I Have Had Enough of Self-Appointed Know-It-Alls

I started as an author writing non-fiction, and I changed to writing novels later. Why? Because writing non-fiction has challenges that novelists rarely encounter – “know-it-alls.”

My non-fiction book, “Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors,” is based on over 20 years’ experience working with Civil War-related artillery. But there are people out there who are convinced that they are the only ones who are the keepers of “the official versions.” These people do everything in their power to discredit and intimidate anyone who holds to a different viewpoint/experience. I knew that releasing the new edition of my artillery book would expose me to these people once again, and as expected, they couldn’t resist behaving in the same ill-mannered way that they have always treated me.

Fortunately, I don’t now, nor have I ever, cared about what they think of me, but their particular brand of evil is now aimed at hurting my book sales. It’s no longer about my reputation; it’s about my income. When it comes to my books and my livelihood, they are quite insane if they think I’ll take their nonsense sitting down. They have pushed me too far this time, and they had better be prepared for what they’re about to unleash.

 

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Must Have an Agent, And Other Myths about Publishing

For years, I thought that the only way to get published was to be represented by a literary agent.  The publishing industry perpetuates this myth – just look at how much Writer’s Digest talks about finding and keeping agents if you don’t believe me. But the truth is: it is not necessary to be represented by a literary agent to get published. I’m living proof.

There are many ways to get books published. One option is self-publishing, although that option has the most difficult path to financial success for an author and puts 100% of the marketing and sales efforts squarely on the back of the author. Another option is small press publishing, which typically uses a business model where the publisher and the author are partners in getting the book published and into the hands of potential readers. The third option is large press publishing. Unless you’re already a best-selling author, this option treats the author little better than a commodity and still puts much of the marketing and sales efforts on the back of the author until the book has proven itself worthy of the publisher’s continued investment.

None of these options requires having literary agent representation.

How do Literary Agents fit into the publication process?

Put simply, literary agents are supposed to help you find a publisher. In theory, they have relationships with publishers and know what the publishers are looking for. For a fee, paid out of monies the author receives from the publisher, the literary agent will try to find a publisher willing to purchase the publishing rights to an author’s book or story. If the literary agent is successful, he/she and the author benefit financially. If the literary agent is unsuccessful, he/she will often drop the author, forcing the author to look for new representation.

So literary agents seem like an indispensable resource for getting books or stories published, right? Wrong. While they can serve a useful purpose, they are not necessary.

Myth #1. Literary Agents Work for the Author.

Literary Agents work for agencies, and those agencies have revenue targets that their literary agents are expected to meet. The authors they chose to represent have manuscripts that the literary agent believes can be sold. But on what do they base this belief? Does the literary agent maintain a list of what publishers are looking for to help decide which manuscripts to represent? In many cases, yes. But literary agents are also like fashion designers; they want to set trends as much as they want to follow trends. Look at 50 Shades of Gray. Did publishers put out the word that they wanted this type of book, or did a clever literary agent convince a publisher to explore new ground? Look at the LGBT genre. Did the publishers decide to explore this subject matter, or was it literary agents desiring to set new trends that launched this genre?

From these two examples, you could easily say that the literary agents who pushed these manuscripts did indeed help their authors, and I don’t want to imply that literary agents don’t help their authors. The point I’m making is that literary agents have their own ideas about what will and won’t sell, and it is often different from what the publishers think will and won’t sell. An author may have the perfect manuscript for what a publisher wants to publish, but trying to find a literary agent may keep the publisher from ever seeing that manuscript if the literary agent is pursuing his/her own agenda for what should be published.

Myth #2. Publishers Won’t Accept Manuscripts Directly from Authors.

Most publishers accept submissions directly from authors. Literary agents can make the submission process easier with the larger publishers, but it is not the only way that publishers accept and review submissions.

So how does an author decide if he/she wants to be represented by a literary agent in order to find a publisher or wants to self-represent his/her manuscript to find a publisher? Well, it’s a numbers game – pure and simple.

