Sunday, November 15, 2015

Week in review 11/15/15

And what a week it was.

First things first.  For those of you who did not see the addendum to Friday's post:  our regular blog commenters in Paris and nearby are all reporting they are safe and sound as are their loved ones.

There's a map on the upper right hand side of the blog where you can pin your location

I encourage everyone to put themselves on the map! I'm a map devotee and it's fun to see where y'all are. (Some of you are having entirely too much fun with this. Yea, I'm looking at you Russ B.)

Happier news: Colin Smith is putting his time in exile to good use. Either that or he's procrastinating mightily on that novel. Either way, he's compiled an Excel spreadsheet of all the flash fiction contests and winners.  It's a very cool list!  You can download it from my dropbox file here

Now back to looking at the week that was!

Round one of last week's review was the answers to the Query Letter Quiz asking which of all wrong answers was the least wrong.

As usual, there was some grumbling in the comments about misleading questions and unclear directions.  All valid of course. It's one of the great joys of my life to torment writers. You thought this would be an exception?

Julie Weathers summed it up quite nicely with this comment:
You're making my brain hurt.

Mission Accomplished!

Round two was the more comprehensive review

John Frain asked:
Excellent recap. Spot on. But I'm troubled by one small piece. You're not attending ANY conferences next year? Is that a set-in-stone kinda thing or something you're bouncing around in your mind? Somebody, I mean, like, a friend, was thinking they might stalk you and try to show up at the right conference next year.

At the end of conference season, I'm usually of a mind to stay home for the next decade or ten. The idea of packing my steamer trunk and polishing my fangs for actual interactions with people is somewhat akin to eating lettuce for a year.

By next spring I'll probably have recovered my wits enough to think about travel, but right now I don't have anything booked until fall of next year.

If that changes, I'll keep you posted on the blog of course.

And it looks like Brigid is getting her one-way ticket to Carkoon for this one:

QOTKU, would it ever be helpful to do a beta reader match up here? I am a lurker but I've been doggy-paddling in these waters since '08, and I love the engaged commentariat here.

I'm envisioning something along the lines of several posts going live at once, with comment threads for different categories. "Comment on this post if you're looking for beta readers for YA novels" and "This is the thread for those writing mysteries and thrillers", with the commenters then being able to sort for themselves between literary-werebadger-urban-fantasy YA and commercial-historical-fiction-about-plants YA.

It may be unfeasible, and it may also be outside the realm of what you want to be involved with. But I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. Unless I get sharkbitten. Think thick-skinned thoughts...

I very much appreciate and value the engaged commentariat here as well. I encourage you to talk to each other both in the comment column and independently. If you are looking for a beta reader, say so. Keep it BRIEF, and take the ensuing conversation off the comment trail and it's all good.

I'm NOT going to add a feature like that to this blog. I'm not going to add anything to the blog in fact. The amount of time it takes to write what we've got going now is all the time I'm able to devote here.  I have these people called clients who are very generous in their understanding of my time constraints, but telling them I'm not reading their manuscripts cause I'm doing something on the blog: not a good thing. Not At All.

But, again, you don't need me to make this happen. Youse guyz can do it on your own. I know this cause some of you already have.

We had good news to celebrate with Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
Yesterday I signed with Brent Taylor at TriadaUS for my YA Fantasy. I couldn't possibly be more grateful for the wonderful advice I got on this blog and Query Shark.


Monday was the day we saw the results of the flash fiction writing contest

We all recognized the superlative work of the finalists, particularly that of E.M.Goldsmith our winner.

None said it better than Sam Hawke:
I'm not sure about the use of profanity in these comments so I will go with my Sis the Younger's preferred abbreviation and say HOSHI, guys. HOSHI. You are too good.

On Tuesday we turned to the problem of  the  terms of a writing project terms changing and how to negotiate for something after the work is done.

