Tag: author

The Ubiquitous #Query Letter @badlitagent

The Ubiquitous #Query Letter @badlitagent

(The following is a satirical expression of frustration with the egocentric gatekeepers of the publishing world.)

I am not picking on you @badlitagent, I like your snark.

There are many out there who claim to “know the secret” of how to write the “perfect” query letter.

 

If you just follow, their simple steps, agents, and publishers alike will seek your manuscript!

 

“Who believes that?”

 

I am a writer, I write!  When I am writing, I am lost in the story.  The characters take on lives of their own and demand that I faithfully capture their personalities and character traits, as well as their actions.  The story must be cohesive, that is where I live.

When you find yourself spending more time researching each agent, constructing a query letter, creating a synopsis per their idea of what that is, and first few pages in whatever format that desire, something is wrong.

The actual hell of it is, you are not, repeat not, trying to catch the agent’s attention.  They are too wrapped up in their position of power, to bother to read your query letter, much less respond to them.  No, they have interns that may be going to college or maybe in high school.  Hell, they might have their twelve-year-olds reading them.

 

(Looking for interns)

“If you like to read certain books that we represent, we will hire you as an intern.  You must be able to “read” several query letters, and write a report on each in one sentence or less.” 

 

When researching the agent, this is typical.

“If we don’t respond in eight weeks, consider it a pass.”

 

How fucking lousy is that!  You spend hours crafting the perfect Query letter, and the agent does not have time to respond with a  simple form reply..!?

 

“I want some fucking feedback!  Why? What about this letter, or this manuscript, turned you off on the project. What was missing?  What one thing if it had would make you excited?”

 

Some will send you the form letter “Your story is not the kind of material we represent.”  Please please please continue to bang your head against the wall though; we like to hear the banging, as it keeps us awake!
(It is what you represent, because I researched your damned site, and your bio, and who you have published thus far, so either you did not read it, or your intern cannot read!)

 

Here is what I think they mean to say. Allow me to translate this for you.

 

“If you have a proven track record of selling millions of books, we might consider looking at your manuscript.  If you were on the New York Times bestseller list, let us know that too, so we can ask the intern to read more than the title of what you send.  We only have time to spend on sure bets. If you are not a famous author, please, do not bother us! I know we say that we are looking for first time authors but we all say that, don’t we?  Whatever you have written, it is trash unless we can sell at least a million copies of it, without investing any money or time on it what so ever.  As the matter of fact; if you can sell a million copies on your own, just send us 30% and we might be persuaded to have the senior intern look at your next project.” 

 

“If you still want to send us a query letter, use one syllable words so our interns who are either stoned or still in pre-K can understand them.  Thanks for your understanding now, go fuck off! And, have a nice day!”  

 

My advice…

 

You cannot be a one trick pony.

 

You must have more than one novel in you.  Get published in as many places as you can.  Whether that be newsletters, magazines, short stories and unfortunately self-publish something.  Consider it a giveaway because there is little to no protection for intellectual property rights once you put it on the Internet.  There are programs out there that can take Kindle or other types of e-books and turn them into PDF’s so they can be “shared.”

 

Many write short stories and give them away just to get their “brand” out there.

 

Truthfully we have no idea what the intern is looking for; it could be word count, Genre, style of writing or eloquent phrases or pixie dust.   Since their website does not give us any information on where they went to school or what they like to read, it is a crap shoot!

 

The bottom line as I see it, you must “be someone” already, to get their attention.

 

Your thoughts are always interesting to me, feel free to elucidate on your experiences.

 

Maybe you have an agent that reads his or her own query letters?  Tell us about that.

 

Remember that most of this is satire, with some frustration mixed in.

 

-Best

 

© All rights Reserved 2016

 

 

Getting Published #writer #author

Getting Published #writer #author

 

I write the following from what I have learned thus far on this subject.  I would appreciate input from those of you that have made this trip successfully.

