There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Beyond Fanfiction: Publishing Your Book Online January 4, 2014

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 7:16 pm
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Many writers have dabbled in fanfiction here and there, or maybe even been so hardcore that they tried to organize a fanfiction virtual season of their favorite vampire show that inexplicably got canceled after one season (ahem…not guilty). Writing fanfiction is a great stepping stone because you are using characters and worlds already created, so you can really play around and get to know your writing style. But writing fanfiction can also be great for the ego since the fan communities are so involved and vocal in telling you how awesome your story is. Which is understandably cool since you wouldn’t have written it unless you were just as obsessed thought it was awesome too.

From uthinkido.com

Which is something you don’t necessarily get when you start your own original work. Sure, you can try to find beta readers and see what they say, but there’s a certain thrill to publishing your writing online that is missing. Also, it is a bummer to not be able to transfer your readership from fanfiction to your actual books if you chose to use a different pen name.

 

But what many writers don’t know is there are plenty of online writing communities where you can publish your work for free. I don’t recommend posting everything you’ve ever written, but if you are just starting out, it can be a great way to build an audience. There are a few that I’ve come across like Figment and FictionPress, but Wattpad is by far my favorite. I mentioned it before when talking about my self-publishing journey, but I thought I’d give you guys some more detail as to why it is so awesome.

 

I discovered Wattpad through an article on Publisher’s Weekly (that I haven’t been able to find since, but you can check out Wattpad: A Way for Indie Authors to Build an Audience by PW) giving tips on how to build an audience when you are just starting out, especially if you are self-publishing. One of their suggestions was to post your book on Wattpad and get it featured.

“For self-published and hybrid authors, participating on Wattpad is all about the exposure. We have 16 million engaged readers every month — a captive audience looking for their next great read. For authors, it’s a way to build an audience directly on a reading social network. They do it because they see Wattpad as a way to promote their brand, test out new ideas, and find new customers. The writers who are the most successful are those who are engaged with their readers — they respond to every comment, update often, and share as much as they can.” -Maria Cootauca, Engagement Manager on Wattpad

I did this back in September for the first book in my fantasy series and have been astounded with the results. In four months, over 6000 people have finished reading my book, 1700 people follow me, and over 700 people have commented on it. Has that translated into sales yet? I don’t know. I’ll have to follow up on that when the second book is released in March. But people are excited about it, which is awesome.

 

Word of mouth can be everything for an author, and this site is a great way to get some buzz started about your book. And it’s not just new authors that agree. You can find authors who are already established and selling hundreds of thousands of books on Wattpad as well. Amanda Hocking, Melissa Foster, Margaret Atwood, and the week that I was featured, Brandon Sanderson was as well. Some of you might recognize his name since he finished out the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan passed away.

 

Wattpad Logo

Wattpad is not only a great marketing tool, it is also a wonderful community where you can truly connect one on one with readers. They can comment on each chapter, asking you questions, telling you things they liked, and you can reply directly to them. I’ve gotta say that it is pretty awesome to see people fangirl over my characters as much as I do. Even if it doesn’t leave me with 6000 guaranteed purchases, it will be worth it.

 

The only downside to publishing the first book in a series there is that you will break some hearts by not posting the second one. Wattpad is a worldwide community, touching countries you might not have even heard of, which means there will be some readers who are unable to purchase your second book because it just might not be available to them, regardless of how many distributors you use.

 

There are tons of success stories from Wattpad, such as 17 year old Beth Reekles who scored a deal with Random House after her book The Kissing Booth amassed a huge following on Wattpad. Harlequin has sponsored a contest to discover New Adult stories through the site, and I’m sure many other publishers will follow suit.

