Tag Archives: twitter

Writers Beware (Part 2)

In part 1 I talked about a situation where a writer had her book published, only to realise too late that the company was not a traditional publishing company, they were just posing as one. They played on the writer’s dream of being published to make money off her. As a result she ended up with a book that was poorly edited, unavailable in bookstores and locked into a contract so she can’t publish it with anyone else. It was left to her to market the book herself, meaning it was bought by family and friends, but no one else. Even if she worked up the courage to approach a bookstore herself, they probably wouldn’t stock it because a) it’s overpriced for a book by a first time author, b) the publishing company won’t accept refunds if the book doesn’t sell and c) the book is so poorly edited, people probably won’t buy it anyway (no matter how good the story is).

How can you avoid this situation?

You have to be savvy.

Google is your friend.

This is a good idea to do for any publisher. Google the publisher, skip past all the links for the publisher’s own website and see what other people have to say. You will quickly find out if the publisher is a reputable one and whether other writers have had good or bad experiences with them.

Get involved in writers’ circles/writers’ forums/writers on Twitter.

We writers can be isolated people, but the net has made it easy to connect with fellow writers. There are writers at all stages of the writing journey, and some of them are a great wealth of information. You will soon hear the dos and don’ts of the publishing and writing world when you’re connected to others who have been there before you. Some great people to follow on Twitter (because they always have their ear to the ground and post great links): Elizabeth S Craig and Jane Friedman.

Follow Agent/Publisher blogs or follow them on Twitter.

There are some fantastic literary agent and publisher blogs around and they’re worth following. They offer a wealth of knowledge on the ins and outs of the publishing industry. For example, Nathan Bransford’s blog is packed full of great information on both writing and the publishing industry.

Read contracts carefully.

This is an important one. Know what you are signing before you sign it. This is where having a literary agent represent you can be of great benefit because they know exactly what to look for in a publishing contract and can negotiate terms with the publisher for you. Literary agents cost nothing, unlike lawyers, but you need to query them with your manuscript the same way you would with a publisher. It’s better to query agents first, before publishers, if possible. But if your manuscript has already been accepted by a publisher, you can still query agents and mention in your query letter that a publisher has already acquired it. Otherwise, you can get a lawyer/solicitor to look over the contract for you, but it will cost money and often they don’t have as much knowledge about the specifics of publishing contracts.

What can I do to get the attention of a genuine publisher?

The most important thing to do is to keep improving your craft. The second most important thing is to become knowledgeable about the industry.

Keep Writing.

The best way to improve is to keep writing. I can’t remember who said it, but it has been said that to be a good writer, you must first write one million bad words. Quite often the first novel you write won’t ever be published. It’s sad, but true. But every word is contributing to you becoming a better writer. And one day you’ll look back on that first novel and think, ‘I can’t believe how bad it was! Why did I ever think it would get published?’

Join a critique group/Get a critique partner

Remember my story in part 1 about the author not letting anyone see their work before sending it out to publishers? He/she thought it was the smart thing to do, but there is benefit in letting others see your work before you send it out – the biggest benefit being a better novel. At some stage you need to get over your fear that other writers are out to steal your ideas. The good thing about critique groups and critique partners is you have to trust each other. You won’t steal their ideas and they won’t steal yours. Once you find a critique partner you feel comfortable with, the next hurdle is to be able to take their critique. This is a hard one. You will feel hurt. You will feel indignant (what does she mean my character is flat!). But once you get over that, you may find she’s right. Once you learn to accept your novel is not perfect and there’s room for improvement, you will be on your way to having a polished novel.

Use writing resources available to you

As I mentioned, following agent/ publisher blogs and being involved with other writers on forums/Twitter are great ways to stay informed. There are a lot of great writing resources out there, and fellow writers are only too happy to share, and so are agents and publishers. There are some great writer blogs out there too. A good place to start is Barry Lyga’s blog, he has a plethora of topics for helping to improve all areas of your writing. Check out some writing books too, like Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.

