Archive for the ‘feedback’ Tag

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Query and Agent-Related Support . . .

Last night, the Write-Brained Network hosted its first live chat since moving back to Ning.

The topic was broad—query and agent-related support—but we kept a good convo going.

The gist . . .

One of the reasons we chose this particular topic for the chat was because of a question a Write-Brainiac had: How do you know know when to heed an agent’s advice in terms of making changes to your manuscript? This particular writer was talking about when one gets a personalized rejection—not when one gets an editorial letter or something, etc.

Some of the suggestions from the group:

  • Always. An agent knows what sells and what will make your book more salable. That is why you are querying an agent in the first place.
  • When the feedback resonates with you.

As we talked, I extended this idea of resonating to not just agent feedback, but for all feedback you receive—be it from betas, crit partners, your writing group, your mom, agents, or editors.

As I have been preparing to query myself (and, therefore, getting lots of feedback on my manuscript from multiple sources), I have thought much on this subject.

It seems like, at least for me, whenever I write something, I have certain insecurities with it—things that tug at my guts a little, and I’ll think, “If this scoots past X, Y, and Z betas, then it must be okay.” Many times, those are the things X, Y, and Z betas mention as items to change, cut, condense, or expand.  So, when I get their feedback, it resonates—and I know it’s not just my writerly insecurities being all OCD. (Sometimes that is the case, however!)

On the topic of resonating . . .

Sometimes you’ll get feedback that you never would have considered or recognized yourself.  (This is why you need to get feedback, people!)  It’s a subjective business, and sometimes someone will come up with a killer idea or ask a question that spawns a twist you hadn’t anticipated—but that is a good problem to have.  If it resonates, if you can see how incorporating the suggestion would make the book better, then, I say, do it!

More from the chat . . .

Another Write-Brainiac asked about nonfiction books and whether or not the writer should secure the rights to photographs prior to querying agents, or if that is the agent’s job.

This was a bit of a stumper.  We discussed it as best we could—I gave some suggestions based on what I know of related situations, but none of us pretended to be experts in this area.  If you *are*, please leave advice in the comments!

My immediate response to this was that, the closer a writer comes to having everything in place before he queries, the more professional and “together” the writer will appear to the agent.  Less work for the agent = happier agent, etc.

However, I can also see where this might not be the case.

Related(ish) examples . . .

Children’s author Gail Langer Karwoski spoke at the Southeastern Writers Association conference last summer about something similar, regarding the writer/author relationship:

  • Most picture books begin with the story, unless you have a legal relationship with the illustrator (it’s you, your relative, your spouse).
  • If there’s no legal relationship and you’re trying to suggest an illustrator in your proposal, it’s like a siren screaming “AMATEUR” (=rejection).
  • Many times, pub houses will pair a newer author with a more established illustrator to increase the book’s chances of selling.
  • If you can do both (you don’t just “doodle”), you should; just make sure your proposal is professional.
  • Many agents want author/illustrators (because it’s less people to pay and more of a cut of the money for them).

Also, I know that, when my Writer’s Digest Books editor, Chuck Sambuchino, wrote his Gnomes book—which is a nonfiction, humor book—he wasn’t expected to have the photos with it.  The publisher, Ten Speed Press, chose photographers to take pictures, and Chuck and his agent were able to pick their favorite from there.  (I also understand that the author having a say in that kind of thing isn’t common.)

Along the lines of securing rights, if there are specific photos you want and *you* are taking them (and there’s a reason you are the only one who can take said photos), I believe you technically already own the rights to them, as soon as the picture is snapped.  Same thing with writing.  Yes, you can register something with the U.S. Copyright office, but you actually “own” something as soon as you write it.

However, the WBer with the question was actually asking about photos of a structure that no longer exists—so it’s not as though new photos can be taken of it.  From what I know and what I’ve read*, my instincts lead me back to my initial answer—that the writer should have the rights secured before querying the agent.

Anything to add?

*Helpful copyright articles from the Guide to Literary Agents blog:

**Not a Write-Brainiac yet?  Click here to get started.

***For more with Karwoski, click here and here.

In the Blogosphere: 8/23-9/3

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

I decided to do something a little different today.  I give you: FROM IDEA TO AGENTED IN 15 POSTS

NAME GAME

Before you can get that agent, that book deal, you must first—you know—write the thing.  And before you can do that, you want to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to make every detail as perfect for your story, your project, as you possibly can—from concept to execution.

