Friday, February 29, 2008

What Editors are Currently Looking For

Kristin Nelson is doing a series of posts on what various editors are actively looking for or not wanting to see more of. She talks about sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal romance, YA and women's fiction, more YA, and even more YA, and children's books. I'm sure she'll be doing more in the future.

Jonathan Lyons also wrote a blog post on Vampires Are Not Dead.

Hope this was useful.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Contests and Awards

Here are two informative links on writing contests and book awards.

Victoria Strauss at Writers Beware! wrote about Evaluating Literary Contests.

Rachel at Novel & Short Story Writer's Market blog wrote about How to win awards.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What Do They Do #2

Here are two more articles on what various people in the publishing industry do.

Madeleine Robins wrote about what various editors (copyeditors, etc.) do in Text Wranglers.

Alison Morris wrote about Managing Editors on her blog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Romance Contest

The gals at Bookends have announced the winner of their fantasy romance contest. They are now doing another romance contest--see their post for the details of what type. Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, February 26th, at 9:00 a.m. EST

Friday, February 22, 2008

Publishers on Publicity

Sure, we hear all the time about what authors can do to promote their books. But just what do the official publicity/marketing people at the publishers do for your book?

Anna, who once was an editor at Tor, wrote about the ad/promo department totally owns you. She also wrote on a related point, do large advances mean more publicity?

John Scalzi wrote on Sympathy for the Publicist.

J. A. Konrath wrote about The Truth About Publishers, David Morrell on Book Marketing and Publicity, and David Morrell Part Deux: The Publicist Speaks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More on Promoting Your Book

Over at the Bookends blog, Stacey Kayne posted some good book promotion ideas, so I thought it's about time to list promotion posts again.

A.C. Crispin at Writer's Beware wrote About Getting Book Reviews.

Kristin Nelson on Pub Rants blog wrote about author websites in the New Rules For Promotion.

Miss Snark wrote about publicity and getting bookstores to order your book.

And, of course, J. A. Konrath's blog has many posts on self-promotion. A few are:
The Art of the Soft Sell (about handselling books)
I Talk, You Pay (being paid to speak in public)
More on Drop-Ins (dropping by bookstores as travel to ask them to carry your book)

I'll write more on promotion tomorrow, but from the publisher's viewpoint.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Free Books

More and more authors and publishers are offering free e-books as a means of advertising. [The two sci-fi/fantasy publishers I know of who are currently doing this are Baen and Tor (for a limited time only). If you know of others, feel free to mention them in the comments section.] The question is, do free e-books help sell print books? Here are two articles on the subject:

David Rothman wrote about Oprah e-freebie now Amazon's 3rd best p-seller on his blog.

Cory Doctorow wrote about Giving It Away on

Personally, I think its effective to make an author's debut novel and/or the first novel in each series available for free. I was hesitant to buy Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, so I was pleased that TOR was offering it for free as an e-book this last week. I wasn't impressed by the first three or so chapters, but the book really gets good after that. Guess what? I went out an immediately placed an order for all of his books, including Mistborn. (Heck, the thing is too long to read the whole thing on a computer screen.)

What do you think? Have you ever bought a print version of a book that you first got as a free e-book? Or bought other books by an author because you read a free e-book by that author?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Contest

The gals at Bookends are now doing a Paranormal Romance / Romance with Fantasy Elements / Fantasy with Romantic Elements contest. Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, February 20th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Managing Money

John Scalzi wrote a very, very good article about how to manage your money if you wish to be a full-time writer. Heck, it even has good advice for those writers who already know they don't want to quit their day jobs.

Inspired by Scalzi's article, Jennifer Jackson wrote on writers spending their advances. As in, they shouldn't spend their advance before the money is in their hands. I'd recommend reading the whole post, but here's a part of it:

From the time the offer was received to the time the author was paid the full advance, you can see that 15 months have elapsed, and that was with very prompt editorial revisions on the part of both the editor and the author, and really nice turnarounds on the agent's part for payments.

And, finally, for those sci-fi/fantasy writers out there, how much can you reasonably expect to be paid as an advance? Tobias Buckell ran a survey on How Much Does a Science-Fiction or Fantasy Writer Make. The survey also compares the advances of agented authors versus and unagented authors. Victoria Strauss also wrote a post on how much money writers make. Interesting stuff.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Do They Do

Here are some articles on what various people in the publishing industry do.

Alison Morris wrote A Valentine for Sales Reps which talks a little about what sales reps do.

Miss Snark wrote on Why have an agent and Editor Titles and What They Mean.

Jessica Faust wrote More on the Agent Submission Process which covers a bit about what agents, editors, and slush readers do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Contest for Mystery Writers!

For those who don't regularly read her blog, Jessica Faust (and the other agents at Bookends) are holding a contest for Mystery Writers. Go to their blog for complete rules and explanations. Today's contest is for mystery (traditional and cozy). To quote from their site:

We decided to try several genre-specific competitions of the first 100 words of the work. We’ll be limiting the types of books to the areas that we represent.... Selfishly, it also gives us a very real opportunity to find a potential new client. Seems like a win-win.

