AutPress- Bookshelf

Need Some Real Experts on Autism? Turn to AutPress

When search for reliable, trustworthy resources, they often discover that it’s easy to be inundated with tons of bad advice and flat-out prejudice. Fortunately, Autonomous Press is one of the top publishers online transforming the landscape when it comes to autism. Three of our bestselling books are perfect guides to help you better understand your autistic kids and provide an environment in which they can grow up happy and healthy.

Guides to Autism, Written by Autistics

Parents of autistic children turn to The Real Experts for practical and sage advice. As a collection of essays written by autistic adults, this book contains insight from individuals who in every way, shape and form are like the autistic kids growing up in this modern era. This book features insider wisdom and accounts from respected activists like Amy Sequenzia and Neurodivergent K and autistic parents such as Morénike Giwa Onaiwu and Nick Walker. In The Real Experts, you’ll read firsthand what helped these individuals thrive.

The ABCs of Autism Acceptance

Do you wish you had a 101-style introduction to issues that matter to your autistic child? The ABCs of Autism Acceptance is the ideal primer for parents of autistic children. Author Max Sparrow (writing as Sparrow Rose Jones) challenges the ways in which autism is conventionally viewed with essays on topics ranging literally from A to Z. From an insightful look at autistic culture to revealing typical barriers neurodivergent folk face in their daily lives, Sparrow offers analysis, detailed research, witnessing from the testimonies of other autistics and even anecdotes from his own life.

A Groundbreaking Book on Typed Communication

At AutPress, part of our innovative approach centers on neurodivergent people’s lived experiences. That’s been true since our founding in 2015 and began with our first round of titles, which included the groundbreaking Typed Words, Loud Voices. Parents of autistic children who type to talk will appreciate this book, which is the first and only anthology of its kind features essays from people using this method to communicate. Dispelling the common misconception that their words are not their own, these individuals disclose stunning inner worlds of thought frequently discredited by detractors of facilitated communication and so-called “autism” experts, and ignored by mainstream media.

As you might have already discovered, many of the self-proclaimed experts on the subject are not autistic themselves, yet rely on faulty information and flawed research. If you’ve been bombarded by frightening and harmful misinformation, you might feel confused and worried for your child’s future. Thankfully, AutPress is here to help with books like The Real Experts, The ABCs of Autism and Typed Words, Loud Voices. Visit our AutPress store today to bring these valuable resources into your library.

AutPress- For Writers

AutPress: Where Writers Get Paid for Their Work

If you’ve ever searched for mainstream or indie publishers that are also paying outlets for writers, you already know how difficult it can be to receive fair compensation for the labor and creative efforts you’ve put into crafting your fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir, or nonfiction pieces. At Autonomous Press, we’re not only changing the game by the books that we offer to our readership, but also by what we offer to our authors. With a business model that’s drastically different than other publishing houses, we set ourselves apart from the rest of the industry.

How Is AutPress Different From the Rest?

 There’s one major difference between AutPress and other indie publishers that we’d like to call attention to straightaway: One of our central focuses is on compensating writers. It’s part of our total plan to revolutionize publishing, which also includes uplifting marginalized voices that are underrepresented in mainstream media. We want work that pushes boundaries and ventures outside conventional genre norms. In short, we’re looking for unique, untold stories that demand an audience, along with storytellers willing to craft them into self-contained universes and receive royalties for doing so.

How’s that for a fancy way to say, “Get paid for writing fiction”?

Speaking of Writing Fiction….

 Fiction’s not the only type of work we want from aspiring writers seeking indie publishers, but you’re going to see a lot of it released by AutPress in the coming months. On deck for our extravaganza of deliciously weird fiction this autumn we’ve got Verity Reynolds’ sci-fi novel Nantais that’s packed with a rogue computer virus, a search for a missing child and an interstellar plaque that could wipe out an entire alien species. Coming up we’ve also got Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, a science fiction novel by Dora Raymaker, and Monsters in My Mind, a mind-bending collection of fiction and poetry by Ada Hoffman. Keep an eye out for these titles in the AutPress store.

