BookHive Corp. Blog

Everything indie publishing, beta reader research, creative writing tips, and all around tomfoolery (I just wanted to say tomfoolery.)

How to Get a Book Cover


When you are looking to self-publish, you are in control of everything about your book, including the cover. Since traditional publishers usually have their own resources for creating the perfect cover for your book, it isn’t something everyone stops to think about until they are faced with the problem of acquiring their own.

There are a few options at your disposal. Firstly, you could do what the publishing companies do and pay someone to make a cover for you.

Upwork created a handy list of graphic designers, or you can also find tons of designers offering their services just by searching. Two that I ran across are Mayfly Design and 99designs.

Since these covers are personalized and tailored to your exact needs, this can be a pricey option so make sure you know what you would be paying. If there isn’t a payment plan outlined, ask for a free quote on your project.

There are also a few sites which offer pre-made covers for sale. These pre-made covers are usually separated by genre and contain a temporary title and author name placeholder so you can see what the cover will look like with the font included. Depending on the site, there may be one person responsible for creating the covers or a group of people and prices will vary.

For these sites, you need to only pick the cover you like, submit the information you want included on your cover, and pay. Then the cover is yours. However, you may want to double check and make sure that the site doesn’t sell the same cover to more than one author.

Here are some sites which state in their FAQ that they don’t resell covers:

Book Cover Zone

The Book Cover Designer

SelfPub Book Covers

The Cover Collection

Go On Write

Creative Paramita

But if none of these strike your fancy there are pages of Google results waiting for you to find your perfect cover. Some of these services also offer custom design options.  

Lastly, the author can choose to make their own cover. This option offers the most control. There are three basic components to a cover: image, edits, and text.


You can’t just use any old image you find on Google on the cover of your book. You could either take an image yourself, use an image which is licensed for commercial reuse, or purchase an image. You have a fair amount of freedom when you are using a self-taken image. But you should avoid brand names and images of people who haven’t given their consent to be on the cover of your book.

If you want to find an image which you can use commercially, try using the advanced search function on Google Images. Type in the phrase which you wish to search for in the box that says “all these words” and then make sure to change the “usage rights” to an option which includes the word “commercially.” I would recommend “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.” These images are legal to use for commercial reasons and it is also legal to edit or modify them before sale. You will likely need to edit them for your cover.

You can also try sites like: Pexels, iStock, pixbay, and Unsplash.

But keep in mind that only some of these sites offer their images for free.


There are a lot of websites and programs out there to edit and design your covers with.

One of the first ones to check out is Canva. This program is great for helping you design the cover of your dreams. It has a whole section specifically dedicated to designing book covers.

There are also a lot of other picture editors to look through, such as: Indesign, Desygner, and PicMonkey. There is even an app by Wattpad.

If you are looking for a more professional digital editing program, some of the big name ones are: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Gimp, and Inkscape.


You can pretty much use any font you would like for the writing on the cover of your book as long as it isn’t trademarked or patented. All of the fonts on your typical Microsoft Word program should be fine.

If you are looking to download a font, here are some places to look: 1001 Fonts, Font Squirrel, and this list article. Or, try making your own font from your own handwriting with Calligraphr.


Most importantly, make sure that your font is legible. No one will read your book if they can’t even read the title. 


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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Where to Submit Your Short Stories and Flash Fiction

You’ve written a short story. It’s amazing. It’s the best roughly 500 to 30,000 words ever put to page. You are the next Ernest Hemingway! But, first, you need to get published and have someone read your work.


Here are some places to consider submitting your short stories.



Sometimes different publishers, newspapers, journals, or magazines will hold contests for short story submissions.

There are ones held annually by Dzanc Books, TulipTree Publishing, University of Iowa Press, Bath Short Story Award, Carve Magazine, Gival Press, Gemini Magazine, and many, many more.

The awards for these contests vary but usually include some kind of cash prize. Some of these contests will publish the work of their winners in a collection or anthology.

The submission process can vary vastly from one contest to another unfortunately, so take care to check and see which contests are applicable for your story and make sure to follow their guidelines when submitting. Some contests are free to enter, while others require an entry fee.




Magazines, online zines, and journals are frequently open to submissions. Like traditional publishing, it is up to the magazine to decide what gets published, but it can worthwhile to go for submissions because it can sometimes be a bit easier to get an individual story published this way rather than a full collection with a traditional press, and then you can say that you’ve been published! You also will usually receive some kind of monetary compensation if you get printed.

Make sure you comply with submission guidelines, and make note that some places will not accept previously published works.

Here are some magazines, zines, and journals that accept submissions: American Short Fiction, The New Yorker, Cincinnati Review, Carve Magazine, Blackbird, One Story, Three Penny Review, and many, many, many, many more.


Publishing Companies:

There is, of course, always the option to self-publish your work, but if you wish to go the traditional publishing route then it is likely you will have more success trying to publish a collection of short stories. This is more marketable and more worth the publisher’s time and manufacturing costs to print. It would also go for a higher price on market because of the page count.

I was able to find a couple lists of publishing companies which are actively looking for short story collections here and here.


These are just the publishing companies who are focused on short stories, but you may also find luck elsewhere so don’t write any publisher off. Maybe consider seeking the help of an agent. 

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Who is Talking? - Managing Your Pronouns and Understanding the Structure of Your Sentence

You can only get away with so much he said, she said in your story until your readers are confused as to who is talking. This is even more true if the two characters use the same gendered (or gender-neutral) pronoun. But, on the other hand, it can be a little awkward to keep restating your characters’ names every single time they appear in a scene. So, how can an author know where the line is between too much and too little? I am of the opinion that the answer can be found in having a good understanding of the rules by which pronouns function in a sentence.


What is a Pronoun?

A pronoun stands in place for a noun or group of nouns. There are quite a few categories of pronouns.

Subject pronouns include: I, you, he, she, it, they, and we. These replace a noun or noun phrase which is the subject of a sentence.

Object pronouns include: me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. These replace a noun or noun phrase which is the object of a sentence.

Possessive pronouns include: mine, his, hers, its, ours, yours, their, and theirs. These replace a noun phrase which include a possessive adjective.

Reflective pronouns in include: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves, and (in case of singular gender-neutral use) themself. These are used to rename the subject of the sentence.

Demonstrative pronouns include: this, that, these, and those. These refer to nouns which are related by distance, either nearby or far away.

Relative pronouns include: who, whom, what, which, whose, whoever, whomever, whatever, whichever, and that. These correlate a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun phrase with another part of the sentence.

Indefinite pronouns include: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, neither, nobody, none, no one, nothing, one, several, some, somebody, someone, and something. These replace unspecified nouns or noun phrases.

Interrogative pronouns include: who, whom, what, which, whose, whoever, whomever, whatever, and whichever. They are used in the place of a noun in questions.


Breaking Down the Sentence

One of the best ways to understand a sentence is to break it down into its constituent parts and map the ways in which these parts connect to each other. To do this, you need to know parts of speech like nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Once you can identify these parts of speech, you can start to see how they connect to each other to build meaning within a sentence. The way that linguists typically show this is through something called a tree structure or syntax tree.

They look like this:

(Image from:

In this example, you can see that the top most label, or node, is the sentence. After this it continues to branch to noun phrase and verb phrase, and then to determiner and noun and verb and noun phrase, and finally it finished with another single noun. At the last level of a tree structure, every part of speech is labeled. There are a few different types of tree structures used depending on which theories you prefer, but this is a general constituency relation based tree and should do just fine for our purposes.

Here is a more complicated sentence with a more complex tree structure:

(Image from:

This tree structure features auxiliary verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and prepositional phrases, and there are even a couple possessive pronouns. 

Tree structures can be really helpful when a sentence is ambiguous. For an example of this, look at these two different tree structures for the same sentence:

(Images from:

In the first example, you can see that the noun phrase that includes “an elephant” is separate from the prepositional phrase “in my pajamas” and thus the pajamas are attached to the noun phrase “I” instead of “an elephant”. In the second example, the prepositional phrase in now under the umbrella of the noun phrase containing “an elephant.” In the first one, I am the one wearing my pajamas, whereas in the second one, the elephant is wearing my pajamas.


Indexing, Binding, and C-Commands

The part of tree structure theory that can really help you to understand pronouns is Binding Theory. Binding theory describes the structural relations between nouns. There are three types of nouns identified in binding theory: R-expressions, anaphors, and pronouns.

R-expressions are explicitly stated noun phrases that referred to a specific entity. They often include a determiner or are a proper name. Examples include: the orange cat, John Wayne, and a teddy bear.

Anaphors are noun phrases that must get their meaning from another noun phrase in the sentence. These include reflexive nouns like: myself, yourself, and himself.

Pronouns here are used to refer to the other types of pronouns, which can get their meaning through a few ways, including: from another word in the sentence, a noun previously mentioned, or by context.

Another term to know is Antecedent. This is the noun that gives meaning to a pronoun or anaphor (it is typically an R-expression type noun). We show which nouns are giving meaning to which pronoun by indexing the nouns in the sentence with letters and pairing the letters when the nouns and pronouns refer to the same thing.

For example: Fredi is impressed with himselfi.

Both “Fred” and “himself” refer to Fred, so they both get indexed with the letter “j”.

In this example,

Fredi asked whether Jimi mentioned himk/j.

The “him” can refer to either Fred or another person who has been identified outside the sentence, but it can’t refer to Jim.

This is because of the rules of binding. The rules of binding are that A binds B if and only if,

  1.           A c-commands B
  2.       A and B are co-indexed.


The unfamiliar word here is c-command.

C-commanding has to do with which parts of the tree (nodes) dominate others. The rules of c-commanding are that node c-commands node B if and only if:

  1.           A does not dominate B
  2.        B does not dominate A
  3.        The lowest branching node that dominates A also dominates B.

In this sample tree:

(Image from:

M doesn’t c-command any node, A c-commands B, C, D, E, F, and G, B c-commands A, C c-commands D, F, and G, D c-commands C and E, E c-commands D, F, and G, F c-commands G, and G c-commands F.

Very confusing! But once you trace it out with your finger a few times it makes a lot more sense. This is the rule that governs which pronouns can be used and where and to what they can refer. Additionally, these rules only apply within a binding domain. A binding domain is the immediate clause in which it is found.

Here are the rules for pronouns:

1: An anaphor must be bound in its binding domain.

2: A pronoun must not be bound in its binding domain.

3: An R-expression cannot be bound.

We’ll go through a few examples:

Kenk watched Markj hit himselfj.

In this sentence, the “himself” must refer to Mark because it is within the binding domain of Mark and not Ken. This is because the phrase “Mark hit himself” is complete sentence. This separates it from being within the binding domain of Ken.

(Image made using:

If we want the pronoun to refer to Ken we have to change it from being an anaphor.

