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Archive for April, 2015

April 20, 2015

Get That Novel Written!

Patti.Enjoys.Jeanette's.MM.Class.7.20.14

 One of the workshops at MCWC (2014)

Of course, it’s the dream of every writer to have a best-selling novel on the shelves of every book store in the country sometime in their writing career. And most writers have great ideas that would make super novels. But the reality is that most of us don’t have three to six months to lock ourselves up in a bedroom with our computer or get that brilliant idea down on paper in a form of the English language that can be read without an interpreter.

Here are a few suggestions for you would-be novelists to help get motivated to start and finish a manuscript that just might land you a contract with a leading publishing company. These simple steps worked for me not once, but 10 times, enabling me to publish that many juvenile fiction novels at an average of three-months writing time a piece:

  1. Analyze your time and budget it. Prioritize so that you have time to write “regularly.” Yes, I know it’s impossible to write every day, but if you have this at the top of your priority list, you’ll get it done more often than if you just haphazardly decide, “Oh, it’s Monday. I have two extra hours today. I think I’ll write.” Your novel will never happen this way.
  2. Write a short outline or synopsis of where you’re going with your story and characters. I know of authors who have written their same novel over and over, sometimes hundreds and hundreds of pages in length, and to this day they still haven’t finished it because they’ve never resolved the ending. Their characters seem to be lost forever in some kind of word time warp, never to “live happily ever after.”
  3. Don’t worry about perfect English the first time you write. Just get your brilliant idea down on paper. Worry about the PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling) later.
  4. Let your finished manuscript sit a few weeks then get back to it. You’ll read parts of it and wonder who in the world wrote that junk? This is a great time to start revising. Go through each scene with a fine-toothed comb, making sure your characters move the plot and/or subplot forward.
  5. When you finish revising your manuscript, print the entire thing on paper, read it aloud, and get it into the hands of a critique group or other writers who will tell you the truth. Aunt Susie or Brother Bill will only tell you how wonderful you are, but that won’t get your manuscript ready for a trip to the editor’s desk at the publishing house.
  6. While you’re revising again and perfecting your work, send out your queries, at least five at a time. It might take up to three or four months for you to get a response from the editors (if at all). In that framework of time, you can hone your manuscript and shape it into something that any editor would want.

So there you have it. Get the computer turned on, get your brain tuned in, and get going. You just might be the next great American novelist!

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Want a professional opinion of your work-in-progress (WIP)?

Come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference and meet editors and an agent

who just might want your manuscript!

July 19th-24th

Beth, Tim, and Ed (Regulars at MCWC) with faculty member, Cindy Sproles (2013)

Beth, Tim, and Ed (Regulars at MCWC) with faculty member, Cindy Sproles (2013)

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April 13, 2015

Working with an Editor

 

When it finally happens, you know, the phone call or e-mail that says, “Congratulations! You’ve got a contract with our company,” prepare yourself for the exciting adventure of seeing your name in print. There’s nothing quite like it after you’ve been trying for years to do so. Have a party or go to McDonald’s for a latte or buy your dog a big box of treats. Celebrate somehow. Then prepare yourself for the next step in your writing life.

As you enter this new phase of writing/publishing, determine in your heart to do the best job you can with the editor to whom you are assigned. The editor is your friend, not your arch enemy who is set on destroying every clever phrase you’ve ever penned.

Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that might help you in your “strange encounter of the first kind” with the person who has been hired to make you look real good:

