GENESIS: Bk1 of The Kingdom Come Series Reviews

GENESIS: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series (All Reviews)

 Ok, Now they're all in one place: Amazon, B&N and Goodreads :) Amazon Customer September 29, 2016 5/5 A great read wit...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

For all my fellow Rule Brakers!

7 bogus grammar 'errors' you don't need to worry about
Don't toss out that split infinitive quite yet...
1. Don't split infinitives
The rule against splitting infinitives — that is, putting an adverb between the word to and a verb — was pretty much made up out of whole cloth by early 19-century grammarians, apparently because they felt the proper model for English was Latin, and in Latin, infinitive-splitting is impossible. However, English is not Latin, and infinitives have been profitably split by many great writers, from Hemingway ("But I would come back to where it pleases me to live; to really live") to Gene Rodenberry  ("to boldly go where no man has gone before"). It's okay to boldly do it.
2. Don't end a sentence with a prepositionThe idea that it's wrong to end a sentence with a preposition (from, with, etc.) was invented by the English poet John Dryden... in 1672. He probably based his objection on a bogus comparison with — you guessed it — Latin, where such constructions don't exist. In any case, there is no basis to the rule in English grammar, and, once again, great writers have ignored it with no great loss to their prose or reputations. Jane Austen: "Fanny could with difficulty give the smile that was asked for." Robert Frost: "The University is one most people have heard of." James Joyce: "He had enough money to settle down on." Trying to avoid ending with a preposition frequently ties you into the awkward knot of "to whom" and "to which" constructions. On a memo criticizing a document for committing this "error," Winston Churchill allegedly wrote: "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."
It is true that prepositions are a relatively weak part of speech and, all things being equal, it's desirable to end sentences strongly. So sometimes it pays to rewrite such constructions. Thus, "He's the person I gave the money to" isn't as good as "I gave him the money."
3. Don't use "which" as a relative pronoun
The bogus idea here is that only that, never which, should be used to introduce so-called defining or restrictive clauses. For example, "The United States is one of the countries which that failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol." One again, this is totally made up. Geoffrey Pullum, co-editor of the authoritative Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, has written, "The alleged rule has no basis. Even in edited prose, 75 percent of the instances of relative 'which' introduce 'restrictive' relatives." The culprit here seems to be the great language commentator H.W. Fowler, who popularized the notion in his 1926 book, Modern English Usage.
In fairness to Fowler, he merely speculated that if writers were to follow this custom (as he acknowledged they currently did not), "there would be much gain both in lucidity & ease." Language sticklers took that and ran with it, and this idea reigned for most of the rest of the century. Even now, it has a lot of adherents. But it still doesn't have any justification. One of the great sticklers, Jacques Barzun, advised in a 1975 book that we ought to avoid such whiches. But as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage points out, on the very next page Barzun broke his own rule, writing, "Next is a typical situation which a practiced writer corrects 'for style' virtually by reflex action…."
4. Don't start a sentence with a conjunctionExcept possibly in the most formal settings, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting a sentence with And or But. A funny thing about the supposed rule against doing so is that no one has been able to find a book or authority that has ever endorsed it (with the exception of a single 1868 text turned up by the scholar Dennis Baron). But countless people feel this is unacceptable, possibly because the notion was pounded into their head by some middle school grammar teacher. Get over it!
(It has become popular recently to follow sentence-opening conjunctions with a comma, for example, "But, we got there too late for the early-bird special." That is indeed wrong. No comma.)
5. Don't use the passive voiceThe poster child for passive-hating is a quote from President George H.W. Bush. In a 1986 speech about the Iran-Contra scandal, he said, "Clearly, mistakes were made." Just as clearly, the problem is that the grammar fudges a crucial question: Who made the mistakes? Passive construction can indeed propagate such obfuscation, as well as wordiness, and thus should be used judiciously. But there's nothing inherently wrong with it, and when the subject of a clause or sentence isn't known, or isn't as important as the object, passive voice can be just the thing. Tom Wicker's classic New York Times opening sentence of November 23, 1963, would have been ruined if he'd tried to shoehorn it into the active voice. Wicker wrote: "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin today."
6. Don't neglect to use singular verbs
Etymologically, data is the plural of the Latin datum. But from the time it first appeared in English, it has been treated as a collective noun (such as water or money), and collective nouns take singular verbs. Every single citation in The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) pairs data with such a verb, starting with, "Inconsistent data sometimes produces a correct result," from an 1820 edition of the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. Thus, insisting on the data are… is pretentious and unnecessary. Media, meaning the various means by which information is disseminated in a society, appeared later — 1923, according to the OED. Although it's plural of the Latin medium, it too was treated from the start as a singular. The media are…  is an unfortunate recent affectation.
A similar issue arises when a word such as group or bunch is followed by the word of, then a plural. For example: "A bunch of my friends is/are coming over." Some sticklers insist on is, because group is singular. But this is an area where English grammar is flexible, and are is acceptable as well. My advice is to choose the singular or plural based on whether you're emphasizing the collection or the individuals. In the above example, I would go with are. Saying A bunch of my friends is coming over sounds as stuffy as your nostrils in the middle of a particularly bad cold.
7. Don't use words to mean what they've been widely used to mean for 50 years or more
An instant's glance at the OED confirms that the one thing about words that never changes is that their meanings always change. The process takes time, and to be an early adopter of a new meaning means putting yourself at risk of both incomprehension and abuse. However, at a certain point, clinging to old definitions is a superstitious waste of time and thought. Here's a list of words and expressions whose new meanings, though still scorned by some sticklers, are completely acceptable. (If it puzzles you that there is any objection to some of these, or to find out the original meaning, Google the word or phrase. You will find a lively debate, to say the least.)
It's okay to use...
Decimate to mean "kill or eliminate a large proportion of something"
like to mean "such as"
liable to to mean "likely to"
hopefully to mean "I hope that"      
over to mean "more than"
since to mean "because"
while to mean "although"
momentarily to mean "in a moment"
the lion's share to mean "the majority"
verbal to mean "oral"
I could care less to mean "I couldn't care less"
And if you have a problem with that, I could care less.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel

One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
Book doctors don't want you to read this advice
 They don't want you to know about this foolproof advice for reducing the excess verbiage in your novel (or short story). But I'm going to share it with you, for free.
Revising a work of fiction can be a nightmare, especially if your story has a lot of sprawl and a lot of passages that just go on a little too long. You've already cut the extra scenes. You've already "killed your darlings" (more on that in a moment). You've eliminated the obvious extra baggage. But you're still running too long, and too draggy.
In a minute, I'll tell you the sure-fire trick for cutting the extra stuff out of your story or novel. But first I want to talk to you about writing.
Most writers are part hack, part dreamer.
Structure often comes from the "hack" part of your brain, leaps and surprises and vividness come from the "dreamer" part of your brain. (This is something that's been occurring to me a lot lately, but it's also similar to stuff Michael Piller says in Fade In, his book on the writing of Star Trek: Insurrection.)
One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
You can't make a story work without some hackwork along the way: This didn't work, so what if we bridge these two sections with a section where this happens instead? What if instead of this scene that doesn't work, we add a scene that sets up an important development later on? It's not the pure "flow" of invention, it's the part where you're trying to patch together stuff that doesn't quite fit on its own.
And often, the clutter and extra baggage in your story comes from these workarounds. (Sometimes, it comes from things that made sense to the "dreamer" part of your brain, too. But that's often easier to spot, and cut.) Sometimes if your text becomes just a mass of connective tissue and kludged-together solutions to problems, your only choice is to go back and dream up a whole new section, scrapping everything you cobbled together.
Otherwise, your story will just start to feel like a mass of workarounds.
Should you kill your darlings or marry them?
We can't really talk about cutting excess prose without mentioning the maxim "Kill your darlings." This is probably the second most oft-quoted piece of writing advice, after "Write what you know."
One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
And most of the time, killing your darlings is easy but painful. This adage refers to the stuff that you love because it makes you feel clever or brilliant, or witty, but it doesn't actually move the story forward. And maybe it actually doesn't make sense at all, but you wanted to keep it in because you love it so much.
This stuff tends to stick out like a lemon tree in an apple orchard, so it's easy to cut. And chances are, you've already cut this stuff before you've reached the "there are too many words and things are draggy" problem — because if you've shown your work to anybody, they probably let you know the sections that were obviously wrong.
One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
But I want to offer one idea about killing your darlings: sometimes you should marry them instead. That is, if the part of the story that you love the most, or that is the most fascinating or wonderful in your mind, doesn't fit the story, maybe it's the story that is wrong. Maybe the "darling" is actually what the story should be about, instead of this less-interesting thing you've inserted as the centerpiece. Just a thought.
OK, so here's that weird tip for cutting things
Are you ready? Here's the surefire advice for cutting without hitting muscle or bone: outlining. Specifically, keep outlining until it hurts. Outline things you've already rewritten a ton. Outline backwards. Do micro-outlines of every scene that's not working.
One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
The magic of outlining something you've already written and rewritten is, you can see where the actual beats are, and get a rough sense of just how much space each of the beats needs to have. (Not that pacing is an exact science, of course. Quite the reverse.) Outlining and re-outlining lets you see where you might have jumped a groove or had someone behave illogically, and also where you're repeating steps.
And outlining backwards is magic. Start with the end, and then put "because" after that, and keep going back. This happens because this happens, because that other thing happens, and so on, back to the beginning. If you can't stick a "because" between two things that are supposedly causally linked, that's a bad sign.
One Weird Trick For Cutting Down Your Novel
But micro-outlining is really a great tool as well, and one I've gotten kind of addicted to. You can outline a chapter, breaking it down into scenes that absolutely need to happen, and that might let you see where you can combine two scenes that overlap a lot. You can also outline a scene, listing every single thing that has to happen, big or small, in that scene.
Outlining can be a big help while you're writing your first draft and trying to see the road ahead — but sometimes it can be just as useful for things that you've gotten sick of rewriting and need to see afresh.
The Talking Heads had it right
The best writing advice in the world comes from the Talking Heads: "Say something once, why say it again?"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Secrets of Publishing!!!!

Mike R. Underwood: 25 Secrets Of Publishing, Revealed! (Or: Inside The Bookish Shatterdome)

IMG_9984.jpgMike Underwood is good people. He does stellar work inside the hissing cyber-word factory of Angry Robot Books, and he’s also a helluva wordmonkey himself. He’s one of the authors who gets a wide open door when it comes to writing guest posts here, and when he wanted to talk about some of the “SHH SECRETS” inside the publishing industry, well, I dare not refuse him. Also he has a gun and it shoots robots — like, it actually fires tiny robots into your body and the robots, well, I dunno what they do once they’re inside you, but word on the street is “robot orgy in your aorta.” So, listen to Mike. Or he’ll shoot you with his robot orgy gun.

1) Selling a Book to a Publisher is Business/Art Dating

Just because your book is awesome and sexy doesn’t mean that it’s a good match for every publishing house. Just as no one person is a perfect match for every person in the world, no matter how cool they may be, no one book is a perfect fit for every publishing house. Each house has its own editorial aesthetic, their house brand/style, and specific demands for their list. A house might be full up on Cyberpunk Westerns starring transwomen (more houses should publish Cyberpunk Westerns starring transwomen, to begin with), and not feel confident in being able to publish a second book that’s too similar to what they already have.

