Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book Title Rating

Ever wonder how likely your book is to become a best seller? This Title Scorer attempts to answer that question by rating your title against the titles of previous bestsellers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pitch Critiques Continue

Jessica Faust is still steadily critiquing pitches on the Bookends blog. I decided to start a new post because the old ones have fallen so far down on my blog list now. For those interested in one agent's opinion on what works in a pitch and what doesn't, Jessica has now completed the twenty-first round of pitch critiques. And the twenty-second round of pitch critiques. And the twenty-third round of pitch critiques. And the twenty-fourth round of pitch critiques. And the final, twenty-fifth round of pitch critiques.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Buying Books Online

According to a survey by Nielsen Online, more books are sold on the internet than any other product. Also, 41% of worldwide internet users have bought books online, which is up 7% from a survey done two years ago. In the USA, 38% of internet users have bought books online.

This is encouraging news for self-published authors intending to sell their books online.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jessica on Agent Submissions

Jessica Faust at Bookends has done an interesting series on the letters that agents send to publishers. These posts are The Agent Submission Process, The Agent Submission Process: Part Deux, and The Agent Submission Process: Nonfiction.

Friday, January 25, 2008

More on Publisher-Author Contracts

Kristin Nelson at Pub Rants blog wrote more on publisher-author contracts in Boilerplate Item Du Jour and Boilerplate Item Du Jour (take 2). She also wrote about how getting the final publisher-author contract signed takes an Interminable Length Of Time.

The Rejecter briefly wrote about contract language in Why You Need An Agent.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Advice on Query Letters

Query letter writing advice seems a very popular topic for blog posts. Here are a few more useful links.

A.C Crispin on the Writers Beware! blog wrote about the process of querying in Publishing...Playing the Waiting Game.

Nathan Bransford wrote about Query Rejections: Dead Cliches, The Passive Voice is Found in Your Query Letter, and Don't Fake a Personalized Query.

Miss Snark has a huge list of cover letters and hooks that she critiqued in her Crapometer. You can read through a few of the critiques to see what one agent likes in her query letters.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finding an Agent

A number of people have written good advice on how to find an agent that's right for your manuscript.

Victoria Strauss on the Writers Beware! blog wrote about The Safest Way to Search for an Agent.

A.C. Crispin on the Writers Beware! blog wrote about Learning the Ropes and Use Caution on the Internet

Jessica Faust at Bookends has a blog post on Agent Research Sites: An Agent's Perspective.

Hope this helps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Promoting Your Book

Here are some useful links I've found on promoting your book after it's published.

Bryan D. Catherman at The Hopeless Writer blog wrote about book signings.

Miss Snark wrote about book signing tours.

J. A. Konrath wrote on his website about what works for him. He has a lot of useful information on his site, but please don't take everything he says as the gospel truth. For example, in another article, he suggests not sending a SASE to an agent with your query letter. I know a number of agents who say they throw SASE-less query letters away unread, including Miss Snark.

Maya Reynolds wrote on her blog about Refining My Booksigning Technique.

On DeepGenre, David Louis Edelman wrote about What Works on an Author Website? and How I Promoted My Book.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Genre Definitions

Like most people, I sometimes wonder what the difference is between the many genre and subgenre. Here are a few links that help sort things out.

Rachel at Novel & Short Story Writer's Market blog wrote a post on Definitions of genres, and when to use them.

Miss Snark wrote briefly on What makes a Thriller.

Jessica Faust wrote A Sub-genre Encyclopedia and Defining Genres, Part Deux.

Hidden in her twentieth round of pitch critiques, Jessica also said:

Category romance (Harlequin/Silhouette) is romance first. In other words, while there are secondary characters and often another small storyline, the crux of the book is the romance. The main concerns are the hero, the heroine, and their internal and external conflicts. With single-title romance you create a much more complex story. It’s multilayered with many different characters and a story that often supersedes the romance.

