The words “The End” sit at the end of a page after 114,254 words according to Word’s last count. I am reading my book out loud to the pug. It helps to see if the rhythm of the words work, checks for pace and cadence, things the naked eye misses. Then my current book is off to two friends, both avid readers with editing experience for one last look through.
The next many months will be tracked in my Book of Submissions, Rejections, Ecstasy, and Agony. In this book, I will bind each query I write, every single blessed one, personalized as needed, the first 10 pages of my book as they stand on the day I enter the trenches, a short synopsis and a long synopsis and all the iterations of such materials.
The current schedule (some dates are flexible)
Dec 5-7 – Query workshop with New Leaf Literary (help me nail the query)
Dec 22 – hand finished book to fresh editing eyes (if I miss this date, all other dates will move forward by two weeks at least)
Dec 22 – Jan 2 – Put together list of agents, revise query based on workshop feedback, tinker with synopsis
Jan 3-15 – (provided editors have returned feedback), last edit for submission (this deadline subject to change if anything major needs to be changed or life dumps on me)
Jan 22 – 31 (around here) Query first 10 agents on my list
2019 As Needed – for each response from agent, send new query to next agent on list until I get and accept an offer of representation from dream agent. Any agent I accept is my dream agent.
Join me for this journey. There will be loads of pug pictures and concerned cat pictures along the way, and a few new bottles of bourbon will likely have to be opened. Wish me luck.
The blog is in super peril now. I am almost cried out. My precious writer’s tears are almost at an end. And I need them so I can dive deep into the query trenches, get an agent, and book deal and a much better retirement plan.
Frankie seems unconcerned at my critical situation. Look at the bottle. Almost empty. What will I do? It was hard to find that bottle. Oh well, I will read another chapter out loud to the pug and hope for the best.
The time has come. I have been cultivating this book for three years now. The blog will suffer as my schedule until the end of the year has become a sprint to make ready for querying in the New Year. I must wait for several agents to re-open to queries so I am taking one last lap around pacing and exposition issues. Then here is the rest of the schedule:
Nov 30- Dec 3 – Prepare initial query (hope it is not abysmal)
Dec 4-7 – Query Workshop with New Leaf Literary
Dec 8 – Dec 15 – Prepare Synopsis and all supplemental materials.
Dec 8 – Dec 15 – Read entire book out loud to the pug – for final pacing and all that rot
Dec 8 – Jan 18 – Prepare list of agents that fit my work
Dec 15 – send book for binding at UPS for live edits by me, Ryan, and Ginger
Dec 22 – distribute editing copies with red pens to Ryan and Ginger
Dec 23- Jan 15 – revise as needed, get rid of glaring mistakes
Jan 18 – Jan 21 – Send out first 10 queries
For Entire process – document everything – rejection, retribution, all of it.
It is getting late. Work was long today. I am tired and yet here I pour over what I hope is a final block revision of my latest book. There will still be a line edit, and probably another set of eyes will have to look it over for good measure. But some day this damn book will be finished and ready to go seeking a place out in the world. I have a cup for that.
And yes, this is the very last freaking draft…really…
I write. I love doing it. I also work full-time. Most writers must. Even writers that have multiple books published. Yes, there are writers who make quite a nice living from their craft. They are the exception. Most of us don’t.
I follow the publishing industry quite closely. The other day, on social media, I stumbled upon a book pirate, a thief, trying to justify illegally downloading a novel to the author from whom he was stealing. The pirate was confused at the author’s irritation with him. He seemed to think the writer should be flattered that he wanted to read his book at all. I found this quite disturbing as a writer. I know how much effort goes into getting your book from conception to publication.
I work at a local school system and pretty much live pay check to pay check. I work nights writing my books and blogs. Not much sleep happens. This is the way most writers live. And stealing their work is so damn disrespectful.
Please, don’t support piracy sites. A reader with nothing but lint in their pockets can go to their community library. If the library does not have the book a reader is jonesing to read, most of libraries will order it for the reader free of charge. This saves the cost of the book and supports writers and communities. Win. Win.
Stealing by downloading from piracy sites hurts the writer whether that writer is self-published or with a big publisher. It’s stealing and it can tank the writer’s career. The first book is a test for a writer. The publisher will look at sales to decide if the writer gets to keep his or her career. Pirating books can tank those sales numbers because those downloads do not register.
Furthermore, stop thinking of big publishers as big, mean cooperations that deserve to get screwed. Publishers are made up of lots of hard-working people – editors, assistants, interns – people who need their jobs.
Pirate a book, that thief is also stealing from that new graduate working her way up through the first rungs of her career, living on ramen, barely making rent in an 8 x 5 room a forty-five minute train ride from the office. That’s who loses their job when the publisher starts to have to cut back because of selfish asshats stealing their product.