Come Join Our Revolution, Comrades

You’ve now seen three reasons why we’re unlike any other indie publishers in existence. We not only center the voices or marginalized people but we also pay them for their work. Moreover, we love material that’s engaging, innovative, weird and just plain fun to read. That’s a major departure from many media and publishing companies, and we’re glad to be a standout from the pack.

stack of blue hardcover books

4 Things You Can Do to Help Your Favorite Author Succeed

Following a favorite writer can be hard on a fan. Often, it’s years between books, and even when a writer is as prolific as possible, it can be hard to find people to connect with unless there’s already a broad base of fans. That means your favorite funky sci-fi series might just have to be enjoyed in solitude. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to connect your favorite authors to your social media following. There are also a couple of great ways you can help promote a writer’s work so that more people will see it. None of them take very long, and when fans get active about promoting the books they love, it provides opportunities and leads to others who are looking for their next great read.

Since publishing companies base their release schedules and their future book contract offers on the sales of individual books, promoting your favorite writer isn’t just a way to share the love. It’s also one of the best ways to make sure the author will be able to continue doing good work. Here are four things we encourage every Autonomous Press fan to do when they want to help encourage our authors.

1. Review the Book

You don’t need to be a professional writer to put together a review for your favorite book. In fact, you don’t have to write more than a sentence if you don’t want to. Doing something as simple as going to the Amazon page for a book you love and leaving a four or five star review with a statement like “This book changed my life and made me a fan of all this author’s work” is enough. See, the major bookselling sites like Amazon recommend books based on past readers, reviewer social networks, and the number of reviews it has received. Whenever you leave a review, it helps those numbers.

If you want to go a little farther, leaving three or four paragraphs will let you show people why they should love the book. Make sure you give a brief summary of the plot, compare it to one or two other similar works, and provide clear explanations for the things you like about the book. If you do that, then you will be able to sway readers who might be on the fence. You will also be able to get more traction out of your review, because on top of being great for Amazon, it will also be a great fit for book loving social networks like Goodreads.

If you blog at all, then you might want to consider posting a blog about the book. If you do, make sure you link to the writer’s page and to a place where people can buy the book. This does a few things:

  • It helps your review show up when people search for the writer or places to buy the book
  • It helps the writer find your review for their own promotional purposes
  • You provide the book wider traction on search sites by making sure it is mentioned on more websites

2. Suggest the Book to Other Reviewers

OK, so you might have a book blog or a Goodreads account, but chances are that unless you’re a journalist or an aspiring author yourself, you probably don’t have access to a large platform for your reviews. That’s OK, though. You can suggest books to reviewers with larger platforms than yourself, too. Sometimes they will post threads on their venues asking for suggestions, and that is your opportunity to get in there and make a suggestion. It can also be helpful to drop notes or link to your review in the comments of related books. For example, if you follow a reviewer and they cover something similar to your fave’s books, you can always drop a comment suggesting your favorite to people who also enjoyed that book.

3. Nominate Your Favorite to Your Book Clubs

The fastest way to get ten or twelve new fans of a book to talk to is to get that book picked up in your local book clubs. Whether you gather in a friend’s living room to exchange notes on favorites or your club is larger and more organized, it helps to make sure you can spread the word and it gives you the chance to really talk about what you loved in detail. If you have the reach and the support to turn this into a larger-scale reading event like a community read-along, then that’s even better.

4. Buy Copies as Gifts for Friends

Last but not least, if you have people in your life you want to share a book with, it’s important to put copies into their hands. This is most easily done by gifting out copies to anyone you want to encourage to read the book. It also helps you figure out what to get people when you have a gifting opportunity for people you don’t know that well. Nothing works better for a Secret Santa present than a great book, too.

When you go all-out to make sure people know about the books you love, it helps build community around them in ways that are important for both readers and authors. Make sure you are taking the time out to encourage writers by gifting your favorite books. You can also help people find new writers by giving them books that their favorite writers are in–for example, if you know someone who loves Michael Scott Monje Jr.’s Shaping Clay series, you might want to get them The Spoon Knife Anthology to help them explore similar writers, or even Spoon Knife 2, the anthology where “Michael” is revealed to be Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon, one of our founding partners.