 

Don’t take my word for it, though. Hop on over to the site yourself and see how it works out for you. In my experience, getting featured was a great way to get a lot of readers fast, whereas just posting the book there was a bit of a slow burn for readership. It can happen without being featured, but you have to have patience. Then again, if you are trying to get published or publishing on your own, patience is probably your middle name by now. =D

 

Have you ever published online? What was your experience like?

maratadasig2

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Traveling the Hybrid Author Road…Backwards. December 18, 2013

Filed under: Publishing,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 8:30 am
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In October of this year, I published the first book in my fantasy series, Heirs of War all by my onesy-savvy. Okay, not really, because I have an amazing team of supporters behind me, from my editor and cover artist, to my CPs and betas, and to my cohorts here and other writerly friends. Seriously, seriously awesome. But the road to hitting “publish” all on your own isn’t a smooth one, as Rachel O’Laughlin already talked about in her self-publishing story in August. In fact, a lot of people do it way too soon, before their manuscript is anywhere near ready.

I sincerely hope I am not one of those people.

My journey into the publishing world started last summer, though it feels like it has been much longer. I’d finished writing the first and second books of Heirs of War, and had started doing revisions on the latter. HoW1 had been rewritten at least a dozen times at that point, so I felt confident that it was ready.

It really, really wasn’t. Like shamefully far away from being ready.

Image: xAikaNoKurayami on deviantArt

But I didn’t realize that because I didn’t even know what a CP or beta was at that point. So I started researching querying and dove in head first. I queried everyone I could find who might be interested and even joined some query contests. I built wonderful connections that make me very happy that I did things all backwards like (like usual, for me) and got mostly form rejections from agents and small press publishers. Looking back on my query, I can see why. To be honest, I’m still not happy with my blurb, which as the writerly ones out there know, is typically part of your query letter. Well, until you get published. Then maybe you get a better blurb.

I digress. So, rejection after rejection led to a lot of disheartening thoughts. No one was telling me if I was doing anything wrong, and it was testing well with readers. So what was going on? I entered the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest and wound up with not just one, but two mentors who taught me the error of my writerly ways. Head jumping, passive voice–the works. And I got a couple of requests after that, but only from people who wanted me to R&R (revise and resubmit) and the revisions were massive. Narrowing down POVs to just one or two characters would completely trash the story I have in mind, so I couldn’t do it. Granted, I found a way to narrow down my eleven (!!!!) POVs to five thanks to my amazing editor who knows exactly what to say to me, but still. Two was not doable.

But more than one person had requested these types of revisions, so it led me to some heavy thinking. Was I wasting my time trying to get this book published when it wasn’t going to appeal to the masses? Or did I trust the readers I already had and take a chance on it?

I chose the latter, and I’m really glad I did. Why? Because everything is a learning experience for me, and self-publishing has taught me so much. So much that I’ll have to save that for another post. The short list:

  1. I learned about myself as a writer. I can commit to deadlines, comply with rewrites, and I can strengthen my prose, which I view to be a weakness (I’m no Tolkien or Rowling–I’m a better storyteller than I am writer).
  2. I can build a fanbase. I’ve started doing this through Wattpad. HoW was featured there the month before it released (and in a previous version, not the version that was rewritten and published) and it is still ranked, which feels awesome. Almost 6,000 people have finished reading my book, which has connected me to a lot more readers in a more immediate fashion than I could have ever hoped for. Will this translate into sales for book two? I don’t know, but I’m not worried about it. The most important part for me has been sharing my book and thanks to Wattpad, I’ve done that.
  3. Giving away free stuff is fun! So is swag! Seriously, I could go broke doing this.

The book debuted October 13 and I have only sold 41 copies so far, but that’s about 30 more than I expected with little to no advertising or promotion. I ran a blog tour and have participated in giveaways, donating copies of the book and swag, but nothing over the top. No Facebook ads or anything like that. Just good, old fashioned word of mouth. We’ll see how that works out for me. =) All in all, even though I’m not selling thousands of books already, I feel like I’ve succeeded. People are reading my words, which is beyond awesome. But I’m not anti-traditional, pro-self-publishing by any means.

Image from memecenter.com

A long story to lead up to what I hope to be the next stage of my writing career: The Hybrid Author. Hybrid Authors are, put simply, authors who juggle self-publishing and traditionally publishing their books. Most of the time, from what I’ve seen, it is traditionally published authors branching out and deciding to self-publish their works for their own reasons. They already have a fanbase and already have books for sale out there. You don’t hear many stories of self-published authors getting a deal on another book series.

