Monday, July 06, 2015

Query Question: I've drawn from my own experiences; should I say so?

Can I write in a query that some of my book is based on personal experience?
My main character is a single mother with severe social anxiety, who moves to a new city with her autistic daughter who doesn't talk and their live-in nanny. The daughter is a younger version of my daughter, who is autistic and communicates through baby signs, memorized phrases/song lyrics, and sometimes remembers she has picture cards.
The mother and her struggles with social anxiety is based on me and what I've been through (although when my baby-sitter said she was going to grad school in a different state, I resigned myself to never leaving the house again rather than moving ... I'm only half-kidding. I still have to leave the house to mow the backyard).
I don't want to say semiautobiographical, in part because I'm not 100% sure what that entails exactly, but also because the plot is fiction. There are a few scenes in the book that mirror things that have happened to me and my daughter, but the over-arching plot, the subplots, all the other characters, and the rest of those two characters' personalities - for better or worse, those are all from my head.
Is it a good idea mention in my query that those two characters are based on real people? I thought that would lend an authenticity to my novel, but I'm also concerned I'd be taking up valuable real estate in a query with information that'd be better suited to an "about me" blurb. And also maybe scaring away agents by telling them I have social anxiety.

I always hate to read "this is based on a true story" or "on real people" or worst of all "this is based on my life" in a query.  

I hate it because most people do not live lives that make good stories. Not even really well-known people. Story has a narrative arc, it has antagonists, it has a plot. My life has people who annoy the snot outta me, a to-do list that really needs to get over itself, and a lot of blog readers who make me laugh.  It's a great life, but it's sure not a novel.

And most writers (particularly at the early stage of their career) are not brutal enough to create villains out of the very real people in their lives.  "Based on real people" isn't the selling point you think it is.

Your book can certainly be informed by the experiences you've had. But your book must be able to bring that world alive without a reader knowing anything about you.

If you really want to mention this in a query here's how you do it:

Paragraph One is the same set up we always have: Who the main character is, and what does she want. What's keeping her from getting it? What's at stake if she doesn't? What will she have to give up or lose
to achieve her goal (ie what's her skin in the game?)

Paragraph Two is any writing credits you may have.

Paragraph Three is your bio. You'll say "this story is informed by my experiences with social anxiety and raising a daughter who is on the autism spectrum.

"Thank you for your time and consideration,
"Felix Buttonweezer"

And I'm not sure what semi-autobiographical is either. It sort of feels like hedging. Either it's a novel and you make it all up or it's an autobiography/memoir, and you don't make up any of it.  Very different kettles of fish.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Week in review July 5

It's always good to start out a review of the week that was with a good laugh. Thankfully Dena Pawling was available with a fistful of links about cease and desist:

West Orange New Jersey


The Other White Meat (this is so funny, it should come with a keyboard spew warning)

I loved LynnRodz's comment
On other agent blogs everyone is so obedient in the comment section and then we have Janet's blog and all of us are like golden retrievers.

Gotta tell ya, I love the golden retrievers here!

Jennifer R. Donohue had a dog moment to share:
The proudest I've ever been of Elka was when we were at the park and she was on a long leash (so, 25 feet away from me). I saw her pick something up. I said "drop it", she did, and I whistled her recall and let her shove her face in the treat bag, 'cause really, that was pretty amazing. Then I went to see what she'd picked up. It was a turkey sandwich. My dog had an entire turkey sandwich in her mouth and dropped it when I said so.

Colin Smith provided us with some info about Carkoon
And of course Carkoon has a bookstore! Where d'you think we get our kale and lima bean recipes from? A lot of the fiction is of the dino erotica and vampire/zombie/unicorn nature... and strange mixes of the above. That's why here at Fuzzy Print (FPLM-Carkoon), we try to attract the talentless and literacy-challenged. That's the only way we can compete. All you clever, talented writers wouldn't stand a chance...

which Amy Schaefer (safely back from her adventures) took issue with:
Hmm, Colin. Looking over the current-occupant rolls of Carkoon, I'd say you're having some trouble attracting the talentless. But keep working at it.

Also, I hope you aren't suggesting that dino-erotica/vampire/zombie/unicorn/icky-recipe books somehow constitute a lesser genre. Because my forthcoming work about a drunken triceratops detective fighting the zombie apocalypse side-by-side with a lusty unicorn and a wacky vegetarian vampire sidekick is, in my humble opinion, the greatest novel ever written. (Be sure to look for it in the Mystery-Erotica-Fantasy-Thriller-Humor-Cookbook section of your local bookstore.)

MeganV wondered if LynnRodz's dancing in Paris would be in the monlight:

I'm not sure if y'all know that here at the Reef when everyone else has gone home, we do in fact have dancing.  Not quite as festive as that clip, but I'm pretty sure the people in the offices across the street are amused.

This week (on July 2nd right before the holiday) the soundtrack was Imelda May's Mayhem.

It gets you UP and out of your chair, oh yes indeed!

On Monday the topic turned to a fellow who thought he'd get an agent then reject the contract she was sure to procure for him and self-publish.
I was not amused.

Tony Clavelli nailed why a lot of the commenters both here and at the AW site where the comment was made were so annoyed:
AJ--Yeah! The whole "I'll just get an agent and then..." kind of stung. I think that's why everyone here is reacting so viscerally to this--that arrogance strikes a nerve when we've been working so hard.

Dena Pawling's comment reflected exactly what my experience has been with writers who elect to publish their work themselves
What this writer describes seems sort of backwards from every self-pub author I know from my local RWA meeting. Pretty much all of them hire a freelance editor to polish their work after their CPs and betas are finished with it. They hire a cover designer. They get blurbs. When they're sure it's their best work, they pub it. And they all agree that one of the benefits of self-pub is how quickly it goes live, even with all these steps.

Fortunately our own brianrschwarz has offered to help this poor fellow out:
I may send him an email offering representation just to see where it goes. ;) I'll tell him he can't find my agent page on the internet because I get all my clients by word of mouth. And then it's time to propose edits such as

-more aliens
-more dinosaurs
-more time travel
-more aliens
-remove all proper nouns from the book. All the NYT Bestsellers are skipping proper nouns these days.
-did I mention more aliens?

Marian Perera linked us to the post on AW, and I did click over and peruse.
It's very clear this fellow has no clue about how the publishing industry works. Not the query process, the editing process, the publication process and CERTAINLY not how books are sold.

Jenz nailed it
How to compensate the agent is a non-issue, because no legitimate agent would ever sign someone who expects accommodations like control over book prices.
Publication contracts reserve control of all aspects of publication to the publisher. A good agent can negotiate things like "meaningful consultation" on cover art, and jacket copy. There's not a chance in hell you'll get anything on price. Absent very special circumstances, I'd never even ask for the author to have input into pricing. At some point you just have to accept that the publisher does have say over how they publish and sell a book. If you don't want to agree to that, it's ok. Self publishing gives you total control on price.

