Surviving The Sting

imagesX0EBMH1NI write a lot about rejection because it’s a part of life if you’re an unpublished author seeking a literary agent or publishing contract. Many would-be authors allow a simple rejection to end their attempts at writing. Their thought – I must not be good enough. Well maybe that’s true, but odds are it is not.

Manuscripts are rejected for numerous reasons, and many have nothing to do with your work. So what are you supposed to do if you receive a rejection?

  • Admit it hurts.
  • Allow yourself time to grieve, but never take more than a week.
  • Nurture your artist. Read a good book, take a walk, eat some chocolate… TLC is a good thing, but don’t wallow in self-pity.
  • Share your news and disappointment with close friends and family who will understand and offer encouragement.
  • If you must, write a rebuttal to the editor or literary agent, but don’t send it. Tear it up and throw it in the trash. Your only response should be a thank you for their time and consideration.
  • Just because your work wasn’t right for that particular editor or agent, doesn’t mean it won’t be right for another.
  • Remember just because it isn’t ready for publication, doesn’t mean you can’t make it publishable.

A writer not being able to deal with rejection, is like a doctor not being able to deal with death. It’s going to happen, and like successful authors, you will have to learn to live with it.

-Jan R

Surviving The Sting

I Thought I knew A Lot – Until I Learned A Little

images1MS72HRNEnough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.

I thought it was ready, and then real life happened.  My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of them must have seen something promising, she took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list), and what I needed to do to improve my work.

I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable.  My issues with head-hopping and on-the-nose-writing were another story. Those terms were totally foreign to me.  I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. How was I to know there were rules?

And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward or had to have some significance?  I couldn’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work!

When you’re a newbie, you don’t know how bad your work is, because you lack the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. While there may be a few prodigies out there, chances are, you aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times bestseller.

One of my favorite sayings is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure where I picked that up from, but it’s true. I wasn’t intentionally sending out bad work. I just didn’t know.

-Jan R

I Thought I knew A Lot – Until I Learned A Little

I Hope Red Ink Runs In Your Veins!

the-doormanYou just finished that first novel or at least you thought you did. Now the work begins. Pull out the pen and start cutting. Hopefully, red ink runs in your veins. You’re going to need a lot of it.

How do you know what to cut? You put a lot of thought into those words, and it all sounds good and provides useful information to help the reader follow what’s going on.

It comes down to two things.

  1.  Is it essential to the story?
  2.  Does it move the story forward?

I love Jerry Jenkins. We all have our favorite bloggers and teachers of the craft. Jerry Jenkins is probably my favorite. Why? Because he’s clear, concise, and easy to follow.  I’m using an example from one of his blogs to help you understand editing. I would encourage you to visit his sight. You won’t be disappointed.

Paige’s phone chirped, telling her she had a call. She slid her bag off her shoulder, opened it, pulled out her cell, hit the Accept Call button and put it to her ear.       

“This is Paige,” she said.

“Hey, Paige.”

She recognized her fiancé’s voice. “Jim, darling! Hello!”

“Where are you, Babe?”

“Just got to the parking garage.”

“No more problems with the car then?”

“Oh, the guy at the gas station said he thinks it needs a wheel alignment.”

“Good. We still on for tonight?”

“Looking forward to it, Sweetie.”

“Did you hear about Alyson?”

“No, what about her?”

“Cancer.”

“What?”

Here’s a good example of how that scene should be rendered:

Paige’s phone chirped. It was her fiancé, Jim, and he told her something about one of their best friends that made her forget where she was.

“Cancer?” she whispered, barely able to speak. “I didn’t even know Alyson was sick. Did you?”

We don’t need to be told that the chirp told her she had a call, that her phone is in her purse, that her purse is over her shoulder, that she has to open it to get her phone, push a button to take the call, identify herself to the caller, be informed who it is.  I think you’re getting the point.

This is a good example of dragging dialogue as well.  It’s not necessary and adds fluff without any real purpose. Don’t distract with minutia. Give the reader the adventure they signed up for when they chose to purchase your book. Take the reader with Paige when she says:

“I need to call her, Jim. I’ve got to cancel my meeting. And I don’t know about tonight…”

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

I Hope Red Ink Runs In Your Veins!

Be Definite, Specific, And Concrete! (Revisited)

imagesGYL179P1Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to somebody and they are all wishy-washy? Why can’t they just come out and say it? Most of the time you know what they are getting at and want to spit it out for them. Well, the same thing goes for writing.

The surest way to gain and hold a reader’s attention is through definite, specific, concrete writing. Don’t make me as a reader try to figure out what you are trying to say. It’s not my place to write your novel. I just want to read and enjoy it. Allow me to enter the realm of your imagination without trying to figure out every little detail myself.

Examples:

The weather was dreadful. vs. It rained every day for a week.

He was happy to take possession of his well-earned reward. vs. He smiled as he placed the coin in his pocket.

I don’t think I have to point out which sentence in these examples is the more specific and concrete.

Best selling authors are effective because they deal in particulars and report details that matter in a definite, specific, concrete way.

Just something to think about.

-Jan R

Be Definite, Specific, And Concrete! (Revisited)

Take Your Reader On The Journey

untitledI’ve written several blogs patting authors on the back and thanking them for the joy they provide to people like my mom.

She is elderly and can’t go to the places she would like to visit, but my mom loves books. They take her not only to places she would like to go but places she could only go to in her dreams.

Consider this! Your novel is a journey. You aren’t just walking through that journey; you are the tour guide, and you’re taking your reader with you.

When you write that novel, you are doing at least one of several things.

