Monday, March 28, 2011

About Our Author, Gary Jonas

Gary Jonas, pre-zombie apocalypse
They say that truth is stranger than fiction.
Some of the following is true.  For example, Gary Jonas writes fantasy novels such as Modern Sorcery and One-Way Ticket to Midnight.  Well, that’s sort of true.  The truth is that he’s already written those, but he will write more unless he gets too bored.  But we’ll call that an example of true.  Gary’s wife is Jessica Alba.  Sadly, this is false.  Jessica Alba won’t return his calls, but that’s the way it goes, and no, the restraining order doesn’t prevent him from going to California.
Gary is an author for Sky Warrior Books.  This is also true.  In our quest for world domination, we know that having someone like Gary at our side during a zombie apocalypse is pretty useful.  We can at least throw him in front of the zombie hordes while we run away screaming.
It's not that we don't appreciate our authors.  We just know our limitations.
 Gary, however, has added a number of true and false questions for us to puzzle over.  Here are three, can you pick out the false one?
1. Gary’s stepmother hired a stranger to shoot off her foot with a shotgun.
2. Gary dreams of creating a religion so he won’t have to pay taxes and, in spite of the fact that he writes fantasy, people will believe him and pay him lots of money.
3. Gary dressed in drag and appeared on stage in front of a large audience telling a popular fantasy author that he wanted the author to lick his beaver, and raised his skirt to reveal a stuffed beaver hanging there ready for action.
 Which is false?  None of them.  Which is why Gary is part of the Evil Overlord plan and a valued minion. We'll be republishing Gary's dark fantasy, One-Way Ticket to Midnight and publishing his Modern Sorcery, urban fantasy series.  Check out his website HERE.
Oh, and don't tell him about the zombie hordes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Quest for World Domination -- One Book at a Time

Thanks to Peter Anspach and
I'll admit, I really want to be an Evil Overlord.

Failing that, having evil minions would be pretty damn cool.  At least, I could say "Bwahahahaha!" in a very loud and sinister voice.  And nobody would think twice about me wanting "sharks with frickin laser beams."

A Sky Warrior Author Says "No Pictures!"
But, failing that, I'm going to have to settle for publishing some really cool books by some really cool authors.  I will be posting the Evil Minion bios on this blog and hopefully you'll think their books are pretty cool too.  Right now, until I get the contracts back, they're understandably a little camera-shy.

Not surprisingly, some of the names you'll recognize.  Most of these authors are published in one way or another and have decided to bring their talents to my little empire.  I also have a group of very talented artists and editors who are simply amazing.

All this talent is hand-picked by me.  Which means you probably will think I have warped tastes.  And, you'd be right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Sad Truth of Publishing or, Why I Only Look at a Chapter

Dirty Secrets
I'm going to tell you the sad truth of publishing -- and that is most editors don't bother reading past the first few lines.  Fewer still read past the first paragraphs, and fewer still read past the first page or even the first chapter.

There are several reasons for this, many of them understandable.  Editors don't have time and if the book doesn't catch them right away, isn't what they're looking for, or the writing isn't at the level required for publication, it's a form rejection and off it goes.  A huge number of unpublished novels are that way -- like 90%.

Guardians of the Gateway

This is why publishers have looked for agents to be the guardians of the gateway.  That's why it's so damn hard to get an agent.  Even those authors who are well-known in the field have trouble.  Until you get picked up by a major house, it's unlikely you'll get an agent.  Not impossible; just unlikely.  Many excellent writers I know do not have agents; many also have had agents and parted.  Some in disagreements; some when the numbers dropped.  It happens.  It happens a lot.

How I Roll

I don't really care about an agent.  In fact, your agent is unlikely to even consider selling your work to me because 1.  the royalties I offer are higher than the majors offer at 50%  and 2.  I don't offer an advance.  Agents love advances, and I, as a writer love advances, but advances aren't the entire story of how the book makes money (more about this in a later blog) -- it's royalties.

No Slush Allowed

I don't do slush.  Seriously.  Instead, I look for authors that I know and people who I have heard about.  People who have gotten published and are working up the writing ladder; paying their dues, so to speak.  When I talk to folks who are interested in having me publish them, I warn them up front I want three books, preferably in a series.

I ask for a full chapter -- not because I will read the entire thing, but because if it's that interesting, I'll keep reading.  Most people lose me with their writing quality.  Not a catchy enough beginning, passive voice and narrative description are all ways to make me say, "uh, no thanks..."  If you don't know the basics of writing, start reading books on how to write a novel.  One excellent book is How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey. 

How to Get Noticed 

If you really think you have something I'd like, the best way is to meet me at cons and give me a quick elevator pitch.  If I'm interested, I'll have you send me your creds and the first chapter.  I read until you make me stop, or until the chapter stops.  If I want more, you send me the entire manuscript by email.  And yeah, at that point I make a decision.

Yes, you can send me a quick note via email with your name, accomplishments, books and rights for sale.  If I know you or you have met me, say so.  At 3 am things get bleary.

What I'm Looking For Currently

I am actually looking for people who will work with me on a contractor royalty-basis.  This includes cover artists, graphic novel artists, and editors.  If you fit this description and you're familiar with Science Fiction and Fantasy, contact me via Sky Warrior Books.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to Sky Warrior Books Blog

Some days, you wonder if you're truly insane.  And what is crazy is that there are enough people following you around to convince you either that you're right, or there are enough lunatics in the world and you're certifiable.

I don't know which it is, but I'm here to have a good time in any case.

And if that hasn't put you off by now, keep reading.

On February 14, 2011, I decided it was time to announce I would start my own publishing company.  After months of self-publishing success with my own e-books, I figured, "what the heck?  Time to expand..."

And so, I announced the company.  I expected people to look askance and wonder what I've been putting in my tea.  Instead, I received enthusiastic and positive responses.  Now, before you groan and say, "not another publishing company...", here are my thoughts and approaches.

I feel pretty confident about this company at this time because 1.  I've worked for the big houses in New York as a freelance editor and an author,  and 2.  I'm getting ridiculous numbers of sales for an indy/self published author just with my own experiments.  You can say it's because my books rock, (and I wouldn't disagree), but I'm thinking that maybe I've stumbled onto something that will work.

The thing is that Sky Warrior Book Publishing isn't your normal book publisher.  For one thing, I believe that the only way for me to make money is for you to make money as the author.  That your work is worth something and you should be treated fairly and with respect.

My value added as Sky Warrior Books is as follows:

1.  Professional edits.  Yep, really.  Got that sewn up with a number of professional editors in the field.

2.  Professional formatting and covers.  Yes, I have some top artists signed on, including some award-winning artists.

3.  Limited contracts.  I only take rights I think or know I can sell or use.  Rights are optioned for 18 months and revert back to the author if I can't use them.  Books published for 5 years with the option to renew.  Hey, if I don't do a decent job, you need to reconsider.

4.  50% royalties on net profits on everything.  You wrote it, you deserve to make money on it.

5. Distribution through all the major E-book channels.  Worldwide distribution of trade paperbacks through our imprint, Sky Dragon Publishing.

6.  Potential sales to an RPG house.  Yes, I'm working with gamers to get more ways for authors to make money.

7.  Targeted social media promotions.  I've got a PR guy who is working for me.  Yes, the author is going to have to promote, but we need to make it even easier for authors to do it.

8.  Contacts: I have contacts in this industry due to being an author of more than 30 books and hundreds of short pieces.  I can bring more than 15 years of experience as a professional writer and editor to this gig.

9.  Quarterly payments.  I plan on paying my authors quarterly because I don't want to hang onto the money any more than I have to, but at the same time, I really don't have the ability to cut checks to you monthly.

Basically, I'm working as a one-stop shop for the author.  My desire is to not just publish, but to build a platform for the author to succeed.  And yes, while the author can do any of that by himself and pay folks to edit his book, spend hours formatting the book, look for deals to leverage the book to make money, promote the hell out of his book, he's got to think about what it costs in terms of time and monetary investment.  If he'd rather sit and write his books and have a publisher act in his best interest (because, by god, if he makes money, I make money), then he should probably look at my publishing company.  If he thinks he can do a better job, well, god bless him -- I'm not going to convince him otherwise.  I'm hand picking pro authors as we speak (some having been published by major houses) and a number of them are very happy to come on board with me.  Basically every author will have my phone number, my email and my attention.  They are my authors and I will do whatever I need to do to make it right with them. (Oh, and I am NOT excluding woman authors here; I am simply avoiding having to use the he/she, or worse, they construct).

What I am looking for: well written science fiction, fantasy and horror, and authors who have enough books to do a three book deal.  I am not reading slush -- can't stand it; don't have time for it.  I'm honest to a point of fault (just ask anyone who knows me) and I'm a straight shooter.  I'll screw up occasionally, but I'll admit it and I'll try to make it right.

So, there you go -- my basis for a publishing company.  No doubt you've heard the song and dance before.  This company will be different.