Archive for the ‘e-books’ Tag

Rejection Inspection   Leave a comment

Is there anything as frustrating as having a partial request, or a full for that matter, form rejected by an agent or publisher? Well, if there are, brothers and sisters, I sure as Hell do not want to know about it. This business is rough and depressing enough without you lot making things worse by introducing my virgin sensibilities to the negativity I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid so far. So there! 😛

Now, truth be told, we all know just how much of a pain in the ass the above question is. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the gatekeepers would just give us a hint as to why they didn’t want our story… or at least come right out and tell us we suck mountainous rocks. But, no. For the most part they just leave us to twist in the wind like an old plastic bag that got caught in the limbs of a dead tree.

To be fair, though, you’d have to know how busy agents and editors really are. And I’m not even going to go into how much they actually have riding on the decisions they make daily. Agents a little less so than an editor. All the agent misses out on with a bad decision is a potential commission. The editor risks their job if they make too many gaffs and start costing the publisher money.

Ok, you caught me. I did it anyway. But you can’t begin to understand why you may have gotten that form rejection without understanding what the other guy has laid on the line.

Quite honestly, almost every rejection you get will be a type of form rejection. Face it, brothers and sisters, your manuscript is one of hundreds that come in the P.O. box, or e-mail, daily. The gatekeeper’s ‘to do’ box grows at a rate that would make a politician’s bank account jealous. Odds are, unless the ‘personalized’ rejection was hand written expressly to you; it’s just a gentler form rejection that has probably been sent to quite a few other would be authors, verbatim.

Like it, or not, we’re just another faceless manuscript in an ever growing pile of manuscripts. If you have ever done a well thought out critique, then try to imagine doing that for several 100,000 plus word stories a day. Starting to see why you get a form rejection instead of a personal response that will take twenty or more minutes to write, yet?

Hell, it takes me a whole day to do a critique of one chapter for one of my crit partners. I can’t even imagine trying to do it for a whole novel with a hundred more waiting for me to get to them. And we want an agent to drop what they’re doing and give us detailed reasons for our rejections? Would you, if you had all that work to do? (For those of you who said, “Yes.”, I’m Henry the Eighth… pleased to meet you.)

So, I’m going to let you in on a big secret in the publishing industry. When you have a polished story that has been put through all the proper channels of beta reading, critique partnering, revisions and rewriting, then still get a form rejection. The most likely reason is this: The agent, or editor did not think they could sell it.

It’s actually that simple. This is a business, and if they don’t believe they can make a buck or two off the work they are going to reject it. None of the gatekeepers are in the business to give you, or me, writing lessons. That is our job, not theirs.

If you suspect it is your writing, then you need to get busy with your end of the deal and work on your art. If you do have a good story that the gatekeepers don’t think they can sell, then you have two options. Trunk the book as a non-commercial idea whose time has not yet come, or prove ‘em wrong and put it out there yourself. After all, the reading public is the only critic whose opinion is worth a damn, anyway.

If you can sell it big, I’ll personally guarantee the agents and editors will be beating a path to your door to represent your next book. As I said, this is a business, and you just proved beyond doubt that you are a saleable commodity.

Does the post seem a bit cold so far? That’s probably because this is a cold business to try and break into. It always has been, and a little research into the struggle of famous authors will prove it. But, I am not a cold person, and neither are a lot of other writers I know of. So, in that spirit, and being true to my real nature, let me offer you some help in getting where you want to go. (If your still reading this, that is.)

There is wonderful on line community of writers in all phases of the publishing experience known as AgentQuery Connect. You can find all sorts of help on every phase of this job there. I warn you though, it is an addictive place to be.

Another fantastic on line resource for writers is WritetoDone. I would also highly suggest downloading their free EBook, The (nearly) Ultimate Guide to Better Writing. The link for it is on every page there, so you won’t have any trouble finding it.

Ok, so much for the free resources that can help you cut your odds of being rejected. Time to see just how serious you are about becoming a published writer. How bad do you want it, and how much are you willing to invest in yourself, and your craft? I’m not talking a fortune here, but if you are unwilling to spend a little on yourself and your craft, then I have to question just how badly you really do want to be a writer.