I’m not talking about self-published authors that get “discovered” like Amanda Hocking or EL James. I’m talking about a self-published author who maybe sold 41 copies of their book deciding to query their next series and actually succeeding. This is really rough and new territory. Last year, a lot of people in the publishing industry would have advised against this sort of move or told me to take my book off sale while I query the other one. To be clear, I just finished writing a YA dystopian that I plan to turn into a series. I don’t want to shop HoW around again. That’s my baby. No touchy.

But this dystopian has a wider audience, I think, and is just easier to market in general. It took me forever to figure out that HoW was New Adult, but this book is most definitely Young Adult. It’s also first person POV, which was odd for me but paid off in the end. Anyway, bottom line: Easier to market, and traditionally publishing still appeals to me. I think a publisher can do a lot more with this book than I have the power to right now.

But what will an agent say when they find out I have another book out that isn’t making any best seller lists? Will they care that I was featured on Wattpad or how many followers I have there? How can a self-published author move into traditional territory?

I guess we’ll see where this next year takes me and if I have any answers for those questions. Until then, tell me your thoughts. What do you think of the hybrid author model, and do you think it’s possible to work backwards from self-publishing? Or is it traditional all the way for you? There is no one right path, but I love hearing about yours!

~Mara Valderran
 

Line Edits! And why you need them. November 13, 2013

Filed under: Publishing,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 7:40 pm
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All right, here is my much anticipated (dreaded?) line edits post!

I first heard about the existence of line edits via Leigh Ann Kopans’ blog, where she chronicled the publication of her first novel, ONE. I had never heard of them before that, but now that I’ve done them for both Coldness of Marek and Knights of Rilch, I can’t imagine having not done them. My novels would be far less stellar pieces of work.

If you read my post last month on revising for publication, I sum up one final revision you’ll want to do if you’re going to self-publish a novel. The next step after that revision is line edits. But line edits are also a great idea if you’re querying agents/subbing to publishers, because they’re just so nifty.

Most of the revisions and tweaks you’ve been doing up until you’re ready for line edits have been macro — as in, whole paragraphs being moved or deleted, if not chapters — but you’ve probably already done plenty of line editing in the middle of all that. Line edits are all about the phrasing, the word usage, the OVER-usage, the placement of line breaks, etc. These are different from copyedits. (Copyedits involve grammar and punctuation errors, as well as other little magical things that we mortal writers might not know about, and no matter which publication path you choose, you’re not the one responsible for them. Your copyeditor is! If you’re self-pubbing, get thee down and find thyself an excellent one.)

So. How do you go doing a full-on line edit? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Once your manuscript is in what you deem to be ready, publishable form, go through it line by line and question every sentence. Is it passive? Is it repetitive? Is the phrasing just right? Is there a better word for fleece, or did you really mean fleece? Did you start too many sentences with, “She” or “I”? Would mentioning the chair first be more powerful? Would it be more in character for Henry to say “I will kill you” or “I will end you”?

All these decisions are likely to make you half crazy, and I have a lovely, perfect solution for that as well. Employ your CPs. Are there any of them who are extra good at catching little line issues like this? Did they notice little things on their first pass? Great. Ask one of them (and I say one, because you can only use so much input on the line-by-line basis before you go insane, but there’s really no set limit) — bribe them, trade with them, pay them with cookies or favors — to go through slowly and laboriously and pick on every. Little. Tiny. Word. You can hire someone to do this, but the reason I say pick a CP is because you already know that they understand your voice and your writing. They’re not going to steer you wrong. Tell them you want ALL THE NOTES. You want them to be brutal. Remember, you’re releasing this novel into the wild. It needs to be nice. It needs to shine.

After you get those notes back from your trusted CP or beta reader or whomever, the ball is back in your court and it’s time to do your own line edit. Even if you did a picky edit before, it’s good to look at it again with fresh perspective. Take this:

I stepped inside the room. It was quiet — too quiet. “Jenna?” I whispered. There was no reply. Not even the sound of breathing, or the clatter of her stirring in bed.

There’s nothing really wrong with it. It’s all a matter of taste and mood at this point. I could do this:

I stepped inside. “Jenna?”