And your characters’ names are no exception.  These take just as much care and thought as anything else in this process because they give readers certain connotations right away.

Do you think Stephenie Meyer chose “Bella Swan” by accident?  What if she had been Bella Swanson instead?  Katie Swan?  Bella Bwonton?  (<—Bwonton, incidentally, was the name I used for characters all the time when I was in grade school.  I have no idea where I got it or why, but it could have had something to do with my love for wonton soup . . . ).

What about Gretchen Bwonton?  Would the series have been as successful?  (Yes, because someone along the way would have made her change the name.)

Writer’s Digest to the rescue! (Thanks, guys!Here, Devyani Borade talks about this very thing and gives some great advice on how to pick the perfect names for your characters.

SCENE IT

Once you’ve figured that out, you want to make sure your manuscript is filled with memorable scenes.  Why have memorable characters in blah scenes?

Have no fear—Martina Boone of Adventures in Children’s Publishing is here to help!

THE QUERY STAGE

When your MS is looking fantawesome, you’ll want to tackle the next annoying hurdle—the synopsis.

Here, the Michelle-Andelman-repped Kate Hart uses Disney movies to help you boil down your book and make it less daunting.

Now that you have that pesky stuff out of the way, whom will you query?  The Michelle-Wolfson-repped Tawna Feske suggests stalking people (and it’s OK, she says, because all writers are stalkers :) ) in order to find your dream agent.

Once you’ve found him or her, tailored your query, and you’re about to e-mail it . . . you’ll want to clean up that formatting so your message doesn’t get all wonky from cutting and pasting.  Here, WD’s Chuck Sambuchino hands you a broom.

Once your first—and second—and third—form rejection rolls in, you might start screaming,“Why? Why?? Why can’t I get some detailed feedback???” Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Nathan Bransford tells you.

And once your skin is a bit thicker, Writer, Rejected suggests you make it a game.  This will probably save your sanity.

THROWING IN THE TOWEL

At some point, you’ll have enough of the game, and doubt will undoubtedly (<—see what I did there?) creep in.

kt literary’s Kate Schafer Testerman offers some tips on what to do when you fail.

Likewise, D4EO Literary’s Mandy Hubbard helps you decide when to give up (or not to).

A FRESH PAIR OF EYES

Perhaps all you need is some betas to give you some feedback, which can help you give the editing one more go . . . because perhaps you rushed the whole querying thing.

But what is a critquer’s responsibility?  Award-winning writer Jason A. Myers is here to tell you . . .

. . . and up-and-coming YA author Maurissa Guibord gives a “F.R.E.S.H.” perspective on the subject as well in her guest blog on Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

Once you’ve figured that out, Paulo Campos of yingleyangle suggests 20 questions you should ask your betas.

BLOGGING

While you wait for agents to recognize your genius, you blog.  A little platform building can’t hurt, right?

But then you wonder how to increase your readership, so you start reading other writing blogs—whoa!  There are other writing blogs?—and you start to wonder if people think you’re a blogging snob.

So Jody Hedlund helps you decide.

And you realize she’s right when Pat Flynn of Daily Blog Tips gives you five reasons you should respond to all your blog comments.

HUZZAH!

And then someone likes you!  They really like you! An agent offers representation!  And then another! And then . . . what do you do??

Here’s Andrea Brown’s Mary Kole on getting offers from multiple agents.

It’s all just that easy, right? ;)

Have a nice weekend, everyone—and I hope you’ll check out The Write-Brained Network!

In the Blogosphere: 7/26-8/6

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to May/June-ish (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

THE STRAIGHT DOPE ON CONFERENCES

There have been a ton of conferences this summer, but more are just around the corner.

Not sure what to bring to a writers’ conference?  Over on her blog, See Heather Write, writer/editor and aspiring YA novelist Heather Trese gives the basics on what to pack and what to leave home—via this vlog.

Have you never been to one of these events?  Check out this post at The Bluestocking Blog, which details one writer’s lessons learned from her very first conference.

