Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Funny From Submissions Today

There are many times when I simply have to sit back and laugh at some of the submissions I get. Of course, the humor is not necessarily coming from the quality of the book or the premise, but the submission iteself.

As I was answering emails today, I received a ton for projects I don't represent. Normal, but when it comes from someone who is a PhD at a university who claims great research, or even worse, real medical doctors who don't know how to figure out if what they write I represent, it makes me laugh.

Of course, there are also the submissions where a person openly admits they are working through a directory A-Z copying the same query to everyone with "Dear Agent" or in my case, "Dear Mr. Greyhaus" but then writes back to state there was a typo in my reply to their project (and yet they take the time to send out quality submissions"...

you have to laugh.

I get that submission writing is not fun. It IS tedious. But if you are getting tired to rejections, go back and think about your approach!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Is Your Conflict Strong Enough

I'm working with one of my clients on her latest work in progress and it is all about the conflict this time. Surprisingly, the lack of conflict is one of the reasons I pass on projects more often than not. 

When we talk about conflict, we have to see this as being that single thing that is preventing the character from moving forward. In the case of romance writing, the biggest conflict is the reason that the hero and heroine are not going to get together. That conflict has to be significant and not easy to overcome.

Too often, writers don't have a significant conflict in their stories. What they have is a complication. I have talked about this before, but let me again explain this. A complication is often something that can be solved by a simple conversation. We see this a lot with stories where one character overhears, or misinterprets something another character said or did. How is this fixed? The characters simply needs to ask the other person. 

NOT A CONFLICT!

A conflict is one where someone is really going to have to change or give something up. This conflict should lead to that dark moment where it almost feels like there is not solution.

So, let's go back to those romances. That hero and heroine have to be in a situation where, as much as they want to be together, the forces of nature are simply not going to make it possible. Maybe it is a situation where they are working for opposing companies. A relationship might be one that would hold back that big corporate deal. Maybe they are in the same company and there is now a policy that comes down that says you cannot be in a relationship with someone else. So, does one person have to quit their job? Do they both quit? 

As you think of that conflict, you need to push those stakes as high as you can. Remember though, you never want to make the conflict so big that they cannot fix the problem. Along the same lines, don't create a conflict that gets fixed by a sudden "act of nature." In this case, maybe it is someone faced with financial difficulties. It becomes a real let down for the reader when you suddenly drop that a crazy uncle left them with a nest egg. Really? You fought tooth and nail with that character to find a solution, only to have this drop on you? Ugh!

So, your task for the weekend is to look at that conflict in your story. Is it a conflict or a complication? Is it big enough or too big?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What Makes Your Story Special

I was talking with an author recently about her book. She was going on and on about the plot and the cool characters in the book. While these were indeed great, I finally had to stop her and ask a simple question. What made her story special? What was it that made her story stand out among all of the other books out there. 

She was stumped.

This is really a problem that many authors have. They have focused in on these fun characters, or interesting scenarios, but have done nothing more than write a story that is exactly the same as everyone else out there. I referred to this, when discussing the same thing with another author as "Cheerios."

Let me explain...

I love Cheerios. Is the cereal amazing? No. Does it fill you up. Yes. Is it that "Amazing Breakfast" you want to write home about? Absolutely not.

I want to remind people, that when I am talking about stories that stand out, I am not just referring to writing a story about a time period no one else has written about, or set it in a location that is strange and different. This is all surface level differences. What we are looking at are those deeper issues. It is what you do with your story, the themes you wrap the characters in, that make the story different.

So, before you get writing today, ask yourself what makes your story unique. How will you pitch that story to me to make me stop and scream, I HAVE TO HAVE THIS BOOK!!!

If you can't figure it out, then you might be writing about your latest bowl of Cheerios. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Extra Work For New Authors

New authors really have a tough challenge. Along with trying to land that first deal, once you do get that deal, you have even more challenges before you. I would also add that many of the things you would love to see in that first contract are simply not going to be available to you.

First of all, that first book of yours needs to be beyond amazing. I know you read stories by established authors and sometimes question why they were able to get that book published. You sometimes wonder what it is about their book that is so amazing. You might even scream, "Why do they get to do that and I get yelled at for it in rejection letters or contests!" The deal is, they are established.

Publishers know that when they drop a book to the public by established authors, they already have a built in audience. You know exactly what I am talking about. How often do you get excited about an upcoming book by your favorite author! You are already looking to pre-order it. And you do, regardless of the quality of it. 

Publishers also know that the competition level is high right now so the stories that they buy have to be beyond amazing! That's challenge number 1!

What about those contracts. Why is it that you can't demand higher royalties, bigger advances or other sub-rights. Again, it comes down to whether or not you have proven yourself. Do you have sales numbers that are through the roof? Do you have a following? Have you met deadlines religiously? Are you someone who doesn't complain? All of these factors play into getting those additional benefits. 

I want to go back to a statement I have made over and over again. Being successful in publishing takes time! It is not just a matter of you saying you have written a lot. It is all about proving that you are successful.