Laura Brennan had a very interesting point
Oh, and if anyone has not yet read Gavin De Becker's "The Gift of Fear," truly it is a must read. He teaches you how to recognize sociopaths -- and one of the ways is that they blurt out reassurances (like, "I will pay the agent a commission") without being asked. Bad guys can't *unknow* what they know, which is that they plan to screw you over. So they blurt out reassurances where none are needed.

I once had a client assure me out of the blue that he would never throw me under the bus. Ha!

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard someone say something like "I'd never do X" and realize that of course they will. If they wouldn't do it, it wouldn't occur to them to say so.

Julie Weathers quoted another insane statement from the AW thread:
"Agents are used to rejection because 50% of the people they offer representation to decline to go with another agent."
That stat does NOT reflect my experience at all. It doesn't even reflect the experience of our younger less experienced agents here.

On happier topics, it turns out Carkoon has a magazine. Who knew?

french sojourn:
Colin please don't mention my various contributions to your monthly magazine...Repenthouse. Thanks man!

Scott Sloan has a delightful new word:
as he packed his swimmies for his inevitable banishment to the tropical paradise that is Carkoon…

Swimmies! I've never heard bathing costumes referred to as such. I'm adopting it instantly.

On Tuesday we talked about the out of print clauses in publishing contracts, and using one piece of information, out of context, to substantiate an opinion.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli made a good point:
I think there is a very large missing-piece of the puzzle in this argument. No one is self-publishing. They are publishing digitally via a big ass business called Amazon or Blogger or whatever. Recently I read that Amazon decided to pay author royalties by the number of pages read. Here is an enterprise that states they can change whatever they choose anytime. Take it or leave it. There is no room for negotiation.

bjmuntain responded to her:
But there are many ways to self-publish, and they don't all include using Amazon or other big business formats. Self-publishing can include print books as well as e-books. Anyone considering self-publishing needs to do a lot of careful research into what they can and can't do, and how to go about doing what they want.
kdjames elaborated:
I have no complaints about my experience self-publishing with Amazon. It's pretty much exactly what they say it will be in their fine print. But they aren't a publisher. They're a distributor. Big difference. Now, they DO have several imprints (47 North is the only one I can think of, off the top of my head) and if you sign a publishing contract with one of those imprints, then Amazon IS your publisher. I've heard good things from writers who've gone that route and who seem especially pleased with Amazon's marketing efforts. So, yes, self-publishing is the correct term for what the majority of writers do over there.

For clarity: self-publishing means you're the decision maker on the content, production and sale of the book. If someone else can say "no" to any aspect of the book (other than a seller refusing to stock it) you're not self-publishing.

french sojourn said
I get the impression that we are in the most fluid of times for publishing contracts
Absolutely not true, sadly. If anything contracts are getting MUCH more detailed and much more rigid. As the opportunities to exploit rights grows, publishers are trying to hang on to as much as they can. They've got clauses for rights that no one is really sure how to exploit yet (enhanced ebooks anyone?)

Steve Stubbs asked
If the book does not sell or otherwise h as essentially no commercial value, who cares who owns the copyright? We might as well get intense about who owns the copyright on last year’s newspaper.

You do! You the author never EVER give up your copyright on a book. And you never know when intellectual property will go up in value. Win the Nobel Prize in literature and your books will fly off the shelves like hotcakes off the grill at the Buckaroo Breakfast (hat tip to Julie M Weathers here)

Someone takes a photo of the President holding a copy of your book, and whamma slamma jamma, you have a book that everyone is suddenly talking about.

The value of intellectual property can be fluid. Never treat it like it's detritus.

John Frain cracked me up completely with this:

I have a special place in my heart (suddenly) for a person who takes things out of context.

This was a 610-word post, yet all I got out of it was 7 words:

"come to my office at Happy Hour."

LynnRodz asked:
Janet, what time does Happy Hour start at your office? Scott's getting the first round so I'll have a frozen margarita. (You can't get a decent one here in Paris unless you make it yourself and I need one.*)

Some days Happy Hour starts just about the time we crawl in. Most other days 5pm. And we'll need a blender if we're making margaritas. Normally Happy Hour here is just the bourbon IV.

Adele mentioned the fashion designer Joseph Abboud in the context of someone who lost rights to their own name.

The only reason I know who Joseph Abboud is comes from The Wire:

(some NSFW language in this; turn volume off if kids are present)

On Wednesday we discussed whether having only digital sales was a red flag for an agent.
I said no.

donnaeve asked:
Now, I'm left wondering, who is responsible for listing deals? The agent or the publisher? Or both - i.e. they talk, they agree when to list?

Generally the editor and I discuss when/if to post a deal to PM. Sometimes we elect not to post until the manuscript is finished with copyediting. Sometimes we announce right away to get film and foreign interest revved up. It's not something that's anyone's responsibility. Some deals never get announced at all (I've got several of those myself.)

And donnaever further said:
If an agent spends any amount of time telling you who they've signed (which has been discussed here before I believe) to impress you to sign with them, then this [PM listings] would be the perfect vehicle to "toot their own horn."

In my opinion, you can find out everything you need to know about me by reading my client''s books. After all, they have killed and maimed me several times. How can that not be love?

Dena Pawling asked:

(1) does PM allow a publisher to modify the agent's page on the PM site?
(2) What percentage of sales are actually reported on PM?
(3) If this percentage is low, how useful is PM for writer's to use for research?

(1) no. The only person who can edit my page is me (or whichever minion is tasked with that job and entrusted with my pass words)
Note however that my page here

is NOT the same as the page you get if you search deals:

this link requires a subscription to PM to read. Here's the screen shot

My page is woefully behind. My deals postings less so but still not caught up.

For those of you wondering why I'm such a total slacker, remember, PM was NEVER intended as a resource for query writers. It was intended for foreign publishers to see what had sold in the US and get in touch with agents.

If I sold world rights, I don't need to get in touch with foreign publishers. If I've sold the film rights, I don't need to build buzz with a PM deal announcement.

And honestly, updating PM is one of 7934 things on my to do list, and getting contracts done comes first. And selling. And solving client problems. And researching what that new editor over at BigAssImprint is looking for cause boy howdy I've got some good stuff sitting here just waiting for a smart editor to snap up.

(2) I have no idea. My guess is more than half, less than 75% but that's just ballparking it.

(3) It's one tool among many. It's not the best or the most comprehensive, but it can be useful.

The opinions of the commenters here will be more useful than mine. I do use it to see what editors are acquiring, but only as a starting point. I read the books that editors acquired. That's what I look at most.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said
It’s good to hear that agent’s can be social media shy, including PM. One agent I plan to query has only a twitter presence. I’ve wondered if some lit agencies ask their agents to not have a social media presence.

