On public speaking

  • May. 10th, 2015 at 9:28 PM
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Public speaking is hard, guys. It takes practice, and work, and it can be really scary, especially if you’re new at it. When you research public speaking, you get a lot of results that encourage you to picture the audience in their underwear (uh, creepy), or memorize your notes, or pause two seconds at each period. Which is all well and good, but that’s more like second tier advice for people wanting to polish their public speaking game. So, I’ve put together some first tier advice—advice I wish I’d had when I first started doing author events, but advice that I think is relevant to all forms of public speaking. Here goes:

1. Practice your speech. And do so standing up, wearing the shoes you’ll be wearing when you give it. This is particularly important if you’ll be wearing heels of any variety. When you’re nervous, you tend to be a bit more wobbly on your feet. Combine that with unpracticed heels and it can all get tricky.

2. Everyone is on your side. This is the most important point of this entire post. I have seen a lot of people speak to a large audience. A lot of those people have been very, very nervous about doing so. And I promise: I was always cheering for them. If they slipped up on a word, or lost their place, or dropped their papers, I was never snickering—I was always thinking “You’ve got this! Don’t worry about it!”. So was everyone else in the audience. No one watching you speak wants you to fail. Because seriously, if I wanted to see someone fail, I’d go to YouTube. It’s easier and you can replay it over and over.

3. Don’t worry if they laugh when you mess up. They’re not laughing at you. They’re laughing because it’s just funny when someone accidentally says “breast” instead of “best” (I’ve done it). Or when someone tries to combine the word “cities” and “towns” and winds up saying “titties” (Male Counterpart did that in front of his class). But they’re not laughing AT you. They’re laughing because it’s funny. You can laugh too.

4. Tell the audience what you need. Feel free to say “I totally lost my place” or “This is my cheat sheet.” I am super distractible, so whenever I’m giving a new presentation, I have my laptop or iPad nearby to refer to. I always tell the audience “I’m basically like your cat, and get distracted by shiny things, so I brought this to help me find my place again.” No one has ever been bothered or alarmed by that. Sometimes, I talk too fast and lose my breath. Sometimes, even with a familiar presentation, I lose my place because something throws me—people talking loudly, a bell ringing, or, in one memorable case, a man covered in mud running by in the background. If I don’t have a cheat sheet with me, I literally just ask the audience what I was talking about. They’re always happy to remind me because SEE POINT 2.

5. Focus on what you’re saying. There are all sorts of websites that tell you to keep your eyes up! Don’t sway! Look people in the eye! And that’s all well and good if you’re at the point where you’re comfortable with public speaking. But if you’re not, just keep your eyes on your paper (assuming you have one). Focus on the words, not the people in the room. One word at a time—slowly.

6. Take a breath. Especially if you’re about to fall apart. Take a breath in through your nose, out through your mouth, and let go. Use that breath as your “restart”. If you’re trying to give your speech and think about how badly you’re screwing up and wonder if people are laughing at you and dwell on if you’re speaking too fast, your brain is going to ignite. Take a breath, and SEE POINT 5.

7. Put your paper on something. This is a pretty basic trick, but makes a big difference. If your hands are shaking, it’ll be way less noticeable if you’ve got the paper on a podium or desk or something. If you won’t have a podium, use notecards rather than a piece of paper—they’ll wobble less and thus be less noticeable.

8. It wasn’t as bad as you thought. Ok, let’s say you’ve already given a speech and OH MY GOD IT WAS THE WORST YOU MESSED UP EVERYTHING.
You didn’t. Seriously. It was just one speech, and unless you’re the President and you accidentally just said “titties” on camera, no one’s going to remember in the end. Sometimes I catch myself sitting around and dwelling on all the embarrassing things I’ve done in my life. I would bet cash money that no one who witnessed those things remembers them—or if they do, they remember them as sort of a passing story rather than THAT TIME JACKSON RUINED EVERYTHING.

9. Everyone is on your side. Yes, it’s important enough that I’m saying it twice—and because you should know that everyone is on your side after you’ve given a speech. If you screwed up, you’re almost certainly beating yourself up way more than anyone else is—because guess what? Public speaking is probably scary for them too.

10. Don’t let one bad speech ruin you. While I was writing SISTERS RED, I got a terrible migraine in Borders moments after drinking one of those Naked brand smoothies. That smoothie had nothing whatsoever to do with why I got a migraine, but I will never ever ever drink one again. Don’t let public speaking become your Naked smoothie. Just because you screwed up once back in 4th grade and the whole class saw you turn bright red doesn’t mean you are bad at public speaking. It means that in 4th grade, you messed up a single speech.