2) No One at the Publisher Hates You

Chances are, unless you’re a jackass, the people at publishing companies don’t hate you. Most of us are too busy trying to make books succeed and get the word out about books we love to spare time to do much else. If a book doesn’t fit with a publisher, it’s usually nothing personal. Publishers have to focus on books they love the most, that they think they can succeed with. If your book isn’t a match, it doesn’t mean people hate you.

3) Gatekeepers: You Keep Saying That Word

Here’s what publishing gatekeepers do. They don’t keep people out, they let people in. The publishing world doesn’t owe a writer anything other than a fair shake. If you submit to an agent or an editor, you have a right to a response in as reasonable a time and a manner as possible.
Agents get thousands upon thousands of queries a year. Most can only reasonably support a few dozen clients, since they’re going to be doing a bunch of different things for their clients, from chasing down royalty payments to selling books to negotiating contracts to helping with publicity to working on selling sub-rights.
Editors are constantly getting pitched, and only have so many slots on their publishing schedule to fill. They usually need to select a mix of genres, a mix of debuts and more established names, a mix of more commercial and more adventurous titles, in order to keep their imprint’s list viable. The editors aren’t keeping you out, they’re looking for the right publishing partners to fulfill their own business and creative agenda. The trick is that traditional publishing, by dint of survivorship bias, has made themselves into the place to go to get your work out into the world.
And due to that, agents and editors are seen as standing at the gates to Marvelous Publication Wonderland, kicking people out and letting only a few inside. That’s not really what they’re doing, but I get the perception.
Now, we have author-publishing. Which means you can self-publish your work, but then readers have to do more of the heavy lifting of saying ‘Hey, this book here is awesome, you should read it!’, where in traditional publishing, there are often hundreds of voices doing that task in a thousand different ways.
Agents and Editors aren’t keeping people out – they’re looking for the right people, the right works, to fit their aesthetic and economic agendas. We often get touchy when art and commerce meet, but if you’re going to be a Professional Penmonkey, you must be Artist and Businessperson both – Picasso in the studio and Henry Ford in the board room.
But publishers don’t have the only Publishing Machines anymore. Now you can build your own. A home-made author-publisher Veritech is different from a Publishing House Jaeger, but they can both go forth to fight the good fight of bookselling.

4) What are Sub-Rights?

Sub-rights, in publishing parlance, is everything that’s not the print/ebook rights for a book. They’re called sub-rights (short for subsidiary rights) because they’re often thought about second. Your publisher may negotiate to buy those rights straight off, and your agent may negotiate to keep them.
Some of the more common sub-rights that come up are audiobook rights, translation rights, foreign territory rights, tv/film rights, graphic novel rights, and so on. Some publishers have good plans for exploiting those rights in-house, and sometimes you’re better off retaining the rights and having your agent sell them elsewhere.
Sub-rights are where a lot of writers make their real living. The reason? They’re usually not any more work for the writer, or very little (working with an audiobook narrator, consulting on foreign rights editions, etc.). Once you’ve written the book, selling sub-rights becomes passive income – it’s getting paid again and again for work you’ve already done. This is what we call in the publishing business ‘a whole bunch of win.’

5) Agents are Freaking Key, But You Can Go It Alone If You Really Want

Whenever I say ‘your agent,’ I’m assuming that many writers will want an agent when it comes down to negotiating publishing deals, which are notoriously arcane and laden with insider jargon. You don’t absolutely need an agent, especially if you’re confident in your ability to read a contract, and/or are working in parts of publishing where agents aren’t as much of a thing (like writing tie-in fiction).
Agents, when they’re good, can be an amazing partner in your publishing journey. A bad agent can tank a career, just like a good agent can turn a fresh-faced debut author into a brand-new literary super-star. If you’re hoping to traditionally publish fiction or non-fiction in the north American market (the biggest English-language publishing market in the world), or are an author-publisher looking to sell sub-rights, I definitely recommend investigating literary agents. Again, go in with clear eyes and a strong sense of what you want out of the relationship, and choose your partners wisely.
If you really don’t want an agent, you’ll likely want a contract lawyer to go over the contracts you’re offered, to do at least the bare minimum vetting to make sure the contract doesn’t end up with you sitting in a figurative ditch with your organs carved out as Deliverables.

6) Don’t Count on the Fat Hollywood Money

“They should totally make a movie out of your book!” is a nice sentiment, but it means a whole lotta bupkis.
Hollywood does what’s best for Hollywood. Or, at least, they should. I don’t know that business well enough to say whether they really do or don’t, but what I do know is that TV/Media rights sales are rare to begin with, and they mean almost nothing until the deal goes from ‘We’re so excited!’ to ‘here’s your check.” If you though that the path to traditional publication was tough, Hollywood is a whole different world of vagueness and terror.
To sell rights, first you need a media agent. That could be your literary agent, but often it’s a media agent or a publisher sub-rights agent, depending on whether you sold TV/film rights to your publisher or retained them yourself.
Once you have someone to sell those rights, then they have to pitch every producer and production company known to humanity, and several known only to the Dork Lords of Geekdom, the eldtritch forces of Tinsel Town.
But you don’t just sell the rights right off, most times. First you sell an option, which amounts to ‘dibs.’ When you have an option sold, that company has an exclusive on trying to get a deal for the work. The option tends to only pay a few thousand dollars, unless you’ve got a big-ticket property.
From there, then the production company has to actually buy the rights. And from there, the following 1000 steps are incremental inchings toward the shoot, from contracting a script writer to developing a writer’s room (TV), and so on.
Most writers can probably expect to never see their work made into a big-budget film or prime-time TV show. The Vampire Diaries and Game of Thrones of the world are incredibly rare. So if you do get Hollywood interest, my advice is the same advice I’ve been given. Don’t get excited until you have a check in your hands, then take it to the bank, cash it, and move on. The stereotype of Hollywood is that everyone is always saying ‘Yes!’ and getting excited, but then nothing gets done. They’re working like any of the rest of us, it’s just that Hollywood has its own culture, with back-stabbing, blood-sacrifice, and competitive iced latte-drinking-based hierarchies.

