Monday, March 30, 2020

Publication Process from Submission to Bookshelf

 The Process of Publication from Submission to Bookshelf

         An author often misses one step on the way to having a book published, may fail to know exists: the process of publication. An author may become frustrated and angry because he thinks his book takes too long to be released. She may not understand why an editor requires revision after revision.
         Writers who have an idea of the process they and their manuscripts follow until a book sits on a bookshelf feel more secure and confident. Of course, the process varies from publisher to publisher and from one type of publishing to other types, but the general route taken by manuscripts is roughly similar.

1. Submission: Each publisher has guidelines that need to be followed. For the best chance of receiving a contract, follow those guidelines because they are not suggestions. Guidelines can be found on the publisher's website.

2. Assigned to acquisition: Some heads of a company make the acquisition decisions; some companies have an editor-in-chief who does or who assigns to an acquisition editor; some companies have imprint editors who assign submissions to acquisition editors. Whatever the method, someone will evaluate the manuscript and recommend whether it is accepted or rejected. This step can take up to six months, sometimes longer. A writer may contact the publisher after three months to make sure the publisher received the submission – a nice way of inquiring as to whether or not anything has happened.

3. Recommend accept or reject: A recommendation is given to whoever makes the final decision and to the person who offers contracts if the a recommendation is to accept the manuscript. Our AE has several types of recommendations he/she can make: reject, make revision and resubmit, ask for the full manuscript, after a full manuscript is evaluated – recommend contract or rejection.

4. Author notified: A rejection letter is sent to the author or notice of contract offered and request for information required for contract OR however a company handles the notification process. Our company gives a summary of the information given in the evaluation, whether the submission is rejected or accepted, as a way to help the author. Many publishers don't give a reason for rejection.

5. A contract is offered, often within a month: The author needs to be sure he/she understands the contract before accepting or rejecting it. If the contract is accepted, the author should follow the instructions given by the publisher. NOTE: If an agent is used, that person will be the go-between.

6. If the contract is accepted, editing begins. Each company handles editing in a different manner. Some require authors to pay for the service either before or after the contract step. 4RV Publishing assigns a lead editor who works with the author one on one. This step can take several weeks to many months, depending on the amount of work the manuscript requires to make it the best it can be and on the availability of qualified editors.

         After the lead editor and author have made all corrections they see, a proofreader searches for grammar, sentence structure, spelling, and other mechanical problems missed.

7. After editing, comes formatting or design work, illustrating or cover art preparation, and preparing for proof. Depending on the company and the number of manuscripts in the schedule, the availability of artists and designers, this step may take up more than a year.

8. When design and artwork are finished, a proof is sent for copy editing and approval. Again, different publishers handle this step in various ways. 4RV sends a PDF proof to the author and editors (and the illustrator, if the manuscript is illustrated). Everyone in the loop looks for errors, but the copy editing is not the time for major rewrites. This step takes more than one proof edit.

9. After the proof is approved, the files are prepared for the printer. In a week or less, the book is available for purchase. Most publishing houses use Ingram as their distributor, but some add other distribution methods.

10. Major publishing houses often take several years to move a project from acceptance to finished book. Smaller houses take anywhere from two or three months to three or four years, depending on the process and set up of the house.

         Many authors begin their journey believing once a book is written it will be in print quickly. However, once a book is written, the real work begins.

A sig given as gift.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Inspiration During a Crisis

Here is a dilemma for you: more time to write and too distracted by the world wide news to take advantage of it. The struggle is real for many of us. Between checking local news for updates, there is national news to see what the federal government is doing, and employment news to follow, and ...

These are some tips that I hope will help inspire anyone struggling with the challenge to embrace this forced change of pace and turn it into productivity.

Take a virtual tour through your vacations

The above picture is from Hawaii when we visited Waimea Falls. We only visited Hawaii once, but the memories last forever. Take 5 to 10 minutes to scroll through your vacation photos. Let them inspire a story or uplift you as you recall the fun you experienced. Then commit to sitting down and writing for 10 minutes.

