Saturday, 8 August 2015

Submitting to agents and publishers - how getting their feedback means you're close to getting published

Someone once asked, "How do you know when you're ready to be published". The answer was "when you start getting feedback from agents and publishers."

Feedback from agents and publishers is golden. Worth a thousand times more than feedback from friends, about a hundred times more than critique from peers, and ten times more than a paid appraisal. Agents and publishers simply have no reason to let you know how to improve your work. They're busy.

However, once in a while, a manuscript comes through the slush pile (that is what the unsolicited material is called in case you don't know) and it piques their interest, so they read the submission material yet it's still lacking...something.

And they do something that will improve your book tenfold - they tell you what's wrong with it.


Tip no: 1
Know your audience

Let's first take a look at who agents and publishers are. A lot, not all, are successful editors. Some, not all, are writers. I've checked out many agent profiles during the course of pitching my novels and rarely have I seen a bio with "published author" on it. There were a few. Out of maybe one hundred agent profiles that I've searched.

I mentioned that they are usually successful editors. They've worked on small books, big books, with small authors, big authors. So who are agents and publishers really? Read their bios and many will tell you that typically they are editors. Editing is the single most important part of any novel. It turns coal into a diamond. It turns muck into gold. The experts at this task are the editors. However, they do a lot of work and rarely get any of the glory.

In a previous post I discussed the myths around publishing. One myth is that agents and publishers are not looking for the next big thing. Busted. They are. Discovering talent is what drives agents and publishers to get out of bed. So this leads me to think that agents and publishers are seeking the same glory that writers are. Maybe why they cut their teeth as editors but move into managing and publishing.

So if we are seeking the glory, then it stands to reason that many writers, agents, and publishers are on the same page.


Tip no: 2
Would you rave to your friends about a second rate meal?


No you wouldn't. Agents and publishers have to rave about your book to everyone they meet, which means they have to love it or they won't have a chance at selling another book. How can you send them something to love?

Firstly, don't send in something that you wrote for NaNoMo and spent a week doing a spell check on. There is so much more to a publishable story than punctuation and grammar.

Other components include:

Narrative:
Not just dialogue, not just action, but that internal thought that goes with the things we do each day, that angel/devil on our shoulder.
 
Character flaws:
Nobody wants to read about wooden or too perfect characters.
 
Character arc:
Is there development, redemption, a reason we kept reading?
 
Pace:
Is action and reflection evident in the pace of the writing. Action should be fast. Reflection can be slower.
 
Setting:
Can we imagine this world?
 
Dialogue:
Is it age appropriate, informal where it needs to be?

Readers shouldn't notice the work that goes into producing a good story, they should just enjoy the book because, like a good meal, we can tell at first glance or taste whether any effort has gone into the dish. Likewise, an agent and publisher can also tell within the first 5 pages whether the effort has been put into the book.

Make sure that you are submitting the best work that you can possibly submit. Don't rely on agents and publishers to give you feedback. Most won't. But if they do, you are one step closer to achieving your goal of having your book published.



Tip no: 3
Rainbows and kittens are of no help to you.

We have an agreement in our writers group that we do not want to hear that the work we submit is all rainbows and kittens. This sort of feedback is lovely, but rarely is it helpful. You want somebody who is looking at the book objectively to point out the flaws in the structure, in the plot, in the characters, in all those aspects from Tip no: 2.

Here is some actual feedback I have received from publishers and agents over the years.


The narrative and character arc were secondary.

The characters seemed younger.

Scenes just sorta happen.

At times I felt I was looking in on the journey, not experiencing it.

I didn't feel that the characters deserved their ending.

The narrative is excessively wordy.

The editors who have seen your work feel that it shows real promise.


I've been so lucky to have received this type of feedback with every novel I've submitted. It has kept me writing; the power of positive feedback is second to only hearing yes they want to publish it. Some books were revised and resubmitted, some left in the drawer. But what this means is that I am close, very close to having that book published. Some I've reworked, some I've put back in the drawer, but always have I taken this feedback on board, which leads me to tip no: 4.



Tip no: 4
If you get feedback, use it.

This goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. If you disregard the valuable feedback you've received you won't improve your writing. Every single piece of advice I've received has been applied to the book in question, or a subsequent book. The version that got rejected 3 months ago is not the same version that is now sitting with an agent and a second agent is interested in receiving a follow up query. All because I took the advice offered and I applied it.



Well, there you go, getting feedback from an agent and publisher is possible if you approach it properly.

Good luck with you pitching and if you wish to share your experiences I'd be happy to know how you went. Did you get that book published. Did you land that agent?

I'll keep you updated on how it goes with the agent.

