Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Links of Interest

MARKETS: An agent blogs about what romance editors are looking for.

CRAFT: Writing the Short Story.

CRAFT: Using interruptions in dialogue to create tension.

MARKETS: Links to markets for long and short fiction. (NOTE: I know nothing about these markets so use them at your own risk.)

CRAFT: Transitions and bridges in fiction.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Ten things you should know about a writing career.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year in Publishing, 2009

This last year has been, in many ways, a watershed year for publishing as both the failing economy and the drastic changes in distribution have stressed the major publishers' bottom line and the way they have always done business.

However, probably the most important news has been the war for control over content, for without content, none of the other news matters. Here are some of the things that have happened this year.

Amazon's attempt at a closed Kindle system failed, and they are opening up the Kindle to other sources of ebooks in both format and distribution sites.

Other ebook readers and distributors have fought back against Amazon's dominance of the market.

Amazon's Kindle's text-to-speech feature raised an uproar because Amazon was grabbing a right they hadn't contracted for, and they were forced to drop TTS.

Amazon has controlled ebook prices by imposing the $9.99 price point on most ebooks, and other distributors are following along. They also started a price war on paper bestsellers.

Google attempted to control content by trying to make all books, no matter what the copyright status, available for free on the web. Publishers and authors have fought them back on this issue.

Google declared "dibs" on books out of copyright and orphaned copyright books, but publishers, other distributors, and author organizations have screamed foul and are fighting it.

Many of the epublishers who have been around for years are being acquired by other epublishers. The latest acquisition is Hard Shell Word Factory by Mundania.

A number of the large conglomerate publishers, including Simon & Schuster, are making drastic reductions in ebook royalty rates.

Random House is again saying that old publishing contracts signed before ebooks existed give them ebook rights to books by authors such as William Styron. They have fought this battle once before and capitulated when they sued Rosetta Books for copyright infringement.

Many of these events and issues will be still in contention in the next few years so we're in for some interesting times.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Links of Interest

QUERIES: How to query nonfiction.

MARKETS: Editors are eagerly looking for next big debut author in mainstream/literary fiction.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: This year in publishing recapped.


EDITING: Yet more suggestions to clean up your manuscript. This time, removing extra spaces.

WRITING EXERCISES: Authors list their most effective writing exercises.

PROMOTION: Are booksignings worth it?

PROMOTION: Can you have an online platform AND keep your life private?

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: What happens after you sell your book to a major publisher.

PROMOTION: What you need to do to get yourself in the reading public eye.

BOOKS ON WRITING: Suggestions of writing books on everything from craft to marketing.

AGENTS: Agent Chip MacGregor is taking questions for the next week. So go read the answers and ask one yourself. His blog entries have no special URL so you'll have to scroll down. Questions start on his December 22nd blog.

CRAFT and CHARACTERS: An interesting site that includes plot and character generators as well as tons of info on character psychology.

CRAFT: A writing challenge generator.

PROMOTION: Your book is out, now what?

CRAFT: Balancing worldbuilding, pace, and action.

CRAFT: How long should that short story be?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Camera as Pacing, CRAFT

In my blog entry on participant viewpoint , I talked about the dangers of using camera viewpoint in writing scenes, but the idea of a camera shooting the action can be useful when you are writing description.

As you describe a room from a character's viewpoint, imagine that the character is that camera as he scans the room as he enters.

In a scene which doesn't start with high action such as a fight, he would scan right to left or left to right, and the important objects would be described in relationship to those near it. The character would see the piano, then the bar, then the poker tables on the far side.

If some object or person is important--the character is looking for it or meeting him, etc., then that object or person is described first with the general impressions of the room then the details of the room can be filled in as needed. For example, if someone is coming at the viewpoint character with a sword, he won't notice the piano or the bar except as possible objects to hide behind.

When writing that description, the idea of the camera shot can also keep you from making a mistake in visual pacing.

For example, you are describing the room, then you put in a character's brief mental comment about something, then you go back to describing the room. That's the equivalent of beginning to pan the room with a camera then jerking the camera toward the main character's face, then the camera returns to panning.

By thinking of the visual description as camera work, you are less likely to make mistakes in visual and action pacing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Links of Interest

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Why a writer should have professional goals and how to formulate them.

AGENTS: Agent Jenny Rappaport is closing her agency at the end of December because of the economy.

AUDIO "PUBLISHER" WARNING: Hudson Audio Publishing appears to be the newest scam to hit writer. (I've already received spam from them.)

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Contract Negotiation, Part 2.

CRAFT: Why a character does something. Creating backstory to make the story more believable.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The big advance versus better royalties.

AGENTS: Do you need an agent who handles multiple genres when you write them.

CONTRACTS: Foreign rights.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Things not to do when sending a query to an editor or agent.

CRAFT: The small things you need to do during an edit.

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Karen Ball, Executive Editor of Pure Enjoyment fiction at B&H Publishing Group which is a Christian publisher.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making a Main Character Likable, CRAFT

Sometimes, you can start out your story with a main character who isn't very likable, but a character must be likable or, at the very least, relatable for the reader. Here are ways to show more than the prickly outer elements of her personality.

If you give the main character a worthy goal in the first pages of the novel, then you give yourself time to make a seemingly unlikable character grow on the reader.

