Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Name Recognition Sells

This is sort of a "no-duh" statement, but I do think it is important to keep this in mind, especially if you are a new author. Readers buy books because they know who you are. They remember a name. 

I was talking with a writer this last week about just this topic. She was frustrated with a couple of books she had just finished reading from an author who is "supposed to be amazing." The author in question has been around for a while and is one of those "Best Selling" authors. And yet, the last couple of books, were far from amazing. So, why is it that this person keep selling? 

The answer is simple. Readers see a new release from their favorite author and they immediately rush out to get the book. That single sale just moved that author closer to that "Best Seller" list. Readers assume that this new book will be equally as amazing. 

Publishers also recognize this when they consider release dates for books. They know readers recognize those authors names and will keep the author in mind each month just because they read that prior month's book. They also know the struggles they can have with sales if the author only releases a book 1 time a year, or even longer. It is all an issue of "out of sight, out of mind."

Consider this as well. Why is it that celebrities sell their books so well. They can pretty much sell a book on anything and people will buy it. Again, you as a reader know who that person is. 

Just something to think about on a Tuesday.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Always Looking For Quality First

First of all, I know it has been a while since I logged in here. We've been busy around the house lately working on arrangements to get my two older kids home from college in NY. Not exactly an easy task. On top of that, I have been working on the new course I'll be teaching with UCLA and their extension program. This is an exciting opportunity for me to teach developmental editing, and for people interested in learning more about the business of editing and agent work. 

Today, I wanted to talk about something that might seem totally obvious to you. What I look for in projects that come across my desk.

I have heard at conferences and certainly on the internet, many authors complaining that editors and agents only want to buy the next amazing novel. When they say this, they are often implying that unless we can make a ton of money off of the book, we would never sign the author. They imply that the story has to be soooo amazingly different, unique and off the wall before we buy it. 

While it would be great to find that great million dollar book every time, what we really are looking for is quality. Yes, the book needs to be marketable, but if it is not quality writing, we move on really quick. 

For those of you who have submitted projects to agents and editors in the past, you know how many times you get to send on a partial or a full for review (assuming you sent it to an editor who accepts unsolicited writing or to editors and agents who actually accept what you write). Writers get requests all of the time, but it is that moving on to getting "The Call" that seems elusive. The reason is, it all comes down to the quality of the writing and the execution of the novel. 

I don't know how many times I request projects that sound totally amazing. I read that query letter or hear that pitch and think the story is beyond amazing. 

And then...

We read the writing. It just is not there. 

Often the writing is forced or flat. The enthusiasm we heard in the pitch or the query just is not there. Sometimes it comes down to writing that is elementary. In other words, the author is still learning the craft and it is a project in the extreme beginner phase. In other cases, the story is just not what that author said they had written. Their interpretation of their novel is not what ended up on the page. 

Like readers, we want a story that when we open it to the first page, we want to not put the book down. We want to be drawn into the story and the world of the characters. If it is not there, like readers, we put that book down and look for something else. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

NaNoWriMo, Not For Me

REVISED REPOST but still important...

We are now on day 2 of the NaNoWriMo and there are a lot of authors out there just banging out words. According to the NaNoWriMo group, it is about word count and that is the only thing important. They argue that you can always go back and edit later. Personally, this is the worst thing I could ever recommend to any author, especially if you are trying to write a book. As the NaNoWriMo people describe, your goal is to have a 50,000 word "NOVEL" finished in a month. Unfortunately, what most end up with is 50,000+ words of complete drivel.

For many, this is a chance to feel motivated to finally get to writing that story they always wanted to write. From January 1 through October 31, authors, for some reason, found every excuse not to write. They procrastinated. They whined. They complained. Ahh, but November 1 rolls around and NOW they are going to write that amazing novel they talked about during the Rose Parade so many months ago. That's fine. Be motivated! Writers need to be motivated. But when it comes to NaNoWriMo, there are other issues. 

I heard one author who has been doing NanoWriMo for 10 years. She openly stated that she has still not gone back and editing any of the "Novels" she finished. But she has a lot of words written.

So what was the point? 

Among writing communities, there are also competitions where authors "SPRINT" during a set time block. Again, the idea is to write fast and worry about the editing later. And again, I would argue that this might not be the best approach.

Yes, we have to increase your writing speed. If all you can accomplish in a single day of writing is 5-6 pages of writing (and I am talking in a day) then you are probably not doing much. But if you are just going through the motions and writing fast WITHOUT thinking, this is not going to help you.
You need a plan of action. No, I am not saying you have everything scripted out in a full detailed outline, but you need to have a goal in mind for that day's writing. What is the goal of the chapter? What do the readers need to learn about the characters and the plot for that day. Take 10-15 minutes and figure this out.

I would say, yes. Speed writing and sprints is great for brainstorming. It is a chance for authors to purge their brains of a lot of ideas and let the good ideas surface to the top. In terms of quality work, this is not the best approach.

I don't know about you, but I live a busy life. If I blow three hours of writing and then have to go back and probably rewrite the whole thing, that first block of time was a waste. So the question is, why do people do this? Are there any good benefits.

There is another issue that many of these writers, I do believe, seem to be missing. If you do decide to be a professional writer and not a hobby writer, you will have deadlines. Your editor needs that manuscript by a certain time. Art departments are needing those Art Fact Sheets to complete their work. You cannot simply create excuses as to why you aren't meeting those deadlines. I hate to say it, but if you are someone who really only has this one month in you, every year, to be motivated to write, this might not be the career for you. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

#MSWL - Historical

Greyhaus Literary Agency focuses exclusively on publishing traditional romance and women's fiction. Every now and then I like to post things that I am especially interested in finding. 

I am going to keep this one short and simple.

I would love to see projects in the Late Victorian era and WWII projects. 

Stories should ne no less than 75K/80K in word count. 

These stories need to be traditional romances with the focus on the relationship building to a happily ever after. These should not be time travels or parallel times. These are historical!

I will give you a hint. I am not a big fan of 1st person. Just a word of warning.