Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday 20

I'm putting together new ideas for upcoming blog posts. Here are the ones I've scratched off the list:

Anonymous Publishing Bloggers Identified -- The Ultimate Expose -- yeah, that'll make me all kinds of new friends

First Ammendment, Free Speech, It's for Everyone! Except Published Authors -- hate mail potential in the red ranges

If You Want Everyone to Like You, Get a Job in a Brothel -- can't work in a tactful blowjob analogy. Is there such a thing as a tactful blowjob analogy?

Inspirational Paranormals: The Next Big Trend -- will probably start it for real

Pissing Contests Don't Make Your Backlist Look Longer -- mean

Stepford Lips: Bestselling Authors Who All Wear the Same Hideous Red Lipstick -- maybe they're all colorblind, or nearsighted, or something

The Importance of Not Being Earnest -- can't take it seriously

You've Gone to Like 5000 Writing Workshops, Am I Right? -- whoa, very mean

Your Guest Blogger Sucks -- but she's your mom, and I respect that

I'll figure out something else, I guess. In the meantime, any questions for me this week?

Added: Our pal Simon Haynes is celebrating turning in the draft for his third Hal Spacejock novel by giving away ten copies of the first novel in the series, Hal Spacejock. This is a great chance to get a signed copy, so definitely check it out.

46 comments:

  1. Anonymous Publishing Bloggers Identified -- The Ultimate Expose

    but ... but... i'm dying to read this one...


    Inspirational paranormals... does have possibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just got an email from a young 'un keen for advice o finding a publisher for their illustrated book. I told her the best bet is to check the library for similar books to see who's putting them out, then check the publisher websites for guidelines.
    Should I have gone into more detail, or was that enough information? I feel like I should have warned them about the long and dangerous road ahead, but is it really my job to be the Voice of Doom?

    As a side note, I emailed you about a book giveaway on my blog, then remembered aol treats mail from my ISP with utter disdain. I've benefitted in the past from your generous giveaways (particularly the 'anywhere in the world' part - so unusual) and I thought your readers might like a shot at a copy of Hal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. (I forgot to add - I'm a long term reader and part time contributor to your blog, but I don't want to be spamming it. The second half of my prev. comment was for you, and I'm more than happy for you to remove it.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Is there such a thing as a tactful blowjob analogy?"

    Sounds like it would be a bit of a mouthful to me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To be Ernest, I'd need a sex-change.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now you've got me wondering if there's some official Secret Publishing Society lipstick. I'm going to look at author photos more closely.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Secret lipstick = bloodsucking red. Or is that agents?
    ;-)

    Gawd, my word verification is ufkbjlx. U fk? Bj? Who sets these things up anyway?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Shiloh wrote: Inspirational paranormals... does have possibilities.

    All right, what the heck, let's start a trend. We'll have to work fast to beat Deidre Dikshrinker, though. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Secret Publishing Society lipstick

    so THAT's the secret to getting in the club. not a handshake...

    ;p


    Hmmmmm... Deidre Dikshrinker. YEah, she sounds like ferocious competetion.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Actually, I do have a question: How explicit can you go with a sex scene* in an SF novel? (Anybody remember "War of the Powers"?)

    *Assumes scene itself expresses conflict and is woven into the fabric of the plot.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Simon wrote: I just got an email from a young 'un keen for advice o finding a publisher for their illustrated book. I told her the best bet is to check the library for similar books to see who's putting them out, then check the publisher websites for guidelines. Should I have gone into more detail, or was that enough information? I feel like I should have warned them about the long and dangerous road ahead, but is it really my job to be the Voice of Doom?

    I think it was very kind of you to offer practical advice to steer her in the right direction. How much more you want to get involved depends on how much time you want to spend as the Voice of Doom.

    I respond in kind to the questions I'm asked. For example, if someone writes to me and says, "My agent wants a $2000.00 deposit to represent my book, is that normal?" I jump right on that and start educating. If someone writes and just asks for a list of reputable agents, I'll send them to the AAR list with a rec to thoroughly check out any agent they consider.

    Most of the time advice goes in one ear and out the other. An acquaintance who ignored my advice to sub only major houses and instead pubbed with a garage press ended up getting conned out of a lot of money. She later admitted that she didn't take my advice because I've never published with a small press -- and now she sees why.

    I've been meaning to work in a mention of your terrific giveaway, Simon, so I added it to the blog post above. Thanks for reminding me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Zornhau wrote: Sounds like it would be a bit of a mouthful to me.

    Zornhau is now my official blowjob analogy consultant.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bernita wrote: To be Ernest, I'd need a sex-change.