Research the industry

Did you know if you live in the US or you intend to get your book published in the US it is a good idea to first seek a literary agent? (A good literary agent won’t charge you fees, they make their money when the book sells.) In some other countries, such as Australia, literary agents are less common and a lot of publishers are still happy to accept unsolicited (eg: unagented) submissions. Do you know which agent/publisher is most suitable for your book? You don’t want to waste time sending a fantasy novel to someone who only takes on non-fiction work. Do you know if the publisher/agent you are querying has a good reputation? ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Follow guidelines

Publishers and agents have guidelines for a reason, so follow them. Some publishers/agents will reject your work without even reading it if you haven’t followed guidelines.

And because someone asked…

In my comments on part 1, someone asked about how to know if a literary agent is genuine. The points I’ve made about publishing companies can equally be applied to agents. Use google, research before you query, follow writers/agents on Twitter, join writing forums (many have sections on agents/the publishing industry). And if an agent wants you to pay fees to represent you, then he/she is probably not a genuine literary agent.

Advertisements

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts March 2011

I’m excited this month to introduce a new addition to my blog. If you look up at the tabs above you will see a new one titled, ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts Masterlist’. In this master list I have gathered all the links from all the past editions of ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts’ into one place. This way you won’t have to go searching through all the past editions to find the link you’re looking for. To make it even easier, I’ve put the links under headings, such as: ‘dialogue’, ‘openings’ and ‘queries’, so if you’re looking for information on query writing, go to the ‘queries’ section or if you want a stronger opening, go to the ‘openings’ section. From now on, whenever I do one of these monthly posts, the links will get added to the master list.

Now, onto this month’s edition:

Writing

How to Get Published: A Flowchart

A great flowchart (and checklist) on the writing process and a great way to know if you’re ready to query.

My Writing Success: The ONE Thing That Helped Me Most

Author Jody Hedlund explains the one specific thing that helped her most on her journey towards writing success.

On Story Openings

Using their soon-to-be-published anthology of stories as examples, The Australian Literature Review outlines the elements of effective story opening lines.

Story Skeletons: Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books

Although this post is meant to be a teaching tool for young readers/writers in the classroom, it’s a great post for writers of picture books as well. It focuses on the basic structures used in picture story books and includes examples of each structure.

Where Should a Second Chapter Start?

There’s always a big focus for writers on getting that first chapter perfect, but what about chapter two? This post looks at building a strong second chapter.

Five Ways to Show Emotion in Your Writing

Based on the book From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler, this post looks at expressing emotion in your writing with a focus on showing vs telling.

Genre Novels – Word Count Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published

A short guide to word count rules and subgenres for the various genres (fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, thriller, horror, YA, and Western).

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

Before you submit your work, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any of these mistakes that are easy to fix. (Sometimes this is where a critique partner can come in handy.)

NOTE: For number one, I find Wordle is a helpful website for weeding out crutch words. For number nine, reading aloud is a great way to pick up on awkward phrasing.

The Doctor is in the House – Novel Diagnostics

An exploration of common problems found in the beginning of a manuscript that can be an indicator of problems in the rest of the manuscript.

Queries/Pitches

The Twitter Query

A look at how to write an effective query in only 140 characters.

Rites of Submission: Cover Letters and Query Letters

This article includes two sample letters: an example of what not to do (including common mistakes) and a successful letter.

How I Got My Agent (Part 1: The Parts of a Good Query)

Author Susan Dennard shares advice on writing a good query letter, using her own successful query letter as an example.

Synopsis

How to Write a 1 Page Synopsis

A break down of the key elements needed for a one page synopsis. Includes worksheet.

Motivation

On Sticking With It

A reminder from author/agent Mandy Hubbard that is hard to become published, and why it is important to stick to it and not give up.

