Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And now for something

completely different.

This post made me laugh so hard I almost choked on the almond I was peeling with my teeth (one of my few party tricks).

Also, I'm pretty sure that one picture of the girl standing inside the jaws of the Megalodon IS Photoshopped. Because she's smiling.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Networking, especially for new authors, is a very difficult thing. Even more so if you are (perhaps like me) more the retiring, quiet, prefer-to-stay-at-home-and-write kind of person instead of the go-getter needed to get out there and get their face known.

Well, the internet is here to help and it is a lovely thing. Face-to-face networking should absolutely not be discounted, and in fact I recommend that you go to as many writing conferences that you can, notebook clenched in sweaty fist and your cards in your other hand, to meet as many people as possible, to get your face and books known.

But where do we start, those among us who are rather terrified of pushing to the front of the crowd and actually speaking up instead of hanging in the back and letting others do the talking?

Start by beginning a blog of your own. "But I have nothing to say!" you wail. Nonsense. Everyone has something to say. Everyone starts somewhere. What are some obstacles you've overcome in learning to write, to write well, in learning how to draft the best query letter possible? (Mine is on submit to the Evil Editor right now, and let me tell you, my palms, they are a-sweatin'.)

Write about these things. Share them with an audience that maybe you don't have yet. Don't feel stupid that you only have one follower on your blog and it's your mom. If you write it (and write it well) they will come.

At the same time, you start finding literary blogs that you like. Blogs by agents, by publishing houses, by aspiring writers and published writers. Anything in the literary world that might have something to do with you, start reading their blogs. There is a list to the right of some of the blogs I follow. I'm adding to it all the time, and yes, I do visit all of them at least daily.

Then, (and this is important) start commenting on their posts, especially when the author invites comments. Jump in! Give your opinion! (Politely, please. No need to be a jerk.) Give constructive criticism if it's requested. Be a part of the community.

Also, go to writing forums. This is a time-suck, I'm warning you now. When I set foot in, I have been known to look up three hours later, blinking and rubbing my eyes, my children unwashed, unfed, and hanging from the chandeliers. So please, clear your schedule before you attempt this.

But AbsoluteWrite is a great place to share your work and get some incredibly helpful critiquing on it. Another I like is Scribophile. There, you will find that sometimes you have to give to receive. If you help crit others' works, then others will crit yours. Win/win. But both places have always been very professional and helpful to me and I've learned an astounding amount through them.

Another kindly provided me by the Goblin (who I'm sure is MUCH prettier than the little green namesake above) Critique Circle . This one looks great and I'm not familiar with it. I can't wait to sign up for *more* humiliation! (No seriously, I can't.)

So to sum up: first get yourself ready. Have some nice, professional business cards printed (they don't have to be expensive, but please don't use cardstock and a sharpie in your kitchen, okay?). Start your blog. Link to others' websites and ask them to link to yours. And start getting yourself known out there in the virtual world of booklovers.

Because after all, that's why we're all here. Our love of books. That common ground may be just what you need to get going.

(And check out the links to the right - a bunch of awesome people there with a truly boggling amount of wisdom between them.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The little green guy above is known as the Goblin Humiliator. Each day that passes with no writing causes an increasingly more embarrassing image to be shown.

I'm hoping this will give me the incentive to get back to writing every day.

Also, go to the Goblin's website and read her stuff. She does some interesting work on queries.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Getting used to rejection

Writing keeps you up at night, makes you forget everything else in a storm of feverish typing as you frantically try to translate the images in your head to a more physical form. It holds you captive, a slave to your muse's whim.

But when it's all said and done, writing is the easy part. What comes next? Finding an agent. And finding an agent is, I am convinced, one of the seven circles of hell. It takes patience, perseverance, a willingness to edit, submit, edit again, polish it up, edit some more, and above all, a thick skin.

Not every agent is going to like your work. In fact, unless your pen (or keyboard) drips gold, it's more than likely that your first round of submissions is going to result in a whole lot of nothing but "no thank you"s.

This fact may be dispiriting. It may have you asking, "Then what's the point?" Well, as I see it, everything I do in the writing world is a learning experience. My first query letter was embarrassingly long and my first novel was a shambles when I thought I was "done". I jumped into querying way too soon. I started sending letters to agents right after typing "The End", and that was a huge mistake.

What I should have done was put the novel away for a month. Let it stew, and just ignore it. Then I should have gone back to it and started revising and polishing to a mirror shine.

Put away your dreams of being published by Christmas. Stay fluid and flexible, and remember that everything is a learning experience.

What did I learn? That everything I do adds to my knowledge. That spending hundreds of hours online reading about how to query agents and how to write a killer query is time well invested.

Nothing is a waste when you are first feeling your way through this world. My first query letter was a massive, unwieldy 600 words, and that was just the plot. My most recent query is a lean 190 words, and there's still room for improvement. It definitely gets a lot more interest from agents now, with requests for partials and full manuscripts. But I haven't signed with an agency yet. Is it my query, or because my book is not salable? I don't know yet.

But I do know I'm not going to give up. And neither should you. Treat setbacks as stepping stones on the way to success, and you will be much more ready to take on the exhausting, time-consuming, and all too often frustrating world of querying.

Here is a helpful place to begin learning about how to write queries that will get responses:

Do your homework, keep revising your work, and above all, don't give up. We all have to start somewhere!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What not to do

When an author receives a negative review, usually the first thing they feel is disappointment that the reviewer didn't like the book the author worked so hard on.

If said author is a professional, the only reaction (if any) they should show to the world is a polite and matter-of-fact "thank you" for the review, no matter how much they are angered or insulted by what was said.

Or alternatively, they might respond as this one did.

Agent or not, contract with a big publishing house or not, professionalism is still professionalism, and it is absolutely paramount if you want to get anywhere as a writer.