Saturday, September 18, 2021

World Building

 




I was digging around in my files for some notes I KNEW I had on world building and came across this reading list and questions that I copied from (I think!) Alexander Chee when he taught a class on the topic.


Books
A Princess of Mars (ER Burroughs)
Dracula (Bram Stoker)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
Sunshine (Robin McKinley)

V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemison)
Lilith's Brood (Octavia Butler)

Perdido Street Station (China Mieville)
Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)





Questions for consideration on the syllabus:

Some things to consider always when taking on a new world:
what are its primary features - spatial, cultural, biological, fantastic, cosmological.

What is the world's ethos (the guiding beliefs or ideals that character the world?)

What are the precise strategies that are used by its creator to convey the world to us and us to the world? How are characters connected to the world? And how are we the viewer or reader connected to the world?

 



 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Jeff Somers doesn't like musicals...until he does

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that genre is a fixed concept—that thrillers always look and feel like thrillers, or romances always look and feel like romances. Most people are comfortable with the idea of mixing genres to a certain extent—the romantic subplot, the murder mystery with a deep bench of comedy—but we generally expect certain genres to adhere to certain tone frequencies and pacing requirements. 

 But genres can masquerade as each other, and Singin’ in the Rain is a prime example. Sure, it’s a musical, and a romantic comedy on top of that. It hits all those beats, but it’s all a smokescreen for the real structure of the story, which is 100 percent heist. Or, since technically nothing is stolen (aside from my blackened, underdeveloped heart⁶) maybe the word caper is a better fit. Either way, it adheres to the basic stages of a heist/caper story:

 

1. The identification of an impossible task

2. The assembly of a team

3. The development of a complex scheme using the individual talents of that team

4. Sudden twist adding complexity

5. Apparent failure

6. Apparent failure revealed as actual triumph

 

If you're not subscribed to Jeff Somers Writing Without Rules Deep Dive, you're missing out. 


Click this to link


--

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bookscan thinks I'm dead


I write under a pen name for the fiction imprint of an educational publishing company.  I write high interest, low reading level books for teenagers.  My first novel got a starred review from Kirkus, and is available to bookstores and Amazon.  My imprint, although they publish solely fiction, has the business model of their parent publisher.  What this means for sales, is that it's difficult to get into bookstores because it's got a net discount and is not returnable, much like most educational materials.  I understand that my book has sold well to schools and libraries, but unfortunately my Bookscan numbers are unimpressive.  On top of that, my local bookstore that sells my book does not report to Bookscan.

I'm now working on another project that is not hi-lo YA, and I'm starting to think about the query.  Should I mention that I've published this Kirkus starred book under a pen name, or should I leave it off?


It's a nice publishing credit, and the audience for your query understands about Bookscan not being accurate for educational books in particular, and books sold outside the regular sales points in general.

In the publishing credits paragraph of your query you can something like:

I have written novels under a pen name for (name the publisher). Kirkus gave one of them a starred review, but Bookscan of course doesn't even know I'm alive.

Any questions?


 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

How many is too many?


My wife and I have been discussing if there can be too many POVs (technically PsOV but let's all relax about that) in a novel.  I've read a lot of opinions on the subject online, but I haven't seen any steadfast rules, which makes me happy. 

I myself tend to write in a larger number of POVs than what makes some people comfortable.  The novel I'm currently working on has ten, but I haven't received any negative feedback from my beta readers.  

To be clear, when I say ten POVs, that doesn't mean each of the ten get their own chapters.  I will just show different POVs within section breaks.

 Is there a consensus on how many POVs are too many from agents and editors?

 

 Well, there isn't a consensus on the number of points of view you can have.

There is a consensus that all the characters need to be distinct, and the reader has to be able to follow the narrative.

 Ten points of view would give me great pause.

 Multiple points of view in a chapter would give me agita.

 

Now, let's make sure you understand what you're saying here.

Points of view, as I understand you are using it here, means ten different first person-points of view. 

I am Spartacus kinds of thing.

 



An example of that is Chum by Jeff Somers All the chapters are in first person I.  The reason I love this book, and signed Jeff on the basis of this book, is that the reader is never confused about who is speaking.  Jeff is a truly brilliant writer and Chum is a masterful book.

If you are using third person (he/she/they) that's third person omniscient.