Social Media

Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Using these writer hashtags on Twitter is a great way to meet fellow writers. A comprehensive list of writer hashtags, including a schedule of writer chats on Twitter.

8 Sentence to Immediately Cut From Your Twitter

These 8 bio mistakes may be costing you followers and you may want to avoid them. Includes two things you may want to include instead.

Blogging Tips: Tips for Increasing Your Followers and/or Subscribers

Rachael Harrie has some great simple tips for building up a following on your writing blog.

Facebook for Authors: How to Get Started

Agent Nathan Bransford gives some helpful tips on starting up a Facebook author page.

For Fun

9 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Writers.

Very funny and very true. Pass this list on to all your non-writing friends.

Speaking of Facebook author pages, I’ve just started one of my own. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/JoHartAuthor or on the Facebook link on the sidebar of this blog.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Writing Query Letters

I recently decided to enter ABNA (Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Awards) as a test to see if I could get past the pitch round. I’ve written and rewritten my pitch/query dozens of times, but still wasn’t sure if I was hitting the mark. I didn’t make it through the pitch round, and this confirmed for me that I need to work more on my pitching skills before I start querying my MS. Yesterday I wrote and rewrote my pitch a dozen more times. I read blog after blog on writing queries. Then I rewrote again. I’m still not sure if it’s there yet. I’m letting it sit for a few days now before I go back to it. But after reading so much information on queries, I thought I would share some of the most important things I’ve learned about writing queries – not just yesterday, but since I first started researching queries.

1. Make sure you include both the TITLE and WORD COUNT for your MS.

2. You need to include WHAT YOUR PROTAGONIST WANTS, WHAT IS PREVENTING THEM FROM ACHIEVING IT and WHAT IS AT STAKE IF THEY FAIL.

3. Keep your query BRIEF and CONCISE – don’t ramble or try to include every single plot point. 1 – 2 paragraphs is sufficient for describing your MS. Try to keep it under 250 words.

4. In your bio paragraph only include information relevant to writing or your subject area. Include relevant publishing credits and writing associations you are a member of. Don’t include how many dogs you own or that writing competition you won when you were twelve.

5. ALWAYS CHECK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES! I made this red, because most agents will tell you it’s their biggest pet peeve when writers don’t check guidelines before submitting. Make sure you spell the agent/editor’s name right. Make sure the agent/publishing house actually accepts submissions in your genre.

If you’re looking for some GREAT SITES ON QUERIES, here are some of the best I’ve come across:

Query Shark

How To Write A Query Letter

How I Got My Agent (The Parts of a Good Query)

Cover Letters and Query Letters

10 Common Query Mistakes

Checklist for Submitting

Some GREAT QUERY HASHTAGS to follow on Twitter:

#queries

#queryfest

#querychat

And finally, if you head over to Write on Con they have some great query critique competitions running at the moment. All you have to do is comment on the prize you want and you could win a query critique for your YA, MG or PB manuscript.

Helpful Writing Sites & Blog Posts February 2011 Edition

Before I do this month’s roundup of helpful writing sites and blog posts, I just want to send out my thoughts and prayers to those in New Zealand affected by the earthquake. If you wish to donate to the New Zealand Red Cross to help out those affected, here is a link: New Zealand Red Cross

Onto the most helpful sites and posts I’ve come across this month:

Writing

Punctuation Made Easy

This is by far the best site on punctuation I’ve found. It covers colons, semicolons, commas, dashes and apostrophes. It is very straightforward and clear and makes understanding how to use punctuation very easy. I always thought I was good at punctuation, but reading so many complicated posts on punctuation on the internet has often left me confused on whether I’m doing it right. This site is now my go to site when I need clarity.

The Very Basics: Ten Things All Writers Need To Do

Ten things writers should do if they want a shot at getting published.

Opening No Nos

Killzone author James Scott Bell outlines opening chapter no nos based on statements by literary agents.

Five Tips for Your First Five Pages

From things you shouldn’t do in your opening to things you should do.

Back to Basics – Dialog

This post explains the difference between a conversation and dialogue.

8 Ways to Pile on the Fear in Your Horror Fiction

Great post for horror writers looking for ways to amp up the fear factor in their writing.

The Power of Touch

A look at the way J.K. Rowling uses touch in the Harry Potter series as a way of showing emotion, rather than telling.

Creating a Magic System

A great post for fantasy writers on creating a magic system that fits best with the world in your novel.

Lovable and Admirable Characters

We all want to create characters our readers will want to read more about. Author Denise Jaden shares some advice she received about qualities your main character should have to ensure he/she is engaging and lovable.

How to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Plot Point

This post outlines where your main plot points occur in your manuscript and what you should be doing at these points to create a deeper connection with your reader.

Tightening Your (Manuscript’s) Belt

A checklist for eliminating unnecessary prose.

7 Ways Glee Can Improve Your Fiction Writing

Joanna Penn uses the popular TV show ‘Glee’ as a metaphor for ways to improve your writing.

Queries

How to Write a Bio for Your Query

Dot point list of what to include and also includes an example of what to do if you have no writing credentials.

What Your Query Says About Your Book

Your query letter is your first impression of your manuscript. This post tells you how much an agent can tell about your manuscript just by reading your query letter.

Query Me Crazy

Corinne Jackson shares an original query letter she wrote that kept getting rejected, tips she received from a literary agent to improve the query and a revised query she wrote using the tips from the agent that resulted in requests for  partials and fulls.

Just for Fun

The 46 Stages of Twitter

For anyone on Twitter, you’ll be able to relate to these ‘stages’.

Blogiversary Celebrations: Part Two – Award Ceremony

Welcome to the first ever The Graceful Doe Blogiversary Award Ceremony! It’s nice to see everyone dressed in their finest.  Now that everyone is seated let the award ceremony begin.

Over the past year I have visited numerous sites on writing, querying, etc. Many of those sites and posts have contained lots of great information and some of those great sites and posts I have shared on my blog. The awards to be presented today go to those who I have kept returning to over and over again, who give great advice or tips to writers, and who are just all around fabulous people.

Just over a year ago I discovered how much the internet had to offer aspiring authors. At that time I had decided to get serious about writing a novel and found a lot of great sites with information just right for the helping me begin my serious writing journey. So the first award is the Best Site for New Writers award. This award goes to a site offering helpful advice to those writers who may just be starting out. A site that covers the writing basics, such as writing effective dialogue and character building, in an easy to understand approach. This award goes to…

Barry Lyga’s blog barrylyga.com

For those who don’t know, the majority of my writing falls into the category of kid lit, that is, writing aimed at children and teens. As a result, I read a lot of blogs and posts relating to kid lit. This next award is for the Best Site for Kid Lit Writers. This award is for a site that covers the various aspects of writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult, giving writers of kid lit great advice to help improve their writing and querying. This award goes to…

Mary Kole’s blog kidlit.com

Query writing is something many writers agonise over, which is why it’s great that there are so many insightful blogs and websites out there offering advice. This next award is for the Best Query Advice Site. It’s for a site dedicated to helping writers write effective queries. With her brutal honesty and dedication to helping writers get their queries right, this award goes to…

The Query Shark (aka Janet Reid) at queryshark.blogspot.com

In the past year I have come across some of the loveliest literary agents. They are willing to take time to tweet and blog about querying and writing for the benefit of writers to help them along their journey towards publication. The Best Agent Site award is for a blog or website of a literary agent that offers advice and encouragement to aspiring authors. And the award goes to…

Rachelle Gardner and her blog cba-ramblings.blogspot.com

And as many lovely agents as there are about, there are just as many lovely agent interns. From tweeting about the query pile to blogging helpful hints for writers, agent interns are a great resource for aspiring authors. The award for Best Agent Intern Site is for a blog offering advice to writers, including not just advice on query letters, but other aspects of writing too. This award goes to…

Cassandra Marshall’s blog www.camarshall.com

Still on the topic of agents, anyone who follows the #queries hashtag or #askagent hashtag (or any similar hashtags) on Twitter knows that there are agents and agent interns out there giving great advice to writers on Twitter. I have a long list of agents and agent interns I follow on Twitter and all of them are only too willing to help out aspiring authors. I just had to include an award for the Best Agent to Follow on Twitter. This award is for an agent on Twitter who regularly tweets valuable advice to writers. The award goes to…

Natalie Fischer @Natalie_Fischer

There are a lot of great Twitter chats for writers. There are chats to discuss the craft of writing, writing genres, querying and a multitude of other topics. I considered doing an award for the best writer chat, but then I had another idea. Instead this award is for the Friendliest Writer Chat. This award is for a chat where you are bound to meet the friendliest writers around, who are always willing to offer support to their fellow writers and are only to happy to share links and resources with each other. The award goes to the very friendly…

#pblitchat (run by two lovely ladies known on Twitter as @KarenCollum and @KatApel)

Writer forums offer great support for writers. Apart from offering a way to connect with fellow writers, these forums are places where you can have your writing or queries critiqued, find out information about the writing industry, or, if you are really lucky, even find an agent for your book. The award for Best Writer Forum goes to a site that offers all these things as well as supporting and encouraging emerging writers. The award goes to…

YA Lit Chat at yalitchat.ning.com

And now we get to a couple of more personal awards. Critique groups and critique partners help writers see plot holes, character flaws and poor word choice a writer may have overlooked. They read a manuscipt with fresh eyes, reading it how a reader would read and understand the story without the bias the writer him/herself have, yet at the same time because they are writers themselves they can also look at the manuscript and tell the writer not just that something isn’t working, but why it isn’t working. This past few months I have been swapping chapters with a critique partner and I think she is deserving of the award for Awesome Critique Partner. The award goes to…

Beth Hull (you can find her blog here)

The last award today goes to someone who I’ve been collaborating with the past couple of weeks to bring you all a 5 page critique contest, someone who is also celebrating her 1st blogiversary today. The award for Best Blogiversary Buddy goes to…

Peevish Penman (aka Carrie Bailey – find her blog here)

And that concludes The Graceful Doe’s first ever Blogiversary Award Ceremony.

More blogiversary celebrations still to come (including the winners of the blogiversary contest).

More Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts

Fresh back from my holiday away I thought it was time for another post on helpful sites and blog posts I’ve come across in the past month.

Twitter Chats for Writers

A comprehensive list of the various twitterchats for writers (from children’s writers to script writers to genre writers) and the days and times they take place. It also outlines what twitterchats are and a few tips for those who are new to twitterchat.

25+ Favourite Twitter Hashtags for Writers

A list of the best hashtags for writers on Twitter (with links).

Three Act Structure

Jenn Johansson posted on her blog this great article about the three act structure of a novel, including a diagram of what the 3 act structure looks like.

Three Simple Stages of Self-Editing

If you are in the process of editing or about to start editing your novel then Jody Hedlund’s blogpost is worth a look. She describes the three main types of edits: Substantive/macro-edits; line-editing; and copy-editing/proofreading.

Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis

This in-depth article by Sheila Kelly sets out step by step how to write an effective synopsis for your novel.

Secrets of a Great Pitch

If you ever go to a writer’s conference or happen to meet an agent in an elevator, do you have a pitch prepared? Literary agent Rachelle Gardner outlines the important points you should include when pitching your novel (and also what you should avoid).

Process of Writing: From Draft to Published Novel

In this four minute video author Kate Forsyth describes her writing process, with visual examples, from the initial idea all the way through to receiving her author’s copy of her book. It’s a bit of insight into the entire process.

Hopefully there is a little something here for everyone, no matter where you are on your writing journey.