Jamie Kress asked:
I'm curious about one detail. The OP says she 'found and collected' the interviews. I am taking this to mean that she/he actually found people, interviewed them, and collated the resulting product. However, another interpretation is that these were extent interviews that were researched, rounded up, and put into a collection. If that's the case, aren't there potential copyright permissions needed to (re)publish them?

I understood it to mean the writer had initiated the interviews as well. If that was NOT the case, if she had found the interviews in a library or archive, yes, there is copyright to consider and permissions.  

You can't simply copy someone else's work and sell it under a different title without being in serious legal trouble. Even if the work is not under copyright, credit has to be given.

In other words, you 're not entitled to publish Hamlet and put your name on it. The version (and yes there is more than one version) you use was created by someone else and that someone gets credit even if no royalty. 

Dena Pawling asked:
And come to think of it, will the people who agreed to be interviewed want a cut too? Is that common?

Generally no. Most of the people my clients interview for biography are not paid for their contribution. They are credited in the book though.  And of course, they agreed to participate, even when they are under no obligation to do so. (Which is why David Halberstam could write a book about Michael Jordan, and never interview Jordan himself)

Matt Adams said:
Opie, I'm pretty sure that since the company was paying you to do the work, the material belongs to them, or at least that is what they would argue should it ever turn into a fight.

A lot of you misunderstand work for hire. You own the work you produce UNLESS you have signed that ownership away in a contract with your employer, or a publisher or other entity.

Absent an agreement with your employer that says what you write belongs to them, it belongs to you.
Copyright is yours until you license it.

Most people don't know this because companies take those rights before you write anything. It's part of an employment contract.

In this particular case, it was not clear to me that an agreement existed at all. And the initial terms were that the work would be made available at no cost to readers/users.

Once the work is available for sale, there needs to be an understanding of how the money gets divided if it is to be divided.

And yes, it's MUCH better to do this before rather than after, but that's not what happened here so we've got to make the best of a confused situation.

Brian Schwartz said:
In my experience that's how this works with music contracts. In fact, in music they actually level out the advances against the life of the contract so lots of artists never make a royalty. For instance, if you get paid 10,000 in an advance to put out your first record, and 20,000 in advance for a second a year later, and your first record only earns $3,000 in sales, you won't be seeing a royalty until you earn $27,000.

But, and this is a big but, to my understanding not all advances are considered recoupable by the publisher. (Janet, correct me if I'm wrong here.) The contract dictates what is considered recoupable and what isn't. So there is a chance your 10k advance is a freebie.

The music industry works differently than publishing here.

What you're describing is a series of contracts that are jointly accounted or cross-collateralized. That is: the earning from all contracts are in one big pot.

Any agent worth her salt makes sure to have the contracts separately accounted, i.e. not cross-collateralized.

That way, you do get paid when Book 1 earns out, no matter what has happened on Books 2-N.
And all advances are recoupable unless they're called something else. The term advance against royalties means just that.

On Wednesday I was tearing out my hair at the new and really idiotic ways people screw up their queries STILL!

E.M.Goldsmith fessed up to writing some howlers back in her misspent youth:
I wish there was a way to permanently erase the queries I wrote prior to discovering QOTKU. I think there were some even worse egregious errors in them. I was a rather feral woodland creature back then.

The problem of course is that we've all seen that EM Goldsmith is a writer of amazing talent and skill.  I should remind y'all that very few query pitfalls will actually make me reject good writing. That said, it's better to get it right than hope I'll keep reading when you get it wrong.

Susan Bonifant said:
But, as E.M. Goldsmith points out, all of us were once before-Janet and eventually, God willing, we will look back and laugh at the time when, as wee writers, we sent our first pitch letter (ever) to a magazine editor on 32 lb. bond paper because I, I mean we, thought it looked nicer.

I'm a sucker for nice paper too. In fact, I have special paper in the office just for MY printer that no one else is allowed to use. I think back in the day when all queries came on paper, it was rather nice to get on a good quality stock. Of course, it was what was ON the paper that determined the reply. Even a pen and paper snob can't choose projects merely by rag content and pen nib.

