May 7, 2013 by Kiersi
Alter-cover by the fabulous Gillian Berry
I’m shaking as I write this, because I’m both sad and angry. I guess in some parts of the world they call this “frustrated.” Or “sangry.”
I’m sad that as a culture, we’re still divided this way: that some books are girly books, and some books are guy books.
I’m also angry that people still try to pretend like it’s not a problem. That’s it’s not a problem we have to have separate “women-only” book awards, because female authors get so little recognition in mainstream awards (3:10 female to male winners for the Booker). That it’s no biggie when a female author gets slut-shamed while her books get ignored. Or that books by female authors tend to get fluffy, jazzy covers; that female authors have to use pen names to supposedly be marketable to boy audiences (J.K. Rowling?).
Somehow, all this is not a “gendered” problem.
Author Maureen Johnson did a pretty neat piece recently of books written by male authors, with the covers re-imagined as if the author was of the opposite sex or gender queer (also see the top image on this post). And boy, is it fascinating to look at. (more…)
Category: Industry, Publishing | Tags: book covers, book marketing, boy books, coverflip, Deborah Copaken Kogan, girly books, Maureen Johnson, sexism in publishing, YA | 10 Comments
April 18, 2013 by Kiersi
Photo by Erin Kohlenberg - Flickr, Creative Commons
I’ve been writing “full time” since November 2011. I teach online classes and write marketing copy to make ends meet. When I’m not busy making enough money to live, I write. (And rewrite, and revise, and edit, blah blah blah.)
Over the course of this journey, with my first book coming out in August, I’ve discovered a few things I wish I could have told myself years ago. Not even just when I left my job in 2011 to go freelance–but back in 2010 when I wrote the first draft of my “grown up” novel. Back in high school when I decided I wanted to write for life. Back in middle school when I cranked out stupid amounts of fan fiction (not even kidding–500,000 words in total). People liked my stuff and I thought I was set.
What I wish I could have told myself back then?
1. It’s going to be really hard.
Everything about publishing is hard. Writing a draft is hard. Getting feedback (and learning to really listen to it) is hard. Finding an agent is hard. Wooing a publisher is hard. Going to conferences and meeting people and putting yourself out there is hard. (more…)
Category: Commentary, Industry | Tags: how to become a writer, publishing books, writing full time | 12 Comments
April 9, 2013 by Kiersi
The Night Circus
As I move into the critique stage of my current novel, and my August book release finishes up with the editor over at Rain Town, it has become clearer and clearer to me that no single person is responsible for the great books we read and love.
Today I read a fabulous post, “On Writing and Publishing Paths,” by Erin Morgenstern–author of the seriously delightful, magical, spectacle of a novel The Night Circus. And the takeaway is one that I hope every aspiring writer takes to heart: a manuscript rarely emerges from a writer’s mind a finished product.
I’ve been on the receiving end of query rejections, form letters and personalized responses alike. “They don’t get it,” is something we’re tempted to think. “They’re blind to my potential.”
As Erin writes:
…I got my manuscript to the point where I didn’t know what else it needed and it seemed like the right point to start sending it out. I did. It got requests because I had a query letter that made it sound like it had a plot when it really didn’t. It also got a lot of rejections. (more…)
Category: How-to, Literary Agents | Tags: agents, editors, Erin Morgenstern, publishing, queries, rejections, The Night Circus | 15 Comments
March 6, 2013 by Kiersi
UPDATE: I received an email from Allison Dobson, Director of Digital Imprints at Random House, regarding recent changes made to the Hydra, Alibi, Lovestruck and Flirt ebook-only imprint contracts (based on what I’m sure was a torrent of critical feedback). Read about the changes here, on the Writer Beware website (or see the full, official PDF here).
Essentially, they’re offering two packages: one that’s a more traditional advance-and-royalty deal, and another that’s still the original “profit sharing” deal with some important changes. No longer will Random House charge a setup cost or a fee for the sales/marketing/promotion; that’s part of the package, up to a certain amount.
So, I think that addresses a lot of the concerns raised in this post (and by other critics on the web)–but I am still leery of this emerging trend.
This is a bit of a gossip post because sometimes, I think it’s important to spread certain gossip–especially as it pertains to large publishing houses (corporations) screwing writers who aren’t aware they’re being screwed. (more…)
Category: Publishing | Tags: Author Solutions, Author Solutions lawsuit, AuthorHouse, digital-only imprint, Hydra, iUniverse, Penguin, Random House, self-publishing, vanity press | 16 Comments
January 12, 2013 by Kiersi
Yep, it’s that time again–a new manuscript, a new query.
For me, writing a query is a long, long process; one that usually begins while the manuscript I’m querying is still in the early stages (first or second draft). There are a couple reasons for this:
1. Writing a query requires fundamentally understanding the story you’re trying to tell. When I say “query,” I’m meaning the whole shebang: the hook, the pitch, the short bio, the ass-kissing. And none of these things are possible to do well if you’re not absolutely sure of the story, the characters, and the stakes.
