Sunday, March 8, 2015

About Cactus Rain Publishing's People

Years ago I was one of many moderators on an international writing forum (now closed). During that time, I content edited (for free) a ton of manuscripts.

What happened next was that the writer chose not to pay to have it line edited by a certified proofreader. (I am not a certified proofreader.) For whatever reasons, several of them put their manuscript in the hands of a pay-to-publish company or uploaded them to a free publishing online company.

They proudly sent me a copy of their new book and it was sad to see the poor quality of the end result. The formatting was horrible, the proofing appeared to not have happened at all, and the cover was butt-ugly.

Several of my friends encouraged me to set up a fee-to-publish company, since after all, there were tons of them on the internt, right?

I'm old school enough to value the traditional publishing model. The writer sends a query, someone vets it and likes it, and it goes through a horribly long process to get published. However, it was vetted and selected as worthy to fund.

So using the traditional model Cactus Rain Publishing was created in 2010. Considering the economy at the time, I chose not to get a business loan. It was and still is a pay-as-you go business.

Basically, since it is my money at risk and I have NO ONE to answer to about my decisions, I have total freedom to do as I see fit. We don't have a  million books in print, but what we have are exceptionally good.

Sometimes mss are turned down because, well, they are simply horrible. Sometimes I'll suggest that the author aim for a literary agent because their ms is that good.

We go with good writers who need their work dusted and polished a bit, and who are committed to marketing their book. (They would have to market their book with a pay-to-publish service, too.) CRP does some marketing, but the writer has to believe in their work enough to sell it.

Over the years (honestly seems like more than 5 years because of the years of content editing before becoming a business) ... over the years several people have offered to help vet mss because they like to read. Mostly the offer was because they wanted to earn a little extra money. Not one of them finished a whole ms because vetting isn't the same as sitting down and reading a book on a Sunday afternoon.

This is a business, not a charity. The mss have to be properly vetted.

Judith, my friend of 20+ years, came onboard and has been wonderful to work with. She checks out the mss before I do. That saves me so much time. We are a fantastic team.

Someone who has worked with me since 2005, is Joyce. She is more than a web designer. She handles almost all things internet related for me and CRP. If you are looking for a fantastic web designer, check out Joyce at: I highly recommend her.

Another member of the CRP team is Anita, our proofreader. She is a CERTIFIED proofreader, even though I call her the line editor half of the time. She is amazing. She knows grammar rules that I've never heard of (and those I know, too.). She has proofed 6 books for us now. We met at a writer's conference in Phoenix in 2005. I cannot imagine having anyone else proof the CRP books. Check out Anita at

The newest member of the CRP team is Junior at Junior's Digital Designs. We have worked with several graphic artists, but Junior raises the bar high. What I like about working with Junior is that he understands the concept that I'm after and produces it in a few days. (And he doesn't tell me if he laughs at the concept sketches that I send to him.)

I think these people are outstanding. If you want to do your own book, contact these professionals for help.  I highly recommend them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Literary Agent Blogs

Rather than reading the trade papers for what's hot in the industry (yes, I do read them anyway) the place with the finger-on-the-pulse is literary agents' blogs.
Some things never change, for example, the nasty comments about really bad-bad query letters and the insane things people write in them. Note: A query letter is a business proposal, not a pen pal letter.
While Judith and I tend to be approachable and not terribly snarky with replies to query letters, that doesn't mean that I don't eye-roll on occasion. Sorry about that. I know "this ms" is important to you.
I love the sencerity when someone writes that their mum, 92 year old former English teacher, lover, or stranger they met at the dog park loves their ms and I will, too. Keep in mind that neither Judith or I are any of those -- especially not 92 years old!
A query letter is a business proposal that in the end is designed to get us to spend OUR money to make YOUR ms into a marketable book.

The first thing you are after is to get us to finish reading your query letter and the synopsis. Next is to get us interested enough to read the first three chapters that are requested as part of our submission guidelines.
You should throw a huge party if we ask for the full manuscript. We probably read the full manuscript on 5% or less of the submissions. I don't know if that is a normal per cent for the industry or not, but there are only so many hours in the day and very few of us to read mss.

There are no guarantees that an offer of a contract will follow a request for a full ms.
Most people get the middle of their ms going full steam. The beginning is the part I have trouble with, especially if there is a prologue. Yes, we have published a couple of books with prologues. That doesn't mean that I like prologues. I feel strongly that if that information is important to the story, then put it in the story. (Judith is a lot more patient with prologues.)
Even so, I think the end is the most important piece of the whole work. That's the bit that props open the reader's mind and won't let the door close on the characters. They linger. They come into one's thoughts, they provoke thought, they are real people.
If anything, the lack of a satisfying ending has been the cause of several missed contracts.
The point of all of this is that when asking someone to fund your project (book) then you have to let go of the title, this bit and that bit, and be willing to do rewrites.

If you're unwilling to change any part of the submission, then we probably aren't the right publisher for you. We will "kick the tires" and if they need air in them, we will want you to do that; put air in them. (Email me if you don't get what kick the tires means. Tire=tyre.)
As the unpacking for the move last year moves forward at such a slow pace that it is unnoticeable, I came across an article that I printed from the internet in 2005.
To get you started reading literary agent blogs, here is the link to one of many good ones.
Knowledge is power. Learn everything you can about the industry, about writing, about submissions.