By JT Ellison
Via: JT Ellison
Home from RWA (and a brief two-day birthday interlude for Randy,) and I feel like I’ve been gone for weeks. The cats were happy to see us, the house was still standing, and I have to get back to work on the book, which is now expected in Toronto on September 1, its original submission date.
I met my editor in San Antonio. I’ve been working with her for a while now, but we’d never had a chance to meet face-to-face, and it was an absolute joy. In addition to all the personal anecdotes and cat picture sharing, we spent some time on the story. I’ve mentioned before I’ve never shared a book that wasn’t the best I could make it with an editor before, and this has been hard for me, to let her see the warts and wrinkles. But she’s a pro, and she asked some great questions, especially of one component of the book, which is going to allow the next book in the series to be a full-on sequel to this one.
Were those groans I heard? A sequel? Well, yes. There’s a storyline in this book, a small thread, that is going to explode into its very own novel. I’ve never written two books back to back that were tied together, and I’m actually quite excited about playing with the structure and the story. It’s a delicate balance — no matter what, the books need to stand alone, but similar to my books in the Taylor series 14 and SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH, the stories will have a sequential component.
And there will be more surprises in that next book as well that will make everyone very very happy, so … trust me.
Back to RWA – a very optimistic conference, full of new writers and established ones. I counted four generations of writers in attendance. From the Catherine Coulter and Nora Roberts generation to the Heather Graham and Erica Spindler generation to me and Allison Brennan’s cohort and then the newbies just coming in. There’s probably seven, really, if you segment out by numbers of books — the 100+ers to the 70s to the 50s to the 30s to the 20s to the 10s to the debuts — but I’m more comfortable looking at influencers. It was amazing to sit at the literacy signing next to these literary romance giants, and to rub shoulders with the new kids on the block. It was so fun to be a little more established and to see the excitement and nerves of the new generation. I still get major nerves at these events — can I just tell you, I touched Nora Roberts! — so it was nice to see people more nervous than I felt.
My favorite newbie was L.R. Nicolello, whose first novel DEAD DON’T LIE comes out in September. I love finding members of my tribe, and she and I totally clicked. She’s going to be a big rock star. So check her out.
Spent some real quality time with besties Erica Spindler and Allison Brennan, plus a bunch of other great friends. We ate everything – from TexMex to French fusion to Italian (heavy on the Italian) and walked the River Walk daily. Even in the heat, it was a nice retreat.
And people, I danced. I never dance. I always hang back and watch everyone throwing themselves around and enjoy the show, but Friday night at the Harlequin party, someone (I think her name was Catherine) drew me onto the dance floor, and the next thing I knew, we danced all night. It was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had at a conference, ever. Harlequin knows how to throw a party, and despite the fact I was dancing in front of my bosses, I threw caution to the wind and let it fly. And it was so fun! And wow, why haven’t I done that before?
I’m off to score some more words for today. But tell me – when’s the last time you danced???
By Allison Brennan Please welcome Jessica Scott to Murder She Writes. She’s guest blogged before, and I love having her back. She’s smart, funny, beautiful, and a hero in every sense of the word. I love her. I know you will too. She…
Via: Allison Brennan
By Allison Brennan I’ve been bad, not blogging from Thrillerfest or RWA, and I have nothing for today (though a FANTASTIC guest blogger tomorrow!!! I’m so excited!) but I just had, had, had to share this YouTube clip From ComicCon on The Blacklist.…
By email@example.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)
The “How Do I Get An Agent?” question is coming at me from all directions this week and I figured I’d better put the answer all in one place so I can just refer people here.
So you’ve finished your first novel and now you face the dreaded question: What do I do now?
Well, first, MASSIVE CELEBRATING. Most people who try to write a novel never finish at all. You are officially awesome.
And before we talk about HOW, I’ll address the question of WHY you need an agent at all.
