Thursday, April 28, 2011

Self-pub Resources: Woulds & Shoulds Editing and Design

People have asked me who made the fall-over-fabulous cover for Between. Here's who! Meet the dynamic duo: Clare and David from Woulds & Shoulds Editing and Design.

Why did you decide to start your own editing and design company?
Clare: I think it’s a combination of several different factors that just happened to collide at the same time.

Firstly, I’m especially passionate about self-publishing because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time—I’m a YA writer myself.

David and I met almost a year ago at the Creative Book Publishing program at Humber College. Right away, we found that we had a lot in common, but also a lot of different skills that complement each other. I’m good at seeing the big picture, so I like doing substantive and line editing, as well as formatting. Dave is detail-oriented and also a grammar nut, so he’s great at copyediting, proofreading and he also has a flair for design. << CT: Major understatement! *grin*
After we graduated the program, we both had internships at publishing companies, but we were looking for paying work, because surprise, surprise, publishing is a little low on paying jobs in Canada at the moment, at least for new grads. There are plenty of internships, though, and the competition is stiff. People aren’t in publishing to make money; they’re in it because they love books.

I happened to land a freelance contract with a man who was self-publishing his book, and so I guided him through the process, and took his book from unedited manuscript stage to a polished, formatted ebook. This was a lot of work for one person, so I hired Dave to do the copyediting for me.

It was in a little Thai restaurant in Queen’s St West in Toronto that we realized that we could really help people improve the quality of self-published work. I wanted to help authors realize that they had the power to be their own publishers and really take control of the process; that with the right tools, they could be a success. Hence our unofficial motto: Be the Author You Want to Be.

So, here we are six months later, with a slew of clients and a growing reputation for quality, professionalism and passion for self-publishing.

Where did the name Woulds & Shoulds come from?
David: Woulds & Shoulds comes from an apocryphal quote from Oscar Wilde, who supposedly said the following upon handing a manuscript of his to his editor: “I’ll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whiches, etc.” We felt the reference was suitably literary, and fitting in that you can leave your work with us and we will take care of the nitpicking and polishing. That and some people might make the mistake of putting apostrophes in Woulds and Shoulds because you don’t see those words pluralized very often, which is the type of common quirk of the language that we’ll be sure to get right!

What background do you have in the business?
Clare: I have a combined honours in journalism and psychology, and Dave has a B.A. in English. More importantly, though, is that we are grads of the Creative Book Publishing program. This is a special, accelerated program at Humber College in Toronto that teaches the business of publishing—everything from the editing, production, design, and the marketing. We got to meet some amazing people in the industry. As part of the program we also had to create our own publishing companies and present them to a panel of professionals, which was a real eye-opener for how much work and how costly publishing 5-10 books a year really is.

As for actual work experience, Dave completed an internship with HarperCollins Canada in the sales department, and I currently work for ChiZine Publications, a small press that publishes science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Describe the services that your company offers.
David: We offer a myriad of services that covers pretty much anything an author will need if he or she wants to self-publish their book. Our individual editing and design services range from substantive editing to copy editing, reader’s reports, which can be useful for manuscripts as well as full ebooks, as well as cover design and interior layout services. While we can do any combination of these things for someone’s book, we do offer bundles that include a lot of the services that complement each other and offer great value. We also include some marketing support in everything we do for self-published authors, as we know that having a supportive and active community for these types of projects is what drives sales and makes the process truly fulfilling for everyone involved.

How are you getting the word out about your new business?
Clare: We’ve got a few things going at the moment. We’re particularly excited about our Self-Publishing Success Interview Series, where we speak with authors from all over the world about their experience in publishing their own book. The response for that so far has been great, and inspiring. I hope it inspires other self-pubbing authors too.

We have our blog, which we’re trying to update a few times a week, our Facebook page, and a new twitter account. LinkedIn has also proved useful, and if you don’t have an account, I definitely recommend it.

Our future marketing plans include a writing contest, and more blogging. We’ve really shied away from paid ads because I don’t think that’s as effective as really reaching out and joining the community.

Where can people find out more?
There are a couple of ways to get in touch with us!
Our website is
Our Facebook page: I get super excited when people like our page.
Our twitter is @wouldsnshoulds.
Our emails are and

Thanks Cyndi, for allowing us to speak with you and your readers! If anybody has any questions for me about writing or publishing, feel free to get in touch. I’m excited to hear from everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fear of God in YA Lit

In preparation for the launch of Between on June 1, I have been contacting YA book bloggers to set up reviews and interviews. Many of them have a Review Policy noted (which is sooooo helpful) to help authors and publishers know what types of books they'll accept for review.

