Friday, September 26, 2008

I am NOT an expert

I think I've proven that.

Back when I started this journal, I wanted to record my experience writing a book and maybe seeing it published. The first book sucked and I shelved it. The second book was good but it needs a lot of attention to really make great. The third book is where I'm at now. Up to now, the journal has been recording my process surrounding the writing of a book. Now I can start blogging about maybe publishing one.

The Deathday Letter found representation. Right now DDL is in the revision phase, getting tweaks and touch-ups before it's sent out into the big, scary world. So I wanted to write about what I've learned up to this point. Some of it might not be right, some of it might not be right for everyone, but it's what I've learned.

1. Don't worry about who you're writing for - Seriously, writing's difficult enough without trying to envision your potential audience. Just write the best book you can, and worry about the rest later. That's what revisions are for.

2. Don't be afraid to look critically at something you've written and decide it's not good enough - That's how I feel with Jak and the Giants right now. I love the story, love the characters, but I'm not 100% behind it yet. With DDL, I pretty much couldn't wait to throw it at anyone who would read it. Even published authors write books that suck.

3. Research. Research publishers, agents, genres, everything. Start reading agent's blogs, and editor's blogs, and the websites that list good agents and bad agents. Make lists of the agents you think would really get your work. If you're writing fantasy, don't target agents who mostly handle mystery.

4. Don't EVER send your queries out until your book is as good as you can make it. Don't count on them taking six weeks to answer. Until you've read the book a thousand times and can find nothing in it you want to change, don't send out a single query.

5. Learn how to write a query letter. Really write one. The query letter is that short note that's going to make an agent drool to get your book. It's got to make them want nothing more than to read your book. That means you have to be able to distill your novel's plot into two paragraphs, a couple of sentences. It's way tougher than it looks.

6. Make sure that when you choose an agent, you choose someone who is at LEAST as enthusiastic as you are about your book. Accept nothing less. This is your career. You wouldn't take a job in an office that only sort of wants you, would you? No. You want to be somewhere where they track you down on the other side of the country to get ten minutes of you time, because they're that excited about your book.

7. Write, write, write. And read. Lots.

8. Don't forget to work out a lot. Trust me. My thirty pounds was a lot easier to put on than it's been to get off.

9. Don't give up hope or sell yourself short. Rejection is part of the game. Get used to it. Don't get angry about it. If you get a rejection letter, send a very short, polite thank you. You never know when you might speak to that person again. Maybe they don't like your first book, but they might love your second.

10. I'm not an expert. I'm a newbie muddling my way through this sloggy mess called publishing. Don't listen to anything I have to say.

I don't know how much I can talk about DDL. It's finished. I wrote it. I went on my European vacation and signed with an agency. We're doing revisions. Hopefully soon we'll sell it. I think that I'll write another entry later or tomorrow about how it all came about.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it clean, keep it classy, and jokes are always appreciated.