Social media can be a real problem sometimes. We see it with our interns. Some of them didn't really understand that once they have FinePrint intern in their bio, they aren't just free to tweet what they want. One reason they're interns of course is to learn that stuff before it costs them a job and a career setback.

I also watch what my clients post with an eagle eye. Someone gets too far of the track and they're going to get a quick call from me that says "hey, what's going on over there"

I don't know if any agencies ask agents to be mute, but sometimes mute is just easier than trying to stay on top of a variety of sensibilities. I'm lucky that my colleagues here at FPLM have so far not objected to my …err…vowel language, or my idiosyncratic opinions about all things publishing.

On Thursday we discussed crit partners with bad manners. I was reluctant to offer advice, thinking the commenters would have better ideas. I was right.

Of course, there were those who echoed my thoughts completely;

Buzz off, Bob.--Kitty

Dude's a tool.--DLM

And Dena had a very astute observation:

There is a BIG difference between “everyone is friends” and “everyone knows everyone.” Based on what you wrote, the second phrase may be true, but the first phrase certainly doesn't sound true.

And this is very good advice from Matt Adams' dad:

My dad had a lot of great advice, but one of them was the -- don't talk about your problems at work while you're at home, because then you have two problems. I think that's what is going on with Opie -- s/he is talking to people in her social circle about writing.


I really liked what Laura Brannen added to the conversation:
I took a writing class in which, for the duration (twelve weeks), we were not allowed to speak about our work outside of class. The teacher said it dissipated the work, talking about it instead of doing it and opening it up to people who would muck us up - not on purpose, but because they couldn't see it as we could.

"Bob, thank you for your support but I've decided not to talk about or share my work. Please don't ask me about it again."

Telling him why only invites him to argue with you

I talk with my clients about whether they should continue with a writing group or crit group once they have a contract for publication. Sometimes it's valuable to continue, but not always. Too many cooks trying to salt the soup can be a problem.

and it has now become clear that I am an Official Bad Influence. Yes I say that with pride.

Here's Mister Furkles on why:
So I confess to having a devious mind. Warped really. It wasn’t always thus. It’s Janet’s fault really; she got me into reading thrillers and mysteries full of devious, evil people. So after a few dozen novels by folks like DeMille, Lee Child, Jeff Somers, Sanford, Pat Lee, Preston & Child, and others, …well, I just don’t think the right thing anymore.

(1) No more friends or family in your critique group. Get an online critique group. But first research them. Try several. Find two: One you like and join it, another that’s not so good.

(2) Drive to a distant library with public computers where nobody knows you. Wear latex gloves and a medical mask. Keep your hat on and wear dark glasses. Don’t park in the library lot but a couple of blocks away. You get the idea.

(3) At the library, join the bad CG using somebody else’s name; I recommend Bob’s name. Find a story in your genre that is not too good. You want something that is moderately well written and with a good idea that’s executed poorly. Copy it to a thumb drive. Remove the writer’s name and give it to Bob.

DLM said
I'm struck by the presumption that our OP is a woman. If we were assuming OP was a man, would there be this insistence upon sweetness and light, on pretending nothing happened, on looking at anything - strategies for how to find a new CP, or just how to exit this non-partnership - other than the problem.

If the OP were a man, we wouldn't have the question. My experience is that men are much more willing to say FOAD than are women.

And speaking of good manners, I liked what Elissa M. had to say here:
Unwavering manners nearly always have greater impact than blowing off some steam. In the long run, I find extreme satisfaction in remaining polite despite there seemingly being every reason not to.

Which reminded me of the very calm, very rational "FU" that PW sent to Bill O'Reilly recently.

And it turns out Miri Baker likes to sew! (and eat cake of course)

{{Incidentally, Captcha and I disagree on what one might call a "birthday cake" and what is clearly just "I stopped by the bakery after sewing for ten hours straight."}}

You guyz are going to regret when my painting is done, because then I'm going to start talking about window treatments, and portiers!

Turns out I had to edit the blog title when Jennifer R. Donohue mentioned:

As a side note, and I debated mentioning this, "QQ" is Internet/MMO parlance for "crying", "quitting", or "why don't you quit?"

and speaking of ..err…editing bj muntain said:
Regarding pointing out spelling errors:

I honestly wouldn't think twice if it were in the post itself. Normally, I wouldn't mention it at all. But headers are kind of important. Not only are they read more carefully (and by more people) but they affect how search engines see the post. I don't know if search engines or SEO are important to Janet, but maybe they are. So I mentioned it.
I am always glad to get a heads up on a spelling error on these posts. Particularly in the headline. I may write back to tell you you need new spectacles, but that's only after I've fixed it.

I can't stand to have posts with errors but as you all know by now, that's more of a goal than a reality.
So, don't worry you're offending me.

On the other hand, you absolutely cannot call out any of the commenters for spelling or syntax or diction. That reduces the conversation to public shaming and I will not have that. (Fortunately, there has been none of that here in years.)

On Friday we discussed sales to libraries.

I took the opportunity to do my I Love Libraries dance.

I loved all the stories of your libraries (and how you love them!)

Ashes had an interesting contribution about donated books:
We've also received self-published books in the mail and we generally put them in the summer book sale, not on the shelves. Memorably, the post once brought us a poorly edited memoir which was basically one long thinly-veiled attack on the author's ex-wife. I imagined him sending it to libraries all across the country. That poor woman.
That reminded me of a 2006 lawsuit against Authorhouse when an author did basically the same thing.

And Ashes also had a good point about how to get your own book on library shelves:
Here's the best way to get your book on our library shelves: become a patron. When a regular library patron shows up and sheepishly mentions he's published we get excited. There are two I know of, one self-published and one traditionally published, both fantastic non-fiction authors. When they come in with a new title we promptly put it on the shelf and enter it into our system (which means it can be requested by libraries all over the province via an inter-library loan)

Cynthia Mc said something that caught my attention:
When libraries converted to the Dewey decimal system, my mother converted every school library I went to (we moved a lot). She would have me shelve the books, which worked for about 5 minutes until I found one I wanted to read.

I thought libraries were always on the Dewey decimal system. From what system were was your mom converting?

I did a quick trip down google lane on that question (you want to search on "classification" instead of "organization" to avoid pictures of bookcases!) and found some interesting info.

I'll let y'all do your own research there if you want.

Dena Pawling is having fun with the books in her library:

Last week I was browsing the NEW BOOKS shelves and found two awesome books – the acknowledgment page on one thanks Barbara Poelle and the other thanks Janet Reid [does anyone here know these folks?] I've never written a formal book review but I'm gonna try it for these books, just for fun. I've already started a page on my blog and done a preliminary review [not that I would know if there is such a thing as “preliminary review”] of both books, it's here if anyone is interested

The first one is Murder With a Twist by Tracy Kiely and I love love love that book! Barbara Poelle is Tracy's agent, but I am her devoted fan. Everyone who loves witty charming mysteries should read this book.

