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Showing posts from July, 2009

Getting Stephanie Meyer's Mojo

The fact that vampires are sweeping the fantasy genre (again) comes as no surprise to any of us. They are and always will be ingrained into our literary history. After the popularity of Anne Rice's work there was a bit of a breather. Anne Rice was phenomenal in her time and she appealed to a large audience which is not easy to do. Then along came Laurell Hamilton. In the beginning I loved Laurell's books about Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. They were full of action and suspense. Then around book four or five the character took a dive from an independent woman with morals and standards to a sex addicted slut who couldn't stop herself from sleeping with every breathing man out there. If I had been looking for a porn book that would have been fine, but I wanted my action hero back, the one with morals. It was not going to happen so I stopped buying her books altogether. Did she commit career suicide? No, she just changed her target audience and ended up losing some readers while

What Do You Look For In a Book?

Being a lover of a good fantasy novel, I look for an escape from this world. But if it were that simple I wouldn't have such a hard time finding something to read. I visited my local Barnes & Noble store to look for a new book to read. I perused the shelves of fantasy thoroughly, then went back and did it again. Empty handed and desperate, I was left wondering what exactly I was looking for in a book. It occured to me that if I could answer this question I'd have an insight into what other readers of my genre are looking for. I must admit, the cover is the first thing to draw me in. Yes, I'm ashamed of that, but alas, it's true. I'll pick up a book with a great cover almost every time. It doesn't even bother me if it's second in the series. The cover got me to pick it up so I'll put in the time to go back and look for the first book. Unfortunately out of the three second or third in a series books that I picked up, I couldn't find the first one

Impressing Agents in Today's Industry

I wish I could tell you it's easy, but I can't, as those of you trying probably already know. It's not just because they're picky or they're looking for something specific, though those reasons do come into play. The main reason it's so hard to impress an agent is because the world is full of good writers and bad writers and every one of them has access to agents via the internet or mail. In the past it wasn't as easy to reach agents. The web has revolutionized that, which is good and bad. It's a big wide world and there are some seriously talented writers out there, which makes it harder for each of us to impress an agent. When agents have read books like The Power of One, The Notebook, and The Sword of Truth (to name only a few of this decades greats) they'll be looking for something a bit more spectacular than they were before. It's only natural for one's expectations to rise once they've experienced something great. What are we to do

Marketing Ideas

I'm always on the lookout for new marketing ideas for one's writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in traditional publishing and will fight until I'm blue in the face to achieve that goal. However, even if an editor buys your work that doesn't mean the house will do all your marketing for you. They'll have a plan of course, but if you don't snag a huge advance your marketing plan is likely to be minimal. In which case, it's time for you to step in and take the reins. And of course for those who self-publish it's completely up to them. One of my Twittering friends came up with a brilliant idea. He Twittered about offering a short story of his for free. When I asked him about it he said it was a way to bring more readers to his work than if he had just placed it on his website, and he's right. And you thought Twitter couldn't do anything for you! If he has say fifty followers and only half of them check out his site, that's still

Whose Story Is It?

Figuring out who's point of view your story should be in is essential to it's success. My first book had six main character, oh yes, six. I loved them all and thought each one of them was strong enough to be the story's protagonist. However, I made the mistake of not picking one and wrote it from an observer's point of view. I even made the horrible mistake of occasionally jumped into different characters heads, without a change of chapter or a break. You can imagine how incredibly hard this was to read. Hey, when I make a mistake, I go all out. That's not to say this kind of thing can't be done. However, you must be an experienced writer to pull it off and 99% of the time, if it's your first book it won't get picked up if it's written that way. This is often seen as an amateur mistake and agents and editors will usually pass on a book written like this. So I had to fix my book. The really hard part was deciding who's story it was going to be.