It was far too quiet. No Jenna. Not even the sound of her breath or the clatter she made when she stirred in bed.

Or this:

I stepped inside the room. The sound of my shoe echoed, then disappeared into eerie blackness.

“Jenna?” My voice almost startled me.

But there was no answer. Nothing besides thick velvet silence.

See what I mean? You can get more wordy, or less, cut down on the line breaks, or multiply them, etc. Is one of them better than the rest? I don’t know. It’s hard to say. But there are all kinds of possibilities that you may never have noticed until you got all the little pieces worked out to the point you can be micro. Teeny tiny. It sounds like it will be hell, but I swear to you, this nit-picky pass is so very freeing you will get addicted to it.

And then? A final read-through. If you can find someone who can stand to listen to your whole novel aloud, I recommend reading it to someone, not just to yourself. Because you’ve read it so many times, there might be something you say aloud that causes the listener to go “huh?”, but you would have glazed right over it. Work this thing. Work it really hard…

When you’re done? SEND IT OFF. Whether it be to your agent, your copy-editor, a final beta reader, or a pile of queries, get that thing sent off before you have a chance to question the brilliant fire it just came through.

Of course, mix and match these steps as they work for you. I found that what I did with the two novels* I’ve released so far varied slightly, and I’ll probably do something a little different for my third book. Everyone has a different process, so don’t take any of this as gospel. Just use what you need, and happy editing!

–Rachel O’Laughlin

*I went through line edits with my longsuffering CP, Darci Cole, on both of my manuscripts, line-edited myself, and then asked my incredible editor, Rebecca A. Weston, to keep an eye out for anything weird that might have slipped through us both (not all freelance editors offer this, but mine does).

 

Revising for Publication October 3, 2013

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 8:42 pm
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Right on trend, I’m following Mara and posting a day late because I was apparently so engrossed in critiquing my CP’s manuscript that I couldn’t read my calendar. #headdesk

This post, and the next few posts of mine, will be allllll about revising and editing, so…grab some coffee. I know this will make you sleepy.

I am the world’s worst outliner. There, I said it. Phew. No matter how hard I try to outline, I always abandon it somewhere in the middle and just wing it. Of course, this makes for a crazy amount of revision. My CPs [and my editor] have waded through an awful lot of my crap and given me straight-up amazing advice, and I love them to pieces for it. Anyhoo, I don’t figure I’m the one to give you advice on how to outline, or how to write a draft. As much as I love drafting, I’m crazy spontaneous about it and don’t really have a rule besides “let your hair down and have a good time…oh, and freak out while you’re at it!”

When you first look at that beast you created and it’s time to revise, you’re probably going to be all “bleh…bleh…blarrrrrggg…” and want to drown yourself in still more caffeine. But you power through and whip that thing into shape, no problem. Send it to CPs. Revise according to their notes. Get it in the hands of some betas. They say it’s looking pretty good. You decide you can do better. You do a rewrite or another overhaul. Send to more betas. Let it sit for awhile. Implement more little tweaks. Read through it and, scared as you are, it just might be ready.

I’m fairly certain those who have an agent can just idly peruse this post with a bemused expression, because I’m pretty sure you’d have already sent in that third draft or what-not to your agent. This is that last, crazy madhouse revision that you absolutely MUST do if you are self-publishing. And of course, this can fall anywhere in your process, however it works for you. It just needs to happen after you’ve gotten a considerable amount of notes and implemented them. After your story is rock solid. After your character arcs are all in place and any unnecessary scenes have been trimmed. This is your last swoosh before line edits. (And yes! I’m doing a post on line edits next week.)

First, make sure your mood is right for this. You need to be confident in your story and know where it’s going. You’re almost done! This is exciting. If you’re depressed or having an off day, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT hack up your manuscript. Stay the heck away. You need to be in your best zone to do this. Maybe even knock it out in one lovely day with no other responsibilities so that you can feel empowered with it. I like to print off my whole manuscript and do this last revision with a pen, because after I’ve done it all on paper, then I have a moment to check myself as I do it in the document. And always, always save an old version before you get ruthless.