Kenk watched Markj hit himk/i.

Now, since the rule is that the pronoun can’t be in the same binding domain as its antecedent, the pronoun can refer to Ken. However, it can also refer to any other masculine identified noun that has been mentioned recently such as in the following example:

Johni walked over to Markj and Kenk. Kenk watched Markj hit himk/i/m.

Now, context tells us that the “him” was most likely John and not Ken.

Another thing to watch out for is possessive pronouns which can exist both within or outside of a binding domain. For example,

Mayi thinks that Idaj dislikes heri/j/k husband.

In this example, the her could refer to either “May,” “Ida,” or to a different antecedent altogether.


The take away 

Understanding the rules of how pronouns can and can’t work in a sentence can help to keep a writer from accidentally using one incorrectly. Additionally, while breaking down every sentence isn’t feasible due to time constraints, being aware of the way that a sentence – especially a sentence with multiple clauses – is structured can help an author to keep track of where their pronouns and antecedents are in relation to each other. And lastly, even though looking at binding theory won’t always answer the question of who is talking, it can help an author to take note of possible places of confusion. When you notice such a place exists, just do you and your readers a favor and use the character’s name.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Writer’s Digest Annual Conference 2017 Recap

 This previous weekend, August 18-20th, I was lucky enough to attend the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York and represent BookHive as an exhibitor.

The conference itself ran for three days, Friday through Sunday, with a few early events taking place on Thursday, and featured many speakers, talks, tables, and pitch opportunities. I, unfortunately, was able to attend very few since I was manning the BookHive table.

Every attendee received a bag full of schedules, information, and exhibitor inserts which gave them an overview of the features of the conference.

Each day there were multiple talks available and each talk was organized into five different themes: Getting Published, Platform & Promotion, The Business of Being an Author, Craft, and Genre Studies. This helped to streamline the process of picking which talk to attend for the attendees.

There were three keynote speakers and their talks occurred at the end of each day. The opening keynote speaker was Lisa Scottline, the central keynote speaker was Richard Russo, and the closing keynote speaker was David Levithan (of whom I am personally a big fan). After each of these talks there was also a book signing!

Alongside the talks, on Saturday, there was also multiple opportunities to pitch your book at the “Pitch Slam!” which was sponsored by Book Pipeline. To attend these, an attendee had to sign up ahead of time and be assigned to a specific time slot. The lines for these were quite long but, despite this, several authors told me that they had had very successful pitch sessions.

On Saturday, there was also an optional cocktail reception in the evening designed to help a person to network and create new and helpful contacts. This conference, large as it was, was a great place for making new contacts. I was able to not only reconnect with an old friend, who was attending the conference to pitch their book, but I made many new friends and contacts as well. This was especially true among my fellow exhibitors.

The exhibitors at this year’s conference were: Date with the Muse, Dream of Travel Writing, Pronoun, Editorial Freelancers Association, Gatekeeper Press, Your Book is Your Hook, Sheridan, Historical Writers of America, Gotham Writers, Listen Up Indie Pub, National Writers Union, Inner Fire Outer Light, Lulu, PubSite, Round Table Companies, Wise Ink Creative Publishing, IngramSpark, NYU School of Professional Studies, and Showtime Publications. And, of course, BookHive!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get around to all the tables because I was busy taking care of my own, but the diversity of the tables was certainly impressive. Most of the exhibitors were focused on publishing of some kind, but there were also unions, groups, schools, and companies. There was even a group which was specifically focused on creating audiobooks. My table was situated by three publishing sites: Lulu, IngramSpark, and Wise Ink. By the end of the conference I had become rather familiar with their products and can comfortably say that all three are worth checking out if you have reached the publishing stage.

On top of that, almost all of the tables were giving out fun things like highlighter pens and notebooks. I also snagged this cool mug from Lulu.

I am drinking tea out of it as I write this article. Many of these exhibitors were also offering coupon codes!

Overall, I found this to be a really valuable conference to attend. Whether you are looking to attend as an exhibitor or as writer, I recommend giving it a shot. There is a lot there for everyone, no matter the stage of the writing process you have reached. If nothing else, it is a chance to exchange business cards and twitter handles.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Writing Believable Child Dialogue Using Language Acquisition

If you aren’t living with a child or speaking to one regularly, you probably don’t know what one sounds like. You may have a vague concept, but with no direct source, unfortunately it’s impossible to know if this concept is accurate.

One of the best ways to make sure you aren’t misrepresenting the speech of a child is to consider Child Speech Acquisition. This describes the stages that a person takes to learn language natively as a child. This process typically happens naturally from birth to approximately age 4.

Phonemes and word formation:

Phonemes are the distinct units of sound that make up a language which distinguish one word from another. Some examples in English are: p and b. These sounds distinguish the words “pat” and “bat” from each other. The letters of our alphabet represent phonemes, but so do sounds like ch and dg in “chat” and “judge.”

Phonemes are some of the first things that children learn to replicate. As early as 10-30 weeks in age a child can make cooing and syllable-like vocalizations, especially vowel sounds. By 2 months they can start making distinct phoneme sounds. A study by McLeod & Belle from 2003 found that by 8 months they could make use of serval phonemes.

(Image source:

Soon, the child begins to grow teeth which makes it easier to articulate sounds. Moving in to the first year, the child will likely start speaking their first words and begin to gain a vocabulary. They are also prone to making up their own words which are referred to as “proto-words” or “phonetically consistent forms”. By the second year, words are common and their vocabulary grows.

As they learn to make words, they also are prone to several speech errors:

Final consonant deletion is when a speaker fails to voice the final sound of a word, so, “dad” becomes “da” and “cat” becomes “ca.”

Cluster reduction means that the speaker only pronounces one sound of a pair, for example, instead of saying “spit” they might say “sit” or “pit”. When I was a child I would call spoons “poons”.

Consonant assimilation is when one consonant influences another resulting in words like “beb” instead of “bed.”

Unstressed syllable deletion is when the unstressed syllable is left out of word such as “telvision" for “television” or “libary" for “library”.

Velar fronting is the act of swapping the phonemes k and g which are made near the back of the throat for consonants which are farther to the front of the mouth. The phonemes r and l are also typically replaced with a w as in “wun” for “run” and this is called gliding.

Epenthesis is when a vowel is misplaced or inserted in a word creating words like “balack” for “black.” Vocalization is when a consonant is replaced with a vowel.

Stopping is when fricative sounds are replaced by stops, like “toup” for “soup.” Voicing reversal can occur when a speaker switches a sound for the voiced or unvoiced version of it, such as, making “pat a dog” into “bat a tog.”

Of this list, cluster reduction, epenthesis, vocalization, gliding and stopping are still common after the age of three, while the others tend to drop off sooner.

By age three a speaker should be largely intelligible. If they are unable to get their point across it is likely because they are missing the vocabulary, rather than the ability to produce the sound.


Syntax and sentence formation:

As soon as a child begins to gather a vocabulary, they will begin to put them together and create sentences. The formation of these sentences is not random and follows a regular structure.

Between the ages of 1 to 2 years of age, children will largely only be able to form two-part sentences. These sentences take the following forms: action + agent, action + object, agent + object, action + location, entity + location, possessor + possession, entity + attribute, demonstrative + entity, nomination, recurrence, and various forms of negation. The following chart shows some examples of what these types of sentences look like:

(Image source:

Something to note is that, though missing large chunks of the sentence, the parts of the sentence that are present are located in the correct order to be syntactically correct. For example, while we don’t use the word “no” in the sentence “I don’t want more” it still represents the negation section of the sentence. When I was younger I used to say “Up me” when asking my father to pick me up. It seems like the “up” would be in the wrong place but as a child I was using the word up as a verb, the action of being picked up, and in the sentence “Pick me up” the “pick” part is the action and comes before the noun.

Moving in to the first half of age 2, children will begin using plural -s, the present progressive “ing” ending, and basic prepositions like “on” and “in.”

The second half of age two will bring the possessive “s”, some irregular past tense verbs, and the verb for “to be.”

By age 3 a child with begin using articles like “a” and “the,” will be using both regular and irregular past tense (though will still likely make frequent errors because conjugation is difficult), and will start using third person present tense conjugation. From the end of age 3 through age 4 a child will begin to be comfortable with more difficult grammar like: third person irregular, contractions, future tense, and auxiliary verbs. All of these skills will continue to grow and children will make less and less errors in their speech.


Speech errors:

Speech errors are common and occur frequently, even in adults. Speech errors by children are usually less random, they tend to be repeated and follow a regular pattern. For me, all words beginning with the letter s as a part of a consonant cluster, began with a p instead. This was true for all words of this type, not only some words, and remained true until I grew out of it. I have never made this particular speech error as an adult.

There are nine types of common speech errors that adults are likely to make: Addition, Anticipation, Blends, Deletion, Exchange, Misdeviation, Preservation, Shift, and Substitution.

Addition: This occurs when a speaker adds a phoneme to a word. An example is, “toptical illusion” for “optical illusion.”

Anticipations: Anticipation occurs when a sound which is meant to come later in the utterance appears earlier as well. This sound can be a consonant or a vowel. An example of consonant anticipation is, “leading list” for “reading list.” And, an example of vowel anticipation is, “ricket ship” for “rocket ship.”

Blends: A blend is when two words become blended together. For example, the words person and people can be accidentally combined to create “perple.”

Deletion: This is when a unit of speech is deleted. For an example, think back to consonant clusters and the error in which only one of the two sounds is spoken.

Exchange: Exchange occurs when two phonemes are swapped, this can be a consonant, consonant cluster, or a vowel. A single consonant can be swapped, even when it is in a cluster with another. An example is, “brake fluid” becoming “blake fruid,” Or, the whole cluster can move. Something my mother has been known to say is “humpled creap” for “crumpled heap.”

There is also word exchange, in which a whole word is swapped for another. An example is “turn to tend out” for “tend to turn out.”

Misdeviation: Misdeviation is when an incorrect speech unit is attached to a word. An example is, turning the word “intervening” into “intervenient.”

Preservation: This occurs when a phoneme is carried over to a later part of a sentence. For example, “annotated babliography” for “annotated bibliography” or “rule or rum” for “rule of thumb.”

Shift: A shift is when an affix changes its location in the sentence. For example, “he decides to eat it” becomes “he decide to eats it.”

Substitution: This one is the equivalent of just using the wrong word and occurs when a unit of speech or group of units are changed into a different unit of speech. For example, “go sit at the stool” instead of “go sit at the table.”

Most of these speech errors are infrequent in adults and children over the ages of four or five.


Speech Disorders:

Another thing to consider when writing dialogue, for adults and children, are speech disorders. There are many types of speech disorders that can be permanent/persist into adulthood, but frequently a child struggling with a speech disorder can get help through speech therapy to overcome certain types of speech disorders. Or, they may naturally outgrow them.