Getting Inside an Agent's Head

Once you're able to do this your chances of finding representation explode. However, before I tell you how to do it you must understand that no matter how well you get to know an agent, they are only going to represent you if they love your book. Like your mother taught you, no means no and when an agent says it that means its time to move on, not plead your case. They will not love it more if you can just explain it to them in person. It's your writing you're trying to sell them on, if it didn't convince them in the first place the spoken word certainly won't. Even if an agency lists their phone number on their site you should never call them unless you're invited to or you become a client of theirs. Once you get to know an agent and think they will be perfect for your work, it's even harder when they say no. This is especially true if you think you'd work well with them. I'm speaking from experience here folks. But, be noble and take it like a pro

Who to See at Comic Con

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What does Comic Con have to do with that incredible picture? Well, the picture is the reason I cannot go this year. My tropical adventure tapped my finances! But I'll be there in spirit! Don't be fooled by it's name, Comic Con is definitely not just all about comics. It's also about movies, anime, and yes, books! A lot of great authors attend Comic Con and do signings. It is a crazy time, full of wild fans of all things entertainment and an excellent place to network if you're a writer. If you're going this year be sure to check out Eldon Thompson, author of The Crimson Sword, The Obsidian Key, and The Divine Talisman. If you enjoy epic fantasy with a bit of hack and slash and some incredible imagery, you'll love him. Also check out Sarah Rees Brennan, outstanding debut young adult author of The Demon's Lexicon. See what it's all about at: http://www.comic-con.org/

Barnes & Noble Makes Leap Forward in E-Books

Whether we're ready or not technology is rising and the Barnes & Noble booksellers are definitely ready. They've just announced an e-book that can be read on a wide variety of devices. Now you don't have to own a kindle and buy your e-books only from Amazon! The monopoly has been shattered! I am really excited about this because I am not a fan of Amazon (gasp!). I haven't bought a thing from them since they posted only bad reviews of a friend's book. My feelings on Amazon aside, this is exciting news from Barnes & Noble because competition is always a good thing for the market and consumers. Check out their story on it here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6672066.html?desc=topstory Personally, I'm not into e-books. I like the feel and smell of an actual book. I love the cover art, turning the pages. It's not just a reading experience but a physical one. I'll never stop reading and collecting actual books, but it's good to see tha

Word count: How Long is Too Long?

Is there even such a thing as too long when you're writing a book? I mean, the story is what it is right? Well . . . I'm a dual genre writer, fantasy and young adult and when I crossed over I wasn't sure what the word count in young adult should really be. My first fantasy novel began as a 160,000 word behemoth. At the time I had no idea that word count was way over the top and likely the reason a lot of agents turned it away. The word epic came up a lot in my first rejection letters. I was tremendously lucky that an agent saw something sparkling brilliantly beneath the mountain of words. His critiques taught me how to tone down, cut back, and reveal the true beauty of the novel. But at 140,000 words, it is still considered by most to be a really long novel. As far as the fantasy genre goes though, it's still long, but not too bad. When I wrote my first young adult novel it surprised me by ending at around 73,000 words. I thought I'd done something wrong, left s

Editing: Choosing Your Battles

Once an agent has offered you representation should you expect to do editing? Absolutely. But wait, you say, if they want to represent my book doesn't that mean they love it as is? Yes, and no. Certainly they love it and feel as if they can sell it, or they wouldn't have offered in the first place. However, that doesn't mean they won't want to polish it up a bit. After all, they know how to make your work shine just right to catch the eye of a publishing house. Finding and polishing literary gems is what they do. But how much should you agree to change at this early stage in the game? That all comes down to choosing your battles and realizing what's best for your story. If you missed cutting any of the fat your agent will find it and most likely recommend cutting it. A hint to catching more of it during your own editing is to look for any and all excess or unnecessary words such as 'that', and too many verbs. Those are things you shouldn't stress over c

The Literary World is Evolving, are You?