An example of this would be Crashers by Dana Haynes which follows multiple characters, but always in third person.

 

It's a whole lot easier to do write third person omniscient with multiple characters, than multiple points of view.

Don't bite off more than you can chew with your mouth closed lest that apple pie fall on your crisp white shirt and your dinner companion think you a slob.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The agent told me something different than what's on her website! Help!

What do you mean follow the directions? Which ones?


(1) What if an agent asks for a partial and is then closed to queries when the manuscript is ready?
(2) Or what if the instructions to submit a referral go against the agency submission instructions?
(3) In a word, what happens when you get varied instructions for the same task, and aren't sure which path to follow?

 

(1) Send the partial. You're not cold querying when you're responding to a request for more material. 

(2) Do what the agent told you. The published guidelines on the website are more general than the specific instructions an agent gives you directly. 

(3) Always do what the agent tells you. In the absence of specific, individual (or in-person like a class) instructions, follow what the website says. 

 

 

Any questions?

Thursday, September 09, 2021

I've been wayl-aid!

 

Excuse me, but I think you forgot something.


I've been caught up watching movies for film pitches on a couple clients.

I have a very tough job, don't I?

Waylon thinks that's no excuse for not posting today.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Selling rights to a previously published translated book


 

Have you ever received a query from Mongolia by someone who originally wrote their book in Mongolian, self-published that book in Mongolia but has now finished translating their book from Mongolian to English and would like to find an agent for their book in the English speaking market where it has not yet been published in any form?

OK, I don't speak Mongolian but I know you wanted blog posts that include Mongolia (now I've mentioned it enough, I think 😂).

Here's the reality and maybe it's a stupid thought/idea but sometimes I get stupid ideas: I wrote my first book in English and self-published it to KDP-Amazon UK and it is available in English, worldwide, and has been bought in at least eight different countries that I'm aware of. The ISBNs for all editions of this book (e-book, paperback, hardback) are mine - not Amazon's.

I am nearing the end of translating this book from English to German, and I am moving from the UK to Switzerland (German speaking part -> German speaking book market) next year. I had planned on just sticking the German edition onto Amazon as a self-published book as well, but then I had this thought: Would it be query-able for a German speaking agent? Like, what would YOU do if I queried you with an English edition of a book that was originally written in Mongolian and self-published in Mongolia?

The critical piece of info here is that you self-published it.
That means you didn't license the rights to publisher, you only offered the book for sale yourself.

If you had licensed the book to a publisher, an agent would need to see that contract to make sure you only licensed English language rights, not world rights.

If you license world rights, there's no deal to be made with you.
The deal would be with the publisher who now controls those rights.

So, you're free to query German language agents.
I have no idea how the domestic market works in Germany and Switzerland.
All that is handled by our co-agents who shop books there.

The ISBNs don't matter at all.
And most agents will want to take a look at the contract you signed with Amazon, just to make sure everything is hunky-dory.



Any questions?



Tuesday, September 07, 2021

oh good, more advice on how to pitch agents from people who aren't actually agents

I recently visited a good friend who is a multi-published best-selling author. She very generously worked with me on my verbal pitch if meeting (or Zooming) an agent or editor (or anyone else, really) who says, “tell me about your book."

She told me that there were three key elements to a good pitch, other than being able to say it smoothly and naturally (practice!) and to complete it in about 30 seconds or so:

Basic logline: check. I knew that.

Simple comps: check. I knew that. But she suggested a “story” comp (a similar important story element to the comp book) and a “writing” comp (similar writing style or storytelling style to the comp book). As in “those who enjoy X book or the writing of Y author would enjoy my book.”

“Hollywood” comps: Uh…what???

She said that these days your pitch should also include a couple of TV series or movies (successful, well known, maybe not required to be as current as publishing comps) to grab attention even if you’re pitching a novel.

(1) Is this really true? If so, should that be included as part of the query letter too as part of the hook to grab attention and interest?


(2) The way this ended up was a verbal pitch (not a query!) something like this:



TYGER’S CLAW is MEDIUM meets BLACK WIDOW in an urban fantasy setting.
In an authoritarian future dystopia, a young mortician who moonlights as an assassin uses her unique ability to speak to the dead to protect her frail twin brother. In the process, she challenges the social order and reinvents the world she lives in.