Write Well 

It cannot be overemphasized enough to write well.  I have read many books written by people who were self-published. They wrote their story that they wanted to tell.  Not being able to make their fortune from their manuscript, they self-published. They spent the next several months trying to sell enough of their books to re-coop their investment.  Not everyone was meant to be a writer or published.  If they had read their work more carefully they would have discovered that it was not written well.  This leads me to my next thought.

Write for your enjoyment. 

The passion that most writers have is not to sell millions of books, just to write.  It has been said that if you want to get to know the author, read their book.  Take this one-step further.  If you want to get to know yourself, who you are…, write a book.  When you are reading your story, if you are listening, you will find yourself in your characters.  Insight as to who you actually are will come out in their actions and feelings.

If your characters do not have feelings, you need to go back and try again.  Sell the story through their actions or feelings.

Which reminds me, do not try to do this for a living, until you are famous.  Your sanity might depend upon you being in this world with a day job. We are social creatures, being around people and not in your world of your story all of the time is important.   Of this… I speak from experience…

Start out with a bang!

The first few pages sell your book, especially for an unknown. The prologue is a good place to entice the reader to want to know more, than you can build the story after the prologue. Once you become a JK Rowling, than you can let your name (or brand) sell your product.

Be well read

Most successful writers read a lot.  While I have read some “flash in the pan” books that were not well written, nor were the authors “well read,” that actually made it.  Statistics show that more often than not, books that get published, are from people who were well read.

Have a story that is unique and interesting

Your story should be unique.  If it is a rehash of a common situation, there is a good chance it will sit on the circular file cabinet of some publisher, until the janitor makes his or her rounds.

Expect rejection

You must have thick skin to be in this vocation.  Your own family may not like what you have written.  Do not expect everyone to love it as much as you do. This is your baby, your passion not theirs. As soon as you send it off to someone, start working on something else. One of the publishers that I have been talking with might take a year before they get back to you simply telling you, no thanks!

A Good Agent

First off, agents are about as hard to sell as are publishers themselves.  Many folks take up writing as a get rich scheme instead of for the pure passion of writing or telling a story.  Agents get a commission for what they do.  Never pay someone up front…If the agent is a true agent worth their salt, they will know from your synopsis if this is something that they can sell.

Do lots of research on your agent before signing.

Good agents are available. Locating them through a writers league might be a good idea as the others in the league might have an experience to share.

Finish your work before you think about getting it published

I have spoken with many who get some idea for a book and immediately approach an agent or publisher.  You have nothing to sell, until there is a manuscript of 120,000 words or so in your hands.” 

When writing your manuscript do not get hung up on the word count!  After the editing process, your 135,000 words might be around 95,000.  Somewhere between 100,000 and 120,000 seems to be optimal.

Check your work well before you send it off…

As alluded to in the last point, editing your work is paramount.  When you decide to send it off, it should be as good as you could possibly make it.  I like to read it aloud although one trick that I found is to have something like “Nuance’s Naturally Speaking” full edition; read it back to me, one paragraph at a time.  Your mind will skip over clumsy sentences or bad grammar.   The program only reads what it sees so the “you instead of the your” will pop out at you!

Try to get something published in a magazine prior to getting your book published.

This is a great idea for first time writers.  Write a short story or several, 5000 words or so and submit it to magazines.  If they publish it, they might pay around $500 for the story (one time) but you then can write on your cover sheet…published in….  That is a great way for your manuscript to get more of a look than 3 seconds, of some agent or publishers time.

“What magazine you ask?”  What do you write?  Sci-Fi… Pick a science fiction magazine and approach them with a story…

Submission guidelines are critical…

Everyone has some idea of what they expect to see when they open your manuscript.  I have found double-spaced block type, cover sheet etc… They should have guidelines to follow…follow them not just a little bit, to the letter.

Have a well-written synopsis keeping it to two pages.

This is a problem for writers.  You need to tell the complete story, with the ending in 500 words or so…2 pages…  Look for guidelines online… Oh yes, it must be written well…

Purchase The Writer’s Market published by Writer’s Digest

Query Letter

Send a query letter even if they say they are currently not accepting. The worst thing that will happen is you wasted a stamp.  (One page)  Many publishers may say that they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts but truth be told, they all want best sellers.  A query letter cost you .50 cents and it might perk their interests.