    Or a sock, maybe, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Charlene wrote: Now you've got me wondering if there's some official Secret Publishing Society lipstick. I'm going to look at author photos more closely.

    I noticed it when I was shelving some books. Will freak you out, I'm telling you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Simon wrote: Gawd, my word verification is ufkbjlx. U fk? Bj? Who sets these things up anyway?

    Someone who isn't getting enough lx, evidently.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Shiloh wrote: Secret Publishing Society lipstick
    so THAT's the secret to getting in the club. not a handshake...


    Oh, god. I'm doomed.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I respond in kind to the questions I'm asked. For example, if someone writes to me and says, "My agent wants a $2000.00 deposit to represent my book, is that normal?" I jump right on that and start educating.

    Oh yes, for sure. I had someone write to tell me they were getting published for 'only' $25,000. When I started breathing again I quickly emailed them a couple of links to read. (Like, getaclue.com and ohshit.org)

    And thanks for mentioning the draw - I appreciate it and hope someone here wins one of the copies.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Zornhau wrote: Actually, I do have a question: How explicit can you go with a sex scene* in an SF novel? (Anybody remember "War of the Powers"?)

    *Assumes scene itself expresses conflict and is woven into the fabric of the plot.


    A SF editor once told me that I could put as much sex in a SF novel as I wanted, but that I needed to cut out the mushy stuff (romantic bits.) I ignored the advice, which I thought was a crock, and wrote what served the story. Who was right? I can't say, but I'm still publishing SF, the editor is no longer an editor.

    My advice is to trust your instincts. If you're writing what needs to be in the story, what serves the story, and what makes the book work, you're doing your job. No matter to what degree you're explicit, there will always be someone you're going to offend, so don't try to censor yourself merely to spare the sensibilities of prudes and people who want to neuter the genre.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh yes, for sure. I had someone write to tell me they were getting published for 'only' $25,000. When I started breathing again I quickly emailed them a couple of links to read.

    you know... this is so disturbing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have two questions:
    1. Can I substitute chocolate lip balm for lipstick and still join the Secret Publishing Society?
    2. Could you talk a bit, please, about the pros and cons of writing a series versus stand-alone books?

    thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Shiloh wrote: you know... this is so disturbing.

    It's outrageous how much swindling goes on out there, but preying on people's dreams has always been profitable.

    ReplyDelete
  22. You've Gone to Like 5000 Writing Workshops, Am I Right? -- whoa, very mean

    No this is--You've Gone to Like 5000 Writing Workshops and Never Finished a Manuscript.

    ReplyDelete
  23. A series question -

    I was wondering if this was a no-no for an SF series. I have a protagonist in book 1 who seems, while somewhat special, she seems and think's she's human. It's not until book 2 that she finds out she's had some genetic engineering and some non-human genetic makeup. I hint/foreshadow in book 1, but don't reveal until book 2.

    I can't think of a series that's done this, so I'm wondering if it's an unwritten law that the character has to learn something this life-changing at the start of a series and not later on?

    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Darlene wrote: Can I substitute chocolate lip balm for lipstick and still join the Secret Publishing Society?

    Maybe we could start our own satellite Secret Publishing Society Chapstick Chapter (I use cherry-flavored, myself.)

    Could you talk a bit, please, about the pros and cons of writing a series versus stand-alone books?

    Disclaimer: I've written standalones, but I'm a series writer; I prefer reading novel series, and I think the whole "you're not a true artist unless you write standalones" argument is horse manure.

    That said, there are advantages in writing standalones. You can play in a new playground with new charaters withe every novel. You don't have to deal with snowballing backstory (and if you think backstory is a snap, imagine trying to condense the character progressions and plot points of ten books and several hundred cast members into a couple of lines that logically explains it all to the new-to-you reader.) You don't have to adhere to an established theme or series-related conflict.

    Disadvantages of writing standalones: unless you have a particular storytelling style, a very strong and distinctive voice, and/or recycle your elements, your readers won't know what to expect from you. Standalone authors seeking new, better, different storylines tend to drop the ball and tank more often than series writers because they're not sticking with what they've written that does work on the market (what might be called fresh-book syndrome.)

    Some standlone authors who do make it work are Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Harlan Coben, Holly Lisle, and Douglas Clegg (Harlan, Holly and Doug are also series writers, which makes them very interesting to watch.)