11. Public speaking takes practice. And I’m not talking about practicing for a single speech. I’m talking about practicing public speaking, period. The more often you speak in public, the better you’ll be at it. If you’re truly terrified, start small and join a book club—one that’s not stacked with your BFFs. I also know a lot of people who have taken improv comedy classes to help them with their confidence in front of a crowd. And there are various organizations that focus on public speaking that are a quick Google away.

For what it’s worth, I also think performing arts—even if it’s not drama, where you’re speaking on stage—are hugely helpful for this, because you get used to eyes being on you. I could go on for hours about the various benefits of arts education, but I’ll be brief and say that the confidence I got from years of dance and winterguard has been invaluable.

And there you have it! Good luck, go forth, speak publicly. And do so without ever needing to picture the audience in their underwear like some kind of creeper.

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

The Elevator Pitch

  • Mar. 20th, 2015 at 10:18 AM
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You: *get on elevator*
Fancy Editor from Fancy Publishing House: *gets on elevator*
*Doors close*
*You turn to the Editor. She is yours for the next eight seconds. There is no escape. This is an elevator, after all.*
You: Hi there. I’ve written a book.
Editor: Oh? Tell me about it.
You: Well, it’s sort of a transformation themed love story. See there’s this girl, and a long time ago this werewolf killed her grandmother. She she has a little sister, who she loves and they’re really close, and they live in this house and it’s basically just them, and they’ve kind of been living there for ages and making it work. But there’s also this boy– the kind of boy they’ve known for a while– who lives next door, and he’s close friends with the older sister and as they start growing older he ends up having feelings for the younger sister. So anyway, the werewolves they–
*Elevator doors open*
Editor: Have a nice day!
You: Wait! WAIT!
Editor: *does not wait*
You: *wail*

The Elevator Pitch is a skill I want you– all of you, writers old and young and small and tall and here and there– to have. The Elevator Pitch is a skill you need.

So often we get caught up in the vastness of the worlds we’ve created, the characters we’ve meticulously honed, the subplots we’ve carefully laid out. We’ve spent SO much time on them, after all, and we want others to appreciate them!
The trouble is, all that stuff? That’s the stuff people find out and respect and admire when they READ the book. It’s not the way to sell people on the book before they’ve opened it. Think of the Elevator Pitch like a tagline, or the way you’d summarize a movie to your friend. You don’t tell them the nitty gritty, you tell them the big idea.

You: Want to go see Bring It On?
Friend: Maybe. What’s it about?
You: It’s about this girl who has taken over as a captain for a cheerleading team that always wins, and then they start to lose and she freaks out, but this new girl comes to town who is an ex-gymnast and joins their team, the main girl– the captain– ends up having feelings for that girl’s brother. And anyway, they train really hard and hire in this guy who is supposed to be an amazing cheerleading choreographer, but it ends up that he’s just shopping the same routine to all sorts of groups, and so the team gets disqualified. And then they also find out that all the cheers and routines they’d been doing for ages were actually stolen from this black cheerleading team from Compton that couldn’t ever afford to go to competitions, and so it’s like the main girl’s whole cheerleading history is stolen and faked. And so they take all these lessons and learn to like swing dance and stuff and then they do a fundraiser so the team from Compton can come compete, but the Compton girls find another way to get there because they don’t want pity to get them to the competition. And in the end there’s this big huge cool routine and the main girl is like YOU BETTER BRING IT and that’s what the title is all about, and then the black team wins but it’s cool because they were the best and the main girl is like Oh, this feels like first.
It’s a semi-dark comedy about competitive cheerleading.

If you’d given your friend the long spiel, her eyes would have started to glaze over. My eyes started to glaze over while writing that, and I freaking love Bring It On. Even if you’re not talking to an editor or agent or industry person, an elevator pitch is a clever way to make people think “My, that person has chops!” rather than “My, that person is still talking!”.

So, how to do it?
Take your book. Grind it down to the very, very basics. So, for example– I was talking about SISTERS RED in that scenario above, in the elevator. Instead of all that long-winded nonsense, I could have just said: It’s a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, about two sisters who hunt werewolves.
BAM. There’s you pitch. And for what it’s worth, that’s how it was pitched to my editor who wound up aquiring the book.