7) Booksellers Are Awesome, But They Have to be Profitable, Too

Maybe your book got skipped by Barnes & Noble. That sucks.
Maybe it’s not being stocked by Amazon. That sucks.
But each bookseller is a business trying to make the best decision for their own company, and if they don’t know how to sell your work, or don’t think something will sell to their customers, that’s their prerogative. Being a business, they have to be self-centered to survive. Most of the time, it’s not about you, the author, but about some large-scale concern, or one of a hundred other factors. It does mean that they can occasionally totally screw you over while doing what they think is best for their business.
It’s still getting screwed, and that’s why we, as authors, are well-advised to develop a diversified publishing portfolio for ourselves and to support a diverse bookselling landscape, so that no one part of our business, no one retailer, no one project, has too much control over our overall publishing fate.

8) How Discounts Work – Retail Price Isn’t a Mark-up

Most independent booksellers don’t discount books the way that big box stores do because it isn’t economically feasible for them. Target may be able to get away with selling the new Stephen King for $14, but your favorite independent bookstore probably paid almost that much for the book, and needs to sell it for the list price to make enough money to keep the business running. Big chains make their money on volume, and on discounting some items to bring people in, and then selling them other items that have much better margins. They’re called loss leaders.
Independent bookstores mostly can’t afford to use loss leaders. They sell the book for the full price, the suggested price. They also provide a whole range of social and cultural benefits, from assisting school districts, organizing book clubs, author events, creating curated selections, hand-selling expertise, and so on.
Digging a bit more into the pricing world for books – Every retailer that buys books from a publisher settles on terms of sale. Most independent bookstores get about a 47%-50% discount on books when ordering from the publisher. So for a $8.00 Mass Market, they pay $4.00 or so and then sell the book for the retail price.
Some really big accounts (B&N, Amazon, Books-a-Million, etc.) get a bigger discount due to the volume or other special arrangements.
Bigger accounts can afford to sell at a discount both because of this discount (sometimes) and because of being able to make up their lost margin with volume sales. When you see a new hardcover discounted at Target or Costco or Wal-Mart, that price probably comes from a combination of a better discount for the retailer and a desire to use the book as a loss leader.

9) The Traditional Publishing Jaeger

If you sell a book to a major publisher, you’re agreeing to give over a big chunk of the book’s income in order to hire an army to go to bat for your book. If you sell to a smaller publisher, you’re hiring a smaller, more focused army. A traditional publisher includes the following people helping to make your book amazing and to sell it: editor, publicist, sales representatives, sales managers, marketers, library representatives, book designers, artists, layout artists, inventory staff, finance & royalties workers, and hundreds more positions in a bigger house.
Going traditional is partnering with a giant Publishing Jaeger built and run by an army of staffers. You’re still the pilot, but when you’re using the Jaeger, you have to sell books things the way Jaegers sell books. You take home less money per copy sold, but you’ve got a lot more people on your side, who are working with you to make the book succeed. The entire army’s goal is to see each book succeed.

10) Traditional Publishing is Slow For a Reason

Remember the giant Publishing Jaeger? It’s going to be slower than say, a helicopter, by necessity. The reason publishing is slow is that it’s big, and it’s powerful. In order to align the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of employees behind a book as part of a publisher’s season, there’s a ton of coordination and steps to go through to make it a powerful butt-kicking sales machine.
Publishers also use selling seasons, where they group six months of book releases together for the purposes of organizing their systems and sales efforts. Most publishers still have sales representatives that travel around the country and sell to independent bookstores, present to libraries, sell to non-bookstore retailers that carry books, and more. Those sales reps work long hours and travel extensively, and selling seasons help keep their work reasonably viable, rather than having to be on the road 52 weeks a year. That means that publishers have to know what will be coming out sometimes 15 months in advance, and be able to start talking about it that early, in order to deploy all of their resources effectively and get the word out.

11) Covers Are For the Publisher

If you’re an author, the cover is not for you. It’s for the reader, and for the publisher to use to position and sell a book to potential readers. This is the same if you’re traditionally-published or are serving as an author-publisher. Most authors are not art directors, and are well-advised to work with artists who know the market of the book, or to sell a book to a publishing house that does have an art director and artists and sales managers who know the market.
There’s a well-developed visual language of book covers, in fiction and non-fiction both, that readers have learned over their whole lives. A book with a dangling high heel on the cover means Women’s Fiction. A dude in a cloak with a sword on his back means fantasy. A planet among a field of stars means science fiction. An infographic cover with dollar signs is a business book. And so on.
Good covers can and do break those molds, but a successful cover still has to grab the work’s prospective audience and get them excited about the book. Sometimes this means that the cover will not be 100% accurate to the content of the book. Hopefully it’s not an egregious difference (like white-washing a leading character of color because of a fear that readers won’t buy a book with a person of color on the cover), but sometimes it’s important to know that the cover is more for the reader and the publisher than for the author (assuming your goal is to sell the book to a wide audience).

12) You Have More Power Than You Ever Did Before, Because Options

Even ten years ago, self-publishing was a very difficult path to follow if you wanted financial success. Crowd-funding wasn’t really a thing, ebooks weren’t really much of a thing, and distribution systems were highly suspect of self-published work.
Now, there are a zillion paths up the mountain of publication. That diversity of options gives writers a huge degree of power and self-determination over their careers. Any given writer can choose the shape of a career they’d like to have, and pursue that path. There are still boundaries and gatekeepers in every path – editors and agents, booksellers, formatting systems, crowd-funding approval boards, and most of all, readers. But if you want to self-publish, you can. If you want to solicit patrons to support your work and send it to them directly, you can (with services like Patreon, or others).
There are so many tools and systems in place to help writers and creative get their content out into the world that it’s sometimes terrifying. It causes choice paralysis. But put another way, I’d rather have too many options than not enough. If I have a hundred options, I try one, and it fails, I can try another.