    Series authors are obviously in it for the long haul. We love our universes, and when we go to the playground, we don't want to come home. The primary advantage of writing a series is establishing a loyal reader base; your readers become attached to your characters and enjoy the journey with you. Backstory does have to be dealt with, but it's a good writing challenge to learn how to do that in creative ways. You don't have to toss away all the work you put into a series novel, you expand on it and take it in different directions. Series can become your trademark and, if they're particularly memorable, help you stand out from the herd (more than one PhD SF writer has told me they're kicking themselves for not thinking up StarDoc.)

    The disadvantages are that series writers wrestle with market limitations. A high midlist novel series that sells well appears to average between five to seven books; after that sales start tapering off. It's because most new readers are unwilling to hunt down the backlist and/or start at box six, seven, eight, etc. Also, series writers can run out of steam and want to do something different. Some actually become trapped in their series because their publisher doesn't want to risk money on something new (this happens more often to single-genre writers versus multi-genre writers.) The opposite affect is when your series doesn't sell well enough to justify continuing it. You're forced to abandon books you planned on writing and do something new, and that can be a wrench.

    It doesn't hurt to do a little of both, if possible, and see what works best on the market for you.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Amie wrote: No this is--You've Gone to Like 5000 Writing Workshops and Never Finished a Manuscript.

    THAT'S IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sandra wrote: I was wondering if this was a no-no for an SF series. I have a protagonist in book 1 who seems, while somewhat special, she seems and think's she's human. It's not until book 2 that she finds out she's had some genetic engineering and some non-human genetic makeup. I hint/foreshadow in book 1, but don't reveal until book 2.

    I can't think of a series that's done this, so I'm wondering if it's an unwritten law that the character has to learn something this life-changing at the start of a series and not later on?


    I think a series novel should have some sort of standalone conflict in it that is resolved; obviously it should involve the protagonist but I don't think it has to be the big revelation that changes their entire life, etc. You can develop something like that along the way.

    Running series plot threads involving the origins of the protagonist, which is the type of thing you're describing, are actually pretty common. I did one in StarDoc book four, when Cherijo discovers the motive Joseph had in creating her. Holly Lisle did a brilliant job exploring what eventually created her protagonist in the three Secret Texts books by writing a fourth/prequel novel, Vincalis the Agitator.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Every series novel should stand alone - that way people can pick up a later book. The trick is to bring new readers up to speed without boring the regulars to tears, and the answer is not to bring anyone up to speed ;-) Let 'em read the books out of order and skip the ones with odd numbers ... at least it'll make the fan sites interesting, where they're all arguing about what came before.

    ReplyDelete
  28. (Having said that, my editor just emailed me a Hal Spacejock style guide and dictionary. She's put in all the made up words, place names and characters from the first three books so I don't drive her mad with alternative spellings. So, she's on the ball even though I've long since tripped over it and landed flat on my face. Shows a lot of care on her behalf, though, but then I'm really lucky because she's a big fan of the books. Can any author ask for more?)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Simon wrote: The trick is to bring new readers up to speed without boring the regulars to tears, and the answer is not to bring anyone up to speed ;-)

    Oh, sure, NOW you tell me (she says, glaring at the three shelves of backstory-o-rama.)

    (Having said that, my editor just emailed me a Hal Spacejock style guide and dictionary. She's put in all the made up words, place names and characters from the first three books so I don't drive her mad with alternative spellings. So, she's on the ball even though I've long since tripped over it and landed flat on my face. Shows a lot of care on her behalf, though, but then I'm really lucky because she's a big fan of the books. Can any author ask for more?)

    Yes. How can I land a job working with this goddess?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hmm. My question you've probably already answered, but: does drawing or illustrating a story help or hinder the writing of it?

    I find that getting visual, fun as it is, actually badly distracts me from writing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yes. How can I land a job working with this goddess?

    First you have to move to Western Australia. We'll discuss the next step when you get here ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Re: illustrating stories. I'm not much cop at art, but sometimes it's fun to sit back and run the pencil over a drawing pad.
    I found myself drawing some of the gadgets and vehicles from my second book, not so I could describe them in detail (yikes!) but so I could picture them. Also because I was slacking off from writing ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Anonymous3:12 PM

    How do you decide between agents?
    I have two potential choices--neither has offered to rep me, but I have 'ins' in terms of contacts and a ms. under pub. consideration, so while nothing is guaranteed, I doubt I'll be left to languish in the slushpile.

    The problem is, I'm torn. How do I intelligently weigh pros and cons of each agency?

    Help. I don't know what i'm doing.
    AA

    ReplyDelete
  34. Is there such a thing as a tactful blowjob analogy?

    Blow Hard. It's a flute thing.

    And this one time, at band camp...

    ReplyDelete
  35. Rebecca wrote: does drawing or illustrating a story help or hinder the writing of it?