PURITY? It’s about a girl trying to lose her virginity before her Purity Ball.
TSARINA? It’s about a noble girl trying hunt down a magical Faberge egg out of Russia in the middle of the Revolution.

A slightly longer version is okay too, like:
DOUBLECROSS? It’s about a boy who has always wanted to be a super spy, like his parents. Even though he’s super smart and clever and works hard, he’s a bit chubby and isn’t able to pass the spy agency’s physical exam. But when his parents are kidnapped by a rival spy organization, he and his little sister are the only ones who can save the day.

It’s NOT easy, but it does get easier to do this– and I promise, it’s worth it. Have your Elevator Pitch ready to go from the moment you start mentioning your book to people, because you never know when you might need it. Ages and ages ago, I remember calling an agency to verify their mailing information before I started queries. The woman who answered the phone gave me the info, then casually said “So, what’s the book about?”
And I basically said: dlkjflskdnfwlkerowuefoiwenrlwkejd0wejpfuweofch2i
Because I didn’t have my Elevator Pitch ready.

Often, when I’m at events or conferences or signings at stores, people mention to me that they write, and I always ask what the book is about– and more often then not, they don’t have their elevator pitch ready either. It doesn’t bug me or anything, but I can always see their faces getting red as they stumble through, trying to sort out what to say, reminding me oh-so-much of myself on the phone with that agency many years ago.

My point is, go forth, create your elevator pitch sooner rather than later.The world is full of elevators, after all, and you never know who you’ll get on board with.

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.


  • Jan. 12th, 2015 at 9:26 AM
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OMG it is 2015.

Actually 2015. Which means it’s the year of middle grade, for me. In April, my co-written book (with Maggie Stiefvater), PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES releases. And in July, the super-fun-heisty-delightful first book in my new spy series releases– THE DOUBLECROSS (and other skills I learned as a superspy).

Here’s what it’s all about:
The Doublecross

Everyone in Hale’s family is a spy, going way back. His great grandfather. His grandmother. Both his parents. They’ve all worked for the Sub Rosa Society, an elite, top secret organization—so top secret that new agents aren’t recruited; they’re born.

Unfortunately for twelve-year-old Hale, he was born (as his mother puts it) “big-boned”– or (as his SRS classmates put it) “fat”. Despite the fact that Hale can defuse an explosive, don a disguise in seconds, and speak eleven languages, he’s often overlooked by his SRS classmates because he’s not so great at running, fighting, or back-handspringing over a laser grid.

But one day, Hale’s parents are kidnapped by a rival spy organization, and it turns out Hale– with some help from his little sister, Kennedy– might be the only one who can save the day. The trouble is, when you’re surrounded by spies, who can you trust?

Here’s where you can pre-order the book, if you’re so inclined:
Amazon.com | Indiebound.org | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.co.uk

And here’s how you can enter to win an ARC! One entry just for signing up, and another entry for following me on twitter. This particular contest is North America only, but I promise I’ll do an international contest soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.


  • Oct. 2nd, 2014 at 8:12 AM
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OMG I am excited.

I am so excited. Here are some gifs to convey my excitement because AHHHH.

As explained in words and images above, I am very excited to finally be able to tell everyone about the book I wrote with Maggie Stiefvater, called PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES.

In PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

Here’s the press release from Scholastic!

Here are some things to know:
-It is a middle grade book (a touch younger than my other middle grade, THE DOUBLECROSS).
-It is full of magical creatures, some which are traditional (unicorns and griffins) and some that we invented (bitterflunks and bog wallows).
-Maggie illustrated aforementioned magical creatures in the book.
-There is a unicorn who, like my dog, is afraid of everything.
-There are a lot of capers.
-There are a lot of animals.
-This is a book I would have LOST MY MIND over as a kid because ANIMALS AND MAGIC.
-In fact, for years, my bio has said: “Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve.” THIS IS THAT BOOK. Only instead of horses, they’re UNICORNS, which is EVEN BETTER.

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

Your tax dollars at work

  • Sep. 25th, 2014 at 1:42 PM
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So, I am pretty horrified (like most acceptable humans are) by this whole Sam Pepper thing. If you don’t know what that is, see below:

I’ll totally admit that as I’ve stepped back from the YouTube community in the past year due to time restraints, I totally missed that stuff like this is a THING. Like, I had no idea people DID THIS and put it on YOUTUBE. I thought this was the sort of stuff perverts did quietly in the shadows, you know?