13) Making Friends Is the Best Marketing

The book business is a small world. There are niches, especially from genre to genre. But if you’re planning on writing and working in the publishing world for the rest of your life, I think the best thing you can do that isn’t Making Awesome Work is to make friends.
Some people treat networking like Manipulation Ebola, like it’s a terrible icky thing that people only do because they’re self-centered.
Instead of thinking about Networking as ‘Who can I meet and connect with so they can benefit me?’ maybe think about it as ‘How can I make friends with cool people who work in the parts of the business where I want to be active?’ Making friends with an editor may not lead directly to a book deal, nor should it necessarily – if you’re making friends in good faith, then the relationship is not just about selling them a book. But if you make friends with editors, then may help clue you in to new opportunities, or may seek you out when they have a project that needs to be done and might fit your aesthetic.
Make friends with other writers. Make friends with writers a step or two ahead of you in the career path you want to follow. They may be able to point out potholes or problems that could be ahead, problems they’ve just had to deal with in their own path. Make friend with writers who are in a similar part of their journey to where you are. Critique and workshop one another’s work, support one another, and build a cohort for mutual support. Make friends with writers who are just starting out, who maybe need to learn the lessons that you’ve already learned. Help them through the parts of the journey which were hard for you. Pay it forward.
Make friends with artists, with designers, with publicists, with agents. Learn about the other parts of the business, and learn what to expect from other parts of the business. Learn what people in those roles need from writers, and then be that writer when you have the opportunity.
If you’re a writer, presumably you’re a reader. Publishing can be anxiety-making, stressful, disappointing, enraging, and more. It helps to have friends, colleagues, allies. And ultimately, if you aren’t able to get some fun out of the process, you’re probably missing out.
And when you have something to push, those friends you’ve made are likely to be in a position to help you. You can go to writer friends and ask for blurbs. You can ask artists for advice on the cover artist you need to hire for your new author-published book. You can ask your publicist friends for recommendations of venues to contact for your blog tour. Marketing is all about

14) And Marketing? Is Just Talking About Your Book

Marketing! It’s a buzz-word, a boogieman, a Class Five Terror Kaiju of intimidation – You don’t know how marketing works, you’re just an author, and you hate the idea that you’re going to have to be slimy just to have a shot at succeeding.
Actually, that’s all crap. Marketing is just talking about your book. Sometimes it involves paying people to get the chance to talk about your book in their sandbox, like buying ad space, or so on. Or making an object that talks about your book through what it does or its very existence.
I do marketing for my day job at Angry Robot, and the more I do that job, the more I come to see Marketing as just finding the best way to talk about cool books.
A big part of marketing, for me, is hand-selling. It’s learning how to talk about a book in a way that connects with potential readers and tells them what they need to know to get interested in the book or decide it’s not for them.
“Buy my book, it’s awesome!” probably won’t work.
“If you liked Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds and Jaye Wells’ Dirty Magic, you might like my book” is way more useful. It positions a work with respect to other works, and sets expectations for a reader about what they’re likely to get if they pick it up. The comparisons are recent, and they’re fairly well known.
“It’s a Steampunk Western about an engineer turned school teacher in Oklahoma seeking revenge for the murder of her cowgirl lover.” Does a lot. It tells you the genre, the setting, and the driving motivation for the lead. If someone gave me that pitch at a bookstore? I’d pick the book up in a heartbeat.
All of this? Marketing. My definition may be different than that of others, but I’ve found it both liberating and energizing. It’s just talking about books, being excited and trying to share that excitement.

15) Publicity is Getting Other People To Talk About Your Book

The Yin to Marketing’s Yang, publicity is the art of getting other people to talk about your book. It’s sending out review copies, it’s booking an author in to a bookstore event, it’s pitching an author for a radio interview because they have a distinct life story.
Often times, publicity means a lot of cold calling. It’s trying to generate excitement from nothing. Working publicity for an author or band that’s already famous is easy in some ways, because people are already talking. The trick there is that for every stage of someone’s career, there’s always another goal to shoot for, and many more demands on your time. But it’s all still publicity. It’s trying to massage and frame the way and the degree to which people talk about your book, or your author’s book, etc.

16) You Have To Learn How To Pitch Your Book

Even if you have an agent, sell to a publisher, and employ a Publisher Jaeger to sell your book, you still have to learn how to hand-sell it yourself.
Hand-selling is the tried-and-true one-on-one process of talking about your book in a way that gets people excited about it.
You’ll hand-sell your book to potential readers at a convention. You’ll hand-sell to librarians, school teachers, booksellers, and more, trying to convince them to have you in for an event. You’ll hand-sell to your barber or tailor, your neighbor, or the person next to you on a plane.
If you’re an author and you want to make a living, chances are you’ll be selling your work, one person at a time, for years to come.
But how does that work?
Step one is to figure out where you book fits – what genre shelf should be its home? What books is it comparable to? Does it have a non-western fantasy setting like N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? An intense anti-hero reminiscent of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns? The pop-cultural self-awareness of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One? The heartwarming optimism of Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor?
Every book is its own thing, but humans? We’re comparing monkeys (apes, yes, but monkeys sounds funnier), we put things in boxes and use comparisons to get a handle on things we don’t know directly. You’re more likely to get people invested if you call a book “Michael Crichton but with even better science” (Nexus by Ramez Naam) than “It’s a cool science fiction book with action and technology.”
Hand-selling is a tricky discipline, so it behooves you to start learning now. Working in a bookstore is a good place to start.

