Category Archives: The Publishing Industry

Enjoy The Richness Of Your Journey

When the world says, “Give up,”                   

Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~Author Unknown

As writers we’re often introverts by nature spending hours in the company of our own thoughts and imaginings. We’re quiet observers of life, reflective and frequently sensitive to feelings and emotions – of both our own and those of others.

So it’s ironic that in order to succeed in the brutal world of publishing we have to become shrewd networkers and dogged masters of rejection.

Time after time we’re barraged with the hopeless statistics of our cluttered industry.

Yet we keep going.

Because we share another common trait – we love what we do. We know how lucky we are because we’ve found something that keeps us alive inside when, we’re told, the world around us is dying. We’ve found a therapy to overcome our obstacles. A drug to alleviate our daily chores.

If you have the discipline, the insight and the determination, I believe you’ll make it. But in the meantime, enjoy the richness of your journey.

I’m feeling sentimental today. 

Gemma Flying High 

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Filed under Getting Published, Inspiring Articles, The Publishing Industry, WritingTips

Query Letter Over Synopsis?

AARRRRRRRRGH! F

A reaction many of us writers have to the dreaded synopsis. Writing a manuscript is one thing, but it’s an equal challenge attempting to squash it into a one-pager that will rouse the attention of the droopy-eyed publishing assistant skimming through it, who probably wants nothing more than to burn it with the mountainous pile of them growing on his/her desk that week.

And how necessary is it anyway?

At a writers’ festival I attended last year, I asked a panel of publishers what they looked for in a synopsis. Two of them admitted they rarely even read it. Rather, it was the query letter that would persuade them to investigate further. A strong voice; short, sharp and concise with no grammatical errors. If the query letter sparked their interest, they’d turn to the manuscript, perhaps occasionally referring back to the synopsis for guidance.

They all agreed that the query letter needs to show professionalism, an author that has clearly done their research. Different publishers publish different genres and styles, so if you can list a book they have already published that is similar in style to yours, they’ll know you’ve done your homework.

Marcus Sakey claims in a guest post on Writer’s Digest that ‘a properly written query letter should result in at least 75% of agents requesting the manuscript’. 

He goes on to advise, ‘All you’re doing is seducing the agent. You want to get them interested enough that they ask to see your manuscript. That’s it. It’s like online dating. If you can write a charming e-mail, you might get a date; if you get a date, who knows where it could lead. But try to put all your history and baggage in that first message and you won’t get any play. Instead, demonstrate that you’re worth someone’s time. That you are interesting, sincere, and respectful.’ 

To read the entire post, which includes some very helpful specifics of what to include in a query letter, click here

The three most important things I have learned from researching query letters are –

1. No mistakes. If you can’t prepare a polished query letter, what hope have you got of compiling an entire manuscript?

2. Be concise. Publishers are not interested, nor have time for waffle.

3. Be interesting!

This isn’t to say you should now toss your synopsis in the nearest trash bin and wipe your hands chuckling in relief. The synopsis is part of the submission process whether publishers choose to read it or not, but the query letter is just as important if not more so. It’s the first impression they will have of you. Make sure you tailor it specifically to the publisher you’re sending it to. Do your research. Find your voice. Include all the information necessary, but no more than that.

I’ll leave you on a humorous note with a few of my favourites from SlushPile Hell (if you’ve never visited this site, you must!). 

Query Letter: I have a 10,000 word manuscript which i would like to have published. I am trying to find an agent. My goal is to write a sequel to the book. What are my odds of finding an agent?

Agent Response: About the same as E.L. James’s odds of being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Query Letter: You will LAUGH, CRY, STAND UP, AND CHEER! My compelling story raises the bar in human literature.

Agent Response: I don’t know about raising the bar, but it certainly makes me want to go to a bar.

Query Letter: Deer agent, …

Agent Response: For the love of all that’s holy and good in this world, please kill me.

If you have ever had a response to a query letter and want to share it, I’d love to hear about it. Good luck with your submissions.

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Filed under The Publishing Industry

Ever feel like it’s all too hard?

Do you ever drop your head in your hands and wonder if it’s all too hard? 

I do. Frequently. And the truth is – it is.

Here we are, slogging away at our keyboards hour after unpaid hour, blurry-eyed with lack of sleep, coffee-fuelled and hunch-backed with arthritic fingers, and we don’t even know what will happen from it all.