Theresa makes a good point:
I think some of these mistakes are made because the writers are afraid of being blunt (thinking specifically of the prologue here). Not everyone grew up in New York. Some cultures think it's rude to get right to the point. This, of course, is an explanation, not an excuse.

I think you're right. In fact, I was cogitating on that very idea this week, and have a blog post ready to go on this subject. I believe it goes up on Wednesday of next week.

and Theresa says further:
I'm sure even the QOTKU would overlook any one of these mistakes if the query otherwise knocked the socks off her fins. I'm equally sure that most great queries don't make these mistakes.

Most great queries don't, but a lot of good writers do. And yes, good writing trumps all.

and it's clear Dave Rudden is a very funny guy:
Janet - I am working on my query letter, synopsis and having my first few chapters reviewed for a novel now and I appreciate the guidance. I enjoy reading your thoughts and tips. Should I put "I want to be a paper back writer" at the end of every paragraph?

Yes, you should. No, wait, you should embed audio at the end of every paragraph. Autoplay audio.

CarolynnWith2Ns is also pretty damn funny:
Like "fiction novel", is the term "query letter" redundant?
Just asking because I use the term often.

I sure as hell hope not or I'm going to spend the next year scrubbing a lot of blog posts.

And Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale hits the problem square in the face with this:
Research long enough and you can get an excellent sense of what not to do in a query.

What to do right in a query, that je ne sais quois that hooks an agent? That's much harder to define.

I'm about to jump on the query train for my next project and I'm freaking out over my query letter. I believe I have written an excellent book. However, can my query letter adequately communicate my book's excellence?

The only way to find out is to send the query. But if my query lacks
je ne sais quois, it's not like I get a second chance.

I was quick to say my opinion (N+1) doesn't matter as much as the opinions of the people doing the actual querying.

I really liked with S.P. Bowers said:
For me, I queried until one day I woke up and knew it would be okay to stop. I was at a point where I could move on. I had already learned enough writing the next book to know the first book wasn't there yet, I was ready to let go. So go with your gut. And if you're still wondering, then keep querying. Because you'll feel peaceful when it's time to stop.

and I like Sarah's advice here too:
The reason I wanted to comment is to say I'd be really wary of waiting for feedback. Feedback is like the Great White Buffalo for me. I don't know who these lucky souls are who get helpful feedback on rejections, but I've never been one of them. I get one sentence emails with, "I'm passing, best of luck though." And THEN I want to say this doesn't necessarily mean anything deep about the quality of your book, because a year later, this was an MS that got 3 offers of rep, 3 offers of publication, and a whole pile of NYC dollar bills.

And I liked this from Craig too:
How many queries do you need? In the long run you only need one. The question is which one that is. Maybe it is the next one.

And Amy Schaefer's comment is spot on:
The only time to stop querying is when something in your situation changes:
-your query isn't leading to requests
-you get useful MS feedback from an agent or other reliable source and decide to revise
-you run out of appropriate agents to query
-you get an offer
-you've had enough

Otherwise, keep going, OP. As a statistician, you know that a large sample size is your friend. Keep chugging through your agent list, no matter how many requests are outstanding.

and Julie Weathers gave us the best image ever

Friday was the flash fiction contest, with a suspension of the rules on no off-topic comments.

Our heartfelt wishes for the citizens of Paris, and all the other people around the world who are beset by violence and tragedy.

Subheader noms this week will be rolled over to next week:

It's nice to finally find a place where you feel like you belong--or, at least, where you can set aside your writing woes, learn a little (or a lot), and know you're welcomed with threats of exile and kale juice.--Susan

patience isn't just a virtue when you query, it's a necessary survival skill--Lucie Witt


BJ Muntain said...

Another great WiR!

I'm loving the term commentariat.