By worthy, I mean something the reader will want that character to succeed at– rescuing children, helping a nice person find happiness, etc. Even if the character starts out doing it for a base reason like money, the reader will still want him to succeed.

Simple things can help make a character start to grow on the reader. Pets are always a good option. Either he has one, or he can't resist the heroine's kitten, or something like that. Having him interact positively with a child is also a good likability quickie.

Recently, I read a short story in which the heroine breaks into the apartment of a possible villain-- a hard-ass security agent. A teddy bear is sitting on his couch, and he later admits it belongs to his nephew. With that simple stroke, the author made a seemingly unlikable bad guy a much nicer person.

Giving a character a vulnerability that the reader can relate to is also a good likability quickie. It can be as simple as a chick lit heroine having a bad hair day and the boss from heck, or the bad ass hero getting into a small plane and freaking out because he finds a snake.

Eventually, more likable elements of that character's personality will have to be shown, though, so the bad parts of her personality don't overwhelm the reader.

In some genre fiction like thrillers, the immediate likability quotient doesn't have to be high at the beginning, particularly if the character is strong and effective in what he needs to do.

But in a romance, the hero or heroine should be likable from the very beginning. The other main character can become likable as the book progresses, but he should not start as totally horrible. Some character traits like cruelty can't be forgiven or changed because, in real life, they never are.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Links of Interest

AGENTS: What should you expect from an agent.


BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: When does the money come? The confusion of a publishing contract explained. December 2, 2009 blog

CRAFT: Self-editing.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The art of negotiating.

MARKETS: St. Martin Press has a new YA Teen line.

BRAIN SCIENCE: How a writer can use what we know about brain science and reading to become a better writer.’s-brain-can-neuroscience-teach-how-to-be-a-better-writer/

CRAFT: Common words many use incorrectly.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How long should you wait to hear from an editor?

PROMOTION: Using fans to help promote.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Why those books appear at special spots and B&N and other bookstores.

MARKETS: The best paranormal fantasy (urban fantasy and paranormal romance) in the last ten years. A must read if this is your market.

CRAFT: Creating emotion in your stories.

CRAFT: Does your story have a message?

CRAFT: What a bad movie can tell you about not writing a bad book.


AGENTS: Agents from the point of view of an established author.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Picking An Epublisher, MARKETS

If you've read my blogs on the pros and cons of different types of publishers, and you've decided on marketing your book to epublishers, here's how you find likely candidates.

Picking an epublisher is a bit trickier than picking a traditional New York publisher because there are so many and their methods are so different.

To start your search, first check out review sites and look for reviews of novels similar to yours and see which ones get the praise. If you can't tell an ebook publisher from one of the traditional publishers, use Google to check out the publisher. Soon, you'll recognize publisher names.

You can also ask about at various online writing groups and sites where writers hang out. Some clueless types hype their very poor publishers so don't take everything you hear as correct.

When you find likely publishers, check out their site. Look at the kinds of books they sell.

If your book is straight fantasy, you may regret a publisher which emphasizes romance on its home page or has a very small amount of fantasy because you'll have difficulty selling to the fantasy crowd even if your book is a perfect example of a great fantasy. The SF/fantasy crowd tend to be snobs and run in the opposite direction if they associate your publisher with romance.

Another way to check out epublishers is to see if the publisher's books are available in a wide range of formats and at other sites besides their website. Without exception, my ebooks sell worst at the publisher's site than anywhere else because readers prefer the one-stop shopping of places like Fictionwise.

Go to the main venues like Fictionwise and see who is selling the most books in your genre. (The lists can be arranged in best-selling order.)

Go to publisher sites and read their guidelines and their posted contract. Compare the contract to EPIC's model contract. ( Also, look at EPIC's "Red Flags" article. Links to both can be found under "Helpful Items" on the left side of the site.

Read a number of the publisher's books, or at least, the posted promotional chapters. Are there grammatical and spelling errors? Are the books bad? If so, find another publisher.

Also, look at their covers. Would you want a cover like that? Do the covers fit the genre of the book?

Once you get a few possibilities, ask about them on listservs where authors congregate. Most of us will warn you away from the crooked and inept publishers. Also, check them out at Preditors and Editors.

You'll soon discover that the biggest epublishers with the best reputations are closed to submissions most all the time. Their stable of writers can produce more than enough books for them without dealing with the slush pile.

But there are new publishers who are more than eager for good material. Unfortunately, they usually don't have a track record so you really don't know what you're getting in to.

All this research won't guarantee a safe passage through the stormy waters of publishing, I've had a few disastrous publishers who have lost distribution after I've signed with them or who have proven to be inept, but publishing is like life. Sh*t just happens despite whatever we do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Links of Interest

PROMOTIONS: Marketing Principles Part 3 of 3

NEW MARKET: A new magazine publisher seeking sf/fantasy/horror short stories.


BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The dangers of success.

CONTRACTS: Dangerous language to watch out for in contracts.

PUBLISHING TRENDS: Booksquare talks about the future of ebook

AGENTS: Finding a reputable literary agent.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: What major changes we'll see in electronic publishing in the next year.

PROMOTION: Why an author should have promotion ideas before they sell that book.

CRAFT: How to test your writing's readability.