The process for finding a literary agent and finding a publisher is essentially the same. To find a literary agent, the author must do research to find which agencies are looking to represent the manuscript’s genre and subject matter. The find a publisher, the author must do research to find which publishers want to publish (and have a track record for publishing) the manuscript’s genre and subject matter. The same research is required when searching for literary agents and publishers.

If the author has written a manuscript in the adult fiction genre, there are a large number of publishers to choose from that handle that genre. There are also a large number of literary agencies that handle that genre. In this example, it could be advantageous to have a literary agent help navigate the volume of publishers.

However, if the author has written a manuscript in the historical fiction genre, the situation is different. First of all, most literary agents who claim to represent historical fiction actually represent historical romance. Researching all of the genres that the literary agent represents will help spot those who mis-label romance, fantasy, young adult, or middle-grade genres as historical fiction, but that does not guarantee that the author will identify which literary agents are looking for true historical fiction. Second, the number of publishers who handle true historical fiction is also low. Rather than take the effort to find a literary agent, hoping that he/she represent true historical fiction and not one of the mis-labeled genres, it’s easier to self-represent the manuscript and go straight to the publishers.

From my perspective, if the number of literary agencies is greater than the number of publishers who handle a manuscript’s genre, then go straight to the publishers and don’t bother with finding a literary agent. If the number of publishers is higher that the number of literary agencies who handle a manuscript’s genre, or if the number of publishers is quite high, then literary agent representation could be the better way to go.

Myth #3. An Author Can’t Sell Movie Rights Without a Literary Agent.

This depends on the contract that the author signed with the publisher. It has nothing to do with literary agent representation.

So what is required to get a book published?

In this new world of self-publishing, the only thing required is a manuscript. That said, I strongly recommend that the author also use editors, critiquers, and beta readers.

When an author writes a manuscript, the author is writing the story that he/she wants to tell. That’s what the first draft of any manuscript is. But there is a lot of work required to take that manuscript and transform it into something that a reader wants to read.

Sadly, many self-published authors embarrass themselves by publishing books with terrible grammar and typos. Readers don’t want to read books that are amateurish. Editors who focus on grammar, focus on continuity (ensuring that the story doesn’t contradict itself or leave sub-plots unresolved), and focus on style, are valuable resources to any author. These editors help polish the manuscript so it’s ready to be read.

Critiquers are also valuable. Manu authors are members of critique groups. The critiques offered by these groups help polish the manuscripts by providing feedback on characterization, plot development, pacing of the story, etc.

Beta readers are an author’s test market. These readers are a mix of authors and avid readers who look at the entire manuscript and provide feedback on the overall story. Beta readers help determine if the story that the author wanted to write has been successfully transformed into a story that other people want to read.

Regardless of whether you self-publish, self-represent your manuscript, or seek literary agent representation, I cannot stress strongly enough the need to use editors, critiquers, and beta readers before making any attempt to publish your manuscript.

In Conclusion

Literary agents serve a useful purpose in the publishing process, but they are not for everyone, and they are certainly not required to get a book published. Rather than focus on how to get representation, the author should focus on the best method for getting his/her manuscript published. If literary agents seem to be the best way to get the manuscript in front of the right publisher, then by all means pursue representation. But don’t be afraid to self-represent a manuscript if it makes sense for the situation. I self-represented 11 manuscripts and signed publishing deals (small press, not self-publishing) for all of them without the aid of a literary agent. If can be done.

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors – Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Speir’s Artillery Manual is the Definitive Work for Reenactors, Living Historians, Ceremonial Artillerists, and those interested in Using Antique Artillery Safely.

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is proud to announce the release of Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors, the definitive work on the subject by Award-Winning Author William Speir. The book is based on decades of experience keeping Civil War Artillery Reenactors safe and historically accurate. Anyone who serves as part of an artillery crew using muzzle-loading artillery, and anyone interested in the hobby of Civil War Artillery Reenacting, should have this book!