Hope this was helpful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More on Book Covers

Today, I found a few more links on the input authors can have on book covers. Rachel at Novel & Short Story Writer's Market blog wrote The Mysteries of Cover Art Unveiled and Another perspective on cover art.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Choosing Book Titles

As you probably know, your publisher will likely change your book title unless it's extremely catchy. Agent Kristin Nelson on her Pub Rants blog has written a few posts about Good Titles and Finding a Title that publishers will accept if the author hates the title the publishers comes up with. It's an interesting insight into the publishing business.

Advances, Royalties, and Contracts

Here are some more links on contracts and the monetary side of having a published book.

Miss Snark wrote articles on:
Agency/Author contracts: How Long?
Agency/Author contracts: Hold Harmless
Agency/Author contracts: Fees
History of Royalties and Agents
Royalty Checks
Joint Accounting
What Percentage of the Net Really Means

The Rejecter wrote on her blog about:
The Joy of Low Advances
That Second-Book Clause
Update on the Simon & Schuster Issue
The Deal with Deals for a Series

Jonathan Lyons wrote on his blog about:
Net Royalties
Satisfactory Manuscript

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

About the Publishing Industry

Here are some link's I've found that help explain aspects of publishing that most authors aren't directly involved with but will probably find useful.

Bryan D. Catherman has written on his The Hopeless Writer blog about:
How Do Sales Rankings Work?
Publisher vs. Distributor
Wholesaler vs. Distributor
How This Book Buyer Picks
Costco vs. All Other Booksellers
13-Digit ISBN

Miss Snark has written on her blog:
Basic Stuff
How Much Money Publishers Make Off a Book
Getting Backcover Blurbs
ARCs and Used Book Markets
Trade vs. Hardback
Percentage Returns

The Rejecter has written on her blog:
Stuff about Publishing
The Return Process Further Explained

I hope this helps authors understand some of the behind-the-scenes (for them) forces that are affecting their books.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Authors and Book Covers

You've probably already learned that authors have very little input into what goes on the cover of their book (unless you're going the vanity press route). Your agent might help you get a change made in the cover if there's a real problem with it, but generally authors are not welcomed in the process. I've collected several links that will help you discover what you can do to influence the final cover.

Author Laura Resnick has a long and very informative article called A Book By Its Cover. Read this article even if you skip the others.

Agent Kristin Nelson on her Pub Rants blog has several posts on what your agent can do to help you:
Trouble With Covers
Discussing Covers: DRESS REHEARSAL
Not a Goddess of a cover?
So What’s An Author To Do?

Lou Anders on Bowing to the Future has several articles discussing science-fiction and fantasy covers:
The Big Book Cover
The Big Book Cover: Part II

I hope this was helpful.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Questions to Ask an Interested Agent

So say the exciting day has finally come: an agent calls you to offer you representation. Do you know what questions you should ask them about their agency and their plans for your manuscript? Have you come up with a set of questions that will help you know if the agent works in a style you can get along with? Do you even know what you should do next? Here are several links that should help.

Jessica Faust at Bookends wrote about Getting the Call and Questions Not to Ask an Agent.

On Nathan Bransford's blog, agent Ginger Clark wrote about How to Handle an Offer of Representation.

Miss Snark gave advice on what to ask agents that don't use a contract and what it means if the agency is a LLC versus under sole proprietorship.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website has a good article on how to tell if an agent is a reputable one or not. This page also includes some links to websites dealing with negotiating author-agent contracts.

Rachel Vater wrote a post on questions to ask agents.

AAR has a very good list of questions to ask an agent.

Kristin Nelson wrote about questions to ask an agent if you get The Call.

Susan Kearney has a list of questions to ask your agent.

If you've come across a site on this topic that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to talk about it in the comments.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is Good Writing Enough?