Best
D L


Monday, 3 August 2015

10 celebrities who took selfies before they were even invented

What did celebrities do before the invention of the selfie? Oh, sure, if you were a Hollywood movie star you had stills from movies that could be used in publicity, or photo shoots, or if you were a rock star hordes of photographers followed you around. I decided to track down some photos that I think look exactly like as if they'd be taken today as a selfie.


1. David Bowie
 Tag this one #artistic selfie. It's going on his blog home page. As well it deserves to.
 
 
 
 
2. Marilyn Monroe
Tag this one #girlsnightout. The before shot.
 
 
 
3. Mick Jagger
Classic attempt at natural look for an online dating site selfie.
 
 
 
 
4. Debbie Harry
She's got the pose. She's got the lipstick. She's got the selfie stick. And this one's going on Instagram.
 


 
 5. James Dean
He's cool. This one is for his fans. Tag #justchillin

 
 
6. Audrey Hepburn
This is the can't get out of bed selfie. Been there. Done that.
 
 
 
7. Freddie Mercury
I have a selfie stick and I'm not afraid to use it.
 
 
 
8. Judy Garland
And from this angle I can get my best side even though I'm lying down.
 
 
 
9. Elvis Presley
The one eye closed selfie, because sometimes it's hard to focus with both eyes open.
 
 
10. The Beatles
This is possibly to first group selfie in existence. John's got good control of the camera.
 
 
 
 
 
I had a lot of fun skipping down memory lane with these classic photos. I hope you agree that these photos look like today's selfies. Many of these celebrities were ahead of their time anyway, this is just further proof.
 
Enjoy your day!
D L
 
 
 
HOW TO KEEP IN CONTACT
 
Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to be kept up to date with all my latest blog posts and book news.
 
Facebook         http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Email               dlrichardsonbooks (at) bigpond (dot) com
 
 
ABOUT ME
 
I write speculative fiction. I've published young adult novels, a horror novellas, short stories in a range of genres but mostly science fiction, and I don't ever want to stop writingI'm passionate about sharing my experiences with other writer through workshops and conferences. My other loves are music and animals. I live in Australia on the NSW south coast with my husband and dog. When I'm not writing I can found in the garden, renovating the house, playing my musical instruments, or walking the dog.
 
 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

How does feng shui and astrology fit into writing

I'll admit, I'm a sucker for feng shui. If I can turn my glasses right way up to attract more money, I'll do it. If I can put a red pot in the money corner of the house, yep I'll do that too.


Each year, a group of friends and I gather at a house to share food and wine and we make a feng shui collage. It's just a bit of fun. We take clippings from a magazine and place them in certain quadrants that each represent a different aspect such as:

fame
study
career
children
travel
self

We all open a magazine with our left hand, we cut out the first image we see, we paste it into a quadrant, and then we have someone read the pictures and predict our future for the next year.



Like I said, it's a big of fun. Except that it isn't JUST fun. There seems to be an element of truth to these predictions. It's uncanny but the last chart we did one of the girls got lots of pictures of a new career, a new man, BIG changes. Within a year she has relocated and has a new boyfriend. Another girl got lots of babies in her collage, within a year she had a baby. And I had a book next to a dinner plate and I got invited to speak at a function where my payment was a free meal.

Each time I create my collage, it is filled with lots of book stuff. Pictures of books. Pictures of coffee tables with books. Pictures of people reading books. Pictures of awards. Lots of business, lots of writing, lots of words.

I'm told this is a good sign. So I'm excited about the future. But EVERYONE knows I'm a writer. EVERYONE knows I'm desperate to crack that big publishing deal. So is this just playing on my desires or is this truly a prediction?

I also like to listen to my star signs each morning. My favourite readings so far has been:

"success and good fortune are coming your way"

I'm kinda hopeful this one is coming true. I'm waiting patiently, plodding away with my writing and my blogging and my writer workshops.


Maybe none of these will come true. Maybe all of these things will. Maybe some will, though maybe they'll come true due to hard work and dedication rather than fate good fortune. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. But I wouldn't be a writer of speculative fiction if I couldn't sit down in my chair and imagine...what if?




Best wishes
D L
 

HOW TO KEEP IN CONTACT
 
Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to be kept up to date with all my latest blog posts and book news.
 
Website           www.dlrichardson.com
Facebook         http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1
Email                dlrichardsonbooks (at) bigpond (dot) com
 
 
ABOUT ME
 
I write speculative fiction. I've published young adult novels, a horror novellas, short stories in a range of genres but mostly science fiction, and I don't ever want to stop writingI'm passionate about sharing my experiences with other writer through workshops and conferences. My other loves are music and animals. I live in Australia on the NSW south coast with my husband and dog. When I'm not writing I can found in the garden, renovating the house, playing my musical instruments, or walking the dog.