We’ll only accept entries that are posted in the comments section of this [Bookends] blog article. No e-mailed entries will be considered.

Include your title and the first 100 words of your book.

The deadline is tomorrow, February 15th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

The prize....we’ll critique the query letter, synopsis, and first chapter of the winning entry in each genre!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Translations into Foreign Languages

I came across this interesting article written by Esther Allen on the process of getting books translated from or into foreign languages. To quote some of it:

For more than a decade, I've been writing reader's reports. I evaluate books written in or translated into French or Spanish for editors who, for the most part, can't read those languages. Writing the reports is a time-consuming, often frustrating, and always financially unprofitable pastime, and there can't be many of us willing to do it; sometimes two or three different publishers in sequence will, unbeknownst to each other, send me the same book to evaluate....

Will this piece of writing retain meaning and interest for a different set of readers in a different linguistic context? ....

For of course what most editors really want to know is whether the book will sell in the US marketplace. general a bad report guarantees that a book won't be published. A good report, however, is likely to be ignored. Worst of all, even when a good report does lead to publication - and the publisher finds a translator who's up to the task - the translated book will probably be left to its own devices in the marketplace, with little or no publicity, and will therefore ultimately be deemed a failure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Accomplishments in Query Letters

Authors are always asking how they should list their sold stories and books and so forth in their query letter. Nathan Bansford wrote about not trying to make your accomplishments look more impressive than they are in Know Thyself. Miss Snark wrote about What Counts As Published and self-published book credits in query letters.

Miss Snark also wrote about not mentioning how much your readers liked your book and talked about if re-querying a revised manuscript is alright.

Jessica Faust at Bookends wrote a final word on her pitch critiquing posts. To quote a section of it:

Pitches, like writing a book, a query letter, or, really, any other aspect of this business, is not an exact science....

I get a lot of questions from readers wanting to know how long a pitch should be and how long is too long. For those of you who need numbers, I would say one to five sentences. The truth, though, is that a pitch is too long when an agent stops reading. You aren’t writing a synopsis, you are simply trying to hook someone in, and let’s face it, none of us have attention spans that will hold for more than one to five sentences. If we want more we’ll start reading the book.

I also know that many of you are looking to these critiques for a format or formula that you can simply drop your own storyline into. The truth is that no one format works for all persons or all books. For some the conflict is going to have to come from the characters, for others the plot. The trick isthat you need to figure out what really makes your book stand out from every single other book in your genre. Is it the unique situation the characters find themselves in or is it the characters themselves? It will also depend on your readers. Cozy readers often pick up a new series simply based on the crafty, cozy hook; romance readers often look for a unique hero or heroine; and fantasy readers will want a world they haven’t been in yet. Of course that’s oversimplifying, but I think you might know what I mean. Knowing your reader and what she looks for can help you define your pitch.

And last, it’s important to remember that a pitch is different from a query letter. A pitch is that enticing paragraph that grabs the reader and only talks about the book.

Anna Genoese, who used to be an editor at Tor, wrote about submissions. To quote part of her article:

For the moment, though, I will remind you that the only secret handshake in this business is the quality of your work. The best way, the very best way, to catch an editor's attention is to write a really good book with really interesting sentences.

Once you're done with your manuscript, and your mom's read it, and your best friend's read it, and you've convinced one of your favorite fanfic readers to read it, and you've incorporated the suggestions they gave you that you were comfortable with... put the ms. down. You've got time.

Take a few weeks. I know, it's hard, you want to send it out right away....Go back two weeks to a month later and read your ms. again. Read bits of it out loud. Make sure it's really what you want to show the world. Then send it. (Or revise again, if you realize you're not actually telling the story you thought you were.)

Double check your grammar, your spelling, your punctuation. An error on page 14 is forgiveable -- an error on page 1 is not. This one line could even be its own post -- look, just pick a spelling style (British nglish or American English) and make it consistent. Pick a punctuation style and stick with it. If you always use two hyphens with a space on either end to indicate an em-dash, we'll totally get it -- but be consistent. And if your story reads well and can be understood, precisely following Latinate grammar isn't always necessary. Casual is fine, but for the love of Glorificus, if you even think a sentence might not read properly, read it out loud or ask someone who knows of what they speak for advice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Will Your First Novel Get Published?

Here are some interesting statistics about first novels. From them, I'd say it's fairly common that the first novel a person writes is either never published or is published after a later novel (and usually after some revision using what the author has since learned about writing).

First, The Rejecter blogged about Twenty-Something Writers and said:

Generally people are not published on the first novel they write. The industry lore is that it's the third book you submit for publication that is the one that gets published. For me it was true, though I would say that was the ... I don't know, 10th manuscript I'd written. Something like that. And this is not including any writing I did in junior high or high school. Except for the occasional literary genius, writing a novel is a bit like driving: it takes some hours behind the wheel before you're good enough for a license.