Congrats Kaitlyn! I somehow missed the original announcement.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone feeling Paris' pain: the lost, the wounded, the scared, the heartbroken - the entire planet. Praying for world peace.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

QOTKU's WiR, my Sunday highlight.

Yay to Kaitlyn Sage Patterson. Congratulations!

I love this blog and all the vommenters. It keeps me from panicating, as they say in Franglais. I hope you are all not overdosing on the news. We ate baguettes and drank coffee today, like any normal Sunday. Some of even ate lettuce. The kale is in the flowerbeds. It contrasts nicely with the mums.

@Brigid, Susan started a facebook group page. To be clear, it has NOTHING to do with Janet Reid. However lots of the people who joined the group are regular commenters here. Right now it's a NaNo support group but I hope Susan will continue with it after we finish the word race.

Amanda Capper said...

WOOHOO Kaitlyn! Congratulations, and I say that without even a hint of envy. More like a lot of envy. But still, very happy for you. :)

french sojourn said...

Congrats Kaitlyn!

Colin, thanks for not putting an * after my F.F.C. win...I lost the word "mitten".
(but being born in Maine and rooting for the Patriots, it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibilities.)

Be well, great W.I.R., and the amount of time you put into this digital universe of yours is staggering.

Cheers Hank

Megan V said...

Congrats Kaitlyn Sage Patterson!!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I didn't see the exception to Friday's contest until now. I'm reading the heart felt thoughts for France and us regulars who live in France, and the awesome entries.

My previous comment may seem flippant. It's not meant to be. We're all in choc, I don't want to turn Janet's blog into a news bulletin. I didn't go out Friday, but I was supposed to be over there. Ugh! I need another glass of Bordeaux. Frank, can you beam one up?

Dena Pawling said...

My son is deployed in that area of the world right now. He's okay, as of this morning. So today I'll post about happier things.

So glad to learn Angie, Lynn, and Hank, and families, are well.

Congrats Kaitlyn! [and Sarah too, altho your news appears to be old news, but still worth celebrating IMO].

I didn't have time to enter the contest yesterday. Rats. But I've read the entries and they're awesome as usual. Perhaps better because I haven't dragged the curve downward =)

On another note, and to take advantage of Janet's offer, does anyone out there in Reiderland write MG or young YA? If so, can you send me an email?

Awesome WiR. Hope everyone has a great week.

Dena Pawling said...

PS here's a Pinterest comic to add to Julie's

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Once again, thinking of France...and glad the reiders are okay...

I like Lucie Witts - its applicable for everything. I havent queried yet, but like the cockroaches and rats at the end of world, hope to survive my first query process when it happens...

"A lot of you misunderstand work for hire. You own the work you produce UNLESS you have signed that ownership away in a contract with your employer, or a publisher or other entity."

And I learn something once again by reading this blog. Thank you Janet - for the WIR and the knowledge.

Colin Smith said...

Another delightful WiR--thanks, Janet! I don't know how I missed Kaitlyn's news (at least I think I missed it--I don't remember commenting on it). Sorry! And CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

Some notes about the FFC (Flash Fiction Contest) spreadsheet Janet linked to:

* It's strictly Flash Fiction Contests--no picture contests or caption contests. There are a couple of poetry contests included, but my general rule was only to include contests where a) entries weren't pictures, or based on a picture, and b) the entries were in the comments, not sent to Janet via email. The reason for this is that I wanted to be able to include the contest criteria and the winning entry in the spreadsheet. I might update the ss to include links to other contests at a later point.

* I plan to send Janet an updated version periodically (e.g., end of the year) that she can either post... or not. She is QOTKU after all! :)

* If you come across a contest I haven't included that you think ought to be included, please email me (my address is in my Blogger bio). Let's not clutter up Janet's comment box with FFC spreadsheet suggestions.

By my reckoning, there have been over 70 contests to date. It's interesting to see how we've all grown as FF writers, and how the contest entries have, indeed, matured--though, I think there are some past entries that would still stand up well today.