  1. Before you ever submit your first draft to your editor, revise, revise, revise your manuscript. Have a critique group edit it; have another writer friend or two critique it, and send the best possible manuscript to the editor after you’ve rewritten it at least seven or eight times. Your editor is NOT your high school English teacher. He/she expects you to know how to use commas, quotation marks, and colons.
  2. Be on time with assignments; editors are on a very tight schedule. Don’t give them deadline headaches. If you have excuses for not meeting those deadlines, you won’t be invited back for another contract.
  3. Divorce yourself from your manuscript and analyze it objectively. Your editor is going to suggest changes you won’t like. The words you wrote are not written in stone, and, as much as you think your manuscript is your newborn baby, it is not. Accept with a learning spirit the changes the editor wants.
  4. If you are set on keeping your words, discuss the matter with your editor. Explain your reasoning but be willing to listen to his/her explanation. Your editor is a hired professional who knows the ins and outs of publishing. He/she KNOWS what will work 99% of the time.
  5. Thank your editor often. When the project is done, send him/her a card of gratitude, at least. (A small gift as a token of your appreciation would be well received.) When my Keystone Stables Series had been finished, I sent my editor a Breyers horse model with a heartfelt thank you. If you follow through with a note of appreciation, your editor just might remember you the next time the publishing company is looking for an author in your genre specialty.

So, there you have the basics of working with that editor, who wants you to succeed as much as you do. Remember, you’re on the same team. Just let the editor be the quarterback.

Speaking of editors, make plans to come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference this July 19th -24th. We have editors and an agent on faculty, all who are eager to sit down with you and discuss your projects.

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Conferees.on.Porch

 

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April 6, 2015

 THE EDITOR CONNECTION

 

As a beginner about 20 years ago, I didn’t have a clue about connecting with editors. I thought all I had to do was look up a publishing company’s address in the Writers’ Market Guide, send off my manuscript (after I wrote it and revised it once), and then wait for the check to arrive in the mail.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn! Over the years, I’ve accumulated some wisdom I’d like to pass on to you. Each of these “talking points” could be developed into an essay of sorts, but for convenience’s sake, we’ll just make a quickie list for you to ponder and then, in turn, to analyze your own progress in becoming a published author:

  1. Study the market and make sure your manuscript matches what the publishing company is looking for. This is the number one reason that writers are rejected. A story about your favorite pet cow won’t make it in a horse magazine!
  2. Follow the submission guidelines to the “T” if you even want to be considered. If the editor wants a proposal or a query letter first, then learn how to do those two “writing projects” well and submit them first.
  3. Have your manuscript critiqued several times by other writers you know (like in a critique group). If you have the financial means, hire a freelance editor to refine your copy. If you don’t do this, the editor at the publishing company might read only one or two paragraphs of your submission and go no farther because of poor writing. “Duh, shure eye kin spel; did eye miss sumpthun?”
  4. If you have an editor who is interested in your work, send it to him/her immediately. The longer you wait, the fuzzier his/her mind will become about your query or proposal.
  5. Be patient. These days it can take anywhere from three months to six months, maybe longer, to hear from an editor. The sad thing of late is that some publishing companies are not responding to writers’ queries or manuscripts unless they’ve been accepted. This can become a frustrating waiting game with no end. Therefore, find companies that accept multiple submissions, and send five or six out at a time. If you’ve heard nothing after six months, I suggest emailing or calling the editor (if an elusive phone number is available), but not before.
  6. The best way to “connect” with editors is to attend writers’ conferences. Yes, you have to dig deep into your starving author pocket to pay the conferees’ fee and other expenses, but in this business, it takes money to earn money. Meeting an editor face-to-face can change your writing life for the better. Believe me. Of the four book contracts I’ve acquired, three of them came from meeting editors at writers conferences. I’ve also had poetry, children’s short stories, and articles published in magazines by meeting the editors at conferences. Editors love to “connect” writers’ names with their faces. It’s a big plus for you and them alike.

So there you have a few tips to help you get started on the road to publication. Next time, I’ll address the topic of working with an editor once you get that acceptance letter or phone call.

I remember my very first phone conversation with an editor who wanted to do my Keystone Stables series (14 years ago already), and it was a thrill which I shall never forget.

P.S. Please make plans to attend the Montrose Christian Writers Conference this July. We have about a half dozen editors and an agent on faculty, who will be eager to meet one-on-one with conferees and their works-in-progress. (WIP)

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Marshas.Class.Wk.in.Progress.2013

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