Monday, October 14, 2013

A Few Publishing Questions Answered from Utah RWA

Q & A From RWA Utah Conference

I ended the session I taught with a Q & A session and we had some great questions from the audience. Thought I would share some of those this Monday.

What is your opinion of books that challenge traditional formats? For example; stories in both first and third person?

Writers need to realize that the format you use for your book is dictated by the book. We don’t go out to say we are going to write a book in first person. We pick the book and the goals of the book will tell you want is the best approach.

Trusting critiques. How do you know if it is brilliant or crap?
This is all a matter of gut instinct. I think it is important to listen to all of the critiques and then see how things play out. We cannot just disregard something because we don’t like the comment, or it doesn’t fit with what we are working on.
What are some of the biggest clich├ęs we see in submissions that run us off right away?
Sparks fly when…
Those sentences people think are “high concepts” – This story combines the Flintsone’s with Tom Clancy.
Telling me your story has great characters, plots and settings. – No duh!
Referencing writers that very few people ever read.

What is my favorite flaw to work on in a manuscript?

 I really like working with my authors on figuring out the right plot line to take with a new project. Sometimes we run into roadblocks and now it becomes a “puzzle” to solve.

Would you say that the publishing business is like the Hollywood studies and they would rather have a re-hash of something that was enormously successful, or rather something original?

Readers simply don’t like to read books they have already seen. Been there. Done it. We do like common themes and ideas, but just re-telling the story in this market is not going to work.

What is my favorite romance?

 I love romances that really show a relationship building with characters I can relate to.

What do I like to read?

I don’t get a lot of time to read, but I always tend to return to historical romances.

What do we like to hear from potential clients during pitch sessions?

I need to see that you have a sense of the market and know how your book(s) fit into that market. I want to see how your book somehow stands out among all of the other books that are out there.

Do you see a wall between traditional and self-publishing? Can and author do both?

First of all, yes, authors can do both. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. I will say that I have found that most of the walls I have seen have not come from those writers in traditional publishing but those in self-publishing. Even when I make comments that say A) there are approaches for everyone; B)  that writers can do both; or C) there are certainly strengths and weaknesses to all, I often get deluged by those on the self-publishing side that want to pick something to argue about or to say that traditional publishers are out to “screw the writer.”
In simple terms, there is a place for everyone.

How do you know when you are working with a good editor?

Does this person really know what they are doing? What type of feedback do they provide? I think this is really important for those smaller presses that have authors working as editors as well. Just because you write it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good editor.

If a writer feels the suggestions made my an editor don’t work, do they fight or change the story?

Everyone is in this to see the success of a book. If an author thinks there is a better approach, they have to make sure to clearly demonstrate and prove that approach will work. Most editors are very open to this.

Defining New Adult

We all noted that there are a ton of different ideas out there out there on this. I personally believe that New Adult is just a branch of women’s fiction that explores the world through the eyes of this generation that is falling between youth and adult. This is a tough time and we want to see how they work through these tough times. I do think that many people out there, however, see this as nothing more than YA with sex. Personally, I think this is pretty limiting and shallow.

What is the best book you’ve read this year and why?

It was a Deanna Raybourn book A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS. This was a great piece of historical women’s fiction.

Does self-publishing hurt your changes at traditional publishing?


Absolutely not as long as it isn’t teaching you bad habits about writing and the profession.

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