In last week's review Dena Pawling revisited our ongoing terminology seminar with this
And now I understand why the PB notation tripped her up. At the bottom of the copyright page she posted for the Gary Corby book, it shows that Death ex Machina has an ISBN as a PB, which presumably does NOT mean picture book =)
Nope, it means paperback. Hardcover and paperback editions of the same book have separate ISBNs.
Karen McCoy had a report on BookCon that I found interesting:
I went on Saturday, and whoa. Just whoa. It seemed like triple the people as BEA (though cutting the BEA Exhibit space in half probably enhanced this effect) and a lot of autograph lines capped early (tickets ran out). My friends and I didn't mind--we mostly just browsed a lot of booths. It was interesting to see how booksellers garnered attention from the crowds. Lots of free giveaways-- though I'm bummed I missed the ARC of KILL THE BOY BAND, which I can't wait to read.
The autograph lines had an interesting system. If people wanted a book signed, they had to get a wrist band, and before they could do that, they had to stand in a very (VERY) long line to purchase the books they wanted signed first. Not sure if they've done it that way every year or not, or whether it was effective.
Like any con, if you aren't up with the early birds, most of the worms get snapped up early. But my friends and I walked away with a fair amount of goodies anyway.
Stacy weighed in on BEA coming back to Chicago in 2016
REALLY bummed no one in the publishing industry wants to come to Chicago. :(
It's not so much we don't want to come to Chicago. It's measuring the value of attending BEA against the increased cost of attending when you have to fork out for hotel rooms and air fare. For me, the value of BEA is right about the price of the admission, but add a couple hundred to that, and I'm not sure. Chicago is particularly difficult cause there isn't anything else there to add value. In LA I could visit film agents, and meet California publishers and agents. DC is on the train line with a superb transit system to get around on (thus cutting costs).
On Monday, the results of the writing contest were posted. A lot of you were worried when the contest was late both opening and closing. Sorry about that. I overslept both days after a long week!
Terri Lynn Coop said exactly what I think about these writing contests:
One of the best bloggery days is when the contest results are posted. It's like reading a pint-sized anthology of world class flash fic.
S.D.King created a locationmap for us to add yourself: tap the pin and then drop it on your location.
On Tuesday the question was about how to requery.
Susan Bonifant made a good point:
Julie (Weathers) hit on something with PYW's fear of losing interest.
It's frightening to consider losing interest in something you've spent years on. But there might be a more uncomfortable truth at the core of this angst: you won't lose interest, but because time and fresh eyes WILL make the flaws stand out, you WILL have to attack it anew. Because nobody else will see the A of it if you settled for a B-
Elissa M had a terrific insight for us with her comment about professional musicians
Musicians train their ear to hear proper pitch, recognize chord progressions, etc. My husband quit the less-than-professional community band I play in because he IS a professional, and the sounds were destroying his ear. In addition to practicing (daily) he has to play with fellow professionals just to keep his ear attuned. He also constantly listens to recordings of accomplished instrumentalists (sometimes playing along with them) so his own improvisation doesn't get stale. (He's primarily a jazz/blues musician, but he also plays "legit" music.)
This is one of the MANY reasons you want to read widely in your category and beyond. I'm a staunch advocate of keeping a writing journal as well; a place to note great sentences and paragraphs, lovely turns of phrase, or words you had to look up. I'm not a writer but I keep a journal like this to both practice my penmanship and keep track of memorable things I've read.
Thing like this that Rob Ceres drew to our attention:
I love Pat Conroy. In Beach Music he wrote,
“American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.”
Longwinded for sure, but superbly rhythmic. And not one word can be added, or changed, or deleted, without irrevocably altering the passage. Now there is a master.
Dena Pawling made a valuable point about who/what to read for maintaining that keen eye:
One caveat about reading well-known authors - don't exclusively read their newer stuff. Yes, authors get better over time, but they can also get lazy [not always, but sometimes]. As it has been said, Stephen King [and others like him] can write whatever they want. I'm going back and listening to audio books of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, and after the first several books, it's hard for me to listen without thinking "she could have cut that dialogue tag." In some respects, I can't read a book for pleasure any more.