Why Twitter is a Great Resource for Writers

First an introduction to how I started using Twitter:

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I had been reading about the importance of creating an author platform. One of the tips I came across was to start a Twitter account. I had never ventured into the world of Twitter before, but of course I knew what it was. I started out somewhat hesitantly. I started following a couple of friends who also had accounts and searched for some of my favourite celebrities to follow. Then came the question of what to tweet about? At first my tweets were random and personal, such as, “I’m reorganising my bookcase, I didn’t realise it was such a big job until I started.” However, the purpose of creating the account was to build my author platform so tweeting about rearranging my bookcase wasn’t really helping me to do this.

How I started making Twitter work for me:

Recently I discovered how I can really make Twitter work for me as a writer and I want to share what I have been learning so that you can make Twitter work for you too.

1. Tweet about writing. I started tweeting about my writing more than my personal life, after all that was why I created the account in the first place. How was I supposed to attract followers from the writing field if I was tweeting about random things that have nothing to do with writing? Once my tweets became more writing focused I noticed I started getting more followers from the writing field.

2. Use the #wip hashtag. I discovered a great little hashtag #wip, which writers can use to post either their progress on their wips (work in progress) or post little snippets of their novel. I’ve started posting tweets using #wip with little snippets of the novel I am working on and I am hoping it generates some interest for my novel. It also forces me to look at my novel more critically, because when I am looking for the ‘perfect’ line to post on Twitter I am forced to determine how effective that line really is. I ask myself “Is that line grammatically sound?”, “Does it sound good as a stand-alone sentence?” and “Would it sound intriguing to those reading it on Twitter?” if I answer ‘no’ to any of those questions, not only do I not post that line on Twitter, but I also ask myself, “If I’m reluctant to post it publicly, then why would I want to have it published as it is?” and “How could it be written better to overcome its flaws?”. In the end it is helping me write a better novel.

3. Literary agents on Twitter. There are a lot of literary agents on Twitter and by seeking them out you will find a multitude of invaluable information relating to querying, agents, writing tips and getting published. I am now following several literary agents whose tweets I find both helpful and insightful to me as a writer. Some agents tweet tips, some tweet about their thoughts as they trudge through the slushpile (usually quite insightful as a warning on what not to do when querying agents) and some offer links to other valuable writing resources. If you go to their profile pages, there is usually always a link to their blogs, which are invaluable sources of information as well. (I will link to some agents’ twitter pages at the end of this blog post.)

4. Some more useful hashtags. The following are just a few of the useful hashtags I’ve come across on Twitter, just type them into the search and you will find some really helpful info (especially from agents): #query #queries #queryhelp #askagent #agentpeeves #writing #writetip #pubtip

5. Link to your blog. This was one thing I actually did right from the start, everytime I update this blog I link to it on Twitter. I also have a link to my blog on my Twitter profile.

Using Twitter to my advantage has opened up a whole new world to me as a writer and I would recommend it to any aspiring authors out there. Twitter is helping me by:

1. Strengthening my author platform.

2. Promoting my novel and me as an author.

3. Connecting me to other people in the writing world (agents, publishers and fellow writers).

4. Connecting me to invaluable advice and insight into the writing world.

5. Helping me to look at my writing more critically.

To finish up I want to link to a few Twitter pages of a few people I am following because I find their tweets to be particularly helpful:

@RachelleGardner @MandyHubbard @thatwemightfly @WeronikaJanczuk @Kid_Lit

Speaking of Rachelle Gardner, her blog is well worth checking out: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/ She is a literary agent and offers some great blog posts regarding writing. (Isn’t Twitter great? Without it I would never have found Rachelle’s blog.)

And if you would like to follow me on Twitter here is a link to my Twitter page: @gracefuldoe

EDIT:

I just found another article about Twitter being a great tool for writers, it has a couple of similar points to the ones I have made, but it also offers a few new points too: Six Ways Twitter Can Make You A Better Writer