Sending your manuscript to agents and or publishers should not be with a lot of fanfare.  Simply box it “if it fits its ships” or padded envelope and let the post office do it for you.  No FED EX nothing like that…Media Mail in fact… Anything else gives the appearance of desperation.  “They should be lucky that you have chosen them to publish…”  Ok, maybe not but, you get the gist.

Now go back to writing and tell a story….

-Best

Below are a few links that I have found while digging.

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/

http://agentquery.com/publishing_mp.aspx

https://querytracker.net/whatisqt.php

http://www.writersmarket.com/

https://duotrope.com/

As a favor to me, many of you read and like my posts, which I thank you from the very bottom of my heart.  Follow me; share what you see.  Thanks!

Writers Block

Writers Block

 

As a writer, I follow many, talk with several; and listen a lot.

There are those who feel that they must complete 5 pages a day.  There are those that don’t.

If you are passionate about it; writing 15 a day or more could be a piece of cake, or a bloody nightmare.

You simply cannot force creativity….

I have crawled out of bed at 3 AM and worked till well past noon the next day, as I was inspired.  I have also stopped, and not touched the keyboard when nothing was happening.

There is a flow to the creative process and “external shit” can mess with that flow.

Maybe you don’t feel good, maybe the neighbor or spouse or sibling pissed you off…

Writing and painting to me are one in the same…I am an artist; I paint with oils…I can paint from my head, or from a model, or from a picture…it depends what I am going for.

I can also paint with words.  In many cases I am much better with words than oils.  My paintings have sold in many different countries, and yet I aspire to invoke emotions through language.  Many artist do it through painting, or music, and that is all great and good.  While I too play instruments; that is not my passion… I love music but telling a story…Ah…That excites me….!

Tonight I had a block…The story stood still and I sat here… I looked at the words and my characters were frozen.  A fluid story stopped … as my creative process stopped….

I walked away…took a long shower and in that shower the next chapter sprang to life as the water danced off my hands and arms and…the rest of me….

Sometimes you simply have to wash the block away…..

Five pages a day….no…..I could force it but it would suck, and be badly created, and poorly read and most probably deleted the next day when I reread it….

You simply cannot force creativity….

-Best

© All Rights Reserved 2015 TimeDok

 

Creative writing II or Happy Place!

Creative writing II or Happy Place!

So, I get this email regarding “good writing”….

It would seem that many of you liked it but, some “at least one” took issue with the example of the bathroom… 🙂

To me that example was perfect in that you have all heard this before or maybe said it, “Find a bathroom that looks clean.”  This is said as you are motoring down the road at some speed at or slightly above posted limits!  That phrase or statement always made me chuckle as in, “how the hell do I know if the bathroom will be acceptable to your standards from this distance at this speed?

If you are guilty of this statement, I promise I am not picking on you…  I actually know what you mean; as men sometimes must sit too…..

I don’t understand however; why some will not lift the seat to pee and instead, pee all over the seat and leave!  It is my fervent wish that all who did or do that have to clean someone else’s pee off of the seat, so they can sit and relieve themselves.

Anyway, enough on my bathroom story.

 

Creative writing is definitely an art form as I have spoken about in the last post on writing.

I mentioned my happy place.

Before I write, I sometimes will find my happy place, and ponder on it for a while.

My Happy Place

Under a huge tree, up on a hill overlooking the countryside, the sun has risen enough to warm the tall grasses and dry the morning dew that dampened my feet a short while ago as I wondered up the hill to greet the sun from its slumber.  The sky is now a cerulean blue, after shifting from its former oranges and yellows; sporting a few wispy clouds, lazily floating by.  A slight breeze caresses my face and carries with it the scent of salt water, from the beach down the hill.

In the distance, there are a few people setting up their blankets and umbrellas, as they prepare to spend the day collecting shells, digging their toes into the sand, and watching the seabirds call out to the wind, in eager anticipation of their next meal.