All right. Time for the nitty gritty. What you’re looking for:

Scenes that end too soon. Do they end strong? Do they give enough information? Is there mystery? Do they keep us reading forward? Check every single scene. Double check. If there’s even the slightest feeling that it’s weak, fix it. This might mean you need to move endings to the beginning of next scenes or move beginnings of scenes backward into the one before it. That’s okay. If it needs to happen, do it.

Scenes that are too long. This is something I do too much. I keep my characters rambling forward just a paragraph too long, because I think the reader needs to know something–but they would probably be much more interested if I just let them discover it. Cut, cut, cut those endings. Save them all in a file in case your line editor sees something missing and you need to recover some nuggets, but for the most part, those things need to be gone. Don’t cry. It’s okay.

Unnecessary dialogue. I’m a huge fan of using dialogue to tell the reader things instead of putting it in the narrative. Of course, you’ll already have eliminated places where the dialogue feels unnatural or wrong, but keep an eye out where it’s still lurking. (This stuff lurks and lurks.) Dialogue needs to feel real, and that could mean they talk about soap monsters once in awhile, but make sure it’s all necessary to character development and every bit of it is driving us forward.

Unnecessary description. Likewise, I find myself with whole paragraphs that don’t have much to do with the story, I just…I just…couldn’t part with them. You have to be cruel to these lovelies. No one is going to do it for you. If it hasn’t made one of your CPs dance with happiness, if it bugs you on bad days, if you catch yourself skimming over it because it’s boring…it needs to go. Get it out of there.

Anything that interrupts the flow. Anything, anything, anything at all. Characters introduced in a weird way. Info-dumps that may have been missed because they’re actually only a sentence long but gosh-darn-it, they’re still an info-dump. Imagine your book in it’s final, formatted state. Do you have a segway for everything? Do the chapter titles make sense? If the book is in parts, do the parts work together? Scratch things out. Move paragraphs. You’re invincible. Go go go!

As the publisher, you don’t have loads of professionals sifting through this. If you have a line editor and a copyeditor (and you better have a copyeditor), assume they don’t exist, because there will still be plenty for them to catch. At this juncture, it’s just you, baby. You and your utter, cold-hearted ruthless pen. Slice, dice, toss, reword, rethink, rearrange until that thing looks like a freaking bestseller. And you know what that means?

Wheeee! You’re ready for the scary land of line edits! YOU DID THIS THING!!!

–Rachel O’Laughlin

 

Self-Publishing: Why and How August 17, 2013

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:12 pm
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Hi there my wonderful There and Draft Again folks!

I’ve been quite busy with a blog tour, beginning August 5 and ending yesterday, August 16. I have to say, it’s been a wild two weeks. For those of you who aren’t sure what the whole blog tour buzz is all about, it’s pretty much a stampede of guest blog stops (all penned by yours truly) for the sole purpose of getting the word out about my book. And there’s nothing I, as a writer of fiction, would like to avoid more.

The trouble is, that’s not the kind of writing I’m good at. If I wanted to talk about real life, I’d write non-fiction. I’d be a journalist. I’d compose how-to manuals and advertising copy. This is SO NOT my thing. For the Coldness of Marek Blog Tour, I had to set aside four weeks of writing time. Which is just ridiculous. I mean, I can write a whole novel draft in four weeks. Why all this time for a blog tour? Well, probably because I spent hours tapping at my keyboard, only to backspace every word. I pretty much looked like this:

And at the end of the day I had nothing to show for it. I just checked my stats, and apparently I wrote 15k in blog tour material. That’s nothing. That’s piddly. That is me being terribly inefficient. Not to mention all of my friends’ manuscripts that were piling up, waiting to be critiqued/read/loved. To round it all out, our fearless There and Draft Again leader, EM Castellan, asked me to write a post about self-publishing.  I was all, yeah, okay! But inside I was thinking, um, this is the first time I’ve ever done this. I have nothing to say about self-publishing.

Well, after 15k in blog tour posts, I’ve discovered that actually, I do. I have a lot to say. So listen up, anyone interested in self-publishing — or interested in raising an eyebrow or two about self-publishing — here’s my mighty rundown. Ready? Go.

