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This is the longest debate about reviews for authors.  Some people on Goodreads, or other sites where you can leave reviews of books, do not understand we are reviewing a book and not the author.  Author’s should not let these reviews feel like a personal attack. But how do you not?  Read more in the article below.

 

How Many Times Do I Have to Say This? Reviews Are for Readers, Not Authors | Mike Mullin.

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1468803_10151725873696533_2066499872_nIf you haven’t read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books” then stop reading now.  I read it and somewhat loved it.  The no-nonsense way of telling writers who they can query and who would give a flip is awesome.  I always thought that companies like Scholastic would be open to new authors.  Well they are not.  Even though they might look at your work, they are really closed to new work.  Theses companies want to publish only the authors they have had for years.  The same authors and the same series.  It is their bread and butter.  Sure J.K. Rowling was a new name over ten years ago and sure Scholastic picked her books up.  But does that mean you have the next “Harry Potter” series?  I am pretty sure it’s a “no”.

So the book breaks down what is trade, mass market and independent publishing.  It also breaks down what an agent does and doesn’t do.  Some of the things is pretty standard stuff.  But reading it I thought I would find a golden nugget instead I found flakes of gold through out it.  This is a good thing.  After reading this book you will see that you do have to have connections and everyone in the publishing industry are human and want to be treated as such.  Common sense, right?  Well it should be, but for some writers I know, they tend to think they should do something to stand out in the slush pile.  Big mistakes are made and bridges burnt.  Instead try to learn who is working where and see how great the company is doing.  Is the company getting bought out or the agency closing down?  Is an agent retiring or focusing on their own career?  I looked up an agent once.  I Googled him, facebooked him, and even read his Tweets.  He sounded really good and seemed to be the right fit for me and my work.  Well what I didn’t know until after I queried him was that he just wrote a book.  He asked for my manuscript but was more interested in how his new baby was doing in the market.  Researching agents is tricky because sometimes they are focused on things you don’t know about until they make an announcement.

Publisher’s doors are closed and special invitations are needed to attend the party.  Trying to get in the “in-crowd” is about as difficult as pulling your own wisdom teeth out.  So for all the pain, worry, work, and research you do on your own sometimes it might be best to read a book, like the one I am suggesting above, to give you a clue about what to do next.  This book tells you to join a writing group (I’ve done that), to find writing critique groups (done that too) and to read (done) and write (done) until you have perfected your craft before you query (sigh*).

Well read the book and then tell me what you learned from it.  I’d love to see new advice.

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Cover of "The Awakening: And Other Storie...

Cover via Amazon

Nathan Bransford, Author.

I agree with this article but there is a big misconception about authors.  There are good authors who are not recognized because their work is not mainstream popular reading.  The decisions to read and study certain literature in a canon is determined, in my opinion, by political and cultural preferences.  Whatever is popular now is what people want to read about.  There were books held back from the public (like Kate Chopin‘s The Awakening) because of people in power found their work offensive.  Literature is a fickle thing.  I don’t know a lot of people that can actually agree about what should be studied in college literature classes or read as entertainment.  As a society we are like a leaf apt to go where the wind blows us.

The new writers and authors are flooding the market with self-published books and e-books.  There are all kinds of writers.    Sure we don’t have a lot of Mark Twains or Edgar Allen Poes’ anymore.  But shouldn’t we find some that are still worthy to quote?  Obviously the Noble Prize in Literature is still finding candidates to hand out the award to.  Even the Newberry Award is given out every year.  So there is still some talent out there.

Mark Twain statue

Mark Twain statue (Photo credit: stevebkennedy)

People will read what they want to read.  As writers we just need to write what we feel.  Whether it will make it into a canon or not is up to those who select it.

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Children’s books can have a deep effect on us as readers. Whether we read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series or books by C.S. Lewis, our depth of understanding comes from what we read and learned. Now years later, looking back I have noticed I missed reading some classics. Not Black Beauty or Charlotte’s Web but books by other authors.

Here are a few examples:

Series were not high on my list of books to read.  Now I see I have some catching up to do.  Books should capture every young heart and start them down a path of reading.  If we didn’t have books to read then what would we do with ourselves?  What would occupy our minds?  What would we be learning?  Nothing but facts according to Charles Dicken’s Hard Times.  That sounds pretty boring.  Imagination is a freedom we should all savor.

Anyone else have a list of books they want to read?