And anyhow, I thought I’d share a story with you:

Back in 2007, I was a few weeks shy of graduating college, and had been querying agents daily with a book called THERE ARE NO STARS IN CALIBAN– a book that later was bought by Harper Collins and became AS YOU WISH. I was fortunate enough to get offers from two agents. That evening, I called my mom to debate both agents; mid-phone-call, I decided to run to a nearby grocery store and get Pull-N-Peel Twizzlers, because they are delicious and as we all know, candy helps your decision making skillz.

So I’m standing there in the candy aisle, talking to Mom, getting my Twizzlers, and my eyes drift to the tiny little natural foods section. And there, about thirty feet away from me, is some guy’s penis.

Like, right there. He has pants on, but he’s got them unzipped and it’s just THERE, bouncing away as he peruses the whole grain cereals.

My first thought is: OMG THAT POOR GUY HE DOESN’T KNOW!!!!

I tell my mom what I see, and her first thought is: THAT GUY IS A PERVERT GET OUT OF THERE NOW

And suddenly I realize she’s RIGHT. This dude IS a pervert, and his penis isn’t hanging out on accident, and by this point he KNOWS I’ve seen it and I can tell this is PLEASING.

So my second thought is: OH #$%(#$ NO.

So I spin around and march to the customer service desk, where some poor kid who’s maybe 17 is working. I ask to see a manager.

Him: I’m sure I can help you, ma’am!
Me: I REALLY need to see a manager, and fast.
Him: Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering–
Me: There’s a man exposing himself by the Toastie-Os.
Him: I’ll call a manager.

By this time, of course, Pervert Dude realizes that I am ratting him out, and hurriedly rushes toward the exit, zipper up. I point and tell 17-year-old THAT’S HIM and 17-year-old frantically calls a manager and has no idea what to do.

Me third thought: WHAT WOULD BATMAN DO? (or something similar)

So I hurry outside after this guy (a safe distance, btw) and memorize his license plate/car make as he drives off. Then I call 911 and tell the police what happened, and all the info I have.

Now, to be honest, I figured that was the end of it. I mean, the guy was GONE before the cops got there. Hell, even I had left before the cops got there. But damn if a week later, the cops didn’t call me and ask me to come in and identify him in a photo line up, and ask me some questions, and get a “victim impact statement”. They’d actually used the store’s surveillance video, the license plate I’d given them, and my description (which included the LOGO-BEARING WORK SHIRT he wore to this little fiesta) to arrest him. He was being charged with a smattering of things, and apparently admitted to even more once they had him in custody.

Anyhow, the point of this story is: If someone exposes themselves to you, or touches you, or does ANYTHING YOU DO NOT WANT, CALL THE POLICE. Whip out your cell phone and GET SOME $&#* ON VIDEO. It does NOT take much to get the police to look into something, and what’s more, it’s important the police get this sort of information on file, even if they don’t make an arrest. THIS IS PART OF WHAT YOU PAY TAXES FOR- A POLICE FORCE THAT WILL PROTECT YOU. You don’t have to HOLD THE CREEP there to prove to the police that he’s a creep. I didn’t even have a picture of the guy who exposed himself to me, and he got arrested– and this was in a small college town with limited resources.

Obviously, I know in some cases coming forward can be difficult, and I’m sympathetic to those. The point of this post is more about– don’t think calling and reporting a creep is pointless. It’s important, it’s helpful, and moreover, it’s your RIGHT. Use your phone if it’s safe, get photos and video, and don’t be shy about the fact that you’re doing it– you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, after all. Even if you aren’t particularly traumatized by seeing some random dude’s junk, call in support of the woman or child he might do it to in the future who WOULD be traumatized by it.

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.


  • Sep. 10th, 2014 at 11:52 PM
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As always, here’s my 9/11 video that I made a few years ago. I know a lot of readers are too young to have memories of 9/11, which might mean this day is a little weird for you. I get that. But I think it’s important you listen– that we all listen– because empathy is what will always, always bring us together, no matter how hard hate tries to drive us apart.

Also, the other day I came across these in a drawer:


Those are the Atlanta newspapers from September 12, 13, and 14. I was 17 when 9/11 happened, and I’ve moved…five? Six? Seven times since then? But through all the moves, through dorm rooms and small apartments, I’ve kept these. I’m not even sure WHY, to be honest– it’s not like I could forget this stuff. But here they are, anyhow…

And here’s this, by the way– it’s something I neglected to mention in the video. An article from the 14th’s paper:


Just a few days after September 11th, you couldn’t GET an American flag. For real. They were NO WHERE. Everyone had sold out. I remember that my sister somehow had the hook up, and managed to get one for our car, and everyone was all OMG HOW DID YOU FIND ONE?