  1.  Taking the reader somewhere they cannot personally go.
  2. Showing your reader new aspects of a place they are already familiar with.
  3. Suggesting a place your reader could not even imagine existed.
  4. Reflecting on places, people, and situations that your reader may be familiar with, but are unable to put into words with your particular expertise.

Enjoy the journey and be cognizant of those who are with you. Remember, they can’t read your mind. It’s your job to put the story in writing and make sure that your reader is following the intended path. You are the guide! You are their eyes and ears!

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Take Your Reader On The Journey

Thursday’s Thoughts

Post_13-08-760x400I’ve been kicking around the thought of having a ‘Writing Tip’ Thursday for a while, but still haven’t come up with a witty title for the blog. There are so many one-liners out there. Useful information provided by successful authors that grab your attention and make you stop and think. Some may even tickle your funny bone 🙂

So here goes!

Background information:

If your hero is eating dinner in Moscow, you better know that steak is thirty bucks a pound; if he is drinking sake in Tokyo, you better know which hand he should use to hold the cup; and when he is sunning on the beach at Cape Cod, remember that there won’t be palm trees.  Dean R. Koontz – How To Write Best Selling Fiction

I love Dean Koontz. He has a way of getting the point across in a fun, self-explanatory manner.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

 

 

 

Thursday’s Thoughts

Want To Sell More Books/eBooks?

  1. images09PXA1C7 Is your book available as an ebook?                                         You should definitely produce a print-on-demand book, but so many new authors want that book deal with distribution in bookstores and don’t consider ebooks. Most indie authors make more income from ebooks. Something to think about.
  2. Has your cover been professionally designed?                       That cover matters. When I’m purchasing a book, the first thing to catch my attention is the cover. Book buyers shop with their eyes.
  3.  Has your book been professionally edited so that it reads well?                                         Edit your books until you can’t stand them any longer, and then you should consider hiring a professional. If that’s not in your budget then try using a critique group of readers within your genre.
  4.  Have you submitted the book to the right categories?                                                     It’s important to match reader expectations and the promise of what your book delivers with what your book is actually about. If you’re not sure what categories to use, choose a few books that yours are like and see what their categories are.
  5.  Have you priced your book realistically?                                                                               Get to know your genre and the expectations of your readers.
  6. Have you written, or are you writing, another book?                                                           The more books you have, the larger your virtual shelf space, and the easier it is for people to find you.
  7. Have you done any marketing?                                                                                                 Marketing is sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it.   Build your platform and an email list.
  8. Have you asked for reviews or submitted a review site?
  9. Have you optimized your Amazon sales page with a hook, quote from reviews, or other material?
  10. Are you working your butt off? Have you given it enough time?

Hope this helped. I got most of the information for this article from a free ebook written by Joanna Penn. If you haven’t checked her out, I would highly recommend her blog- joanna@thecreativepenn.com

She provides a library of useful information and many reference books at no charge.

-Jan R

Want To Sell More Books/eBooks?

Just Write!

cha_647_020717110811It seems like it’s been a long time since I truly sat down to write. I’ve been doing posts, but mainly older blogs revisited or simple quotes.

My life has been hectic over the last year or so, and it’s been maybe a little too easy for me to say, “I just don’t have the time to write”. I allowed one day to grow into two days and then three and on and on and on.

Before I knew it, I was barely writing at all. I now fully understand why many professional writers encourage you to write every day.

We all have days or personal situations to arise that hinder us from getting to the keyboard. I’m not condemning anyone for taking a needed day off. Life happens!

The problem I had, was the longer I went without writing, the easier it became to put it off. I had become so engulfed with what was going on around me, that I had pushed writing to the side.

Something that I truly enjoyed doing had become an afterthought. Should I write today or not. The answer was usually not.

I am back in the game and wanted to warn those who follow my blog, listen to the experts.

Write! Write! Write! Hopefully, you got that. Just Write!

-Jan R

Just Write!

Something To Think About # 1

SupermanflyingYour lead character doesn’t have to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and he doesn’t have to stop speeding bullets with his bare hands, but he darn well better know the difference between right and wrong, and he better be kind to animals, and it sure wouldn’t hurt any if he brushed his teeth regularly.  Dean R. Koontz – How To Write Best Selling Fiction

I think you get the picture. Your main character needs to be likable and relatable. It would help if he had a few flaws as well. Nobody’s perfect.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

 

 

 

Something To Think About # 1

Questions To Ask A Perspective Agent

choose-book-confused-student-girl-choosing-two-books-red-blue-left-right-which-one-to-read-difficult-decision-119252584I have to be honest, I just want an agent to say yes, I will represent you. I’ve had my fill of rejections, but I know, just like anything else in life, you need to do your homework.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of a potential agent. Knowing the agent’s expectations in advance of agreeing to work together will help you avoid a nasty breakup.

Find someone who believes in your work, who loves your voice, and whose vision for your future matches your own.

Questions to ask:

  1. Does the agent require a signed agent-author agreement? If so, ask for a copy in advance and review it carefully. Also, ask for a copy of the agency clause they will place in the publishing contract.
  2. How does the agent prefer to keep authors informed of submissions?
  3. What happens in the event of the agent’s death? Verify that the agent has provisions in place to protect your rights.
  4. How many authors do the agent and agency represent?
  5. Does the agent offer editorial feedback? Some authors like for the agent to critique their work.
  6. Does the agent offer career planning?
  7.  Does the agent handle sub-rights, ancillary rights, and/or movie rights?
  8. What novels have the agent or agency sold in the past year?
  9. What is the agents normal turnaround time for responding to e-mails and phone calls?
  10. How can the agent-author contract be severed?

There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions with the exception of question 8. The purpose of asking questions is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and to clarify expectations for yourself and your agent.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Questions To Ask A Perspective Agent