count out of three.

See I can be polite. . .

Monday, 2 August 2010

Copyright - 2nd August 2010

Before I go much further with this blog I thought I should touch on the ticklish subject of copyright. This can cause so much confusion for a novice author that I thought a simple set of guidelines would be worth setting out.

I’m not just talking about the author’s copyright in their work, I’m also talking about the way an author can unwittingly use copyrighted material inside their manuscript. An author’s copyright is straight forward enough. If you wrote it, then the copyright is yours, and subsequently your estate’s until 50 years after your death. (I’m talking most countries here, there are variations around the world, but this is the normal accepted term).

A publishing contract will normally expect you to assign the publishing rights to the book to the publisher, for a set period of time, usually with a rolling period after this. By rolling period I mean after the initial period either party can terminate the contract on a rolling notice period. Usually the contract asks the author to assign publishing rights for the media being published, electronic, print etc, etc. Some publishers insist on all rights, including for example film, video, TV and radio rights. Personally I regard this as bad practice and would never recommend an author signs such a contract.

Your copyright, though, is something that you should cuddle to your chest and not let go of. If a contract assigns the publisher the copyright, even for a limited time – RUN A MILE IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

Don’t forget though, if you assign the publishing rights, especially the electronic ones, then you as the author have a duty too – don’t put the book up in total on your own web site for people to read for free, don’t put it on writing.com either – extracts are fine but check with your publisher how much they consider acceptable. You signed a CONTRACT remember.

The other side of copyright is the unwitting use of other people’s copyrighted material. For example, some authors put nice quotations at the top of each section or chapter, and many novices follow suit. You must attribute these quotations to the correct place. Quoting Shakespeare for example is fine because the author is clearly long deceased. Or even the bible – you would think.

Ah... Not so. In either case. Simply put, where did you get the quotation from? If it was a modern version of the book, it may be a new translation from the original (don’t forget Shakespeare didn’t write in modern English) and as a result your quotation might be subject to the copyright held by the translator or his/her assignees. The same can just as easily be held true for a version of the bible, and some are produced specifically for particular churches who then hold the copyright.

How about quoting song lyrics? Same holds true, only the copyright length is different here. You want to have your (modern) character singing along to a particular tune to set the mood or establish the period, and his/her taste in music and personality. Oops. Copyright. Suddenly you have an editor breathing down your neck telling you to change something you consider essential to your character development. How about a mystery thriller where the perpetrator is caught by his tendency to hum a particular song as he goes about his work? Similar. Oops.

Now, suppose I receive a well written story, that has say, 50 chapters, each with a different quotation, which is littered with song lyrics as it’s about a cover band. Then, on the coach between gigs, the lead guitarist is reading the latest Tracy Quan (strange reading tastes for a rock singer but hey, I didn’t say it was a he) and reads the juicer pieces out to the rest of the band.

May sound extreme, but I did receive a submission similar to this. It got rejected, on the basis of take out the copyright stuff, and rewrite around it, then resubmit.

As yet I’ve heard nothing back.....

You have been warned....