This is an oldie-but-very-goodie post from guest blogger Leah Odze Epstein over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing.  Epstein took great notes at SCBWI Metro New York and was nice enough to share them in a conference round-up.

By the way—WriteOnCon, the FREE online kids’ lit conference, is next week.  Click here to register!

THE NEXT STEPS

So, I’m good on querying and getting and agent and everything—but what happens after that?

Sixteen-year-old Australian YA author Steph Bowe demystifies what happens after you get a book deal in this post on her blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year.

And, here, the ever-fabulous Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary explains what is in a publishing contract.

EDITING & CRITIQUING

My SW(IRL) group began critiquing this summer, and some of our members were a bit resistant to it.  I do hope they’ll check out these links!

Here, Jodi Cleghorn of Write for Your Life talks critique etiquette.

In her guest post at Genreality, debut YA dystopian author Jamie Harrington gives a feedback pep talk during which she explains what getting feedback means, why it’s important, and how we need to get over ourselves and get some!

Over at her fantastic blog, author Jody Hedlund offers suggestions of what to do with positive and negative feedback.

And at YA Highway, Amanda Hannah gives us a checklist of what we need in order to get cracking on those revisions.

HILARITY ENSUES

I believe this oldie-but-goodie post was the first I had ever seen of the now-infamous Tahereh (T.H. Mafi), over at Got YA—in which she tells us what the QueryShark herself, Janet Reid, is really thinking.

In the Blogosphere: 7/19-7/23

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to May (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

QUERIES

Querying/pitching is up there in terms of the most discussed topics on industry blogs and at writing conferences.  I find it always helps me to look at others’ queries in order to better gauge what does and doesn’t work with my own pitches.

Here, at The Public Query Slushpile, fellow Ohioan Rick Daley has dedicated an entire forum to queries and feedback. The idea of the blog being? Leave feedback on others’ queries. Post your queries.* Get feedback from others. It’s that simple.  The site isn’t exactly like Janet Reid’s Query Shark or Jodi Meadows’s Query Project (in that it’s not just industry pros offering feedback—it’s an open forum for all), but the entries do get a good amount of feedback from readers.  And we are all trying to appeal to readers after all, are we not?  Check it out!

Who says slush can't be delicious?

Over on her blog, Canuck mathematics textbook writer (<—Yes, I included that part for my math-ed professor hubs!) Cheryl Angst compiles and comments on a list of 10 things Howard Morhaim Literary Agency’s Kate McKean tweeted as things that she thinks while she reads queries. Very interesting read!

Going along with the two, more regular, query workshops above, D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard conducted her own query clinic back in May.  Here is the post where she discusses the concept, and here is the last in the series (I’ve included this one because she links to all four of the queries she workshopped in it).

TICK TOCK

Summer seems to be about the hardest time of year to find butt-in-chair-and-write time.

Here, YA paranormal romance author Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver, Linger, etc.) offers some thoughtful advice on how writers can to best manage their time.

Over at Writer Unboxed, Anna Elliott chimes in on this subject as well.

CHARACTERS

Afraid your characters are too one-dimensional?  Paulo Campos of yingleyangle gives three tips on how to breathe some life into your darlings.

Here, longtime industry insider Alan Rinzler offers some further insight on how to create and use author James Scott Bell‘s idea of a voice journal.

RANDOMNOSITY

Since it was our four-year anniversary this week, I am posting this in honor of my husband.  Magazine editor and freelance writer Heather Trese says, “You might be married to a writer if . . . “

And, um, how random is this?  Molly is famous!  About a month ago, Annalemma Magazine used a picture of Molly (my beagly beagle) in an article they did about online writing communities.  The caption says that that pic was the first to come up when they Google image searched online writing community! (It looks like she’s since been ousted, however.  It’s on the fourth page.)

You're not the only famous beagle!

*There is a debate about whether or not to post your original work online.  It’s up to you.  Enough industry blogs host contests or query workshops all the time where people post their original queries, so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about someone stealing your work . . . but it *can* happen.  It would probably be pretty easy to prove your query was yours, though—particularly if you posted in on the Internet.  If you’d like feedback from other writers but you’re wary of posting your work on an open forum, try a password-encrypted, by-invitation-only community like *shameless plug* Shenandoah Writers Online!

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