If you’re planning to go right into indie publishing, great! You don’t need an agent. Skip this step and go straight on to a whole other set of scary issues.
But if you’re looking for a traditional publishing deal with a traditional publisher, yes, you need an agent. I know, people do it without. Fine – if you’re one of those people, I’m not talking to you.
(If you’re planning to sell directly to a Harlequin category line, you don’t really need an agent at first, either. But you do need the professional savvy of Romance Writers of America. I strongly recommend that you join up.)
But for those of us who DON’T have that kind of business savvy to negotiate our own deals with a multimillion dollar corporation, this is what an agent does.
A good literary agent lives in New York (that’s CITY). An agent’s job is pretty much to go out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and drinks with every good editor in the city, and know what those editors are looking for, so that when you hand your agent your new book or proposal, your agent will know exactly which editor is looking for what kind of a book – know each editor’s taste intimately, so that your agent can submit to exactly the right editor at each publishing company and put you and your book in the position of making the best possible deal available on the planet at that moment.
Really. That’s what your agent does.
When your agent submits your book, s/he will most likely submit it to 8-10 of the top publishers in New York simultaneously, and you need to have that book submitted to the editor MOST LIKELY TO BUY IT at each house, in the hopes of -
1 – creating an auction and/or pre-empt situation
2. – getting the best possible editor for you and your particular book and the best possible deal out there.
You cannot do these things yourself. An agent can. This is the difference between writing for a living and writing in those spaces between the demands of the day job.
An agent also is or functions as a contracts lawyer (or a good agency will have a department of contracts lawyers) who will, after the sale of a book, negotiate a contract that is far better for the author than the boilerplate (basic contract) – such as retaining rights in other media and other countries, reversion of e rights, and other critical bargaining points.
Writers without representation or with less than ideal representation might realize just how unfavorable the contract is only when it’s much too late.
And here’s some video of a panel discussion that I did with Dusty Rhoades and Stacey Cochran that goes further into what an agent will do for you and why it’s so important to have one. The question I was asked in the beginning of this tape was “Can I sell a book without an agent?”
And continued here:
So that’s the why. On to the HOW. Legendary Putnam editor Neil Nyren has this to say about finding an agent:
“The question I always hear the most at conferences is about how to find the right agent, and I always say, “Homework.” Now that homework is easier to do than ever. Besides such sites as Publishers Marketplace, AgentQuery, and the like, every agent in creation has his or her own website where you can find out about their preferences, authors, deals, ways of doing business. Really, people, there’s no excuse for cluelessness anymore.”
Amen to that. If you’re not spending – I would say at least a month – doing your research, you’re not taking this seriously enough.
I know a lot of authors recommend starting with the lists in Writers’ Market, but the very thought makes me cringe. How are you supposed to know who’s a good agent from reading randomly through that enormous book? Instead, I highly recommend making your own targeted list of agents who represent books in your genre, who have made recent sales, and who other authors you admire are enthusiastic about. We are SO LUCKY to have Google to allow us to do this kind of research instantly, right from our own desks.
I also know that getting an agent is so hard these days that a lot of aspiring authors jump at the first offer of representation. That is a TERRIBLE thing to do. You only have one shot to get your book read and bought by the major publishers and you need the best representation you can find. An agent with “clout” can get you thousands more in advance money, just because of their relationships and who they are. It can easily be the difference between you writing as a hobby – and writing for a living. It’s worth taking the time to do extensive research, and approach the agents you most want to work with first, before you settle for the first thing that comes along.
MAKE A LISTYou knew that was coming, didn’t you?
While you are doing this research, I recommend that you build a list of at least 20 agents who you feel would be good representation for both you and your book. Take good notes, because when you query these agents you may want to say things like: “I feel you’ll respond to this book because of (these similarities) to your client’s excellent book (title).