Go for a walk

Considering many of us are now stuck inside our homes or limited in where we can go, what a great time it is to commit 15 minutes each day to walking. Not only is it good exercise, it will help clear your head. Breathe deeply and focus on the joy of being outdoors and that feeling of freedom. Remember social distancing rules if you run into a neighbor.

Tour a Museum Online

One blessing of this whole COVID-19 experience is that thousands of museums around the world are now offering online tours. What a great way to virtually see more of the world and find inspiration from famous artwork and landmarks.

Take an online writing course 

Writing groups and in-person classes are on hold. Now, may be the time to consider an online writing course. Thanks to products like Zoom, in-person writing groups can move temporarily online and instructors can use these types of resources to teach classes that typically take place in-person. Honing your skills during down time is a great source of inspiration and a way to increase your productivity.

Let me leave you with one last thought from Isabel Allende.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Kill Procrastination Now!

If they gave awards for procrastination, I would have a mantle full of trophies.  

One of the largest challenges I had to overcome as a writer is focusing my energies on accomplishing my goals. It’s just too easy to waste time when I don’t have a deadline staring me in the face; sometimes even when I do.  

Procrastination stunts your growth as a writer and kills your creativity. Let’s look at some reasons writers procrastinate and how you can defeat it and be more productive. 

Feeling Overwhelmed 

If you’re anything like me, you’re juggling multiple writing projects, trying to prioritize what to work on first, and still have time to catch up on industry news. 

I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it. 

And, therein lies the problem—writers have minds that never stop. If we aren’t thinking about our three or four ongoing projects, we’re hatching ideas for new stories and articles, or we’re despairing over the fact that three months of unread trade journals sit in a pile of paperwork on our desks. 

Sit down and take a deep breath. Now, write a to-do list

Seeing your goals on paper will make it easier to prioritize what needs to come first. Finishing the article due next week will come before you write another chapter in your romance novel that isn’t under contract yet.  

And, those trade journals, you will never read them if you put them in a pile for later. When the deadline for the contest you really wanted to enter has passed, you’ll be kicking yourself.  So … skim through trade journals as soon as they come in. Cut out articles of interest and tuck them into a manila folder to take with you everywhere you go.  

Okay, so now you know how to keep from feeling overwhelmed, but what about those writing goals? Are they specific enough? 

Focusing Your Goals 

Having too many goals can keep you from accomplishing any of them. It’s too much information to digest and, rather than think about it, our minds say, there is no way I can do all that.  

So, we put things off. We miss one goal, which leads to missing the next one, and the next. We spend more time revising our goals than obtaining them. 

You have the power to solve this problem. Remember that to-do list you wrote? Break it down into monthly goals and then into weekly goals. This way your to-do list becomes more manageable.  

You aren’t concentrating on every single goal you want to accomplish all at once. By breaking your tasks into smaller chunks, you can tackle each goal a bit at a time and experience that feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing an item off your list. 

You have now set specific goals, but there is still one last opportunity for procrastination to strangle the life out of your creativity—when you sit down to write. 

Time Wasters 

Even when I am totally engrossed in a project, I surf the Internet and answer emails instead of focusing on what needs to get done. When I hit a rough spot, like when words don’t flow well, I wander away to do something easier. 

Sound familiar? 

Writers are anxious people. They spend some of their time thinking they’re great and the rest of the time believing they stink. Anxiety forces writers to revise their work over and again to make it the best it can be. That’s a good thing. But, when writers get too anxious, they can’t create anything. They ignore their writing goals. They substitute busy work for writing time. They cease to be productive.  

In her book titled Page after Page, author Heather Sellers says, “The best way to manage anxiety is to shine a little light on it. Resisting it makes it worse. What is light in this case? Putting words down on paper. It’s the work that makes demons vanish.” 

Knowing this will help you defeat procrastination for good sounds wonderful, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice.  

So, what do you do? Work in segments. 

Start with writing for only five minutes. During those five minutes you must focus 100% of your energy on writing. Once that time is up, you can do anything else you want, but have a plan for when you will go back to writing for another five minutes. Slowly increase the segments until you are spending half an hour of uninterrupted time on your work.  

Perfectionism is anxiety’s partner in crime. It keeps you from accomplishing goals because none of your writing is ever good enough. After a while, you avoid writing, because there’s no point if you can’t achieve perfection.  

