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Thursday, August 21, 2014

What is a "hybrid author?" by Terry Burns

Well, I suppose I'm one.

A hybrid author is a relatively new term and it means an author who has one foot in the traditional publishing world and one foot in the Indy publishing or self- publishing world.

In addition to being an agent, I have books in print from significant size traditional publishers, from small and independent houses, and I have self published projects. I've done magazine articles, have written online content, done greeting cards and been in a number of collections and anthologies. I guess that qualifies me.

How do we feel about clients that want to self publish? We are supportive of them. Most of our representation contracts are for "all book length work," which of course includes novellas, so to self-publish we have to exempt the project from the contract. We don't look to make money on anything we didn't handle. If there are other works to represent we continue to represent them for those projects. If there isn't anything else to represent, well, it's hard to have a contract to represent nothing. Joyce is looking at a new Amazon program that works through agents and offers some things that authors don't otherwise get. That could change things some, more details on this coming.

I had a client that turned down a substantial house contract which included a good sized advance. She pulled all her projects to self publish. I'll tell you the truth, I thought she had made a mistake. Turns out she had a rare gift for online sales and promotion and has made significantly more money in the long run. Some people can do that. Unfortunately a lot of others jump into doing it only to discover that they don't have the necessary skills to do what they need to do to be able to be successful.

When I represent my clients I encourage them to go with traditional publishing as the first option. If we fail to find a home for them there then they can decide what the next step is for them. If they do have the skill set to do it they can make more money self-publishing. If they don't a small house or Independent Press can get them published, but of course earn part of the proceeds for it. Or if they don't have the skills there are places where they can contract for the assistance that they need.

The bottom line is the decision to self-publish should not be a knee-jerk reaction to getting a couple of rejections. It should be a business decision where you look at what will be required of you and whether you have the ability to do it or not. It can be the right decision if you do, just keep in mind that a majority of those who try do not achieve the results that they want.

So the question is "are you one of those with the necessary abilities?" If so you may can even firmly plant your feet in both markets . . . and become a hybrid author.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fill in the Blank by Diana Flegal

If you question the value and longevity of our words, see if you have any trouble filling in the blank on a few of these.

Hickory, dickory, dock/ the mouse ___  __ ___ _____.
                                                                  1901 Mother Goose rhyme

                          I think that I should never see
                                                    a poem as ____  __  __   ____.
                         A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
                                                 against the sweet earth's flowing breast.

My Dad could still recite this poem by Joyce Kilmer in it's entirety until his death at age 84. And because of that I can- almost.

 The Lord is my ________, I shall _____ _____. He leadeth me _____ _____ ______/ He restoreth ____ ____. Yeah though I walk through the ______ __ _____, I will fear no evil/ for though are _____ _____.                                                                         

How many times have the words of David's 23rd Psalm comforted you while laying in the dark? 


Knock Knock!
                           _______ _____?
                                                     Old Lady.
                                                                     Old Lady, who?
                                                                                            I didn't know that you could yodel!

Knock Knock!
                           _______  _______?
                                                                        Police who?
                                                                            Police stop telling these knock knock jokes!

Alright, so some words we wish we could forget. But as writers, we all need to think about the possibility of our words lasting a very long time. Especially now with digital magazines and books. What might have been tossed out to save space for the really valuable stuff, can now be placed in a virtual file.

Proverbs 25:11 tells us: Like apples of gold in settings of silver, Is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Philippians 1:9-11: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Things that are excellent.

Some of you might say; "Frankly darling, I don't give a __________ ", but you should. We need to. Like the words here: 

"O Captain! my Captain, our fearful trip is done / the ship has weather’d every rack, ___ _____ we sought is won."               

The words of Walt Whitman re-immortalized by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poet's Society, and all over the world this past week after Robin's untimely and tragic death, remind us that our days are numbered.

Choose your words wisely, for one day you might have to _____   ______.

Tweetable:  If you question the value and longevity of our words, see if you can fill in the blank on a few of these.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sharing a Victory by Andy Scheer

It wasn't the kind of victory non-writers can appreciate. But if you've ever spent keyboard time seeking just the right illustration, you can understand.

In a couple months, at the CLASS writers conference in Albuquerque, I'll teach a multi-part class on writing for periodicals. It's a class I've taught for years. One segment dates to the late 1980s.

Over that span, I've always kept looking for better examples to illustrate my teaching points.

This morning while checking email, I found a four-leaf clover. Amid the website's feature articles was the perfect example for my session in Albuquerque on how to write reviews and how-to articles.

The name of the article by Yahoo's associate food editor Rachel Tepper: “Eat Like a Local: Albuquerque, New Mexico.” It not only shows how to write a review and a how-to, but it also serves as a model of how to blend the two.

I expect my writing students in Albuquerque will appreciate it as a class handout, even if they don't visit the best lunch place in town (The Grove Cafe & Market) or enjoy the carne adovada at the best hole-in-the-wall (Mary & Tito's).

