Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Comments from C.M. Albrecht -- writing tip

                                                          by C.M. Albrecht

Chef Merle Blanc, he has the nose. And when millionaire Bernard Goldberg dies during his wedding luncheon in the chef's restaurant, Chef Blanc's nose, he smells the murder! What greater insult for Chef Blanc than that someone would be so callous as to commit a murder in his restaurant during a wedding reception he has so painstakingly prepared. But the doctors and police believe Goldberg's death was natural. Can Chef Blanc keep some forty guests and employees in his restaurant long enough for him to don his apron and cook a killer's goose before closing time?

"A fun read with lots of red herrings and false trails. I'm pleased to recommend Deadly Reception as a well told tale worth the time. Surprises in store for you. You'll want to read other tales by this very able storyteller. Enjoy. I sure did." — Anne K. Edwards www.mysteryfiction.net

E-mail comments from author C.M. Albrecht:

I was just reading about some of the sleazy publishing companies and their practices. Having had my share (and then some) of sleazy encounters with publishers and agents, etc. I suddenly realized how lucky I am to have managed to land with a company that treats its authors fairly and honestly. None of us may ever get rich at this, but at least we're not getting our pockets picked while some publisher or agent is "helping" us. Once an agent called me on a Sunday morning to tell me my manuscript was "very clean". I asked what that meant and he said there were no typos (which, knowing me, couldn't possibly be true, and besides, I doubt that you normally publish just anything that comes along just so there are no typos). He wanted to take me on and only wanted $350 to "generate a contract on the computer" before sending out my book to every publisher in the country. I've run into publishers who wanted me to pay for everything or (had fees for) some things.

One publisher wanted me to buy my ISBN, insisting it would greatly increase my sales. A few wanted me to pay for editorial services. As one publisher put it, "Our editor has to eat too." Some couldn't publish at this moment, but fortunately they had instituted a new department which boiled down to paying them to publish my stuff. 
I follow Preditors & Editors and Victoria Strauss and am constantly floored by the new schemes people come up with, all to fleece poor struggling writers. I was moved to offer a word of thanks to you and Shelley for trying to do an honest job and treat everyone fairly. It means a lot.
Best wishes and keep the blogs coming. Carl

Answer: Wellllll THANKS to C.M.!

I will post this on the blog if you don't mind. It might help with all those people who say one or more of the following, often-heard, quotes from query letters:

1. "I know I can make more money self-publishing and that's what I plan to do, eventually, but I thought I'd send this along so you could tell me what you think, anyway." (Like I have nothing to do but read your book and give you free advice...?)

2. "I have already paid someone to edit my book, so it's flawless and you wouldn't have any work to do!" (With the Noted exception of WWI Authors Judy Reveal and Terry L. White, both of whom do good editorial work, SOME folks who sell editorial services on the Internet have never heard of a style book and you wouldn't believe some of the "edited" ms. we  have received from folks who promised their customers they would be submitting "flawless" prose: missing chapters; books with the same chapter in twice; Misnumbered chapters so we don't know if there's a chapter missing, or if Chapter 10 should have been 9 and the rest are numbered incorrectly; books that have a return at the end of every line, as if typed on a typewriter -- can't tell you how long that would take to fix; and my personal favorite, a book with three chapters from another book interspersed in place of the three missing chapters of that book.)

3. I already have an ISBN, so you could save that money." (ISBNs are publisher specific. If someone wants to order the book, the ISBN tells them who to contact to buy the title. If you already have another publisher's ISBN, no one will come looking to buy the book from US.)

4. "I'm so glad to see my book up for sale at last, but amazon advises that we shouldn't price anything above $2.99, so can you put that price on my book so I can sell more copies...? I know it will be a best seller if you do!" (Well, actually a price that low indicates a self-published book and they advise that price to all their self-published authors and to those for whom they prepare files for a fee and ever-afterward plague with offers to sell them advertising that will increase sales and incidentally make money for amazon.... Many amazon  customers, myself included, have found good books at that price, but rarely have I found a book without problems. One popular authors characters had different names in their second series book, quite often people repeat actions, climb stairs when they already went up, or talk about the weather instead of the action. . And even successfully self-published authors like J.R. Rain have characters "take a peak" at a note. A peak is the top of a mountain, when you look at something you peek. Like anything else, with books, you pretty much get what you pay for and books that sell at $2.99 are usually not very good--JR Rain's excepted as he writes a good scary tale with lots of humor.  Even as hard as we try to edit our books so they are mistake free, there is no such thing as a perfect book. But we DO try.  We price our books at $6.50--well below the $9.99 recommended as the top price to publishers e-books, and far below the $15.99 and up prices from e-books published by the Big-6.  We chose that so we can qualify for breaks from on line stores, and also because the author will receive a higher royalty.)

5. "I follow Preditors & Editors." (So do we, CM and we have had an "approved" rating there for the past 13 years.)

Back in the dark ages when I taught writing, there were lots of rules. In publishing, there are only Two:

Never confuse your reader.

Never make work for your editor, Trust me, she has enough to do. 


  1. Wow, thanks for publishing this, Arline. I had a moment where I suddenly realized how lucky I am in having found a company I can work with. I love your comments and hope this will give other writers an idea of what the editor's side sees when stuff lands on her desk.

  2. I also count my blessings to have found Write Words (via Predators & Editors!), and I sing your praises to every aspiring author I meet. In fact, you recently signed one of them, a man I met at a writers' conference last month who asked me for advice on finding a home for his first novel. With 6 under my belt so far, I felt like an old pro. But I always turn to your blog each day and continue to learn from it. While Write Words has been my only publisher, from what I hear and read, I think YOUR way of doing things is the way it should be.

  3. I know from where C.M. is coming from. It cost me more than I care to admit, not only in money but in time. It was a hard lesson to learn, almost gave up because of it. Now, I try to tell other aspiring authors not to do what I did. I also had used Preditors and Editors in the past, but since I had Arline and Shelley I don't need to. I was lucky enough to find Write Words through a friend who put me on to Arline and Shelley and am extremely happy with both my publisher and my editor. If anyone asks who my publisher is, I send them to Write Words, Inc.

  4. I, too, am VERY, VERY happy to publish with Write Words, Inc. Not only is this publisher professional, but I've found both Arline and Shelley go out of their way to make our books shine and to make us happy. And added to this, is the benefit of feeling like I am part of the family. It is a privilege to work with such wonderful people. Thank you both for your hard work and long hours.

  5. Oh, thank you all so much! You are the BEST writers in the world.