Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tips on Traditional Book Publishing with Author Carlene Dater

Most writers dream of being accepted and traditionally published by a big-name publishing house. While some are able to achieve this dream, for most of us, striving to become numb to the heart-wrenching Dear John rejection letter is more the normal reality of our book-writing career. So what would it feel like if we were to finally receive that letter of acceptance?

Carlene Dater has received ten acceptance letters and is here in this exclusive interview to share with us not only how it feels, but how we too can work towards achieving this goal.

Carol Denbow: Welcome Carlene, and thank you for agreeing to share your experience and knowledge of the writing and publishing world.

First I would like to ask you to tell the viewers a bit about your personal self, where you’re from, family, and career?

Carlene Dater: I was born in Minneapolis but have lived all over the country. I worked for two International airlines for eight years until I met my husband, Dennis in L.A. We’ve been married for 40 years and are childless by choice. We currently have to huge yellow Labrador Retrievers, Tara and Duke.

Carol Denbow: Sounds like a nice family just as it is!

Can you please tell us what type of books you write?

Carlene Dater: I took my first creative writing course while living in Central Massachusetts from a wonderful man, Gary Provost. Gary taught me that if you can write, you can write anything – and I have. I prefer writing humorous mysteries, but have published romances, horror, and confessions stories, straight mystery and a non-fiction book. I try not to limit myself and am always stretching and trying new things.

Carol Denbow: Sounds like an adventure in itself! So where do you get these story ideas from?

Carlene Dater: Story ideas are everywhere. It’s turning those ideas into complete novels that’s tough. I get ideas from watching TV, reading, talking with people, walking my dogs, and listening to music. I always carry a notebook with me, so I can grab ideas when they pop up. If I don’t, they’re gone forever.

Carol Denbow: I too keep a notepad, but it's more for simply knowing what I need to get done in a day! Age...what do you do???

So with such a mix of stories and book ideas, are all your books all published by the same publishing house or different ones? If so, why would that be?

Carlene Dater: I currently have five different publishers! Silly, I know. I have several books with two publishers and one each at the other three. I sent out multiple queries and just happened to get accepted at different publishers.

Two of my books, Call Sign: Love and An Extra Pair of Eyes are reprints that my first publisher took on. Call Sign will be out in paperback in the next month or so. The publisher was familiar with my work and reissued them for me. Call Sign was the number one bestseller on Fictionwise for August, 2009.

Carol Denbow: Now I'm really curious. How many query letters have you sent in total over your writing career?

Carlene Dater: Oh, too numerous to count. Just for my most recent published book, Roman Circus, a humorous sweet romance, I spend over a year and sent out about 90 queries. Several agents were interested but…I write humor and humor is hard to sell!

Carol Denbow: Many of our first-time want-to-be authors ask how long they should wait to hear back from a publisher after submitting their manuscript. What is the longest you have waited and what has been the normal for you?

Carlene Dater: If a new writer is intent on being published traditionally, in paper, she will need to have an agent. Most of the big publishers only work through agents. With POD or e-pubs, it depends on the publisher. Mind Echoes took six months to be acquired. Roman Circus – one day!!! With a traditional publisher it can take, literally, years.

Carol Denbow: When querying a publisher, what do you think is the key to garner their attention to a particular manuscript?

Carlene Dater: A great query letter. You have to grab the agent/publisher immediately. You have to have all the pertinent information about the book, plus any published credits you have or expertise in writing the book and …all on one page. There are several craft books on the art of writing query letters so it’s advisable to read several and if you can find a published author to read the query first, do that.

Carol Denbow: Do you think first-time writers who are accepted should expect an advance from their publisher? If so, what is considered a fair amount?

Carlene Dater: It depends entirely on the publisher. Once again, with the big boys, Random House, Harper Collins, etc. the typical advance is $5,000 to $10,000. Harlequin/Silhouette I believe it’s closer to $1,000/$5,000. However, if the publisher senses a bestseller in your work it can get into six figures. POD and e-publishers generally do not give advances. However, that’s changing too. I received a small advance for Roman Circus.

Carol Denbow: Do you receive a considerable amount of publicity from your publishers, or are you still required to do most of the marketing yourself (as self-publishers do)?

Carlene Dater: Once again, it depends on the publisher. All of the publishers I’m with have sent our review copies to several sites, but I still have to do a lot myself. I’m not good at publicity. I’d rather be writing new books, but…it is important to get your name out there. I belong to a lot of different networking sites and try to post frequently. I’ve done book signings with some of my paperbacks and it was fun to meet people at the bookstore, but I never sold that many books.

Carol Denbow: Do you have an agent? If so, have you always had one, the same one, and have they always succeeded in getting your books published?

Carlene Dater: No, I’ve never had an agent. I’ve tried several times over the years and just never clicked with anyone. With the advent of e-publishing, I think eventually there will be far fewer agents actively selling manuscripts. With the recession, all traditional publishing is down, along with literary agencies. It’s getting to be just too expensive to print books. If they don’t sell, they have to be destroyed. E-books are forever.

