Tip of the Week 8/27/08

Tip of the Week: You can never have a manuscript accepted by an agent or for publication if you fear the possibility of rejection.

Now, that little pearl of wisdom is neither new, nor particularly unique to me. However, that doesn't mean it isn't true or valid. Lots of people do not want to submit because they fear the response. And I do understand how difficult it can be. No one likes to think that someone won't like them and their stuff. But, if you are so scared that they won't like you, you never will know if they do.


Agent Information

I'm constantly asked things like, "What agents are taking new clients?"

That's a valid question that I don't always know the answer to. After all, I only tend to talk to agents about their current clients, not clients they are hoping to someday have. And agent's are like editors -- they look for the stories that are going to move and inspire them. Nothing is more transparent than an agent trying to push a book they have no faith in.

Normally, I just refer people over to the GLA Blog, but today I found another link as well. Over on the Gottawrite Girl, she shares a lecture she attended at her local SCBWI conference given by Linda Pratt. There's information on the types of books she's interested in and how to submit.


Worst Story Line Ever

So, I hear there's a writing contest out there for the Worst Story Line Ever. I'm not running it, but I can think of several Worst Story Lines I've read over the years. But I'm not going to submit someone else's work. That would be cheating.

If you would like to wow the world with your purple prose and other examples of wretched writing, go to the GLA Worst Story Line Ever Writing Contest here.

Write on, man. Write On.


Beachy Fun

I've been on the beach for the last few days for a little fun on the sun and a wedding. I had never been to Yelapa before, and it was a very neat little, secluded place.

I had intended to get lots of reading done, but the place had such a high, never-ending humidity, that I was afraid to get my reader out. It ended up spending the entire vacation hiding in a dry bag in my luggage. On the plus side, it still works. On the negative side, I didn't get much done.

Instead I read the first two books in Pullman's Sally Lockhart series. I had read them before, but I couldn't remember them. I also knew that I never read the third book, and I wasn't sure why.

Now I know. After reading the first 2 books, I don't feel any need to read the third book. I had it with me, and I tried to start it, but I just didn't get into it. In fact, I went and bought an adult mystery at the Borders in the Phoenix airport.

I hate that I don't want to finish the series (especially since I already bought all the books). I'm a completist and dislike not finishing what I've started. It's going to have to join the ranks of series like the Ulysses Moore series or the Warriors of even the Gossip Girls where I just didn't feel the need to read after a certain book.

What series have you not felt the need to get past the first, second, or third book?

A Good Home Library

I read an ALA list the other day that recommended books for parents to buy when building a "high-quality" home library. I talked about that list and my impressions of it yesterday on the BookKids blog that I manage.

Needless to say, I didn't like the ALA list much. Today, I compiled my own list here.

I limited myself to 5 books in each category and a whole bunch of other rules I mention in the post. Let me know what you think about the books. Of course, keep in mind that I'll be posting other staff members' recs as well. I think among the group we should end up with a fairly diverse list. So, I skewed a little fantastic.

If you do have a comment, feel free to leave it on the BookKids site. Don't post something inappropriate, but don't think you have to come back here to discuss stuff. The site's a regular blog just like this one. (And it might be nice if to the casual observer -- say my boss -- that it look like people are engaging with the blog. I'm just saying.)


Post #301

This post here marks the the 301st post on this here blog, at least according to Blogger. I haven't actually counted the posts myself (I have a bit of a life) so I'm taking the machine's word for it.

Now, 300 successful prior postings seems like a lot to me. I feel I should get some kind of award for having come so far -- or something like that. But, when I sat back and thought about it, I realized that 300 posts actually puts me kind of far behind. When I started this, I originally had planned to try to post at least once a day. Since I've had this little creative outlet for around 2 years, 3 months, I should actually be bragging about the 800th post. Hmmm. I seem to be slacking.

But regardless, the magic number 300 has made me reflective about this blog. I've been evaluating the stuff I've been doing and the responses so that I can figure out how to make things better. I really liked how the pitch series went. I'm considering doing a similar style series/contest on queries in the fall. I hope to have all the pitch contest winners read by then. (I'm over 3/4 through, but I'll be contacting everyone at once.) Other series I have considered are:
  • First pages
  • Marketing plans
  • Series proposals

But now comes the feedback part of the evaluation. What do you all think? Is there some topic you're dying for me to cover that I haven't even thought of? Do you prefer that I start interviewing folk every now and then? Or should I start talking about books again on this blog and not just do all my book review talking over on the BookKids blog? Let me know what you think in the comments. I am definitely open to suggestions.


Tip of the Week 8/7/08

Tip of the Week: Immerse yourself in your subject.

Now when you are writing a book that requires lots of research like nonfiction or a historical novel, you obviously have to learn all about your topic. If you don't, you will have a hard time writing a convincing book.

But even if you have written a contemporary teen mystery, you should be well versed in other books in that genre. Not only do you need to know the competition, you also need to know what others have written so that you can modify your story to keep it from being too similar.

However, you do have to be careful that you aren't overly influenced by the books you read. You don't want to subconsciously be plagiarising someone else's work. So, I recommend reading similar types of books before and after you write your work, but saving comparable works in your genre for the editing phase.

For example, if you are writing a midgrade mystery, read some adult mysteries while you are planning and writing your book. This will acquaint you with mystery conventions without directly influencing your work. Then, while you are editing, read a few midgrade mysteries to see how other authors handle issues that are unique to children mysteries as opposed to general mysteries.


Animated Books

There have been books based on movies. There have been movies based on books. Now authors are going a step farther by writing and animating short films based on their own books. A novel marketing idea, indeed.

The latest one that I know about would be the one done for the new Sir Fartsalot series. You can see it on You Tube here.Intended to become a viral video, Penguin and the author hope that the short will drive traffic to the author's site, and consequently, result in sales for the book.

Now, I don't know how well you can truly orchestrate a viral video. By it's very nature, people have to feel they've discovered something and then pass it on. Something that is marketed as being an intended viral video (that's how it was talked about in our store's newsletter) in my mind slightly defeats that purpose. However, I'm talking about it and passing the link along, so what do I know.

I do like how this goes beyond the standard book trailer. It has it's own self-contained plot but still introduces us to the main character. I definitely think it is more kid-friendly and kid-centric than the average book trailer. I think that any author that has the resources or technical capabilities should at least consider this as a possible marketing opportunity.


Gabbing about Ghosts

If I have a chance, I'll do a second post today about writing, but I have posted over on the BookKids Blog today. I mentioned some of my new favorite ghost books. Curious? Go here to find out what I chatted about.