Those readers who enjoy Jennifer Estep’s Spider series or the writing of Patricia Briggs would enjoy TYGER’S CLAW.  
Would this be a good format for a verbal pitch? Would it translate (with a little more detail about the story, plus appropriate length and other details) into a good query letter? Or should the Hollywood comp be left on the cutting room floor (as it were)?

Thank you so much for addressing this question. I thought I had a handle on how to pitch a book but my friend’s revelation was new to me…if you think it works.

 

There are three things you need to include in a verbal pitch.

She's got one of them.


But before wallowing in my great advice, remember all advice, no matter how well meaning, should be taken with a grain if not a shaker of salt. It's been years since I took verbal pitches at a conference. I find them loathsome, and writers fear them so much it's almost torture to ask them to do it.

But I am not the Queen of the Known Universe (yet) so pitching continues.

Here's what you need to remember about pitching: it should be a conversation not a presentation.

That means you give the agent a couple of sentences about the overall plot of the novel.

You've got that.

In an authoritarian future dystopia, a young mortician who moonlights as an assassin uses her unique ability to speak to the dead to protect her frail twin brother. In the process, she challenges the social order and reinvents the world she lives in.


What's the next thing an agent needs to know?

If you've got a young mortician, she needs to know if this is YA or adult.

If your pitch doesn't lead an agent to wonder about YA or Adult (i.e. the first word used to describe your character is not young), it's ok to not mention it.

What's the next thing an agent needs to know?

Word count (not comps).

No spiffy movie comps or terrific log line is going to save a 200K word novel. Or a 50K word novel.

So you'll need your word count right up front.

And third, you need to tell the agent the novel is finished (not what kinds of movies it's like).

I got pitched on several novels that weren't even close to being done. The conference guidelines didn't require a writer to have a finished novel, and I think the writers just wanted to see if I though their idea was interesting (an interesting idea is no guarantee of an interesting book, sadly,\.)

That was ok with me, but it meant I wasn't requesting their full until it was. I keep track of what I ask for and follow up if I don't hear from an author. If your novel isn't done, you're not ready for that level of nagging.


So, yes you need a log line
And you need the word count
and you need the completion status.


Those are the three things every agent needs/wants to know first.

Do you need comps of any kind?

Maybe.

So be prepared with books, movies, whatever.

BUT don't blurt all that out. Wait to be asked or until the conversation veers in that direction.


Some agents will ask.

Some don't give a rat's asterisk about comps (me, for example.)

The key to effective pitching is be prepared for all sorts of questions, but WAIT to be asked.

Start with your log line, word count and completion.

Speak slowly enough to be understood.

Then ask "what more can I tell you about my delicious page turning wonderful novel?"


The biggest problem I saw when writers were pitching is they absolutely could not shut the fuchsia up.

Pitch sessions are often very short. Some were barely three minutes.


More than one writer talked for the ENTIRE three minutes, telling me nothing of what I needed to know.

The bell rang, I said "thank you" and the writer had to leave.


I started telling writers to stop (which takes practice let me tell you!) so I could ask some questions. I was rude to them yes (I didn't actually say "shut up" but I did say "please stop talking") but it was for a good cause.

I'm not sure some of them ever truly understood that.

And one last note: the world is full of people telling you what to do. (I’m one of them of course). When people give you advice, do some digging. When was the last time your friend pitched anything? And to whom? Pitching a film agent is VERY different than pitching a book agent. Or pitching your long time editor.


A lot of authors want to help the new authors coming up the pike.
That's laudable.


But often they only have their own experience to draw from.
That can be useful.
Can be. 




Friday, September 03, 2021

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Now or not now?

 


 

Is now a good time to query agents in NYC?

 

First day of public school is September 13. I would imagine agents, editors and publishers with school age children are focused on opening school day and quite stressed over COVID.

 

So I thought to hold querying until September 20th, when hopefully all the uncertainty would have passed and things proved to be okay.

 

Should we consider these types of externals when we query?

 

 

 

No.

For starters, not a lot of agents read their queries every day. They almost certainly never read a query the day it's sent.

 

Some are more "caught up" than others, but while I've responded to most queries sent to me through August, I have five or six I've set aside for a more personal reply, or to request the full.

 If you query me today, you might hear back in a day, but it might also be four weeks.

And you don't know who has kids, or even if NYC agents are IN NYC right now.