And of course that's Loretta Ross' Death and the Redheaded Woman for the book I'm mentioned in. Loretta's voice is so charming that it's entirely possible you'll fall in love with her on the spot. I sure did. Her books have characters I want to spend time with, which is one of the benchmarks for a good book.

Dena Pawling also asked about "Library binding"

My husband says that library books have “library binding.” Not sure if most of the books I've ever checked out, had any different/more sturdy binding than I usually find in books at bookstores. He also wondered about the questions I asked, and I didn't know the answer, so I asked.

Library binding is a method to increase the durability of books for the harder use that libraries require. Some books don't get library bindings, but the jackets are covered in a clear wrap that protects them from wear and tear.

I remember watching librarians do those dust jackets on new books (usually something I wanted to read!) and waiting (impatiently) for the book to hit the New Titles shelf.

I loved this comment from Eileen:
Growing up I used to run my fingers along the library shelves, locate where my then unwritten future novels would go and then I would shove the books off to either side making a little room. I felt by making real space I was willing those books into being. Now when I see my real books on the shelves it still gives me a thrill.

b-nye wondered:
Okay, now I'm a little confused. I thought there was a publishing house that only published books for library sales. I recently had a beta reader of mine publish with one 14 months from Ms to book jacket.
So, no?
Some publishers publish primarily for the library market, but every publisher sells to libraries, or the wholesalers who supply the library market.

And 14 months from acquisition to publication is about right for all books. Selling in to the library market is neither faster nor slower than any other kind of publishing.

The difference between selling to bookstores and selling to libraries is books sold to libraries aren't returnable. Books sold to bookstores are. Once those library dust jackets go on, and "property of the Carkoon Library" is stamped on it, that book is no longer in returnable condition.

Given how much we all hate returns (and we do) sales to libraries are always a very welcome thing.

I loved this from NotJana

Step 1 - write anything: completed
Steps 2+3 - fan fiction, finish novel length stories: completed
Step 4 - finish novel(s), crappy or otherwise: completed
Step 5 - edit novel(s) and be less wordy: procrastinating
Step 6 - go back to 4 & 5, rinse and repeat: succeeding in 4, failing in 5
Step 7 - stop making lists and do 5: LOL

On Saturday the topic was publishing online and potential problems in doing so.

I had said that I thought WattPad took a percentage of any money earned from books that were originally published there, and to make sure you read their Terms of Service.

Well delicartoons did and couldn't find any reference to that:

I read through their terms of service and didn't find anything saying that.

I found this:

>C. For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting User Submissions to, you hereby grant a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the Website. You also hereby grant each user of the Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website. You understand and agree, however, that may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.

But I didn't find anything saying they had any claim to what happens to your stuff in the future.

I couldn't find it either. My comment was based on anecdotal evidence: an editor pal of mine acquired a book that began on WattPad, and WattPad is one of the payees for the book.

The advice to read submission guidelines VERY carefully still stands however.

bjmuntain asked:
I'm curious. One thing I've heard about and not been sure of with Wattpad (and possibly other such sites) is whether a book published there is considered 'published' elsewhere?

It depends. "Previously published" is a fluid definition. I've heard of contests that don't want previously published work entered, and they define it to include material that's been posted online. My own definition of "previously published" means it had an ISBN number and was offered for retail purchase.

and bjmuntain also asked:
Does publishing on Wattpad get in the way of novel sales (to agents, editors, or the general public)?

This coming week is ThrillerFest which means a horde of clients will descend upon New York City, and I'll be holding down a spot in the bar at the Grand Hyatt with my boon companion in crime the slithery Barbara Poelle.

Both of us will be helping writers hone their queries during PitchPractice on Thursday.

Notice that we're actually sitting side by side during this slow motion riot:

 If you're coming to T/fest, stop by and say hello.

There will be a writing contest next week as well.

The subheader candidates for this week are:
(1) Great Writing is the best revenge.--french sojourn

(2) If the publishing world is a tragic comedy, then the blog family here is the Greek chorus - only one that says, "Derp!" and "Rawr!" and "Hell yeah!" I--Christina Seine

There are some great questions slated for next week!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Question: publishing on Wattpad and other online forums

I went to the Romantic Times conference in May and one of the hot topics was Wattpad. If you're not familiar, it's a place where you can post any kind of writing you want, from short stories to full, serialized novels, and readers can comment in-line on the things they like or don't as well as on the work in general.

It's a hot topic because A. Some writers have hit it big there and ended up with book deals or a huge self published following, and B. Established authors are using it as a forum to draw in readers by posting things like back list titles, pre-quels and between the books novellas. I've also had a marketing guru tell me that she considers this kind of platform an excellent place to beta-test your work (for self published writers, not those under contract) to see what's connecting with readers and what isn't.

I've paged through several books there and find that the comments are overwhelmingly either positive or at least constructive, and have yet to stumble over any trolls. The readers seem to be excited about offering feedback and having input. The level of interaction is up to the author. Some go as far as posting a section then asking readers what should happen next (many of the writers are posting as they go, rather than writing the whole book first.)

I talked this over with my agent and, considering the lag between my first book and the next--projected as a June-July of next year release--we agreed I might be able to utilize Wattpad and some of the sheaves of short stories and novellas I have stacked in drawers to build and keep an audience during the gap. However...

At the RT Wattpad session, an agent stood up and challenged the presenters, asking what they are doing to protect the authors' work, as one of her clients had a book pirated from the site and published digitally and is now fighting to prove it was hers to begin with. The question I have and I suspect many of your blog readers might echo is, assuming I have weighed the pros and cons and decided this is a suitable platform for a particular story, can I establish proof of ownership by copyrighting the story first, or is that even going to help in a piracy case? Are there any cons to copyrighting, beyond the time and hassle, for someone who is posting a novel they hope will go viral and get them an offer?

This is a really good question, and given I'd just read an article by someone who had her work removed from sale because of a fraudulent copyright violation notice, and had to struggle to prove it was hers to begin with, quite timely.

When you post anything in a public forum like Wattpad you're taking a risk. The only questions are how big a risk, and what's at stake. Those are questions only you can answer.

Most readers search for books by author name. If I go looking for Felix Buttonweezer books, and six hundred people have stolen and republished  his book "Carkooning For Fun and Profit" I'll never know, because I'm searching only for books by Felix Buttonweezer.

There's a risk associated with any kind of on-line publication of your work.  I'm given to understand however that most of the scallywags who are stealing books and republishing them as free downloads have something other than making book sales on their mind. That is, the "free download" is the open cellar door to your otherwise locked up house while you're on vacation. They are introducing viruses onto the computers of the people who download the "free books."