17) Your Book Will Be Reduced To a Set of Bullet-Points

When sales reps go out into the world to sell books, they do it off of TI (Title Information) sheets. Those Tis make up a seasonal catalogue, and when reps sell to accounts, they often have hundreds of books to talk about all at once, across numerous imprints, divisions, and categories. This means that not every rep gets to talk about every book on every sales call. It’s just how things are. Key account reps, who sell to big retailers, are usually in a position to present every title, but it’s still often at rapid-fire pace.
What all of this means is that it can be really important to write something that stands out from the rest of the books in your category. That can be to have a great platform that lets you as the author stand out (‘has 100,000 Twitter followers’ or ‘is a Nebula-nominated writer’), a great hook for the work itself (‘Die Hard meets Groundhog Day’), or a distinctive marketing plan (‘we’re making custom rocket ship drink shakers for this book on geeky mixology’).
Any and all of these such factors will be highlighted on the TI sheet, along with a short pitch for the book, comparable titles, the author’s previous titles, and other basic information. This is the character sheet/resume/prĂ©cis for your work, and it’s essential that something stand out to a potential reader (in this case, a buyer). TIs are usually made by the publisher, but you can help them out by knowing what you and your work have to offer and making that clear to your publisher team.

18) Your Editor May Be Your Friend, But Publishers Aren’t People

So, Giant Publishing Jaeger, right? That Jaeger isn’t a person. It’s a giant machine designed to do one thing – fight kaiju. Or in this case, sell books. The folks who built the Jaeger, who repair it, who made its book-selling weapons, are all people. The folks in the command center who help the pilot be the best author they can be and deploy the Jaeger to sell books: also people.
But the Jaeger is not a person. Your editor may be your friend. Your sales manager may be your friend. Every person in a publisher may be your friend.
Your publisher is not your friend. It is a business partner, and sometimes partnerships go sour. When partners’ goals align and everyone is happy, partnerships rock. But some times, through no fault of either partner, partnerships go bad, or stop working.
If you’re self-publishing, your e-tailer distributors are not your friends. They are partners too. It doesn’t mean that anyone is out to get you, but go into the relationship with a clear sense of what the relationship is and isn’t.

19) Editors Work Insane Hours

There’s a conception of editors as haughty aesthetes who lounge around in their offices all day reading books and then go off to fabulous publishing parties in the evenings.
Most editors I know work 60 to 70 hours a week. They work as a project manager during the day, keeping all of the books moving along through production. They help with marketing plans, coordinate with publicists, talk with agents, work with art directors, prepare title information for sales teams to use, and so on.
Then, after an 8 or 9 hour day at work, they go home and read manuscripts in the evening, both for submission and to edit. If you’re traditionally published, it’s very likely that your editor works these long hours not just because they’re passionate about their work, but because those long hours are the only way to get enough done to keep things running. And then they works some more on the weekends.
Editors are some of the hardest and longest-working people I know, and they deserve all of the love and appreciation we can give them.

20) Gotta Get Paid – How Advances And Royalties Work

This info is available other places, but we’re talking about the little-known and mis-understood bits of publishing, and advances and royalties definitely count among them.
An advance is a payment of royalties ahead of the book’s release. It’s a bet by the publisher that your book will sell enough copies to earn out that advance. If you get a $10,000 advance for a book (good job! That’s way better than most first book advances if you’re in the adult SF/F world), then the publisher is betting your share of sales in the first year or so will equal $10,000.
How do they do that math?
There’s a thing called a Profit and Loss report, or P&L in business lingo. That’s a complete accounting of the costs that will be associated with making your book and the potential profit they stand to make from it by selling the book here and there and everywhere they’re allowed to.
The advance is one of those costs. Other costs include cover artist fees, printing, layout, editing, warehousing, and a bunch of other costs. Then they make a guess of how many copies they’ll sell and how much money that will make them. If the P&L looks good, then the company signs off and you get the offer.
When the projected sales have been decided, the publisher runs a formula that multiplies the estimated copies to be sold by the unit royalty for each format (publishers usually offer different royalty %s, as in the % of the money they get which goes to the author) and that gets double-checked vs. the advance (or informs what the advance will be).
You get the advance up front, or sliced into a few chunks – signing of the contract, delivery & acceptance of a completed manuscript, and publication. After those chunks are paid, you don’t get paid for that work again until the royalties earned by the book ‘earn out’ the advance. Once the book has earned more than the advance in royalties, you start getting royalty checks. And when that happens, it’s time to order some pizza.

21) Agency vs. Wholesale Pricing

There are several ways that retailers and publishers agree to sell ebooks these days.
The two main ways of setting terms for an ebook retailer when you’re a publisher are wholesale pricing and agency pricing.
Agency pricing means that the publisher says “You have to sell the book for this price, and you can’t discount it below that price. And then we get 70% of that price per sale, and you, the retailer, get 30%.”
There is also a version of agency pricing that lets the retailer discount the book out of their 30% margin.
Wholesale pricing is more like physical book retail terms. The retailer pays the publisher 50% of the list price every time there is a sale, but the retailer can discount the book as much as they want off of the list price. Many etailers are using wholesale pricing now, due to the Department of Justice suit from a few years back, which said that the Big Five had to end their current agency pricing deals and weren’t allowed to make new ones for two years.
Understandably, the difference between a retailer keeping 30% of list and 50% of list is a big deal, and the subject of a lot of negotiations between publishers and retailers.

22) How Do Returns Work?

A long time ago, in a bookselling galaxy far far away, publishers offered books on a returnable basis to help reduce bookseller’s risk. It was an agreement – “You buy these books and try to sell them, and we’ll cover your back if they don’t sell. You can return books to us and get credit for them so you’re not stuck with dead stock.”
Decades later, most bookstores buy on terms that allow returns of unsold stock after a certain amount of time. This lets booksellers be more adventurous with their ordering, knowing that they can recoup some if not all of those books’ costs with returns. But it also means that for retailers that try to stock a wide range of books (like Barnes & Noble), the ability to return can sometimes mean that books spend only a short time on the shelves. B&N usually stocks a book for more than 90 days before returning, but if your book isn’t selling by then, it might be pulled and returned. If it sells well, you’ll get far more time, as every business likes selling more of what’s already selling.