Childhood apraxia is when a child struggles with learning to speak due to a problem with their motor skills. This means that the link from their brain to their mouth in weaker and this makes it harder for them to form the sounds they need to make. The child knows and understands language but has difficulty in getting the words out.

Dysarthria is also a problem with motor skills, but on the physical side of it. The muscles needed to form words aren’t strong enough and words come out mumbled and difficult to understand. This can be caused by a stroke, for example.

Orofacial myofunctional disorder is caused by the tongue moving in exaggerated ways. This results in what many people would call a lisp. For example, a person may say “thumb” instead of “some.”

Stuttering is a disorder you are likely familiar with. It disrupts the fluency of speech. Stuttering can take many forms. Part-word repetition, as in, “w-w-w-where are you?” is one. Another is sound prolongation, like in, “Sssssave me a seat.” It can even show up as a series of inserted interjections like “um” and “you know” and “uh.”

Selective mutism occurs in childhood more frequently than in adulthood and is described as an individual’s choice not to speak at all, but typically in certain situations. For example, a child may not speak at school or to strangers but speak perfectly fine at home with family. This typically lasts about a month, but may persist longer.

A child may struggle with receptive language and/or expressive language. A person struggling with receptive language may have a hard time understanding gestures, following directions, answering questions, and the identification of objects. Someone struggling with expressive language may have difficulty with asking questions, forming sentences, memorization, using correct pronouns, and keeping conversation flowing. A child may also have difficulty with reading and writing or learning the alphabet.

Hopefully these facts about child speech can aid you as you write the dialogue of a child character. I feel that it is most important to remember that, while they can’t always express themselves fully, children are just as capable of complex thought as adults.




 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Topics to Include in a Character Sketch


A character sketch isn’t a literal drawing of a character – though one may choose to do this as well – but a popular first step in building a character for your story. A character sketch can be helpful in making sure your characters are detailed and fully complex. Not everyone wants to do a character sketch before writing, but for those who do here are some features to consider including.


Physical attributes:

What does your character look like? Are they masculine, feminine, or androgynous? What color eyes or hair do they have? Do they even have hair? Maybe they have facial hair or a mole. How tall are they? Any other distinguishing features?

For this section, you want to include the things that another character will see when they encounter this character, as well as, what you want your reader to know about how this character looks.

You don’t have to include every detail in your story and you don’t have to simply list the characteristics for your reader like you do in your sketch. For example, instead of saying your character’s height, you can let the reader know that they are taller than another character.


Familial background:

You can go as in depth or as bare-bones as you’d like into your character’s family history, but it is a good idea to have some sort of family tree for them. Unless your character just poof-ed into existence one day, they have to have a family somewhere. Even if they are a robot, they have a creator. If you character never knew their parents, that is a form of family history; even if it never makes it into your story, it may be a good idea to know who their parents were anyway and how they got separated from them.

If there are absolutely no family to be talked about, consider knowing your character’s creation story at the very least. Again, even if none of it makes it in the final draft of the story, it is a good idea to know where your character comes from.


Personal background:

This is the history which is personal to the character in question. This includes facets of their life like: how they were raised, where they went to school, their first crush, their first heartbreak, the first time they traveled abroad, and any other salient memories which may have shaped your character into the person they are today.

This background is especially important if an occurrence in or aspect of their past is being used as motivation for their actions throughout to the course of the story.




These are the attributes, either physical, mental, or otherwise that your character brings to the table. These are their best features, everything about them that is helpful or lovable. Some possible strengths include: physical strength, quick thinking or critical thinking skills, specific knowledge of a specialized field of study, a kind heart and generous attitude, access to a wealth of resources, or courage. They may be traits that they have always had or ones that they grow into over the course of the story. The character may not know that they possess these traits, but – hopefully – your reader will.



These are the opposite of strengths. These are the traits which hold back your character from being the best they can be or from reaching their goals. These qualities could include: physical weakness, cowardice, egotism, or gullibility.  

Some of the strengths and weaknesses can be rooted in the same core trait but separated into different aspects. For example, a person who is kind-hearted may have strength in their empathy, but may also be a push over when trying to help others.


Likes, dislikes, and activities:

This can include hobbies, work, favorite books, and more. In order for a character to have a personality, they need to have things they both like and dislike, as well as things to do. It’s as simple as that.


Traits, speech patterns, habits, etc:

Slightly different than the previous category, these are things that a character does, usually, unintentionally. Some examples include: biting their lip, twirling their hair, crossing their legs, speaking with a stutter, and squinting their eyes, just to name a few.

These aren’t things that a person does every once in a while, everyone does the aforementioned actions once in a while, but things that the person does frequently to the point that they are noticeable to others.



Goals and motivation:

What does your character want? This can span from the immediate to the lifelong goals. What is your character going after throughout the course of the story? Make sure to also consider their motivation. What drives their actions? Why do they want the things they want? You need your character to have both. Even if the goal is as simple as surviving.


 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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The Ins and Outs of Dialogue and Quotation

Dialogue is tricky. It is easy to mess it up. I don’t think anyone ever sat me down and taught me how to structure and punctuate quotations, so you shouldn’t be ashamed if you still struggle with it. It took me a long time to be confident. Presented to you here, to the best of my ability, are the rules of dialogue and quotation.  Scroll to the bottom of this article for information on non-fiction citation, as it is different from fiction dialogue.



Rule 1: If it is what someone said, put it in quotation marks.

This is a rule that hopefully everyone knows by now. If a character is speaking out loud, it needs to be in quotation marks.

Ex. “I am going to the store,” said Mark.


Rule 2: All punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

No matter the punctuation used, if it is tied to the dialogue itself then it belongs inside the quotation marks.

Ex. “You tripped?” Susie asked Steve.


Rule 3: Punctuation changes based on what is around the quotation marks.

If your dialogue is followed by a phrase that notes by whom and how the quotation is spoke, such as he said, whispered Mark, or Julie choked out, you should use a comma. This is called a speaker tag.

Ex. “Let’s go,” he ordered.

If the speaker tag is before the dialogue or in the middle of it, put a comma after it which is outside the quotation marks.

Ex. “I don’t know,” Lily said, “what to do.”

Unless, the two parts are complete sentences (I forget this rule all the time!).

Ex. “I can’t go,” Marron answered. “I have to go to the store.”

The comma inside the quotation mark, can be replaced by a question or exclamation mark without affecting the phrase, even if the next part is uncapitalized.

Ex. “Will you help me?” she asked.

If the bit in between is an action, use periods.

Ex. “I don’t know.” Sam shrugged, looking at the ground. “But let’s go anyway.”

If the bit in between is both a speaker tag and an action, default to the rules for speaker tags.

Ex. “He kissed me,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, “but then I shoved him away.”

If the action breaks up the dialogue abruptly, use em-dashes outside of the quotation marks and no punctuation besides this.

Ex. “Why couldn’t he” Andrew kicked a nearby chair— “just tell me?”

If a speaker is interrupted by someone else, put one em-dash inside the quotation mark. This rule also works for a speaker stuttering and stopping one thought for another.

Ex. “I was going to

Ex. “I wasn’t going— I wouldn’t— I won’t hurt you.”

If the speaker trails off, failing to finish a thought, use an ellipsis inside the quotation marks.

Ex. “I said I was going to …”


Rule 4: When splitting dialogue around a speaker tag, only capitalize new sentences.

Ex. “Tell me,” he said, “that you know the answer.”

Ex. “You want some?” Kai asked, holding out a small tin. “It’s candy.”


Rule 5: New speaker, new paragraph.

Every time that a different individual begins speaking, you must make a new paragraph.

Ex. “I don’t want to go,” she said, complaining.

      “Why?” Mark asked.

      “Because, it is boring,” she explained.


Rule 5: You don’t always need a speaker tag.

You don’t always need a speaker tag, especially in a back and forth conversation. But if there is a new speaker interrupting them, they need to be identified.

Ex. “Did you go to the store?” Jae asked.

       “I went yesterday,” Mai answered.

        “What did you get?”

        “Orange juice.”

        “Wait! You only got orange juice?” Matt asked, confused.


Rule 6: If it is unclear who is talking, use their name.

It is all well and good to use “he said” and “she said” but it can get confusing, especially if two individuals of the same gender are speaking. The reader needs to know who is saying what. When in doubt, use their names (I find this rule applies to pronoun use in general).


Rule 7: You can break it up.

If your dialogue gets too long it is okay to make a new paragraph without ending the quote. To do so, don’t put a closing quotation mark, but do put an opening one.

Ex. “I went to the store the other day and bought cheese.

       “It wasn’t the first time that I have been to the store.”


Rule 7: You can front the speaker tag.

The speaker tag can come before the dialogue, just make sure to use a comma.

Ex. She said, “I want to go along.”


Rule 8: You can use a colon.

If the introduction or the quotation is an independent clause, you can use a colon instead of a comma.

Ex. She gave him some good advice: “Read the instructions first.”


Rule 9: You can quote someone else inside of quotation marks.

If you are having one character convey what another character has said, there are a few ways to do this. First, you can have the speaker paraphrase the statement. This method often uses the word “that” as a marker.

Ex. “She said that we should just go.”

Another place this exists frequently is when someone is questioning what someone has said, since they aren’t sure what has been said exactly.

Ex. “She told us to go, right?”

The other way is to have a quote within a quote. In this method, the inner quote should use single quotation marks. The punctuation goes inside both sets.

Ex. “She said, ‘Just go.’”




Rules for Non-Fiction Citation:


Rule 1: No speaker tag, no comma.

You don’t always need a speaker tag for quotations. Sometimes you can just insert the quotation into the paragraph. In these situation, you don’t need a comma.

Ex. Kondō married a woman named Otsuné, who was “endowed with measures of propriety and pluck more prevalent in the daughter of a samurai than in a woman of the common classes” (Hillsborough 46).


Rule 2: Punctuation goes outside the quotation mark.

As shown in the example from the previous rule, the period (or comma) is placed outside the quotation marks and after the in-text citation.

The exception to this rule is for question and exclamation marks that are present within the cited quotation, and block quotes. For the first exception, put the punctuation used inside the quote and then proceed with everything else.

Ex. “Wouldn’t you agree?” (56), the author asks us.

For block quotes, you don’t need quotation marks at all and the punctuation goes before the in-text citation. A block quote should follow a colon.

Ex. In Sonnet 19, Milton writes:

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

   And that one Talent which is death to hide

   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present … (1-5)


Rule 3: More than four lines of text should be in a block quote.

This includes poetry or such similarly formatted pieces, like song lyrics. See above rule for an example of a block quote.


Rule 4: Use slashes for verse divisions.