Dear Sir or Madam, Will You Read My Book? How to Get Editors to Read (and Love) Your Manuscript

As experienced editors, the team at Autonomous Press is often amused by the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer.” Querying editors the way the song’s main character does is no way to get paid for writing fiction – and yet it happens every day.

Yet some of us also admit that in our early days as aspiring writers, we loved this song. So how did we get from first time writers to experienced authors and editors? Certainly not by following in the “Paperback Writer”’s footsteps! Here’s what the poor narrator gets wrong:

Dear sir or madam, will you read my book?

Already, the editor’s toes are curling. Always address your query to the editor by name. Ours are listed as “senior editor” under their respective imprints – that’s who you need to write to.

And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer….

Editors assume that writers who query us want to get paid for writing fiction. We want to get paid for publishing it! Pay for everyone!

But your (and our) desire to get paid isn’t enough – you (and we) also have to produce things people want to give us money for. Skip this line in favor of telling us why your book is engaging and important to publish right now.

It’s a dirty story of a dirty man, and his clinging wife doesn’t understand.

We try not to judge your manuscript too heavily on its description in the query. At that point, we’re only checking to see if what you describe is the kind of thing we publish. Hint: the Paperback Writer’s description is not.

If it’s not the kind of thing we publish, we’ll pass. Not because you haven’t written an outstanding book – you probably have! We’re just not the right place to help it shine like it deserves.

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few. I’ll be writing more in a week or two. I could make it longer if you like the style, I can change it ‘round….

Where to start? This person certainly wants to get paid for writing fiction – they’re producing enough of it – but this is an editor’s nightmare.

  1. A thousand pages is far too long. Aim for closer to 150, double-spaced. Better yet, use word counts, not page counts – 60k to 70k is a solid length for a first novel.
  2. Writing more in a week or two? You mean you didn’t send us a completed manuscript? Pass.
  3. Offering to “change it ‘round” when you submit it indicates that you aren’t confident that you’ve written a cohesive, engaging story. And if you’re not confident, we’re not.

Overall, this Paperback Writer gets an A for enthusiasm, but an F for effort. Fortunately, you now know how to do better.

Books About Autism: What’s Out There?

Autism is one of the most talked-about subjects in recent years, and it’s one of the hottest topics for books, as well. Autistic writers are increasingly getting involved in publishing, resulting in books from a wide range of perspectives – including titles written by autistic people specifically for the parents of autistic children.

Like books on any topic, however, not all books on autism are created equally. When you read, it’s important to consider what type of book you’re reading, who its audience is, and what it’s trying to convince you.

Here are the most common types of books about autism:

  1. Personal Narratives

Also known as “I am autistic and I wrote about it,” these books may simply be sharing the author’s experiences, or they may be seeking to convey important information about autism and being autistic. The latter are often aimed at a more specific audience, including other autistic people, non-autistic professionals who work in the field, and parents of autistic children.

  1. Secondhand or “Viewer” Narratives

A fair number of parents and professionals, not themselves autistic, have written about autism and autistic people in their lives, as well. These range from books in which non-autistic parents write about their children to books in which professionals with decades of experience in the classroom or laboratory share their perspective. It’s wisest to weigh credentials against tone here: even the most decorated academic or researcher may write about the humans they “study” as if they’re lab rats, not people.

  1. Examinations

This category includes both heavy academic tomes on autism and creative works, like The US Book. While non-autistic parents of autistic children may pick up these books if they’re looking for deeper ways to understand their child’s perspective, these books are more frequently read by other researchers and professionals. Unlike first- or secondhand narrative-type works, their central argument and agenda is often much clearer.

Have you written a book in which autism or autistic perspectives play a key role? Keep these categories in mind as well. When you query publishers, you’ll want to specify how your book fits in to the books already out there – both how it’s similar to others and how it fills a role that no other book can currently fill.