Carol Denbow: Noting that, do you recommend writers obtain the services of a literary agent?

Carlene Dater: If you want a big New York publisher and a print book, yes. They only work with agents. The exceptions are Harlequin/Silhouette, the big romance publishers. You do not need an agent to get published with them, BUT they have very precise guidelines for each category romance they publish, so you have to be very familiar with each line.

Carol Denbow: Okay, now for the good stuff! Carlene, please tell us the titles of your books and where they can be ordered.

Carlene Dater: Here’s a list of where to find my published books:
Roman Circus – a humorous sweet romance

Mind Echoes – a paranormal romantic suspense novel
Stormy Love – romantic suspense
The Worst Evil – a dark mystery

Call Sign: Love – contemporary romance
The Colors of Death – a humorous mystery
An Extra Pair of Eyes – non-fiction book about my volunteer effort at the Sheriff’s Department

Finder- a humorous mystery

Mysterious Gift – an erotic paranormal romantic suspense novella

You can also find some of my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Fictionwise.

Carol Denbow: Readers, make sure you search those sites specifically for "Carlene Dater."

Carlene, new writers are always interested in successful published authors like yourself. Where might our viewers learn more about you and your books?

Carlene Dater: I currently have two Websites: and I try to update both frequently.

Carol Denbow: Thank you for a wonderful and informative interview. Is there anything you would like add or any tidbit of advice you would like to share with our visitors?

Carlene Dater: I’ve been writing for a long time and still love it. I enjoy mentoring new writers and have been judging contests for years. If you have questions about any aspect of writing and/or publishing, email me. I’ll be happy to answer questions or do anything I can to help you advance your writing career. My email is: Just mention you read about me on Carol’s blog and I’ll be happy to help.

I’ll leave you with my favorite writing quote: “The difference between an amateur and a professional is persistence.” Keep writing and never give up!

Carol Denbow: Thank you so much Carlene for sharing this useful information with us and thank you to everyone who stopped by the Blog to read this amazing interview! If anyone would like to leave a comment for Carlene, please do so below.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to Set the Retail Price of Your New Book

When you’ve finished writing your book, and you’ve decided to self-publish, how will you determine the retail cover price for your book? Although current book prices may seem high, when you narrow the cost down to the bottom line, the reason may become clearly justified.

Keep in mind, if you pay a POD publisher (print on demand), most or all of the following may be included in your fee. When you obtain an estimate for POD publishing, check and see if it would be to your advantage to do-it-yourself. Remember, most often, paying a large sum of money to a POD publisher will not buy you any books. After your book is published, you will have to purchase your own books from them.

Starting from scratch, I will attempt to break the cost of book production down to the wire so you can estimate the cover price you will need to charge for your finished book. My estimates will be based on the average expense for a 5.5” x 8.5”, 200 page perfect paperback (soft cover) book.

Editorial cost – Unless you yourself are a professional editor or English major, we will assume your first real expense will be having your work edited. Cost - $400-$500

Layout cost – Although it’s not too difficult to layout the pages of your manuscript in book form, I strongly suggest having a professional do this for you, especially if you have an Index. Book printers take what you give them and print it. If you have even slightly misjudged the setup for your book, it can drastically change the final layout. Cost - $150-$250.
On an added note, visit for some layout templates you can fill in yourself.

Cover Design – Your cover sells your book. Browsing customers who notice your cover amongst the hundreds of other books are obviously more likely to buy. Before you settle on a cover design, make sure you have researched what your customers will be looking for. Don’t skimp here. Cost - $100-$300

Printing cost – Your printing cost will vary according to how many books you order. For now, let’s assume you order the amount of books the average self-published author sells. We'll say 200 copies. Your cost will be $4.85 per book plus shipping cost.
(Again, 48 Hour Books is my favorite. They are an online company who print quality books for as reasonable a price as I’ve seen. Go to and enter the number of books, color pages, and zip code for shipping estimate.)

So let’s recap the cost of our 200 page book;
Editorial - $2.25 per book
Layout - $1.00 per book
Cover Design - $1.00 per book
Printing - $4.85
Total cost per book - $9.05

Now that we know our expense for the physical book, what do we charge for it? Here’s where we now have to look at our “selling” expense.

Quite possibly, will be your biggest customer fulfillment source. Amazon charges a 55% commission on sales. Most wholesalers and distributers charge the same; some may be less (40-50%). But it is important to set your retail price where you can show a profit with even the highest commissioned distributor. We are most often responsible for the shipping cost to the distributer as well.

So will all this expense, we really need to set our retail price over $20 per book to make anything at all. But keep in mind; you will sell books to friends, at fairs, libraries, and some book stores, all where you will see a higher profit per book making the averages look a bit more appealing to you. Also, if sales are good, you might need to order more books, now the expense is reduced to the printing and shipping cost—looking better now?

Understand these estimates are for a retail product and do not yet include any type of wage for our time invested. The profit you estimate is your wage (before taxes).

My quotes may seem high at some level and low at others, but realistically, it’s not cheap to produce a book unless you want to end up with a cheap looking book!