In works like poetry, lyrics, and plays which contain line divisions, use forward slashes to indicate a break if not using a block quote.

Ex. What is a man, / If his chief good and market of his time / Be but to sleep and feed" (4.4.33-5), asks Hamlet.


Rule 5: How to edit the text.

If you need to alter the text you are citing or clarify something, there are ways to do this.

If there is a spelling or grammar error in the text you are citing, add the word “sic” in parenthesis next to the word in question.

Ex. “I wert (sic) there” (57), he wrote in his journal.

If you are omitting a word or phrase, use a spaced-out ellipsis of 3 dots. This should come after the period, if the break is after a full and completed sentence, resulting in there being 4 dots.

Ex. “He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept. . . telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. . . . Harry woke, sweating” (97).

For omitting one or more full lines of poetry from a block quote, space out several periods to fill the length of a line.

Ex. These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration . . . (22-24, 28-30)

If you are changing a word or phrase, be it to match tense or for clarity, demarcate the changed section in brackets.

Ex. “Mark wrote frequently about [his follow classmates] in his autobiography” (67), explains the author.



For those looking for more information on in-text citation, I find the Owl at Perdue to be an extremely helpful source. Especially since I have only given examples here for MLA format.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Why Fanfiction Should Be Taken Seriously as a Medium

Why Fanfiction Should Be Taken Seriously as a Medium


There has been a lot of debate over whether or not fanfiction, also known as derivative fiction, is “real” writing. Some argue that, since it often borrows heavily on its source material, it is cheating or lazy writing. Additionally, since it is often based in fiction which is copyrighted, it can rarely be published unless it is for free, frequently with a disclaimer that the characters are the intellectual property of another. But, regardless, I posit that these restraints should not affect fanfiction’s classification as “real” literature, nor should it detract from the quality of the writing presented.


Fanfiction is Good:

No, really. I have read fanfiction that I would rank among some of my favorite literature. These are full-fledged novel-length stories with subplots, complex character development, and excellent writing. These stories make you think, make you question, make you wonder. These are the stories that I have read over and over again, that I pull out on a rainy day, and that I can’t stop thinking about weeks after I have read them.

Is every fanfiction a gem? No. But neither is every novel. Remember that the majority of fanfiction is published without the aid of a professional editor to help polish the work. Despite this, the quality of writing is frequently very high. And they are free!


Fanfiction is Useful:

Fanfiction is a good medium in which to practice your writing skills. There is an old adage that says, to be a writer, a person need write every day. Well, fanfiction is a great way to do this.

In many ways, it is easier to slip into a universe that you know and to write for characters that you are already familiar with. Here you can practice dialogue, conflict, subplots, descriptions, or anything you wish without having to start entirely from scratch every time. 

On the other hand, in many ways it is actually harder to try to enter into someone else’s universe. The way the characters act and interact, as well as, the physical setting have already been set. You suddenly have to try to write in character for characters that aren’t technically yours. And, unless you want to slap a “OOC: Out of Character” warning on your fic, you have to do some serious ground work and long term, plot-driven character development to justify why your version of these characters aren’t acting the way they are expected to. And, if you don’t, readers will call you out on it.

Which leads me to my next reason why fanfiction is good practice for writers; it is a great way to expose your writing to critique (both positive and negative). Because there is likely already a fan base for the franchise you are writing for, there is already an audience waiting to read you work. The typical fanfiction can easily get 100-1000 hits in a few months on sites like Archive of Our Own and And, a large number of these readers will leave a comment on the work.

Using my own work as an example, my most read fic has 10,051 hits and it has 78 comments as of today.  With a little rounding and reducing, that is roughly 1 review for every 125 hits which is about 0.8%. That is actually a really great ratio for getting free feedback on your work. How many readers of the typical novel go out of their way to leave a review of it on a site like Goodreads? Probably not that many.

These readers care about these franchises and will tell you, no holds barred, what they liked and didn’t like about your writing. It is a good way to learn how to deal with negative criticism, to learn what may need to be improved in your writing, and to learn what you are already doing well.


Fanfiction is Being Published:

The argument that literature has to be published to be “real” is a ridiculous one for many reasons. Regardless, there are a lot of way to get fanfiction publish in a more “official” way than just posted online. The first way is to simply change the character names and other copyrighted material. Often fanfictions only use characters and locations for the framework of the story the author wants to tell. There is even a category of fanfictions known as AUs (Alternate Universe fics) which don’t even take place in the local set up by the original material. Change the names, and the writing becomes virtually unrecognizable as a derivative and ready to be published as its own work. A popular published work of fanfiction is Go Your Own Way by Zane Riley which was published on Interlude Press. It started as fanfiction for the popular TV show, Glee, and has gained a following in both its fanfiction form and published form. For a more mainstream example, consider Fifty Shades of Gray which began life as Twilight fanfiction.

Another example of published derivative fiction is parody. There are tons of Twilight parodies out there, like Nightlight. These too, are often required to change the names of the characters, but these parodies don’t deviate that much from their source material. They want you to know what they are mocking. 

Official fan works are another type of published derivative fiction. It is rare, but sometimes fans will be hired on as official writers for a franchise to generate content. Star Wars and Doctor Who are two that pop to mind. There are a handful of books, TV show spin offs, radio shows, comics, and more for these shows which are not technically a part of the main canon material. Just because they were made official doesn’t mean they started out that way. Often, these content creators began as fans creating stories about an intellectual property which they enjoyed.

Lastly, there is a lot of already published fanfiction out there. Anything that is a derivative work of an intellectual property which has outlived its copyright can be published. For example, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Peter and the Star Catchers (it should be noted that Peter Pan’s copyright still holds in the UK). Or, how about the popular TV show Sherlock?


Fanfiction isn’t Harming the Author:

There has been a lot of drama in the past years about authors attempting to sue fanfiction authors for defamation of their intellectual property. And let me say this flat out, I hope this trend dies off. I think that too often people forget that fanfiction is written by the fans of a franchise because they genuinely love the franchise. Fanfiction, and other derivative works like fan art, are a labor of love. For an author to hear that their work is so loved by a fan that it inspired them to start writing (especially a young fan who may be just starting to consider the idea of being an author) and to turn around a sue them for defamation is insulting to their audience. It can also be devastating to that individual, discouraging them from writing all together. Thus, not only has the author lost a fan, but the world may have lost a potential author. Authors and artists should be encouraging each other to be creative, to mess around, and to have fun while they practice, not tearing down a fan because they want to write about how Spock and Kirk are in love. This brings me to my last point.


Fanfiction is Important:

A lot of the backlash against fanfiction is because of something called slash fiction. The slash refers to a pairing of a couple separated with a slash in the typical notation (e.g. Spock/Kirk) and is more frequently used to describe a pairing which is homosexual in nature. As these pairs are typically non-canon, they are more likely to exist only in fanfiction. Why is there a backlash against this? Homophobia most likely. The idea of “changing” a character’s sexuality to pair them in a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex is offensive to some, either because they don’t like the idea of the character being non-straight or because they don’t like the idea of changing a canon trait of a character. The problem is, characters are typically assumed to be heterosexual unless specifically stated as otherwise. The fans which are writing slash fiction argue that just because a character is shown flirting with a female doesn’t mean that they aren’t into guys too. Bisexuality exists.

This is why fanfiction is important. It is a chance for representation. An individual experiences a character in media and they interpret them in a certain way, whether or not it was the way the author intended, and then they write fanfiction using this interpretation. This interpretation may be as a member of the LGTBQIA+ community, or as autistic, or as someone who is struggling with depression or PTSD. Fanfiction is a place for these personal interpretations to flourish so that others may find them. This allows a person who is confused about their sexuality or their mental health can find comfort in the idea that their favorite character from their favorite book or TV show may be the same as them.


Lately there has been a small surge of canon non-heterosexual relationships in mainstream media (outside of the sitcom genre) such as the lesbian pair Clarke/Lexa from The 100 and Magnus/Alec from Shadow Hunters, but this is still a relatively small portion of relationships (especially since they killed off Lexa). With so little representation for these types of characters out in the public, fanfiction is a space to explore these connections and to find like-minded people who just think that the two main male characters of the show happen to have more chemistry than the canon heterosexual romantic couple. And that is great. 

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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A Look At Alternate Writing Applications

Sometimes writing your novel takes a little more than a pen and paper or a blank word document. Luckily, there are many, many applications to help you get to the finish line. 


Organizational Apps:

There are other places to write than Microsoft word or Google docs. One of these options is Scrivener. Scrivener is a complete writing studio for research, organization, writing, editing, and more. It features a digital corkboard for organizing your notes by dragging and dropping index cards, a split screen mode for multi-taskers, and the ability to export your work to another processor or website for final formatting. Scrivener also gives the user access to templates for screenplays, non-fiction and fiction manuscripts, and ebooks.

Two other options, which are similar, are Q10 and Ulysses. Both offer personable writing environments and contain features like spellcheckers and statistic tracking. They also feature the option of typewriter sounds.  

For a simpler version, consider Hemingway. This site will keep track of things like your usage of adverbs and passive voice. It will also let you know your readability score and let you know if there are any phrases which are difficult to read. This application is also great for editing finished works by simply pasting them in.

Another application to consider for editing is ProWritingAid. This will double check for grammar mistakes, over used words, and clichés. It will also help to check for accidental plagiarism and look over your style and transitions. It can even help with alliteration.


Atmospheric Apps:

One of my favorite applications is Omnwriter. This application lets you pick your choice of calming background, ambient sounds, and color palettes as you write. It is beautiful to look at and leaves you feeling peaceful. My favorite feature is the rhythmic sounds attached to each letter you type. This application is most effective with the use of earphones/earbuds. You can save your work as a text document or Word document, as well as export it to PDF or email.



If you are looking to set a mood through the use of sound, there are many websites that provide ambient sounds. Asoftmurmur and Soundrown both allow the user to pick between a multitude of different ambient noises like rain, fire, and crickets. Rainymood has a website address, but also a phone application with more complex features is available for purchase. There is also a slew of similar phone apps available for free.

There are also full playlists of ambient sounds and soft background music available on Spotify. If you don’t want to shell out for Spotify Premium, you can use the advertisements as short breaks in between writing spurts.


Distraction Blocking Apps:

If you are writing on your personal computer, other tabs can be very detrimental to your focus. For those, like myself, who don’t have the self-discipline to stay off Facebook, there are quite a few applications that will force you to stay focused.

A good option is Cold Turkey. Cold Turkey can block you out of any websites you tell it to, or all websites except for the few you allow. It can even block you out of your whole computer if you want to remind yourself to get some fresh air or go read a book. You can schedule the times you want it to be active and it will keep track of your time. It also provides motivational quotes.