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.


  • Sep. 9th, 2014 at 8:14 AM
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Do you know what THE DOUBLECROSS is? Allow me to tell you, in this hastily-written (sorry) blurb:

Everyone in Hale’s family is a spy, going way back. His great grandfather. His grandmother. Both his parents. They’ve all worked for the Sub Rosa Society, an elite, top secret organization—so top secret that new agents aren’t recruited; they’re born.
Unfortunately for twelve-year-old Hale, he was born (as his mother puts it) “big-boned”– or (as his SRS classmates put it) “fat”. Despite the fact that Hale can diffuse an explosive, don a disguise in seconds, and speak eleven languages, he’s often overlooked by his SRS classmates because he’s not so great at running, fighting, or back-handspringing over a laser grid.
But one day, Hale’s parents are kidnapped by a rival spy organization, and it turns out Hale– with some help from his little sister, Kennedy– might be the only one who can save the day. The trouble is, when everyone’s a spy, who can you trust?

It’s a middle grade– my first! And I love it so much. It’s so much fun. It’s funny and adventure-y and antics-y. It’s full of missions and full of family and full of heart and full of explosives.

And here’s the cover for THE DOUBLECROSS (and other skills I learned as a super spy), which I adore:

The Doublecross



Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

Publishing: Square One

  • Jul. 26th, 2014 at 8:25 AM
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I get a lot of emails from friends and family and people-I-once-met-at-the-grocery-store that ask: How do I get published?

I get the impression most people want me to hand them a website, or give a quick and simple answer, but there’s really no instant-response to that question. Publishing is a big giant industry, and getting published isn’t a quick and simple thing, no matter how you go about it.

BUT, everyone needs to start somewhere, and so I’ve written this post as just that: a place to start. This is your square one, people.

Now, before you read this, I want to be very clear: There are exceptions to every rule. So when I talk about how it’s easier to be a full time writer if you’re traditionally published, I know that some traditionally published writers have day jobs, and some self-published writers have yachts. When I say traditionally published writers get to go on book tours, I know that a self-published writer can pay for her own book tour. I am making generalizations in this post in order to help those who are brand-spanking-new to the publishing industry decide how they want to move forward. This post is NOT a debate about which method of publishing is superior or inferior, but rather just a place for some general, just-getting-started info.

Okay? Okay.

On to square one.

There are two main “ways” to get published:
1) Traditional publishing:
This is where a publisher—be it a big one, like Random House, or a small one— pays you an advance on sales, and then publishes the book, handles the design, marketing, and release, and you split the profits with them. You retain the copyright, and the advance is yours to keep regardless of how well the book sells. Once you’ve “earned out” the advance, you start earning royalties on each book sold. You still own the copyright on your work, and publishing this way costs you nothing out of pocket—the publisher pays you if they want to publish your book. That said, traditional publishers are choosy about what they select to publish, so there’s a risk (and high likelihood, no matter who you are) of rejection.

2) Self publishing:
This is where you basically do everything yourself. You edit the book, design a cover, design the interior, upload it to Amazon or B&N or get copies printed, market it, etc. It’s a lot more work on your end, but nearly all the profit is yours (if you’re doing an ebook, Amazon/B&N/whatever platform you use will take a cut of your sales). Obviously, you still own the copyright on your work here too. Since you’re not submitting the work to anyone who must approve it, there’s no risk of rejection.

Which one is better?
There’s no answer to this question.
-Traditional publishing means you get an advance right out of the gate, which is nice—it means you have some money to live on while you wait for the book to comes out.
-Self publishing is fast—with traditional publishing you usually have a year or more between turning in the book and seeing it on shelves.
-Traditional publishing means a professional designer will create your cover.
-Self-publishing means you get to make the final decision on your cover.
-Traditional publishing means a marketing team with connections, data, and a budget can send you on a book tour, get you in newspapers, and get you professionally reviewed.
-Self-publishing means that you can release the book on Sunday and immediately start writing a new one on Monday if you’re not the promo-ing kind.
-Traditional publishing means you must submit your work to publishers and be accepted—or rejected.
-Self-publishing means you’re the decision maker on if the book will be published or not.