My morning watching the sunrise has ended, I too seek the company of strangers, as well as the feel of the sand between my toes; and the warm water circling between my legs and eventually immersing my body in its warm embrace.

I watch from a distance the young families building sand castles with their children, remembering with fondness the days of doing the same with mine.  The sand sticks to my feet up to my ankles as I sit on my lounge, peering into the distant waves as they meet the sky. 

A shriek from a young child brings me back to the here and now, as a small crab scuttle’s by the imaginary moat; protecting the castle against all invaders.  While the white winged dragons in the sky see the invader as lunch; they too are afraid to get too close to the giants wearing pink frilly armor. They seem interested in the morsel as well.  The dragons call out to the giants but to no avail, the invader of the castle has been captured and placed into a small vessel, held by the giants for examination.  The giants speak in a language that only they can understand, as it is full of squeals and single syllable utterances that the taller giants seem to understand.

The dragons return to the skies, looking for less protected invaders. The giants quiet down from the excitement. My thoughts once more return to the waves, the clouds dancing above us in a slow waltz, while a ballerina does a slow pirouette in front the spot light, which immediately cools my skin and brings me once again to the here and now.

Looking around, I see more families and others like myself who are there to simply enjoy the beach.  Some come as couples and others by themselves, and of course there are those with stories in paper format to lose their selves into, while allowing the sun to warm parts of them that rarely is seen by the sun, much less others.

Very soon, their openness comforts me, as my attention turns back to act II: the ballerina morphs into a butterfly!  The other dancers on stage also morph into dogs, and rabbits, and even a shark!  The audience calls out to them, as they too perform amazing acts of aerobatics, not be outdone by the vaporous ghost of the sky.

The spotlight is now bright upon me, and the others who have joined me.  The smell of coconuts and other potions punctuates the fluidity of my thoughts.  I decide to lay on my tummy and allow the sun to tan my back for a while, as I drift off into a deep slumber, with the sounds of the ocean, the birds and the children to lull me into another world, where my thoughts are not constrained by anything physical.  The sounds actually guide my imagination to other worlds, occasionally bringing me back to this one, as I take stock of my own lotions, and my growing desire for food as somebody has decided to light a grill.

I too must return to the real world, and it is this grill and the thought of a sizzling parcel of meat that drives me to sober from my thoughts, wipe the now dried sand from my feet, and leave this paradise for other adventures, in other realities.

May you too find your happy place, and revere in its existence.  When in the real world your happy place is always there, look for it.  It might be in the small flowers attached to tiniest of plants, or simply above you; inviting you to take part as they too dance and entertain.

 

 

-Best

© All rights reserved 2015

Good Writing

Good Writing

Good Writing

There are too many books that I have trudged through in my life to tolerate bad writing.  Too many good books exist and let’s face it, how many books does one have time to read in the very short time that we have here?

As a writer, I craft the story much like so many other writers in that there are twist and turns, and I try to throw predictability out the window.  One of my friends compared my “style” to Stephen King!  I am not sure that is a good thing but, it is what it is.

I try not to worry with technicalities as I write.  Those will get sorted out in the editing phase.

When I write a story, it is as if someone somewhere out in the “ethos” is dictating it to me.  As I write, I too am enthralled with the story.  The story takes on a life of its own and therefor interruptions cannot be tolerated.

When I craft the words, I am painting a picture.  As an artist I know all too well what has to go into a painting to make it interesting so, when I paint with words, I too know how to create a picture that will form in the readers head.

From the dead flies in the windowsill, the flickering fluorescent light that comes to life with a snapping buzzing sound, and the smell of an un-flushed toilette; you suddenly remember each and every “not clean” bathroom that you have been forced to use, at some time in your life.  

Even my beloved muse, a Russian Blue who has yet to learn the meaning of “no,” has to leave as he too disturbs the process, by trying to chase the words as they trudge across the screen.

russisch-blau-katze-of-blue-sinfonie-019

One of my writer friends goes off to remote cabins and waits for “the mood” to strike, and then sleep will not get into her way, as the thought process gels, the pages turn into marching characters and symbols that systematically stop and start as the process of transformation of thought to text, occurs.