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If you ever felt that the world is full of people giving advice, then you might be right.  A lot of people do know a lot of different things.  One of my favorite places to get advice is from Nathan Bransford‘s blog.  He gives great advice on how to write a novel, to how to write a query letter.  Here is one of my favorite posts by Nathan which is the best query letter examples written:  Good Query Letter

There are many different formulas out there.  But just follow the one that is repeated and accepted by the publishing companies.  Bransford gives a good formula for creating a query letter.  But maybe you don’t want to take this guy’s word for it.  Here is some other sources from some credible authors and agents: How not to get an agent  and Before you query

I love to use Writers Digest books.  Their newest addition is 2013 Children’s Writer‘s & Illustrators Market.  You can buy it on Amazon: Writers Digest 2013 .  This book gives writers advice on how to write a query letter to what publishing company is actively accepting query letters.  There is a helpful section from authors.  Their advice for new authors and how they received their big break is worth the read.  I know I just want to skip to the back and start making my list of potential companies and individuals I want to query.  But the sections on writing are very helpful.  From the editor he says, “If you flip through this book’s pages, the first thing you may notice is a whole ton of upfront instructional articles.” – Chuck Samuchino, editor of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market/ Guide to Literary Agents

There are a lot of writers in my own critique group who says this is “the time to become published”.  I know I have also heard this at writers conferences sponsored by SCBWI.  Agents, editors and authors all agree this is the time to become self-published with either an e-book format or paper.  The e-books are hot right now.  And if you Google which publishing company has the most e-books out then you would find Random House at the top of the list.  They have a lot of e-books that are selling like hot-cakes.  Take a look at their new reformated website and see: Random House .  There is advice given from different publishers who want to see books only through agents.  But there are a lot of authors/agents that are saying that you can do it yourself.  You don’t need an agent.  Take it from Maria Lamba who said:

“For a LONG time we have plodded along with certainties. And the main truth was that a big publisher = big success.  Signing with big publishers meant contracts with great advances, reviews in prominent publications, your book would appear in all bookstores, you’d have tons of publicity and promotion, and you were well on your way to a long CAREER as an author.

Then this “given” started to erode as all the publishing models began to shift.  A large number of editors were laid off in 2008. Authors were suddenly expected to do more of their own promotions. Book reviews in many print publications began to disappear. There was no guarantee that your book would appear in the major chains or indies (even before the demise of Borders). And now we hear a lot from authors about low advances, or no contracts being offered on a next book.

Yes, the economy has a ton to do with all of this. And Ebooks have come in at an especially crazy time.  We fear they may pose a threat to print books. The pricing of Ebooks is a huge issue.  Brick and mortar stores feel threatened by Ebook sales.

And let’s pile onto this, indie publishing, which is on the rise.

All these factors together add to an overall sense of instability in what was once a fairly predictable business model for publishers, booksellers and authors.”

The only thing a writer needs to take away from the overwhelming advice from so many different venues is: “Does it matter to me?”  We are all in charge of our fate and we decide if we want our careers to soar like an eagle or fall like a lead balloon.  There is always going to be someone out there who will have some great advice.  But do you really care?  And if so, are you willing to follow that advice?

As for me, I just want to keep on writing. Teddy%20Bear%20Reading01

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The Millions : “A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents.

 

I not only felt that this article was important enough to blog about again.  But I actually used my precious ink in my printer to print it out for a hard copy.  This is a wake up call to all unpublished writers out there.

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I recently finished reading “Rot and Ruin” and I have to tell everyone about it.  This is my first zombie novel and now I want to read more.  I can see why YA are eating these kinds of books up like their candy.  Candy that might rot your teeth or brain but very entertaining.  I like how the author starts of by telling a gritty apocalyptic story that evolves into how the main character becomes a real person and in the end the hero.  I know a lot of books that just tell a story and the characters just help move it along.

When I started out to read this novel I was just wanting to see what all the craze was about.  Well it hooked me from the beginning and then I had to finish it.  This author wrote in a way I thought was easy to understand and would be easy to grasp the underlining hints of what was really going on.

I have read some other books in the past few months : “Jazz“, “White Noise”, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Bel Canto“.  All of these authors have received awards for their works.  I can see why they have too.  Their writing is poetic and has a style all their own.  They have helped me hone my own craft and how I should write a sentence in my novels.  Reading “Rot and Ruin”  benefitted me by seeing how the author took a character and slowly had him evolve into an end result where the reader wants to jump up from their seat and yell, “Yes!”.   Some entertaining books are rewarding to new writers.  I can learn why an author has so many people reading his novels.  The voice an author uses sets the tone of how the rest of the book will be and sometimes like in “Jazz”, you can be surprised who the narrator is.

Terry Brooks and Brandon Mull have also been good authors to read.  They know how to tell a story with humor and passion.  I know there are probably many more authors out there that have been beneficial for my writing but I don’t want to make a long list of names.  Reading and writing is something that goes hand in hand.  I couldn’t do one without the other.

 

 

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