I've come across several (say dozens) that don't accept books with religious themes or tones.

I find this curious, since I have come across only one or two who specifically note that they won't take books with mature sex scenes. Most of those have been tweens who note that their parents read the blog.

There have been countless blogs about sex in YA (how much is too much, should it happen on the page or off, should there be consequences, what about protection, etc...). There hasn't been nearly as much talk about issues of faith, though I would wager that most kids have to come to terms with where they stand on religion, too.

There was a Twitter #yalitchat session not too long ago on this very topic (faith in YA). I loved the interaction and the thoughts expressed by those tweeting. It was a great chat and something we should talk about more often.

I'd love to see issues of God, faith, spirituality and religion as a part of a teen's coming of age experience be poured into YA books and accepted by readers (and bloggers). Let's not be afraid of talking about God anymore than we're afraid of talking about sex in YA. Everyone will have a different opinion, and that's a good thing as long as we're respectful and kind.

What do you think about the topic of faith in YA books?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Author Spotlight: Molly Ringle

I love romance and I love Scotland. Molly Ringle's book has both!

Fresh out of high school, Eva Sonneborn is headed to Scotland with her best friends: scholarly, sarcastic Laurence; gorgeous, ghost-seeing Amber; and responsible, sweet Shannon. They plan to spend the next six months in Edinburgh, enjoying an adventure-filled work-abroad journey before parting ways for college.

But when Eva meets Gil, a local bartender, she figures a little innocent flirting won't hurt her relationship with Tony, her ever-faithful boyfriend back home. But just when things turn less innocent with Gil, the trip starts throwing curveballs at not only her but her friends too. By the end of the trip, they've all fallen in love, sometimes with the wrong people - and with consequences that may tear their friendship apart forever...

You can read my review on Goodreads.

In addition to being a great writer, Molly is also a lot of fun. I had the pleasure of interviewing her about the book:

CT: I know you spent some time in Scotland prior to writing this book. How did that come about?

MR: I developed a serious Anglophilia (or technically all-British-Isles-philia) during college, which only deepened when my parents took my sister and me there for a 10-day tour in the summer of 1995. I was determined to go back and spend longer there, as less of a tourist and more of a working citizen. Luckily, if you're an American college student, there's a program for that (BUNAC), so I signed up. After graduating, I spent three months in the UK, in the fall of 1996, most of it in Edinburgh, where I had a job in a hotel. Anywhere in Britain would have sufficed, really, but I ended up choosing Edinburgh because it seemed more exotic than England. Of course, now I want to get to know other parts of Britain equally well!

CT: What did you love most about Scotland? It's okay if you can't just pick one thing!

MR: Being a smellophile as well as a Britophile (sorry, I keep making up words), I'm tempted to say I loved the smell of Edinburgh best--it's this rich, toasty, malty scent from the breweries and the distilleries, which tints the air just enough to be unique and lovely. But I've heard they may actually have added filters to those breweries, and lost the citywide smell lately (if so, I grieve!). Anyway, what I love equally well is a more permanent feature: the ancient architecture. What they call the New Town in Edinburgh was built in the 1700s--that's in contrast to the Old Town, built in medieval times. In the American West we have virtually nothing like that. "Lewis and Clark camped here" signposts are about the most historic features we have. So walking streets and exploring buildings that have been there for centuries was a fascinating thing for a Northwest Yank girl to do.

CT: What don't you miss at all?

MR: Feeling locked into the bus and train system if I wanted to go anywhere, because I was too terrified to attempt to drive on the left side of the road (and the right side of the car).

CT: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go and why?

MR: Ah, where to choose? To round out the British Isles, I'd like to visit Ireland, where I have ancestry and where I can surely enjoy all the greenery and ancient buildings. But after this long, dark, cold, wet Seattle winter (which has seemingly lasted over six months), I'm tempted to choose a peaceful, warm Greek island that smells of fig trees and seawater, and serves really good gyros.

CT: Just for fun: Barefoot or socks? Bikini or one-piece? Hardwoods or carpet? Dog or cat person?

