Have you ever had one of those weeks that are a whirlwind of things to do, and when it finally stops you’re totally lost? Yeah, me too. I really haven’t had much time to write. No worries, because every Wednesday is like a personal deadline to me.
I am still on chapter 16. Our heroes are traveling, and conversing. How much dialogue is too much? Do you like reading life stories, or do they bore you? Personally, I prefer some interaction between characters, so they’ll open-up the secrets of their fictional lives –as long as it’s done convincingly. I loathe flat dialogue, with no emotion or realism. But, I’m trying to keep it genuine.
Hopefully by next week, I’ll have my act together. But don’t hold your breath, it’s a holiday week.
Join, follow, and/or like my blog. I’ll keep you posted “Where I’m at” each Wednesday on The Omphalos of Delphi.
Take care my friends!
This week’s discussion:
Do you have a finished manuscript? Is it edited to the best of your abilities? If so, then you might want to consider the four types of publishing. But first, I will advise you to hire a professional editor to check, rework, and polish your manuscript. It will save you from embarrassment or multitudes of rejection letters.
1. Traditional Publishing –
The traditional publishing route is the most popular, and most difficult to achieve. You start by researching, and querying an agent. No longer can you simply go to a reputable publishing house, and offer them your manuscript; instead, you’ve got to go through the rigors of catching an agent’s eye.
A. First of all, you need to find your genre.
Is your book fiction or non-fiction? Is it geared to an adult, teen, or child audience? Is it fantasy, science fiction, adventure, thriller, mystery, dystopian, romance, historical, etc. etc. etc.?
B. Second, you will need to write a query letter (fiction), or proposal (non-fiction).
How to write a query/proposal letter. Helpful websites: www.Agentquery.com, www.blog.nathanbransford.com,
A query pretty much consists of three paragraphs–the hook, mini synopsis, and bio.
Write a catchy one sentence line called a HOOK:
The Kite Runner
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
The Da Vinci Code
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.
Everything Is Illuminated
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, Jonathan Safran Foer—both author and meta fictional protagonist—sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
Write a Mini Synopsis.
Sound fun? NOT! There is nothing more frustrating, or torturous than summarizing your entire 100,000 word novel into one paragraph. Good luck!
Write an Author’s Bio.
Make sure it’s relevant to your novel. Don’t talk about your spouse, kids, pets, daytime job –unless it is useful. For example: If you wrote a book about a devastating virus sweeping across the country. Then it is applicable to mention that you’re a doctor. But, if you wrote a book about car repairs, and you’re a telemarketer –it’s not important to mention.
Also, don’t fret too much if you have no credentials, no previously published works to brag about, or lavish schooling in English Literature. Even though they sound nice, let your writing speak for itself. You can skip the author’s bio, if you don’t have any previous works to mention. NO BIGGY!
With enough practice, you’ll have a query letter.
C. Start researching agents who:
1. Are accepting new “unsolicited” clients
2. Represent the genre your manuscript is about. For example, you don’t want to send your query letter, regarding a sci-fi novel, to an agent who represents romance.
3. May have a preferred method of accepting query letters –email, snail-mail, or website form.
4. Prefer a cover sheet, query, and/or 1-2 page chapter-by-chaper summary. Nowadays, I have noticed more agents wanting these additions.
5. May desire an “exclusive” submission. After you have done your homework and found a few agents to submit to, you need to keep in mind that some agents want exclusive queries, or would like to be told if you have submitted the same letter to other agents. Typing “Multiple submissions” or “Exclusive submission” near the closing will suffice. It isn’t necessary if they don’t mention it.
6. Oh, oh, oh…I must let you in on something important. Don’t send out a “Dear Agent” letter—be more personable than that! Agents are people too. Address them as “Mr., or Ms.” including their last name. View your query letter as an application for a job you REALLY want. Be professional, concise, and polite.
D. Be Patient
You must keep in mind the time it takes to receive your letter, along with up to 100 other letters in a week, and review each one. Agents take query letters very seriously, so most of the time they have staff help sift through the piles of emails, snail-mail, and/or online forms. It can take a long while. The usual time is 6-8 weeks. But I’ve gotten a very kind rejection letter a year later. Another thing to mention about being patient is IF you do get an agent, it can take up to TWO years before your novel hits bookstore shelves. Breath-breath—you can do this!
E. Grow thick skin[period]
Everybody gets the dreaded “Rejection Letter(s)”. Do not let it eat at you. Don’t! It doesn’t mean you are a terrible writer, with no hope of becoming an author. I will give you some examples to make you feel better:
The Christopher Little Literary Agency receives 12 publishing rejections in a row for their new client, until the eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demands to read the rest of the book. The editor agrees to publish but advises the writer to get a day job since she has little chance of making money in children’s books. Yet Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling spawns a series where the last four novels consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, on both sides of the Atlantic, with combined sales of 450 million.
“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.
The years of rejection do not break his spirit. He only becomes more determined to succeed. When he eventually lands a publishing deal, such is the demand for his fiction that it is translated into over 47 languages, as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis goes on to sell over 100 million copies.
“It is so badly written.” The author tries Doubleday instead and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.
“We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.” The author does a rewrite and his protagonist becomes an icon for a generation as The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger sells 65 million.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.
“An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.” Publisher rejects The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells. It is soon published in 1898, and has been in print ever since.
“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Stephen King’s Carrie sells 1 million in the first year alone.