Another, perhaps slightly more intense, option is FocusMe. Similar to Cold Turkey, FocusMe will block websites and desktop applications, while allowing you to whitelist those you need. There is also the option to utilize the popular time management technique, the Pomodoro Technique. This application is serious about its job and cannot be circumvented by restarting your computer. You will be locked out until the time period of blocking has finished. You can even set FocusMe to protect itself from being uninstalled. Better be careful when you are setting your time limit.   

For Mac OS only, there is a similar application called SelfControl. This one, too, will not be swayed from its purpose if you restart or even delete the application. The skull on the logo is certainly ominous.    



For those who use Google Chrome there are many Chrome extensions which will provide a similar service. One of my favorites is StayFocused. Also, in most browsers it is possible to mute open tabs so that they can’t play alert sounds.


Word Count Encouraging Apps:


Sometimes you need a little push to get you to sit down and put some words on the page. Here are some of the applications I have come across that will encourage you to type, or else!

Write or Die is designed to either reward or punish, depending on if you are meeting your word count goals. There are a lot of different settings for this application and most have to do with a pairing of sounds and visuals. If you are writing quickly and reaching your goal then you are rewarded with positive calming sound and images like kittens purring and the ocean. You can even set a custom reward image so your reward can be your current celebrity crush. However, if you aren’t reaching your word count goal, you are punished by the screen turning a sickening red and filling with things like spiders, crying babies, and alarm bells. There is even an option called Kamikaze mode, which will start deleting your writing until you pick up the pace (yikes!).



A much more friendly word count based application is Written? Kitten! which will generate a picture of a kitten or similar animal for every 100 words written, because who doesn’t love small fluffy animals?

Another option is Fighter’s Block. This application is similar to an RPG styled flash game. You have to reach your chosen word count before your health bar drops to zero. When you win a round, you gain experience points and can eventually upgrade your fighter.



If none of these applications catch your eye, there are plenty more out there. Just ask around and do some searching until you find the one that works for you. 


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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What's the Deal with Show Don't Tell


It’s a phrase you’ve heard before: “Show don’t tell”. In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times that it has started to lose all meaning. You repeat the phrase in your head and try to apply it to your writing. You stare at the sentence you’ve just written in a numb state of confusion. Are you telling too much? Are you showing enough? Have you forgotten this golden standard? Did you ever really understand it in the first place?

We’ve all been there. There are many times when I’ve found myself questioning just how important it is to follow the rule of show don’t tell. And what even the difference is been showing and telling in writing to in the first place.

As far as I can tell, the rule of show don’t tell can be applied in two main ways: exposition and emotion.

For exposition, it is best to try to avoid info dumps. Try to integrate this into the story in a meaningful way instead. So, for example, if you find you have to explain the history of a fictional war, rather than simply listing what has happened so far, try to connect it to the plot that is naturally occurring as a part of your narrative. Maybe your character is on the run because they signed up with the rebellion. Make it personal and try to spread out the backstory through a longer period of action so the reader doesn’t get bored with a wall of text. Or, consider having the characters in the story discover the backstory along with the reader.

Perhaps things to avoid are characters who are introduced just to asked questions that the reader might have or characters who go on long monologues in which they tell their entire life story.

However, there are always exceptions to every rule and nearly the entire second scene of my favorite Shakespearean play, The Tempest, is character given exposition. The important thing is to ask yourself, am I boring or confusing my readers? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t beat yourself up over not adhering strictly to this rule.

The application of the show don’t tell rule for emotion in writing is a little bit more subtle. It has to do with not always straight out saying how a character is feeling, but instead, conveying it through description and actions. For example, rather than saying a character is upset, consider commenting on why they seem upset: they shuffle their feet or look at the floor, or how they close off their body protectively. These descriptions are more specific and concrete. Tangible actions are often more likely to resonate with the reader than abstract concepts like “upset”.

However, once again, there are always exceptions to this. Unless your character has a nervous habit of chewing their fingernails, you probably shouldn’t use this as a sign of nervousness every single time you want to convey that your character is nervous. It is okay to just say that they felt nervous. In fact, often, I find that you can both show and tell in the same sentence. For example: “She crumpled her napkin in her hand and looked about nervously.” The word “nervously” in this example is telling, while the rest is showing.

The best thing to do when it comes to the rule of show don’t tell is to not obsess over it, but to consider it more a helpful guideline.

It doesn’t hurt to consider it when writing because, in many cases, it can help you to fine tune your writing to the best version of itself. But, don’t force it just for the sake of following some kind of community imposed rule.

Still confused? Don’t worry. So is everyone else. Here are some more people talking about show don’t tell:


 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Ghostwriting: Not As Scary As It Sounds



Ghostwriters aren’t as scary or mysterious as their name makes them seem. Ghostwriters are hired to help with the production of a novel, articles, social media posts, or other pieces of writing. This can mean a few things:

        1.   The ghostwriter has been hired to take someone else’s ideas and write the work for them.

        2.   The ghostwriter has been hired to make significant changes to a rough draft beyond the level of a typical editor.

        3.   The ghostwriter has been hired by a company to produce a form letter, website, or similar piece.

        4.   The ghostwriter has been hired to write and publish their own ideas that will have someone else’s name on the work.

Ghostwriters are frequently hired to write the biographies of celebrities who do not have the ability to write their own work, be it due to skill level or time constraints. Due to the fact that their name is not credited as the author for their work, it is rare that a published work’s ghostwriter becomes known to the public. Additionally, often groups of ghostwriters work on one piece or one author’s collective work.

Some famous authors such as, Alexandre Dumas, Ian Fleming, R.L. Stine, Tom Clancy, L.J. Smith, Steven Spielberg, and many others, use ghostwriters. And many more are rumored to use or have used them, like Shakespeare and Stephen King. Sometimes, famous authors even do the ghostwriting themselves. For example, HP Lovecraft, author of Cthulhu, was a ghostwriter for magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.


If you want to be a ghostwriter:

There are a lot of ways to be a ghostwriter. One way is to be hired by an agency that specializes in ghostwriters, such as Arbor Services or Gotham Ghostwriters. There may also be a spot for you within a larger agency or publishing company. These companies will help to connect you to writers.

If you are looking to freelance ghostwrite, there are some sites where you can advertise yourself like Freelancer and Craigslist.

You can also seek out individuals who may be looking for ghostwriters in places like writer’s groups, Twitter and Facebook, and other social forums.


Pros and Cons:


·         You get experience in the field.

·         You get a chance to make connections in the field.

·         You get to know the “author” of the work really well. If they are famous they could be valuable!

·         You get paid for your work. Yay money!



·         It is easy to be taken advantage of, make sure you do your research on common prices for ghostwriting, which can vary widely. Consider asking for a royalty.

·         Despite it being your work, the “author” gets the final say on edits. Doesn’t seem fair, right?

·         You may get a small mention or you may get none. You won’t get credit for your work.

·         You will likely have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.


If you want to hire a ghostwriter:

There are a lot of reasons why you may wish to hire a ghostwriter, and needing to hire one is not something to be ashamed of. Lots of people use ghostwriters. If you want to find a ghostwriter, try some of the same links mentioned above for places that hire ghostwriters or advertise their services.

You could also see if you can find a literary agency or publisher that offers ghostwriting services or can connect you with a ghostwriter. You can put out your own ad on Facebook or Craigslist asking for a ghostwriter.  You can also just do a Google search to yield results.


Pros and Cons:


·         Great for a busy individual who has an idea they want to get out but no time to do it.

·         The ghostwriter is being paid to produce quality work, so you can trust that the writing will be good.

·         Ultimately, you get the final say on the drafts.



·         Ghostwriters can be expensive. If either you or your ghostwriter are high profile the price can be near to $200,000 a book.

·         You won’t get the experience of writing yourself nor learn how to for the future.

·         If you don’t credit your ghostwriter to begin with, and it comes out later that you used one, you can lose credibility with your audience. They can feel as though they have been lied to.



The use of a ghostwriter creates a strange partnership, one that is different for every author and writer. The culture around ghostwriters is always changing too, sometimes kept in the dark behind closed doors like a dirty secret, other times accepted wholeheartedly and given the credit due. Ultimately the connection between the two is a business partnership and, as such, ought to be treated fairly and honestly. Both parties should know what the other expects from them so no one gets cheated. 



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Deciding on an Editor

So you’ve finished your manuscript, you’ve written and rewritten, you’ve had beta readers test it, you’ve made every member of your family read it, and then you’ve rewritten it some more, what is the next step? A next step would be to consider looking for a good editor.


Before you begin your search, you need to decide what type of editor you need. There are two basic types of editors: Developmental and Copy. 

Developmental editors provide a more thorough examination of your manuscript. Their edits range from word choice and phrasing to major plot holes. These are the heavy edits that can lead to a major rewrite. These editors will, hopefully, have both your intended goals and audience in mind as well as professional standards and industry expectations. Since there is a chance that the manuscript will go through an overhaul after this editing session, it would make more sense to make use of a developmental editor before turning to a copy editor.

Copy editors are there to polish your piece. They will help with sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation and all those important nit-picky rules that readers care about. Grammar is hard! But luckily Copy Editors are there to help! They will also help you with some of the crucial details that lead to clarity in your writing like transitions, subject-verb agreement, slang and vernacular language, accuracy of references and footnotes, and errors in continuity, just to name a few. Additionally, they will make sure that your manuscript is formatted correctly (including those tricky running headers). It is those tasks that make a copy editor different from a proof reader, who will stick strictly to grammar and spelling.


Try an editor finding service:

There are a lot of services out there dedicated to matching editors to authors. Most of them are paid services, but this option may be worth the cost. They are often tied to reputable editors, agencies, publishers, and companies.

Here is a list of just a few that I found:


Try one of these lists of resources and editors:



Ask around. Pick the minds of other authors you know or join a writers group online and ask them where they found their editors. Read the bios and interviews of your favorite authors and see who their editor was and if you can find out how they were connected to them. You can even ask on twitter; there are a lot of authors and editors on Twitter.


Try googling:

No seriously! Never underestimate the power of google, but don’t just choose the first result the search engine spits out. Make sure to check reviews and make sure you have all the information you need before you decide that an editor is for you.



Pricing is really individualized per editor or editing service. Some editors charge a few cents per word, or a few dollars per thousand words, others by page count or by the hour. Some editors will offer to edit a few free pages so that you can get a feel for their services, but don't expect or rely on this, especially from busy or high-demand editors. Many of the editing services offer an individualized quote per project. As with all industry, the more prestigious the editor or editing service, the pricier it will be. You just have to decide whether that is worth it for you or not. The price may be an indication that the editor is in fact top notch, but you may find that a more reasonably priced editor just perfect for you.


You should also look and see what genres a potential editor is comfortable working in and see if you can find out which authors they have worked with in the past. The most important thing is choosing an editor who will give your manuscript their full effort and make sure it comes out as the best version of itself. 