Here are ways you can free yourself from the confines of perfectionism:

  • Allow yourself to accept a crappy first draft. That’s why they call it a first draft—it’s the unrevised flow of ideas that are rambling around in your head. 
  • Accept that done is better than perfect. There is a point where you have to say, “It’s good enough.”
  • Ask for feedback. An objective set of eyes can see mistakes clearer than you can. By putting your article or story in the hands of someone else, you are free to tackle your next project. 

You have the power and the ability to conquer procrastination. In a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to becoming a more productive writer.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Friday, March 6, 2020

Submission Etiquette


     The publishing world is rather small considering authors are found all around the world. One problem that is shared is the way authors act and react when it comes to publishers and editors. 

         Authors used to be half afraid of editors and publishers, but apparently, most aren’t anymore. Some authors don’t seem to have even good manners when dealing with publishers and/or editors. In fact, some are rude and arrogant.

         Let’s look at some submission etiquette.

1. Follow the guidelines for submissions for the publication exactly. Don’t assume that you know better or that you can “do your own thing,” and your submission will be accepted because you’re such a wonderful writer.

2. Be sure your submission is well-written with few mechanical, grammar, or spelling errors and shows rather than tells. Publishers are not interested in doing major editing jobs on manuscripts. Have your manuscript edited by a professional who knows and understands what is wanted by publishers, not who just knows grammar.

3. Give the editor or publisher time to consider your submission. A good way to upset the person making the decision as to whether to accept your work or not is to become a nuisance.

4. Don’t assume that the publisher or editor will automatically remember your name or the title of your work. Many names and titles cross the desk or computer of an editor every day.

5. If your work is rejected, don’t continue to demand reasons from the editor rejecting it. It is not his/her job to give you an edit-job or to give reasons for the rejection. If a publisher is nice enough to give a few suggestions so you can improve your work, don’t keep asking for more.

6. If you are given the option of revising your manuscript and re-submitting, count your blessings and do it. Not every publisher gives another opportunity.

7. Nothing obligates a publisher to accept your work. With more submissions than open slots in a publisher’s schedule, the publisher has the right to accept the manuscripts that “fit,” and to reject those that are not acceptable.

8. Don’t continue to call or email an editor or publisher unless your work has been accepted and an editor is assigned to you.

9. Throwing a fit or calling editors or publishers names does not endear you to anyone and makes acceptance less likely – acceptance by other publishers, too. Word does spread.

10. If your manuscript is accepted, then work with your editor or editors. You become a team, and if you cooperate, your book will benefit. Be uncooperative, and you may be without a contract and not well-liked. Again, word does spread.

11. You don’t have to become a “slave” to an editor or publisher, but you need to realize who controls whether your manuscript becomes a published work or not. Good manners are always a good decision. If you are respectful under all circumstances, you are more likely to be treated respectfully.

         Those ideas are just a few tips for good etiquette concerning submissions, but they will help provide a better relationship and allow publishers and editors to have kind thoughts about writers.


           For anyone wanting to submit to 4RV Publishing, follow the guidelines found under submissions on    

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform - Be Realistic

Best sellers happen to unknown authors. Getting on the New York Times Best Seller list happens. Breakout books happen to new authors.

But . . .

Yes, of course, there’s a ‘but.’ Statistically speaking, about 80% or more of all books don’t succeed.

Every new author needs to enter the publishing arena with open eyes. She needs to be realistic as to what’s required of her and what her chances are.

So, how do you help increase your chances of getting your book to succeed? How do you create a successful writing career, even if you don’t have a breakout book?

3 of the Most Important Tips to Effective Author Platform Building and Book Marketing

Whether you landed a book contract or not (if you’re self-publishing these three tips are just as important, if not more so):

1. You absolutely need an author website. And, it needs to be optimized.

Optimization means having the right domain name, the right website title and subtitle, using keywords, optimizing your blog posts, creating the ‘right’ web pages, using optimized images, and so on.

Another key optimization trick is to keep your website simple: easy to read, easy to navigate, and uncluttered.