And it’s not just understanding the structure of these things, or what they look like, or writing them in pretty sentences–it’s also understanding their appeal. (more…)
Category: in progress, Literary Agents | Tags: editors, how to write a query, literary agents, query letters | 8 Comments
January 1, 2013 by Kiersi
Some actual New Adult books. Notice the absence of Harry Potter, Twilight or Fifty Shades.
The Emerging New Adult Genre and Why CNN Hates It
I’m not going to write an article about “New Adult” books, or what the “New Adult” genre includes, or even the debate over whether this term should actually exist. That’s a pretty boring discussion that I’ll let people like Liz Burns over at Tea Cozy bludgeon to death with a wall of text.
What I do want to write about is the way the media has received the emergence of New Adult as a genre–and what has become an unwarranted, vitriolic attack on what real readers are reading.
Jezebel is the worst offender. The first article published by Jezebel on New Adult came last month, titled “‘New Adult’ Is Now an Official Literary Genre Because Marketers Want Us To Buy Things.”
It’s not that I don’t think marketing happens. Pixar’s Cars has action figures; Jelly Belly makes Harry Potter-themed jelly beans. But to claim an entire genre was “invented” by a skilled marketing department just to snare a narrow group of readers–I’m sorry, ma’am, but your logic is flawed. (more…)
Category: Commentary, Industry | Tags: books, CNN, Doug Barry, genre, Jezebel, New Adult, reading | 17 Comments
September 20, 2012 by Kiersi
Lesbian Romance by Made Underground
I had started preparing some long-winded post about the troubles with revising my upcoming novel with RainTown Press, Devil’s Fire (renamed from Fire & Brimstone), when I stumbled across this Guardian article: Stranger, a young adult novel with a gay hero, acquired by publisher–after an unnamed agent refused to represent it unless the hero was “straightened.”
Naturally, the pair of authors (Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija, both previously published) were taken aback at the request, and summarily refused to do any such thing. It’s not a novel about the gay experience or homophobia, like Lauren Myracle’s Shine, which was surrounded by some controversy after it was gently shoved off the National Book Awards list of finalists (it’s a book about a gay hate crime–up to you to decide if it was removed from the list to “preserve the integrity of the award” or to please particular parties, but I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist). Stranger, on the other hand, is a dystopian novel, that just happens to feature a gay hero–one of many narrators telling the story. (more…)
Category: Publishing | Tags: | 8 Comments
September 13, 2012 by Kiersi
I really like author and blogger Noah Murphy. I’d like to think we’ve had a good relationship on Twitter. I’m excited about his upcoming book, Ethereal Girls. But I’m growing pretty tired of self-published and indie authors whining about being repressed and “kept down” by the traditional book publishing industry when that is clearly not the whole story.
In his article, Publisher’s Weekly Review Double Standard, Murphy accuses book periodical Publisher’s Weekly of extorting self-published authors. As you probably already know, Publisher’s Weekly reviews traditionally-published books for their book review section. But they also have PW Select, which reviews self-published and indie-published books. The catch? The regular PW only takes submissions for books published by a publishing house, and it’s free to submit; however, PW Select charges a fee for your submission.
To Publisher’s Weekly, we’re not real authors - worthy of consideration for free - because we’re not part of the club. We decided to go outside the system and therefore we should be punished for that by extorting us. We have to pay to even be considered worthy of a review. This is the major way traditional publishing can keep us down because otherwise they’re quaking in their boots. (more…)
Category: Industry, Literary Agents, Publishing | Tags: book reviews, indie publishing, Publisher's Weekly, PW Select, self-publishing | 9 Comments
August 29, 2012 by Kiersi
photo by fmgbain
Each new query letter I write is like learning to ride a bike all over again, with the accompanying falling, scraping, and toddler-esque shrieks of frustration. I don’t think it will ever matter how many times I write a mini-synopsis–each manuscript has its own set of challenges to be overcome in breaking down a book-length plot into a short pitch.
Finding inspiration in book blurbs and dust jackets.
The first problem I’ve had writing my query letter for The Aeronauts is that the novel takes place across multiple settings. Parallel worlds, really, if we’re going to get technical. It means I have to introduce not one, but two environments within a single mini-synopsis. And while one world (Earth) doesn’t feature prominently in the story, it is the protagonist’s home and the backdrop to her character, so it requires a little airtime in the query letter. (more…)
Category: in progress, Industry | Tags: David Rakoff, literary agents, Lydia Sharp, query letters, writing a book synopsis, writing a query | 8 Comments
August 14, 2012 by Kiersi
This year’s Willamette Writers Conference 2012 was a startling success. I pitched to four agents and one publisher, and received from all of them requests for more. I attended sessions all three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and did my best to stay sane and conscious enough to socialize.
Part A: The Program
I wish I could Vulcan mind-meld with you, if only so you could have experienced with me Eric Witchey‘s stellar, re-orienting talk on “Story Fluency: Story as a Second Language.” It’s not my place to divulge all of the secrets that Eric, in turn, divulged to us–but I can tell you that my most basic understanding of the structure and arc of story is fundamentally changed. It goes a bit like this: (more…)
Category: Industry, Literary Agents, Publishing | Tags: Eric Witchey, Lisa Cron, literary agents, live pitching, The Aeronauts, tips for pitching, Tor Books, Willamette Writers, WWC12 | 9 Comments