MR: On that Greek island I'd be barefoot. At home, usually Smartwool socks, though now that you mention it, they do become a slipping hazard on our hardwood floors (which, nonetheless, I like better than carpet). Would I wear a dashing bikini on that Greek island? Hmm, perhaps. But after giving birth to two kids I'm likelier not to want to draw attention to the saggy skin around my waist, so a one-piece may be more realistic. Dog v. cat: I am kind to, and fond of, both, but since I know so many people with cat allergies, our family is likeliest to get a dog if we have to choose a pet. Though really we'd probably start with something quieter and lower-maintenance, like a rabbit.

CT: What are you working on now and where can we find other books you've written?

MR: Right now I'm staring down revisions for a couple of novels. The one I have highest hopes for today (an honor that changes weekly, if not hourly) is a YA urban fantasy involving a guardian angel stuck in human form in rural California. Though dealing with angels, it's not "inspirational"; it's my own version of angels and heaven, created to serve the story, rather than coming from any particular religion. Meanwhile, I should soon tackle final edits for a novella that could be called paranormal romantic comedy, and I hope to announce the release of that one before the year's out. All of my books can be found online at the usual sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomanceEbooks, etc. Details are, of course, also at my site:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nothing Draws a Crowd Like...a Crowd

I've been hard at work, lining up reviewers for the launch of Between. It is time-consuming to say the least and of course, I always feel like it's an imposition to ask. Still, the young adult blogging and tweeting community has been extremely gracious in helping me out.

My plan is to line up as much activity upon launch to maximize the impact since nothing draws a crowd like a crowd (hence the clever title, see?). So the more people I can get to post reviews, blogs, interviews, etc all at the same time, the more chance I have of catching new readers that might otherwise not have noticed.

Fingers crossed it works! :)

If you have already agreed to be part of the launch, thank you SO much! You = awesome!

If you haven't yet and would like to be involved, please email me at cynditefft at gmail dot com. I would love to connect with you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

All That Sparkles is Not Vampire (or is it?)

The vampires don't sparkle, but Richelle Mead's writing certainly does in the Vampire Academy series. And before you groan and tell me you are maxed out on all things vampire, hear me out!

The Vampire Academy series (there are 6 books in all) is one of the most entertaining, engrossing reads I have had in a while. It's right up there at the top of my fave YA books. And even thought it has vampires (and other variations thereof), I would often forget about that while reading because she downplays it.

The best thing about this series is the amount of action and romantic tension. It keeps you guessing about what's coming next and how Rose (the main character) is going to make it out of whatever crazy scheme she's thought up. Dimitri is pretty hot, too. *grin*

I will say that the 4th book in the series was not great (I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads), but the 5th book completely made up for it. After hanging with these characters for the last 6 books, I will definitely miss them!

If you like young adult novels and haven't picked this one up yet, do yourself a favor and give it a try. You'll be hooked long before the end of the first book!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Wouldn't Love a Free Book?

Our guest today is Tim Roux, the founder of the UK small press Night Publishing and purveyor of fun and frivolity in the online community of Night Reading. Check out the awesome possibilities he's checking into:

Because the Night…

There has been an extremely interesting development in the book world – the prestigious hotel group Radisson Edwardian have set up a book club whereby they give all their guests at their Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel, London, a courtesy book of the month.

Why Bloomsbury? Well, based on the Bloomsbury literary group of the early 20th century, as you might suspect.

It a bit boggles the mind how the literary editor of the Radisson Edwardian Book Club, Chris Moss of trendy London guide Time Out, chooses a book to meet the tastes of all 14,000 guests who stay there each month, but it has to be a lovely idea for people like us who enjoy a good book and, it has to be said, a good hotel, starving authors that we are.

There you are, you arrive at the hotel tired and in need of instant relaxation, the TV doesn’t appeal, you’ve seen all the movies, what you need is a good book – hey presto, here it is and, if those guests are exceptionally lucky, it will be a Night Publishing book too.

Oh come on, nobody gets that lucky.

Funnily enough, though, that is why Night Publishing is so-called. It was originally set up to supply fun business books to business travellers in hotels – not the stuff that you hang on your wall as a trophy in the unlikely pretence that you have actually read it – all ten pages that matter out of 500 anyway – but really entertaining business-related books like Matt Beaumont’s ‘Company’ or Maxx Barry’s ‘Syrup’.

Well, that idea never took off – why would a hotel be interested in offering its guests books? – but it lingered on in the publisher’s name and in its Relax at Night book showcase brand.