Just remember, not even multi-award-winning authors are perfect. But it does give you a good place to start
Kelsey Hutton had an interesting point:
"EVERY SINGLE WORD" is technically redundant, but the rhythm pounds the meaning into you One. Syllable. At a. Time.
I'd actually never realized that every single word is redundant, but of course you're right. It sounds awful to leave out single though. I'll take style and rhythm over "correct" any day of the week, too.
And brianrschwarz had a terrific idea about the importance of waiting:
I read a book on plane crash survivors. Statistically speaking, the first 3 minutes after a plane crashes are the most crucial moments of a survivors life. The actions taken during those first three minutes prove 95% of the time to result in their imminent doom or their survival.
The reason for this is simple. When you survive a plane crash, the first thing that pops into your head, hanging upside down in the canopy of a rainforest, is to unbuckle yourself. This is bad.
Another natural response is to pry loose of whatever position you are in and start running, expending lots of energy quickly and leaving yourself much more likely to die.
A third example is eating something without knowing if it is safe. Lots of bad decisions can be made in the first three minutes, but professional survivalists tell you to do one thing immediately.
Hug a tree.
Linda Strader asked:
Since I sent revised pages too soon, the agents that requested edits probably think I'm a nutcase. So, what do I do now? Move on, or is it okay to send this new version to those agents
Move on. Authors who keep sending revisions to the revisions are the ones where I lose interest in anything further. Sure, one revision too soon isn't great, and maybe got a rejection, BUT you can still query for the NEXT book if you haven't annoyed me endlessly before.
The conversation veered off on to editing practices. I really liked what Matt Adams said about limiting himself:
when I'm paper editing, I limit myself to 30 pages per session -- maybe to get to the end of a chapter I'll go to 40, but never longer. More than that I tend to gloss and I start missing things.
I'll do two sessions in a day -- one in the morning and one around nine at night to get my eyes fresh for each time.
On Wednesday a reader told me about an agent who sorts queries based on whether the writer has a website. I think that's idiotic.
mhleader pointed to my blog post about "what you need before you query" where I list a website and asked if anything had changed.
No it hasn't. But you're looking at the wrong list. The agent mentioned in the query said she DISCARDED queries when the writer did not have a website in his/her own name. That's this list:
Yes, it's smart to have a website. No, it's not something that distinguishes good writing from bad writing, or sellable/unsellable books.
Jenz had an interesting point:
You can try to rely on your superlative writing to pull you through while you flout standard advice. But I've noticed that students who consider themselves above the rules and want everyone to see only their quality work while ignoring other points of professionalism aren't the ones I'd like to hire myself.
I'll use Gary Corby here as the classic example. He wasn't trying to flout the rules; he certainly does not consider himself above them. He's one of the most down to earth sensible people I've ever had the privilege of working with. (One of the smartest and funniest too) I would have shot myself in the foot if I had not done everything in my power to get those pages.
Stuff happens. People don't know what the industry standards are. Websites get broken. Stuff happens! My job is to find good material not police the behaviour of writers. The guidelines are there to help writers not serve as ways to weed out the uninformed, or the unlucky.
The conversation drifted sideways into blogs/websites.
Geez, Brian! I've got 34 followers. *Hangs head in ignominy*I don't look at the number of followers of a blog. I look at the comment section. If there are lots of comments from a variety of people, that's a blog that would be considered a good platform. You want people who are invested with the blog writer, and are engaged with the subject. Eyeballs aren't the best measure of that; comments are.
Susan Bonifant asked
Why does an agent want to see a website at all? What are they looking for past the things that can be seen in pages? Creativity ? Personality? Politics? Are they gauging the agreeable-ness of a potential client? Are they trying to glean mental stability? Do they want to see how old we are?When I click on a writers website it's most often to find the story behind the details in the query. "My first book was a bestseller" without any further details means I want to lookup the title and the publisher and the year it was published.
"My previous agent and I parted ways" means I look to see if the previous agent is listed.
"My first book was published in 200X" means I look for the publisher and whether it was self-published.
