Saturday, September 22, 2018

Question from an Author - Submitting to an agent a second time

How to re-approach an agent who has asked to be remembered when the time comes to pitch a new novel.

This is a great question. OK, it might not be a question but when I asked for ideas on Facebook, I just asked for topics. Still it is a great question.

Let's assume you have an agent you really want to work with. The same goes for an editor that you want to work with. You have submitted to this person and that editor/agent passed on that first project. Now what? You really thought that first project was great and you really want to work with this person. How do you go back?

The first thing I would say is to go back to that rejection letter. There is a hope that the person sent some sort of feedback other than, I am passing. Before you even think about firing off that next project, take the time to really look over those comments. Then, take the time to really examine your project with an objective eye, and see what you did. Now, look at the new project.

The odds are, you are probably making the same mistakes you did on project number 1. I have several authors who continually submit stories to me, and continually, I reject the stories for the same reasons. These people have not learned.

Now, let's assume that you did go back to that new project. The hope is that you took those revision comments and, as you wrote project #2 you incorporated those ideas into the story. That is what we are looking for, especially if we send you a lot of notes. We apparently liked something you did in the first project to see something and to send you comments. Now, can you do something with those comments.

As you write that new query letter, here is what we want to see in the letter.

First, remind us that you looked at an earlier project and passed on it. It is OK if you tell us why we passed on that project. We are going to use this to your advantage. As you tell us about the new project, take the time to highlight the things you did in this project that remedied the things we did not like in the first one. When my authors send in revisions for their current works, they always take the time to show exactly how they met the needs of the editor. You should do the same thing.

Now, let's take this to a new level. Let's assume you have now sent in three projects to that same person and are getting the same feedback. This can mean one of two things. Either you are not able to take the criticism and make those changes; or you are being told politely that this is not the place for you. The odds, however, is that it is the first issue.

We have no problem if you come to us with a new project. We are always looking. But please remember, if you continue to do what you were doing, and it is failing, you will continue to fail.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Trends, Politics and Publishing

I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days. It all started with a post on social media talking about how the creators of Sesame Street had thought of Bert and Ernie when they were created. This discussion of whether or not Bert and Ernie were/are in a relationship beyond simply being room mates got me thinking of what we see a lot of in publishing - Writers attempting to insert the current political hot topic into their stories.

Now, I fully understand that writers claim this is a way to stay relevant, and yes, there is a part of this that is true. However, it seems that too many writers are focusing so much on the hot topic and not so much about the message and the actual story. The goal of any writer should be to write that great story. IF it happens to fall into some areas that are relevant today, then great! If it doesn't that is fine.

I have honestly lost track of how many projects I have seen in the past several months where authors have been focusing too hard on those current political topics: Me Too, LGBTQ issues, Immigration, Election Fraud... the list goes on and on.

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that these issues are not important. But when a writer is using these topics as the single focus of the story, they are missing the mark. Many will often claim they are writing these stories because there are no stories out there about the issue. Again, not a reason to write the story. The focus needs to be on the story.

Remember, the writing, the plot, the characters, the setting, the theme, and the conflict make the story.

So, before you start that new project because you saw an issue on TV or social media, stop and ask yourself, where is your focus. Is it the topic, or is it the story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Make Your Own Future

One of the things people are often taught in motivational programs is how to take charge of your own future. You control your own destiny.

I was really thinking about this today when it comes to publishing. This is one of those businesses where an author really has to do a lot of work on their own. It is a shame, because in the past, authors could really count on those publishers to take care of a lot of things for them, so that they could focus hard core on their writing.

But things change.

Writers have to understand that, while it is easy to blame others for their lack of success in the writing world, and yes, some of those things might be the fault of someone else, it is still up to that writer to really make those successes happen.

Yes, this is going to cut into some of your own writing, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Before you throw that blame on someone else, ask yourself if, while this might be the fault of someone else , is this something you can take on yourself? If so, quit complaining and just do it.

Just something to think about on a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why Your Critique Partner May Be Hurting Your Career

One of the things most new writers hear is the need to find a great critique group. Because writing is a solitary affair, you need someone to work with, to solve problems together and to make those stories great. While this certainly has some truth in it, the one thing most writers fail to see is a single concept in that sentence - finding a GREAT critique group.

I often cringe when I hear authors tell of all the great advice they get from their critique groups. "We really support each other." "We get a lot of great ideas from each other." The problem though is that this is an issue of the blind leading the blind. These are people who have no clue whatsoever about writing giving you advice.

Too often the reasons writers never make it is due to that critique group.

One of the first is just what I hinted at here. You have people who really do not know how to write, giving advice. Not a good approach. You need to have people who are educated enough guiding you in your writing. Many of the plot issues I see with authors stems from those critique groups suggesting these great plot ideas to "add depth" or to "provide background information" to make the story better. The end result, however, is a story filled with distracting material.

The second reason is that those critique groups often give you a false sense of your success. Because you are all in this together, you are there to provide positive feedback. We never want to discourage someone and tell them their story sucks. We never want to tell them the premise is bad. When they finish that story, we push them to start pitching, even though they might not be ready.

I am all into positive feedback! But, I am also someone who believes it is important to tell someone the truth. Guiding your fellow writers directly into a brick wall is not going to help them at all.

So, before you go out and get into that critique group, as yourself if this group is just going to be a cheer squad for you, or if they are really educated enough to make sure you and your writing is going to be a success.