Then there’s the agent. For the most part, agents are super-heroes who work way over forty hours a week and only ever get paid if the author gets paid. They are the shepherds of the writer’s career, allowing the artist to concentrate on their craft, while taking care of all the business end of things. The pirate is stealing from the agent too and all the staff at the literary agency. Once more, it’s the bottom of the rung that finds themselves without work.
Piracy is illegal. Stealing is wrong. Going to the library, however, is always the right thing to do. And if a reader must own the book, there are contests, discounts, give aways they can participate in. There is also book sharing. Try that. Why be an asshat if there are so many better alternatives?
I am a writer. I worry that I am actually too insane for my craft, over the top, off my rocker, a few short of a six pack, should possibly be locked up. Then I stumbled across Jeff Somers and his lovely tome, Writing Without Rules. I had read some of his fiction. I love his books, especially We Are Not Good People and The Electric Church,. Jeff is doing something right.
I thought, self, Writing Without Ruleswill tell me all the secrets to making a life as a writer. After all, Jeff snagged an incredible agent, the Queen of the Known Universe, herself, Janet Reid. He had to know something I didn’t know about being a “successful” writer. Right?
Well, shit. No. He’s crazier than I am and he doesn’t wear pants and he has an entire murder full of cats. Yes, I know, crows. A murder is crows. Have you met Jeff’s cats? They are definitely planning to murder someone. I can tell from the pictures of them he tweets out.
Apparently, the secret to writing is there aren’t any rules. Neil Gaiman managed to point this out in his rule #8 which is the only rule, but like 42 is the answer, Neil named the one rule #8.
Not to be outdone, Jeff wrote an entire book with lots and lots of footnotes to make the same point as rule #8. I am so very glad he did. I LOVE this book.
However, I am not quite certain why his agent didn’t tear him limb from limb after reading the first few chapters. How much whisky did he have to buy my queen to get this past her? He did everything she tells us rodent wheel spinning writers not to do. He submitted a first draft, totally unrevised, riddled with grammatical errors out to publishers. And one offered to buy the damn thing. And that is something we are told to never, ever do. And you shouldn’t unless you’re Jeff Somers and not wearing any pants.
Then there are the footnotes. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman would be proud – they are so funny…but so wrong.
I read this book in about three hours. I could not put it down. I laughed so hard that the stick that’s been up my ass the last six months came loose. My writing productivity increased 100 fold. I can’t say why. I mean there is nothing brilliant in this book. It’s almost a parody of a writing craft book.
Perhaps, it is because Jeff’s book is so much easier to stomach than something like Stephen King’s On Writing. Don’t get me wrong, Stephen had me slaughtering my darlings and writing a million words before submitting anything for publication, bless his little heart. It is no wonder there are so many monsters living in Maine with all that darling killing going on. I am not taking away from the giants that came before.
Jeff’s book, however, slowed down that proverbial rodent wheel that had me worrying that I was doing everything wrong. Three years ago I queried a book that was not quite ready for submission. And for about a year, I thought I had burned my chances at ever being published. Turns out, these kind of premature ejaculations don’t matter much. It’s simply part of the journey. Is there more whisky?
Jeff does not precisely advise writers to disregard all the guidelines for getting published. Nah, nothing like that. Simply put, the path to making it as a writer is different for everyone and there are no set rules as long as you have an ending for whatever bit of writing you wish to publish. Endings are important. Jeff was quite specific on that point. Which is why this review is over. It had to end somewhere. So if you’re writer, buy this book or Jeff will mail you one of his cats.
And nobody wants that. Also, this is hands down, the most fun I have ever had reading a book about writing. And Kill The Cat was a damn party of a book.
So this happened. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump of The Apprentice is president of the United States (a joke made on The Simpsons in 1997- not even kidding), and The Atlanta Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl.
This is not normal. Being from Georgia, I am thrilled about the Falcons. Just amazed, startled. Like everything that has happened in the last 12 or so months, this is simply not the expected result. All that has happened is not necessarily bad, just odd. Reality has crashed into the bizarre.
Disturbedly, my current book, a fantasy full of magic and all sorts of mystical creatures is far less odd than the real world. It makes me worry for my genre.
At this point, if dragons suddenly emerged and took over the world, it might be less insane than the current goings on in the world. And that would quite spoil my book sales.
Frankie, my pug, also quite magical, tells me to relax. Probably, Frankie says, I am simply in purgatory and to move on to something more wondrous, I must keep writing. So that’s the plan. For now.
If I manage to finish this book, find an agent, and publish this year despite having to reside in bizarro world, then I will know I have moved on. So back at it.