Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh Look A New Entry... YAY!!!

One word... COLLEGE.  I'm enjoying it, but man it takes up a lot of time.  Also, I've been going at my novel with a vengeance lately.  Now it's time for Zombie-Author to take over.  No wait, I'll save that for later this month when it's closer to Halloween.

Now for today's subject... any suggestions?  Just kidding.  All this talk about college has made me think a lot about doing your homework.  And even in writing, there's a lot to be done.  Yes, you can write a book and start sending it off willy-nilly to every publisher and agent you can find.  Just be prepared to do an awful lot of waiting and smacking your head against the wall.

I suggest you keep a large supply of Aspirin, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen near the wall for afterwards.  And please don't do it in the middle of the night, the neighbors may start to complain.  Also, don't keep using the same spot on the same wall, you may end up leaving a forehead print.  Move around, maybe try a different wall, but not the space next to where you've been banging your head.  One of your Troll friends may notice and demand to know why you were writing smack about their Mama.  (Terry Pratchett readers will probably be the only ones to get that reference.  So everybody get out there and start reading his Discworld series. You'll thank me for it later.)

Getting back to doing your homework...  You could send your manuscript all over the place and wind up with a lot of rejections, wasted time and low self-esteem.  OR, you can start looking up agents and publishers to find out what genres they work with.  Now, I brought this up once before.  Know what genre you're working in.  If you send your awsome historical romance to a publisher who prints Sci-Fi and Horror they're going to send it back with a form rejection letter or you'll hear nothing.  Meanwhile precious manuscript has been happily digested by the nearest trashcan or shredder.  So start looking to see who publishes books in the genre you're working in.  This also applies to when you're looking for an agent to represent you.  Agents get dozens of submissions daily and it really helps if you aim for someone who specializes in your genre.  It doesn't guarantee they'll take you on, but it sure is a step in the right direction.

Next piece of homework... Yeah I know I'm a slave-driver.  What guidelines do the publishers and agents want you to follow?  Guidelines are word count, genre, how to format your submission (double-spaced), how many sample pages to send, etc.  Following these guidelines is extremely important.  Because if you don't take the time to look these over and follow them, you're inadvertently telling the agent/publisher that you don't respect their time.  Not a great way to try and start a working relationship. 

I know all this research takes time, but it is important.  I started doing my research when the first draft of my novel was finished.  That's how I found out how much work I still had to do.  I had no idea that 190,000 words was way too long for a first-time author and that I needed to cut it down to around 100,000.  (Boy did that Ibuprofen next to the wall come in handy that day).

So start doing your homework now, even if your book isn't finished.  There are plenty of excellent websites out there where you can get a lot of good, solid advice and guidelines.  Check on the list of blogs and sites I've marked next to my blog.  You'll find them under "Blogs of Interest".  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

That's all for now.  Keep writing!