There’s admittedly a certain prestige that comes with traditional publishing. This is not to say all traditionally published books are inherently better than all self-published books. But, when I see a traditionally published book, I instantly must assume that at a publishing house, this book was chosen from the thousands by a team of acquisitions editors. I must assume that it has been professionally edited, copyedited, and designed. I must assume this book was so good that the bookstore I found it in chose to carry it on their very limited shelves.
With self-published books, the only thing I must assume is that the author knows how to use a computer.

I’ll be the first to admit that I grow very tired of traditional publishers talking about how their way is better because they’re “gatekeepers” for great books—all while releasing some celebutante’s ghostwritten autobiography. But, like it or not, self-publishing is easy. It takes less than ten minutes to load a book to Amazon’s website (yes, it takes more time to write, format and design it, and those things might not be easy, but none of that is required to get it loaded and stick a price on it). When it’s easy, everyone can do it—which means you, who are reading this and take writing and publishing very seriously, might be published alongside a frat guy who wrote an expose about the girl who wouldn’t make out with him and loaded it just before beer pong started.

My point is: For me, and I think a lot of others, self-published books have to prove themselves to me in a bigger way than traditionally published ones do. I think it’s important to consider that when choosing what route to go for publishing your book.

How do I decide which route to go?
It very much depends on you, your goals, and your book.

I encourage traditional publishing if:
-You want to be a full time writer
-You want to go on book tours and have your book professionally promoted
-You want to see your book in brick and mortar stores (bookstores, but also Target, Costco, etc)
-You want to have your book professionally reviewed
-You want to see your book on the NYT list
-You want your book to be in schools and libraries
-You want to be paid in advance of the book releasing

I encourage self-publishing if:
-You are writing a very niche book (for example, one self-published author I know wrote a series about kids who went to conventions, and he sold the book at conventions)
-Writing is a hobby for you, rather than a legitimate career path*
-You want to have total control over all aspects of the book
-You write very quickly, and want to get the book out and move on to the next faster than traditional publishing allows
-You are writing in a genre that super-embraces self-publishing (for example, romance and erotica)
-You don’t want to do any real promo (or, conversely, are on board with doing all promo yourself, which is very very time consuming)
-You want to pocket all the proceeds
-You have a built-in audience from your previous books/wacky TV show/massive Crossfit following

*Because I sense people freaking out on me: Some self-published authors do treat writing as a serious career path. But if you don’t, but have written a book or memoir or whatnot just for kicks, self-publishing is definitely the route for you.

What’s important is that you look at both these options and decide what is best for you. I strongly, strongly discourage you from self-publishing (especially your first book) as a last resort. If you think traditional publishing is your best route, then shelve the book, lick your wounds, and write another one.

Because it’s important, I do want to mention some personal negative experiences in both camps:

I self-published a few adult novellas under a pen name. I know how to write a book, edit it, design a cover, and market it. I did all of these things, and even did a little paid promotion. When all is said and done, I’ve sold about 100 copies (about $30 worth). That’s not to discourage you, but rather, to give you a very realistic idea of what self-publishing can be. Yes, there are the people who make six figures a month on their self-pub books, but that’s not everyone.

Likewise, I have plenty of friends who traditionally published, only to have their books ignored, moved by their publishers, go under-edited or over-edited, or not make it into bookstores. I have seen traditional publishers come up with some truly heinous covers despite their professional designers (and as an author, you can beg for a cover change, but the publisher doesn’t have to do it). And often there’s a let down when you traditionally publish and the book doesn’t live up to expectations—and sometimes it can be harder for you to sell and publish additional books if a traditional publisher has sales records to show your first one didn’t go so well.

What should I be wary of?
In some places, the lines between traditional publishing and self-publishing are becoming a little blurred.

For example, there are some small “indie” e-publishers. They release the book online-only, edit it, and promote it, but the author receives no (or a very, very small) advance. This seems a little suspect to me—if you’re going to give someone a cut of your sales, I think they need to really earn it. If they’re not doing anything you couldn’t do for a few hundred books (hire an editor, do some light promo, and load the book to Amazon), why give them that cut?

Additionally, keep in mind that it is very, very easy to make a professional-looking website. If the small “indie” publisher you’re talking to won’t share sales, or hasn’t had any big sellers, or has no industry experience, do some more research to make sure they’re what you want.