What you really want to check are the terms of service at Wattpad. I believe they take a chunk of your earnings if something you publish there goes on to be picked up and published elsewhere.  That's something you don't want to find out about the hard way.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Industry question: library sales

About 75% of the books I read, I get from my local library and inter-library loan.  I've also read that getting your book into libraries is difficult but a good goal to pursue, I assume because of the exposure [like songs on the radio].
I'm curious about whether the library pays more/less to buy their books than the general public, and whether the author is paid more/less for books sold to libraries.

I'm very glad to hear you're a devoted library user. I love libraries in general, and the libraries of my misspent youth in particular. The Seattle Public Library was where I discovered books that influence me to this day. Where I discovered the joy of escaping into a whole new world, and making friends with people very different than me. Sue Barton! Beany Malone! Homer Price! Misty of Chincoteague!

Even the small, woefully understocked school library in my sixth grade elementary school introduced me to Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.   

Libraries were where I first discovered Perry Mason, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. I had to depend on Christmas and birthdays for Nancy Drew since the library acquisitions team did not deign to include them.

Oddly, I don't have anywhere near the same devotion to bookstores that I do to libraries. I'm sure I must have been in bookstores when I was a kid (at the very least the University of Washington bookstore) but it is libraries I remember and love.

In other words, and perhaps more succinctly: Libraries Rock.

Oh wait, there was a question here wasn't there?

Let me get off my soapbox and answer it.

Libraries pay full retail for books. (Bookstores buy books at a discount because they are re-selling them)  Often libraries buy more than one copy of a book as well. Authors receive full royalty rates on books sold to libraries.

"Getting your book into libraries" isn't just a matter of luck. Librarians are very careful with their budgets, and their patrons' interests.  They buy very carefully.  Most often their purchases are review driven. Library Journal, Kirkus and PW are the go-to places. There's almost no way a single author can get his or her book into a library. The best avenue for that is to have library patrons request the book.

I'm not sure I've said this enough today: Libraries Rock.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Query Question: so, you think publishing is a small world?

Bob and I have been sharing works forever. Bob hates my writing but loves my ideas. I guess one day Bob loved an idea so much Bob decided to write it better. I'm afraid to share my most recent work with Bob now. Bob really wants it.

Here in my little suburb everyone is friends and knows everyone. You can't have a critique partner that's not someone you sit with at church. For example, I sent my kids to a sleep away camp two hours away. I didn't tell a soul and fifteen people from my writing group and church told me how much fun the twins were having. Then they all sent pictures.

This isn't a writing problem. This is a people problem. I'm probably not the right person to ask about people problems because I've long believed the world would be better off if I was in charge and everyone had to do what I say. Not for nutthin' does my nameplate say Queen of the Known Universe

I often hear that writing is a solitary pursuit. It seems like you need more of the solitary and less of the pursuit. 

While it is true that everyone executes ideas in their own way and what Bob writes will be very different than what you write, even if you start with the same idea, it's just plain rude to ask a writer to see their work in progress. Of course, he's gotten in the habit of doing so because you've let him.

As to how you change this long standing practice of sharing, I do not know. My way would involve something that would probably get you shunned by the community, bless their hearts.

On the other hand, the readers of this blog often demonstrate they are very nice people. I'll bet they have some dandy ideas.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Query question: the agent appears to be digital only

 In researching agents, I've seen a few where their Publisher's Marketplace page is predominately made up of Digital sales. I know little about the contractual part of an Agent's job, and seeing "Digital" only (even with a few senior agents) caused concern.

Should I be? 

They're making deals and a lot of deals are happening digitally these days.
Those may be just the most recent deals an agent has made, or more likely, the publisher reported those deals, NOT the agent. 

A colleague of mine some years back had purposely pulled back from listing deals on Publishers Marketplace (I can't remember why.)  She sold a small book to a digital only publisher, who promptly posted the deal to PM. My colleague was pretty ticked off because it now looked as though that was the ONLY deal she'd made that year. 

She then had to post all her recent deals so writers like you would not be misled.  However, if the agent (and there are some still) isn't paying attention to PM, s/he might not even know those digital deals had been listed.

It's easy to forget that a LOT of agents came into the business before it was de riguer to announce every deal and have a robust public presence.  Many of the best agents I know are still very uncomfortable with this New Visibiltiy.

Don't make assumptions here. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Contract question: speaking of indentured servitude, run of copyright contracts

I know there are authors out there who are dead set against traditional publishing, although that's where they got their start. They're anti-big publishing and anti-agent. I don't normally follow their blogs, but I followed a link to one today. A certain such author is making some pretty big claims about terms in traditional publishing house contracts.

The claim that is causing me pause is: the non-negotiable life-of-copyright clauses that have no or limited reversion clauses. They claim that publishers will own an author's work until copyright runs out, and that there is (or soon will be) no way to get that ownership back. They also claim that the author has no choice in the matter if they want to be published by a traditional publisher.

Are you seeing contracts like this? How do you deal with them? As I understand it, this is the sort of pitfall that agents can protect us from.

This is a case of the blowhard using one piece of information without context.

Yes, most publishing contracts run for the life of the copyright. Here's the Writer's Union on that point:

The customary practice in the United States is to allow the primary publisher to retain exclusive publishing rights for the duration of the work's copyright term (which is currently 70 years from the author's death), as long as the work is kept in print. Sometimes the rights continue even after the primary edition is out of print, if a subsidiary edition is still being sold. See Section IX on termination.

(Side note: subsidiary rights contracts do NOT run for the life of the copyright)

This grant of rights is listed very early in the contract. It's not the only part of the contract. There are pages and pages after that grant, and several of them cover how the contract can be terminated and rights reverted.

First and foremost is the out of print clause. The contract specifies how many books have to be sold, and in what time frame for a book to remain in print. If the book fails to meet that threshold, rights can be reverted upon request.

Second is failure to publish at all. If the publisher doesn't publish the book within a certain time frame, rights revert to the author.

Third is failure to pay or account for royalties. Failure to do so is breach of contract and rights revert to the author.

It's entirely possible to be offered a contract with none of these reversion avenues. Any agent worth his/her salt will negotiate ALL of them in to the contract.

If a client of mine had such a contract offer, and the publisher would not agree to include ALL these clauses, I would advise the client to think long and hard about signing.

About the underlying assumption of the blowhard:  I'm still confounded by advocates of self-publishing who feel the need to trash traditional publishing. This isn't an either/or situation with no do-overs.  Many authors now have traditional deals, and self-publish. There are advantages and disadvantages to both avenues. One is not holy, the other is not foul.

In addition, the idea of setting up a straw man to make a point about the "evils" of traditional publishing is just plain stupid. There are LOTS of things that traditional publishing doesn't do well. If you can't think of any, come to my office at Happy Hour. We have several agents here who will be glad to enlighten you about the frustrations they've experienced that very day.