There are two books from The Writer’s Digest that are really helpful. Bargain hunters can probably find them cheaper on Amazon, but however you get a hold of them, by all means, stop being so cheap and get them. They are:

No More Rejections: (50 Secrets To Writing A Manuscript That Sells), by Alice Orr

and

Writing the Popular Novel, by Loren D. Estleman

Google both titles, or follow the above link to The Writer’s Digest, and acquire them both. At the worst you’ll spend about $45.00 on yourself and your craft. Surely you’re worth $45.00? Well I think you are, and you’ll be very happy if you think so, too. (C’mon, be honest. You spent at least that much in one month on entertainment that didn’t do a thing for your career.)

Best of luck, and…

later, Gang! 😉

The Next Big Thing (Week 23)   Leave a comment

Hoo, Boy!

Looks like I’ve been neglecting my duties here, again. But to my defense; I have been working my hairy fanny off, trying to get my WIP polished to perfection before I turn it loose on the unsuspecting minds of readers everywhere. And believe me, brothers and sisters, if you care about what you do, that takes up a major chunk of your time.

Unknown to me, there is a longstanding blogging tradition among authors known as So You Think You Can Write A Novel. At least it was unknown to me, until my awesome fellow author, and good friend, Aaron Bradford Starr, Tagged me to do this myself. And if you don’t believe me that Aaron deserves the title awesome, take the Pepsi challenge and check out his work through his blog, Imaginary Friend. I’m more than willing to take wagers that you’ll agree.

Following the tradition for a moment I’m supposed to wax all philosophical about being a writer. Well… I would, but those of you who know me know it would be 99 and 44/100s pure BS. In short, I’m an old hack who seems capable of telling stories. And I’m OK with that. Creating entertaining stories that people might enjoy is all I’m really after, anyway. Should something good, (Like making a living.), come out of all of this; I’ll be jumping on my own couch like Tom Cruise on crank.

But enough of this, let’s get to answering the traditional questions, shall we?

1- What is the working title of your book?
Wolfsong: Child of Fenrir. The book is a stand alone story that I propose to expand into a trilogy. Awwww. Who am I kiddin’? It is a trilogy, but you can read one book and it will be a story all unto itself. No tricks, no BS. No having to wonder what comes next, unless you happen like it and want to know what else I have in mind for my characters.

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?
My love of Robert E. Howard’s Conan series. I wondered if I could create a swashbuckling hero along the same lines without making a carbon copy of Conan. At least that was the initial challenge, and like all ideas, it ballooned into something else from there. Did I succeed? I’ll leave the answer to that up to you dear readers. I happen to agree with Mark Twain: Your opinion is the only one that really counts.

3- What genre does your book fall under?
That’s a toughie. It has nearly equal elements of Fantasy, History, Action Adventure, and Romance. I guess if I had to pick a genre for it, it would probably be Historical Fantasy.

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Morgan Wulfsson: Cris Hemsworth. Nivia Gwynn: Uma Thurman. Marcus Octavius: Tom Hiddleston

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
During the Roman occupation of Britain an unlikely hero arose to stop the expansion, and in the process gave England its most enduring legend.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published. As a matter of fact, I plan on making it free. At least as far as the e-book goes. The Print On Demand hard copy I plan to cut to the bare bone on price, if anyone would prefer a traditional book to an e-book, that is. On Amazon, Smashwords, and hopefully all the other e-book venues I can get into, it will be free, though. The idea being that I hope to attract readers who will enjoy my stories, and the ones who don’t won’t lose money by taking a chance on me. No one can please everyone, but i hope to please as many as I can. Hence all the work I’m putting into the project.

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
One year. And BOY! Was it R-O-U-G-H draft. A lot of it was a good idea, but quite a bit was just plain silly. I could have probably sold those parts to Monty Python.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Another tough question. (Hey Aaron! I thought you said these were easy?) I would have compared Wolfsong to the Conan stories at one time, but things have deviated so far that I don’t think that would apply, except for superficially. I do know what movies it would compare to, though: Dragonheart, Troy, Alexander, and Kingdom of Heaven. (Hope that qualifies.)

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My wife, Tammie. She found some of my old short stories, and a story that i co-wrote on a Renaissance festival website. She was the one who encouraged me to get back into the game. I resisted for a while, then did it just to prove to her it was a dead end. I ended up eating crow on that one and made some sales that put real money in our pocket. Ya know something? Considering how things have gone so far, crow don’t taste all that bad.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a lot of research into the culture of the Celts and their reaction to Rome in the book. I also did my best to present an accurate picture of how Celtic life could have been in those days. Considering that the Celts did not have a written history, and I’m certainly not saying that I hit the nail on the head, I think I’ve presented a story that is imaginative, and plausable. More than anything, even though it is a fantasy and contains the traditional elements of fantasy, (Magic, mythic beings, etc.), I think the reader will come away thinking, “You know, that could have happened.”