    For me, no, but my drawing abilities are pretty limited now, so I do more photographs, cutting pics out of magazines and the occasional photoshop project for my novel notebooks. Have actor Josh Hollway as the body model for one of the protagonists in Night Lost, for example, was a lot of fun. Via photoshop I erased his facial hair, shortened his lip line, lengthened and streaked his hair, and put him in period costume. The guy makes a better knight than Heath Ledger. :)

    I find that getting visual, fun as it is, actually badly distracts me from writing.

    If it's more a hindrance than a help, then I'd write first and play with images later, when the book's done, or do it all before you write, and set it aside when you start on the book.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Simon wrote: First you have to move to Western Australia. We'll discuss the next step when you get here ;-)

    If my daughter had her way, we'd pack our bags tonight. She's in love with that Crocodile Hunter guy.

    ReplyDelete
  37. AA wrote: How do you decide between agents?

    I have two potential choices--neither has offered to rep me, but I have 'ins' in terms of contacts and a ms. under pub. consideration, so while nothing is guaranteed, I doubt I'll be left to languish in the slushpile.

    The problem is, I'm torn. How do I intelligently weigh pros and cons of each agency?


    Everyone chooses agents based on their own needs as an author. I can't tell you how to do it. but here are some suggestions to guide you:

    1. Check out every agent you consider as thoroughly as you can. Get client lists if they're available, and see who they're already representing (if you can't get a client list, try looking at deals. Author Karen Fox keeps an unpdated agents list here and a market news list of deals here.

    2. Look for trouble. Find out how long they've been in the business, if there have been any scandals or majorly publicized problems involving them, if they're on any agent scam lists, etc.

    3. Always go to the top and work your way down. I'd make a dream list, starting with the best literary agents in the business, and sub to them first.

    4. Ask authors you know for recommendations, especially authors already represented by the agent you're interested in.

    5. Only use agents listed on AAR (see my comment to Simon above for link) and never use an agent who charges you for the privilege of representing you; they're not a real agent. 15% of whatever they sell for you, after they sell it, is the only payment an agent should ask for.

    6. Read every single word of any contract an agent asks you to sign. If you don't understand the terms of the contract, get a lawyer to explain it to you. Never sign a contract that you don't understand.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Heather Dawn wrote: Blow Hard. It's a flute thing.

    I love it.

    And this one time, at band camp...

    Now there's an opening hook line to end all opening hook lines. :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. The Importance of Not Being Earnest - Add to that the importance of a backstabbing and I'm reading it. *lol*

    I know you were kidding about Inspirational Paranormals, but a friend of mine recently told me she was writing one. I told her angels and God's burning bushes didn't count as paranormal phenomenas. She went ballistic.

    ReplyDelete
  40. If my daughter had her way, we'd pack our bags tonight. She's in love with that Crocodile Hunter guy.

    Crikey!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Inspirational Paranormals

    What else are the Left Behind books? And all those TV shows in which at least one character is an angel?

    Thesis: in the postmodern world, paranormal romance and homoerotic vamp novels scratch the same itch that was scratched by religious literature in former ages.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I told her angels and God's burning bushes didn't count as paranormal phenomenas


    Well, I've never personally seen an angel, but I'd imagine it would definitely qualify as extraordinary if I did. I'd probably consider a character that's an angel as paranormal.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Tempest wrote: I know you were kidding about Inspirational Paranormals, but a friend of mine recently told me she was writing one. I told her angels and God's burning bushes didn't count as paranormal phenomenas. She went ballistic.

    You know it's the End Days when reality gets weirder than parody (although we already have inspirational chicklit, so why the hell not, right?)

    ReplyDelete
  44. John wrote: Thesis: in the postmodern world, paranormal romance and homoerotic vamp novels scratch the same itch that was scratched by religious literature in former ages.

    Actually, we paranormal/vamp/dark fantasy writers are just out to steal all the historical romance writers' readers away from them. I thought everyone knew that.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Shiloh wrote: Well, I've never personally seen an angel, but I'd imagine it would definitely qualify as extraordinary if I did. I'd probably consider a character that's an angel as paranormal.

    I'm holding out for the burning bush, myself. I always wanted to do dialogue for a shrub on fire.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Actually, we paranormal/vamp/dark fantasy writers are just out to steal all the historical romance writers' readers away from them. I thought everyone knew that.

    PBW doesn't come to the RWA conference because she's afraid that I'll be waiting for he around the corner. Me and the historical posse. But considering that she's been writing professionally since my last year in high school, I can't really say she's stealing anything from me. But I can pretend. *g*

    ReplyDelete