Have fun with it! :)

nightsmusic said...

I also missed the exception on Friday's post so to all of our French cohorts, I'm so glad you're all okay. Terribly saddened, but not surprised at what has happened. And that's my political commentary for the...yeah.

Many congrats to Kaitlyn!

I wanted to mention, in the past, I've seen the map. I don't see it now. Is it me? Or the interwebs demons?

Lance said...

Great WIR! Thank you for pulling all this together.

Glad to see that Angie, Lynn, and Hank, and their families, are well.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn! Look forward to reading your book.

Thank you, Julie, for the complete capture of querying for me.

Just Jan said...

For a cold-blooded shark, you have a very warm heart. Thank you again for the WIR and all you do for this writing community.

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, Kaitlyn!

Brigid said...

At least if I'm on Carkoon I have Colin and 2Ns for company.

Nightsmusic--for me, it's the 4th link on the right, in the box titled "The Fabulous Blog Readers".

Just Jan said...

Also, congratulations Kaitlyn! You give the rest of us hope!

nightsmusic said...


Found the link. Why did I think there was at one time a .gif with a circling globe and lots of red spots all over it showing where we all were? I'm there now though. :)

S.D.King said...

Kaitlyn, a big and heartfelt congratulations to you!

When one of us succeeds, we all are lifted a bit. Hope again appears.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Sitting in the afternoon sunlight, with the WiR in one hand and a cup of cappuccino in the other. What more do I need? (though I'm getting an argument for what's next--nap or walk)

Congrats, Kaitlyn. There is hope for all of us here.

Mister Furkles said...

First: Congratulations Kaitlyn.

About the Map:

1.) I pinned my balloon—well, actually, my cat's balloon—but he doesn't like purple. How to change his balloon color—or colour for you Brits?

2.) Only the first few are listed on the left. Can we scroll down somehow to find individuals?

3.) Whatever are you going to do when a robot starts writing a novel and wants to comment to your blog?

Susan said...

Thanks for the WIR, Janet! I love being able to re-read comments I loved and catch up on those I may have missed...

Like Kaitlyn's news! Congratulations, Kaitlyn! *happy dance*

Brigid and Angie: I'm definitely going to keep the group going after NaNo--so long as everyone keeps finding value in it. You guys are the nicest, most genuine group of writers I've ever met. Brigid, it's a closed group, but anyone's welcome join. Link is here if you're interested: The Writers' Room. Again, disclaimer: no connection to this blog or Janet other than most (not all) of us are Reiders.

Colin: That's twice I've linked correctly! How you like me now? =P

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats Kaitlyn Sage Patterson.

Great WIR.

Thanks for letting us comment during the contest and especially for the Reiders in France update. Maybe it’s me but I feel like we’re a family of sorts here. And I use the word “sorts” exactly as you might imagine.

Welcome to Carkoon Brigid. I was sent here because I once suggested that instead of a FF contest we should have a 100 word memoir contest. Oops, is that the Jaws theme I here? I am doggy-paddling outta here.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Using my second comment to recognize Kaitlyn Sage Patterson... A HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Way to go, Kaitlyn. And thank you, Colin. What a wonderful collection that is. I love the WIR- as I do this blog. I can't say it enough. Thank you, Janet for spending so much time on us wee woodland creatures.

Visiting here is my favorite part of the day. Take care everyone. And stay safe. Especially our friends in France.

Dave Rudden said...

"Yes, you should. No, wait, you should embed audio at the end of every paragraph. Autoplay audio."

Thanks for the advise Janet.

I will make sure to include the audio files along with my topless photo for my next round of letters.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Even though I read this blog regularly, I still manage to miss stuff, so I always enjoy reading the WiR.

Congrats to Kaitlyn!

Colin, love the contest spreadsheet! And not just because I'm on it, I swear. :)

Continuing to send good thoughts and prayers to all those in France....

