I think the part of having a writing career that writers struggle with most is the business aspect. All we really want to do is write ourselves sick before sharing our stories with a whole bunch of readers who are appropriately affected by them. The nasty gritty business stuff can be vastly annoying to us. I've already written a post on the basics of the publishing process, which covers just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the writing business.
That is why today, now that we've got Christmas spirit lingering in the happy space in our tummies, I'm going to rant about publishing trends.
What are publishing trends? They are those annoying little things that happen when suddenly someone's book gets becomes a phenomenon. Suddenly publishers (and readers) are all about this new trend, publishing mega amounts of the genre. It doesn't take long for people to get sick of it, and by that point, the publisher is already out there looking for something different.
Publishing trends are the bane of my existence because they make it difficult at times for good, well-meaning authors to get published. A writer will have written a book they love, and then a book in that genre becomes a phenomenon, and if the writer can't jump on the trend right away, no publishers will take their work later--at least for the next few years. So the writer is left crying out in the desert, cursing whatever book just ruined their chances.
The problem with this is not only that it leaves some very decent writers in the lurch, but it makes a lot of writers turn to the dark side: they begin trying to write to the trends. This never turns out well because writers are artists, and art can't be just business. Every writer has their own area to focus in on. For example, me with YA fantasy/sci-fi. If I tried to write a cowboy story, things would probably not go well. Realistic fiction and I have also proven ourselves not all that compatible.
Today I'm going to give any querying writers out there some of my favorite tools for this process. What with my continued stream of rejections (80, baby!), I actually know a good bit about seeking a literary agent.
Preditors and Editors
Preditors and Editors, though often slightly outdated, covers pretty much every existing editor and literary agent. Its purpose is to share information about their past work and their legitimacy. It talks about some other stuff too once in a while, but the important part is that they can keep you from getting caught up in a scam (They once did so for me.).
I've recently discovered QueryTracker, which helps you keep track of whom you've sent out to, the deadline for their replies, and their responses. That way you can see just how pathetic you are! Just kidding, it's truly useful. It gives stats on various editors and agents and some information about submitting to them. Good stuff!
This is a set of reference books, put out yearly, with lists of publishers and agents, their chosen genres, and their contact information. There are also a lot of useful articles at the beginning of each volume. Writer's Market has been a great tool for me to find people to send out to, and there are a few different editions. I use the Children's one, naturally. I recommend it for the beginning of your query search.
First, I have to take a moment to express my despair about the Connecticut elementary school shooting yesterday. After all the tragedies that have occurred through the year, this one feels the most terribly cruel. To everyone affected by this, I am so sorry.
Today, I'm matching up some of my main book characters in a scene for the pure awesome fun of it. Part of this is because today is my half-year blogiversary! Thanks for your support, everyone. For more bonus material, check out my connected Facebook page! You can keep up with this blog through that or through the e-mail subscription.
You helped select the following characters for this scene: Sage O'Riley and Quinn Miller of #ChosenFourStory, Kaela Timberly from #PsychicDystopiaStory, and Darren Beamer from #PsychicStory. So here we go! I hope you enjoy.
"Hey!" Sage shouted as she appeared in the middle of the half-lit, mostly bare room. She stumbled slightly and then adjusted by crushing a stack of what appeared to be homework papers sitting on the floor. Quinn and two other strangers were also standing in the room with her, having appeared out of nowhere. Quinn, to her frustration, had a calm expression on his face and his hands slipped into his jeans pockets. The two strangers, both around Sage's age, one a pretty, brown-haired girl in very plain clothes and the other a boy with light brown skin, looked considerably more confused.
So now that we've covered Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, shall we do some other random humor? I think we shall!
First, though, some business to get out of the way: next week is the promised main character meetup, where I will demonstrate why my characters do not hang out together anywhere other than in my brain. If you didn't already, please give your four or five nominations for the characters I will be putting together into a scene. Suggestions for a location are also welcome. (Editor's Note: Poll is now closed.)
One thing you might not know about me is that I really like psychology. If I hadn't gotten so deeply into music, I would've made psych my minor. I have an interest in more deeply understanding myself and others, so ever since I first could read, I've casually read and researched on the subject. (My mom once got worried I was "plotting against her" because I liked to read her parenting books, LOL.) Personality tests are on the lighter side of psychology, with most of them not being consistently validated, but they're definitely fun!
One personality test you might have taken in school involves a number of "intelligences" in areas like "spatial," "logical, "linguistic," and "musical". I took that test multiple times in Gifted and Talented classes. My highest scores were in the linguistic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal regions. (The last two mean "between people" and "with self.") It makes sense, honestly, because I am a writer who is more character-based. How can you mess with your characters if you don't understand them?
A topic that I think can reveal a lot about you and your personality, though, that I don't see a lot of discussion about, is first memories. Why would you remember that specific moment, out of all the moments you could have remembered earlier on? I think that's a key question to ask. When I've asked friends about it, I've found it to be pretty informative. So take a moment, while I tell you about my own first memories and what they say about me, to figure out your own first memories and what they might say about you.
My First Memories
I have two, both from when I was around one year old (I know that's improbable, but what can I say?). I have no idea which one actually came first.
The shorter one I have is of just a taste. It's slipping from me more and more as time passes, but I still remember it now--my first teething biscuit, apparently. That thing was gross as heck. Like, chalk mixed with bread or something. So what does that say about me? Well, me and food, throughout my life, have had an interesting relationship. Binging is a common problem for me, and though I've dealt with lots of body image issues, I can't deny that I have a love for eating.
I found this idea online, and I think it's complete brilliance. Basically, you take a picture of wherever you are every hour in order to share visually a day in your life. So I took a bunch of pictures of my school day both last Friday and Monday, as hourly as I could manage. I merged the two days (with similar schedules) because I messed up on one of them, LOL.
The pictures are posted below for you. Enjoy! (Editor's Note: Some faces are blurred for privacy reasons.)
I meant to do an awesome picture-based day in my life post, but I forgot to keep taking pictures halfway through the day. So I'll come back to you on that on Wednesday, LOL. Instead of doing that, today I'll talk about some of my favorite fictional characters! There are some really good characters out there who affect my point of view in life and in writing.
(BTW, read this. This is the funniest blog post I've ever read.)
Well, we have to begin with the female giants of my favorite books, so let's kick it off with Harry Potter and the gloriously superintelligent Hermione!
There is nary a character to match her. Starting off as a bossy, know-it-all eleven-year-old, throughout the series, she develops into a intelligent and loyal young woman willing to fight to the end for the Wizarding World and her friends. She stands up for what's right, and she saves lives because of it.
She also made a huge difference for female pop culture fans. So many nerdy fangirls look up to Hermione as an example of why intelligence is admirable. Though she can be ruthless and dislikes the less exact magic that would probably be my wheelhouse, I love what's she been able to accomplish..
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