Writing the Marathon: The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

For many first time writers, November has a new name: NaNoWriMo, or “National Novel Writing Month.” Sometimes shortened just to NaNo, the goal is to write an entire novel in just one month. There’s a community and a wide range of advice, but as with any novel endeavor, the bulk of the work is done alone – just you and your writing tools of choice.

If you’ve been thinking about writing a novel, NaNo might sound intriguing – and the fact that several novels that started as NaNo projects went on to become bestsellers might sweeten the deal. Should you NaNo your way to author success?

Here are the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo, from the perspective of editors who read and publish a lot of work from first time writers.

Pros, or “NANO YES”

It gets you writing.

Every novel in existence was written in only one way: the writer(s) sat down and wrote it. Every word.

When you’re new to novel-writing, a structured system like NaNo can help you turn writing into a ritual and a habit. Because the word count demands are so high, you really have no choice but to write every day if your goal is to have a novel-length work in 30 days. If you’re having trouble holding yourself to that schedule, NaNo can help.

There’s no time for the inner critic.

The novels we publish through NeuroQueer Books run about 70,000 words. Divided by the 30 days in November, that’s 2,334 words a day – about 7-10 double-spaced typed pages.

That’s a lot of fiction in one day, especially for a first time writer. There’s no time to question whether it’s any good; you just need to get it done. If your inner critic is keeping you from writing a word, though, speed might be the answer to quieting it down.

Cons, or “NANO NO”

The community can derail you.

Every year, NaNo writers sign up online with every intention of finishing their project, only to get sidetracked by the community aspect of the event. Writing is hard. It’s much easier to join message boards to talk about how hard writing is. If socialization or the shiny new things of the Internet regularly get in your way as a writer, consider skipping NaNo – or doing it without formally signing up.

For the love of cheese, please edit.

No matter who you are or what you’ve written, any novel produced in spurts of 2,500 words a day is going to need editing before it can be published. You’re going to need to cut, rearrange, rewrite, add, and polish – and it’s going to take a lot longer than a month to get your manuscript ready to be seen. Please do not send the results to any publisher until you’re confident you’ve told a solid, engaging story. (Unfortunately, there’s no National Novel Editing Month!)

Is NaNo right for you? Try it and find out. It might be the tool you need to go from first time writer to debut published author.

What to Read to Get Into the Halloween Spirit

Tired of the ordinary Halloween horror film fest? It’s time to get weird.

“Weird fiction” is a genre that blends the macabre with the supernatural, the mythical, the scientific…and the just plain weird. Since the Halloween season is a chance to let your imagination roam, don’t limit it to the usual ghosts, goblins, and axe-wielding murderers. Here’s what to read to get weird.

Monsters in My Mind

Ada Hoffmann’s short fiction and poetry anthology, Monsters in My Mind, appears in mid-October from NeuroQueer Books. Ada is a master of the weird, and the pieces in this collection encompass everything from mermaids to extradimensional worlds to sentient AI. The format makes them great for a quick dose of weirdness in your day – but once you pick this anthology up, good luck putting it down.

Weird Luck

Part of weird fiction’s weirdness is its refusal to stay politely within the bounds of any one format. The Weird Luck universe is an example: there’s a webcomic, a serialized novel on Patreon, multiple short stories hidden in various publications, and multiple novels, which will be re-released shortly. The Weird Luck universe has many entry points, and it’s a delight no matter which way you look at it.

Spoon Knife

Some folks read weird literature to step outside their daily existence and sense of self; others read it to step further in. If you’re in the latter category, the Spoon Knife anthology series is your weird fiction home. Blending fiction, memoir, and poetry with themes ranging from the technological to the mythic, the series just keeps getting weirder…and, for some readers, more relatable. Spoon Knife 3: Incursions comes out in 2018, so spend this fall getting caught up!

Whether your house is already decked out in skeletons and pumpkin spice or you’re still trying to decide what to do for Halloween, some weird reading can get you into the spirit and provide a cozy hobby for the fall.