On online writers workshops and blogs, I frequently hear wannabe writers claim that once your writing reaches a certain point, you will get published. (This is assuming, of course, that you are submitting your work for publication. You can be the greatest writer the world has ever seen but still not get published if you never submit your work to a publisher.) The idea seems to make sense: learn proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, how to plot and other story mechanics. Surely once you are proficient at these aspects of writing, you will get published.

Unfortunately, this idea is a myth. Good writing will get you out of the slush pile, but it doesn't guarantee that the well-written article, story, or whatever will be published.

Author Carol Berg at DeepGenre wrote a post on Does the Cream Always Rise to the Top? addressing this myth, why it's not true, and how to be one of those who does eventually be published.

Agent Jessica Faust on her Bookends blog also discusses Is Good Writing Really Enough? but the focus is on why readers (and thus publishers and agents) pick up a book. Is it because of the good writing or something else?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Rejections of Short Stories

Oliver, the editor of Flash Fiction Online, wrote something in a post on Hatrack River Writers Workshop that I found interesting.

I've rejected quite a few things already that are pretty good, and that I wouldn't mind seeing in print. They just don't fit what I'm looking for (e.g., unlike many literary markets, we emphasize plot and character and clarity over beautiful writing and the "high idea"). It certainly wouldn't hurt some of these writers to submit to other markets, and they could submit to a dozen others before their perfectly good story was even considered. So while it feels terrible to be rejected..., it's at least in part a numbers game -- just keep submitting.

I've already come to realize this, that not all rejections are because the material sucks but also possibly because that particular editor (or agent) doesn't like it or can't use it. If I only read 1-5% of all published fantasy books because I don't like the writing style or subject matter of the rest, then surely editors have the same right even if the material is publishable. I thought it would be useful to hear this from an actual editor though.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Test Your Writing

Here are some fun sites that can help you improve your fiction writing.

Have you ever been at a writers' workshop or otherwise received a critique of your manuscript that used terms you didn't understand like "that's a 'Tom swiftly'--change it" or "cut the infodump"? The Turkey City Lexicon is a guide that will help you understand what the critiquer meant and what to do about it.

Have you heard someone say that the main character of a book is a "Mary-Sue" and wondered what that meant? Even if you know, have you wondered if your main character is a Mary-Sue? The Original Fiction Mary-Sue Litmus Test will help you answer either of these question.

Do you feel like your fantasy novel is a work of pure originality, but you keep getting comments back from readers about how elements of your story are old and tired they've been used so often? Then take the The Fantasy Novelist's Exam and discover which story elements you need to change or spice up to make your story more unique.

And, just for fun, read How to be a Successful Evil Overlord. If you want more than laughs, you can use this list to learn what and what not to have your evil rulers do in your novel.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Book Cover Artists

I like a book cover that make me feel the danger of or a sense of awe about the scene portrayed. I also tend to like the realism look over the painted look, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate both. Here are some links to interviews on Irene Gallo's blog with various book cover artists. Samples of their work are posted with the interviews, and the following artwork caught my attention and made me want to know more about these artists:

Chris Rahn
Daniel Dociu

Donato Giancola
Julie Bell
Stephan Martiniere
Scott M. Fischer

I love what Donato Giancola does with light, especially in pictures like ASHLING and OBERNEWTYN and Farseekers: Journey. I hope one day to have one of my novels published with a cover done by him.

What are your favorite book covers or book cover artists?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Book Design

For those who want to know a little more about how book covers are designed and the art/illustration side of the book industry, you might want to check out Irene Gallo's blog. She's the art director for Tor, Forge, and Starscape Books. Some of her posts which I found most interesting were:

Paperback, Bumpy and Shiny
Text Fidelity (of Covers)

The Book Industry: Profit and Loss

For those who want to know more about how publishers determine if a book is profitable to publish, Anne (who once was an editor at Tor) has a profit and loss example on her old blog. For those who don't know what a profit and loss sheet is, it's how a publisher predicts if a book will make more money than it will cost to produce.