Tobias Buckell did a survey on how many novels did you write before selling one? A summary of the results:

Out of a group of 10 writers who will go on to be published (we can’t guess at how many are turned away unpublished, right, this is a self selecting group), 3 will sell the first novel they write. 1 will write some, or a lot, of short fiction before selling their first novel. 1-2 will sell their second. The other half will write 3 or more novels before breaking in.

So it seems that the key to getting published is to keep on writing new material rather than obsessively reworking your query letter or revising your first novel.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Process of Getting Published

So you now have an agent or an offer for your book from a publisher...what happens next? Here are some articles about what occurs between the offer for the book and the published book.

Michael Hyatt on his Thomas Nelson blog wrote about Getting Published Process.

Rachel at Novel & Short Story Writer's Market blog wrote about The Editorial Process.

Miss Snark wrote about You've Got An what.

The Rejecter wrote about copyediting.

Terry McGarry wrote an article about A Writer's Guide to Understanding the Copyeditor.

Jenny Bent wrote about What to Expect When You Get Published.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Why Does It Take So Long?

The New York Times published an interesting essay by Rachel Donadio about Waiting for It. The essay explains why traditional publishing takes so much longer to produce a book than a vanity press does. The answer is not just the editing that's put into the book but the amount of work that goes into publicity for the book.

As soon as a literary agent has sold a publisher a book, and even before it’s edited, copy-edited, proofread and indexed, the publicity wheels start turning. While writers bite their nails, the book editor tries to persuade the in-house sales representatives to get excited about the book, the sales representatives try to persuade retail buyers to get excited, and the retail buyers decide how many copies to buy and whether to feature the book in a prominent front-of-the-store display, for which publishers pay dearly. In the meantime, the publisher’s publicity department tries to persuade magazine editors and television producers to feature the book or its author around the publication date, often giving elaborate lunches and parties months in advance to drum up interest.

Chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders generally buy books at least six months before the publication date and know about particular titles even farther in advance.

I got a heads-up about this article from the Writer's Beware blog where Victoria Strauss goes on to say:

One of the most basic misapprehensions of would-be self-publishers, and also of the amateur publishers..., is that it's what you do after a book goes on the market that generates volume sales. But in the increasingly competitive world of publishing, books must be sold long before the public can actually buy them. For most books, post-publication publicity is effective only if it can build on a platform already established by careful pre-publication marketing.

She also meantions news about self-promotion by authors networking on MySpace and similar sites:
According to this article in The Register, people are getting bored with social networking. Apparently, "Bebo, MySpace and Facebook all took double-digit percentage hits in the last months of 2007. December could perhaps be forgiven as a seasonal blip when people see their real friends and family, but the trend was already south."

Hope this was helpful information.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Marketing Your Book

If you want to better understand how your publisher will go about marketing your book to get it into bookstore, libraries, etc., and to get readers to buy your book, then here are some informative links.

Rachel at Novel & Short Story Writer's Market blog wrote about:
The publishers have to sell, too
Marketing books

Michael Hyatt at the Thomas Nelson blog wrote about what works in marketing.

The Rejecter wrote about Publishing Houses and Publicity.

On somewhat related topics, Miss Snark wrote about:
First Serial Rights and Marketing
Book Reviews that Count
Why You Should Use Libraries
Book Clubs

Friday, February 1, 2008

Clichés in Query Letters and Stories

Magazine submission pages and agent blogs often mention certain things they see so often in submissions that they highly recommend writers to avoid using them. Here are a few lists.

Kristin Nelson at Pub Rants talks about fantasy clichés to avoid in your story in A Walk in the Woods and Top 10 Things I’d Rather Not See in Opening Chapters, phrases to avoid in query letters in Kristin’s Top 10 List and Clichés Unleashed, clichés in stories of various genre in Glitch! Take Two and in young adult books in YA Top 25.

Other sites that list speculative fiction clichés are:

Character Names

Fiction writers, do you ever need help coming up with character names? Here are a list of sites that might help.

Behind the Name, Random Name Generator allows you to choose the number of given names as well as which gender and nationality the name should have.

If you want a name with a certain meaning, will generate a list and indicate which culture the name is from.

If you're trying to come up with a Hindu name, then the Hindu Name Generator might help.

Here's another random generator of Unusual, Unique, and Creative Names.

And random names based on the 1990 USA census.

Chinaroad has lists of all sorts of names, including names from different cultures or names inspired by nature, etc.

Phillip Riley has a number of random name generators for different cultures, though they generator is mainly set up for RPG players.

If you write fantasy, then Seventh Sanctum probably has the name generator for you (including boat, tavern, realm, planet, corporation, and heroic names).

Babynames has a name generator that allows you to choose the gender, nationality, and number of syllables in the name.

Babyzone has a random name generator that allows you to choose the gender, origin, and starting letter of the name.