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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An Introduction to Popular Self-Publishing Platforms

The idea of self-publishing your novel can be overwhelming, but it needn’t be. In fact, it is easier to self-publish these days, especially with the emergence of the Ebook and other forms of digital publication. Here are some of the more popular and user friendly Self-Publishing options out there right now:






Cost: Free

Royalty: up to 80% from Smashwords store, 60% from other retailers.

Distribution: Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Baker and Tayler, Browns Books for Students and more.


Pros: Tons of distribution to global retailers and libraries.

Cons: No print option available.


Create Space:



Cost: Pay for printing cost.

Royalty: Calculated by project (size of book, number of pages, color, etc).


Standard: Amazon US and Europe, Create Space Estore.

Expanded: Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Create Space Direct.


Pros: Books only printed on demand so no paying for printing without anyone buying the book. The expanded distribution option shows your book to distributors who may list your book on retail sites. Offers a lot of services to help you publish your book, including editing.

Cons: Books only printed on demand means that they won’t be distributed to stores in physical copy. Doesn’t seem to be an option to create an ebook on their site in the same way the others offer a unique service, but instead there is an option for kindle conversion for 79 dollars.




Print (plus free Ebook format):

Cost: Free for Lulu site, distribution fee for other sites.

Royalty: Retail price minus printing cost and LuLu Comission (20% of net revenue)

Distribution: Nook, iBook, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram.


Pros: A lot of information on this site to make sure all your questions are answered.

Cons: The commission price makes your royalties smaller.



Nook Press:



Cost: Free

Royalty: Up to 65%

Distribution: Barnes &Noble and NOOK.


Cost: Pay for printing cost which depends on the book’s specs.

Distribution: Barnes & Noble website and stores.


Pros: Easy to use! The website is user friendly and you can have your book published in under 48 hours. Nonexclusive agreement, you can publish elsewhere.

Cons: Seems like a small market of distribution.


Kindle Direct Publishing:


Cost: Free

Royalty: Up to 70%

Distribution: Amazon website globally.

Print: Pay for printing cost.

Royalty: Up to 60%

Distribution: Amazon website in US, Europe, and Japan.


Pros: Website has lots of information to make sure you know exactly what to expect. High royalties.

Cons: Only distributed online. Nonexclusive agreement, you can publish elsewhere. Though it offers a guide, you must have your manuscript formatted ahead of time. Only offers paperback print option.



Assisted Self-Publishing:


Archway Publishing:

Print (with Ebook included):

Cost: $2000-14000 depending on package. Also take 30% of royalties.

Royalty: 50% of retail cost minus production cost including Wholesale cost if applicable.

Distribution: Ingram, Amazon, Google, Kono, Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Noble, OverDrive.


Pros: Provided by Simon and Schuster, a reputable publisher. The packages come with a lot of resources and unique opportunities.

Cons: Expensive and a low royalty.



Print (with Ebook included):

Cost: $900-12000 depending on package.

Royalty: 10% of retail price, 25% of sales from AuthorHouse website, 50% of ebook sales.

Distribution: AuthorHouse site, Amazon, “other” retailers.

Pros: More affordable than Archway and their packages come with a lot of resources and unique opportunities as well (Including a trailer for your book at domestic movie theaters).

Cons: Low royalties. May take four weeks or more to be listed on retail sites like Amazon.





BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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How To Pitch A Non-Fiction Book

If you working on or planning a non-fiction book, here are some tips on how to pitch!




Unlike in fiction writing, you don’t have to have a complete manuscript to pitch your book; the important thing is your proposal. The proposal is what you will present to a potential editor, agent, or publisher. A good proposal should have the following:


Your title:


The title of your work should, in many ways, speak for itself. The title needs to give the reader a sense of your work in order to inspire them to read it, it also needs to inspire your potential editor/agent/publisher to agree to work with you.


1-3 sentences about your topic:


Following the title should be a brief description of your work, highlighting its unique-ness. This should include the primary theme of the work and why it is invaluable to the reader.


Your platform/audience:


Take the time to specify who the audience of your book will be. These are the demographics that your book’s topic will appeal to and why.




Slightly different than the previous section, this section is about what makes your book marketable and what you plan to do for the promotion of the book. Why will people buy your book? If you are an expert in your topic, have a platform all ready, or have connections (press, bookstores, etc.) on where to promote after it has been published, be sure to to include this information.


Comparable and competing titles:


Throw out some titles of other works that are similar to yours to give the potential editor/agent/publisher an idea of what they are getting into, but at the same explain why your novel is special and, in fact, superior to these works.




This should include the format and length of your book as well as a planned date of completion for the project.


A sample chapter:


Include a sample chapter of your work, if you have a chapter written.


Here are some resources for non-fiction editors:


Here are some resources for non-fiction agents:


Here are some resources for non-fiction publishers:


Make sure you check the submission guidelines for the editor/agent/publisher you are submitting to, because they may have other specific requirements. If these links aren’t enough, remember to check your bookshelf. The publishers of some of the books you like might be a good fit for you too. If you are having a hard time, consider revising your proposal, or even your approach to your topic. Additionally, there is always the option to self-publish.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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The best deadline for finishing a first draft: A baby

For those of you who have read past posts know, I have felt a direct link between my writer's block and my fertility issues the last five years. Five years. Yes, that's right. Or four and a half years if I'm getting technical, but I feel like rounding up.

During the first two years of trying to have a baby, I was still writing almost every day. I took up writing fiction for the first time (after primarily being a playwright), was in a thriving writer's group that I started, and launched BookHive. Somewhere in the third year after I had an ectopic pregnancy after my first try with IVF, the flow of writing started to peter out. I remember being pregnant and going to this new writer's group in Astoria where we met at a public eatery. One time I asked the woman behind the counter about the cheese that was in the soup. (Was it safe? I was pregnant, you know). After the pregnancy was discovered to be ectopic at six weeks and I had emergency surgery, a few weeks later I went back to the writer's group. Unlike previous writer's groups, these people weren't my friends, but fantastic writers with a shared goal to write. No one knew what had happened. It was liberating for them not to know. I ordered that soup again with the cheese in it. Of course by then, I no longer had a concern about it.

This all happened in September. While I did continue to revise the piece that I was working on until early April, somewhere in May I stopped writing. Nothing dramatic happened. It could have been that the trauma of it all was sinking in. I did another round of IVF during this time. It didn't work. Each month was met with a set of expectations and disappointments. I didn't realize how long the break would end up being. At first it was a month, then two, then...a year?

In the period I wasn't writing, I did a third round of IVF in October and it didn't work. We had one embryo left. We tried again with our last embryo in January and this time I had a lengthy miscarriage. The doctors wanted to hope that maybe that spec on the screen would turn out all right. So we waited. But it wasn't all right. I had my second D&C and was so blown out emotionally, I can't really put it into words.

But wait, you're like, this is supposed to be a happy post, isn't it? OK, yes, here it is. I should have made the announcement earlier:


Here's the obligatory iPhone selfie in the mirror.

QueenBee Jennifer Bowen - pregnant, yo!

I'd like to first acknowledge how lucky I was to do IVF. We started at a clinic that offered grants based on income, so the first few rounds were affordable in the scheme of things. I also think if you want a child, no matter what you look like or where you come from, the inability to get there is a universal pain that can level anyone. 

Having the ectopic pregnancy really changed who I am. In general, I am an optimistic person. Still am for the most part. If anything, it shaped my current world view that there is a lot of beauty and synchronicity in the world, but also a lot of randomness and pain. Before the ectopic, I saw life more as the former. I don't feel bad that I am different. If anything, it has opened my eyes to be grateful for everything I do have. It also makes me more sensitive to the many different ways people suffer. 

It's a strange experience to have emergency surgery. We live in New York City. So for us it was being told to take a cab, not the subway, to the emergency room. We made horrible phone calls to loved ones who had been so happy for us a few weeks earlier. They kept checking on my internal bleeding to ensure it wasn't going too awry. I had eaten that morning (before I knew) so they wanted my food to digest a few hours before putting me under. There were at least fifteen people in the room where I had the surgery. I wear contacts and they make you take them out before surgery. I remember laying on my back, not able to really see anything, and as they started the anesthesia, I thought of the ocean in my hometown of Half Moon Bay, California. A shimmering endless sea, something bigger than me, was what I concentrated on as I closed my eyes. It was my version of a prayer. 

After the last embryo didn't work, I wrote a blog about how to beat writer's block. That kickstarted my writing. I took one last stab at the project I abandoned a year back. I noticed then that my writing process had changed. I no longer had an endless, daily free flow of words. It came in fits and starts. I pushed through. By summers end I re-tested my book through BookHive and received pretty positive results. Something though was telling me to put it aside.

During that summer we were trying to decide what the hell to do on the baby front. I think I cried almost every day the month of June after my miscarriage finally ended. By July, we decided to try a new fertility clinic and give it one more try. By October, everything was on the right path and it seemed this time we might just succeed. That same month I started a fiction class at Sackett Street Writers in Brooklyn. Something in me wanted to write a brand new piece.

I wrote a play a few years back that I really loved and spent two years developing through my theater company InViolet. The story of it was inspired after I watched the film Stoker by director Park Chan-wook. I thought there was more to mine there and that it could be a book. My previous fiction piece had been Young Adult, and this was definitely not going to be that (based on some of the themes). In the eight week class, I worked on the first two chapters. 

The class ended and I remember my teacher walking me out of the funky art class room where we met and she said something encouraging and that I should really keep going. It meant a lot to me. 

A week later we had an embryo transfer.

A few weeks later, I was told I was pregnant, two weeks before Christmas. 

From the get go, all signs appeared to say that this was going to work. My hcg numbers were high, the little sucker was in the right place (my uterus!) and I felt a distinct sensation when she was settling into my body like a needle being thread and pulled.

Yes, I am having a girl.

Again, it's hard to explain what it's like for doctors visits to go well vs. not going well after being at it for years. We chose to tell people slowly, one on one, and the reaction was always pretty incredible. This was a hard process on many of our friends and family, especially my parents. As their only child, I know it was heart wrenching to see us go through this year after year. 

I am now 28 weeks pregnant and due in early August. I kept working on what I started in the fiction class and am up to 65,000 words, aiming for 80,000 (a first draft) before the birth.

First draft in progress: My Grief is Golden and True 

My psyche shifted when I became pregnant. I still had my fits and starts with writing this new piece, but didn't sweat it. I don't think creativity should always be easy. Sometimes it can be, of course. Then sometimes you need to face the terror of not knowing how to take the next step forward. That's what opened my imagination to the next character turn, next scene. When I felt I was going too long between writing sessions, I'd tell myself: Just write something. Anything. Even if it's bad. Just try. This pushed me over the hump many times.