23) Chances Are, Many People Have Been Where You Are, Dear Friend Dry-Heaving In The Alley

Being a creative operating in public, putting your work out for sale and discussion, is a super-stressful thing at times. You spend weeks, months, or often years bleeding all over the page, crafting sentences, fabricating fictional real people out of your brain-meat and then torturing them for hours on end, and then you send the whole fragile ontological baby out to learn how to drift with a publisher so it can go fight for great justice, entertainment, and enrichment.
Querying agents is rough. Being on submission is rough. Running yourself ragged with a blog tour is exhausting. Sitting at a signing table for hours with the hope that someone, anyone will come up to see you and not to ask when Big Name Author will be back at their table.
It’s normal, I think, for an otherwise emotionally stable person to be a giant fucking wreck when dealing with their creative career. And the thing about that is, others have been where you are. Many of us have walked the same or similar paths, and can relate. That’s why it’s so important to make friends in your field, not just to help you better your work, connect with markets, or to have someone to sit next to at a mass signing. It’s also to have a support network for group therapy when shit goes down and your Publisher Jaeger gets hit by an EMP when a major retailer pulls your buy buttons or refuses to stock your book.

24) It Takes a Long Time To Get Good

Self-publish now! Kindle Gold Rush! Screw the gatekeepers! Grow with your audience!
I’ve seen variations on the above thrown around the bookish internet, often from author-publishers and author-publishing advocates.
I’m all for author-publishing. I plan on author-publishing some work as soon as I get ahead of my deadlines and have some time for spec writing.
But something that I fear can get lost in the excitement about author publishing is the reality that a lot of writers, myself included, sucked for quite a while before we got good.
I wrote three and a half novels before I wrote Geekomancy, which was my first published novel. And when it was published in 2012, I’d been seriously writing for about ten years. I’d studied creative writing in school, earned a graduate degree and written a 100+ page academic thesis, I’d attended Clarion West, I’d worked with critique groups of writers who are now professionally publishing.
It took a long, long time. If I were six-seven years younger, getting serious about writing in 2008/2009, I might have gotten wrapped up in the Kindle Gold rush come 2011-ish, and thrown up some truly under-developed work and fallen on my face.
Every writer’s journey is their own, but I want to implore writers who are getting serious now to spend a good amount of time developing their craft. Your first impression on readers means a lot. Debut novels get a huge amount of attention, as many readers are always looking for the Next Big Thing.

25) At The End of the Day, You Have To Believe In Yourself

“Westerns are dead.”
“I can’t market a book with a queer woman of color.”
“We’re consolidating our list.”
“I don’t have room on my shelves for another YA fantasy.”
There are a lot of pitfalls and setbacks that can come your way in publishing. No matter how well you build your publishing portfolio, how many Batman-like contingency plans you build in, life can throw you for a loop. Whether that’s getting dropped from your publisher or a huge best-seller crowding you out exactly when you thought you were striking new ground with your groundbreaking author-published work.
But the thing that will see you through in the end is to Just. Keep. Going. Believe in yourself, your work, and what it has to offer. Be a freaking Artistic Terminator. If you don’t believe in your work, it’s going to be damned hard to get anyone else to believe in it.
When market forces move like waves, when a Category VI Publishing Shitstorm Kaiju comes your way, the best and most useful thing you can do is to stand up strong, sync with your publishing partners, and shout ELBOW ROCKET! as you stride into battle.
Good Hunting, writer-rangers. As Stacker “Idris Elba” Pentecost says, “You can always find me in the Drift.”
* * *
Michael R. Underwood is the author of the Ree Reyes series (Geekomancy, CelebromancyAttack the Geek), and the forthcoming The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books.
Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiance, an ever-growing library, and a super-team of dinosaur figurines & stuffed animals. In his rapidly-vanishing free time, he studies historical martial arts and makes pizzas from scratch. He is a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another article I found on writing...

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

A lot of people think they can write or paint or draw or sing or make movies or what-have-you, but having an artistic temperament doth not make one an artist.
Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style. Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way earned him a sprawling rejection letter regarding the reasons he should simply give up writing all together. Tim Burton’s first illustrated book, The Giant Zlig, got the thumbs down from Walt Disney Productions, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.”
So even if you’re an utterly fantastic writer who will be remembered for decades forthcoming, you’ll still most likely receive a large dollop of criticism, rejection, and perhaps even mockery before you get there. Having been through it all these great writers offer some writing tips without pulling punches. After all, if a publishing house is going to tear into your manuscript you might as well be prepared.
1. The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
2. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. -David Ogilvy
3. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker
4. Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home. -Paul Theroux
5. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee
6. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London
7. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell
8. There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
9. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King
10. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
11. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. – Anne Enright
12. If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser
13. Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut
14. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway
15. Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway
16. Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk
17. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
18. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman
19. Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. – Oscar Wilde
20. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury
21. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I'd totally forgotten all about this...Isn't it nice to have things come back and be so great.

Thanks to the wonderful Dyane Forde—make sure you're following her if not already :)

Here's the Interview!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A good article I came across...

Another Word:
Chasing the High
When you start out wanting to be a writer, you’re screwed. You haven’t read enough to really understand what writing is. There are all sorts of different genres, and you may not know if you’re better at detective novels or literary vignettes or personal essays. You’re pretty impressed by some of the stuff you’ve done when you’re noodling around, but most of it’s not very good. (And you’re probably not actually sure which parts are impressive and which ones aren’t very good.) There’s a whole obscure mechanism between you and getting publishing that you’ve got no idea about, and you don’t want to look stupid. Plus, it seems like everyone you know wants to be a writer, and almost all of them fail, which is, let’s say, discouraging. The sheer volume of things you need to figure out is unmanageable and huge. You’re screwed.