I'm more than willing to listen to people who have well-reasoned and well-informed criticisms of traditional publishing. That other stuff? Not so much.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Query: intent is an essential element of the crime

On the Absolute Write discussion board, I just read a post by a writer who wants to self-publish, but also wants to make sure the manuscript is as good as possible first. The writer said one way to do this was to "pursue a traditional publishing contract, but reject it & self-publish".

The writer added "If I do decide to do something like this, I will be offering the agent his/her stated commission irrespective of whether I trade publish or self-publish."

This  sounded both inconsiderate and unethical, and I felt sure agency contracts took this sort of trick into consideration, but I wanted to check with someone who could clarify whether or not they do. 

Actually, my author agency agreement doesn't cover this.
It never dawned on me that an author would behave this abominably.

It's one thing to reject a contract offer that is unsatisfactory. Sadly, I have experience doing that. It's never an easy choice, and when it happens, the clients and I spend quite some time discussing the matter before reaching a decision together.

To have a client reject a contract offer and say s/he is going to self-publish, but will "offer the stated commission" is quite a different matter.

For starters, contract offers that I bring to clients usually involve an advance, so that the author and I both get paid before the book is offered for sale.

Self-publishing is much more of a crapshoot on getting paid.

And let's all remember the dirty little secret that people forget to tell you when they tout the many benefits of self-publishing.  Most traditionally published books don't earn out. If you self-publish and sell to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who would buy the book from a publisher, you're probably not going to make as much money as you would with an advance.

Yes you might earn more money. Most people find they don't.

But the deeper problem is that this writer thinks that an agent's time and expertise are available to him at no cost.  If the book doesn't sell, he feels he has no obligation to pay the agent at all, even having turned down a contract that would have paid them both.

This is the kind of statement from people who tout self-publishing that makes everyone reach for their light sabers.

I will tell you that if this happened to me, I would fire the client, but only after I consulted my attorney about what civil recourse was available to me.

Even after answering this question, I don't think I'm going to change my author agency agreement. I prefer to approach potential clients with the belief they are people with honorable intentions, not nefarious scalawags out to fleece me.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week in Review June 28

Welcome to the week that was.

In last week's in review Colin Smith commented on Jeff Somers' book CHUM (the book I signed Jeff for, but took nine years to sell)

And I thought you signed Jeff Somers for the sheer cheek of querying you a novel called CHUM! It's actually a good book too? I'll have to check that one out... ;)

It's a GREAT book, and a fabulous title, but that title is all mine.  When Jeff sent me the book it had some other title, and he'll be the first to tell you it was probably horrible. Jeff is singularly lacking in title skills. We laugh about it to this day in fact. Usually right after he sends me something call "Dreary Prose by a Pantsless Writer"

Christina Seine updated us on the status of the forest fires:
I just can't say enough how much it meant to me that you guys kept Alaska in your thoughts and prayers during our scare with the wildfire. I am very happy to report that it is now almost half contained and those awesome hotshots are just whooping its behind. Thanks be to God.

Yes indeed.

Turns out LynnRodz is a party animal and man oh man, do I want to hit  Paris this time next year:
Yesterday was la FĂȘte de la Musique, we danced in the streets of Paris until 1 a.m.

CarolynnWith2Ns is packing her bags for Carkoon after this suggestion:
Hey sharky-one, how about a flash fiction memoir. Might be interesting and then again maybe folks would be throwing rocks at-cha.

And then Craig pointed out that the contest winner had missed one of the prompt words:
It was already a long day when I got here but I seem to have lost a mitten. Where did Hank hide it?

Colin Smith posited:
Craig: I think Janet's teaching us an important lesson about agents and publishing. You can break the rules and still succeed, because a great, well-written story will always win out. That doesn't give us license to break the rules, but it does explain why rebels are sometimes rewarded.

Which is very kind but totally wrong.
Truth is I missed it. Just didn't proof read the contest results like I've done in the past and missed it completely. 

By the time I learned of the error I'd already sent the prize off to Hank (damn me for being efficient that day! And Hank for winning an earlier contest so I already had his address!)

Well, lesson learned: Always highlight the prompt words in the finalists. 

On Tuesday we discussed the problem of using song lyrics in novels, and thus needing permissions.

JEN Garrett asked:
I gave a pre-published author one of my poems to use in her book. No compensation, no strings attached. The poem has never been published and I don't plan on using it anywhere else. The way I see it, it was a gift of intellectual property, and I don't expect anything in return. The author says she will acknowledge me as the poet, but even if she doesn't I'm not going to press the issue - it was a gift, pure and simple.

But my question is, do I need to put this in writing for the author of the book?

YES. The two of you know the circumstances of the gift but at some point, if the author gets a book deal, the publisher will expect to see written permission. Better to give it to her now: a. while you're alive; b. while you remember the terms; and/or c. before you change your mind.  All three of those things could change and leave her with some problems.

frenchsojourn asked:
You mentioned the 1920 limit for music...does the same apply for literary work.

Yes. Anything in novels published before 1920 no longer requires permissions. BE CAREFUL however if you're quoting from anything translated. If the translation occurred after 1922 (or so)  it's still protected by copyright. You could quote from the original novel in the original language without a problem but if the translation to English is what you need, make sure that is before1920 as well.

And Scott Sloan also reminded us that the edition year is also important:
Several people talked of quoting sources originating before 1922.
But the original work could be public domain, yet the actual copy of the work still be protected.
A 1980 edition of "Right Said" Freddy Buttonweezer's (Felix's not-so-great-great-great-meh? grandfather) Revolutionary War song cycle, entitled "Me and My Banjo and My Trick Knee in Alabama" would be protected, because it was that edition you borrowed from.
If you've actually got a first edition of the original material… well… sell that sucker, and retire.
In my experience, publishers have been known to change things around enough to secure a further period of protection, if the money is good.
So, Kipling's Jungle Books are public domain.
The latest Norton Anthology of that public material is protected.

Adele asked an interesting question:
I have been told that sometimes even pre-1923 works are still under copyright. There are a few famous writers who gave their works to institutions, and the institutions (usually universities) now hold the copyright. Since institutions rarely die and the law restricts the end of copyright until 50 years after the death of the copyright holder, that copyright will never end.

My problem is that I can never quite remember who these authors are. I think J.M. Barrie is one, maybe Lewis Carroll? Who else? How would you find out?

A copyright lawyer is going to be helpful here. I know that J.M. Barrie gave the rights to the performance of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

That is ONLY for performance rights though (if you want to put on the stage play) If you want to reference Captain Hook and the Lost Boys, you're ok because Peter Pan was published in 1911.

brianrschwarz expanded the question:
Can I say "Felix Buttonweezer sipped his Miller Lite in the dim haze of the bar..."
And S.D. King asked:
In my WIP I use brand names like Sharpie, Milky Way bars, and reference "The Price is Right."