Before I go any further, I need to acknowledge my stellar husband Garrett. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. We've been together almost ten years. When I look at pictures of us when we first met, we look so young! There's a mystery to a life shared. To say I love him, or that he loves me doesn't quite cut it. Again, some things you can't put into words. 

Everything my husband and I have been through has changed us, changed me, and as a result, changed my writing. I fully embrace that life is messy. I also think it takes work to keep yourself balanced and aligned. The last five years knocked me off my center at times, but I learned how to find my way back. My mother remarked that I am very resilient. That's one of the best compliments I've ever received. 

The writing is going well. In a month or so I should have my first draft. I've never had more fun writing something or felt more connected to a source which kept the story going (if you believe in such things). For me having a baby is a radical life change and we can't wait for it. We'll see where the book lands eventually. I have a few dedications in mind already (my parents, Garrett) and of course to the little girl inside me who was with me almost the whole time I conceived it. 


Jennifer Bowen, Queen Bee (more fun than CEO), of BookHive Corp.


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds),

YA/Middle Grade, Children's Books & Memoir manuscripts.


$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback.



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BookHive Author Steven Mayfield Signs with Jody Rein Agency

Steven Mayfield, author of Delphic Oracle U.S.A and looking to publish his new novel The Treasure of the Blue Whale, both of which were tested at BookHive, has just signed with Jody Rein Agency! Today he answers some questions for BookHive about this exciting new development.


KB: What do you feel are the advantages of signing with an agent?


SM: The obvious advantage is a much larger foot in the door of big publishing houses or those smaller presses that won’t read unsolicited admissions. For me, it offered an opportunity for an expanded readership as well as guidance through the maze of the industry by someone who knows her/his way around. However, with Jody I gained much more. She spent nearly a year with me in an editorial role and the book is so much better for her efforts.


KB: How did you find the Jody Rein Agency and why did you pick that particular agency?


SM: I connected with Jody at the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference. Like many conferences, they have “pitch” sessions with agents.  I wrote “The Treasure of the Blue Whale” over two months at the end of 2015 thinking I’d self-publish, but after hiring Jennifer Bowen and BookHive to provide feedback, felt the book had some legs and decided to pitch it. Jody was sitting at her table at one of the pitch sessions while I was in a line at the next one. I hadn’t planned pitching to her as she focuses on non-fiction. However, she looked like a really nice person and I said so. She invited me to pitch my book. Informed that it was fiction, she said, “That’s okay. Pitch it anyway.” I did and she requested a full copy of the manuscript. A few weeks later her assistant contacted me; Jody a month or so afterward. She liked the book but felt it needed work. She was right. We went through several drafts together over the next year, and earlier this month, she sent me an agency contract. I was thrilled, but even if she’d declined to represent me I would have been grateful. Jody was a senior editor at Random House and knows what she’s doing. She kept pushing and I tried hard to listen. Many of her suggestions didn’t fly with me at first blush. However, I eventually caved in, and in every case, her advice was dead-on and the book got better.


KB: Could you tell us a bit about your editing process leading up to signing with Jody Rein?


SM: I worked as an editor and can do a good deal of the line and copy editing myself. However, I’m blind to things in my own work that an outside editor can quickly discern.  In a previous book, still in revision, “Delphic Oracle U.S.A.,” I worked with Mary Rakow — the editor, teacher, and marvelous novelist — whom I met at the 2015 SF Writers Conference. I gave her a 185,000 word monstrosity that is presently around 88,000 words. I did virtually all the cutting, but Mary took full responsibility for writing “I’m drifting” in the margin of page after page until I got it through my thick skull. With “The Treasure of the Blue Whale” I went first to my wife, Pam, who suffered through the first drafts of one or two chapters at a time. I trust her judgment as a reader and revised accordingly. Next I used my writing group. We’ve been together a long time and understand that feedback is not turning someone else’s work into one’s own work. They were terrific; indeed my friend Leslie Gunnerson has read “Blue Whale” so many times it’s likely been committed to memory. Before pitching the book to Jody, I ran it through BookHive. They’d helped me with the shorter version of “Delphic Oracle U.S.A.” and I found their input invaluable. Since then, the editing has been a collaboration with Jody.  Each step of that process as described produced changes.


KB: Any advice for those looking to get a book published?


SM: Any advice I’d offer would be utter hubris. I’ll quote Mark Coker from Smashwords: “First, write a good book.” Actually, I do have some advice: Listen to people in the industry — agents, editors, publishers. They’re not the enemy. They like writers.


KB: What is your personal writing process like?


SM: When writing new copy I try to get something done every day. I revise what I wrote the previous day before adding new words. I don’t try to push if it’s not coming, but can usually get 250-500 new words even on a bad day, 3000 on a good one. Using that approach I typically average about 1000 useable words/day over the course of a first draft. Line editing is fun. I smooth out the speed bumps that slipped through on second and third drafts. However, the developmental editing that precedes line editing is tough. The sheer volume of work is daunting and makes one prone to procrastination. I tend to go off on tangents in first drafts, which means I have to kill a lot of my babies. It’s become easier since I read Norman Mailer’s last book The Castle in the Forest where he goes off-track for a hundred pages or so of nebulously related Russian history. It encouraged me to cut my own tangential narratives, as I shouldn’t pull the crap Norman Mailer did unless I win a Pulitzer or get nominated for the Nobel Prize. Neither occurrence is likely, and thus, the Delete key remains my best friend.


KB: Could you tell us a bit about the book you’re working on with your agent?


SM: “The Treasure of the Blue Whale” takes place in 1934 and is about a huge, mysterious, stinking mass that washes onto the beach of a small Northern California coastal village. It is thought to be whale ambergris, a compound prized by perfumers of that time and very rare, selling for as much as $1800/ounce. The specimen discovered by ten year old Connor O’Halloran weighs nearly 1000 pounds and Connor decides to share the treasure with the entire town. With the Great Depression in full force, this makes the townsfolk rich beyond their wildest imaginations. Subsequently, as negotiations with perfumers proceed, they impulsively borrow money from a local financier of questionable repute — Cyrus Dinkle — using their ambergris shares as collateral.  Dinkle is a swindler and has written language into the loan agreements that will allow him to steal their ambergris shares after ninety days. However, no one in town fully reads the contracts and a buying frenzy ensues that includes purchases of a monkey, a porcelain commode with a jeweled seat cover, a couple of genuinely fake rare documents, and a mail-order bride. Several weeks after Connor finds the ambergris, the town leaders discover their treasure to be mostly a mixture of sewage, lard, and sawdust thrown off a Portuguese freighter, the Baleia Azul (translation: Blue Whale). Most in town are heavily indebted to Dinkle by then and face financial ruin should the old scoundrel discover the truth.  So the town’s leaders and Connor devise a plan to trick Dinkle into confiscating the ambergris shares as he’d planned, making the borrowers whole while swindling the swindler. The book is a seriocomic satire with coming-of-age elements, the story told by ninety-one year old Connor, recalling the events of that long ago summer when he was ten years old.


KB: Any noteworthy differences in the writing process for this book versus your other work?


SM: As mentioned, Jody Rein was a huge contributor to the process. She kept gently nudging me into giving her “More” and the book went from novella to novel as a result. More important, her attention to detail forced me to more diligently examine the interior logic. Last and best of all, she gave me permission to be a little tangential in fleshing out the characters — making them live on the page as people rather than furniture.


KB: You tested this book with BookHive. How did you like the Beta Reading process? Did you find it helpful?


SM: I’m a huge Jennifer Bowen and BookHive advocate. I’ve used them for two books and found the process immensely helpful and encouraging in both cases. Jennifer makes good on every promise stated on the website and both the objective and subjective aspects of her report were terrific. I got pretty good reviews, but as one should expect, not everyone in the focus groups liked a given book. I found that comforting. Had every reader offered a glowing endorsement, one would have to wonder if the service was simply trolling for users. BookHive isn’t. It’s legit and I encourage writers, and agents for that matter, to try it out.



Thank you to Steven Mayfield for his thoughtful responses and his continued support for BookHive.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.




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LGTBQIA+ Publishers: Navigating a Niche Market

Despite the large steps that have been taken towards equality in the last few years, the LGBTQIA+ market is still considered a niche one in the world of literature. Often taking up only a small section of the bookstore, books in the LGTBQIA+ genre don’t often get a fair share of attention. But beyond that, it can even be difficult to get an LGTBQIA+ book published to begin with. Luckily, some publishers have stepped up to fill this gap. Here is a look at just some of the publishing options for LGTBQIA+ literature, whether you are looking to publish or just looking for a good read.



Less Than Three:



A distributor of both print and ebooks, Less Than Three Press describes themselves as being “found wherever romance writers linger.” This site is focused on LGTBQIA+ romances, especially those that end in a happy ending. In fact, they only accept happy endings. They also do not publish Young Adult (YA) literature or poetry.


Search the site by identity or by print type. They have ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks, comics, and French and Spanish titles. Something to note is that Less Than Three Press does not require first publication rights. If your publication rights have been returned to you you are eligible to submit to them.


Lethe Press:


The five times winner of the Lambda Literary Award for the LGBT Speculative Fiction category. Named after the Greek river of memory and forgetfulness, Lethe Press is "devoted to ideas that are often neglected or forgotten by mainstream publishers.” This publisher has a much wider collection of genres including horror, mythology, and poetry.  


You can purchase their titles directly from their site or follow their links to support local or gay bookstores. If you would like to submit a manuscript to Lethe Press, keep in mind that they prefer manuscripts that are 45,000 words to 135,000 words


Bold Strokes Books:


Bold Strokes has many, many titles available at reasonable prices and most of their books come in ebook and paperback form. This publisher also has a focus on Lesbian fiction which is notable, seeing as it gets its own special category separate from the other “GBT” fiction.


Bold Strokes promises that each manuscript is individually evaluated for style, genre requirements, content, and more, in order to make sure that the work is the strongest it can be. They will also provide social media promotion and their books are shipped to bookstores worldwide.


Riptide Publishing:


Launched in 2011, Riptide Publishing is dedicated to a more personal relationship between author and publisher. They promise that they have no quotas and instead treat each author and each work with care. Originally an invitation-only press, they have now opened up their submissions box. And, you do not need an agent to submit to them. Their main branch has a focus on romance and erotica genres, while their imprints are focused on YA, literary fiction, and upmarket fiction.


Interlude Press:



Interlude Press is an LGTBQIA+ publisher which was originally inspired by fanfiction authors their works. A labor of love, Interlude is “dedicated to publishing exceptional content, promoting talented authors of fan works to a broader audience, and developing a reader-author community modeled after the best of online fan culture.” This connection to the world of fan works makes this publisher particularly friendly to younger/newer authors who may already have experience with the world of fanfiction. You do, however, still have to come up with an original novel and change all trademarked material if you are submitting a modified fan work. But, hopefully that would be obvious.