 

 

Ebook and other books

Forget the Advance–Here’s What You Should Expect From a Publisher

The last decade has seen an explosion of new talent on the writing scene. While the internet has been an incubator for new talent since its beginning, the advent of print-on-demand publishing and the sharp upturn in the popularity of ebooks have created a marketplace where the industry is no longer dependent on a handful of large legacy firms and their satellites of “independent” publishers who were mostly university presses with endowments and who still largely depended on those legacy firms for distribution. Now, publishers can work with printers on the other side of the country to manufacture product that is entirely submitted online, and publishers can easily stock product digitally, testing out electronic text popularity before committing to the costs of an ebook. This means more people are able to create publishing firms with less effort than ever before, and for the writer looking for representation, it can be difficult to decide who to go to.

The fact of the matter is that the large advances advertised in the industry are only available to a handful of authors each year who manage to land contracts with large legacy publishers. Otherwise, you are looking at seeking some form of independent publication. It might seem obvious that larger publishers in the independent sphere will give you more, and to some extent this is true. The writers who get the most promotion at larger independent firms do get more than the authors who get the most promotion at smaller independent firms. That doesn’t actually indicate how they will treat new writers, though, or even those they perceive as midlist.

It’s also worth remembering that if you do go with a smaller company, they will likely be in the midst of designing and implementing their marketing plan. That’s why it’s important that you discuss these details early, along with details about your financial compensation.

What to Expect From Publishers’ Marketing

Regardless of the size of the firm, there are a few steps that most self-publishers manage to cover on their own an overwhelming majority of the time. If you don’t get coherent answers about these services, then you should backpedal quickly, because you are going to get less support than you could give yourself from your home office. Those basic features are:

  • Goodreads and blog give-aways to foster awareness of the book title
  • Promotions to generate reviews on Amazon and other major retailer sites
  • Digital advertising support
  • Keyword optimization in all book descriptions and catalog content
  • Placement in the distribution catalog of one of the five major publishing distributors in the U.S.
  • Ad placement in the new product catalogs and email newsletters for the distributor
  • Social media support and promotion for your title
  • Integration of your title into their brand-wide advertising initiatives

If you can go for more, go for more, but these items are the very least you should expect from anyone handling your manuscript. Of course, they aren’t the only important items you want to make sure you ask for. Let’s talk financials next.

What to Expect Instead of an Advance

Most of the independent publishers you will find operating commercially instead of operating at a university or another public institution will be relatively small businesses with employee numbers somewhere in the vicinity of two to twelve people. Much of the time, they have invested personal money, and that limits what they can promise up-front. It’s also worth mentioning that advances on royalties deplete the publisher’s liquid funds, which can cause problems with the marketing budget for smaller firms. Instead of looking for an advance when you go to a small publisher, look for the opportunity to ask for better royalties, guarantees of reinvestment, and support for your own marketing efforts. That’s right… your publisher might be able to support you, but you will still need your own platform to communicate with fans and spread the word about your books yourself. Your deal with your publisher is a partnership, and it takes two of you to do promotion. That gets easier when you get advantages like these:

  • Higher than average royalties: Digital distribution has streamlined the costs of getting a book into print, so the days of three to five percent royalties should be a thing of the past if your publisher knows what they are doing. Look for up to 15 percent of the list price, but remember that royalties that are too high indicate the publisher isn’t putting as much money into marketing as they could be.
  • Sales Support: You’re going to want to sell your own titles when you go to speak or at events. Your publisher should want you to be putting copies out there too. Look for discounts beyond their normal wholesale pricing, and make sure the copies you purchase are going to earn you royalties too. Some publishers try to exclude them from author sales.
  • Author Copies: How many copies of the title can you get before you have to start paying? Look for at least a dozen, and remember that these are your copies for soliciting reviews. Use them wisely.
  • Reinvestment Guarantees: Not all books perform well, but when they do, you should have a guarantee that some of that money will be used to enrich the book’s marketing and keep its success mounting. Most publishers will do this as a matter of course for the first 90 days. After that, new book marketing falls off sharply at most firms. Ask for guarantees that if your book remains profitable, its marketing will continue to be developed. Especially if you are a first-time author.