Am I on shaky ground?

Brand names are a different kettle of fish. It's not copyright that applies here, it's trademark law. And that makes copyright law look like a walk in the park. Generally you're ok referencing brand names as long as you're not disparaging them in a way that damages the brand.

What a lot of people don't know about trademark protection is that trademark holders must defend their mark or lose it. This is what leads to those stories about "Big Giant Evil Corporation" going after "small gentle mom and pop unicorn store" for trademark infringement. If BGEC doesn't stop other people from using their mark/name/protected property, then the trademark can be voided. Thus you can not open a restaurant in Portland Oregon called Rip City Diner without drawing the ire of the Portland Trailblazers.

Matt Adams asked:
I have another section where a lot of his [Jimmy Buffet]  song titles are used (two of my MCs are drunkenly talking about creating a religion based on his music), but I stayed away from using any specific lyrics. I've always read that titles can't be copyrighted -- so I know I'm safe if I have a character having smoke get in their eyes -- but I wonder if it's okay to list a series of song titles, even if you're giving full attribution to the songwriter. I guess it's a bridge I'll cross when (if) I get there.

You're right. Titles are not covered by copyright. You can use them and list them without a problem. 

LynnRodz asked:
I like that idea of changing words around just enough to still know which song they're referring to, but will that still bring about a lawsuit?

Some of this is hard to know until it happens. And a lot depends on what the publisher's legal department says.  My guess is that if you saw this in a Carl Hiaasen novel, it's ok. Carl Hiaasen is a well known author who sells a lot of books. In other words, the rights holder to the songs is more likely to notice his misquoted lyrics and object if they wanted to. If he was a lesser known author, published by a smaller press, with a small print run, chances are nobody would notice.

Susan Bonifant had a very interesting comment on using lyrics at all in a novel:
I wanted so badly to use lyrics from the Rolling Stones "Waiting for a Friend." But when I put them on the page in context with the scene, it just looked like I was directing the reader: Okay, see these lyrics? THAT'S how my character feels RIGHT NOW.

Amanda Capper responded with:
I used two lines from a Gordon Lightfoot song in the first draft of my book because it mentioned con men but took them out when I realized I wrote the scene around the lyrics instead of the lyrics adding to the story. But there is nothing like a song to bring back memories, and put a reader smack dab in the moment.

Adib Khorram added:
One of my rough drafts uses song titles for each chapter heading—the main character is obsessed with Pink Floyd, so each chapter is named after one of their songs.

I imagine that kind of use will end up being cut sooner or later (kill your babies/darlings!) but it helped me with the writing and I certainly won't shy away from mentioning the titles of whatever Pink Floyd songs the narrator listens to in the course of the story

On Wednesday we turned to the topic of waiting time

Amanda Capper made me snort coffee out my gills with her parenthetical comment here:
Agent snagging (as opposed to agent shagging which is a whole other, not to be discussed, topic), seems to be all about patience and perseverance. Keep moving is good shark advice.

And french sojourn didn't help matters at all with this:
My great-great Grandfather, Elloidal T. Buttonweezer, wrote in his first Novel. "Marooned on Carkoon"

Tony Clavelli said:
Janet always says the best stuff is in the comments and I thought that was some kind of humility, but this stuff is really helpful. Dejection is a choice, but it's awful hard to recognize that when you're in your own dread-loop. Anyway, thanks for sharing those stories.

Humility? ME? (oh boy there went the coffee out the gills again)

and then this from Julie M. Weathers, and I just gave up on the coffee that day:
Why am I a writer?

I have auburn hair, freckles, and a writer's brain. It's just the way I was put together.

*hangs head in shame and picks up the glass jar with the brain in it*

"Yes, I hear you. I will return Mr. Poe's brain."

You guyz really crack me up.

Lizzie summed things up nicely:
The cognitive dissonance this business requires is baffling, a singular belief in your work yet an acceptance that your belief is also insignificant. We might as well be creating ephemeral sand mandalas here. Hats off to everyone who has mastered the contradictory tightrope.

And if this comment by brianrschartz doesn't grab you, well, you might already be a zombie:
I think the hardest part about being a writer isn't the writing, or the waiting, or the revising. It's the forgiving. Strangely, I think we need to forgive ourselves for more things than words we write.

We need to forgive ourselves for... let's see...

our bad attitudes.
missing our wordcounts.
getting into a rut.
hitting a wall.
envying another position.
wishing too much and writing too little.
not maintaining good habits.
losing focus.
chasing the meat wagon.
not staying true to our story.
getting caught up in research.
forgetting to live life.
putting writing above all else.
putting writing below all else.
getting stranded on Carkoon.
reading too many blogs.

I didn't think much of the idea.

Tony Clavell had a great example of diction rather than spelling to indicate regionalism:
There's a sort of obscure West Virginian writer with an amazing surname--Ann Pancake--whose dialogue is stunning. Moreso than the dropping of letters, the sound can come from word choice and grammar--creating a voice instead of forcibly reminding the reader with every verb that the best you've got is a ton of apostrophes. I just googled her for a sample sentence:

"They burned regular, about once a month, the glows of the closer fires quavering Dell and Carol's window, choking them awake on their trash smoke stink."

and mhleader reminded me of one of my favorite store names:
And if you think that's what designates a Southern speaker, well, you ain't been visiting down to the Piggly Wiggly lately, hon.

Jenny Chou had very good news on the Piggly Wiggly front:
I would like to mention that we STILL have Piggly Wiggly's here in Wisconsin. There's one 10 minutes from my house and I shop there all the time because it's right down the block from the library.

I really liked what Patricia Harvey said:
If I'm not mistaken, this subject relates to that most nebulous of concepts known as "voice." Particularly the difference between an author's voice and character's voice. The topic of voice is one I've heard agents and editors discuss at conferences without actually saying what they're looking for, except that want "fresh" ones. For writers, finding that voice can be like trying to pin down pixie dust. Along the way I've learned that getting to know one's characters more intimately can help define their voices. But author's voice, I'm less clear on.

As soon as I have an answer on author's voice I'll let you know. Right now it's like pornography: I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Dena Pawling pointed out:
Is anyone else also distracted by the fact Janet has two bright red numbers (1) and (2) in this post but doesn't include specifically-numerated answers?

Dangnabbit!  That's one of those things that I should have caught. I revise blog posts a couple times before posting and the comments related to (1) and (2) got deleted. I forgot to go back and delete the numbers. This is what happens when I don't let the posts sit for more than a day.  Argh.

and Joseph Snoe caught another mistake:
Spiraling off topic here: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café actually takes place in Irondale, Alabama, not Georgia.