Many of you here who follow me are writers, and it is to you who I am addressing the following.

We share a common bond and while we don’t personally “know” one another, we do know each other through this medium.

“If you want to get to know someone, you read their book.”

While the story may be as fictional as “Never-Never Land,” it is also, to many of us, our “happy place.”

hook

Character development is a struggle for me.  As a man I can develop the female character and paint a nice picture.  Realistically, I have developed her from what I “see” and know of women.  Doing so for the male character is somewhat of a challenge as I don’t look at men, as women do.  I can however; capture the logic and thought processes of men much easier, as I am one.  The emotional side of the female is a stretch for me.

There are all kinds of readers out there, so character development should be such that whoever is reading your words, should be able to “know” your character.

As a writer, I feel a personal loss when I “kill off” a character.  As a reader, I feel that same loss when the book is over.

Currently, I am working on a trilogy and it is because the story material is that entertaining to me, that I could not end it with one book.  The characters have taken a life unto their own; and I suspect most of the writers out there know exactly what I am talking about.

Writing cannot be forced. 

Mechanically you can write and if you remember your English class’s where that was the case, the stories that you wrote were for the purpose of dissecting your usage of nouns and verbs and punctuation, not for creativity.  Sentence structure was so damned important! 

Screw the rules!

Weaving a tapestry of intersecting thoughts, while making it all grammatically correct is to me a true Rembrandt.   I don’t think being a grammatical and creative savant, is something that you can simply ask of someone, who does not share the passion of writing.

Painting is much the same way.  When painting, I am lost in the painting.  Each and every brush stroke has to be perfect.  The smaller the painting; the more flawless the brush stroke must be.

Write to please yourself.  Making it grammatically acceptable is something that can be accomplished after the creative process is done.

Painting and writing is “me time.”

Sometimes, I feel a little selfish when I carve out “me time.”

As an artist, you will not get rich by your efforts, unless of course you are doing it for some large publication and it is mechanical.  One of my Artist friends has her work re-produced on greeting cards, puzzles, and other things that people purchase in gift shops around the world.  Every so often a check will appear for a few hundred dollars.  She has no way of knowing how many actual unites were actually sold however.

I have also concluded that many feel that if they can just finish their book, they will get rich.  Too many out there “self-publish” and the only people making money “for the most part” are the folks who offer that service.

Lastly, and why I write this is; “write to please yourself.”

If your end goal is money, your writing will be forced and not genuine.  Much like doing a story for some professor to “grade.”

Immersion into the story, taking time to reflect, re-read and edit, and re-read again for the flow of the words is tantamount to making the story your own.

  • I will offer one free tip on the editing process for you, a trick that I figured out.

There are “services” that will edit your manuscript for you for who even knows how much money.

Purchase the latest version of Dragon Naturally Speaking with the text to speech option.

One paragraph at a time: have it read it, to you.

Go and edit that paragraph until it sounds right and then go onto the next.  When reading your own writing your mind tends to skip over the “you” instead of the “your” or the “the the” mistake that I see too often.  When writing, your words are punctuated with gaps as the thought process starts and stops.  That is when the “the the’s” occur or other anomalies that your professor in college would have a hay day with their “Fucking Red Pen or F.R.P.!”  Of course, there were no computers in my day so possibly, this process would be easier.

I don’t mean to belittle writing classes.  Don’t get me wrong.  Finding a professor that is passionate about their job, and what they are doing is a true goldmine.  Finding someone that will constructively criticize your work and offer suggestions is great.  Finding folks who are genuine, and are there without the need to equivocate for their personal aggrandizement is a definite plus.

There are writing “clubs” where others will read your works or have you read excerpts to the others in the group and they all cumulatively have something to offer.  There may be a pearl of wisdom that you can take away, even if you simply listen to their work and what the others have to say.  I have seen some however; who are so haughty, that just about anything that they said was dismissed without taking the time to weigh it on its merits. It was almost as if they were there to build themselves up, at your expense.

-Best

© All Rights Reserved 2015

Staylor at Guard-protect.com

WWW.guard-protect.com

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