First, don’t judge. If you set out to self-publish, do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because you’re bitter about not getting a traditional deal. Don’t do it to show the world you’re better than them. Don’t do it because you think you work harder than agented writers and you think you should earn more of your profits. That’s all just stupid-face talking. Do it because you have sound, positive reasons for believing this is the right direction for your book — and one of those reasons should be because you love stories and love sharing them.

My reasons were: I honestly couldn’t sit down and tell you my entire plan for this three (four?) book series. I don’t have an entire plan. I have a tentative plan. An agent needs to be able to know exactly what you’re planning to put into your career so that s/he can help you get what you need out of it. I didn’t want that type of give/take. I wanted to go it alone, at an even pace with an evolving plan. I wanted to get to know each of my readers, like a street musician does.

Second, go about it the right way. Make sure you ask for help from the right people. Everything is pretty much up to you, but the one important ingredient that everyone MUST HAVE is an editor who knows what they’re doing. Get one. Get one you can trust to call you out on your shiz. Get them yesterday.

My “right way” was comprised of:

My wonderful critique partner who doubled as my line editor, who knew my story inside and outside and who fielded my freak-out texts as well.

An incredible professional editor who (did NOT field my freak-out texts because that is NOT her job. Do not abuse your editor) cut all the last stupid and lame and dumb lines from my story…oh, and also fixed the grammar, too.

An artist friend who was willing to do cover art for me.

A street team comprised of a handful of volunteer heroes who loved me and/or my writing and were willing to yell about it before they even had ARCs, because they’re loyal and golden and the salt of the earth.

A hundred dollars worth of cute swag to give away.

Advanced reading copies of my book to send to reviewers.

And…that’s all.

Third, be yourself. Don’t sweat over trying to sound like all the other authors you’ve heard interviewed. Don’t put other authors down to try to make yourself look better. Be humble and straightforward, be professional and talk about the things you’re knowledgeable about. Just let it flow.

Being myself required: Checking my assumptions at the door. I couldn’t assume anything about what I would accomplish with my book release, how people would view my writing, and where I would be after a few weeks of being out there in the market. I had to be wide-eyed and fresh, and open up as if I was meeting new people at preschool. I had to stare loads of my insecurities in the face and tell them to stand down. It was scary and crazy, but it all worked out pretty well, and once I settled into it, there was actually some pretty fun stuff that happened.

Fourth, be grateful. Be grateful to everyone who bought it. Be grateful to everyone who got your novel ready for market, who made it look pretty and polished your prose. Be grateful to everyone who reviewed it. Be grateful to everyone on your street team, cover reveal, and blog tour. Be grateful to everyone who talked about it to their friends and on social media. Be grateful for the traditional platform that produced books for centuries to kindle the love of literature that now allows you to sell your book to readers everywhere. Be grateful for an economy that is able to support self-published authors.

I’m grateful to: Rebecca Weston, Darci Cole, Amanda Aszman, M. Andrew Patterson, Michelle Roberts, H.E. Griffin, Steve Knapp, E.M. Castellan, Joshua David Bellin, Lauren Garafalo, Lucy Hershbine, Serena Lawless, Kathi L. Schwengel, Mara Valderran, Beau Barnett, Nazarea Andrews, Amanda Olivieri, Bill Murphy, Chris Prickitt, Steve Chiasson, Uwe Kruger, Jens Kruger, Andrea Hannah, Leigh Ann Kopans, Dahlia Adler, my friends, family, husband and children.

And I’m grateful for you, lovely reader. Thank you for indulging me and reading a little post about my journey. I appreciate the time it takes for you to read and I hope you enjoyed.

— Rachel O’Laughlin

 

How to write a pitch for your Fantasy novel February 16, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:32 am
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Welcome !

Whether you’re looking for an agent or self-publishing your Fantasy book, there comes a time in your life as a writer when you have to write a pitch for your novel. Here is a bit of advice on what to do and what to avoid when drafting your pitch…

1-      Bear in mind the purpose of your pitch is to sell the idea of your story to an agent or a reader. “Hooking” them with a 10-line paragraph summarising your 100k+ novel isn’t an easy task, but it is doable, and necessary if you want  your book to make it to readers’ shelves.