2. You need an understanding of how to market you book.

According to the February 2013 issue of The Writer, “The slam-dunk team” article explains, “Publishing houses want a business partner, someone who’s going to work hard from the get-go, tirelessly promoting, working connections, and never saying no to an opportunity.”

Do you know how to blog effectively? Do you know about creating a subscriber list and using email marketing for more sales? Do you know how to work social media marketing to increase website traffic, boost authority, and boost sales?

These marketing strategies are all part of an optimized author/writer platform – they’re considered inbound marketing. While it’s all must-know-stuff, it can be easy to do.

There are lots of online opportunities to learn these skills.

3. Put your website and new found knowledge to work.

It’s true there is much involved in building your platform and book marketing, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second-nature. Think of it like a puzzle. You have to put the pieces together before you get the results you want.

Have an optimized author website; create an Amazon Author Page; get book reviews; blog your way to traffic; use email marketing to promote new releases; and use social media marketing to widen your marketing reach.

Give your publisher what she wants: A book marketing savvy author.

4. This is a bonus tip:

According to just about all expert book marketers, including Chuck Sambuchino and Jane Friedman, you need to have all your marketing strategies in place before you even start submitting to book publishers or literary agents.

So, if you’re writing a book or you’re in the submissions process, be sure to get your author platform and book marketing strategies in place.

Be able to tell a publisher or agent that, YES – you can help market your book.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, successful children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. Check out her middle-grade book, WALKING THROUGH WALLS.

You can connect with Karen at: LinkedIn  and Twitter 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Interview with G.K. Davenport, Dust of Lies


G.K. Davenport’s first novel, Dust of Lies, brings conspiracies of the past and mysteries of the present together in an engaging mixture of myth and fact. I met with G.K. over a glass of iced tea in my living room. 

I asked my first question. “Why do you use a pen name rather than use your legal name? Why did you choose this name?”

G.K. answered, “I use a pen name to honor my father. He gave me the name Gwendolyn Kay and   Davenport just came with the package. He said I reminded him of Guinevere in Camelot. I never really knew what that meant, but it made me feel special. So I chose to use GK Davenport.” 

I met G.K. when we taught at the same high school more years ago than most people have lived, and I didn’t know she had an interest in writing. Therefore, I asked, “How and why did you decide to write?”

            G.K. smiled.  “I have always loved writing and wanted to major in English in college. My dad had other plans and nudged me towards Chemistry. Marriage, a baby, and jobs that paid the bills crowded out all thoughts of writing. I loved the life I was given, and I never looked back.
            My job at Irwin Auto Co required me to travel. When I logged a lot of hours in a car with the same people, I got to know them well. This was the case with Cowboy’s grandson. He mentioned that his grandfather claimed to be the son of Jesse Woodson James. I found it interesting, but my curiosity needle did not move to any great extent. On one of the many trips from Oklahoma to Iowa, I suggested that we stop at the Jesse James museum. He emphatically said no. I pushed him a little harder. I wanted to learn about this famous outlaw. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, ‘They are not my people.’
            “How could they not be his people if Jesse Woodson James was his great grandfather? I quizzed, poked, and prodded until pieces of the story came out. But none of the pieces fit. I started my research and slowly things fell into place. The research began in 2007 and continued for five years. I read thousands of posts on ancestry sites and emailed any relatives I could find. This resulted in a huge collection of data, and I felt it should be shared. The sage flies in the face of conventional history, but I do believe that much of history is covered with the ‘dust of lies.' I asked Carolyn Leonard to take my work and write a book. She told me to write it myself and make it fiction. The story had to be told, even if only to preserve the family lore. So, I began to write in 2012.”

Family lore, history, research, I enjoy history myself. “All right,  please give the background to your book, Dust of Lies:  What sparked your interest?”

 “An intrigue with history and the truth.” 

An answer I understand but which led to my next question: “Does this book finish the story?”

G.K. shook her head. “The story is massive. I broke it into several parts. The first deals with the family lore of Cowboy. The second part will deal with John Wilkes Booth and the ties to the James people. The final will explore whether Jesse James died in 1882 or did he fake his death. It will also complete the search for the treasure.”

“Will there be sequels? If so, do you have titles yet?” I enjoyed Dust of Lies, so the idea of sequels caught my attention.