So, if we’re realists, we consider the possibility of self-publishing even before we’ve finished our manuscripts. We throw ourselves into the blogasphere thinking we’ll get ahead of the game, plan ahead, gain a following. Until we realise there are already a hundred bloggers to every novelist – we’re flitting around amid a galactic swarm of them. It’s probably more competitive than the publishing industry itself.

So we have to pull ourselves back to reality and ask ourselves, why are we here? What do we want from this?

When the distractions of the outside world begin to choke me and lure me away from my intentions, I remember this quote –

‘You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.’  Ray Bradbury

Of course, he meant it a little differently, but it works for me by reminding me why I’m doing this – a love for writing.

I enjoy this blog because I’m learning about a new medium and reaching out to new and interesting people. I’ll embrace the world of social media because it’s another learning avenue and it can be fun, but primarily it’s the writing and communicating that’s the motive for me.

In his blog ‘Ten Commandments For The Happy Writer’ Nathan Bransford mentions‘Enjoy the present. Writers are dreamers, and dreamers tend to daydream about the future while concocting wildly optimistic scenarios that involve bestsellerdom, riches, and interviews with Ryan Seacrest. In doing so they forget to enjoy the present. I call this the “if only” game. You know how it goes: if only I could find an agent, then I’ll be happy. When you have an agent, then it becomes: if only I could get published, then I’ll be happy. And so on. The only way to stay sane in the business is to enjoy every step as you’re actually experiencing it. Happiness is not around the bend. It’s found in the present. Because writing is pretty great — otherwise why are you doing it?’

To read the whole article click here.

It’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed within this industry, but if we try and remember what our most important motives are, we shouldn’t lose our way. I try to keep my blog and my novel separate by setting aside specific days to write them. I find this helpful.

I’d love to hear about your own motives and how you deal with overwhelmed feelings, no matter what industry you’re in?

(The photo below has nothing to do with my blog, but I took it and I like it – so I thought I’d share it with you!!)

Keeping A Clear Mind

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Filed under Discipline, Inspiring Articles, The Publishing Industry, WritingTips

First Drafts And Thick Skins

Hello again and Happy 2013!

As I write this blog, I’m sitting under the shade of a Gum tree. Its leaves are shaking in a light breeze, rustling like a distant stream. I’ve no phone reception. No Internet connection. The children have vanished to some remote corner of the park. My husband is floating out at sea on his surfboard, feet dangling to the sharks.

This must be heaven.

To post this blog, I’ll need to hike up the hill to the tower, stretch the laptop above my head and plead for a signal. I haven’t figured out how I’ll navigate the keyboard yet, so it could be a miracle if this even gets to you.

I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my novel my fingers are tingling. I say first draft but, to be honest with you, I’ve already revisited many parts (secretly, soundlessly, tail between legs), for many writers will tell you to keep pushing ahead with your first draft and don’t look back until it’s finished. Whilst I’ve kept this advice close, I haven’t followed it entirely. As the book’s evolved, I’ve changed much of the plot and even wiped out one of the major characters, so I’ve found myself drafting and redrafting as new things come to light and major elements change.

Now, I’m really excited. I have a clear understanding of what the story is about and who the characters are. The framework feels strong, I just have to breath the magic inside – to shape it, colour it and make it whole.

Sometimes, reading over what might have taken months if not years to write can be daunting to say the least. We have to prepare ourselves for the parts that are bad – really bad. When we wrote them we were probably in full swing, basking in our creative genius, smelling the imminence of our success (perhaps enjoying a glass or two…). Yet we shouldn’t get disheartened. Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘The first draft of anything is shit’.  James Michener, ‘I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.’

So perhaps we have to give ourselves permission to let the first draft stink. Forget about what people will think – we don’t have to show it to anyone until we’re ready – and let our fingers flow on our keyboards like pianists’.

Elizabeth Sims mentions in a piece she wrote,Why does a coherent first draft give birth to a stilted finished product? Because it means you haven’t let it flow. You haven’t given yourself permission to make mistakes because you haven’t forgiven yourself for past ones. Admit it: Unless your throttle’s wide open, you’re not giving it everything you’ve got.’ I found the article helpful – to read it in full click here

Right now, I’m feeling proud and excited about what I’ve achieved so far – It’s a liberating stage of writing. Soon, I’ll be ready for a professional edit and I’ve no doubt that what comes back will peel another layer of my skin away – but it’s tougher and thicker than it used to be…

How do you get through your first draft?

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Filed under Editing, First Drafts, Getting Published, The Publishing Industry, WritingTips