Although these numbers may be disappointing to some, maybe we should we ask ourselves why we have the desire to write a book in the first place? If we are satisfying a dream, these estimates and financial mumbo jumbo will simply not matter. So enjoy the dream and if you can make a few bucks in the process, celebrate!

Friday, May 14, 2010

What a Book Deal!

Ever wanted to read A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story, referred to as the “writer’s dream book” by Midwest Book Review with over 2,000 copies sold from this Website alone? The great news is that this book is now finally available as an E-Book. That’s right. For only $6.95 you can have the book delivered to your inbox in as little as one day! Why put it off any longer? Start writing your book or get started with the layout and publishing process now. Visit Author's Box E-Book Store.

If you would still prefer the original paperback, it is still available on my Author’s Box site or for $18.95.

Also now in E-Book, my latest release, Keep Your Sanity, Understanding and Coping With Stress in a Changing World. Also only $6.95.

If you’re ready to start marketing your new book, my E-Books, How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour and 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap), previously $6.95 each, are now permanently price reduced to $3.99 at Author's Box E-Book store.

Finally, my very first release, Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss? is permanently price reduced to $9.97 (msrp $14.95). Visit Author's Box.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Rights - Keep Em!

Why is it important to keep your book rights if possible? Because all publishers are not perfect and Publishers change editors, cover designers, and marketing staff as often as we change our underwear! This means they don’t always have quality control in check and things such as bad book design, poor editing (butchering), or slack on the marketing efforts can occur. When these problems and others arise, you are not in control and the final product may not be all you dreamed it would be; now you’re stuck with it. Let me share an example of this.

I wrote the most wonderful and helpful book on stress relief in 2008—it was published. This was possibly my best work ever; I was really proud of it and hoped it would help people to live a stress-free life. I had my own issues with stress and life was not fun. I also had developed a life-threatening illness directly related to stress. It was important to me to get the word out and help others conquer this problem before they too became ill from stress.

The book was accepted, and I celebrated. “Trust us,” I heard, “we are professionals at this”—so I did. I literally cried when I saw the cover image chosen for my book. I wrote e-mails and called begging for a change. Again I heard, “Trust us, we are professionals.” What choice did I have?—none. This is the cover the publisher designed for my book.

Not only is it repulsive even at a glance, but the title is not legible, the colors represent stress (green), and the text is silly looking. The publisher also eliminated all of my sub-chapters; making it difficult to easily locate the information a reader needs “stat” in a stressful situation. I am truly embarrassed by this book and have not helped in promoting it; I don’t even like seeing my name on the cover. FYI, it has sold 13 copies since 2008. So what now?

I am proud to announce I have re-published the book under a new title, complete text, and cover. This is a fabulous book I can now be proud of. Here is the new cover.

Although I would have liked the title to be larger, I am happy with the results and am thankful I kept the rights to my book! FYI, the image of the kids, is of my three girls! That makes it extra special to me!
Would love your honest opinion on the cover.

To see all my books, visit Author's Box

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Welcome to My Blog for a BIG Blog Jog Day Deal!!

In celebration of Blog Jog Day, I am putting ALL my books on sale! Big discounts on A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story and my brand new release, Keep Your Sanity, Understanding and Coping With Stress in a Changing World. Even my e-books are on sale. 100 Ways to Market Your Book for Free (or really cheap) and How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour are both just $3.97 for Blog Jog Day! Even better yet, ALL shipping is FREE to U.S. orders! See all my books and how to order at Author's Box.

When you're done looking around here, jog on over and meet Marilyn Meredith of Marilyn's Musings at

While you're here, please click on to "Follow" or if you have your own Blog, click "Follow Blog" just below it. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of my Blog and have fun blog jogging today!

If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ning Me Out! Spruz Me in!

Many of you know how important social networking is for authors and how much fun it is to find great undiscovered books to read and enjoy. sites were a wonderful place to get the best of all worlds—and for FREE!. Last week, Ning announced it would be charging for the use of their sites—bad news for all of us. When Ning begins to add a user fee, we will all pay the price. Site administrators will pay the fee and pass it on to their members. I don’t know about the rest of the Ning members, but I am registered to over 35 Ning sites as a member, and I am the administrator of three sites as well. So what do we do?

My Ning sites included one for new writers, one for published authors and book lovers, and the last for writing and publishing advice; I will be closing all three. Instead of having three Ning sites, I have now built one new FREE site at The new site combines the needs of new writers, authors, and book lovers alike as one big happy family!

Are you tired of posting on numerous Ning Networks? Is your Ning site adding a user fee? Are several of your Networking friends disappearing? Please stop by my new Spruz site and see if it might just fit your needs. Remember, it’s fresh and new and may not presently have ALL your needs covered, but it will in the near future. The proposed membership count in the first 6 months is 1,500. I’m not wasting any more time or energy into having so many Ning memberships when all my friends are at just one; The new Author & Book Event Center at Please join me!

Hopefully Blogger won't start charging a fee!