“I have plans for two sequels. The first, book two, Dust and Redemption will deal with John Wilkes Booth and trace him from Granbury, Texas to Enid, Oklahoma. It will connect Booth with the James saga.
            “The second sequel explores the character of J. Frank Dalton and his claim to be the one and true Jesse James. The title will be Dust and Deliverance.

Two sequels in the works means G.K. stays busy. “Please tell us about your hobbies, other interests, or activities during your leisure time, if you have any leisure time.”

“I used to paint quite a bit, both oil and watercolor. In fact, I have a watercolor I would like to use on a book cover if I ever write something that fits the image.  I haven’t painted in a while due to lack of time. I like to read to relax.”

I wonder if G.K. might like to paint the cover art for her next book or books? But, back to the questions, always more questions. “Interviewers often ask authors when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing. I would like to know that, too, but I would especially like to know what triggered this book, what inspired you to write it?” 

“I answered a lot of this in the second question but I do have something to add. This family struggled with believing the words of their father and grandfather when everything seemed so contradictory. I felt a great deal of satisfaction in providing answers to many of them. There are still a lot of questions.
            "I have asked myself why I didn’t write a book sooner since I loved it early in life. The answer seems simple. I really did not write a book from scratch as many fiction writers do. I merely strung these amazing stories together in a fictional form. The story wrote itself.”

“Yes, I guess I do repeat myself at times.” I shrugged. “But, how did you feel when you completed your book?”

“I had mixed feelings. I hated to leave the characters after I became so immersed in their lives. I felt proud that I did it. I really, really did. I feared that others would not like the work, that it might appear amateurish or boring. I still spend a little time with each of these emotions.”

Now, I asked the age-old question. “What are your writing goals?”

G.K. shrugged this time. “My goal is to complete the sequels in a timely manner and leave the readers feeling that they made the journey with me.”

With a nod, I agreed. “I hope all authors have the same goal. Now, are you a member of a writing group? If so, how does being a member benefit you and your writing?” 

“Yes, I am a member of OWFI. Although new to the group, I am really excited to be able to interact with people that share the joy and excitement of writing. I can hardly wait for the spring conference.” 

A  side note: At the OWFI (Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc.) writers conference, her book will be available in the conference bookstore.

Back to the interview: “How did you come up with the idea for your book?”

“The more I heard about Cowboy, the more I became convinced that these stories must be preserved. From that point, it evolved into a book.” G.K. smiled.

My next question would be the most personal. “You dedicated Dust of Lies to your daughter. Will you share a bit about her and her influence on your writing?” 

            The author changed into a mother. “I thought long and hard about the words in my dedication. How do you express the beauty of a soul in a few short words? She was physically beautiful, but she was spiritually beautiful as well. Strong in will and soft of heart. She was truly my best friend. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. If you remember, she attended the OWFI conference with me in 2012. Her smile flooded the room when she heard my name announced for second place.
            “The next morning, I attended Sunday school with her. She stood up and introduced me. But she didn’t leave it there. 'My mother is writing a book!' she said, as her shoulders squared and her face beamed with pride. That sealed the deal. I had no choice but to finish.
            “She passed away in August of 2014. The book gathered dust, and I lost heart. When I stumbled upon the file in 2016, I wanted to delete it. But I remembered her words and called you instead. You know the rest of the story.
            “So you see, she was and always shall be the axis of my world. All of my thoughts and love still revolve around my precious Kim.”

            After a moment, I asked her if she had any other comments, and she replied. “I know that the readers might feel cheated by not having an ironclad conclusion to Dust of Lies. But, the journey is a process and not a destination. I think about the ending of Gone with the Wind. What did Scarlett or Rhett do after he walked away? Margret Mitchell did not know the answer. Each reader created her or his own ending.
            “I do not know the answers, and controversy rages among Jesse James buffs. Readers must decide for themselves if the Sentinels and Knights of the Golden Circle are real. I only provide the kindling to ignite the flame of curiosity.”

            I picked up my copy of Dust of Lies. “Would you autograph my copy, please?”

Dust of Lies can be purchased on the 4RV Publishing site and on other online stores such as and