This single volume textbook, based on earlier works by the author, includes information on the nomenclature, ordnance, deployment, command, personnel, and drills for Muzzle-Loading Artillery used in America between 1812 and 1865. The primary focus of this textbook is on Field Artillery – the most common type of Muzzle-Loading Artillery portrayed by reenactors, living historians, and ceremonial units. Drills for Mortars, Naval Artillery, and Heavy Artillery are also included for reenacting groups, living historians, and ceremonial units who use these types of artillery in their portrayals.

About the Author:

William Speir was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a recipient of The Honourable Order of St. Barbara award from the United States Army and The Ancient Order of St. Barbara award from the Royal Hutt River Army Artillery.

For over 20 years, William Speir has been a Civil War Artillery Reenactor, Chief of Artillery, and Muzzle-Loading Artillery Instructor. In 2004, he wrote a series of Muzzle-Loading Artillery Manuals for the Loyal Train of Artillery Chapter of the United States Field Artillery Association’s Artillery School Instructor Cadre (LTAC-USFAA) and for the Royal Hutt River Military College School of Artillery (RHRMC-SOA). In 2011, new editions of these manuals were produced and were made available to the general public for the first time.

William Speir is also an award-winning novelist, writing books in the historical fiction, action adventure, fantasy, and science fiction genres. For more information about William Speir, please visit his website at WilliamSpeir.com.

Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors is available in case-laminate hardcover from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, online retailers and select stores. Title is available for wholesale discounts to schools, libraries, non-profits, retailers, and vendors through Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or Ingram/LSI.

Review copies and interviews available upon request.

Publisher website: http://www.progressiverisingphoenix.com/

Author website: http://www.williamspeir.com

For media inquiries, please contact Publisher: contact@progressiverisingphoenix.com

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Press Release: William Speir Wins Second Royal Palm Literary Award

“Writers Helping Writers”
Contact: Chris Coward
President, Florida Writers Association
Email: chrisbusiness@comcast.net
FWA Website: http://www.floridawriters.net

LOCAL WRITER WILLIAM SPEIR WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD, ANNOUNCED AT FLORIDA WRITERS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. 17 October 2015: Orlando, Florida The Florida Writers Association, Inc., (FWA) has announced that William Speir of Champions Gate, Florida won a prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA). William Speir’s winning entry, The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson, won Second Place for Unpublished Historical Fiction.

The award was announced at FWA’s recent four-day annual conference in Altamonte Springs, Florida. This annual competition, which received 393 submissions, was RPLA’s fourteenth.

“This is the most comprehensive and competitive RPLA we’ve ever had,” said Chris Coward, RPLA chairperson. “The RPLA administrative team, judges, and entrants all did an amazing job.”

In all, the competition covered 30 adult genres and 15 Youth genres, with published and unpublished entries considered separately. There were four grand awards, as well.

The top award for Youth, the Candice Coghill Memorial Award, was given for Asleep, a book-length work of fiction by Mikaela Bender.

For adults, the Dahris Clair Memorial Award for plays went to C.J. Godwin and Marie Vernon for Graceland Express.

The Published Book of the Year was Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, an educational/informational submission by Ken Pelham.

The Unpublished Book of the Year was Adrift, a mystery, by Micki Browning. Micki received more than a trophy. She also received a guaranteed reading by one of the fastest growing independent publishers in the U.S. and preeminent publisher of original mystery, thriller, and suspense titles: Oceanview Publishing.

“A win at any level can help any writer market their manuscript or published book, and the detailed feedback from the judges is invaluable for all entrants,” Ms. Coward said.

“I would like to thank the judges and staff of the Royal Palm Literary Award competition,” William Speir said after accepting his award. “I also want to thank my family, and my publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, for believing in the book and agreeing to publish it. They are the best!”

The Florida Writers Association, 1,500 members strong and growing, is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization that supports the state’s established and emerging writers. Membership is open to the public.