Meanwhile, the discovery was too good to keep to myself until October.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump! By Linda S. Glaz

             I’m often asked what the most important things are when it comes to being a writer, and the answer is quite simple.
There is no other answer that keeps you more on track. Even if your grammar and punctuation are poor, the more you write, the better you will get as with any craft. Of course, those online courses and writing organizations don’t hurt, so keep studying as well.
In other words…hop to it. There’s no story that writes itself in spite of what someone might tell you. “It was meant to be written so much that it practically wrote itself.” Bravado even if the writer believes it. But the fact is, no story writes itself.
Never skip the rules. As you learn more, you will oftentimes break them, but you must know what they are in order to skip around them, correct? Don’t skip a wonderful plot with twists and turns that no one expects. Don’t skip getting us deep into the characters’ POVs. We want to be invested in their lives…their stories.
Jump right into the action! Nothing like a story that takes a reader’s breath away on page one, leaving them wondering what will happen on page two. If you slowly ease the reader in, he or she might not turn from page one. And your entire goal is to keep the story moving so that the reader cannot put it down.
See how easy it is?
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from having the next bestseller if…if you don’t quit!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We keep records, by Terry Burns

Every so often an author sends a project over again even though I have rejected it, hoping to sneak it by. I just respond by telling them when I wrote back passing on it.

Because I keep records.

Most agents and editors keep records. They know when something was submitted, what it was, the size and genre, and they know what disposition was made of it.

That doesn't mean a project will not get a second look, but that will likely NOT happen if an author just re-submits as if it were the first time.

I will never submit a project to an editor a second time without asking permission to do so. And if I do ask permission to do so there has to be a reason that I'm asking. Perhaps the work has been heavily edited and worked on and is much different. That's probably the best reason.

Or perhaps the author has reason to believe that the agent or editor's situation has changed. "Two years ago you passed on my mystery entitled XXXXXXXX because you already had too many similar projects on your plate. I have done significant work on it since then and I am writing to see if your situation has changed and if you might give it a second look."

The market might have changed. "Earlier you passed on my project because the market was just not buying this type of book. I notice comparable titles THIS BOOK and THAT BOOK have published and I have reason to believe the market has changed. May I send you a proposal to give the project a second look?"

In each case, a query or a proposal is not sent, but merely a short note asking for permission to do so. Failing to do so is likely to make the agent or editor think you are just trying to slip something by and in all probability will just get a response that we have already handled it.

Because we keep records.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Day off the Grid

In my business, staying connected comes with the territory. Phone and email, plus social media, enable immediate communication.

But do we have to be linked 24/7?

A couple weekends ago, I took a break. My wife and I hit the road early, without first checking our email. Any phone we took was set to vibrate. When we arrived in Alamosa, Colorado, we checked in for our train ride and decided to window-shop – without checking any portable electronic devices.

I'd brought a mass paperback to read on the train, but I spotted a coffee shop that also sold used books. Amid the usual paperbacks I found a British naval fiction title missing from my collection. Perfect recreational reading.

Soon we boarded the train for a two-and-a-half hour trip across Colorado's San Luis Valley to the top of LaVeta pass. Even if we had wanted to check our phones, there would have been no signal.

The concert site lay even further off the grid. Accessible only by rail, the electricity came from an array of solar cells and a windmill generator. Under sunny Colorado skies clear of cell phone signals, we enjoyed an acoustic concert.

Then back to Alamosa for a dinner at a locally owned restaurant, and a return drive listening to recordings of cowboy music.

The next morning, we checked our phone messages and emails. Nothing we had to have answered the day before. And as we considered those messages, we were more relaxed.

Give it a try.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Okay, I’ve Got My Pantyhose in a Knot Again by Linda S. Glaz

        I’ve taken a g’zillion classes online and at numerous conferences, okay, not exactly a g’zillion, but it feels like it. I also present at conferences. Teach at small groups. And so and so on. And I feel like I’m touting the company line. At least, all that I’ve learned over the last twenty or so years through extensive reading and all of those conferences and classes.
And here’s where I get upset. We are teaching other writers specific basics and rules, and when they enter contests or submit their work the first time around, they are judged by these so-called basics that are expected of them. You know a few of them: no head hopping, cut the adverbs, and avoid as many of the inane dialogue tags as possible and others.
And I have to say, I agree with most of those. Not carved in granite, but I understand the logic behind them. Yes, I understand you have to know the rules before you can break them. But I just finished a bestseller, and I must say, very good historical fiction but it broke them all. Nearly all dialogue tags included adverbs as well as pages of prose with adverbs not sprinkled for flavor, but the main course. And head-hopping? Oh, yeah. I had to keep rereading to be sure who was thinking. I sure wasn’t. I was long lost.
I’m not trying to be a pain, but it feels so wrong to try and help our clients with direction that doesn’t parallel top authors. And yes, I understand story trumps all else, but wouldn’t that bestseller have been even better had it followed some of these ideals that we hold up for scrutiny.
I’ve never minded head hopping as long as the head we are in is clear. I’m not adverse to adverbs like a lot of folks, though I don’t particularly use them, and I don’t mind most dialogue tags. Okay, they do irritate me. Especially men growling and barking and women who purr and coo. I don’t get that. Not at all. In fact, it really turns me off a novel when there’s a bunch of that in place of good old she said/he asked and solid enough verbs that they don’t need the adverbs.
So, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot. We tell writers one thing when judging their entries in contests, when classes are taught, and when most edits come through, but we reward writers, and readers seem to like authors who do exactly the opposite.
Help me out here, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot again.