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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#PitMad is Coming September 10th

Hosted by the fabulous Brenda Drake, #PitMad is a Twitter pitch party where writers can pitch their completed, polished manuscripts to agents and editors who will be perusing the feed. It is a great opportunity that has landed many an author an agent, and even contracts with publishers based off an editor's interest from #PitMad.

So how do you join in? First, you must have a completed and polished (this means no first drafts!) manuscript that you feel is ready for submission. Next, come up with several great 140 character pitches to post on Twitter throughout the day. Then, watch for agents and editors to favorite your pitch. If they do, check their profile for a way to submit to them (they will likely have tweeted details on how to that day, if not, click on their website link). A favorite means you are invited to submit. That means, if you aren't an agent or a publishing house editor, do NOT favorite writer's tweets. You can retweet them, but don't favorite them as that is only for requests. There are other hashtags besides #PitMad that you will need to use. More details here

Since pitches are so short, it doesn't hurt to have a link on your Twitter profile to where agents and editors can read more about you and/or your manuscript. I love to see samples of an author's writing somewhere on their website or blog, even if it isn't samples of what they're pitching. 

As an Associate Editor with City Owl Press I will be perusing the pitches! Have fun and good luck to all. If I favorite your pitch, please send along a short (1-2 page) synopsis and the first chapter pasted into the body of the email after your query letter (be sure to say how many words your manuscript is and what the genre is) to me at this link. No attachments until I ask for them please! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Relevance is... well, Relevant

From the editor's desk...

When reading through a manuscript the first thing I think of in each and every scene is relevance. Is what is presented in this scene relevant and necessary to move the story forward? Of course there is always a bit of room for world-building and description to immerse the reader in the story, but if you're going to go on about something, it must be relevant. Backstory can be worked in, but it must be sprinkled, not doused, much like a strong spice that you don't want to overuse. And, of course, it must be integral to the story and what it to come. The key to backstory is to try as hard as possible not to put it in the first ten pages. You probably won't be able to resist, but trying will at least minimize it.

It is vital to start your story as close to the inciting incident as possible. Identifying the inciting incident can be difficult, and one can be tempted to think something in the backstory might be the inciting incident. Don't fall into that trap! The inciting incident is the thing/conflict that propels the character forward, forcing them into action that leads to the outcome. It sets everything in motion. Backstory does not do that. Backstory might determine why a character acts a certain way or does certain things, but it does not set everything in motion. Think of the inciting incident as the first main conflict in the story, and as that, it needs to connect with all the following conflicts and inevitably, the resolution.

To simplify it, think of the meat of your story, what it is really all about. Now that you have that, make sure your inciting incident ties into it directly. Don't start with backstory, start with what is relevant.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Expected Manuscript Length By Genre

Word length is key to being able to sell your manuscript. Agents and editors both take it into careful consideration. Lengths differ by genre. Here are some loose guidelines in the genres I both write and look for as an editor with City Owl Press:

Fantasy: 80,000 to 110,000 A little under is alright, but you will likely be asked to flesh it out some, over by much and you risk having two books instead of one. Not a bad problem to have, but understand that you may be asked to break it up into two books with full story ARC's worked into both.

Paranormal: 75,000 to 95,000. A little under is alright, but if you drop below 70,000, you may be asked to flesh it out, over 95,000 and it will likely get passed by.

Science-Fiction: 80,000 to 120,000. Rarely will you find sci-fi under 80k, it's just too involved for a shorter word count. On the longer side, you can go over, but don't go crazy. Know when your story and character ARC's need to complete, don't go beyond it. Too much more than 120 might mean you are burying the story (and the reader) in too much description and world building. While this genre requires a lot of both, it is a careful balance. If you find yourself going longer than 120k, think about writing it as a series instead of one book.

Historical Romance: 75,000 to 110,000. I would't really go under on this one because then it is likely that you aren't putting in enough 'historical' to give it the right feel, over and it becomes harder to sell. Even approaching the far end at 110k you need to make sure it is a very compelling novel with a good pace that doesn't lag.

Why didn't I put in romance except for as historical since it is one of the main things I read and look for as an editor? Because romance can (and should, for me personally) be worked into any genre and it shouldn't change the length much in my opinion.

For me, as both a reader and an editor, under 75k is too short to fully develop the story and over 100k is pushing it when it comes to keeping readers' attention. These numbers will vary from agent to agent or editor to editor, but not by much. There are a lot of other genres out there. For more info on other genre lengths, click here.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What I'll be Looking For

For those who don't know yet, I've accepted an Associate Editor position with the new up and coming City Owl Press out of New York. I'm excited to be working with such a fantastic group of ladies to help make dreams come true. 

A bit about City Owl: Based out of New York, City Owl Press was co-founded by the award winning authors, Tina Moss and Yelena Casale who together have more than a decade of business, writing, editing, design, marketing, advertising, and publishing experience. They have plans to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Entangled who began as a small press that launched authors onto the NY Times bestseller list, then merged with one of the Big 5, and the award winning Month 9 Books, but for adult genres. We are well on our way by scouting for amazing authors that we can launch onto the best seller lists. 

A bit about what I'll be looking for: City Owl has a strong focus on romance, which I love. With that in mind, I'll be looking for great fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, steampunk, dystopian~all with romantic elements. That part is a must! The level of romantic element all depends on the story, as does the heat level. We publish all heat levels except for all out erotica (at this time). Strong, clean (grammar) writing, with great characters (who ARC), great world-building, and enough description to put me there, are what I look for in each manuscript. To break the sex part down, sex that moves the plot is fine, but it must not be the plot. 

In fantasy, I love epic but it has to be original, strong writing, and character driven. Write another sub-genre of fantasy? Try me.
In sci-fi, while I'll take hard sci-fi, it has to blow me away and must be character driven, 
In paranormal, I want something unique, not just your run of the mill vampire or werewolf story that has been told a million times over. Bring on the ghosts and other paranormals!  
In steampunk: send it to me, please for the love of steampunk, send it to me! No seriously, I love steampunk and it will always go to the top of my reading list, but it needs to be inventive, unique, and have strong world building. Outside of Victorian London is a plus because that's been done to death. But it doesn't mean a no, so send it!
In dystopian: Send it to me! I love dystopian almost as much as steampunk, the more original the better. Vampire and zombie apocalypses have been done to death, so if you have something different, I want to read it! But, like I mentioned before, it it's good enough, send it to me because those elements don't mean a no if the story is good enough. 
In Historical: I will look at a limited amount of historical so long as the setting or time in history catches my interest. Got a good strong romance set somewhere or sometime interesting? Send it my way. 

If your polished work matches any of the descriptions above, feel free to query me directly at:
hmccorkle (at) cityowlpress (dot) com. Please include a query and the first ten pages pasted into the body of the email. No attachments until I ask for them! Best of luck!
Born Of Fire, my channeler short is FREE on Amazon and B&N! Dragon Seer, my Dragon Empire short is FREE on B&N and here is the Kindle version.

The channeler series trailer: