Archive | August 2012

Too much to do, not enough time…

Sorry for missing my Monday post everyone. It’s been a very hectic week. I’ve gotten a ton done though! My book is now through the copy editing stage and on to the very final stage, proofing! Not too much longer now! I think it’s sixteen days until the digital copy is released. Then, the print copy will follow it.

In other news, we have the first official showing of our house today! I think I mentioned we listed it on the market last week? So of course, I’ve been cleaning like a manic. My husband tried to put a cap on it last night when I wanted to run to the store at 8 pm to get fresh flowers for the table. I know he’s worried I’m doing too much. Having a wife that’s 24 weeks pregnant tends to do that to men, right?  🙂

I know some of you noticed that I took my book trailer down. We’re making a few tweaks to  it, mainly shortening it and making it less wordy.  I’m hoping to have it up later today or tomorrow! Have a great day everyone!

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My dream writing schedule vs. my real writing schedule.

Dream Schedule

7:30 a.m.-Wake up and write until 11:30 while someone watches son.

11:30 am-12:15 p.m. Take a nice walk outside with son and dog.

12:15-12:45- Eat lunch with son.

1:00-3:00-Write some more while son naps.

3:00-6:30-Play with son, pick up house, cook supper etc.

6:30-Husband gets home, eat supper, have a nice quite family night.

9:00-Son goes to sleep.

11:00-I go to sleep too.

 

Actual Schedule (this is my actual schedule for today. Son’s bedtime, what happens during naptime, etc. is based on yesterday)

 

8:00-Accidently sleep late. Rush to shower and have a cup of tea before son wakes up.

8:30- Son wakes up.

8:30-10:00-Son clings to me, saying he doesn’t feel good. Insists I watch Thomas the Train with him, then play with stickers on floor. Bangs laptop when I place it on couch.

10-10:30-Son eats breakfast in high chair next to me while I write blog post then write out bills. Only interrupted twice, once to get him more milk, and once when the cat throws up, massively and spectacularly.

10:30-12:30-Alternate between cleaning house and playing with son. Real estate agent coming over later to take pictures and list house on market. Must be spick and span.

12:30-1:00-Read son books and put down for nap. Fusses in crib for half an hour before falling asleep. Continue to clean.

1:00-3:00- Hopefully will get two hours to write while son naps. In realty, being 23 weeks pregnant and taking care of a toddler often catches up with me. I’ll sit down on the couch to write and then wake up an hour and a half later, realizing I accidentally fell asleep and now have an awful cramp in my neck.

3:00-4:30-Take son and dog outside for exercise.

4:30-6:30-Continue to clean house and make supper.

6:30-Real estate agent shows up to take pictures.

7:30- Husband gets home late. Together, we sign documents to list house.

8:00- Finally get to eat.

11:30-Fussing son finally falls asleep

12:30-I finally get to go to sleep too.

 

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you deal with it? I’d love some advice!

How to get a literary agent or publisher.

I was going to post a review of the three best YA novels so far this year today, until I received an odd email. (Don’t worry, the review will be up next week!)Instead, I think we need to review the steps for getting an agent or publisher.

1. Write the best book that you can. That means multiple revisions. Polish it until you can’t find anything else wrong with it.

2. Send it to your critique partners/ beta readers. These can be family, friends, people you meet on writing forums, etc. Just make sure that they will give you the unvarnished truth. This is not the time to spare your feelings. It is their job to point out what’s wrong with your book. You don’t necessarily have to take their advice, but if more than one person points out the same thing, I highly recommend you change it.

3. Make more revisions based on feedback.

4. Do a final read-through, checking for typos, inconsistencies, etc.

5. Reasearch literary agents and pick fifty. Out of those, pick ten to send your query letter to first. You can find more on selecting agents here. You can find resources for selecting an agent here.

6. Write an excellent query letter. You can find more info on this here. This is the first post in an in-depth series explaining how to write a query letter. Read them all.

7. Write an excellent synopsis. More info here.  Again, this is the first in a series of posts. Read them all.

8.  Put together your query package. Make sure you follow the agent’s guidelines. Personalize your query to your specific agent.

9. Make sure your manuscript is completely ready to send in case you get requests.

10. Send your query and wait patiently for responses. This could take up to eight weeks or more. Some agents are no-response-means-no agents. This means after a period of time, usually eight weeks, you can safely assume they said no. Keep track of who you send it to and what their response is.

11. Start your next book immediately

12. Do not give up after a few rejections. Statistically, it takes somewhere around 200 rejections before a writer signs with someone. If you do get only rejections, after the first ten or fifteen you might want to revise your query letter. Something isn’t working. This is why we send our letters out in small batches. Fix your letter and try again. After several hundred rejections, you need to move on and query your next project.

The steps are the same for querying publishers, except there aren’t as many as there are agents. I would send my query out in batches of 5 or so. Also, publishers can take a lot longer to respond.

This is the process, people. There is no way around it. This is the way it has to be done unless you go to a writing conference and meet agents directly. You also could get a referral from a writer friend you ALREADY know. This brings me to the odd email I received.

I know this is scary and hard and frustrating. I know it seems like it takes forever. I’ve been there. But I am not a literary agent. I am not an editor. Please do not randomly email me and ask me to go over your manuscript and pass it on to my agent. There are legal issues with that. I can’t do it. I also won’t open your attachment, because I don’t know you and there could be a little ninja assassin virus hiding in there.

Go get a good critique partner if you need help. I actually have four. I couldn’t have made a wiser decision. (Thanks, Aimee!) But please don’t email writers you have never met and ask for a referral. It isn’t professional. Remember, writing is a business. Act professional!

Would you consider making a book trailer to promote your novel?

So I’ve been going back and forth on this issue, not sure if I should lay out the money to make a book trailer or not. On the one hand, they’re pretty cool and I want one! On the other hand, I’m not sure how well they work as a marketing tool. Will people really stop to watch a two-minute video with a teaser for my book? If they do stop to watch it, will it help push them into buying my book? I just don’t know…

My critique partner recently had one done. The company she worked with has very reasonable pricing, and turns out fairly classy results. I mean, they aren’t anywhere near as sophisticated as some of the book trailers that are present on Amazon. However, she’s not charging $15,000 either. (Yes, that’s right. I checked up on it. Some of those production companies book trailers START at $15,000!!) Like I said, this other company has nice results and a very reasonable (read affordable!) price.

Last night, I was reading Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social Networking by Steve Weber. In it, he discussed how book trailers are especially useful for YA authors, as YA readers are the most likely to watch a book trailer and then go on to purchase your book. That decided it for me. I’m going ahead with one. Hopefully it should be done by the end of next weekend.

My question for you is, have you ever used a book trailer to promote one of your novels? Do you feel it helped? Did it increase your sales? Or do you think it was a waste of valuable marketing money? Let me know!

I got the cover art for my YA novel, Drive Back the Darkness!

I know I don’t usually post on Thursdays, but there was no way I was going to wait until monday to show you my cover! Here it is:

The process of making the cover art was surprisingly complex. I had to fill out a form that was six pages long, all about the various visual elements of my novel, themes, character descriptions, etc. Then there was a long wait, where I worried I would hate my cover!

Then, a couple of days ago, I got the prototype! It was gorgeous and I loved it! We tweaked a few things, like the placement of my name and the font. Today I got my final cover!

The necklace doesn’t look quite like what I pictured, but they couldn’t change it without throwing off the whole color scheme, so I totally understand where they were coming from. I get to review my book again between copyediting and proofing, so I’m hoping I can tweak the description of the necklace to make it more like the cover.

So what do you guys think? Do you like it? Let me know!

Five ways to hook your readers with your writing.

1. Use characterization to show why your readers should care about your character- This is probably the most important thing you can do on the first few pages. Your reader wants to feel connected to your character. They want to have strong emotions for your character, whether good or bad. It’s very important to drop in those little, telling details so that they immediately get a sense of who your character is and what they are up against.

2. Don’t just rely on sight, use your other senses as well- Sure, sight is your go-to sense in fiction, but touch, smell, taste, and hearing will do more to draw your reader in. I like to combine a sight observation with one of the other senses, i.e. “The skeletal tree branches scratched at the sky while the musty, sweet smell of rotting leaves threatened to choke her.”

3. Keep the pace fairly quick in your first few opening scenes- Unless you’re writing literary fiction (which is a whole other kettle of fish), you want to keep your pace quick. Keep you reader turning the pages. Don’t let them put your book down.

4. Make sure you have tension laced liberally through your writing- This is a must. You need to have tension from the very beginning. Whether it’s one little detail that tells the reader something isn’t quite right in your characters world, or a massive disaster, make sure the stakes are high for your character.

5. Don’t use long chunks of description or prose at the beginning (unless you are writing literary fiction)- Make sure there is a fair amount of white space; that means dialogue, people! Dialogue is a great way to get a sense of who your character is and will also help quicken the pace of your story.

For more on this topic, there are two books I highly recommend. I’ve had them both in my writing library for years, and refer to them often:

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

I have a literary agent!

I am so, so, so excited to make this announcement! I have a literary agent! I signed with Michele Rubin of Writers House. It literally still has not yet sunk in, despite my having talked with Michele twice on the phone already. Sometimes, I think it’s a dream. I know that sounds like a cliché, but I have worked for this for so long, and now, to finally have it happen…. Wow!

Michele seems absolutely wonderful. We really seemed to connect. She has a vision for my work and career that fits perfectly with my own. I’ve already started work on her revisions and I think they are going to make my book so much stronger. I think we are hoping to start submitting to publishers sometime in September. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but it is such wonderful work!

I’m so lucky to have Michele as an agent. I’m also lucky to be working with such a prestigious literary agency. Writers House was always my top choice; the shinning, but unreachable (or so I thought!) star of all my literary dreams. This is all just so wonderful!

If there is one lesson I want to leave you all with, it’s this; do not give up. Ever. I wrote for twelve years. I seriously pursued a writing career for the last five and a half. I endured hundreds (I think between all four it was something like 175) of rejections for my four completed novels. It wasn’t until I started querying the third novel that I received an offer from a small press. With my fourth novel, I finally acquired a literary agent. And so I repeat; do not give up.

You can check out Writers house here.

You can check out Michele’s Publishers Marketplace page here.