I went back and read (using the Look Inside feature on Amazon) and sure enough: Whistle Stop is ten miles from Birmingham. That will teach me not to fact check stuff! (I did that post from memory---oops)

This, combined with the miss on mitten in the contest means I probably need a vacation. Or something.

But what Julie M. Weathers clearly needs is a smack upside the head:

"TBR pile; add Julie Weather's autobiography."

That will never happen. A collection of stupid Julie stories doesn't make a good memoir, I'm afraid, but thank you.


"stupid"?? STUPID??? I don't think so. In fact, that's pretty much the LAST word I'd use to describe Julie stories. Right after boring, pointless and lewd.
They are in fact hilarious, wonderful, and welcome. So, knock off the self-disparagement or I'm gonna come out there and butter your biscuits and call you lunch.

and I'm not alone in this:
from bjmuntain:
Have you ever read George Burns' biography of his wife called Gracie: A love story? It's a beautiful story of love and regret - and it's told in Burns' voice, with Burns' stories from the days of vaudeville up to the early days of television. I can see Julie's autobiography told in the same way.

    First, though, we need to get Julie famous. Then the world can read the gloriousness of her autobiography.

BUT it might make an entertaining as hell book. You may call them stupid stories, I call them a window into a life I'd like reading about.
You're funny babe, your stories are hysterical and have heart. I'd say that, and your writer's voice, are a good mix.

Colin Smith:
Janet: Is there precedent for an agent (e.g., you) offering representation to a writer for a book they're in denial that they need to write (e.g., Julie)? :)

And honestly this Julie Weathers comment just cracked me up so completely when I was writing this week in review that I worried my next door neighbors would hear me cackling at the crack of dawn as a I wrote it:
You know how some blogs are so focused and direct in their comments?

Yeah, we're sort of the Golden Retrievers of comment land. Poor Janet.

On Friday the topic was waiting time, this time on waiting for an editorial letter

I loved Tony Clavell's phrase here:
I know I can always shelve the book, wait 'til next book (Chicago Cubs-style publishing),

Amanda Capper said:
I have no idea what an editorial letter is.

An editorial letter can be from either an agent or an editor. It's the letter an author gets suggesting revisions to the book. They can run from one paragraph to 18 pages (or more.)  Generally if you're under contract with a publisher, the editor has read the book before offering to buy, and then writes an editorial letter suggesting revisions after the contract is signed. 

MeganV asked
Does the QOTKU have any tips(or any adjustments for point 3) for authors whose nearest booksellers are, for all intents and purposes, on Carkoon?
I'm so glad to hear Carkoon has a bookstore. If you're not going to have the advantage of local bookstores stocking your book, time to cast your net farther afield. Regional booksellers perhaps? I know the Pacific Northwest has a pretty loose definition of local.  In Portland it might be a Portland or an Oregon/SW Washington author.  In Burns Oregon, it can be someone from Idaho or Montana too.  Each region has an association of regional booksellers and they let people join. That's how you get the membership directory and reach out to the members to introduce yourself. Spam them, and you'll find your membership card revoked. Spam them and find yourself making introductions to the bookstore on Carkoon.

Stephen Kozeniewski thought he was joking when he said:
My takeaway from this post is that I should e-mail Janet personally when my next book comes out.
Anyone who regularly comments on this blog, or who reads it and has gotten value from it would be an IDIOT not to email me personally to share their good news about a published book.
The trick is that personal email. Spam me with "hey folks, sorry about this group email" and I'll never buy your book. Send me an email that says you read the blog, have gotten value from it, or you just like the community, and you bet I'll hike on over and buy it.  Why would you think otherwise? You think I don't like finding good books? Yours IS a good book, right?

Miz "b" supported my idea with her own experience:
You are totally right about the individual emails to people. When I was running my (very successful) kickstarter campaign, i got much better results sending individual emails to people. Yeah, you want to have a basic message that you can copy and paste, but each person was addressed by name and emails were sent one at a time. Definitely worth the effort.

Donnaeve asked:
I only have a question for the Shark..., is this very succinct to do list something you believe all writers should do pending publication - i.e. those with a bigger publisher?


On Saturday the discussion was about maps and illustrations in novels.

I was glad to see how many of you, like me, love maps!

Adele however made a good point about maps in books:
The St. Mary Mead map is a pretty drawing and I enjoy it for itself, but if the map is necessary to understanding the plot I think the author's in trouble. And yes, I have seen that, in mid-20th-century mysteries, where you had to keep flipping back and forth to find places on the map just to understand what's going on, and that is really tedious.

bj muntain concurred:
I like maps, but I rarely use ones found in a novel. Unless the novel gets confusing, and I have to keep going back to see where things are. I'd rather the novel be clear enough to tell what's going on without the map.

And I/we learned a new phrase thanks to DeadSpiderEye: heavily foxed

Craig mentioned:
One of my current favorite maps in the Nullschool map. It is a current animated and interactive map of the winds around the world. It is really cool.
Speaking of  animated maps, here's one that I just love: Empires

And Amy Schaefer's link to what your favorite map projection says about you is hilarious

And kdjames shared some great news about Sam Hawke:
Sam Hawke has announced via twitter that he has signed with an agent!

and yay! Amy Schaefer is back:
Completely off-topic insertion, here. I'm back from my boat delivery, and just wanted to give a friendly wave around the place. I have unshuttered FPLM Paradise, swept the stray coconuts in 2N's direction, and am ready to start writing again.

Our sail across the Coral Sea was full of excitement - strong winds, three meter waves, a mysterious leak in the aft bilge and the joy of two broken toilets. Magic all around. But the boat is safely stored on Oz now, and I'm back on my teeny tiny island where I belong.

I had to pull out my trusty world map to find out where the Coral Sea was:

Congrats to Sam! Welcome back Amy! And thanks to all of you who make this blog so fun to read.  We really are an anomaly in the blogging world: the comments are the best part!

Just to amuse myself I made a chart of the ratio of views to comments in the course of the week:

Here's the raw data:
Comments is column 1, View is column 2.

28 310
50 837
88 1533
58 459
110 571
52 468
46 281
I divided views by comments to get the ratio.

Sunday is Day One, the next Saturday (yesterday) is Day 7.

I'm not sure what any of this means, but I just like to do this kind of stuff.

My blog subheader choices this week were:
(1) "Everyone should have a zombie plan." Julie M. Weathers
(2) "Yeah, we're sort of the Golden Retrievers of comment land." Julie M. Weathers

(3) Every writer needs three plans:

1. A plan to finish your book and polish it to the best of your ability.
2. A solid marketing plan.
3. A good zombie plan. --Julie M. Weathers

(4) "You have to be your own hero" Amy Schaefer

I can't believe that it's almost the end of June, and we're half way through 2015.

See you next week. There are some really good questions coming up!