The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is a service of the Florida Writers Association established to recognize excellence in members’ published and unpublished works while providing blind, objective, and constructive written assessments for all entrants.

For additional information, visit the FWA website: floridawriters.net, where you’ll also find more about RPLA and the complete list of 2015 winners, WilliamSpeir.com for details about William Speir and his published works and current projects, and progressiverisingphoenix.com for more information about William Speir’s publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

# # #

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Courage to be Unpopular

It is sad that my generation, and the ones that followed, are so hyper-concerned about conformance to the current fickle, fashionable, popular thought that anyone who stands up for what’s right, for what’s true, for what’s proper, for what’s unpopular, is met with derision, antagonism, anger, and hate.

Why is society so fearful of those espousing unpopular beliefs? Is society so frail that it cannot support the weight of differing opinions? Or can people not handle thoughts that disagree with their own lest they be forced to reexamine their own beliefs and discover that they may, indeed, be completely wrong?

What a terrible way to live that must be!

As Albert Einstein once said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

It is time to stop demanding that our fellow members of society conform to the popular thought of the day. Greatness comes from individual inspiration, not group-think.

If you are confused about why we, as a society, have lost our greatness, you need only look at how much emotional effort is spent forcing others to agree with and conform to what’s popular.

Who decides what’s popular anyway? Is it those who encourage their fellow man to strive for greatness, or is it those who wish to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator so that those who choose not to strive for greatness are not left behind by those who do? Before blindly embracing popular thought, discover the motives of those who originated the thought in the first place. Was it to help men and women reach their highest potential, or was it to stifle that creative spark that leads to greatness?

Rather than be so concerned about what others think, each of us should throw off the shackles on our own minds and strive for the individual greatness of which we are all capable. Don’t be concerned with what everyone else thinks. Have the courage to be unpopular – it is the only way to achieve your full potential.

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speir’s Latest Novel is a Cross between Mission Impossible and the Knights Templar

The Knights of the Saltire, the first in a seven-book action adventure series, is released by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is proud to announce the release of The Knights of the Saltire, the first of a seven book series, by Award-Winning Author William Speir. The book is filled with action, intrigue, romance, betrayal, murder, and to top it off triumph as the Knights’ fight for survival against a relentless enemy. If a reader enjoys techno-thrillers or novels about intrigue, mysteries, or secret societies, they will enjoy this book!

What’s this book about? In a world filled with injustice, some are willing to commit everything so justice will prevail. Just like the crusading knights of old, the modern-day Knights of the Saltire are pledged to help preserve freedom and justice for others. Rather than acting as vigilantes, extracting justice according to their own code, the Knights of the Saltire act as an extension of the justice system, secretly helping law enforcement bring criminals to justice without revealing their existence. Tom Anderson yearns to be part of something bigger than himself. Once out of the military, he is recruited to become a knight. He participates in several actions against the boss of a crime syndicate, but when the crime boss becomes aware of the existence of the knights, the Knights of the Saltire go from being the hunters to the hunted. Tom and his fellow knights find themselves in a fight for survival against a criminal mastermind bent on revenge. Stay tuned, as they say, for the complete series.

Book 1: Knights of the Saltire. The knights are working to bring down a large crime syndicate that has become aware of the knights’ existence and is committed to their destruction.

Book 2: Crusaders of the Saltire. The President has been assassinated and there have been several terrorist attacks around the country. The country goes into “lock down,” and the knights become aware of illegal acts being committed against US citizens. The knights must take a stand against forces attempting push aside the civil government.

Book 3: Protectors of the Saltire. Members of the forces who attempted to push aside the civil government are still at large and planning a return to power. There is internal conflict among the knights as to how to handle these fugitives, and this conflict threatens to split the knights apart.

Book 4: The Lost Knights. A team of knights in France is captured while observing an arms deal, vanishing without a trace. The knights learn that someone is attempting to bring about a conflict that could ignite across Europe, and the knights must intervene before Europe is plunged into a devastating war that cannot be won.