2-      A pitch for a Fantasy novel should be about 200 words long.

3-      A pitch should include:

–          Who your Main Character is and what he wants (his GOAL)

–          What the inciting incident is and why your Main Character chooses to do something about it (his CHOICE)

–          What is at stake should your Main Character fail in his endeavour (WHY THE READER SHOULD CARE)

4-      A pitch should NOT be too generic and vague. Chuck Sambuchino gives a great example of what a pitch should not be like on the Writer’s Digest website. Do go and read it.

5-      A pitch should not include everything about your story. It should not attempt to describe in detail the wonderfully complex world you’ve created. Thus it should only include your Main Character, the Antagonist and whoever is relevant to the Main Character’s goal, choice and problem. And it should not mention too many proper names and places.

6-      Last but not least, you should have beta readers for your pitch. Try to find at least one who hasn’t read your novel and has no idea what it’s about. And try to have at least one who has read your novel and can tell you if your pitch does it justice.

I hope this helps and feel free to leave us questions and comments below!

EM

 

Going the Indie Route January 23, 2013

Filed under: Publishing — thereanddraftagain @ 5:30 am
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Your writing will never chase you — you need to chase your writing. If it’s what you want, then pursue it.
~ Chuck Wendig

 I’ve been asked several times since making the announcement, why I decided to go Indie with First of Her Kind (formerly known as BD&L). The simplest answer, and probably the most basic, is that I believe in the story.

That’s it.

No matter how many times I read it, I enjoy it. The second book in the series is well underway, and I even have several scenes written for the third. Each one just gets better and better. I’m excited by where it’s going and I want to share that excitement.

Yes, I could (hopefully) do that following the traditional route as well. Originally, I was headed down that path. I slaved over a query and synopsis, made my list of dream agents and started at the top. I entered pitch contests. I did everything I could to get my manuscript in front of The Agent. The one who would connect with it. The one who would believe in it like I do.

But something happened on the way to the forum . . .

I stumbled upon some articles and research touting self-publishing and the Indie movement. I’d never really paid it a lot of mind, even knowing several authors whom I respect who had gone that route. To me, dare I say it, it was almost like giving up. If I couldn’t make it the traditional route, then maybe I wasn’t meant to make it.

The problem with that line of thought was that I just couldn’t make myself believe it. So I started doing some more research. Here are some of the things that helped shape my decision:

TIME: Finding an agent can be a long process taking anywhere from months to, yes, years. And for fantasy, the unfortunate reality is the list is not as long as some, meaning competition is much higher, and those agents that do handle the genre are bombarded with tens of thousands of queries a year. Once an agent takes you on, it’s more months (possibly years) until a publishing contract comes your way. Even after a contract is signed, it generally takes another year until your book sees the light of day. So, realistically, if I snag an agent now, and they get a publishing contract within six months, the likely scenario is that my book still wouldn’t see a release date until sometime next year.

Call me impatient, but I want it out there now. I’m ready to share it with the world.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Even though it’s not all about the money:  These days, even the major publishing houses are asking for more from their authors in terms of marketing their own books. Some, I’ve heard, are even cutting back on the editorial services they used to offer. Yet the royalties remain the same. Those royalties are about 15%. Compare that to the 70% or more available as a self-publisher and, well, seems to me, if I’m doing the work, I ought to get paid for it.

CONTROL: Okay, maybe I’m a control freak. Self-publishing puts me in charge of every aspect of my book’s success or failure. A daunting task, and not for everyone. But I enjoy it.

VALIDATION: This was a biggie — passing on the sense of validation that comes with being accepted into the traditional publishing echelon. But, really, won’t my readers provide that same sense of validation? If my book is good, the reading public will let me know. If it’s bad, I’ll find that out as well. What better way to grow as a writer?

I’ve written a few posts on my blog that outline some of these points in a little more depth. You can find them here, here, and here.

Does this mean I’ll never try the traditional route again? Heck no! In fact I’m working on an urban fantasy that may just get shopped to agents when it’s done. There’s nothing that says you have to choose one way or the other.

Who knows where the road will lead me. All I can say for sure is, “I’m going on an adventure!”