Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You're Writing And Your Writing Sucks

I want to begin with stating, you are not alone. What you are facing, or have face, or will likely face during your writing is common and every author goes through it. At some point, in the middle of the latest "work in progress" you will come to the realization that you are pathetic. Your writing sucks, The characters are awful. Your editor is going to fire you immediately. Your agent already hates you without seeing the book.

Oh but wait, it gets better! Your family and friends, the great defenders of everything you do are about ready to duct tape your mouth shut and tie you to that desk chair to make you get back to writing.

The issue is simple - you are the only person who believes this at this particular moment.

Self-confidence is simply one of those demons that can completely wreck the career of any writer. That darn self-doubt is not a fun character to hang around with. But you simply cannot ignore that
voice. You have to do something to get over it. In some cases, it is simply because you are tired and need a break.

In this case, it is time to return to Disney for this one and the words of our favorite character from the sea, Dory.

"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." (now the song is stuck in your head!). Stop writing the chapter that brought on all of this negativity and move on. Start a new project for a day or two. Read your prior story that you totally love and recognize you are not a bad person.

The nice thing about moving on and ignoring that road-bump in your writing is that you will find the answer. As you are plugging your way through the other project, you will discover nothing is wrong, or that you have the solution.

Please understand that this will not always fix the problems. There are cases where the story does suck. Your writing at that moment is not the best. But, in most cases, this is a minor glitch you have to work through. Just remember, you are not alone and you CAN still write.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Greyhaus Closed For The Summer

Beginning June 1, Greyhaus Literary Agency will be closed to all "NEW" submissions. This will run throughout the summer and I will re-open around the end of August.

Submissions I have already requested WILL BE considered.

Submissions I ask for from contests and conferences WILL BE considered.

All new submissions, unless falling in one of the prior two categories WILL NOT BE READ.

This is giving me a chance to work with my current clients on projects as well as get a few things done on my end that have been put on hold.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carpe Diem in the Publishing World

Things change. In publishing, things change overnight. When you least expect it, when you thought things were going one way, the industry suddenly shifts and takes off in a new direction. It is, at those moments, that the successful writers make that quick shift and take advantage of being in the right place at the right time.

Paying attention to the things going on around you in this business is key. We listen to what the professionals are say. We watch trends happening in the world around us (outside of publishing), and when that shift happens, we jump.

But there is a catch to this.

The successful writers are not "starting" a new project when that shift in the industry occurs. IF they have something that works. IF they are in a position to move with the industry, they will move. These successful writers know they are not always going to have something or be ready to move right there and then. But if they do, they are ready.

I bring this up because I do see far too many authors who try to "seize that moment" and move with the industry, but the problem is that they are starting projects when that shift occurs. Take, for example, the sudden rise in YA and New Adult. All of a sudden, publishers saw the need to jump on this market. There were buyers of these books and the issue of supply and demand came into play. The supply of authors was low. Some authors had books that could easily be shifted to this market. A few tweaks of a current work in progress, and they were ready to go. But the vast majority of authors had nothing, but figured they would "start something."

Now many of these authors are probably not "banging out a book" in 30 days, so when they finally get that book ready for market, the editors and agents already have shelves of books ready to go. These newer authors are confused. "But I thought they wanted these new books and now they say they are already flooded with projects? What happened?"

The thing is that it took these authors too long to seize the moment.

So how do we remedy this? We go back to what all of the editors and agents have been saying for some time. Write what you know. Write what you are good at. If the market is not ready for it right now, just hang on. The odds are it will shift soon and your books will be ready to go.

It also requires you keeping an eye on things going on around you. Be ready to make those moves, and, as you are drafting that next work in progress, think of how the books has some flexibility.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Reminder (or RANT) On Following Submission Guidelines

I know there are authors out there who believe submission guidelines are "merely suggestions" and "you can really do whatever you want." Along the same lines, I know there are other authors who simply feel that submission guidelines are "hoops you have to jump through because editors and agents want to reduce what they have to read." I have to say, both of these are wrong.

I am bringing this up again because of an increased number of authors who seem to be missing the point with something that is pretty basic.

When editors and agents have submission guidelines, they are doing this for a reason. Everyone has a different set of guidelines and it is up to the author to read those guidelines carefully. We have these set up in this way because this is how we can better get to your work and respond to your writing fairly and objectively. We also do this differently because we are all operating with different computer platforms and email systems. In some cases, we do this a particular way because we might have been "burnt in the past" (for example computer viruses in attachments).

At Greyhaus, my email submission guidelines are pretty basic.

1) If you send a snail mail submission, you are to send only the following:

  • A 3-5 page synopsis
  • The first 3 pages
  • A SASE
2) If you send an email query you will send only the following:

  • No attachments
  • Not cutting and pasting a synopsis and a manuscript in the body of the email
  • Send only a query letter
  • Send it only to submissions_at_greyhausagency.com (I wrote it this way to prevent SPAMMERS)
3) Or you can use my established form which has VERY clear items to fill in.

And yet, we (not just me but other editors and agents) a ton of authors who seem to believe their situation is different. That somehow, they don't need to follow the guidelines.

Of course, here are the consequences of not following those guidelines:
  • You will get a rejection because clearly, if you cannot follow these directions, how will you respond when we send revisions...or
  • You will get a rejection because clearly the author is lacking some basic levels of literacy skills...or
  • You will get a rejection because you are lacking the research skills necessary to be a strong competitive writer...or
  • We will skip sending you a response because, hey, what's the point? You didn't read our guidelines so why would you read this response.
And then there is the fall out from that. Authors then will start to argue that:
  • Editors and agents do not respond to queries.
  • Editors and agents don't want to see creativity
  • Editors and agents are not open to new ideas
  • etc.
I know this might come across as a bit of a rant, but please note that we ARE looking for new projects. We DO want to read your work. We DO want to get back to you in a timely manner. But with that said, we need your help to follow those guidelines. 

There really is only so much hand-holding that we can do.