Both print and ebooks are available on their site. They also have wholesale options available for retailers and libraries.


If you want to learn about more LGTBQIA+ literary resources, there is also a site called Lambda Literary which has a list of LGTBQIA+ friendly publishers and booksellers which is a valuable resource.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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A Unique Point of View: a guide to POV

“I am writing a book.”

“You are writing a book.”

“She is writing a book.”


All of these phrases are telling the same story, a book is being written by someone, but they sound very different and evoke a different response. These are the options that an author has when deciding from which point of view their novel will be written. To help with this decision making process, here is a quick overview of your choices.


1st Person:


First person point of view means that the narrative is told using the pronoun I and is limited to the experiences of one character.



“I went there…”

“I sing…”

“I write…”


This POV is good for letting your readers really get to know your main character because the only thoughts they receive are those of this character. First person stories read similarly to a diary and your reader has to trust that your character is telling the story as accurately as possible. This is a good choice if you are planning on taking advantage of the unreliable character trope. It has recently become popular in the Young Adult genre.


One of the difficulties of writing in this POV is that you are restricted to the one character and can’t switch between characters. To get around this some authors utilize multiple point of view switching. Usually separated by chapter breaks, this style of first person switches between the point of views of a handful of characters in order to provide more context or opinions. However, this style has to be carefully navigated or the switching can confuse the reader.


Some examples of books that are in 1st person:


The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer


3rd Person:


Third person point of view is outside of the characters in the book. The novel is told about them rather than by them.



“She goes here…”

“He walked…”

“They open it…”


This is one of the most popular point of views in literature. There are two forms of third person: Limited and Omniscient. The limited form of this POV focuses on the thoughts and experiences of one or two people, usually following the main characters closely, with very few cut aways to elsewhere. The omniscient form has more freedom and means that the author can take the story anywhere. The thoughts of all the characters, even the thoughts of a cat or a baby, for example, can be shared with the reader. This form of POV is ideal if your novel has a lot of different events happening in different locations at the same time.


A potential downside of this form in that it can make it harder for the reader to feel close to the characters on a personal level, especially if there are a lot of characters. Also, for unpracticed writers it is more familiar to write in first person and may accidentally slip into it mid-writing process without noticing.


Some examples of books in 3rd person:


Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card

Maze Runner - James Dashner

Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

2nd Person:


Second person is one of the less popular point of view to use. This POV takes on the voice of a narrator who is telling the story of the reader’s own actions and experiences.




“You enter the door…”

“You went that way…”

“You need to think…”


Second person is most popular in the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure genre. Though it also appears frequently in short stories and poetry. It is less common in novel form, but that isn’t to say that such novels don’t exist.


There is usually a more distinct purpose for using this POV than the others. Second person has a very strong effect on the reader because it addresses them directly. As such, it can sometimes make the reader uncomfortable. If you want that effect, second person is the perfect POV to use. A modified version of Second Person was used by Mohsin Hamid in his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist where the first person narrator address the reader as “you” directly.  


Some examples of books in 2nd person:


If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler - Italo Calvino

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor - Lucy Christopher

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback.






Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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How to Pitch a Children's Book




So you want to publish a Children’s book, but you aren’t sure how to go about it? To aid you in your process, here are some of the basic steps you will need to take to get your book out there.



Step 1: Consider an Agent.


While it is not necessary to get an agent to represent you, an agent can find you a publisher with more ease than probably you can. Do some research and find the agent that works for you.


Some sources to look for agents that specialize in Children’s Books:


But make sure you find an agent who is passionate about your book, first and foremost.


Step 2: Polish Your Manuscript.


Just because a children’s book has less words doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put just as much effort into your manuscript. Take your time and make sure it is ready to go. Don’t make your own illustrations, leave that up to a professional illustrator (unless you are one).


Step 3: Find a Publisher.


If you do choose to work with an agent, they will be largely responsible for finding and submitting to a publisher. If not, do research to find some potential publishers. This doesn’t just mean going straight to the most well known ones. Find some children’s books that you like and make note of their publishers. You are trying to find the right fit for you. Consider submitting to a small or medium sized press.


Check out this link with a list of publishers accepting queries from authors directly:



Step 4: Contacting the Publisher.


When contacting a publisher, you will likely be asked to send a query/cover letter and a CV with relevant information. Send a plot synopsis and break-down if requested. Don’t send a full manuscript until they ask for it. Make sure the manuscript is clean. All notes should be separate, organized, and relevant.


Step 5: What to Do Next.


A publisher may ask for revisions before agreeing to work with you. The same with any publisher you are deciding on, it is up to you to decide if this is something you want to do. It is always your prerogative as the author to say no and seek another place to publish. It’s your book.


Step 6: Repeat.


Keep sending your stuff out until you find the publisher that is the right fit for you. They will (most likely) provide an illustrator for you. If you don't have luck finding an agent or publisher, take the time to do another round of edits and then try again.

Alternative Route: Self-Publishing


Step 1: Find a self-publishing option.


Once again, DO YOUR RESEARCH. There are a lot of ways to self-publish, including services and ebook options. The important thing is to be careful not to get scammed or to lose your rights to your work. See what kind of PR these options get and how much it will cost you out of pocket to spread the word about your book.


Step 2: Know What is Required.


Make sure you know what format your book will be in based on the option of self-publishing you chose, especially before finding an illustrator.  


Step 3: Marketing.


Self-Publishing means that you will likely have to do a lot more marketing to get your book spread and read.



A targeted Facebook advertisement.

A linkable blog or website with a clean design.

Hiring a book publicist before the launch of the book.


Other Tips:


  • The size and format of your book will most likely be determined by the publisher, so don't stress the details too much.
  • Don’t bother describing the illustrations either. If there is a specific scene you really want done one way, send this to the illustrator once they are picked, rather than to the publisher when you are pitching.
  • The average word count for a children’s book can vary between 200-700 words, but some early reader books can reasonably have a word count over 1k.
  • If you are an illustrator, put together a portfolio and seek out a publisher rather than an individual author.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback.






Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Typical Word Count by Genre: A Guide

Advice that you hear often when writing a book (or a school paper) is that “It should be is as long as it needs to be.” This is a lovely idea, which in many aspects holds true, but often there is a word count that is expected and accepted by the general public when they pick up a piece of prose.



Today we take a look at some of the typical word counts for a few of the larger genres in literature.




Upmarket fiction/Adult fiction: 80-120k


This genre is in fact a larger umbrella term which encompasses both Literary and Commercial works of fiction. This genre not only has a wide range of diversity in topics but in word counts as well. Some books in this genre sit at about 80-90k words but some tip over the 100k mark such as The Help, Kite Runner, and Water for Elephants.  



Memoirs: 70-95k


A literary take on an autobiography, memoirs’ lengths are often defined by the events they contain. However, it is entirely possible that a person’s whole life may take the same amount of pages as a few weeks in another person’s life when in memoir form, and be just as interesting to read about.


The typical amount of words for a memoir tends to be between 70 and 95k, but obviously there are exceptions to every rule and some are much longer or much shorter (often taking the form of a short story). Girl, Interrupted, for example, is just shy of 60k words.



Fantasy/Science Fiction: 120k+


Works of Fantasy and Science Fiction tend to have slightly higher word counts than other types of fiction. This is because often these works fall into what can be considered an epic or a saga. For examples of this, think of the Lord of the Rings series which clock in at roughly 130-190k words per book, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon which has just under 295k words, or George R. R. Martin’s hefty A Song of Ice and Fire series which are each about 300-400k a piece.



These are extreme examples, but it is considered common for books in this genre to have a word count above 120k. When this genre is a subgenre of the YA (Young Adult) fiction genre, it still follows this trend. Four out of the seven Harry Potter books were over 160k words and the word count of the Twilight saga ranges from around 120-190k.


Mystery: 60k+


Mystery novels seem to be following two trends: The Fast-Paced Noir and the Political Conspiracy. These two types tend to vary from each other a lot in word count. The Noirs tend to be shorter, clocking in at about 60-85k words. And examples of this is the classic novel, The Maltese Falcon.


For the Political Conspiracy or Historical Mystery style novel, the word count can be much higher. Look, for example, at Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code which has approximately 140k words or the Tom Clancy series which range from 160-460k words.


Of course, there are still books which straddle this distinction, like James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider which sits comfortably in the gap with right around 100k words.



Horror: 100-150k


Horror can often take the form of a short story, meaning that it’s word count would be closer to 5-6k. A short story is classified as under 7.5k whereas novelettes and novellas can be between there and under 40k.


However, when most people think of horror stories, their mind jumps to Stephen King. His novels are in no way novellas or short stories. His books range from 80k to 200k. So, 100-150k is a good range to aim for when writing horror.



Children’s books: 500-700


Children's books typically have illustrations, which means that the number of pictures and pages is more often what is tracked, rather than the word count. But, most would pin it down to roughly 500-700 words for a kid’s picture book, and under 2k for beginner chapter books. The younger the age demographic the fewer the words, for example The Very Hungry Caterpillar and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie both have over 200 words but under 300 words, whereas Green Eggs and Ham has 760 words, and the books in the Amelia Bedelia series have a word count around 1.6k.




Middle grade: 4-50k


These books are aimed at children and teens from upper Elementary School through even as far as the first year of high school. Because this is such a large range, there is a large range of word counts as well. For those aimed at slightly younger readers an author may aim for 4k to 15k. An example of this demographic is the Magic Tree House Series. For an older demographic the word count will likely be closer to that of an YA or adult novel, up towards 20-50k, with the difference instead coming from the book’s topic.



Young Adult Fiction: 60-100k


YA novels are aimed at those in upper middle school all the way through college (though they may equally be enjoyed by adults). Examples of YA are books like The Fault in our Stars, The Hunger Games, Twilight, and The Mortal Instrument Series. These books are between approximately 60 and 120k words.  


A popular trend to note in the YA genre is the idea that readers of a series age as the books release, so often the novel difficulty, complexity, and size age up along with them. The first Harry Potter book is only around 77k while the 5th book is 250k, the first of the Pendragon series by D. J. MacHale is approximately 117k and the last book is over 160k, and the first of L.J Smith’s The Vampire Diaries is 55k whereas the last book in its sequel series The Return is closer to 125k. This is true for books aimed for a slightly younger age too, the first of A Series of Unfortunate Events has just over 24k and the final book in the series has around twice as many words.






There is nothing wrong with aiming for a certain word count when writing a novel, to help you keep on track, to make your work more marketable, or for whatever the reason. But, don’t get too caught up on the numbers. For every Stephen King writing 100k words there is an Edgar Ellen Poe writing an equally as chilling short story.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback.





Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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