Be wary of self-publishing help sites where for a fee, they’ll edit your book and design your cover. Who is the editor? Does that person actually have experience? How do you know? And how good is their graphic designer? Will they do it again if you hate the cover? If it were me, I’d probably hire a freelance editor and graphic designer whose credentials I could verify.

This post isn’t really about agents (who are essentially only used if you’re traditionally publishing), but if you do find yourself looking at agents, run away if one requests any form of payment from you before selling your book.

Great! Where do I go to start traditionally publishing/self publishing?
Ah, dear reader, this one is all you. The good news is that by reading this, you already have started. The bad news is that if I were to list all the various resources for both self-publishing and traditional publishing, I would spend my entire life making that list. Plus, the first steps are different if you’re writing, say, a non-fiction book than they are if you’re writing a young adult novel, so there are simply too many variables for me to walk you through.

That said, now that you have some information, you and your buddy Google are probably better prepared to sort through the internet and find a great traditional publisher to submit to (or an agent who will submit to a traditional publisher for you) or to start researching how you’ll go about self-publishing (what editors you’ll hire, where you’ll get your cover from, promo opportunities, etc).

I want to add: I am a traditionally published author. All of my books– the seven that are out and the five under contract– are through traditional publishers. Because I’ve had success there and am very happy with my career at present, I suspect this post leans toward preferring traditional publishing despite my best attempts to keep it neutral. With that in mind, I encourage you to seek out self-published authors if you feel like that route is something you want to explore– and, of course, please keep in mind that they probably lean toward preferring self-publishing.

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

The Anastasia Story

  • Mar. 8th, 2014 at 10:00 AM
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She’s everyone’s favorite Romanov. In fact, she’s usually the only Romanov people know by name. If you’ve been reading the other posts in this blog tour, you already know that the animated Anastasia movie is basically all lies. Why?

Because she’s the one who supposedly escaped and survived the executions.

Before I go on, I have to tell you something— this blog post is going to get kind of dark. So, to help, I’m going to put some photos of kittens here and there. If things are getting too dark for you, look at the kittens, okay?

Okay. Here we go.

Who was Anastasia?
Anastasia was the youngest of the Romanov sisters— her brother, Alexei, was the youngest over all. She was a pretty delightful and mischievous kid— one of the family doctors said she “held the record for punishable deeds in the family”. She played outdoors, liked acting, and was especially close to the other younger sister, Maria, who she shared a room with. When she grew older, she would visit the Red Cross hospital and play checkers with wounded soldiers and occasionally write poetry. Simply put, she was pretty cool. I think you would have liked her.

(Anastasia and her siblings)

What happened to her?
The entire Romanov family was executed in Ekaterinberg by a group of Reds who’d had them under various forms of house arrest for over a year. The execution was brutal— I won’t go into detail, but know that I cried over it several times while researching TSARINA. Actually, if I think about it too hard, I still cry over it.

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Why do so many people think she survived the execution?
When the bodies of the Romanov family were excavated in 1991, they’d been exposed to the elements so long they were skeletonized. Through DNA and skeletal analysis, they were able to sort out who the Tsar and Tsarina were, as well as the handful of servants that had been executed with them. They also were able to identify Olga and Tatiana, the oldest two Romanov sisters, and then a third skeleton, which they believed to be Maria.

And then they were out of skeletons. Anastasia and Alexei weren’t there.

Actually, it could have been Maria and Alexei that were missing— the Russian scientists said that Anastasia was that third found skeleton, and it was Maria who was unaccounted for, while the American scientists working the case said it the third found skeleton was Maria and Anastasia was the missing daughter. Maria and Anastasia were similar in size and, obviously, would have the same mitochondria DNA since they had the same parents, so it was impossible to tell for sure. For the sake of this post, let’s assume Anastasia was the missing daughter.

So, doesn’t that mean it’s possible she and Alexei survived?
It never was particularly likely, seeing as how the soldiers who were there that night insisted that everyone was killed. I mean, why kill the servants and the dogs (seriously— they killed the family’s dogs) if you’re just going to let a legitimate heir to the throne survive?
But, the whole matter was put to bed in 2007, when two final skeletons were found in the forest near Ekaterinberg. These skeletons were in really bad shape. While the other skeletons had been burned and buried, these had been cut up, smashed, and appeared to have acid damage. The theory is that the Reds didn’t want anyone to know that the royal family was dead— at least not right away— so they wanted to do a really, really good job of hiding the bodies. Because Anastasia and Alexei were the smallest…

(you’re going to need a kitten for this)

…the Reds used their bodies to test out various disposal techniques— like dissolving them in acid, burning them, throwing them down a well, etc. When that didn’t work, they decided it was easiest to just bury the rest of the family and leave Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies elsewhere. They were hoping that anyone who found the bodies would assume these were just regular-old-graves, since the number of bodies wouldn’t match the number of missing Romanovs.