Book 5: The Knight’s Crucible. Rebels in the Caribbean want to topple a South American government and replace it with one that will provide a permanent safe haven for arms suppliers, terrorist training, mercenaries, and unrestricted banking services for terrorist and criminal organizations. A team of knights find themselves trapped in the middle of a revolution – cut off from the US Embassy, the airport, and all communications with the outside world.

Book 6: The Knights Victorious. The knights trapped in the middle of a South American Revolution rescue the leaders of the civilian government before the rebels can carry out their plans for a permanent transfer of power. The rebels face a counter offensive as the civilian government, together with outside help, attempts to put down the revolution and restore freedom to the country.

Book 7: Legacy of the Grand Master. The granddaughter of the founding Grand Master is recruited to become a knight. She soon finds herself in the middle of a web of intrigue, murder, corruption, and a plot aimed at the nation’s economic stability.

About the author: William Speir is a retired management consultant in Central Florida and full-time author. He has published two historical novels. His first historical novel, King’s Ransom, was released in May 2015, and The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson was released in July 2015. His first Fantasy novel will be released later in 2015. The books in the Knights of the Saltire Series will be released every two months.

The Knights of the Saltire is available in softcover, hardcover, and ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the publisher, online retailers and select stores. Title is available for wholesale discounts to schools, libraries, non-profits, retailers, and vendors through Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or Ingram/LSI. Review copies and interviews available upon request.

Publisher website: http://www.progressiverisingphoenix.com/

Author website: http://www.williamspeir.com

For media inquiries, please contact Publisher: contact@progressiverisingphoenix.com

We recognize that the publishing industry has changed, therefore we offer the following: higher royalties, significant discounts, print options that authors cannot obtain on their own, and benefits such as Lexile scoring, trade show opportunities, press releases, wholesale discounts for schools, libraries, and retail vendors.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

By What Right?

Honestly, when did having a different opinion or belief become synonymous with being evil or despicable?  In the past week I’ve been called a loser, a homophobe, a racist, a hillbilly, a nazi, a redneck, an uneducated fool, a backward-brained idiot, an evil man, and a despicable human being?  I’m none of these things, and I never have been any of these things.  Why did I deserve to be called these things?  What was my crime?  My opinions and beliefs differ from the “popular” opinions of the day.

When did the need to agree with what’s popular or to demand conformity to the popular ideas become such an insidious danger to those who still hold to what is now unpopular?  What happens when a new idea becomes popular?  Will the people calling me such hateful names quickly abandon their opinions and beliefs to embrace the new popular ideas (proving that they have no personal convictions other than to think whatever they’re told to think by the “group”), or will they find themselves on the receiving end of the hatred they spew at me so effortlessly and thoughtlessly?

If being popular is so important, then go back to high school. But please leave those of us who live in the real world alone to enjoy the rights of individual conscience that all people should be allowed to enjoy on this planet.

Just because some of my opinions and beliefs are no longer popular does not make me evil.  Popularity only exists for a moment.  It is our personal convictions, born from experience, trials, and errors, that shape who we are as human beings.

If my opinions and beliefs are unpopular or disagree with yours, and if you think that’s wrong, then that’s your problem, not mine.

Stop trying to bully me into agreeing with you and open a dialogue with me so we can share our ideas with mutual respect.  If we cannot reach an agreement, then we simply agree to disagree and move on with our lives – mutual respect intact.  Agreement is not required for respect.  Agreement is not required for civility.  Agreement is not required for acceptance of an individual.  Agreement is not even required for love.  So stop demanding that I agree with you if our opinions of beliefs differ.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that those who spew hate at those who have different opinions and beliefs will find themselves having hate spewed at them when their opinions and beliefs fall out of favor with the popular crowd.  You reap what you sew, and if you don’t want hatred spewed at you, don’t spew hatred at others.  It’s really that simple.

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment