Monday, July 27, 2009

Busy Busy

I find myself reading over blogs far too much, and with juggling my revision schedule and work, this isn't smart.

Going unplugged for 1-2 weeks. I'll come make the blog rounds when I'm back.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Less Blogging, More Editing

I've finally kicked myself into gear, and I'm working hard on revisions. I'll have the first pass done by October, then comes the polishing round. I hope to work on polishing while submitting to agents, but given the constant talk of how picky agents and editors are right now, I don't know if that's a good idea. I'll reevaluate my novel when my first pass is done.

Ahh, the ins and outs of the publishing world.

Editing is my bedfellow for the next few months, for myself and my crit buddies. I've loads of projects to keep up on.

I promise to let you know I'm still alive.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Blogs to Watch, Links, and Friday (huzzah!)

Friday mish-mash time. I don't know about you, but I work a full-time job to support my writing addiction. Good thing paying out for paper, printer ink, highlighters and pens is pretty cheap.


I didn't buy a crate of highlighters. Heavens no!

So. Ahem. Links and fun things! Nathan Bransford's post on Thursday covers/links the three big published articles on the e-book pricing debate. Since publishers have been mum, people have decided to take the questions to them. Take a look - the articles are good.

A new blog that started this week by a person who works in the sales department of a major trade book publisher. We readers have been promised information and explanations on how acquisitions work. My favorite post so far has been the one about Bookscan, which is used to comp a writer's sales numbers and determines if your future works will be purchased.

Take a look also at this nifty PDF about the companies that participate in Bookscan (it's about halfway down, and it's the only PDF link in the post. Sorry, but can't figure out how to get my own PDF to load and my eyes are burning tired). It's recent as of January 2009.

A blog that isn't new but one I just started reading is by Andrew Zack, literary agent. Another good industry blogger, I quickly found.

I have more PDF's to share, but I need to figure out a document viewer thingie. No time this morning. Need to get the car into the shop, give kitty her meds, hit work, finish revising my chapters for the week, plan a cookout, buy highli - er clean house...

Notice sleep doesn't come in there. Sleep is for the well-established author.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keeping the Publishing Dream Alive

And now I'm back to my regularly infrequent posting!

I have some links for you today. First, my critique buddy Missye passed along this interesting article - 7 ways to keep the publication dream alive. Although I'm surprised at one of her comments (the one about not having the book completed before she queried agents - you can't do that anymore), the rest of them are insightful and a good reminder of the totality of writing.

I don't know how many people here are aware of Women on Writing, but they have a fabulous website with online articles every month - valuable reading, for sure. There's a really interesting article on there about the Shrunken Manuscript. I was thinking how incredibly useful this would be with things like figuring how much space is devoted to a certain character, etc. Take a look at it - for a large overview of your novel and being able to distance yourself like that - it looks useful.

If you haven't signed up for the free newsletter from Poets & Writers, you should. There's a wealth of good information, and even the print magazine is cost effective. They've got an amazing interview with editor Jonathan Galassi. It's fascinating - a real insight into the publishing industry.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Book Market and Agents

Thursday, June 25th

“When I’m dead, I hope it may be said: his sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” – Hilaire Belloc


Lots and lots of information, but again, the highlights:

  • editors never focus on the positive reviews, but only negatives. This is what affects future sales.
  • #’s of books sold: 70% is non-fiction, 30% fiction
    • 48% of fiction categorized as romance
  • Market breakdown: Amazon – 30%, B&N – 20% Border’s – 10%, independent bookstores – 10%, and the remainder divided between big boxstores/regional chainstores.
  • Only 6-12 people nationwide decide what you read/what’s out there.
  • Window/aisle displays in bookstores are bought and paid for by publishers
  • No one knows what makes a book a bestseller.
  • Do your research: look at similar books to see who publishes what you write.

The writer’s conference runs from March through October. It’s a good way to better your work, pitch to agents/editors, and to make contacts. Each genre offers an annual conference.

We all start as unpublished; we all start with the same blank page.

The key information to take away from here is not only do you need to think about what you write, but also be cognizant of the marketing you will be presenting to; it is, after all, an industry, and you need both your creative cap and workplace hat to sell your work.

Friday, June 26th

Getting an Agent

  • The AAR is a great place to start looking, but is by no means mandatory.
  • Never accept an agent who charges reading fees.
  • You need to establish some sort of business relationship with your agent, and make sure it stays business, even if you’re fond of each other.
  • Author’s Guild is worth being a member to.
Most of our information came from a handout, so I didn't write too many notes; there's a plethora of good information about agents; use your sleuth skills to deduce who's on your shortlist to contact.

Now that our two weeks away from the real world have gone by, I have to slip back into a routine. I know that part of working on my novel is intellectualizing, but I want to write. I just hope I don’t have to rewrite 3,276 times.

I mean, geez, that’s what a synopsis is for.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Wednesday, June 24th

Synopsis Day! I could tell how much all three of us looked forward to the day; we all champed at the bit, and the class was extremely informative.

Ok, a synopsis. They help:

- Discover plot holes/what doesn’t work.
- Discover if subplots are needed for either word count or story.
- Helps identify elements needed for research.
- If something doesn’t work plausibly (i.e., a plot corner), go back and fix.
Note: don’t use coincidence to fix this – too contrived.
- This doesn’t include character corners. These can be written out of; a plot corner cannot.
- Majority of novel still won’t be known despite it being written, so no loss of creativity is involved.
- A synopsis is part of the proposal – so you might as well write it now instead of later!
- When you’re new, it’s used to sell your first novel. When you’re established, it’s used to sell a piece before it’s written.
- It helps with chronology.

Important: a synopsis isn’t written in stone. If you write it and the story goes down a different path, you revise the synopsis.

I realize a lot of people dislike writing a synopsis, but after having written DT, I wish I'd used a synopsis - it would have made all of the problems I didn't realize all the way through clear. Especially with a mystery, there are certain expectations and it's particularly easy to utilize a synopsis. I'm going to use synopsis from now on with future novels. The worst that happens, even if I end up hating it, is I only waste an hour or two - well worth it when you consider it takes about a year/year and a half to complete a novel (And that's if you're plugging along steadily!).

And honestly, I'd rather rewrite a 3k long document rather than my novel everytime I realize something needs to be revised - then you can follow the change to its logical conclusion.

Here's the other thing - the standard for a synopsis to a publisher is 1 single-spaced page per 10k words. I realize many agents aske for a much shorter one, but if you have a 8 page document, you can pare it down to three pages. This all goes back to scale and scope. Each differently sized document that agents request can always be distilled from what you have; it's far more difficult to look at you 90k novel and go "Shit, how do I get three pages out of this?"

I have a second writer’s class I take on Wednesday nights; we did an exercise about detailed descriptions using eyesight only (I liked our other senses work more, but this was useful), and we called about scale – what size we use when describing something; the difference being based on the focus of the writing. We then had to write to both a 50 sentence and 7 word sentence about our life. My seven word sentence:

“No Mom, I don’t like Kansas.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Tuesday, June 23rd

Today we talked about backstory in class. Our teacher said it’s one of the most boring classes we have, but the reality is she has to talk about the boring stuff so we can write the exciting stuff. Otherwise all you got is a big steaming pile of poo.

One of the points we hit on today is backstory needs to be released through controlled, small active events within the story. My favorite phrase: “We don’t need a long, musing story bit about the character.” This reminded me of the romance writer’s dilemma (I want to credit Donald Maas with this story). Romance writers often bemoan how their sales don’t climb the charts, but many of them, when faced with a character’s dilemma, sit their characters down and muse over tea. And then they wonder why they can’t break out or up in their genre.

I think the talk about backstory is incredibly useful; it’s a point that I drove home to myself with my very first attempt at writing my novel; woof. You can talk about backstory until the cows come home, but it’s another case where the proof is in the pudding. I think my biggest problem isn’t being convinced to take huge chunks in, but practicing weaving small bits in. So many things that we do in writing take time; I feel glad that it doesn’t make me feel exhausted thinking about all of the writing work, but rather I’m becoming more focused and excited again.