Here are just a few great resources to consult when you start your agent investigation:
- Amazon UK
- Amaxon DE (Eur. 2.40)
- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)
- Barnes & Noble/Nook
- Amazon DE
Via: Alexandra Sokoloff
By JD Rhoades
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion
“Death Blow Against Obamacare,” The Huffington Post blared. “Big Blow to Obamacare Subsidies,” claimed The Washington Times. As usual, however, the reports of the demise of the Affordable Care Act have been greatly exaggerated.
Sen. Hagan, are you listening? You’ve shown vague signs of having a spine on this issue. Will you brace up and make this the middle-class cause it deserves to be? How about you, Mr. Aiken? Mrs. Clinton? Let us hear from you. Loud and clear.
Via: J.D. Rhoades
By Toni I’m playing with various techniques within Photoshop. This is a relatively easy one — I took this shot July 20, pretty early in the morning. When I loaded it into the computer, I HDR’d it with Photomatix Pro 5, then popped it into Photoshop and fixed the necessary lens corrections. (When you’re shooting with a […]
Via: Toni McGee Causey
By Toni Innovation. One of the things that all the hoopla surrounding Amazon vs. Hachette is obfuscating is that the internet isn’t just changing publishing–it’s changing every type of commerce. I’m not all that interested in the controversy surrounding the negotiations, for all the same reasons that I wasn’t interested back when Barnes and Noble did the […]
By PD Martin
What is the ideal creative writing course format? Is there even such a thing? Writing courses come in all shapes and sizes—from a three-hour workshop to a full-time course. What’s best? What course will help you improve your writing the most?
I’ve taught quite a few different course formats –the shortest would be a six-hour workshop and I’d class my longest as being my mentorship role in the tertiary system. What works best?
The truth is, there are advantages and disadvantages of different course formats. One of my favourite courses was the Year of the Novel course I taught at Writers Victoria in 2012. I loved the fact that I could help people improve their writing over time, and I could see their projects taking shape. This course was one Sunday a month for eight months. However, while the eight-month time frame held many advantages, there were also disadvantages. Part of my teaching ethos is to drive my students to write more and finish their novels. Which meant that in my eight-month course I set word counts that I wanted them to achieve before our next session. Problem? I couldn’t possibly fit all the writing craft, character development work and plot development work into the first day of the course. Of course, I’d structured the course to feed the relevant craft info into key points, but still, there are definitely advantages of doing a more intensive course upfront before you start writing the next novel (or while you’re writing it).
I’m now also running intensive, week-long novel writing sessions at the Abbotsford Convent. Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm. These are designed to set up writers with the knowledge and tools to start and finish their novels. Again, there are advantages and disadvantages of this format. On the plus side, after only one week I’m confident that these students will know everything they need to know to make their novel the best it can be. To increase their chances of getting a publishable novel at the end of the day. It’s also handy for my interstate students, who can take the week off work and fly in once and know they have improved their craft exponentially. But it is pretty intensive and there’s no room for workshopping a novel, chapter-by-chapter.
The ideal format? I think a short course of 4-8 days over a shorter time frame (e.g. all the days in a row or weekly) followed by a longer course/program to ensure you’re putting all the craft knowledge into action is the ideal combination. The longer program could be in the form of a detailed manuscript assessment, workshopping group, or a course. Or even giving your manuscript to a good editor. I’ve learnt a lot from seeing the skilful edits of my Aussie, UK and US editors.
It’s also important you choose a ‘good’ course. Of course, choose a teacher who’s a published author, and someone who’s an experienced teacher. One of my students who did one of my Writers Victoria courses (five-day course over five months) said she learnt more in those five days than she did in her one-year, full-time creative writing course. And while that’s incredibly flattering, it also appals me that a full-time course can’t deliver the goods. So choose wisely and research the teachers!!
Via: P.D. Martin
Next up: I’ll be launching the first three books in in my Huntress Moon series at Bloody Scotland, September 19-21, and then Bouchercon, Long Beach, November 13-16,
And I can’t wait to see people again on both sides of the pond.