Choosing Your Publisher

When it comes to small publishing firms, there are a few different schools of thought about which ones make for your best investment. Some authors try to find publishers who “just publish,” ignoring presses that were started by authors and for them. The reasoning is that those presses will be less likely to spend on new authors and more likely to use them as income streams to promote their partner-authors. On the other side of the coin, though, there are small presses being built by former self-published authors that make it their goal to treat every writer like a partner. These firms are often founded by authors who have been through the available choices for publishers before deciding they can offer other writers more.

F*ck You, Pay Me: Why Publishers Need to Pay Their Writers

“We can’t afford to pay, but it’ll be great exposure!”

This statement, from so many publishing outlets that aren’t offering payment in exchange for writing (but who want good writing anyway), is so cliché it’s become a joke among writers. Yet it’s not funny. Paying outlets for writers shouldn’t be rare or magical; they should be the norm. Here’s why.

  1. Writing is work.

Every writer, whether published or not, knows that writing takes effort. Writing is a skill that can be learned and taught, but like any skill, it takes practice and patience to master. The act of writing is mentally and often physically laborious. Add research, interviews, or reviewing materials for context? That’s more work.

Fiction and poetry are fun to read, but that doesn’t make them not hard work to write. Regardless of the genre, labor goes into its creation—and that labor deserves compensation.

  1. Publishers get value from publishing written work.

Why would publishers ask for written work to publish if that work was worthless?

Trick question—they wouldn’t. Whether the goal is to gain ad revenue through online page clicks or to release an on-paper literary anthology, publishers seek writers and their work because they want to make money. Writing has value, and publication outlets know it. Failing to share that value with the writer—say, by being a paying outlet for writers—isn’t just selfish, it’s disingenuous.

  1. “Exposure” is (a bit of) a sham.

“We can’t afford to pay.”

“We offer great exposure.”

Do these two statements seem to contradict one another? That’s because they do.

A website, journal, or press that truly cannot afford to pay its writers (or to offer a fair royalty agreement to them) might be a startup. It might be run on a shoestring. It might be an editor’s hobby or labor of love. All of those are noble, but none of them are likely to be big enough to offer the exposure your hard work deserves.

Is the outlet big enough to offer substantial exposure? Look up its financials in your favorite search engine. Chances are good it’s got the cash to be able to pay its writers—and that its profit margins are as large as they are because it’s making that money off its unpaid contributors’ backs.

Publishers’ goals and focuses are as vast and divergent as publishing houses themselves. That’s a good thing—it means there’s a place for every writer. When deciding where to publish, don’t sell yourself short: the best outlet for your work is (like AutPress) a paying outlet for writers.

5 Books to Read If You’re Already Writing a Novel

Type “books to read if you want to write a novel” into any search engine, and you’ll get thousands of recommendations for first time writers. But what should you read if you’re already working on your first novel?

Here are five of our favorites:

  1. Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Poet Natalie Goldberg’s first book on writing was published in 1986, and like good Scotch, it’s improved with time. Goldberg’s method of combining Zen reflection with practical writing advice can help you get “unstuck” at exactly the right moment by seeing writing as a process and a joy—not a slog.

  1. Michael S. Monje Jr., The US Book

You already know what writing every day does for you, even as a first time writer. But what do you want those words to do for your reader? The US Book is a profound object lesson in words as music, as architecture, and as tools that change the world.

  1. Blake Snyder, Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

Don’t intend to write for the screen? Blake Snyder has your back anyway. His 15-count “beat” structure, outlined in Save the Cat!, forms the backbone of any strong feature-length plot—like, say, that of a novel. If you know where you’re going but you’re not sure how to get there, this book can help you locate the signposts.

  1. Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

If you want something to read that won’t mess up your flow or bleed over into your plot (probably), Pirsig’s classic meditation on the meaning and purpose of Quality can help you appreciate the process of writing—and your product—in an entirely new way.

  1. The Spoon Knife Anthology Series

Released yearly, the Spoon Knife Anthology series features some of the best writing from established and first time writers in the science fiction, spec fic, and weird fiction fields. Choose the Spoon Knife whose theme is closest to your own work, or browse them all to find inspiration and see the craft in action.