Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Friday, February 11, 2005

More Answers and Advice

It’s time for another edition of Answers & Advice. Everyone can relax a little; this letter didn’t leaving me blushing. I can understand (a little) why this one was directed to me.
Let’s get the formalities out of the way first: If you like what you see and have odd questions over any subject matter send them to me and I will answer the best I can. If you have questions, but would rather not see them (or just your name) on the blog, be sure to let me know in the e-mail. Otherwise, I will consider them fair game.
If at any time, you read my advice and think I am way off base, just let me know, supply advice that you think would be more valuable and I will be sure to pass it along to the appropriate party.
Dear James, I read your response to Mrs. X and decided to ask my own questions. I will not get as personal with mine, I can assure you of that. Do you know her outside of cyberspace or was she just being brash? IMHO, I think you should consider the e-book idea. I for one would buy one, but then I love vampire stories. All you have to do to convert your book to .PDF is go to the Adobe website and let them convert it for you online. If I remember right, the first couple are free and then they charge you $10 a month. It would stand to reason to me that should also be what you charge for your book. I am now working on my first vampire novel and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. At what point did you decide to get an agent? Is it possible to get published without one? Could you please read over the chapters, I have enclosed and let me know what you think? I wasn’t sure if you would open an attachment so I have embedded them in the body of the email.
I look forward to seeing your response on the blog.
Sincerely,
Mr. Y (could you keep it as Mr. Y, I have seen you use Mr. X in a negative connotation and I don’t want to be associated with him.)

Mr. Y, Do you think it odd that you call me by my first name, yet sign as a Mr.? I don’t mind if you call me James, in fact I prefer it. If you are going to embark on the fast-paced and easy road to getting published, I would suggest that you get into the habit of addressing the recipients of your letters with Mr./Ms./Mrs. After the initial contact, they will let you know if/when you are on a first name basis.
As for Mrs. X, I don’t know her at all. That was her first correspondence with me.
Thank you for the information on e-books. I still don’t think that is something that I want to pursue at this time. If I do, you will be the first to know. I will even give you my first e-signed copy.
Vampire novels, huh? Haven’t you heard? There’s no market for them. It’s all been done before. How many times can the same story be re-written? Discouraged yet? I hope not; if writing about vampires makes you happy, then by all means write about vampires. I, for one, think that we can never have too many vampire stories, but then I am not the one trying to get one published. Oh, wait I am trying to get one of those published. I guess I didn’t listen to the naysayers either.
The day after I typed the end on my first novel, I sent out a batch of queries to a list of agents that I generated at random. I had it stuck in my mind that I had to have an agent before anyone would publish me. I just jumped right in there with both feet. Guess what; it didn’t turn out well for me. I should have done my homework and so should you. Agents are great and I intended to find one when I have a little more to offer them. I figure my work will be a little more appealing once I have something published to prove that I am not just another hack with a word processor and a vampire fetish. Not that I am implying anything… Anyhoo, all I am saying is do a little research. I am a firm believer that you have to write what you read (cliff’s notes and DVDs don’t count). Thumb through some of your old books and buy some new ones. Make a list of all the publisher’s and browse through the acknowledgments to see if you can pick up a few names of agents.
I can almost hear you now: “But you said to get published first.” No, I said that was the path I was taking. I know several people that found agents before they even thought of submitting to publishers. I just got tired of reading rejections to the effect of: “I love your book, but I just don’t think I can sell it. Good luck finding a home for it elsewhere.” Which were still better than the form rejection letters that appeared in my mailbox from time to time.
You will need to complete your novel before you approach either of them. No one has time to waste on the possibility that you will finish the novel. I know that sounds harsh, but do you know how many people start writing novels and never finish them? Well, neither do I, but I’d be willing to wager that it is a lot.
You will also need to develop some thick skin. You will be rejected. Your work will be dissected and returned to you looking as if it suffered several stab wounds and is slowly bleeding to death. If you are lucky enough to get it back with remarks and suggestions, that is.
You might notice that I didn’t include the sample chapters that you embedded in the email. Though it was fun to scroll through in that format, I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to reprint them here. Also why did you send me chapters 3,4, & 5? Please don’t tell me, it is because you thought those were your best chapters. If Chapters 1 & 2 aren’t worth reading, I (and quite possibly no other reader) will never make it to your “good” chapters.
I think the chapters you sent have potential. You did pique my curiosity and I like your writing style. I am not (nor do I pretend to be) a very thorough editor. I did catch a few things though, mostly misspellings and fragments. Might I suggest that you email Ray Rhamey and let him cast a beady eye at it? You will want to have your manuscript in the best possible shape it can be in when you do start submitting. Agents and Publishers are often so deluged with queries that it doesn’t take much for them to pass on yours. Bad grammar and typos are a quick way to receive a form letter; no matter how good your story idea is.
I hope that helps. Good luck with the book. I look forward to reading it when you have it finished.

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