I'm not looking for how old you are, your political opinions, your personality. On the other hand, if you have a blog linked to your website, yes I'm going to look. And if you've posted endlessly about your publishing/writing travails, or worse, posted your rejection letters, yes I pay attention.
And yes, at some point we're going to need a collection of Julie Weathers stories. Here's one for the list:
One of the most visited blog posts I have is one about proper starching of Wranglers and how I starched my ex's Wranglers so heavily the zipper glued shut from the body heat. He had to cut the zipper out with a pocket knife
On Thursday the discussion turned to how to mention an editor has your manuscript when you query an agent.I took the opportunity to explain why submitting to editors before agents was something most of us agents really hate.
AJ Blythe asked
At a conference last year I booked a pitch with an editor at the Aussie based publisher of a US imprint I would *love* to be published with. I wasn't planning on pitching, but to work out 1. if my genre was of interest here (it's set in Oz, but it's really a US genre), and 2. if I did publish with the Aussie based publisher could my book still end up with their US imprint. I also made it clear my book wasn't written, it was just a fact finding mission.
The editor loved my concepts, and requested the partial of the first book of both proposed series. And to "get writing".
What do I do now? Following JR's advice above (and she is QOTKU) I should get an agent first (and for reasons that make complete sense, darn it). But the editor (one of the Big 5) is Aussie based, and I know I will need a US agent.
Every multinational publisher works differently. Some editorial groups routinely consider titles published by their overseas counterparts. Some don't.
The truth is though that the US market is the largest market for books in English. That means it's smart to get a US agent and US publishing deal first. Depending on the terms of that publishing contract (whether the rights licensed are World English or North American) you might get to sell directly to the Australian market rather than depend on the publisher to strike a deal with their Australian counterparts.
If your book is published in Australia you're going to have sell VERY well for the US market to be interested. A lot of Australians are published quite successfully here, and not very successfully in Australia. It's a strange thing indeed.
Colin Smith asked
So... even if the editor loves the book, doesn't it still have to go before a committee at the publisher before the editor gets approval to offer? I'm pretty sure editors can't go handing out 6-figure advances without the approval of the publisher. If I'm correct, then what exactly would an offer from an editor be? What kind of guarantees can an editor give to an author whose work s/he'd like to publish? I could see maybe a small press editor might have that kind of clout, but at a larger press...?
Most editors will indeed have other people at the publishing company read the book and get on The Enthusiasm Train before making an offer.
If the editor wants to acquire the book, it's just like every other offer. S/he calls up the author and says "let's dance" and "here's the offer"
All of this is in the FAR FAR distant future from a writing conference. Most editors who ask for manuscripts at these things wait a certain amount of time and then send a rejection. They have a very hard time saying "no" to writers at conferences (we all do) and thus will ask to read something they have no intention of reading or inquiring. No amount of wailing about "getting your hopes up unfairly" will change that.**
Matt Adams explained why he thinks people should pitch to editors anyway:
So if an editor wants to read your stuff, I think you've got to take that chance. If an editor is open to a pitch, I think you've got to make it. It may blow your shot with them, but since there's no guarantee that shot would exist at all if you wait to get an agent, a risk-reward analysis would say this one is worth it.
Here's why he's really REALLY wrong.
When I get a query from someone, let's call him Matt Adams, that says his manuscript is with Editor Awesome over at AwesomeSauce Publisher, and Editor Amazing at GotBucksPublisher, I'm more likely to say no to the query than if I think I'll have a clear submission field if I like the book.
By sending to those editors you've taken them off the playing field for me. There aren't enough publishing companies to go around right now. Take two out of the field and you've reduced the number of places I can send things on a first round submission by up to 20%.
And of course I can hear you saying "but the editor will love my book, I know it" and thinking you are going to be the exception to all those other losers out there. You are NOT the exception, and see above (**editors are not likely to even read the book that they're going to reject.)
Friday we had another writing contest and those results will be up on Monday.
Tuesday resumes with more Q&A.
It's a gorgeous day here in New York. I hope you're having a wonderful day as well.
Mr. Baldacci, Mr. Coben, Mr. King. Setting my sights too high? Setting myself up for failing? Maybe. But aiming for mediocre seems silly.--Amanda Capper