OK, Gang, here is where I let you all know who I tagged to do this with their stories next week. Now, since Arron and I move in pretty much the same circles, we share pretty much the same author friends. So, when I say the pickin’s are slim, you know I’m not just flappin’ my gums at ya. I’m waiting to hear from a few other great authors I know. However, since I have a week to fill this up a bit…

I do have the incredible Joyce Alton of Yesternight’s Voyage on the hook for the 21st of the month. Be sure to check out what she has to offer on the above subject. I also have the amazingly talented Alisha Marie Klapheke, and her blog, I Heart Words. So be certain to check what they have on their own great works. That way you’ll be sure to catch The Next Big Thing.

Now all this still leaves me with three more spots to fill, and if I can sucker… Uhhhh, con… Uhhh talk three more fantastic authors in my circle into doing this, I’ll be sure to update the post. So check back here over the next seven days, and be sure you don’t miss Joyce, or Alisha giving you the lowdown on their books. Who knows? You could be saying to your friends. I knew about that best seller before you did.

Later, Gang!

It’s Not What You Write About   7 comments

I’m pretty sure most of us have heard that old saw, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Well with that in mind, because it is true more often than not, let’s apply that to writing. It’s not what you write about, it’s how you write it.

Let’s face it. Ebook publishing, and POD publishing, has made it easy to get a story out there to the public. For serious writers who sweat and toil over their craft, trying to turn out the best product they can, this is damn good news. The downside, (There always seems to be a downside.), is that same ease has opened up a flood gate of pure garbage from the get-rich-quick writing-is-easy crowd. Anyone who thinks that has never tried to seriously write a grocery list, much less a novel.

The result is; there are a lot of Tara Gilesbies putting out feature length versions of My Immortal, or pretty close to it, every day. If you don’t know what, or who, I’m referring to here count yourself lucky. If you happen to Google My Immortal or Tara, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My good friend, and fellow writer, Darke Conteur, assures me that eventually these characters will fade from the scene. I hope she is right, but I don’t think she’s considered the fresh crop of Taras popping up daily. (BTW, Darke has two ebooks published, and I can 100% guarantee you that both are well worth reading. Darke is very serious about her craft and how well her stories come out. Darke writes some damn good Paranormal Fantasy and you can check her work out here at Smashwords.com. At $.99, and $1.99 neither novel will break the bank, and you’ll more than get your money’s worth.)

Our mission as serious writers/storytellers is to make certain we put out the best we can do. The truth is this has little to do with genre, or idea, but it has everything to do with how you tell your story.

To illustrate my point, what would you think if I told you I had an idea about a full length novel involving rabbits. I would even give them their own pseudo language, and there wouldn’t be a human being in the whole story. Sounds like a silly idea for a novel, or a children’s book doesn’t it? But that is exactly the idea Richard Adams had when he wrote the best selling classic, Watership Down. And it certainly isn’t a children’s book, it’s classified as a heroic fantasy.

Now, on it’s own, most agents, publishing houses, and editors would dissmiss such a concept for a novel out of hand. Naturally that didn’t happen, and the reason was because Mr. Adams knows how to write a story. It wasn’t what he wrote about that made Watership Down a international best seller for thirty years, it was how he wrote it. There in lies the rub.

All too many future authors spend too much time trying to pin down the next trend in writing, or follow the current trend all too closely. Instead they should be working on how to tell a good story. How to write fiction that sells.

True it is scarier to do so, your taking a risk. But, no more so than the risk we take by just being another faceless member of the follow-the-popular-trend crowd. Even then, if we work hard on how to tell a good story, it is possible to upset the current King/Queen of the hill, and take their spot for ourselves. Actually that last part is even harder than striking out on your own literary path. The odds of being dismissed as a “copycat writer” are better than the ones you’ll face in blazing your own trail.

So, how do you learn to write a novel that sells?

There are plenty of “how to” books out there that can tell you just that. All you have to do is be willing to listen, and apply what they have to teach. Writer’s Digest has a slew of them, and it’s worth the small expense to pick out one, or two, and learn the craft. Even the poorest of us can put a buck, or two aside a week. Maybe even hint at a birthday, or Christmas present. And there is always the library.