BJ Muntain said...

I would never have thunk it, but:

Great White Sharks like Heavy Metal Music

And I think Dena's link got missed, so here we go:

here's a Pinterest comic to add to Julie's

Donnaeve said...

Looks like a chunk of us missed Kaitlyn's news somehow...

Hip hip hooray, Kaitlyn!!! Congrats on securing an agent!!!

Thank you for the WIR! This is the first time I've sat all day, and it was the perfect way to begin a bit of relaxation this Sunday evening.

Still thinking of all those who've lost someone this weekend due to the attacks.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Kaitlyn. What remarkable good news.

This was a great week in review as always. I miss so many of the good comments because I often stop in once or twice and then disappear into the writing hole.

My heart goes out to France. Special prayers for our Reiders there.

I'll be out of pocket this week as I am heading to North Dakota to see my mother and pick up a few of Daddy's things. I'm going to miss you all!

Anonymous said...

Kaitlyn, congratulations! You must let us know once you have a pub date (and a buy link) for your book.

LOVE the Snoopy cartoon, another thing I missed this week. Been thoroughly distracted by story.

Janet, thank you for letting us go off topic and prop each other up when we needed it. Love this community.

Lilac Shoshani said...

Angie, Lynn and Hank, I'm so happy that you and your loved ones are safe!

Sending healing and loving blessings to everyone in Paris and to the entire planet, praying for world peace.

I come from a country that has its share of terrorist attacks. Just recently people were getting stabbed here. I had to look over my shoulder both as a woman as well as a potential terrorist's target.

On a happier note: thanks Janet for another wonderful WIR, and for letting us ask for a beta reader. That's very generous and cool.

Speaking of cool (the coolest), congratulations Kaitlyn!

Last but not least, amazing job, Colin! I downloaded the file. I know that I will also find your story there, which I love so much!

P.S. I wasn’t abducted by aliens after all… ;-)

LynnRodz said...

Hank and John, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot. Susan, KDJ, Megan, EM, Janice, Lilac, okay never mind, I'll be naming everyone, thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts.

The weather today in Paris was warm and beautiful and I was happy to see young people and old, families and couples, children and babies, out enjoying the weather in spite of everything. Flâner, it's a French word that means to stroll without a destination in mind, but just for the pleasure. No one knows better how to flâner than Parisians.

Thank you, Janet, for allowing these comments of moral support during the contest yesterday. You have created a unique place here for writers on your blog that goes beyond writing. I think many lurkers have found out that everyone is welcome.

Wonderful WIR as always. Sarah and Kaitlyn, congratulations to both of you!

Lucie Witt said...

Congratulations, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson!

When the news broke about Paris this is one of the few places I was willing to stop by online, and I was overwhelmingly relieved to know everyone was okay.

AJ Blythe said...

I'm finally getting on top of everything after becoming overwhelmed during my exam weeks. I've been reading the 'backlog' of posts but not commenting as I'm sure no-one will see them.

Janet, thank you very much for posting about the regulars from here who live in France. I'd been worried about how everyone was and am very relieved to read they and their families are safe.

I also want to thank you for answering my question (from about 2 weeks ago) on whether you need 1 or 2 agents when writing for an audience specifically in another country. I've rethought my querying list - now I just need to work out how to query a US agent with a book targeted to an Aussie audience. There's always more to learn about query writing sadly.

Have again stuck your words of wisdom next to my computer:
Bottom line: there's more good work out there than I can take on. All things being equal I want to work with someone who is prepared, meticulous, and has invested some time in learning about the industry. EVERY AGENT WANTS THIS.

Tamlyn said...

Congrats, Kaitlyn!

I have accepted by state of Lurkerdom. I will be content to merely pop out on occasion to congratulate people.

Russell Buyse said...

Any resemblance between me and the scurrilous person called out for not taking the reader map seriously is purely coincidental.

Free Austoon!