When you start sending out stories, you’re screwed. There are only a few markets that publish the kind of stories you write, and the slush piles there are like broken faucets that won’t turn off. You want to stand out, but short of printing your story on bright blue paper or including a chocolate bar with the submission, you don’t know how to do that. No one knows your name.

Every rejection slip—and holy cow are there a lot of rejection slips—makes it a little easier to just not send out the next story. The idea of paying someone to publish your stuff just so it’s out there—just so you can see your words in print—starts to seem like maybe a pretty good idea even though part of you knows that’s the despair talking. The Holy Grail is a personal rejection letter, because at least that would mean someone cared enough to respond to you. You’re screwed.

When you start selling a few stories, you’re kind of screwed. You have a few things in print, and you’ve gotten checks for a couple hundred dollars to prove it! The people in your writer’s group threw you a little party after the first one, but when the third sale came through, the congratulations started getting kind of perfunctory.

Now that you don’t need the emotional support, you’re not getting as much of it. Except that you’re still basically unknown, and you’re still getting an awful lot of rejections that sting just as much as they did before. You’ve sent your novel out to a few agents and gotten polite “Not for me” answers. You’ve gone to a few conventions and actually been on panels, which on one hand was really cool, and on the other left you feeling kind of like an impostor. The world’s full of people who published a few short stories and then vanished without a literary trace, and you’re starting to think that you may be one of those.

When you sell your first novel, you’re screwed, but only a little. Yeah, there are still a lot of dangers and hurdles coming. The book may or may not get good reviews. You don’t know how it’s going to sell. You’re really jazzed by the cover art, even if there are maybe a couple little things you’d have done differently. Your friends and family are congratulating you. There’s the anxiety that maybe it will fail, but when you walk into the bookstore and see your book on the shelf for the first time, it’s like being in a dream. Yes, if the numbers aren’t good, the publisher may not pick up the next book. Yes, the advance you got for it was less than you’d have made working a minimum wage job for the same hours you spent writing. Yes, some of your unpublished friends seem a little resentful. But at least now you can say you’re really a writer. This is kind of the high-water mark. You should enjoy it.

When you’ve sold a few books, you’re screwed. Your first novel didn’t set the world on fire, but it did okay. It sold through maybe eighty percent of the copies that went out. Only then the bookstores ordered twenty percent fewer of the next title, and that one sold through about eighty percent. So when the third book hit, and they ordered eighty percent of eighty percent of your first book’s numbers, you started looking at a consistent pattern of lower sales, and the eBook sales haven’t been high enough to buck the trend.

Now your editor is talking about how the subgenre you write in is kind of oversaturated. And there was that one asshole reviewer on Goodreads who totally savaged you for no good reason. When you very politely pointed out that they’d misread the book, the Internet fell on your head for a week. You’re in the death spiral. The good reviews you get are easy to forget and the bad ones linger at the back of your head for days. You’re watching your career die, and the war stories from other writers about the times their careers were shot out from under them only help a little. You’re screwed.

When you hit the bestsellers list, you’re screwed, and no one believes it. You’re a success fercrissakes! This is what the brass ring looks like. Your series actually built, you’ve quit your day job. You’re supporting yourself on the writing alone. You don’t get to complain anymore. Ever. Because nobody has any sympathy.

Someone wrote a savage blog post that got passed around dissecting how exactly your books show you’re a vacuous, stupid, venal person who wants to degrade all that’s good in the world because you’re stupid. And then a hundred comments after it praised the blogger for being brave enough to speak the truth.

A reviewer at a major magazine uses your name as a synonym for bad writing? Suck it up. Or stay off the Internet. If you defend yourself, you’re only going to make it worse. And the sneaking suspicion that you’re only selling your story to the anthology so they can put your name on the cover (and not because the story is good) isn’t something anyone wants to hear. The way that your new book coming out has gone from a massive rush to “Yay, now get back to work” isn’t interesting. Your problems don’t count anymore. You won!

If that’s a little lonely, a little isolating, less fun than you thought it was going to be, if you still feel like an impostor, literally nobody wants to hear you whine about it. So shut up and live the dream. No one wants to hear how you’re screwed.

When you’re one of the handful that make it all the way to the top—recognition, awards, more money than you’ll ever be able to spend—weirdly, you’re screwed. You’re a celebrity now. When you go out in public, strangers come up to you constantly and it’s your job to be nice and polite no matter how awkward it is or how bad you feel.

If you make a bad joke on Twitter, it’s a headline on Slate and Gawker. The praise for your work seems almost unrelated to the actual words you put on the page, and the story about who you are feels like people are talking about someone else.

Whenever you meet new people, it feels like they can’t see past your persona. There are maybe three or four people in your life who aren’t asking for things from you. The money is great, and it solves a lot of problems, but not all of them. They won’t let you walk the floor at Comicon anymore because of the security risk. You don’t go out to the movies. You know that your writing is a commodity now just because it’s got your name on it.

The jokes about how you could blow your nose on a piece of paper and get a six-figure advance are funny because they speak to a real fear. Maybe you’re not good anymore, because you don’t have to be. The passion that started you down this path is still there, and so is the fear. You want to be good, but maybe you’re only successful. And with the story about you so much bigger than the story you’re writing, there may not be a way to judge anymore.

A writing career is a constantly shifting environment where there is no promised land. There’s only a changing, and hopefully improving, set of problems.

The constants—the pleasure of reading a really good story or paragraph or sentence or phrase (or, even better, writing it), the well-considered praise of a respected voice, the sense of having learned something new or relearned something old in a deeper way—have to be enough, because they’re what we have.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. And the good. And the work.