Full circle. Here is the Radisson Edwardian Book Club keen to indulge its guests in a good book like T.S. Elliot’s poems (they really want you to have a good night’s sleep, those guys) or ‘A Room With A View’ (geddit?), and here is Night eager once again to step up to the mark to supply them at least occasionally with just the sort of book that will make their guests happiest, a naturally talented and tasty treat from a much cherished free range author.

Happy ever after.

And what books are Night suggesting first to the Radisson Edwardian Book Club?

Well, there is Charlotte Castle’s ‘Simon’s Choice’, the broad appeal family drama which asks “Would you accompany your dying child to heaven?”

Then there is Danny Bent's 'You've Gone Too Far This Time, Sir!' chronicling the everyday adventures and misadventures of Danny Bent as he cycled 10,000 miles from London to Chembakolli in Southern India with a very sore bum and chased across mountain tops by a masked robber on horseback (headline - 'Vicious bum chases aching bum').

Third suggestion: 'The Bookie's Runner', Brendan Gisby's seminal portrait of a man of no importance - his father - who thought he had worked out how to get one big win on the horses before he died, and he was right, but …...

And then the truly outrageously good, as-Jane-Austen-would-have-written-it-if-she-had-been-born-in-Atlanta-Georgia, 'The Wilful Daughter', where a successful middle-class blacksmith is absolutely determined to marry off his five eligible and beautiful daughters to the right suitors in the appropriate order, and his fifth, most attractive and wilful, daughter is equally set on having it, and the man she loves, her way.

Finally a lyrical fable, a plea for friendship across races, however unlikely that might be, a book for all ages and all time, George Polley's 'The Old Man & The Monkey'.

Hell, I would stay in the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street just to read those books.

P.S. Actually I would like to add a personal story of my experience with the Radisson Edwardian hotel group. I used to live between France, Belgium and the UK, so travelled a lot into London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Gatwick airports. One day I arrived at Heathrow desperate to get onto the Internet and to have some lunch. I had travelled past the Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow many times and it looked really pretty, so on that basis alone I bowled in there and said “I don’t suppose you will accept this from a non-resident, but I would love to get on the Internet and I would love to have lunch, will you help me?” They were charm itself, they offered me my own office and a not expensive lunch, and I did everything I had to do in 3-4 hours. They are still my favourite Heathrow airport hotel (and I do have experience of a few others).

Anyway, if you think that the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel might be worth a free book, here it is:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Are You Doing With Your Talents?

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:13-30), Jesus tells a story about three servants whose master gave them "talents" (the equivalent of 600 days' wages). The first servant (let's call him Bob) received five talents, another man (whom we'll call Sam) got two, and the last (umm...Joe) received one talent. The master went on a journey and when he returned, Bob had invested the money wisely and now had ten. Likewise, Sam had doubled the money and now had four. Joe, on the other hand, had dug a hole and hidden his one talent, for fear that he could not do anything positive with it. The master was equally pleased with the first two men. The last, he called lazy and wicked.

What does this have to do with writing?

Not all three men were gifted with the same abilities. The master only gave them what he knew they could handle. Yet, he was just as happy with Sam whose investments produced two talents as with Bob, whose had produced five. It wasn't about the amount of talents. It was about taking the risk and working with what you've been given.

I will be the first to say that God gave some people extraodinary writing talent. Mine is either a level one or two, but definitely not a five. Does that mean that I shouldn't go forward and do my best with what I have? I know agents and editors are looking for the "5" talented writer (hmm... 5 stars...), so they are passing on people who provide level one and level two manuscripts.

I could let fear eat me up and decide to bury my gift of writing, like Joe did. After a year of rejection from agents and editors, that's exactly what I wanted to do. And to be honest, I am petrified to think about the negative reviews that my book will receive once it is published. Burying the talent in a hole is the easy way out. But it doesn't please the master and in the end, it won't please me either.

The world will tell you that you're not good enough, that if you have a level one or level two talent, to pack it up and go home. You shouldn't even consider playing in the big leagues with the truly talented people.

I say, if God gave me this one little talent, He wants me to use it to the best of my ability. And so I will. When Between comes out on June 1, there will be negative reviews. There will also be positive reviews. At the end of the day, I'll know I've been a good and faithful servant with the small gift He entrusted me with.

What about you? How do you conquer your fear and keep from burying your talent?