I heard some lady says she’s the real Anastasia.
Yeah, that lady is lying. Or maybe she’s just confused. I don’t know. Over the years, dozens of people have claimed to be Anastasia. Some have even claimed to be Maria, Tatiana, or Olga, and a few men have insisted that they’re Alexei. I would love it if that were true, but it’s not. DNA proves that the entire Romanov family is accounted for, now. Even if we can’t be totally sure whether it was Maria or Anastasia temporarily lost with Alexei, we now have seven bodies to match with seven family members.

Where is Anastasia now?
Before Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies were found, Russia held a state funeral for the other Romanovs, and interred them in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. You can see video from the funeral services here:

When Anastasia and Alexei were found, their bodies were interred alongside the rest of their family. They’re all together now in the St. Catherine chapel of the Cathedral.

Here is something that I think you should remember though: The most interesting thing about Anastasia isn’t the theory that she might have survived. The most interesting thing about Anastasia is that, really, she wasn’t that interesting. She was just like you, or me, or any other teenager. She happened to be royalty, sure, but she also loved her siblings, was a bad speller, ate too much chocolate, and had a purple bedroom with butterflies on the walls.

So, instead of remembering what didn’t happen— her escape— maybe we can remember the things that did happen, and the Romanov family as they really were: People.

People with kittens, in fact:

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

The Constellation Egg

  • Mar. 7th, 2014 at 10:01 AM
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In the last post, I told you guys about Faberge eggs. In this post, I want to talk about the egg that’s at the very center of TSARINA.

It’s the Constellation Egg!

Obviously, I made the magic parts up for TSARINA. But the Constellation Egg itself is real. The Constellation Egg was the very last Faberge egg that Tsar Nicholas commissioned the Faberge company to make as a gift for his wife, the Tsarina. Unfortunately, Nicholas never got to give the Constellation Egg to his wife— the revolution happened, the Romanov family was taken into custody, and eventually, they were executed.

I used the Constellation Egg for TSARINA in part because it was the very last Faberge Egg the Romanovs commissioned— but also because of the design itself. The egg is basically Alexei themed. It’s made of cobalt blue glass; embedded in the glass are diamonds meant to represent stars, set in the shape of the Leo constellation— Alexei’s zodiac sign. Inside the egg is a clock mechanism, and the whole thing is set on quartz carved to look like clouds.

So, where is the Constellation Egg now?

For a long time, it was one of the missing eggs— no one knew what happened to it, since keeping track of fancy jeweled eggs wasn’t really anyone’s priority during the Revolution. Then, in 2001, a mineral museum in Moscow found what they believed to be the unfinished egg in their archives:

And everyone was like…yay! Constellation egg! They found it!

But then, in about 2004, a Russian billionaire revealed that he had the finished Faberge egg— and claimed the thing the mineral museum found was just some sort of light fixture the Faberge company made. The billionaire also had the second-to-last Faberge egg ever, the Karelian Birch egg, so…all signs seem to point to this egg being the real deal. The Russian authorities say neither of the eggs is real, but billionaire-guy also has the invoices from Faberge to Tsar Nicholas, the original drawings…

If you ask me? Billionaire man has the real egg.

By the way— because the Constellation Egg isn’t as egg shaped as we wanted for the cover (we wanted it to be really clear Natalya was holding a Faberge egg!), I suggested that the cover designers at Razorbill use another egg, called the Tsarevich Egg, which was also Alexei themed and a bit more traditionally egg-shaped:

Mirrored from JacksonPearce.com.

Oh, hi!

My name is Jackson Pearce-- I'm the author of retold fairytales (SISTERS RED, SWEETLY, FATHOMLESS, COLD SPELL), funny contemporary stories (PURITY), tales of wishes come true (AS YOU WISH), and middle grade adventures (THE DOUBLECROSS, coming July 2015, and PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, coming May 2015).

This is NOT my main blog page-- this is a syndicated livejournal account. Please check out my main blog/site at www.jacksonpearce.com!
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