 

The best time to query is when your project is ready.

 

Trying to game out the best time to query will just postpone you pushing the send button.

 

 I've opined on this before

 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Resource for writers

No matter where you are in the publication process, knowing about publicity and marketing is a requirement.

One of the best ways to get started on that is to subcribe to Dana Kaye's newsletter.

Her last one had this succinct helpful breakdown:


Publicity is earned media coverage. It is a media outlet like a magazine or website covering you and your business. You can’t control the message or when the piece runs. It’s not pay-to-play.

Marketing on the other hand is placed media. It's YOUR social media content, YOUR newsletters, and YOUR website. It’s a Facebook ad, a billboard, or a sponsored Instagram post. You can control the message and when it runs, but because it's coming from you, it doesn't hold the same amount of clout, and in the case of advertising, it costs money.


I subscribe to her newsletter and I have found value in all of them.

I've been in publishing for more than 30 years now, 10 of those in pubicity.

I still learn from her, and I'm glad of it. 

Publicity and marketing are very fluid areas of expertise.

Some of the things I relied on 20+ years ago aren't even relevent now.

And there are a lot of new things I'm learning, just like everyone who's starting out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trigger warnings in queries

 

 

I read your blog post "Content Warning in a Query Letter." My manuscript explicitly discusses child abuse as a subplot, which doesn't appear in the query. I understand that it's best not to add a content warning, so I wouldn't hurt my chances of getting published, but I still believe it's common courtesy to warn the agents of any possible triggers.

 

In this case, what do you advise me to do?

 

Thank you so much.

 

Why do you think it's common courtesy to warn an agent about a subplot?

 

Your job as a writer Is NOT to guard my mental health.

It's to tell me a great story.

It's to illuminate a truth.

It's to expand the world I know and understand.

 

You're not writing to children.

 

Your concern is well-intended, I know.

 

 

But context is everything.

If an agent auto-passes on killing animals, they miss OLD YELLER.

 

If an agent auto-passes on rape, they miss Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK.

 

 

If an agent auto-passes on child abuse they miss Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Dorothy Allison, and a lot of other books that illuminate the world.

That said, if an agent really doesn't want to read anything about child abuse, it's up to them to let you know that. You can then deselect them for querying.

 

The only thing I need a trigger warning on is bad writing, and sadly, that's never ever going to happen.

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Do I need a good score to get your attention?

This is probably a ridiculous question, but here goes. Does the "score" or "grade" from an online editing program such as AutoCrit make a difference with an agent?
In March I attended a writer's conference via Zoom. One of the speakers, a NY Times bestselling author, recommended the program and stated that after requesting a full manuscript some agents are plugging the manuscript into the program to find out the score. 
The theory being that writers tend to polish our first pages, but the rest of the work might not be quite as shiny, and this saves the agent time. 
Now, I realize that the primary goal was likely to sell the online editing tool (not cheap) and that these tools don't take a lot of things into consideration such as dialogue and does NOT take the place of a human editor. The program is useful because it points out things to reexamine. But...if a writer has no publishing credits would a high score be worth including in the query letter? This cook has no recipes, lol.

 

I don't think this is a ridiculous question.

Where do you keep your ice? is a ridiculous question (in a shoebox in the closet of course, where do you keep yours?)


I had not heard of AutoCrit until you brought it to my attention.

I'd certainly never used it.

 

So, I figured I'd check it out:

Here's the text I uploaded to assess utility:

The Duchess of Yowl

The free option will give you a list of things that need revising:

 


The only way to get add'l info is to upgrade.

$30 a month/$297 annually

So, I took advantage of the intro price ($1!) and upgraded.

 

The program gives you a LOT of information.

But of course, it doesn't tell you what the info means, or how to use it to revise.

 

Will this be of value to writers?

Sure, some, I guess.

 

Some being the folks who need remedial work on things like grammar and syntax. There are a lot of writers out there who don't know what they don't know. Software like this could be quite useful to them (if they actually pay attention.)

 

But those aren't the writers that make it past the first cull in the incoming queries. Writing with those kinds of problems gets a pass no matter how interesting the concept. I'm not an editor. I'm not going to edit your book.

 

What this algorithm can not tell you is if something is interesting.

 

It can't measure tension. It sure as hell can't measure style.

 

As to your initial observation:

Telling a writer that an agent will dig in to the granular level of a manuscript to find out "what's wrong" demonstrates this author does NOT know what an agent does.

 

An agent is NOT interested in editing your manuscript.

An agent is NOT interested in finding out what's wrong so she can tell you what to fix. (or, heaven forfend offer to help you fix it!)

 

I'm interested in reading your manuscript to find out if it's something I love and want to champion.

 

You don't assess art using an algorithm.

 

And further, as a person in sales, I am totally turned off when I see anyone sell a service using scare tactics like this.  If you can't sell a service on its merits, you need to rethink your strategy.

 

Much more effective: agents don't want to edit your ms. They don't want to find errors. Here's a way to spot those before you send your ms out. 

 

 

Last week I posted a comment about "the gasp factor" in The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

 

Increasingly, I look for the gasp factor in manuscripts I'm requesting. 

No algorithm can assess that.

 

This service offers remedial level writing help.

Whether it's useful to you is something you'd have to assess yourself.

 

It's not useful to me as an agent assessing manuscripts.

So to answer your question Will it help me if I don't have any pub credits?

No. 

 

(and you don't need pub credits to catch an agent's interest. I've signed and sold at least a dozen writers that had no previous publishing experience.)


 


Friday, August 27, 2021

Gasp!

 

It's pretty quiet here in the city in August.

Although we do get some interesting visitors from out of town.

I'm on the couch reading, and it's been great to catch up on things.


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen is open right now.

The gasp aloud page was 161.


Are you reading anything that has a gasp aloud page?


Thursday, August 26, 2021

italics Alex?

I'm curious what the "rules" are for italicizing foreign words, from an agent/editor perspective. According to my research, the Chicago Manual of Style says you only have to italicize the first occurrence, but I've seen it done differently in a book (Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield): every occurrence is italicized. 

What has been your experience? 


Every publishing house has its own style guide.

You'll see it when you turn in your final edited ms, or when you get copy edits to review.

Thus a book published by Snooty Tooty and Cootie may have one way of italicizing foreign words like knickers and catsup, whereas a book published by Hoi Polloi and Cousin Roy may have another.

When you're querying it doesn't matter.

My preference is you not italicize foreign words as long as I can figure out what the word means from context or a quick trip to the google machine.

And who's to say what's foreign?

Hijab may be a new word for some, but it's an item in daily use for someone else.

Same with mami, which I've seen publishers turn into mommy (with great hilarity from me, but NOT from the author).

Some of us think oven is a strange and exotic word, but I am reliably informed that most people not only know it but use one. Who knew?

 


 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I live to the left of Mongolia*, should I be looking for an American agent?

 

 

I’ve just started to look for agents for my novel. Based in Austria (and I have to emphasize that this is not the country you’re likely to meet kangaroos) with ties to the US, I have researched agents in the US as well as the UK. Their requirements differ significantly! This is the picture I have after researching about 20-30 agencies and agents in each country:

 

US agents want query letters and, maybe, a few pages at first.

 

UK agents want cover letters (a totally different beast), a synopsis, and frequently also the first 20 or so pages.

 

Can you shed some light on why the requirements are so different? Does the publishing industry work differently in the two countries?

 

 

Not even a glimmer.

Query requirements aren't because the publishing industry is different.

It's a matter of taste and custom.

 

But I don't know enough about UK publishing to offer any opinion you should listen to.

 

My second question is: how much importance does geographic proximity still play these days? In other words, I am crazy to consider an agent based some 6000 miles from where I am?

 

I have clients who do live in the country where you're likely to meet kangaroos, and one where you're like to meet oil sheiks and veiled ladies.

 

And more than a few who live in their own world, somewhere off to the left of Pluto.

 

 

All of which means that as long as you can get money without me having to deliver it in dollar bills via jet pack, you're good.

 

Where you're going to run into glitches is promotion. Zoom presentations to book clubs at 7pm EDT may mean you need to look bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7am your time.

 

 

*I just like to include Mongolia in blog posts for fun.

I really do know where Austria is

 

 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

So, I had some help writing my novel

I’m getting to query my fourth novel (first three ended up in the shredder without querying).  I’m very happy with how it turned out and I’m optimistic about getting somewhere with it.

Here’s the rub: it’s a collaboration.  The good news is our agreement is in writing and signed by both parties: the other writer gets paid (and has been paid in full) and I keep all rights and interests.

I wrote the first draft myself, a 30k word novella.  Confident I had a winning idea but so-so execution, I hired the other writer to help me clean it up and expand it to a novel length.  They assisted with writing an outline, writing certain scenes, guiding me through scene writing, and a substantial edit that resulted in a lot of their writing throughout the scenes I wrote. 

My question is, should I disclose this is a collaboration?  I have no shame I didn’t get over the finish line myself and I formed a team to get there.  I also have no interest in pretending this is only a product of myself, especially if I get asked later “how’d you write it?”  

At the same time, I don’t want to complicate getting an agent and getting a sale.

What’s the right thing to do?
 
 
 
This isn't a collaboration.
You hired what is for all intents and purposes an editor.
 
The reason it's not a collaboration is that you own all the rights.
A collaboration would mean your collaborater would have a percentage of those rights.
 
But the real question is of course, how much of the sausage making do you need to tell anyone about.
 
And more important: WHEN.
 
You do not need to mention this in an intial query.
If an agent requests the full, and wants to then have a phone call with you, that's when you say "I worked with an editor to sharpen this up."
 
You need to tell the agent BEFORE she sells the book so there is no question on the warranties and indemnites clause of any publishing contract
 
Example:

 

She can help you make sure that you have the right wording in any agreement with your editor.

Many MANY authors work with independent editors these days, and with varying levels of editorial input.  This is NOT a problem.




Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Waiting for the bear to leave results

 

You rose to new heights on this one.

Truly, a very demented bunch of readers on this blog.

I knew we were destined to be friends!

 

 

Here are the ones that really stood out in a very competitive field.

 

 

Kregger

 

    "Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    It's 1709 miles to Chicago, the truck is out of gas, I'm holding: a twinkie, a bullet, and a rifle.

 

    I picked a helluva time to become a vegan.

 

    Did I mention I'm wearing sunglasses?"

 

 

Aphra Pell

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away

 

    Hoping he can't smell me.

    Hoping he can't smell the body in the trunk.

 

 

Brent Salish

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away. I could drive off – he’s big, but not eat-an-F250 big – but I’d promised Helena that no matter what happened, I wouldn’t leave her on the ice.

 

 

Claire Bobrow

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    Got himself a bear perm and a bad attitude chewing on that cable. Now my truck won’t start.

 

    Stupid Tesla.

 


 

BrianH

 

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    I turn to Lenny. All that’s left is an arm. I pull his door shut and smile to myself.

 

 

 

 

Kate Larkindale

 

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away. He's licking his muzzle to clean the crumbs of Alfredo from his fur. I always knew my husband was a crumb.

 

 

 

TJB

    Me? I’m sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away. I think about speeding things along. But, I can’t afford to leave any evidence behind.

 

Johnell

    "Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away."

    Still, of all the honeymoons, this one could be the easiest to...forget. So long as bears eat bones too.

 

 

 

And here are my top choices

Leslie

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    More important, someone on Twitter is wrong about something so I must correct them while I wait for help!

 

Ash Complin

    Me? I’m sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    I don't get it. We had our fun. Why do Grindr matches in Yukon villages get so clingy?

 

Beth Carpenter

    Me? I’m sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away. Really hoping he doesn’t have an account with ACME, because if a giant can opener gets delivered, I’m toast.

 

Michael Seese

    Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

 

    I doubt he will.

 

    It's a really nice truck. He never shoulda left the keys in it.

 

Panda in Chief

    "Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away.

    The wind is gently rocking me to sleep....

    Oh...wait...that's not the wind."

 

 

Five top choices even though there are only four books. There were three, but I finished My Lovely Wife while I was waiting for you!

 


 


If you're one of the five, drop a line and let me know which book you prefer (and maybe 2nd and 3rd choice if another winner is more nimble on the Send button). Include your mailing address please!

 

 My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing has been claimed.

A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clement has been claimed.


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

 I'm a devoted fan of Jonothan Slaght who wrote Owls of the Eastern Ice.

After I heard him talk about his book, I started following him on Twitter and it's been a lot of fun.


Just recently he tweeted:

"Me? I'm sitting in a truck eight miles from the Arctic Ocean waiting for a bear to go away."

 

And honestly, a better first line prompt I haven't seen in quite some time.

How about all y'all take a stab at the next two or three lines. 

20 words max.

Post in the comment column of this blog post. Comments are closed now.

Results posted Wed 8/18/21 7am EDT

I've got some books to offer as prizes!

Three books means three winners, right?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Registering copyright (answering a question asked in the comment section)

I saw your statement not to copyright your material. The 1976 Copyright Act applies to original works whether published or unpublished, as soon as created and put in any reproducible form. The work does not need to be registered with the USPTO to be protected under state and federal copyright laws. Formal registration with the USPTO is beneficial in that treble damages and attorney fees for infringement, inter alia, are available.

 

For starters, let's be clear about who you register with.

It's the US Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress.

Info about them.

 

 

USPTO is the US Patent and Trademark office.

Patents and trademarks are NOT the same thing as copyright.

 

USPTO is a federal agency.

Info about them.

And, moreover, copyrights can be assigned to a publisher, so I am very curious about your statement.

Secondly, you never EVER assign your copyright to anyone, particularly not a publisher.

Not even if they ask nicely.

 

Copyright is ownership.

A publishing contract is a license to publish. It does NOT transfer ownership.

 

A publisher "buys" your book only in shorthand. What they actually do is license the right to print it. 

Here's a screen shot of a publishing contract:



 

(This is one of those terms that a savvy agent looks for in a publishing contract, particularly those from small presses or periodicals.)


If you see a publishing contract that requires you to transfer your copyright, do not sign it.

You're essentially surrendering complete control of your work.

 

Publishers that talk about "Big 5" publishers taking your copyright are either ignorant of how publishing works, or trying to use your ignorance to line their pockets.

 

But the real question you want answered here is why I advise writers not to register their copyright before the book is published.

 

Simple: once you register, that's it.

If a publisher comes along later, the Copyright Office lets them know the book is already registered, and oh by the way, this is a copyright amendment and they charge you more than they do for the initial registration, and it's a big old pain in the asterisk.

 

If you self-publish your work, you DO need to register the copyright.

 

But if you're querying, you really don't.

If you have, for whatever reason, make sure you tell your agent when an offer is received from a publisher.

 

Like a lot of things, it can be handled easily IF the agent knows about it.

 

Any other questions?

 

 

 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Bad Apples

 

 In the past several months, I've read posts on "agents being bad" including X, Y, and F.  These were reasonably respectable agents/agencies, until they weren't.  I'm planning to start querying soon , and yes I know there are good agents out there, and yes I've doubled my research on potential agents to query, but can you give any tips on what querying writers should be researching and considering, as we to try to screen out potential bad apples?

 

There are two kinds of bad apples. The kind that don't taste good, and the kind that can poison you.

 

I would classify the political contretemps (X and Y) as the apples that don't taste good. They may be good agents but things they've said or done make them undesirable to work with.

 

The only way to avoid those people is to follow them on social media.

 

Which is a problem if the agents are NOT on social media. Lots of the best agents have pulled back from The Twitters since it has sunk into cesspoolian depths.

 

My standard advice still holds: query widely. When you get offers, dig in on the research then. Ask the current clients what the agent is like to work with.

 

The bad apple that can poison you is the agency that's not paying you correctly. As in on time. Or with bounced checks. Or just not at all (the horrifying situation of Chuck Palahniuk comes to mind.)

 

If an agency is fucking around with your money, don't delay. Get immediate help. The first stop is the royalties department at the publisher.  If your agency says they didn't get paid, you can verify this.

 

If you're worried about this kind of thing, you can have your publishing contract direct that your money be sent directly to you from the publisher. It's called split payments. Now that I'm a sole prop I do this with my clients who have big deals. The very last thing I want is for their money to be held up if I'm not able to get to the PO and process checks courtesy of a head-on with the cross town bus.


And the pandemic has illustrated how quickly things can fall behind if someone is not in the office to process the money. 

 

 Bottom line:

Be wary of gossip.

Anyone can say anything on social media these days and once it gains traction, there's nothing anyone can do to calm the waters. I saw that personally last spring, and honestly, I've never posted anything about queries again on Twitter. 

 

As always, Victoria Strauss and Writer Beware are the place to verify shenanigans, and reports of shenanigans.  She's well-established and I trust her.

 

Any questions?

Me, tackling royalty statements.