Chances are since you're reading this the answer is yes. But are you evolving enough for your writing career? This was a question I had to ask myself, and the honest answer was no I wasn't. There was a time where you wrote your novel, submitted it and then things were pretty much out of your hands from there. Today an author is much more involved in the entire process, including promotion of the novel. So what do you need to do to keep up with the evolution of the literary world? As long as you have a computer (or access to one) you're well on your way. Today a lot of successful authors not only have a great website, but they blog, Twitter, and have a MySpace or Facebook page. Do you have to do all of these things to have a strong web presence? Absolutely not. Like most things in life, pick the things you're good at and focus on them. If you like to chat in an almost texting style format, then Twitter might be for you. If you like to talk about all the things that inte

A Success Story

What I had planned on blogging about today must wait. I got HUGE news from a friend of mine. You've heard me rave about Aprilynne Pike's book Wings (under my post, What I'm Reading)and dedicated readers of mine know that I was quick to announce when she hit the New York Times Juvenile Bestseller list. Now I have even bigger news from her. Her debut title, Wings , has been optioned by Disney! Disney folks, can you believe it? I'm so excited for her I can hardly breath! Just like you and I, getting published was just a dream to her not long ago. And just like you and I can, she achieved that dream by hard work, diligence, and patience. She is living proof that it can be done (with great success!) and still happens in today's world. I know that at times it can seem like the odds are stacked against you and that agents and editors just aren't picking up good books anymore. But if you are patient and never stop writing, there is a much greater chance that one of yo

How Bad Do You Want It?

Your success in publishing will ultimately come down to this question. Of course there is a degree of talent, luck, and timing thrown in, but once those come together it will become about how bad you want it. The first hardship is wading through the rejections. Many writers with a great story give up because this part of the process can be so discouraging . See my previous entry on turning rejection into motivation. You can get through this part, don't despair ! Once you've been picked up there is a mountain of work ahead of you and you'll need a lot of motivation to climb it. First will be the round (s) of edits your agent recommends. At times they'll be brutal so you will need the skin of a rhino. Just remember they are ultimately for the good of your novel and your agent has the work's success in mind. Next get ready for rejection all over again. When it's ready your agent will begin submitting it to editors and the rejection letters could very well begin ag

Turning Rejection into Inspiration

Unfortunately, rejection is a huge part of the literary business. The thing to remember is that it's all about finding the right match. When an agent says 'I'm sorry but I'm just not right for this project', it's not a cop out, it's actually true. Anyone who is less than enthusiastic about your work isn't right for you. Just as often you'll hear, 'it's just not what I'm looking for', or 'it didn't grab my attention like I'd hoped it would'. So what are you to do? First, don't give up. Use their rejection to inspire you to better your story. The last thing you should do is shelve it because fifty people or more said no. If you got a lot of the first reason then you most likely just need to research those you're sending it to a little more intensely. At the same time though, make sure you have edited your work to the very best of your ability. The submission stage is no time for grammar errors or bad sentence

A Writer's Business

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Before the heavy thoughts I wanted to share an inspiring photo from my vacation. Now right into it: That one's easy, a writer's business is to write, right? Wrong. A writer's business is to entertain. It's nice to think of writing a novel you are completely in love with and want to share with the world. Nice and unrealistic. The truth of the matter is, the public must be in love with it. If you are too then that's just a wonderful coincidence. I'm not saying don't write what you love, by all means please do. But if you want to make your writing a business you must make the public happy because when it comes down to it, writers are in the entertainment business. If our novel isn't entertaining to others, they won't buy it. Which means agents probably won't pick us up because they know editors won't buy it. That's where that vicious cycle of what's selling at the time comes in. Timing in the entertainment industry is why some real

Multiple Requests to Read Your Manuscript

Wow, if only we all had that problem, huh? But what happens if you do? Since I had to answer this question I thought I'd share my experience just in case it happens to any of you (crossing my fingers for you that it does!). The first thing to remember is that at this point your writing is becoming a career and you have to treat it that way. These folks are kindly asking for your material on which they will spend a considerable amount of their time. That said, we must be courteous to those who have already begun reading our work and have started investing their time. The last thing you want to do is send the entire manuscript out to everyone who requests it without communicating with those who already have a partial or the entire piece of work. That could be career suicide. Once someone has already begun to read your entire manuscript if another asks to read it, it's a really good idea to ask the first agent if they'd like an exclusive read. Imagine being an agent and re