Either way, it’s a small investment that will pay you big dividends later on. It may also save you from becoming the Tara Gilesbie of the E-publishing world. Well maybe not that bad, but would you even want to be considered a close second in that contest? 😉

Later, Gang;
Pete

The Easy Hard Way   8 comments

When I was studying stage magic there was an observation that most of the best writers on the subject made. Magic tricks are separated into two general categories: Easy hard tricks, and hard easy tricks. What this means in explanation is; there are illusions that appear to the audience to be very hard to pull off, yet are so easy you could teach a chimpanzee to do them in about a half hour. There are also illusions that look easy to the audience which actually take months to master, if not years.

A nice bit of trivia, but what does this have to do with storytelling and writing? Quite a bit. Especially in today’s convoluted landscape of opportunity.

When I first attempted to make a career as a storyteller the opportunities were rather limited. An author attempting to enter the speculative fiction market was pretty much limited to short stories in magazines, or novels. The last assuming that you could land an agent and sell something to a publisher. Considering the immense number of potential authors out there, neither option was an easy break. Just as they are today.

Self-publishing was an option, but for the most part the vanity press, as it was known, was a dead end fraud. The vanity press made good money off of want-to-be authors who had a bit of cash to spend, but the author still remained an unknown. They also found themselves stuck with a few hundred unsalable books.

Then the digital revolution and e-books struck. Today anyone, and I do mean anyone, can publish a story; either electronically, or as a print on demand physical book. The cost, if any, is miniscule at best and well within the reach of nearly any aspiring author. But, just as with the easy hard tricks of the stage magician, it really isn’t as easy as it looks. This is particularly true if you are serious about being a author.

One of the down sides of the e-book revolution is that there is a lot of delusional crap flooding the market. This is brought about by the aspiring author who believes that they can write as well as anyone else, and after a series of failures they turn to e-publishing. Never mind that they rarely check their spelling, or that they never bothered to have anyone beyond their family and good friends read their ‘work’. They are a good wrighter an they knows it. Them other poeples just don’t have no taste. (See what I mean?)

The ‘writing is easy’ crowd aside, at first blush the e-book market does look like an easy alternative to traditional publishing for the aspiring professional. In truth, it is not. In fact it is actually the harder market when you consider what it will take for the serious author to garner a readership.

First, and foremost, you will lack the services of a good editor. Unless you have a few thousand dollars laying about, you are on your own in this particular spectrum of the writing business. Even if you do have the extra cash to spend for one, it’s still no guarantee anyone is going to notice you. The odds are; you just blew a couple of thousand bucks for a return of thirty, or forty bucks and about as many readers. No matter how you tally that, it isn’t a wise investment.

This means you are going to have to find a way to be your own editor. The problem there is you are too damn close to your own story. You are going to miss things like pacing, story flow, plot holes, and clumsy sentences that you thought were aerial lines of prose. Trust me, no matter how good you think you are, they weren’t.

One of the best remedies for this is to garner a few beta readers. Preferably other writers who are working for the same goal you are. Most writers are avid readers, and they will notice the things that you missed. A harder method is to enable yourself to look at your own work as if someone else wrote it. This is near to impossible for most aspiring authors. It requires a discipline that most of us lack. It also doesn’t take into consideration the fact that human beings are notorious for our ability to lie to ourselves.

But, if you are one of the few who is serious about your craft, then I do have good news for you. There is a way to develop those all important beta readers, and critiques. Join a writer’s critique group where you can make friends in the industry. AgentQuery Connect is one, Critters Writers Workshop is another. Although there are hundreds more on the web, these are the two best.

Oh, and before you get the wrong idea, allow me to give you one piece of advice. Neither of the two I have mentioned is a quick fix. Your going to have to put forth some effort. To gain a friend, you have to be a friend. So, don’t just run in and immediately start looking for people to help you out. That approach is both rude, and self-serving. You’ll be spotted in a moment.

Offer to help others out first. Make friends. Be a friend. Be ready to accept criticism, and take advice. Not all of it will fit you, but it’s better than trying to go it alone.

Since most of what I’m musing about here can’t be done in a single blog post, I’ll let things go and continue with the other aspects the ‘easy hard way’ will throw at you in future posts.

Perhaps between all of us we can find a better method for the serious author to get their work noticed. At the least, we can try. 😉

Ever;
Pete